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England’s history boy

Melvyn Bragg's celebrity means that his novels are not usually taken seriously by critics. But his widely read sagas of family and place, depicting a vanishing England, make him one of the most important national novelists we have

By Robert Colls   May 2008

Melvyn Bragg has been a uniquely influential figure in British broadcasting and the arts for over 40 years. He holds the chancellorship of the University of Leeds and a seat in the House of Lords, numerous civic, charitable and business appointments, and a dozen honorary doctorates—and he is the author of 20 novels. In 1999 he began a series of autobiographical fictions based on his upbringing in Cumbria, the fourth (and most personal) of which appeared in April. Just what these novels mean, and what they might go on to mean, are questions that illuminate much that is both important…

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