GOING OFF THE RAILS

David Holbrook : 1-902918-14-2
A reconstruction of rural life in Edwardian Norfolk.

Set in the unusual industrial village of Melton Constable in Norfolk at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, grandfather William built wagons in the Midland and Great Northern Railway workshops. David Holbrook describes with considerable insight the effect on domestic life of the twelve-hour working day, grinding poverty and unremitting child-bearing.

Whilst the women draw their strength from the weekly visit to the church, the men rely on the evening conviviality of the pub, often with degrading consequences.

One son is employed as a railway booking clerk in North Walsham but, under suspicion of theft, is moved to Norwich where he meets his future wife. They endure many hardships before being reunited at the end of the First World War.


The Author

David Holbrook was born in Norwich in 1923 and in 1941 won a scholarship to Downing College, Cambridge. A year later he joined the East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry and described the D-Day landings in his second novel Flesh Wounds.

He completed his degree in 1947 and became Editor of Our Time and then worked for the WEA in Leicestershire and later as a Tutor at Bassingbourn Village College. He was made a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge in 1961 and wrote English for the Rejected for the lowest streams of secondary schools.

He wrote a number of novels and volumes of poetry, as well as critical studies of Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, Gustav Mahler, C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens and Lewis Carroll. He was made an Emeritus Fellow of Downing College in 1989 and died on 11th August, 2011.


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