Stan Barstow died last year. He wrote A Kind of Loving, and somehow got himself included under the ‘angry young men’ tag of the mid 1950s. He just caught the tail end – along with David Storey’s This Sporting Life. The precise definitions were vague — but if you wrote a book in that era and Tony Richardson made a film of it, the chances are you were an Angry Young Man. Tony Richardson made Look Back in Anger, The Entertainer, A Taste of Honey (thus making Shelagh Delaney both an angry young man and a rich young woman) and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. Stan Barstow got John Schlesinger for his film (Storey got Lindsay Anderson).
Not surprising maybe that Barstow won a Writer’s Guild award for best British Dramatisation — but he didn’t get it for A Kind of Loving. He turned down the chance to work on it … he felt too close to the material. Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall took it on. (They’d just successfully collaborated on adapting Waterhouse’s Billy Liar for the stage.) When he asked them how they were getting on they said: “You’ll love the bullfight sequence.” Peter Guttridge/Independent
Stan Barstow actually hailed from Horbury in the West Riding, but no matter. Born in 1928, he would have had personal experience of the Yorkshire of the 1930s as a child. Which is the setting for South Riding, Winifred Holtby’s description of life in the depression years in the mythical fourth riding of Yorkshire. Those in the know reckon it was actually set in the East Riding where she lived while writing the book. Hull became Kingsport, Sunk Island became Cold Harbour Colony and White Hall in Winestead became Robert Carne’s Maythorpe Hall.
So when in 1974 Yorkshire TV were looking for someone to adapt Winfred Holtby’s novel, they asked the man from West Riding to dramatise South Riding which was really East Riding.
And that’s what he won his Writer’s Guild award for.