This article needs additional citations for verification .(June 2010)
|Author||A. J. Cronin|
|Publisher|| Gollancz (UK) |
Little, Brown (US)
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|Pages||701 p. (UK hardback edition)|
The Stars Look Down is a 1935 novel by A. J. Cronin which chronicles various injustices in an English coal mining community. A film version was released in 1940, and television adaptations include both Italian (1971) and British (1975) versions.
The novel is set in 'Sleescale,' a mining town on the coast of Northumberland, as well as in 'Tynecastle' (Newcastle upon Tyne). While 'Sleescale' is a fictional locale, it is based on an excellent knowledge of similar places and people. Cronin, a Scot, served as Medical Inspector of Mines in the South Wales Valleys during the 1920s.
Beginning before World War I and extending into the 1930s, the story shows the different careers of several persons: principally, a miner's son who aspires to defend his people politically, a miner who becomes a businessman, and the mine owner's son in conflict with his domineering father.
The novel centres on three very different men:
Reactions to the failure of industrial action on safety issues in the coal mines are crystallised in the characters of Davey and Joe, who take vastly different routes in escaping from the working class. While Davey becomes an MP to fight for nationalisation of the mines, Joe essentially joins the mine owners.
Jenny Sunley is Davey's indifferent wife who craves social status, and other characters have short but distinct tales of their own. Cronin shows a broad sympathy for the workers and a dislike of the bosses, but also allows that at least some of the bosses can be decent at a personal level.
Central to the story is the Neptune coal mine and a catastrophe that occurs there. The Great War is also a factor: do you volunteer to fight, volunteer for non-military duties, use trickery to evade service or openly defy the system by refusing call-up? There is a brief description of one of the tribunals that examined conscientious objectors, often refusing to accept their objection as valid. There is also a clear commitment to the idea of nationalising the mines, replacing the mass of small private owners that existed at the time.
The novel ends with most of the men much changed, and it is an excellent description of working-class life in the North of England during that period.
The cage dropped. It dropped suddenly, swiftly, into the hidden darkness. And the sound of its falling rose out of that darkness like a great sigh which mounted towards the furthermost stars.
And from above, the stars look down.
The Stars Look Down is a 1940 film adapted from the novel. Co-scripted by Cronin and directed by Carol Reed, the film stars Michael Redgrave as the idealistic Davey Fenwick and Margaret Lockwood as his wife. Their relationship, which is secondary in the novel, is foregrounded in the film. The American release includes narration by Lionel Barrymore. It is a New York Times Critics' Pickand is listed in The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made.
Radiotelevisione Italiana adapted the novel as a miniseries in 1971 under the title E le stelle stanno a guardare . The dramatisation stars Orso Maria Guerrini as Davey Fenwick, Andrea Checchi as Robert Fenwick, Giancarlo Giannini as Arthur Barras and Anna Maria Guarnieri as Jenny Sunley. This version was written and directed by Anton Giulio Majano.
In 1975, Granada Television produced The Stars Look Down as a 13 episode series. This production was written by Alan Plater and directed by Roland Joffé and Alan Grint.
In 2004, North Eastern playwright Alex Ferguson adapted the novel for NTC Theatre Company. An ensemble of five actors played all the parts: Alan Park (Joe Gowlan/Arthur Barras), Ross Waiton (Davie Fenwick), Kim Evans (Jenny Sunley/Hughie Fenwick), Jackie Fielding (Martha Fenwick), and Steve Wedd (Robert Fenwick/Richard Barras). Directed by Gillian Hambleton, the play met with resounding critical success, breathing new life into Cronin's timeless tale.
In Dorothy Sayers' Busman's Honeymoon , published the same year as Cronin's book, Lord Peter Wimsey's mother starts reading The Stars Look Down, but finds it "very depressing and preachy, and not what I expected from the title."
The opening song in Billy Elliot The Musical is titled "The Stars Look Down"; a homage to Cronin's book.
The 1954 Japanese film An Inn in Osaka (大阪の宿） shows the cover of a Japanese translation of the novel.
In William Trevor's story "The Children" contained in the collection Cheating at Canasata has the child reading her dead mother's copy of The Stars Look Down while her father attempts to remarry.
Rush’s 2002 album Vapor Trails features a song called “The Stars Look Down” based on Cronin’s novel.
Busman's Honeymoon is a 1937 novel by Dorothy L. Sayers, her eleventh and last featuring Lord Peter Wimsey, and her fourth and last to feature Harriet Vane.
Archibald Joseph Cronin, known as A. J. Cronin, was a Scottish physician and novelist. His best-known novel is The Citadel (1937), about a Scottish doctor who serves in a Welsh mining village before achieving success in London, where he becomes disillusioned about the venality and incompetence of some doctors. Cronin knew both areas, as a medical inspector of mines and as a doctor in Harley Street. The book exposed unfairness and malpractice in British medicine and helped to inspire the National Health Service.
Germinal is the thirteenth novel in Émile Zola's twenty-volume series Les Rougon-Macquart. Often considered Zola's masterpiece and one of the most significant novels in the French tradition, the novel – an uncompromisingly harsh and realistic story of a coalminers' strike in northern France in the 1860s – has been published and translated in over one hundred countries. It has also inspired five film adaptations and two television productions.
The National Coal Board (NCB) was the statutory corporation created to run the nationalised coal mining industry in the United Kingdom. Set up under the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act 1946, it took over the United Kingdom's collieries on "vesting day", 1 January 1947. In 1987, the NCB was renamed the British Coal Corporation, and its assets were subsequently privatised.
A pit village, colliery village or mining village is a settlement built by colliery owners to house their workers. The villages were built on the coalfields of Great Britain during the Industrial Revolution where new coal mines were developed in isolated or unpopulated areas. Such settlements were developed by companies for the incoming workers.
The Citadel is a novel by A. J. Cronin, first published in 1937, which was groundbreaking in its treatment of the contentious theme of medical ethics. It has been credited with laying the foundation in Britain for the introduction of the NHS a decade later.
The Miners' Federation of Great Britain (MFGB) was established after a meeting of local mining trade unions in Newport, Wales in 1888. The federation was formed to represent and co-ordinate the affairs of local and regional miners' unions in England, Scotland and Wales whose associations remained largely autonomous. At its peak, the federation represented nearly one million workers. It was reorganised into the National Union of Mineworkers in 1945.
The Citadel is a 1938 British drama film based on the 1937 novel of the same name by A. J. Cronin. The film was directed by King Vidor and produced by Victor Saville for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer British at Denham Studios. It stars Robert Donat and Rosalind Russell.
How Green Was My Valley is a 1941 American drama film set in Wales, directed by John Ford. The film, based on the bestselling 1939 novel of the same name by Richard Llewellyn, was produced by Darryl F. Zanuck and scripted by Philip Dunne. It stars Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O'Hara, Anna Lee, Donald Crisp, and a very young Roddy McDowall.
The South Yorkshire Coalfield is so named from its position within Yorkshire. It covers most of South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and a small part of North Yorkshire. The exposed coalfield outcrops in the Pennine foothills and dips under Permian rocks in the east. Its most famous coal seam is the Barnsley Bed. Coal has been mined from shallow seams and outcrops since medieval times and possibly earlier.
The Stars Look Down is a British film from 1940, based on A. J. Cronin's 1935 novel of the same title, about injustices in a mining town in North East England. The film, co-scripted by Cronin and directed by Carol Reed, stars Michael Redgrave as Davey Fenwick and Margaret Lockwood as Jenny Sunley. The film is a New York Times Critics' Pick and is listed in The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made.
The Stars Look Down is a 1975 British television adaptation written by Alan Plater from A. J. Cronin's 1935 novel The Stars Look Down. The Granada production was directed by Roland Joffé, Alan Grint and Howard Baker and starred Ian Hastings as David Fenwick and Susan Tracy as his wife, Jenny. Other versions include a 1940 British film and a 1971 Italian television adaptation.
E le stelle stanno a guardare is a 1971 Italian adaptation of A. J. Cronin's 1935 novel The Stars Look Down. It was written and directed by Anton Giulio Majano and was produced by Radiotelevisione Italiana. The miniseries was a massive success, averaging about 20 million viewers per episode.
Busman's Honeymoon is a 1940 British detective film directed by Arthur B. Woods. An adaptation of the 1937 Lord Peter Wimsey novel Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers, Busman's Honeymoon stars Robert Montgomery, Constance Cummings, Leslie Banks, Googie Withers, Robert Newton and Seymour Hicks as Mervyn Bunter.
Blue Scar is a 1949 British drama film directed by documentary filmmaker Jill Craigie. Set in a Welsh village where the mine has recently been nationalised, it focuses on the relationship between Olwen Williams, a miner's daughter who leaves the village to live in London, and Tom Thomas, who dedicates his life to working in the mine. With Craigie's background in documentary films with a social message, Blue Scar was designed to raise questions about the value of nationalising the coal industry. It was the only non-documentary film Craigie directed.
The Coal Industry Commission Act 1919 was an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom, which set up a commission, led by Mr Justice Sankey, to consider joint management or nationalisation of the coal mines. It also considered the issues of working conditions, wage and hours.
The Happy Lands is a 2012 British film written by Peter Cox and Robert Rae about a coal-mining community in Fife, Scotland, during the general strike of 1926. The film was released on 17 February 2012. Much of the film's dialogue is in the Scots language. Many of the cast members were amateurs who had no previous acting experience, and are relatives to the real-life miners involved in the historical strike.
Barrow Colliery was a coal mine in Worsborough, South Yorkshire, England. It was first dug in 1873, with the first coal being brought to the surface in January 1876. It was the scene of a major incident in 1907 when seven miners died. After 109 years of coaling operations, the mine was closed in May 1985.
Au pays noir is a 1905 French silent short film directed by Ferdinand Zecca and Lucien Nonguet, and distributed in english-speaking countries under the titles In the Mining District, Down in the Coal Mines and Tragedy in a Coal Mine. The film is based on Emile Zola's novel Germinal.