Alan Sillitoe, Nottingham's most famous contemporary author, was made an Honorary Freeman of the City of Nottingham at a special ceremony in June of 2008. He became Nottingham's 35th Honorary Freeman. William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, was the first person to be honoured in this way in 1905.
City Council Leader, Jon Collins said: "Alan Sillitoe is Nottingham's most significant author of modern times and a worthy successor to the literary giants Byron and Lawrence who came before him. I'm absolutely delighted he accepted the offer to become an Honorary Freeman of the City of Nottingham”.
Alan Sillitoe said: "It really is an honour. It's something I never thought I'd get. I'm staggered”.
Alan Sillitoe was born in Nottingham on 4 March 1928 and worked at the city’s Raleigh bicycle factory on leaving school at the age of 14. His first novel, the ground-breaking and critically acclaimed "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" painted a vivid picture of Nottingham life. Like Arthur Seaton, the anti-hero of this novel, his father worked at the Raleigh factory.
His next book "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner" was filmed in 1961 with Tom Courtenay in the leading role. Alan Sillitoe has published 25 novels as well as volumes of poetry, books for children, screenplays and essays.
A Brief Introduction
Alan Sillitoe left school at 14 to work in various factories until becoming an air traffic control assistant with the Ministry of Aircraft Production in 1945. He began writing after four years in the RAF, and lived for six years in France and Spain.
In 1958, the first of the 'Nottingham books' was published, "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning". Below is the complete list of Alan Sillitoe's Nottingham novels and stories featuring various members of the Seaton family.
1.Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958)
2.Key to the Door (1961)
3.Raw Material (1972)
4.The Storyteller (1979)
5.Down from the Hill (1984)
6.The Open Door (1989)
7.Leonard's War (1991)
8.The Broken Chariot (1998)
10.New and Collected Stories (2003)
11.A Man of His Time (2004)
"The magnet of the East Midlands had a self confidence no one could fault, a cosmopolitan go-ahead conurbation whose unique pulse animated young and old alike, the capital of his heart with a long history." Quotation from 'Birthday' (2001)
Want to discover more about the life of Alan Sillitoe? His compelling autobiography Life Without Armour (1995) is well worth reading.
Alan died on 25th April 2010 at Charing Cross Hospital in London after a long battle with cancer.