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Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory The Working Life of Herbert Allingham (1867-1936) by Julia Jones
  

Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory The Working Life of Herbert Allingham (1867-1936)

Biography / Autobiography   History   

RRP £17.99

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When I came to research some suitable titles to recommend along side Julia Jones’s Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory I found there weren't many titles. Indeed there was very little non-academic reading on this fascinating subject available making this study of early popular literature even more valuable. And, of course, there is the added interest of the subject of this biography being the father of Margery Allingham and the further revelation of the extent of the Allingham clan. Thanks to his daughters, Herbert Allingham’s archive has been preserved giving Julia Jones a treasure trove of material to work from. Herbert Allingham’s weekly newspaper and magazine serials were read by countless working class readers anxious for the latest cliff-hanger, he worked to a punishing schedule, unnamed, unrecognised, yet his story reveals a tremendous amount about the popular culture of the early C20 before radio and television took over the roll with The Archers, Eastenders and Coronation Street.

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Synopsis

Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory The Working Life of Herbert Allingham (1867-1936) by Julia Jones

Herbert Allingham was one of 'the men who wrote for the Million'. His melodramatic serial stories ran week after week in the halfpenny papers a hundred years ago. From his first published work in 1886 until his death in 1936 he entertained hundreds of thousands of working-class readers, bring colour and excitement into hard precarious lives. But was he an author? He didn't think so. Nothing he wrote was ever published in book form and, while the proprietors of the flimsy mass-market magazines made fortunes, their writers remained uncelebrated. This biography seeks to change that. Herbert Allingham's daughters, detective novelist Margery and her sister Joyce, were proud of their father. They kept boxfuls of his stories, diaries, account books and letters from editors. Julia Jones inherited this unique archive. She has used it to investigate the conditions of Allingham's working life and to glimpse some of his readers. Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory evokes the thrill of weekly fiction in the Great Age of Print.

Reviews

'This is an important contribution to book history and a moving memorial to the many anonymous writers who have kept us company in our reading lives.' Jenny Hartley (author of Charles Dickens and the House of Fallen Women)

About the Author

Julia Jones was born in Woodbridge Suffolk in 1954 and spent much of her childhood on board Peter Duck on the River Deben and elsewhere. She read Arthur Ransome's adventure stories as she lay in the quarterberth that had originally been designated as an area where he might store his typewriter. Like many female Ransome fans she could never quite make up her mind whether she wanted to be capable, swashbuckling Captain Nancy Blackett or sensitive, imaginative Able-seaman Titty.

She was however perfectly certain that she wanted to be the heroine of every pony book ever written and so was delighted when her parents moved to the family farm in Essex and she was allowed to own a particularly slow and stubborn wall-eyed pony on whom she dreamed about jumping five barred gates and returning home smothered in red rosettes.
The pony dream proved resilient. It lasted until she had married a farmer, acquired a succession of speedier and more co-operative horses and ridden in a point-to -point race. Meanwhile she had read English at Bristol University - specialising in Old and Middle English, as appropriate to someone who had grown up so near the Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo. When babies began displacing the horses, Julia realised that books were the common factor in all her enthusiasms. She opened a bookshop in the Essex village of Ingatestone and spent many happy hours with her children reading their way through the profits.

Bookselling developed into small scale local publishing and Julia discovered that Margery Allingham, who she admired hugely as a detective novelist, had also lived in Essex and written The Oaken Heart an autobiographical account of the early years of the Second World War. Julia re-issued this under her own imprint in1988. This was the beginning of a close friendship with Margery's sister Joyce Allingham who was still living in the village of Tolleshunt D'Arcy in Essex. Joyce gave Julia complete freedom to rummage through the Allingham family papers as she researched Margery's life for the biography published in 1991. Then, as Joyce realised she was hearning the end of her own life, she gave Julia all her father, Herbert Allingham's papers.

Julia meanwhile had met Francis and added two more children to her collection. She began working part time as a OFSTED lay inspector and increasingly full-time as a community organiser for the the WEA. This was absorbingly interesting but lacked the direct contact with books that is the focal point of Julia's life. After Joyce Allingham died in 2001, Julia used her legacy to study the mass of papers that are the record of Herbert Allingham's working life. Allingham was a fiction-writer and by the time Julia had finally dotted the last footnote in her PhD thesis Family Fictions in 2006 she realised that that was what she too wanted to be. Not a writer of melodramatic sagas but a writer of adventure stories, like those Swallows and Amazons tales she had read on Peter Duck so long ago. The Adventures of Margery Allingham has been republished, followed by new editions of Philip Allingham's Cheapjack and Margery's The Oaken Heart. Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory, her account of Herbert Allingham's working life is scheduled for publication in 2012. Best of all was the publication of The Salt-Stanied Bookin June 2011, followed in November by volume Two, A Ravelled Flag.

Meanwhile five grandchildren have somehow appeared on the scene.

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Book Info

Publication date

19th September 2012

Author

Julia Jones

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Author's Website

golden-duck.co.uk/

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Publisher

Golden Duck (UK) Ltd

Format

Paperback
390 pages

Categories

Biography / Autobiography
History

Biography: literary

ISBN

9781899262076

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