Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Leslie Halward

Leslie Halward (1905-1976)

786 Bristol Road

Leslie Halward was raised "over a pork butcher's shop in what was then known as the High Street, Selly Oak, Birmingham." The shop is now what you see above, and never a more non-descript shop could be seen. The picture below shows how it used to be.

Halward was one of the Birmingham Group of writers whose short stories were published by Edward J. O'Brien. In 1936 twenty-three of Halward's stories were collected in To Sea On Sunday.

Written with great economy, Halward's stories are often funny, sometimes sentimental, rounded into parable or enigmatically left hanging. All but one are of their time, concerning themselves with the lives of the working class or the new lower-middle class of the 1930s. This was the time when the suburbs were under consruction throughout the nation, and several of the stories are set in the half-built estates on the edge of Birmingham.

from Frost:

'On the outskirts of the town a new estate was being built. Several hundred houses were completed and already inhabited. These were built alternately in twos and fours, rough-cast, washed over in cream or white, with doors and window-frames painted green. The smooth tarmac roads were wide and straight, flanked by grass verges, newly mown. Electric lamp standards with graceful curved necks stood at regular intervals along the edges of the flagged pavements. Everything looked clean and fresh.'

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