Malcolm Bradbury

Malcolm Bradbury

Sir Malcolm Stanley Bradbury CBE (7 September 1932, Sheffield – 27 November 2000, Norwich) was an English author and academic.

Sir Malcolm Stanley Bradbury

Malcolm Bradbury
Born Malcolm Stanley Bradbury
7 July 1932(1932-07-07)
Died 27 November 2000(2000-11-27) (aged 68)
Years active 195? – 2000



Malcom Bradbury's Grave at St. Mary's Church, Tasburgh, Norfolk

Bradbury was the son of a railwayman. His family moved to London in 1935, but returned to Sheffield in 1941 with his brother and mother. The family later moved to Nottingham and in 1943 Bradbury attended West Bridgford Grammar School where he remained until 1950. He read English at University College, Leicester and gained a first-class degree in English in 1953 and continued his studies at Queen Mary College, University of London, where he gained his MA in 1955. Between 1955 and 1958 Bradbury moved between teaching posts with the University of Manchester and Indiana University in the US. He returned to England in 1958 for a major heart operation; such was his heart condition that he was not expected to live beyond middle age. Meanwhile, Bradbury completed his first novel Eating People is Wrong in 1959 while in hospital.

He married Elizabeth Salt and they had two sons. He took up his first teaching post as an adult-education tutor at the University of Hull. With his study on Evelyn Waugh in 1962 he began his career of writing and editing critical books. From 1961 to 1965 he taught at the University of Birmingham. He completed his PhD in American studies at the University of Manchester in 1962, moving to the University of East Anglia (his second novel, Stepping Westward, appeared in 1965), where he became Professor of American Studies in 1970 and launched the world-renowned MA in Creative Writing course, which Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro both attended. He published Possibilities: Essays on the State of the Novel in 1973, The History Man in 1975, Who Do You Think You Are? in 1976, Rates of Exchange in 1983, Cuts: A Very Short Novel in 1987, retiring from academic life in 1995. Malcolm Bradbury became a Commander of the British Empire in 1991 for services to Literature, and was made a Knight Bachelor in the New Year Honours 2000, again for services to Literature. [1]

Malcolm Bradbury died at Priscilla Bacon Lodge, Colman Hospital, Norwich attended by his wife and their two sons, Matthew and Dominic. He was buried on 4 December in the churchyard of St Mary's parish church, Tasburgh, a village near Norwich where the Bradburys owned a second home. Though he was not an orthodox religious believer, he respected the traditions and socio-cultural role of the Church of England, and enjoyed visiting churches in the spirit of Philip Larkin's famous poem ‘Church Going’.


Bradbury was a productive academic writer as well as a successful teacher; an expert on the modern novel, he published books on Evelyn Waugh, Saul Bellow and E. M. Forster, as well as editions of such modern classics as F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, and a number of surveys and handbooks of modern fiction, both British and American. However, he is best known to a wider public as a novelist. Although he is often compared with David Lodge, his friend and a contemporary as a British exponent of the campus novel genre, Bradbury's books are consistently darker in mood and less playful both in style and language. In 1986 he wrote a short humorous book titled Why Come to Slaka?, a parody of travel books, dealing with the fictional Eastern European country that is the setting for his novel Rates of Exchange.

He also wrote extensively for television, including scripting series such as Anything More Would Be Greedy, The Gravy Train, the sequel The Gravy Train Goes East (which explored life in Bradbury's fictional Slaka), and adapting novels such as Tom Sharpe's Blott on the Landscape and Porterhouse Blue, Alison Lurie's Imaginary Friends and Kingsley Amis's The Green Man. His last television script was for Dalziel and Pascoe series 5 Produced by Andy Rowley. The episode "Foreign Bodies" was screened on BBC One on July 15 2000 [2]


The History Man

His best known novel The History Man, published in 1975, is a dark satire of academic life in the "glass and steel" universities – the then-fashionable newer universities of England that had followed their "redbrick" predecessors – which in 1981 was made into a successful BBC television serial. The protagonist is the hypocritical Howard Kirk, a sociology professor at the fictional University of Watermouth.


Commissioned by Hutchinson as part of their Hutchinson Novella series, Cuts was published in 1987. It used a host of plays on the word 'cuts' to mock the values of Thatcherist Britain in 1986 and the world of television drama production in which Bradbury had become involved after the adaptation of The History Man (by Christopher Hampton). Bradbury derided the philistinism of television executives who wanted to capture the market of Brideshead Revisited and The Jewel in the Crown at impossibly low cost. He also explored the low esteem accorded writers in the hierarchy of television production.

Bibliography (incomplete)

  • The After Dinner Game
  • All Dressed Up and Nowhere To Go
  • Eating People is Wrong (1959)
  • Writers and Critics: Evelyn Waugh (Oliver and Boyd, 1964)
  • Stepping Westward (1968)
  • The Social Context of Modern English Literature (1971)
  • Possibilities (1973)
  • Who Do You Think You Are — a collection of short stories
  • The History Man (1975)
  • Rates of Exchange (1983)
  • My Strange Quest for Mensonge: Structuralism's Hidden Hero (1987)
  • The Modern American Novel (1983)
  • Why Come to Slaka? (1986)
  • Cuts (1987) — a Hutchinson Novella
  • No Not Bloomsbury (1987)
  • Mensonge (1987)
  • Doctor Criminale (1992)
  • The Modern British Novel (1993)
  • Dangerous Pilgrimages: Trans-Atlantic Mythologies and the Novel (1995)
  • To the Hermitage (2000)


He also now has 'The Malcolm Bradbury building' a 6th form block named after him at the West Bridgford School


  • If God had been a liberal, we wouldn't have had the Ten Commandments; we'd have the Ten Suggestions.

See also



External links

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