Bill Naughton was born in Ballyhaunis, County Mayo in 1910 in relative poverty and moved with his family to Bolton, Lancashire in his early childhood (1914). The experiences of his early years were the seedbed of his volumes of autobiography which contain vivid evocations of the impoverished mining communities of the North of England, communities bound together byties of family, kith and kin. His descriptions of northern life of the post first world war era have few parallels in literature.
The character of our family's home life - a way of life which, despite our now being in an industrial town retained the essence and many signs of its peasant origin - was much different in tone from that of our Lancashire neighbors, and in spirit wouldso contrast with that of an English lower middleclass family as to baffle them. Domestically as such had a quite different meaning - perhaps an older one - and was not much concerned with activities around the place but with the life of the family, the exchange of feeling and talk, the intercourse of natures, the giving or receiving of love - or possibly some negative emotion - the expression ofreligious beliefs, and the general getting through the day from morning until night. Domestic activities, such as cooking, cleaning and mending, served as a natural and comforting background to family life, but never assumed special importance or took over. Even on a busy Sunday, with a big midday dinner to be prepared and
cooked, the home to be cleaned, the beds made, my mother would still retainsome sort of an easygoing manner, talking and above all listening to this one and that, and apologizing when she had to lift the iron pot of boiling potatoes from the fire and hurry to team the water into the kitchen sink. And when the meal itself was being served, and the roast of meat sliced, although it was all done with style, appreciation and of course the grace in the form of a blessing,the talk would continue but apart from an odd remark, would not be about the food. Obviously such a way domestic living has disadvantages, with mealtimes tending to fit in with mood and circumstances - it may explain the reason for the Irish being considered shiftless - but in my own case I will say that I believe it has much to be said for it. A large part of the enjoyment of a meal to me is in thein obtrusive way it can be prepared and the absence of fuss over its serving.
Radio and TV
After leaving school he embarked on a number of menial jobs, writing mainly for himself, but later submitting short stories to magazines and newspapers. He lived in Bolton until 1939 and was employed as a coal bagger and driver by the Co-op, now United Norwest Co-operatives, when he left to be a civildefense driver in London during the war.
Gradually his reputation grew. Work for the BBC began and he became well known as a writer of plays and short stories which were broadcast both on radio and television. His radio play 'June Evening' was televised in Jul 1960 and was very influential, causing a sensation as one of the first 'kitchen sink' TV plays, nine months before Coronation Street wasfirst aired. Naughton contended that Granada lifted his idea, the story being set around one Lancashire Street with a corner shop.
Early Writing Life
Coming to writing as I did rather later in life than most writers, and being without education, or training so to speak, or indeed any of the usual literary familiarity which even working-class writers may get a touch of in London, and at the sametime deeply longing in my own seemingly tin pot way to avoid becoming a hack writer, no matter how successful, but rather hoping perhaps to write one book or even one story that would be of itself alone I must now say that I had a difficult road ahead of me. But at the time, by the blessing of God, I could not see the road ahead, but only where I stood (it hasn't changed of course as I write) and...