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This report is taken from PN Review 102, Volume 21 Number 4, March - April 1995.

'Correct Your Maps' David Arkell

The seventeenth-century poet John Cleveland was right when he suggested there was something special about Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I felt it myself when I spent a year there between the wars reporting for the Evening Chronicle. That particular year (1933), Michael Roberts was the man of the moment. He had just published his two great anthologies introducing the new writers and was now away in London, no doubt resting on his laurels. But Red Lodge, his cottage under the trees at Long Benton, was a place of pilgrimage. While teaching at the Royal Grammar School he had papered the sitting-room with rejection slips, and life was now preparing to smile at him, we hoped. For this was the man who had brought the good news via Auden in New Signatures ('All leave is cancelled tonight, we must say goodbye…') and again in New Country ('Unhappy Eliot, choosing his words…'). That second volume had the extra bonus of Edward Upward's seminal prose piece ('History is here in the park, in the town…!).

While awaiting the future and all it threatened we thanked our present good luck and flocked to the People's Theatre in Rye Hill - for which I wrote thirty or so reviews, plus one special one for the Manchester Guardian. This most professional of all amateur companies was an old favourite of Shaw's, whose Showing-up of Blanco Posnet had been its third production way back in 1911 after being banned by the Lord Chamberlain. Shaw was to follow ...


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