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Melvyn Bragg talks to John Wilson

Back in the Day

Hay Festival 2022, 

Melvyn Bragg revisits and reflects on his life from childhood to adulthood in the Cumbrian market town of Wigton, from the early years alone with his mother while his father fought in the war to the moment he left the town. It’s the tale of a working-class boy who grew up in a pub and expected to leave school at 15; who happily roamed the streets and raided orchards with his friends yet had a chronic breakdown when he was 13, forcing him to find new survival strategies; who was deeply embedded in a close-knit community, and experiencing the joys of first love, yet also found himself drawn to a mentor keen to steer him towards the challenge of an Oxford scholarship.

It’s equally the tale of the place that formed him and a compelling and poignant recreation of a vanished era: an elegy for a community-spirited northern town with its factories and churches and chapels steeped in the old ways, but on the cusp of rapid post-war change; and a celebration of the glorious Lakeland landscapes which inspired Bragg from an early age. This love letter to his home town and the people who shaped him is imbued with all the luminous wonder of those indelible early memories which nurtured his future life as a writer, broadcaster, and champion of the arts.

Melvyn Bragg talks to John Wilson