Cover image for Forever England : North and South
Forever England : North and South
Bainbridge, Beryl, 1932-2010.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Carroll & Graf, 1999.

Physical Description:
174 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"Based on the television series, Forever England, which ... focused on the expectations and attitudes of six families, three in the North and three in the South."
Introduction -- The Macleans of Liverpool -- The Coglans of Hastings -- The Brittons of Barnsley -- The Powells of Bentley -- The Johnsons of Northumberland -- The Roses of Birmingham -- Epilogue.
Added Uniform Title:
Forever England (Television program)
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DA589.4 .B35 1987 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



History ignores what literature does not: ordinary people, families, jobs, humble expectations, the etiquette of simply being alive. So history may divide England into two nations, the industrial North and the agricultural South, but it fails to examine the social and human roots of that notion -- unlike Beryl Bainbridge in this illuminating chronicle of six representative English families, three in the North and three in the South, which defines not only the geographical borders that divide them but also examines the circumstances of birth, class, economic opportunity, and social custom that confine them.However common their experience -- coming of age during the depression that followed World War I and then experiencing the hardships of a second world war to become ultimately the beneficiaries of the Welfare State and of technological advances beyond their dreams -- the principals in these tales, based on a popular BBC television series, are far more distinctively the products of a place than of a time.

Author Notes

Beryl Bainbridge was born on November 21, 1934, in Liverpool, England. She became an actress at a young age and worked in English repertory theatres and on the radio. Her work contains dark, somber subject matter, deftly mixed with humor. Her writing acts as an outlet for her childhood frustrations, and frequently deals with family relations. In her novels, she recalls memories of disappointment and of a bad-tempered, brooding father.

During her lifetime, she wrote 18 novels including A Weekend with Claude, Another Part of the Wood, The Bottle Factory Outing, The Birthday Boys, According to Queeney, and Young Adolf. She adapted many of her novels, such as An Awfully Big Adventure, Sweet William, and The Dressmaker, for film. She has received numerous awards and honors including the Whitbread Award in 1977 for Injury Time and in 1996 for Every Man for Himself; the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction in 1998 for Master Georgie; a Guardian Fiction Award, and the David Cohen Prize for Literature in 2003. She was made a dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000. She died from cancer on July 2, 2010 at the age of 77.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Bainbridge's book is based on a series of interviews she conducted with six families, three from the north of England and three from the south, for a popular BBC television series. Although ostensibly about the differences between the two parts of the nation, the book is really as much about Bainbridge as it is about the Macleans, the Coglans, the Johnsons, and the rest. The Macleans live in Liverpool, and the time she spends with them launches her into reminiscences of her Liverpudlian girlhood, growing up in pinched circumstances with parents who had middle-class aspirations. The Coglans live in Hastings, where Bainbridge sent her schoolmaster on vacation in the novel Watson's Apology. The Powells of Bentley, within commuting distance from London, sent their sons away to boarding school, and this triggers a look back at Bainbridge's own boarding-school experiences. Bainbridge's razor-sharp powers of observation inform every page, as the various generations in the six families try to make sense of the social and economic forces that have transformed England over the years. --Mary Ellen Quinn

Publisher's Weekly Review

Based on a British TV series, English novelist Bainbridge's chatty group portrait of six English familiesÄthree from the North, three from the SouthÄoffers an unvarnished look at how ordinary English folks live, work and plan for the future. Her spin on the North/South dichotomy that still haunts England may come as a revelation to American readers unaware that England has its own cultural Mason-Dixon Line. Northerners, Bainbridge explains, display a grit and belligerence born of hard times and local customs; in contrast, soft-spoken Southerners exhibit a detached complacency, are more affluent and less preoccupied with regional roots. Furthermore, many Northerners feel they've had a raw deal, losing brains, talent and money to London and the South. A long-time Londoner, Bainbridge grew up in Liverpool and exhibits much ambivalence toward the old working communities of the North, especially toward what she perceives as a narrowness of outlook and lack of expectation. Half the book consists of her own nostalgic autobiographical reminiscences, recalling her fervent socialist father and thrifty, apolitical mother, her acting experience, early marriage and exodus from Liverpool. Writing with the gimlet wit and sharp eye familiar to readers of her novels (The Birthday Boys, etc.), Bainbridge gets her subjects to bare their souls as they cope with cramped living quarters, joblessness, mortgages and life's various traumas. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Based on a six-part BBC series that originally aired in Britain in the 1980s, this volume mixes interviews and memoir to explore the lives of three families from the north and three from the south of England at the height of the Thatcher era. Bainbridge visits towns like Hastings, Barnsley, and Bentley, talking to sheep farmers, fishermen, stockbrokers, and the chronically unemployed, all the while drawing on her own experience of growing up in Liverpool after World War II. With acute insight, she explains how the Conservative government helped deepen the divide between north and south, the underprivileged and the privileged. The interviews begin with immediate family and branch out to friends and relatives in wider orbits. It is instructive to travel back a decade and see how the seeds of despair were sownÄmines were closed and resources depleted, putting families out of work and onto welfare. Add to this Bainbridge's own wry reminiscences and you have a book well worth the asking price. Recommended for all public libraries.ÄBarbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ontario (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.