Here are the main events of Greenwood’s life, but I will gradually add more detail, especially about first performances of his plays, over the next few months. The concise biography on this site gives a narrative account of his life, the fullest published online: Walter Greenwood: a Biography
Walter Greenwood: Biographical Time-line
17 December 1903. Walter Greenwood born at No. 56 Ellor Street, off Hankinson Street, in the ‘Parish and Ward of St. Thomas, Pendleton’, Salford.
- WG’s father dies, probably from T.B., aged forty-three.
- WG leaves school (Langworthy Road Council School) aged thirteen, having completed his Board of Education ‘Labour Examination’, which allowed boys with a deceased father to leave school a year early in order to work to support their family.
1916 – 1928. Employment in a variety of jobs – pawnbrokers’ clerk, clerk at the Co-operative Society in Manchester, stable-boy, boy at a racing stables, clerk (including at Ford Motor Works, Trafford Park), crate assembler, wholesale packer at a drapery firm, clerk/typist.
9-12 May 1926. The General Strike. Love on the Dole is set between the years 1924 and 1931, and yet very oddly makes no reference to these surely crucial days.
1928-1933. Unemployed and on dole (until dole stopped after application of the Means Test). Writes first short stories and attempts first novel(s). The first story he wrote was called ‘Jack Cranford’s Wife’ and was later published under the title ‘The Cleft Stick’ in his and Arthur Wragg’s book, The Cleft Stick (1937).
- First published story (‘The Maker of Books’) accepted by Story-Teller magazine.
1931? Seeks (presumably by letter) and receives advice from the novelist Ethel Mannin to turn his collection of short stories into a novel in order to make a living as a writer. This re-cast work becomes Love on the Dole.
1 October, 1931. Battle of Bexley Square, Salford (demonstration against the Means Test by unemployed men and women: narrated with differences in both Love on the Dole and There Was a Time).
December 1932. Love on the Dole rejected by publisher George Putnam.
January 1933. Jonathan Cape accepts Love on the Dole for publication.
- Love on the Dole: a Tale of Two Cities is published (London: Jonathan Cape). See To Begin at the Beginning: Love on the Dole, the Novel, by Walter Greenwood (1933)
- Love on the Dole published in the US (New York: Doubleday, Doran).
February 1934. Play of Love on the Dole (co written with Ronald Gow) produced at Manchester Repertory Theatre.
Elected as a Labour Councillor in St Matthias ward of Salford.
His Worship the Mayor or ‘It’s Only Human Nature After All’ is published (London: Jonathan Cape).
- US edition of his Worship the Mayor published under the title The Time is Ripe (New York: Doubleday, Doran).
January 1935. Play of Love on the Dole (co written with Ronald Gow) produced at the Garrick Theatre, London.
Invited as a delegate to the International Writers’ Congress in Paris (first trip abroad?).
February 1935. WG is a guest on the BBC Radio programme ‘In Town Tonight.’
2 March 1935. Manchester Guardian reports that Gracie Fields has expressed a wish to play the part of Sally Hardcastle if there is to be a film of Love on the Dole. See Walter Greenwood and Gracie Fields
- Standing Room Only or ‘A Laugh in Every Line’ published (London: Jonathan Cape).
2 February 1936. First US production of play of Love on the Dole (Shubert Theatre, Broadway, New York). Greenwood travelled to the US to be present at rehearsals. Met Pearl Alice Osgood at a theatrical party. Production on till June 1936.
June 1936. Stays with Gracie Fields in her villa on Capri.
July 1936. One-act play, The Practised Hand (a dramatic version of what was published the next year as a short story under the same title in The Cleft Stick collection), produced in July 1936 (Hulme Hippodrome, Manchester).
1936-39. Play of Love on the Dole toured nationally by two companies, reaching most cities in Britain.
23 September, 1937. Marries Pearl Alice Osgood at Caxton Hall Registry Office in London (Arthur Wragg was best man).
1935-37. Correspondence with Edith Sitwell, who reviews his work very positively in newspapers.
- The Cleft Stick or ‘It’s the Same the Whole World Over’, with illustrations by Arthur Wragg, published (London: Selwyn & Blount). See Walter Greenwood and Arthur Wragg’s The Cleft Stick (1937)
- US edition of The Cleft Stick published (New York: Frederick Stokes).
Only Mugs Work: a Soho Melodrama published (London: Hutchinson).
The Secret Kingdom published (London: Jonathan Cape).
2 February 1938. Newspapers continue to report that Gracie Fields may play Sally Hardcastle if a film of Love on the Dole is made.
Founds Greenpark Limited – a stage and film agency and production company (with his accountant James Park). The company produced at least thirty mainly short information films between 1942 and 1950. See Walter Greenwood and Film
30 September 1938. Greenwood along with nine other authors signs a letter to the West London Observer declaring their support for Czechoslovakia and democracy against Fascist violence and plots fomented against the country by Nazi Germany.
- How the Other Man Lives published (London: Labour Book Service).
- British dancer and film star Jessie Matthews auditions to be Sally Hardcastle in film of Love on the Dole, but is not cast by the director John Baxter because she brings an undesirable ’star’ persona with her.
- More or less unknown actress Deborah Kerr cast to play Sally Hardcastle in film of Love on the Dole.
- Pearl Alice Osgood injured during Blitz (December?) when the Greenwoods’ London home is damaged by bombing (two volumes of WG’s unpublished historical novel trilogy about the industrial revolution in Lancashire were also destroyed – one volume survives in manuscript).
June 1941. Film of Love on the Dole released in the UK (British National Pictures; directed by John Baxter). The Film of Love on the Dole (1941)
August to November 1943. Served in the Royal Army Service Corps.
- Something in my Heart (London: Hutchinson).
Walter and Pearl divorce.
- Play published: The Cure for Love: a Lancashire Comedy in Three Acts (London: French).
- Lancashire: the County Books Series (London: Robert Hale Ltd).
- So Brief the Spring (London: Hutchinson).
Play: Too Clever for Love: a Comedy in Three Acts (London: French).
- What Everybody Wants (London: Hutchinson).
Production of Saturday Night at the Crown (Morecombe, starring Thora Hird).
Play: Saturday Night at the Crown (London: French)
- Down by the Sea (London: Hutchinson). This completed The Treeloe Trilogy (So Brief the Spring, What Everybody Wants, Down by the Sea).
- Saturday Night at the Crown (London: Hutchinson). WG’s last published novel.
- WG’s birth-place in Ellor Street and much of Hanky Park area demolished to improve poor living conditions and build new high-rise housing and Salford Shopping Precinct.
- There Was a Time published (London: Jonathan Cape). Greenwood’s memoir of his life in Hanky Park (but only covers 1903 till 1933, with a brief coda set in 1966 – that leaves thirty-three years of his life untouched). See Walter Greenwood’s Memoir: There Was a Time (1967).
Play version of There Was a Time (revived in 1971 under the title Hanky Park).
- Musical adaptation of Hanky Park (Nottingham Playhouse; revived Woking, 1995).
11 September 1974. WG dies at his home on the Isle of Man, aged seventy-one.