Hall, Michael (2008)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
In this thesis I investigate Francis Brett Young’s Birmingham portrait in his North Bromwich novels, showing it to be a valid interpretation, though biased to suit the anti-urban prejudices of its author. Chapter One sets Young in his biographical and literary context. Birmingham during the North Bromwich era (c1870-1939) is examined and the role of novels as historical source established. In Chapter Two I define and explore Young’s North Bromwich canon, one exemplar among many historical realities, and show that the name and soubriquets of North Bromwich interpret Birmingham. Chapter Three investigates North Bromwich’s climate and topography, commercial, political and civic life, indicating clear Birmingham parallels. Chapter Four describes North Bromwich suburbs, housing and transport, each of which accurately replicates Birmingham originals. In Chapter Five I show North Bromwich’s recreational and religious life reflecting Young’s own Birmingham experience. Chapter Six traces North Bromwich’s interpretation of Birmingham’s educational provision, particularly concentrating upon its university’s evolution. Chapter Seven establishes links between North Bromwich and Birmingham medicine, revealing thinly-disguised fictional characters as key Birmingham practioners. Summarizing the above, Chapter Eight confirms the integrity of Young’s North Bromwich portrait and his seminal role in the on-going literary interpretation of Birmingham.
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