Books

A Local Habitation

Richard Hoggart

Richard Hoggart's book, The Uses of Literary, established his reputation as a uniquely sensitive and observant chronicler of English working-class life. In this vivid first volume of autobiography he describes his origins in that milieu. Orphaned at an early age, Hoggart grew up in a working-class district of Leeds, in an intimate world of terraced back-to-backs, visits from the local Board of Guardians, clothing checks and potted-meat sandwiches. With affectionate insight he recreates the family circle - a loving grandmother, one domineering and on gentle aunt, and a bibulous, melancholy uncle - and recalls his early schooling, the friends he made and the mentors he admired. Hard-working and articulate, Hoggart did well enough at grammar school to go on to Leeds University. This volume ends as, having earned a higher degree and travelled in Nazi Germany, he prepares to leave Yorkshire, via the Army, for the world beyond. Wry, compassionate, exact, A Local Habitation is a classic recreation of working-class England between the wars.

The Uses of Literacy

Richard Hoggart (and others)

When a society becomes more affluent, does it lose other values? Are the skills that education and literacy gave millions wasted on consuming pop culture? Do the media coerce us into a world of the superficial and the material - or can they be a force for good?

When Richard Hoggart asked these questions in his 1957 book The Uses of Literacy Britain was undergoing huge social change, yet his landmark work has lost none of its pertinence and power today. Hoggart gives a fascinating insight into the close-knit values of Northern England's vanishing working-class communities, and weaves this together with his views on the arrival of a new, homogenous 'mass' US-influenced culture. His headline-grabbing bestseller opened up a whole new area of cultural study and remains essential reading, both as a historical document, and as a commentary on class, poverty and the media.

The Way of All Flesh

Samuel Butler (and others)

'I am the enfant terrible of literature and science. If I cannot, and I know I cannot, get the literary and scientific big-wigs to give me a shilling, I can, and I know I can, heave bricks into the middle of them.' With The Way of All Flesh, Samuel Butler threw a subversive brick at the smug face of Victorian domesticity. Published in 1903, a year after Butler's death, the novel is a thinly disguised account of his own childhood and youth 'in the bosom of a Christian family'. With irony, wit and sometimes rancour, he savaged contemporary values and beliefs, turning inside-out the conventional novel of a family's life through several generations.

The Road to Wigan Pier

George Orwell (and others)

A searing account of George Orwell's observations of working-class life in the bleak industrial heartlands of Yorkshire and Lancashire in the 1930s, The Road to Wigan Pier is a brilliant and bitter polemic that has lost none of its political impact over time. His graphically unforgettable descriptions of social injustice, cramped slum housing, dangerous mining conditions, squalor, hunger and growing unemployment are written with unblinking honesty, fury and great humanity. It crystallized the ideas that would be found in Orwell's later works and novels, and remains a powerful portrait of poverty, injustice and class divisions in Britain.

Published with an introduction by Richard Hoggart in Penguin Modern Classics.

'It is easy to see why the book created and still creates so sharp an impact ... exceptional immediacy, freshness and vigour, opinionated and bold ... Above all, it is a study of poverty and, behind that, of the strength of class-divisions'
Richard Hoggart

The Way We Live Now

Richard Hoggart

'This is his most powerful book since THE USES OF LITERACY and. . . deserves to be equally widely read. ' SUNDAY TIMES Richard Hoggart is one of Britain's most distinguished cultural critics. In this clear-eyed and controversial book he sets himself to take the temperature of the nation at the end of the 20th century - to test its blood for health and heartiness, sample its imagination for largeness amd magnanimity, conduct examinations of its intelligence, judgement and moral sense. As always, he makes us see how responsible we all are for the way we live now. 'Compelling, very important' NEW STATESMAN and SOCIETY

Biography

Richard Hoggart was born in Leeds and educated at Leeds University. As Professor of Modern English Literature at Birmingham University, he founded the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. For five years he was assistant Director of Unesco at its headquarters in Paris, where he and his wife still live. Until 1984 he was Warden of Goldsmith's College, University of London. His many works range from The Uses of Literacy, Speaking to Each Other, An English Temper, to An Idea of Europe (with Douglas Johnson). His recent work includes the highly acclaimed autobiographical trilogy A Local Habitation, A Sort of Clowning, and An Imagined Life, and the inimitable study of modern provincial life, Townscape with Figures: Farnham - Portrait of an English Town.