George Blake (novelist)

George Blake (1893–1961) was a Scottish journalist, literary editor and novelist. His The Shipbuilders (1935) is considered a significant and influential effort to write about the Scottish industrial working class.[1][2] "At a time when the idea of myth was current in the Scottish literary world and other writers were forging theirs out of the facts and spirit of rural life, Blake took the iron and grease and the pride of the skilled worker to create one for industrial Scotland."[3] As a literary critic, he wrote a noted work against the Kailyard school of Scottish fiction; and is taken to have formulated a broad-based thesis as cultural critic of the "kailyard" representing the "same ongoing movement in Scottish culture" that leads to "a cheapening, evasive, stereotyped view of Scottish life."[4] He was well known as a BBC radio broadcaster by the 1930s.

Early life

He was born in Greenock, the son of Matthew Blake, machinery manufacturer, and his wife Ursula Scott McCulloch. He was educated at Greenock Academy and Glasgow University.[1] He then trained as a solicitor.[5] During World War I he served in the British Army and was wounded during the Gallipoli Campaign.[1]

After the war Blake worked at the Glasgow Evening News, where Neil Munro was editor from 1918.[1][6] At this period he had contact with Red Clydeside through his dramatic works, sitting on the council of the Scottish National Players.[7] As a playwright, he came under the influence of Andrew P. Wilson.[8][9]

London journalist

Blake moved to London where he stayed from 1924 to 1932.[1] There he was an editor of John O'London's Weekly, replacing Sidney Dark as subeditor and writing a number of columns, to 1928; and then edited the Strand Magazine.[10][11]

The Porpoise Press and Faber & Faber

The Porpoise Press, in existence from 1922 to 1939, was founded in Edinburgh by Roderick Watson Kerr and George Malcolm Thomson.[12] Blake had contact with Thomson from 1923, when the Press published his one-act play The Mother.[13] Thomson's 1927 book Caledonia broached the "condition of Scotland" question that preoccupied Blake and other Scottish intellectuals into the 1930s.[14]

Late in 1929, Blake was introduced to Geoffrey Faber, by Frank Vigor Morley.[15] He became in 1930 a director of Faber & Faber, playing a role in the Porpoise Press: Faber & Faber effectively took it over, through interest in Scottish national literature.[1][16] Morning Tide (1931), a novel by Neil Gunn, was an immediate commercial success for the Press.[17]

At this point Thomson and Blake were aligned in nationalist politics. Thomson's 1931 pamphlet The Kingdom of Scotland Restored, advocating a form of Scottish home rule, had Blake's approval, and the Introduction was signed by Blake, Andrew Dewar Gibb, Moray McLaren and William Power.[18] By that year, Blake had joined the National Party of Scotland (NPS).[19] Gunn became involved in the efforts, which succeeded, to merge the NPS, of the left, with the conservative Scottish Party; on Thomson's account, Blake encouraged Gunn to do so.[20]

Returning to Scotland in 1932, Blake worked for the Porpoise Press, which in 1934 published William Power's My Scotland.[1][21][22] Both Gibb and Power later became leaders of the merged Scottish National Party.

Blake and Thomson then fell out, with Thomson resigning from the Press in 1933. It published his Scotland That Distressed Area in 1935. Blake's The Shipbuilders was published the same year, by Faber & Faber. They differed in method: Thomson offered partisan polemics, Blake a journalist's realism expressed as a novel.[23]

Later life

Blake lived at The Glenan, Helensburgh and elsewhere. He was a radio broadcaster and literary journalist; and was visited by T. S. Eliot.[1][24] He had a regular position on This Week in Scotland, BBC Scottish Region Radio. This was despite some reservations on the part of Andrew Stewart, Scottish Programme Director, who thought Blake's nationalist views were too overt, and would have preferred Eric Linklater.[25]

Blake died in Glasgow's Southern General Hospital on 29 August 1961, survived by his wife Eliza Malcolm Lawson (Ellie), whom he had married in 1923.[1]

Works

Fiction and films

Blake's novels have been described as "resolutely realistic, serious, socialistic, and nationalistic".[26] Their social realism included addressing industrialisation and urban poverty, topics neglected in Scottish literature until the 1920s and 1930s.[27][28] He wrote a number of "Glasgow novels", as well as other fiction.[29] Hugh Macdiarmid discussed in 1926 a "new Glasgow school" of novelists, listing figures of whom only Catherine Carswell attained the same sort of stature as Blake.[30]

  • Mince Collop Close (1923)[31]
  • The Wild Men (1925))[31]
  • Young Malcolm (1926))[31]
  • Paper Money (1928), US title Gettin' in Society[31]
  • The Path of Glory (1929),[31] about the Gallipoli campaign, in the "soldier's tale" genre.[32]
  • Returned Empty (1931)[31]
  • The Shipbuilders (1935),[1] subsequently a film The Shipbuilders from 1943.[33] The film has been described as a more authentic representation of working-class Glasgow.[34] James Kelman took the novel's third-person narrative as exemplary of narrative laden with a value system.[35]
  • David and Joanna (1936)[31]
  • Down to the Sea (1937), autobiographical[36]
  • "Garvel" novel series; these five popular works about the Oliphant family had a television adaptation.[36][11] After Late Harvest (1938)[31] came The Valiant Heart (1940), The Constant Star (1945), The Westering Sun (1946), The Paying Guest (1949), and The Voyage Home (1952).[37]
  • The Piper's Tune (1950), Clydeside[38]
  • The Peacock Palace (1958)[31]

Floodtide (1949) was a feature film with a screenplay involving Blake.[39]

Drama

Non-fiction and essays

In later life, Blake wrote factually about Clydeside, shipbuilders and shipping lines.[42][31] "Blake's thesis essentially is that the history of the Clyde is a glorious tale of great ships, born out of traditions of craftsmanship and mechanical genius unrivalled anywhere in the world."[43]

  • Vagabond Papers (1922)[31]
  • The Press and the Public (1930)[44]
  • The Heart of Scotland (1934) and later editions. In the 1951 edition Blake drew attention to industrial Central Belt locations as an antidote to received views of Scottish life.[45] He encouraged a realism in relation to Scottish life, but stopping short of the reportage of sectarianism and slums.[46]
  • Rest and Be Thankful (1934)[31]
  • R.M.S. Queen Mary (1936)[37]
  • British Ships and Shipbuilders (1946)[37]
  • Scottish Enterprise and Shipbuilding (1947)[37]
  • Mountain and Flood: The history of the 52nd Lowland Division 1939–1946 (1950)[31]
  • Barrie and the Kailyard School (1951);[1] as a critic, Blake was dismissive of J. M. Barrie in "literal and naturalistic terms".[26]
  • The Firth of Clyde (1952)[11]
  • Annals of Scotland 1895–1955: An essay on the twentieth-century Scottish novel (1956)[31]
  • The Ben Line (1956)[37]
  • Clyde Lighthouses (1956)[37]
  • B.I. Centenary, 1856–1956: The Story of the British India Steam Navigation Co. (1957): Blake was official historian of the British India Line.[47]
  • Lloyd's Register of Shipping 1760–1960 (1960)[37]
  • Gellarly's 1862–1962 (1962)[37]
  • The Gourock (1963), on The Gourock Ropeworks Co.[48]

Notes

  1. Burgess, Moira. "Blake, George". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/40288.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. Michael Lynch, ed. (2011). The Oxford Companion to Scottish History. OUP Oxford. p. 159. ISBN 9780199693054.
  3. Elliot, Robert David (1977) The Glasgow novel. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow. at p. 143
  4. Andrew Nash, (2004) William Robertson Nicoll, the Kailyard novel and the question of popular culture. Scottish Studies Review, 5 (1). pp. 57–73. ISSN 1745-3186 at note 2.
  5. McKechnie, George (2013). The Best-hated Man: George Malcolm Thomson, Intellectuals and the Condition of Scotland Between the Wars. Argyll Publishing. p. 256. ISBN 9781908931320.
  6. Renton, Ronald W. "Munro, Neil". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/40351.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. Leach, Robert (2018). An Illustrated History of British Theatre and Performance: Volume Two - From the Industrial Revolution to the Digital Age. Routledge. ISBN 9780429873331.
  8. Burch, Steven Dedalus (2008). Andrew P. Wilson and the Early Irish and Scottish National Theatres, 1911-1950. Edwin Mellen Press. p. 94. ISBN 9780773450844.
  9. "Scottish Theatre Archive". special.lib.gla.ac.uk.
  10. Collier, Patrick (2016). Modern Print Artefacts: Textual Materiality and Literary Value in British Print Culture, 1890-1930s. Edinburgh University Press. p. 127. ISBN 9781474413480.
  11. Terry, Stephen (2011). Glasgow Almanac: An A-Z of the City and its People. Neil Wilson Publishing. ISBN 9781906476250.
  12. Finkelstein, David (2007). Edinburgh History of the Book in Scotland, Volume 4: Professionalism and Diversity 1880-2000. Edinburgh University Press. p. 140. ISBN 9780748628841.
  13. McKechnie, George (2013). The Best-hated Man: George Malcolm Thomson, Intellectuals and the Condition of Scotland Between the Wars. Argyll Publishing. p. 41. ISBN 9781908931320.
  14. McKechnie, George (2013). The Best-hated Man: George Malcolm Thomson, Intellectuals and the Condition of Scotland Between the Wars. Argyll Publishing. p. 11. ISBN 9781908931320.
  15. Faber, Toby (2019). Faber & Faber: The Untold Story of a Great Publishing House. Faber & Faber. ISBN 9780571339068.
  16. Eliot, Thomas Stearns (2011). The Letters of T.S. Eliot. Yale University Press. p. 206 notes. ISBN 9780300211795.
  17. Pick, J. B. (2018). Neil Gunn. Oxford University Press. p. 16. ISBN 9781786946621.
  18. McKechnie, George (2013). The Best-hated Man: George Malcolm Thomson, Intellectuals and the Condition of Scotland Between the Wars. Argyll Publishing. p. 151. ISBN 9781908931320.
  19. Mitchell, James (2016). Scottish National Party (SNP) Leaders. Biteback Publishing. ISBN 9781785901232.
  20. McKechnie, George (2013). The Best-hated Man: George Malcolm Thomson, Intellectuals and the Condition of Scotland Between the Wars. Argyll Publishing. p. 42. ISBN 9781908931320.
  21. Watson, Roderick (2016). The Literature of Scotland. Macmillan International Higher Education. p. 407. ISBN 9781349861118.
  22. McKechnie, George (2013). The Best-hated Man: George Malcolm Thomson, Intellectuals and the Condition of Scotland Between the Wars. Argyll Publishing. p. 158. ISBN 9781908931320.
  23. McKechnie, George (2013). The Best-hated Man: George Malcolm Thomson, Intellectuals and the Condition of Scotland Between the Wars. Argyll Publishing. pp. 42 and 51. ISBN 9781908931320.
  24. Eliot, T. S. (2017). The Letters of T. S. Eliot Volume 7: 1934–1935. Faber & Faber. p. 798 note 3. ISBN 9780571316373.
  25. McKechnie, George (2013). The Best-hated Man: George Malcolm Thomson, Intellectuals and the Condition of Scotland Between the Wars. Argyll Publishing. pp. 192–3. ISBN 9781908931320.
  26. Jack, R. D. S. "Barrie, Sir James Matthew, baronet". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30617.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  27. Carruthers, Gerard; Goldie, David; Renfrew, Alastair (2012). Scotland and the 19th-Century World. Rodopi. p. 28. ISBN 9789401208376.
  28. The Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Fiction, 3 Volume Set. John Wiley & Sons. 2011. p. 340. ISBN 9781405192446.
  29. Elliot, Robert David (1977) The Glasgow novel. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
  30. Carruthers, Gerard; McIlvanney, Liam (2012). The Cambridge Companion to Scottish Literature. Cambridge University Press. p. 223. ISBN 9780521189361. Others mentioned included Dot Allan, John Carruthers, John Cockburn, John Macnair Reid and George Woden.
  31. Watson, George; Willison, Ian R. (1972). The New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature. CUP Archive. p. cclxxxvi.
  32. Macleod, Jenny (2004). Reconsidering Gallipoli. Manchester University Press. p. 172 note 82. ISBN 9780719067433.
  33. Pattinson, Juliette; McIvor, Arthur; Robb, Linsey (2017). Men in reserve: British civilian masculinites in the Second World War. Oxford University Press. p. 137. ISBN 9781526106131.
  34. Duke, A. C. (2012). Britain and the Netherlands: Volume VI War and Society Paper Delivered to the Sixth Anglo-Dutch Historical Conference. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 226. ISBN 9789400996748.
  35. Kövesi, Simon (2007). James Kelman. Manchester University Press. p. 11. ISBN 9780719070976.
  36. Crawford, Robert (2009). Scotland's Books: A History of Scottish Literature. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199888979.
  37. Royle, Trevor (1984). Macmillan Companion to Scottish Literature. Macmillan International Higher Education. p. 32. ISBN 9781349075874.
  38. Blamires, Harry (1986). Twentieth-Century English Literature. Macmillan International Higher Education. p. 135. ISBN 9781349185115.
  39. Haider, Sandra-Elisabeth (2002). Scotland in feature film: The country s screen-image then and now, with focus on the City of Glasgow and the development of a Scottish film industry. diplom.de. p. 41. ISBN 9783832461201.
  40. Ewan, Elizabeth L.; Innes, Sue; Reynolds, Sian; Pipes, Rose (2007). Biographical Dictionary of ScottishWomen. Edinburgh University Press. p. 258. ISBN 9780748626601.
  41. "Scottish Theatre Archive - Event Details". special.lib.gla.ac.uk.
  42. Brown, Ian (2009). Edinburgh Companion to Twentieth-Century Scottish Literature. Edinburgh University Press. p. 104. ISBN 9780748636952.
  43. Elliot, Robert David (1977) The Glasgow novel. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow. at p. 141
  44. Collier, Patrick (2016). Modern Print Artefacts: Textual Materiality and Literary Value in British Print Culture, 1890-1930s. Edinburgh University Press. p. 127. ISBN 9781474413480.
  45. Andrew Blaikie, Legacies of Perception: The Forgotten Places of Twentieth-Century Scotland, The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies Vol. 39, No. 1, Landscapes: Places of Memory, Subversive Spaces, and Boundary Crossings (2015), pp. 64–91, at p. 74. Published by: Canadian Journal of Irish Studies JSTOR 24635401
  46. Blaikie, Andrew (2013). Scots Imagination and Modern Memory. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9780748686315.
  47. Headrick, Daniel R. (1988). The Tentacles of Progress: Technology Transfer in the Age of Imperialism, 1850-1940. Oxford University Press. p. 369. ISBN 9780195051162.
  48. Tyson, William (1966). Rope: A History of the Hard Fibre Cordage Industry in the United Kingdom. Hard Fibre Cordage Institute. p. vii.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.