Event 35 | Melvyn Bragg | Back in the Day


Melvyn Bragg – Back in the Day – A Memoir

Melvyn Bragg revisits his childhood and youth growing up above a pub in the bustling Cumbrian market town of Wigton surrounded by the inspirational beauty of the lakeland landscape. From the early years alone with his mother, while his father fought in the war, to the moment he left for Oxford University and pastures new, this is the captivating memoir of a working class boy with a passion for books. His is an insight into what shaped his life as writer, broadcaster and champion of The Arts. Melvyn is the supremo of the award winning South Bank Show since 1977 and has hosted BBC Radio Four’s addictive In Our Time since 1998.

In conversation with Bryan Appleyard

When: Friday 11th November 2022 @ 2.30 pm
Where: Electric Palace
Sponsored by: Robert and Diana Clarke


Melvyn Bragg was born in Wigton Cumbria and after graduating from Oxford University, he joined the BBC and in 1965 published his first novel: For Want of a Nail, which was hailed as a debut of striking originality and praised for its passionate observation of both landscape and people. Many of his subsequent novels have similarly been set in Cumbria, including Without a City Wall, which won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1986, The Hired Man, winner of the Time/Life Silver Pen Award, A Place in England, long listed for the Man Booker Prize and bestsellers The Maid of Buttermere and  A Soldier’s Return, which won the WH Smith Literary Award and A Son of War and The Crossing both long listed for the Booker Prize. He is the author of several works of non fiction including The Adventure of English, The Book of Books and most recently his memoir: Back in the Day about growing up in Cumbria.  He has edited and presented The South Bank Show on television since 1977 and hosted In Our Time on BBC Radio 4 since 1998.  Appointed a life peer in 1998 – Lord Bragg of Wigton – he divides  his time between London and Cumbria.
Is Melvyn’s memoir of a working class boy who lived in a pub in Wigton and expected to leave school at fifteen.  After a breakdown, he developed a passion for books and learning that led him to Oxford University. It is an elegiac, intimate account of growing up in post-war Cumbria evoking a vanished world.  It is equally the tale of all that formed him: a community-spirited northern town still steeped in the old ways; the glorious lakeland landscapes that inspired him; and the people in his close-knit world.  Poignantly evoking a world that has disappeared, Bragg explores the many crossroads of adolescence which gives a striking insight into what shaped his future life as a writer, a broadcaster and a champion of the arts.
Educated in Yorkshire and Cambridge University, Bryan Appleyard was Financial News Editor and Deputy Arts Editor at The Times until 1984. He has subsequently written features for many publications including The Sunday Times, New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Spectator and New Statesman.  He has been Feature Writer of the Year three times at the British Press Awards and also Interviewer of the Year. He was appointed CBE in 2019 for services to the arts and journalism.

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