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Michael Chaplin on the Chaplin (Sid) Archive

Michael Chaplin on the Chaplin (Sid) Archive

Collected Voices

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Sid Chaplin worked at the Dean and Chapter Colliery in Ferryhill until 1948 when he was offered a post as a writer on the National Coal Board's publication Coal. In 1957 he was offered a new post as Public Relations Officer for the National Coal Board. His early writing career was established by publication during the Second World War of poems and stories in contemporary literary magazines, principally Penguin New Writing.

Sid Chaplin’s first book was a collection of short stories, The Leaping Lad (1946), which won an Atlantic Award for Literature in 1946. This was shortly followed by Chaplin’s first novels My Fate Cries Out (1949) and The Thin Seam (1950). In 1960 he published the novel The Big Room, followed by two critically acclaimed novels about working class life in the city by the Tyne, The Day Of The Sardine (1961) and The Watchers And The Watched (1962). The novels Sam In The Morning (1965) and The Mines Of Alabaster (1972) followed, and in the early 70s two books of essays based on weekly columns written for The Guardian in the 1960s, The Smell Of Sunday Dinner and A Tree With Rosy Apples.

Towards the end of his life, Sid Chaplin wrote two final books of short stories, On Christmas Day In The Morning (1978) and The Bachelor Uncle (1980). In the 1970s he contributed to the successful BBC drama When The Boat Comes In and the series Funny Man for Thames Television and The Paper Lads for Tyne Tees Television. Sid Chaplin was a regular and accomplished broadcaster and was a contributor to local and national newspapers and other publications throughout his life.

Sid telling stories to his younger siblings

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Sid's early working life as a baker and apprentice blacksmith

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How Sid first met his wife Rene

The publication of the Leaping Lad

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Sid taking a job at coal magazine and moving to London

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Sid's walks as research for his writing

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Sid's busy work schedule

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Sid taking his son Michael to Jesmond cinema

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Sid's reaction to his son Michael being accepted to Cambridge University

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Sid's open heart surgery and its effect on his writing

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The importance of Sid Chaplin's work to the cultural heritage of the North East

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Listen to the full interview