chapter  6
24 Pages

The Uprooted and the Anxious

In Richard Hoggart’s influential autobiographical text, The Uses of Literacy, a ‘difficult’ chapter is devoted to the experience of the scholarship boy – he who from elementary school has been ‘set apart’, has taken up a scholarship for a grammar school and has been made to ‘resist the central domestic quality of working-class life’.2 The ‘Uprooted and the Anxious’ whom Hoggart depicts are the scholarship boys ‘emotionally uprooted from their class’, forced ‘to oppose the ethos of the hearth, the intense gregariousness of the working-class family group’, and consequently find ‘a sense of no longer really belonging to any group’.3 With the opening up of secondary education after the Second World War to workingclass children (the 1944 Education Act implemented by Ellen Wilkinson made secondary school free and compulsory for all pupils up until the age of 15), in historical terms the moment of the scholarship boy had passed when Hoggart came to describe him. But the structure of feeling he articulates was highly influential and pertinent to much of the New Wave and working-class fiction of the early 1960s. The sense of being uprooted from one’s class was compounded by physical changes in working-class housing with the clearance of many older inner city neighbourhoods. Amidst such change a ‘politics of nostalgia’ in the 1950s and 1960s emerged, evident as Chris Waters has argued in the increased popularity of the pre-war industrial scenes of Salford painter L.S. Lowry (1887-1976).4 Here too lies some of the popularity of Granada Television Studio’s new fictional serial Coronation Street by Tony Warren, first broadcast on 9 December 1960. As the Guardian’s Mary Crozier commented, ‘Even allowing for this strange throughthe-looking-glass tendency of television to keep ordinary people watching ordinary people doing much what they themselves do, “Coronation Street” with

Steedman, ‘Writing the Self: The End of the Scholarship Girl’, in Jim McGuigan (ed.), Cultural Methodologies (London, 1997), pp. 106-25.