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British Industrial Fictions

British Industrial Fictions is a collection of essays on the fiction which represented the contexts, aspirations and dramas experienced by the people who worked in industry in Britain over a period of two hundred years. This fictional material was usually produced in conscious resistance to the dominant culture of the day, sometimes by middle-class sympathisers, but often by workers themselves who found time, somehow, to write about their stark experiences.

Some of the essays in this collection discuss little-known aspects of industrial fiction, such as the early fiction about seamstresses, industrial writing by Welsh women authors, the largely unknown representations of ship-builders, nineteenth century nail-workers, late twentieth-century Scottish unemployed. Other essays reconsider well-known major authors and periods such as Robert Tressell, James Hanley, Alan Sillitoe, Lewis Jones, the literature of the 1926 strike; and some essays look at structural features of industrial writing such as the relation between fiction and industrial accidents in the nineteenth century, and the literary patterns of 1930s writing.

212 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2000

Economics and Business: Business--Industry and Labor

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“ . . .  a fine and stimulating collection, offering a useful range of new approaches . . .” –New Welsh Review

New Welsh Review

“ . . . stimulating papers . . . Overall the volume does what good criticism should do – send one back to the writers themselves.” –Planet


“ . . . a worthy and welcome collection of essays . . . a valuable undertaking to attempt to fill a hole in our records of class struggle in industrial settings in British fiction, and such work is a vital contribution to a reassessment of the literary canon, which has been taking place along gender lines but not so much along class lines.” –Literature and History

Literature and History

Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors
1.    Introduction
          H. Gustav Klaus and Stephen Knight
2.    ’Graphic Narratives and Discoveries of Horror’: the Feminization of Labour in Nineteenth-century Radical Fiction
          Ian Haywood
3.    Accidents of Production: Industrialism and the Worker’s Body in Early Victorian Fiction
          Mike Sanders
4.    ’In the Darg’: Fiction Nails the Midlands Metal-worker
          Valentine Cunningham
5.    The Shipbuilders’ Story
          H. Gustav Klaus
6.    Highs and Lows: the Problem of ’Culture’ in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists
          Gary Day
7.    Fire and Horror: the Representation of Teesside in Fiction
          Andy Croft
8.    Tone of Voice in Industrial Writing in the 1930s
          Simon Dentith
9.    James Hanley’s The Furys: Modernism and the Working Class
          John Fordham
10.  Lewis Jones’s Cwmardy and We Live: Two Welsh Proletarian Novels in Transatlantic Perspective
          Rolf Meyn
11.  ’Two Strikes and You’re Out’: 1926 and 1984 in Welsh Industrial Fiction
          James A. Davies
12.  Arthur Seaton and the Machine: a New Reading of Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
          Kathleen Bell
13.  ’The Uncertainties and Hesitations that were the Truth’: Welsh Industrial Fictions by Women
          Stephen Knight
14.  ’Work as If you Live in the Early Days of a Better Nation’: Scottish Fiction and the Experience of Industry
          Ian A. Bell
15.  People Like That: the Fiction of Agnes Owens
          Ingrid von Rosenberg

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