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John Braine (John Gerard Braine) Biography

(1922–86), (John Gerard Braine), Room at the Top, The Vodi, Life at the Top

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British novelist, born in Bradford, Yorkshire, educated at St Bede's Grammar School, Bradford; he was prominent among the ‘Angry Young Men’ of northern English fiction. Braine had worked as a librarian in the north of England. He began writing Room at the Top (1957) while recovering from TB in a sanatorium. Its realistic portrayal of life in a dour provincial town, and its story of the cynical Joe Lampton making his way to the top, set the agenda for a whole genre of contemporary writing; the novel was made into a film in 1959. His second novel, The Vodi (1959), was a supernatural tale concerning a TB patient plagued by judgemental aliens. He returned to the characters and setting of his first book in Life at the Top (1962); Joe Lampton has married the boss's daughter but becomes disenchanted with the bourgeois world he had pursued with such unscrupulousness. Braine subsequently moved to the south of England and abandoned his angry left-wing political position. His finest novel of this period is The Jealous God (1964), a hard-edged story of a Catholic schoolmaster caught between the repellent forces of marriage and the priesthood in a community which recognizes no other vocations. Braine's later works include The Crying Game (1968); Stay with Me till Morning (1970), which was televised; The Pious Agent (1975), a thriller; One and Last Love (1981); and the autobiographical novel These Golden Days (1985). Man at the Top was a television series based on his early novels. A prolific literary journalist, Braine published a study of J. B. Priestley in 1979.

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