Late modernism: 1946–2000
Though some have seen modernism ending by around 1939, with regard to English literature, “When (if) modernism petered out and postmodernism began has been contested almost as hotly as when the transition from Victorianism to modernism occurred”. In fact a number of modernists were still living and publishing in the 1950s and 1960, including T. S. Eliot, Dorothy Richardson and John Cowper Powys. Furthermore, Northumberland poet Basil Bunting, born in 1901, published little until Briggflatts in 1965.
The attitude of the post-war generation of Welsh writers in English towards Wales differs from the previous generation, in that they were more sympathetic to Welsh nationalism and to the Welsh language. The change can be linked to the nationalist fervour generated by Saunders Lewis and the burning of the Bombing School on the Lleyn Peninsula in 1936, along with a sense of crisis generated by World War II. In poetry R. S. Thomas (1913–2000) was the most important figure throughout the second half of the twentieth century, beginning with The Stones of the Field in 1946 and concluding with No Truce with the Furies (1995). R. S. Thomas was an Anglican priest who was noted for his nationalism, spirituality and deep dislike of the anglicisation of Wales. In fiction the major figure in the second half of the twentieth century wasEmyr Humphreys (1919). Humphreys’ first novel The Little Kingdom was published in 1946; and during his long writing career he has published over twenty novels, including a sequence of seven novels, The Land of the Living, which surveys the political and cultural history of twentieth-century Wales. His most recent work is the collection of short stories, The Woman in the Window (2009). Another Welsh novelist of the post-Second-World-War era was Raymond Williams (1921–88). Born near Abergavenny, Williams continued the earlier tradition of writing from a left-wing perspective on the Welsh industrial scene in his trilogy: Border Country (1960), Second Generation (1964), and The Fight for Manod (1979). Contemporary novelists in Welsh include Mihangel Morgan (1955– ) and Fflur Dafydd (1978– ).
A new writer after the war was the popular novelist in Welsh Islwyn Ffowc Elis (1924–2004) (also a winner of the crown at the 1947 National Eisteddfod). He made his debut as a novelist in 1953 with Cysgod y Cryman (translated into English as Shadow of the Sickle). He produced novels in a range of genres, including the first science fiction novel in Welsh.
George Orwell‘s satire of totalitarianism, Nineteen Eighty-Four, was published in 1949. An essayist and novelist, Orwell’s works are important social and political commentaries of the 20th century. One of the most influential novels of the immediate post-war period was William Cooper‘s naturalistic Scenes from Provincial Life, a conscious rejection of the modernist tradition.
Graham Greene‘s works span the 1930s to the 1980s. He was a convert to Catholicism and his novels explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world. He combined serious literary acclaim with broad popularity in novels such as Brighton Rock (1938), The Power and the Glory (1940), The Heart of the Matter (1948) and A Burnt-Out Case (1961), The Human Factor (1978).
Other novelists writing in the 1950s and later were: Anthony Powell whose twelve-volume cycle of novels A Dance to the Music of Time, is a comic examination of movements and manners, power and passivity in English political, cultural and military life in the mid-20th century; Kingsley Amis who is best known for his academic satire Lucky Jim 1954; Nobel Prize laureate William Golding whose allegorical novel Lord of the Flies 1954, shows how culture created by man fails, using, as an example, a group of British schoolboys marooned on a deserted island who try to govern themselves with disastrous results; Edward Blishen whose first best-selling book Roaring Boys 1955, is an honest account of teaching in a London secondary modern school in the 1950s (followed by a sequel This Right Soft Lot 1969), and whose most famous work is The God Beneath the Sea, a children’s novel based on Greek mythology, written in collaboration with Leon Garfield and published in 1970 (illustrated by Charles Keeping with a sequel The Golden Shadow 1973); philosopher Iris Murdoch who was a prolific writer of novels dealing with sexual relationships, morality, and the power of the unconscious, including Under the Net 1954. Scottish novelist Muriel Spark pushed the boundaries of realism: her first novel, The Comforters (1957) concerns a woman who becomes aware that she is a character in a novel; The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960) has a character who, in line with a tradition of Scottish literature, is literally the devil incarnate. The narrator of her most famous novel, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), at times takes the reader briefly into the main action’s distant future, to see the various fates that befall its characters.
Anthony Burgess is especially remembered for his dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange 1962, set in the not-too-distant future, which was made into a film (1971] byStanley Kubrick. Mervyn Peake (1911–68) published his Gothic fantasy Gormenghast trilogy between 1946 and 1959.
One of Penguin Books‘ most successful publications in the late 20th century was Richard Adams‘s heroic fantasy Watership Down (1972). Evoking epic themes, it recounts the odyssey of a group of rabbits seeking to establish a new home. John Fowles‘s The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969) played with the nature of fiction, with its narrator who freely admits the fictive nature of the story he relays, and its alternative endings.
Angela Carter (1940–1992) was a novelist and journalist, known for her feminist, magical realism, and picaresque works. Writing from the 1960s until the 1980s, her novels include, The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman 1972, and Nights at the Circus 1984. Margaret Drabble (1939– ) is a novelist, biographer and critic, who published from the 1960s into the 21st century. Her older sister, A. S. Byatt (1936– ) is best known for Possession 1990.
Since the 1970s a number of books of Jèrriais literature have been published, including two collections of writings by George F. Le Feuvre: Jèrri Jadis andHistouaithes et Gens d’Jèrri.
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page was published in 1981 after the death of its author G.B. Edwards (1899–1976). Edwards rejected the Guernsey mainstream literary traditions of the sea, heroic adventure, romance and exoticism. The author’s use of Guernsey English and exploration of a personal journey against a background of rapid social change in Guernsey were among factors that led to the novel’s high critical reception.
Salman Rushdie is among a number of post Second World War writers from former British colonies who permanently settled in Britain. Rushdie achieved fame with Midnight’s Children (1981), that was awarded both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and Booker Prize later that year, and was named Booker of Bookers in 1993. His most controversial novel The Satanic Verses (1989) was inspired in part by the life of Muhammad. Doris Lessing from Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), published her first novel The Grass is Singing in 1950, after immigrating to England. She initially wrote about her African experiences. Lessing soon became a dominant presence in the English literary scene, publishing frequently, and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007. Other works by her include a sequence of five novels collectively called Children of Violence (1952–69), The Golden Notebook (1962), The Good Terrorist (1985), and a sequence of five science fiction novels the Canopus in Argos: Archives (1979–1983). V. S. Naipaul (1932– ) was another immigrant, born in Trinidad, who wrote A House for Mr Biswas (1961) and A Bend in the River (1979). Naipaul won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Also from the West Indies is George Lamming (1927– ) who wrote In the Castle of My Skin (1953), while from Pakistan came Hanif Kureshi (1954–), a playwright, screenwriter, filmmaker, novelist and short story writer. His novel The Buddha of Suburbia (1990) won theWhitbread Award for the best first novel, and was also made into a BBC television series. Kazuo Ishiguro (1954– ) was born in Japan, but his parents immigrated to Britain when he was six. Ishiguro wrote historical novels in the first-person narrative style. His works include, The Remains of the Day 1989, Never Let Me Go2005. Scotland has in the late 20th century produced several important novelists, including James Kelman who like Samuel Beckett can create humour out of the most grim situations. How Late it Was, How Late, 1994, won the Booker Prize that year; A. L. Kennedy whose 2007 novel Day was named Book of the Year in theCosta Book Awards. In 2007 she won the Austrian State Prize for European Literature; Alasdair Gray whose Lanark: A Life in Four Books (1981) is adystopian fantasy set in his home town Glasgow.
Highly anglicised Lowland Scots is often used in contemporary Scottish fiction, for example, the Edinburgh dialect of Lowland Scots used in Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh to give a brutal depiction of the lives of working class Edinburgh drug users. But’n’Ben A-Go-Go is a 2000 cyberpunk novel entirely in Scots by Matthew Fitt, notable for using as many of the different varieties of Scots as possible, including many neologisms—imagining how Scots might develop by 2090. In Northern Ireland, James Fenton‘s poetry, at times lively, contented, wistful, is written in contemporary Ulster Scots. The poet Michael Longley (born 1939) has experimented with Ulster Scots for the translation of Classical verse, as in his 1995 collection The Ghost Orchid. Philip Robinson’s (born 1946) writing has been described as verging on “post-modern kailyard”. He has produced a trilogy of novels, as well as story books for children, and two volumes of poetry.
Martin Amis (1949) is one of the most prominent British novelists of the end of the 20th, beginning of the 21st century. His best-known novels are Money (1984) andLondon Fields (1989). Pat Barker (1943–) has won many awards for her fiction. English novelist and screenwriter Ian McEwan (1948– ) is a highly regarded writer whose works include The Cement Garden (1978) and Enduring Love (1997), which was made into a film. In 1998 McEwan won the Man Booker Prize withAmsterdam. Atonement (2001) was made into an Oscar-winning film. This was followed by Saturday (2005), and Solar (2010). McEwan was awarded the Jerusalem Prize in 2011. Alex Garland‘s works include The Beach 1996, Giles Foden wrote The Last King of Scotland 1998, and Joanne Harris‘s most notable work is Chocolat 1999.
A few novels have been published in Cornish since the last decades of the 20th century, including Melville Bennetto’s An Gurun Wosek a Geltya (The Bloody Crown of the Celtic Countries) in 1984; subsequently Michael Palmer published Jory (1989) and Dyroans (1998).
Drama after World War Two
An important cultural movement in the British theatre that developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s was Kitchen sink realism (or kitchen sink drama), art (the term itself derives from an expressionist painting by John Bratby), novels, film, and television plays. The term angry young men was often applied members of this artistic movement. It used a style of social realism which depicts the domestic lives of the working class, to explore social issues and political issues. Thedrawing room plays of the post war period, typical of dramatists like Terence Rattigan and Noël Coward were challenged in the 1950s by these Angry Young Men, in plays like John Osborne‘s Look Back in Anger (1956). Arnold Wesker and Nell Dunn also brought social concerns to the stage. Again in the 1950s the Theatre of the Absurd profoundly affected British dramatists, especially Irishman Samuel Beckett‘s play Waiting for Godot, which premiered in London in 1955 (originally En attendant Godot, 1952). Among those influenced were Harold Pinter (1930–2008), (The Birthday Party, 1958), and Tom Stoppard (1937– ) (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,1966). Pinter’s works are often characterised by menace or claustrophobia, while those of Stoppard are notable for their high-spirited wit and the great range of intellectual issues which he tackles. Both Pinter and Stoppard continued to have new plays produced into the 1990s.
The Theatres Act 1968 abolished the system of censorship of the stage that had existed in Great Britain since 1737. In Jersey, public entertainment, including stage works, continues to be licensed by the Bailiff (advised by the Bailiff’s Panel for the Control of Public Entertainment). The new freedoms of the London stage were tested by Howard Brenton‘s The Romans in Britain, first staged at the National Theatre during 1980, and subsequently the focus of an unsuccessful private prosecution in 1982.
Other playwrights whose careers began later in the century are: Caryl Churchill (Top Girls, 1982), Alan Ayckbourn (Absurd Person Singular, 1972), Michael Frayn(1933–) playwright and novelist, David Hare (1947– ), David Edgar (1948– ). Dennis Potter‘s most distinctive dramatic work was produced for television.
During the 1950s and 1960s many major British playwrights either effectively began their careers with the BBC, or had works adapted for radio. Most of playwright Caryl Churchill‘s early experiences with professional drama production were as a radio playwright and, starting in 1962 with The Ants, there were nine productions with BBC radio drama up until 1973 when her stage work began to be recognised at the Royal Court Theatre. Joe Orton‘s dramatic debut in 1963 was the radio play The Ruffian on the Stair, which was broadcast on 31 August 1964. Tom Stoppard‘s “first professional production was in the fifteen-minute Just Before Midnight programme on BBC Radio, which showcased new dramatists”. John Mortimer made his radio debut as a dramatist in 1955, with his adaptation of his own novel Like Men Betrayed for the BBC Light Programme. But he made his debut as an original playwright with The Dock Brief, starring Michael Hordern as a hapless barrister, first broadcast in 1957 on BBC Radio‘s Third Programme, later televised with the same cast, and subsequently presented in a double bill with What Shall We Tell Caroline? at the Lyric Hammersmith in April 1958, before transferring to the Garrick Theatre. Mortimer is most famous for Rumpole of the Bailey a British television series which starred Leo McKern as Horace Rumpole, an ageing London barrister who defends any and all clients. It has been spun off into a series of short stories, novels, and radio programmes. Other notable radio dramatists included novelist Angela Carter. Novelist Susan Hill also wrote for BBC radio, from the early 1970s. Among the most famous works created for radio, are Dylan Thomas‘s Under Milk Wood (1954), Harold Pinter‘s A Slight Ache (1959) and Robert Bolt‘s A Man for All Seasons (1954).
Poetry after World War Two
While poets T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden and Dylan Thomas were still publishing after 1945, new poets started their careers in the 1950s and 1960s including Philip Larkin (1922–85) (The Whitsun Weddings,1964) and Ted Hughes (1930–98, Poet Laureate from 1984) (The Hawk in the Rain, 1957). Northern Ireland has produced a number of significant poets, the most famous being Nobel prize winner Seamus Heaney, however, Heaney regarded himself as Irish and not British. There are many others who question whether the Literature of Northern Ireland is Irish or British. Others poets from Northern Ireland include Derek Mahon, Paul Muldoon, James Fenton, Michael Longley, and Medbh McGuckian. James Fenton‘s poetry, at times lively, contented, wistful, is written in contemporary Ulster Scots. The poet Michael Longley (born 1939) has experimented with Ulster Scots for the translation of Classical verse, as in his 1995 collection The Ghost Orchid.
As part of the Scottish Gaelic Renaissance, Sorley MacLean‘s (1911–96) work in Scottish Gaelic in the 1930s gave new value to modern literature in that language. However, while “most of his most important poetry had been written in the 1930s and 1940s, almost none of it was widely available” until the publication of Reothairt is Contraight/Spring Tide and Neap Tide: Selected Poems1932–72, in 1977 and a Collected Poems in 1989. Iain Crichton Smith (1928–98) was more prolific in English but also produced much Gaelic poetry and prose, and also translated some of the work of Sorley Maclean from Gaelic to English, as well as some of his own poems originally composed in Gaelic. Much of his English language work was related to, or translated from, Gaelic equivalents. Modern Gaelic poetry has been most influenced by Symbolism, transmitted via poetry in English, and by Scots poetry. Traditional Gaelic poetry utilised an elaborate system of metres, which modern poets have adapted to their own ends. George Campbell Hay looks back beyond the popular metres of the 19th and 20th centuries to forms of early Gaelic poetry. Donald MacAuley‘s poetry is concerned with place and community. The following generation of Gaelic poets writing at the end of the 20th century lived in a bilingual world to a greater extent than any other generation, with their work most often accompanied in publication by a facing text in English. Such confrontation has inspired semantic experimentation, seeking new contexts for words, and going as far as the explosive and neologistic verse of Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh (1948– ). Scottish Gaelic poetry has been the subject of translation not only into English, but also into other Celtic languages: Maoilios Caimbeuland Màiri NicGumaraid have been translated into Irish, and John Stoddart has produced anthologies of Gaelic poetry translated into Welsh.
In the 1960s and 1970s Martian poetry aimed to break the grip of ‘the familiar’, by describing ordinary things in unfamiliar ways, as though, for example, through the eyes of a Martian. Poets most closely associated with it are Craig Raine and Christopher Reid. Martin Amis, an important novelist in the late twentieth and twentieth centuries, carried into fiction this drive to make the familiar strange. Another literary movement in this period was the British Poetry Revival, a wide-reaching collection of groupings and subgroupings that embraces performance, sound and concrete poetry. Leading poets associated with this movement include J. H. Prynne, Eric Mottram, Tom Raworth, Denise Riley and Lee Harwood. It reacted to the more conservative group called “The Movement“.
The Mersey Beat poets were Adrian Henri, Brian Patten and Roger McGough. Their work was a self-conscious attempt at creating an English equivalent to the Beats. Many of their poems were written in protest against the established social order and, particularly, the threat of nuclear war. Ted Hughes was among poets whose work found roots in the speech patterns and dialects of Northern England: other notable poets from the north of England include Tony Harrison (1937 – ), who explores the medium of language and the tension between native dialect (in his case, that of working-class Leeds) and acquired language, and Simon Armitage.
In Welsh language poetry, Alan Llwyd came to prominence when he achieved the rare feat of winning both the Crown and the Chair at the 1973 National Eisteddfodand then repeated the feat in 1976. He also wrote the script for the Oscar-nominated Welsh-language film Hedd Wyn (1992) about the life of poet Hedd Wyn, who was killed in World War I.
In contemporary Cornish poetry, Tony Snell‘s work is heavily influenced by the early poetry of Wales and Brittany, and it was he who adapted the Welsh traethodl to Cornish. The bard Pol Hodge is another example of a poet writing in Cornish.
Amelia Perchard (1921–2012), one of Jersey’s foremost contemporary writers, published many poems and produced one-act plays.
Geoffrey Hill (1932– ) has been considered to be among the most distinguished English poets of his generation, and on his 80th birthday was described in theHouse of Commons by Education Secretary, Michael Gove, as the United Kingdom’s “greatest living poet”. Although frequently described as a “difficult” poet, Hill has retorted that poetry supposed to be difficult can be “the most democratic because you are doing your audience the honour of supposing they are intelligent human beings”. Charles Tomlinson (1927–) is another important English poet of an older generation, though “since his first publication in 1951, has built a career that has seen more notice in the international scene than in his native England; this may explain, and be explained by, his international vision of poetry”. The critic Michael Hennessy has described Tomlinson as “the most international and least provincial English poet of his generation”. His poetry has won international recognition and has received many prizes in Europe and the United States, including the 1993 Bennett Award from the Hudson Review; the New Criterion Poetry Prize, 2002; the Premio Internazionale di Poesia Ennio Flaiano, 2001; and the Premio Internazionale di Poesia Attilio Bertolucci, 2004.
Late 20th-century genre literature
In thriller writing, Ian Fleming created the character James Bond 007 in January 1952, while on holiday at his Jamaican estate, Goldeneye. Fleming chronicled Bond’s adventures in twelve novels, including Casino Royale 1953, Live and Let Die 1954, Dr. No 1958, Goldfinger 1959, Thunderball 1961, The Spy Who Loved Me 1962, and nine short story works.
In contrast to the larger-than-life spy capers of Bond, John le Carré was an author of spy novels who depicted a shadowy world of espionage and counter-espionage, and his best known novel The Spy Who Came in from the Cold 1963, is often regarded as one of the greatest in the genre. Frederick Forsyth writes thriller novels, including The Day of the Jackal 1971, The Odessa File 1972, The Dogs of War 1974 and The Fourth Protocol 1984. Ken Follett writes spy thrillers, his first success being Eye of the Needle 1978, followed by The Key to Rebecca 1980, as well as historical novels, notably The Pillars of the Earth 1989, and its sequel World Without End 2007. Elleston Trevor is remembered for his 1964 adventure story The Flight of the Phoenix, while the thriller novelist Philip Nicholson is best known for Man on Fire. Peter George‘s Red Alert 1958, is a Cold War thriller.
War novels include Alistair MacLean thriller’s The Guns of Navarone 1957, Where Eagles Dare 1968, and Jack Higgins‘ The Eagle Has Landed 1975. Patrick O’Brian‘s nautical historical novels feature the Aubrey–Maturin series set in the Royal Navy, the first being Master and Commander 1969.
The “father of Wicca” Gerald Gardner began propagating his own version of witchcraft in the 1950s. Having claimed to have been initiated into the New Forest coven in 1939, Gardner published his books Witchcraft Today 1954 and The Meaning of Witchcraft 1959, the foundational texts for the religion of Wicca. Ronald Welch‘s Carnegie Medal winning novel Knight Crusader is set in the 12th century and gives a depiction of the Third Crusade, featuring the Christian leader and King of England Richard the Lionheart.
John Wyndham wrote post-apocalyptic science fiction, his most notable works being The Day of the Triffids 1951, and The Midwich Cuckoos 1957. George Langelaan‘s The Fly 1957, is a science fiction short story. Science fiction novelist Arthur C. Clarke‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey, is based on his various short stories, particularly The Sentinel. His other major novels include Rendezvous with Rama 1972, and The Fountains of Paradise 1979. Brian Aldiss is Clarke’s contemporary. Michael Moorcock, 1962) is a writer, primarily of science fiction and fantasy, who has also published a number of literary novels. He was involved with the ‘New Wave’ of science fiction writers “part of whose aim was to invest the genre with literary merit”. Similarly J. G. Ballard (1930– ) “became known in the 1960s as the most prominent of the ‘New Wave’ science fiction writers”. A later major figure in science fiction was Iain M. Banks who created a fictional anarchist, socialist, and utopian society the Culture. The novels that feature in it include Excession 1996, and Inversions 1998. He also published mainstream novels, including the highly controversial The Wasp Factory in 1984. Nobel prize winner Doris Lessing also published a sequence of five science fiction novels the Canopus in Argos: Archives between 1979 and 1983.
Literature for children and young adults
Roald Dahl rose to prominence with his children’s fantasy novels, often inspired from experiences from his childhood, with often unexpected endings, and unsentimental, dark humour. Dahl was inspired to write Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 1964, featuring the eccentric candy maker Willy Wonka, having grown up near two chocolate makers in England who often tried to steal trade secrets by sending spies into the other’s factory. His other works include James and the Giant Peach 1961, Fantastic Mr. Fox 1971, The Witches 1983, and Matilda 1988.
Boarding schools in literature are centred on older pre-adolescent and adolescent school life, and are most commonly set in English boarding schools. Popular school stories from this period include Ronald Searle‘s St Trinian’s and his illustrations for Geoffrey Willans‘s Molesworth series, Jill Murphy‘s The Worst Witch, the Jennings series by Anthony Buckeridge (1912–2004).
Ruth Manning-Sanders collected and retold fairy tales, and her first work A Book of Giants contains a number of famous giants, notably Jack and the Beanstalk. Susan Cooper‘s The Dark Is Rising is a five-volume fantasy saga set in England and Wales.Raymond Briggs‘ children’s picture book The Snowman 1978 has been adapted as an animation, shown every Christmas on British television, and for the stage as a musical. The Reverend. W. Awdry and son Christopher‘s The Railway Series features Thomas the Tank Engine. Margery Sharp‘s series The Rescuers is based on a heroic mouse organisation. The third Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo published War Horse in 1982. The prolific children’s author Dick King-Smith‘s novels include The Sheep-Pig 1984, and The Water Horse. Diana Wynne Jones wrote the young adult fantasy novel Howl’s Moving Castle in 1986. Anthony Horowitz‘s Alex Riderseries begins with Stormbreaker 2000.
J. K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter fantasy series is a sequence of seven novels that chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizardHarry Potter. The series began with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1997 and ended with the seventh and final bookHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007; becoming the best selling book-series in history. The series has been translated into 67 languages, placing Rowling among the most translated authors in history. J.K. Rowling took part in a sequence of the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony which celebrated British children’s literature.
Fantasy and horror
Terry Pratchett is best known for his Discworld series of comic fantasy novels, that begins with The Colour of Magic 1983, and includes Mort 1987, Hogfather 1996, and Night Watch 2002. Pratchett’s other most notable work is the 1990 novel Good Omens.
Philip Pullman‘s fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials comprises Northern Lights 1995, The Subtle Knife 1997, and The Amber Spyglass 2000. It follows the coming-of-age of two children as they wander through a series of parallel universes against a backdrop of epic events.
21st century literature
Formerly an appointment for life, the appointment of the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom is now made for a fixed term of 10 years, starting with Andrew Motion in 1999 as successor to Ted Hughes. Carol Ann Duffy succeeded Motion in the post in May 2009. A position of national laureate, entitled The Scots Makar, was established in 2004 by the Scottish Parliament. The first appointment was made directly by the Parliament in that year when Edwin Morgan received the honour. The post of National Poet of Wales (Welsh: Bardd Cenedlaethol Cymru) was established in May 2005. The post is an annual appointment with the language of the poet alternating between English and Welsh.
In English literature, Zadie Smith‘s (1975– ) Whitbread Book Award winning novel White Teeth 2000, mixes pathos and humour, focusing on the later lives of two war time friends in London. Hilary Mantel‘s Booker Prize–winning novel Wolf Hall 2009, is set in theTudor court of King Henry VIII. In 2012 Mantel became the first woman and the first British writer to win the Booker Prize twice, as the second part of her historical trilogy Bring Up the Bodies was awarded the prize. In 2004, David Mitchell‘s science fiction novel Cloud Atlas won the British Book Awards Literary Fiction Award.
Julian Barnes (1946– ) won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for his book The Sense of an Ending. Three of his earlier novels had been shortlisted for the Booker Prize: Flaubert’s Parrot (1984), England, England (1998), and Arthur & George (2005). He has also written crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh. England, England explores English national identity, invented traditions, the creations of myths and the authenticity of history and memory. In 2011, Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James set the record as the fastest selling paperback of all time.
Contemporary writers in Scottish Gaelic include Aonghas MacNeacail, and Angus Peter Campbell who, besides two Scottish Gaelic poetry collections, has produced two Gaelic novels: An Oidhche Mus Do Sheol Sinn (2003) and Là a’ Deanamh Sgeil Do Là(2004).
A collection of short stories P’tites Lures Guernésiaises (in Guernésiais with parallel English translation) by various writers was published in 2006.
In March 2006 Brian Stowell‘s Dunveryssyn yn Tooder-Folley (The vampire murders) was published—the first full-length novel in Manx.
There is some production of modern literature in Irish in Northern Ireland. Performance poet Gearóid Mac Lochlainn exploits the creative possibilities for poetry of “creolised Irish” in Belfast speech.
The perceived success and promotion of genre authors from Scotland provoked controversy in 2009 when James Kelman criticised, in a speech at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the attention afforded to “upper middle-class young magicians” and “detective fiction” by the “Anglocentric” Scottish literary establishment. John Byrne was supportive, saying that there was “a danger of Scotland becoming known as the home of genre fiction”. This was a reaction to the popularity of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and of Ian Rankin and other “Tartan Noir” authors.
The popularity of “Tartan Noir” has led to renewed interest in crime fiction set in Wales, attracting the label “Welsh Noir”, and Northern Ireland, labelled as “Emerald Noir”.
The theatrical landscape has been reconfigured, moving from a single national theatre at the end of the 20th century to four as a result of the devolution of cultural policy. National theatre companies were founded in Scotland and Wales as complements to the Royal National Theatre in London: Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru (the Welsh language national theatre of Wales, founded 2003), National Theatre of Scotland (founded 2006), National Theatre Wales (the English language national theatre company of Wales, founded 2009). Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru attempts to shape a distinctive identity for drama in Welsh while also opening it up to outside linguistic and dramatic influences.