“I was born in 1928, on March 4th, under the sign of Pisces, in the front bedroom of a red-bricked council house on the further outskirts of Nottingham. We left the neighbourhood some months later, and though I lived a few miles from it during much of my life, I didn’t see the house till I was over forty, while casually walking around the area one day. Otherwise it had had no interest for me.”
In this essay, first published in 1975, and the only autobiographical piece currently in print, Sillitoe describes his childhood and his early years as a writer. He tells of his relationship with books when he was young, his family and their wartime experiences, his recovery from tuberculosis after service in the Air Force, and his travels with Ruth Fainlight.
Much of the essay focuses on his relationship with Robert Graves, who became friends with the couple while they lived in Majorca, and encouraged Sillitoe to write a book set in Nottingham. Thus Saturday Night and Sunday Morning was written.
Alan Sillitoe achieved national fame through the book and film, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. First published in 1958, it remains in print, as does his The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, which was also made into a film in the 1960s. Sillitoe went on to write another thirty novels and collections of short stories, a dozen collections of essays and travel writing, volumes of poetry, several children's books, and screenplays.