His output was prodigious: more than sixty volumes – a lot more if you count small press editions and limited printings – across six decades. Novels, short fiction, poetry, essays, travel writing, plays, film scripts, children’s books, a memoir. And letters. He corresponded enthusiastically, always writing in longhand: a beautiful, perfectly legible script in fountain pen. We’ve yet to see any evidence of a smudge. His literary output was typed, corrections made by hand. There was a brief experiment with word processing. It ended badly.
In putting together More Raw Material, we not only wanted to pay tribute to Alan Sillitoe, but to capture something of his spirit. So we asked our contributors for personal reminiscences, short fiction, essays, travel writing, poetry. Alan’s first chosen form as a writer was poetry yet his talents in this respect were never fully recognised, despite a handsome Collected Poems published in 1993. We hope this collection will stand as a corrective to the lazy, inaccurate “Alan Sillitoe as angry young man” theorising that fixates on three or four volumes from the outset of his career and misses the riches and diversity of a life’s work.
We also hope that it will entertain, inspire and invigorate. We are honoured that such a roster of talented and important writers – both established and up-and-coming – agreed to be part of this project. Alan left us in 2010. In assembling this anthology, it has felt like he’s never been gone.
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