Southwold Arts Centre, 12 September, 6pm.
Ronald Blythe, who died this year aged 100, was already an established writer and editor before the publication in 1969 of Akenfield: Portrait of an English village. This fictionalised account, covering the years 1880 to 1966, was based on interviews with three generations of his Suffolk neighbours.
The book became a classic, and Blythe went on to publish over 30 more books, as his writings and his life inspired a generation of nature writers. His 2022 collection, Next to Nature, has an introduction by Richard Mabey, in which he praises the author of ‘the best literary accounts of the English rural scene in the twenty-first century’.
In 1974 Peter Hall, then director of the National Theatre, directed the film of Akenfield. It was based on Blythe’s 18-page synopsis, but with dialogue mainly improvised by the entirely amateur cast (including Blythe with a cameo role as the vicar). It too has become a classic.
The film will be introduced by Peter Hall’s daughter, Jenny Caron Hall, who at the age of 15 acted in Akenfield. Jenny has worked at the National Theatre, written extensively about the arts and directs Shakespeare. She is a singer-songwriter and weaver. Jenny is the founder and artistic director of the SHAKE Festival, which will be in Aldeburgh 7 and 8 October this year.
Presented jointly with Southwold Arts Centre. Book at southwoldartscentre.co.uk.