Alan Sillitoe dies at 82

British author's 'Saturday Night' and 'Runner' adapted into films

LONDON -- British writer Alan Sillitoe, whose "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning," and "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" chronicled the bleak postwar realities of the country's poor, died Sunday. He was 82.

Sillitoe, a leading member of the 1950s group of so-called angry young men of British fiction, was acclaimed for his uncompromising social criticism and depiction of domestic tensions -- often dubbed kitchen sink dramas.

The writer's son David said his father had died at London's Charing Cross hospital, but gave no other details.

Albert Finney starred in the adaptation of "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning," as a disillusioned young factory worker. In the "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner," Tom Courtenay portrayed a young delinquent whose athletic prowess is seized upon by authorities as proof of their ability to rehabilitate troubled youths.

"He put somehow forgotten places at center-stage," British poet Ian MacMillan told the BBC. "He made the ordinary life into a kind of poetry."

Recalling his own modest upbringing in Nottingham, central England, Sillitoe once recalled the smells of "leaking gas, stale fat, and layers of moldering wallpaper."

In 2008, the author was bestowed with the freedom of Nottingham -- an ancient ceremonial honor that allows recipients to drove sheep through the center of the city. He had been due to join other recipients at an event to celebrate the city earlier this month, but was forced to withdraw because of illness.

Sillitoe lived briefly overseas with Ruth Fainlight, the American poet he married in 1959, but later returned to Britain.

In 2007, Sillitoe published "Gadfly In Russia," an account of four decades of travel through Russia.

Born in 1928, Sillitoe left school at the age of 14 and worked in factories. He later served as a wireless operator in the Royal Air Force, including in British-controlled Malaya, now Malaysia.

Sillitoe is survived by his wife and the couple's son and daughter.
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