The Work of Lionel Britton

Shaw, Tony (2007). The Work of Lionel Britton. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis is the first long study of the forgotten novelist and playwright Lionel Britton, whose creative works were all published in the 1930s. Throughout, the emphasis is on his only published novel, the very long and experimental Hunger and Love (1931). The Lionel Britton Collection at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, U. S. A., along with many unpublished materials of Britton's, holds former states of the novel, and I use a large amount of this material in my thesis; I suggest reasons why the content of the typescripts was gradually changed from the 1920s to 1930. Another vital issue is Britton's status as a working-class author, and it is my contention that Hunger and Love is an important working-class novel, although it has been almost totally neglected by the critics recovering this sub-genre. My thesis also addresses modernism in working-class fiction, a subject which has all too often been ignored by the almost automatic foregrounding of realism, and is a strong feature of Hunger and Love. Following this, my thesis broadens out to cover political minorities represented as outsiders in literature, and deals with the unmarried woman, the homosexual and the non-white, comparing them with the working-class protagonist in Hunger and Love. The concluding chapter involves the utopias and dystopias of minority groups, with special reference to Britton's Brain (1930) and Spacetime Inn (1932), which as plays are very unusual to the science fiction genre.

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