DAVID SILLITOE – Chairman
As Alan Sillitoe’s son, I took on the role of Chairman of the Committee to guide the strategy and inform the tactics as we embark on the huge task of raising the necessary funds to commission a statue of Alan, in the city of his birth, to which he always felt such a profound affinity.
But more than this, I feel that Alan’s legacy in the minds of Nottingham people, and indeed his readers worldwide, should be preserved and expanded in other ways. This is something we will be working towards over the next few years, and I am grateful for the support and enthusiasm of all the Committee members.
JULIA SILLITOE – Secretary
My job as Secretary is primarily to support the Committee members, to organise and minute Meetings and to ensure that the procedures flow smoothly. In addition I bring to bear my Marketing and Education experience.
VIV APPLE – Treasurer
Alan Sillitoe was a member of Nottingham Writers’ Club in the early 1950s, and entered many of the club’s competitions, which he regularly won. I became aware of this when, in the 1980s and ‘90s, I was editor of the club magazine Scribe.
For our special edition celebrating the club’s diamond jubilee in 1987 I wrote to some of our most distinguished former members to ask for a contribution.
Alan wrote back at once with fond memories, and in a back copy of Scribe I found one of his winning articles (about his experiences in Malaya in 1945), together with the adjudicator’s glowing comments. All of these went into the special edition. Over the years, Alan came back to speak to the club at least twice – generous with his advice, modestly given.
When the Alan Sillitoe Committee was formed to keep his memory alive and to start the statue fund, I was pleased to bring to it my experience of running competitions, both for the Writers’ Club and for Nottingham Poetry Society. The statue fund’s current one, the Alan Sillitoe Open Poetry Competition, to be adjudicated by the poet Ruth Fainlight, should bring the project wider publicity as well as increasing our bank balance.
My favourite book of Alan’s is ‘A Man of his Time’ (2004). I found this novel to be both brutal and tender – an achievement which Alan seemed to be able to repeat throughout so much of his work. Although the character of Burton is despicable in many ways, he is the essential core of the story and impossible to dismiss. All of Alan’s characters ring true because he imbued them with the honesty, lucidity and depth of feeling that he himself possessed.
JAMES K WALKER
I first discovered Alan Sillitoe in my late teens and was impressed by his ability to present the lives of ordinary people on their own terms.
Most importantly, I learned through his characters that respect is something that has to be earned rather than a given. This, combined with a phenomenal literary output, is the reason Alan should never be forgotten. He is truly a local legend.
As a journalist, my role on the committee is to organise events and publicity. I have a good knowledge of the local scene due to my work at LeftLion and the Nottingham Writers’ Studio and I hope that through Alan, we may be able to raise the profile of other writers and organisations in the area. This is something that would please Alan as he was very supportive of local writers. So if you want to get involved, please contact us immediately.
I guess obvious choices for a favourite character would be Arthur Seaton and Colin Smith but instead I’m going to plump for a tyrannical blacksmith who would make absolute mincemeat of the pair of them: Ernest Burton from ‘A Man of his Time’. Charismatic one moment, stubborn, selfish and authoritarian the next, he is the most rounded character to ever grace a page. I absolutely hated him at certain points in the book, but I always understood who he was, what motivated him and how he was a victim of changing times. He is a typical Sillitoe character; complex and contradictory, but most of all, a lovable rogue.
As someone who has lived in Nottingham since the mid-seventies, I’m incredibly proud of our city and its history and heritage. That’s one of the things that attracted me to the work of Alan Sillitoe, who has done so much to bring the spirit of this great city to the attention of a truly international audience.
I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Alan when he was made an honorary Freeman of the City of Nottingham in 2008. I found him to be completely genuine and down to earth and one of the nicest people I have had the good fortune to meet.
Alan showed how a person from very humble beginnings can rise to the heights of worldwide acclaim. He is one of Nottingham’s leading lights and deserves recognition for what he has achieved for our city.
So when the idea of a statue to commemorate Alan was proposed, I was delighted to be part of trying to make this happen. Hopefully, I’ll be able to use my previous experience of fundraising for another of Nottingham’s iconic institutions, Notts County FC, to help achieve the statue fund’s ambitions.
I met Alan Sillitoe for the first time in the early 1990’s. We were filming in Radford to mark the Honorary degree Alan was about to collect from the University of Nottingham. But Radford had changed so much since Alan’s day that we got lost among the maze of cul-de-sacs.
In those days I was a reporter for East Midlands today. I am now the Editor and a producer/reporter for the current affairs programme ‘Inside Out’. I commissioned a film marking the fiftieth anniversary of ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’, and later produced a film with Billy Ivory which paid tribute to Alan’s legacy.
My favourite Alan Sillitoe novel is ‘Down from the Hill’. It evokes memories of my own cycling days as a teenager in Leicestershire. But I never got to ‘spitfire’ through the streets as furiously as Alan.
My granddad worked down the pit at Annesley; my dad was a truck driver. I read ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’ when I was fifteen. Immediately the connection was made. Here were characters I knew. Working class, anti-authoritarian characters who worked hard, drank hard and were fiercely loyal if you were on their side.
I met Alan Sillitoe twice, very briefly: once at a witty and inspiring talk he gave to the Nottingham Writers’ Club, once at a screening of ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’ at the Broadway Cinema.
It’s been a labour of love creating the website. Alan preferred the low-tech virtues of the manual typewriter, his manuscripts corrected by hand, but I hope he would have approved of www.sillitoe.com.
The work of Alan Sillitoe first spoke to me as a young teenager in the dark days of the three-day-week in the mid seventies. Alan spoke for working class communities and men like my father who toiled long hours underground in the North Notts coalfield.
I later moved to Nottingham where I met Radford folk who worked in the huge, sprawling Raleigh factory that formed the bustling backdrop to Karel Reisz’s iconic movie adaptation of ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’.
I had the priviledge of working as a designer for Raleigh during the 1990s. Later in 2002 I co-authored ‘Nottingham in the 1980s’ with my friend Chris Richards. The book chronicled the end of the great Raleigh factory era and we were so proud to learn that Alan saw our work.
I wonder what he would make of our endeavours today as we extend his legacy into the digital domain through mobile web and social media channels?