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Sir Malcolm Stanley Bradbury CBE (7 September 1932, Sheffield, England – 27 November 2000) was a British author and academic.



Born in 1932 in Sheffield, 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 M.A. in 1955. Between 1955 and 1958 Bradbury moved between teaching posts with the University of Manchester and Indiana University in the USA. 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, with whom he would later have two sons, and 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 Ph.D. 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 M.A. 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 knighted in 2000 for services to Literature as well. [1]

Malcolm Bradbury died at Priscilla Bacon Lodge, Coleman Hospital, Norwich, on 27 November 2000, 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 ‘Churchgoing’.


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.



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)
  • 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)
  • To the Hermitage (2000)
  • 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 (200)


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

See also



External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Sir Malcolm Stanley Bradbury, CBE (1932-09-072000-11-27) was an English comic novelist, screenwriter, literary critic and academic. He pioneered the teaching of creative writing and American studies in British universities.



  • To you liberals, of course, goats are just sheep from broken homes.
    • The After Dinner Game (1975); published in The After Dinner Game: Three Plays for Television (1982) p. 25.
    • Co-written with Christopher Bigsby.
  • In Slaka, sex is just politics with the clothes off.
    • Rates of Exchange, part 4, ch. 3. (1983)
  • The better class of Briton likes to send his children away to school until they're old and intelligent enough to come home again. Then they're too old and intelligent to want to.
    • Rates of Exchange, part 5, ch. 3.
  • Genitals are a great distraction to scholarship.
    • Cuts (1987) p. 42.
  • A conventional good read is usually a bad read, a relaxing bath in what we know already. A true good read is surely an act of innovative creation in which we, the readers, become conspirators.

Eating People is Wrong (1959)

  • It had always seemed to Louis that a fundamental desire to take postal courses was being sublimated by other people into sexual activity.
    • Ch. 5
  • I like the English. They have the most rigid code of immorality in the world.
    • Ch. 5
  • With sociology one can do anything and call it work.
    • Ch. 7
  • I've often thought that my scruples about stealing books were the only thing that stood in the way of my being a really great scholar.
    • Ch. 8

Stepping Westward (1965)

  • Reading someone else's newspaper is like sleeping with someone else's wife. Nothing seems to be precisely in the right place, and when you find what you are looking for, it is not clear then how to respond to it.
    • Bk. 1, ch. 1.
  • My experience of ships is that on them one makes an interesting discovery about the world. One finds one can do without it completely.
    • Bk. 1, ch. 2.
  • The English are polite by telling lies. The Americans are polite by telling the truth.
    • Bk. 2, ch. 5.

External links

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