Arthur & George
is the tenth novel by English author Julian Barnes
Julian Patrick Barnes is a contemporary English writer, and winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize, for his book The Sense of an Ending...
which takes as its basis the true story of the 'Great Wyrley Outrages.'
Set at the turn of the 20th century, the story follows the separate but intersecting lives of two very different Englishmen: a half-Indian solicitor and son of a Vicar George Edalji
George Ernest Thompson Edalji was a solicitor from the West Midlands who became world-famous in 1907 when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle campaigned to have him declared innocent of maliciously wounding a pony in 1903....
, and the world-famous author of the Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fantastic London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to take almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve...
stories, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Roughly one-third of the book traces the story of Edalji's trial, conviction, and imprisonment for a crime he did not commit. About one-third of the book traces the story of Doyle's life and his relationships with his first wife Louisa Hawkins and his platonic lover Jean Leckie. Roughly one-third of the book concerns Doyle's attempt to clear the name of Edalji and uncover the true culprit of the crime. Julian Barnes called it ' a contemporary novel set in the past' and the book does not aim to stick closely to the historical record at every point.
Characters in "Arthur & George"
- George Edalji, solicitor
Solicitors are lawyers who traditionally deal with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in courts. In the United Kingdom, a few Australian states and the Republic of Ireland, the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers , and a lawyer will usually only hold one title...
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...
- Charlotte Edalji née Stoneham, George's mother
- Shapurji Edalji, George's father, vicar
In the broadest sense, a vicar is a representative, deputy or substitute; anyone acting "in the person of" or agent for a superior . In this sense, the title is comparable to lieutenant...
of Great Wyrley
Great Wyrley is a parish and town in South Staffordshire, England, with a population of 11,236 at the 2001 census.-Etymology:The word "Wyrley" derives from two Old English words: wir and leah. Wir meant "bog myrtle," and leah meant "woodland clearing," suggesting that Great Wyrley was, at genesis,...
- Maud Edalji, George's sister
- Mr. Meek, George's lawyer
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous author
- Jean Leckie, Conan Doyle's second wife
- Louisa "Touie" Hawkins, Doyle's wife
- The Mam, Arthur's mother
- Connie, Arthur's sister
- Willie Hornung, Connie's husband
- Mary Doyle, Arthur and Touie's daughter
Arthur and George
is laden with the unique and complex form of irony, simultaneously comic and tragic, that Barnes is known for. In this novel, however, Edalji's race, and the question as to how large a part it played in his wrongful conviction, represents a new theme for Barnes. Other themes, however, are more familiar Barnes territory: "Britishness" in its frustrating complacence, death and spirituality, and the challenges faced by the human heart. As always, Barnes is interested in how characters are shaped over time; Arthur & George
is in many ways a continued exploration of the themes he explored in Metroland
, Talking it Over
Talking It Over is a novel by Julian Barnes published in 1991, it won the Prix Femina Étranger the following year.It concerns a love triangle in which each of the three people concerned take it in turns to tell the story from their perspective using first person narrative...
, Love, Etc.
, and especially The Lemon Table
Playwright David Edgar
David Edgar is a British playwright and author who has had more than sixty of his plays published and performed on stage, radio and television around the world, making him one of the most prolific dramatists of the post-1960s generation in Great Britain.He was resident playwright at the Birmingham...
has dramatized the work for the Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Birmingham Repertory Theatre is a theatre and theatre company based on Centenary Square in Birmingham, England...
, with the opening performance scheduled for 19 March 2010.
Awards and nominations
- 2005 Man Booker Prize
The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original full-length novel, written in the English language, by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland, or Zimbabwe. The winner of the Man Booker Prize is generally assured of international renown and...
- 2007 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is an international literary award for a work of fiction, jointly sponsored by the city of Dublin, Ireland and the company IMPAC. At €100,000 it is one of the richest literary prizes in the world...
- 2005, UK, Jonathan Cape ISBN 0-224-07703-1, Pub date 7 July 2005, hardback
- 2005, Canada, Random House ISBN 0-679-31417-2, Pub date 9 September 2005, hardback
- 2006, USA, Alfred A. Knopf ISBN 0-307-26310-X, Pub date 3 January 2006, hardback