Walter Greenwood’s Biographical Timeline

Here are significant events in Greenwood’s life and work in the form of a timeline.  As one would expect with this format, information is mainly given as relatively ‘raw’ facts, but I have put some commentary in where an explanation seems immediately helpful. I will continue to add further detail as I discover more about Walter’s activities.  Sources are generally indicated within the entries or in brackets at the end of each. Chapter Three, ‘Walter Greenwood: Life and Writings’ in my book Walter Greenwood’s Love on the Dole – Novel, Play, Film (Liverpool University Press, 2018) is the fullest published account of his life.  The concise biography on this site is the fullest published online, and adds some further details discovered in my research since the book publication in 2018. Not all the ‘raw facts’ / ‘points in time’ in the timeline are incorporated into the narrative biography, so it may be worth consulting both. See 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 (memoir, There was a Time).

1913. WG’s father dies, probably from T.B., aged forty-three (There was a Time).

1916. 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 (There was a Time).

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 (There was a Time).

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). (There was a Time).

1931. First published story (‘The Maker of Books’) accepted by Story-Teller magazine (There was a Time).

1931? Seeks and receives advice (presumably by letter) 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. (‘Author’s Preface’ to The Cleft Stick, 1937). The original short stories (plus two new stories) are published in The Cleft Stick in 1937, and largely treated by reviewers as a sequel – though in some respects it might also be seen as the original version of 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 praised but politely rejected by publisher George Putnam because they have already accepted Hans Fallada’s German unemployment novel, Little Man What Now? (originally published in 1932, translated by Eric Sutton, 1933), which they thought was quite similar to Greenwood’s novel (There was a Time).

January 1933. Jonathan Cape accepts Love on the Dole for publication (There was a Time).

November 1933. WG stands for election in the Municipal Council elections in the Seedley ward of Salford. He is not elected though the contest is quite close (the Liberal candidate won with 1,400 votes to Greenwood’s 1, 000). (Election manifestos; recorded election results).

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)

  1. 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. See Fame: Love on the Dole (the Play, 1934, co-written with Ronald Gow).

WG was now elected as a Labour Councillor in the St Matthias ward of Salford (winning it for Labour by 750 votes). (Election manifestos; recorded election results).

His Worship the Mayor or ‘It’s Only Human Nature After All’ is published (London:  Jonathan Cape). This draws on his recent experience of local politics.

1935. US edition of his Worship the Mayor published under the title The Time is Ripe (New York: Doubleday, Doran).

1935. Greenwood contributed his short story, ‘The Practised Hand’ to The Hospital Centenary Gift Book, published by George G. Harrap & Company and edited by Dr Robert Ollerenshaw, which raised money for a new convalescent block for the Manchester Children’s Hospital.

January 1935. Play of Love on the Dole (co written with Ronald Gow) produced at the Garrick Theatre, London. It is an immediate and longer-term success, producing significant income for both authors. See Fame: Love on the Dole (the Play, 1934, co-written with Ronald Gow)and and

Invited as a delegate to the International Writers’ Congress in Paris (first trip abroad?). The British delegation also included E.M. Forster, Aldous Huxley, John Strachey, Christina Stead, Ralph Fox, Winifred Holtby, Storm Jameson, Naomi Mitchison and James Hanley (Andy Croft, Red Letter Days: British Fiction in the 1930s, Lawrence & Wishart, 1990, p. 51).

February 1935. WG is a guest on the BBC Radio programme ‘In Town Tonight.’ Salford City Reporter (15/2/1935) reports that ‘He spoke briefly but interestingly of his early days of struggle . . . then [of] the writing of Love on the Dole in all sorts of odd corners, upon scraps of paper, including wall-paper’ (clipping in WG’s Press-cuttings Book: WGC 3/34/1).

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

4 March 1935. Sir Herbert Samuel during a debate on unemployment advises MPs to go and see the play of Love on the Dole, which ‘paints in very poignant fashion the position of those 400,000 families who are in the state which I have just described’ (Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th Series, Vol 298, Col 1665).

March-July 1935. Five supportive letters to WG about Love on the Dole from Edith Sitwell (now held in the Walter Greenwood Collection at the University of Salford, catalogued in file WGC 2/1/1-8). Includes a letter saying that she thinks the play version works well, but that the novel has ‘greater intensity’ (WGC 2/1/4, p.1).

April to June 1935. The Sheffield Independent newspaper uniquely serialises the novel of Love on the Dole in full (the text is the same as in the published novel, but a considerable number of sub-titles are added to existing chapter titles so that the presentation and rhythm of the narrative is somewhat different). See: Love on the Dole in Sheffield: a Unique Story

May 1935. WG is one of thirty-eight artists and writers who put their names to a ‘Protest against the [Royal] Jubilee’ in Left Review (Vol.1, no.8, p.191). Given ‘growing unemployment’ and ‘poor law relief’, ‘we consider that rejoicing is out of place, and we protest against the arranged celebrations’.

August 1935. WG is named in Left Review (Vol.1, no 11, p.463) as a signatory to the aims of the International Association of Writers for the Defence of Culture, which include opposing war and Fascism. The Association was particularly active during the Spanish Civil War, but this predates that and so shows Greenwood and other writers’ concerns about Italian and German Fascism at this date.

19 August 1935. Film released: Where’s George? (later retitled The Hope of His Side), (British and Dominions, directed by Jack Raymond, written by Walter Greenwood, Bert Lee, Jack Marks and R.P. Weston. See:

28 October 1935. Film released: No Limit (associated Talking Pictures, directed by Monty Bates, written by Tom Geraghty, Fred Thompson and Walter Greenwood). Starred George Formby in his first full feature film, which was a great commercial success. See: Walter Greenwood and George Formby 

September to October 1935. Extended debate in letters column of the Aberdeen Press and Journal about the theological underpinning (or absence thereof) of the play of Love on the Dole. This is one instance of considerable interest and public debate about the significance of the play by clergy of a number of denominations. See Love on the Dole and the Clergy

November 1935. Alice Myles, WG’s long-standing fianceé, brings a breach of promise case against him. He admits a degree of liability and agrees to a settlement (Salford Reporter, 27 and 29 November 1935, in Walter Greenwood Collection WGC 3/34/3 and WGC 3/34/4).

22 November 1935. WG publishes an article in the Spectator titled ‘Poverty and Freedom’ (Walter Greenwood Collection WGC 3/35/1).

December? 1935. In a BBC ‘synopsis of great events of the year’, Love on the Dole is pronounced the ‘outstanding play’ of the year (recalled in the Norwood News, 9 October 1936, p.9, when a production of the play came to the Wimbledon Theatre).

1936. Standing Room Only or ‘A Laugh in Every Line’ published (London: Jonathan Cape). Novel about a working-class author who has a play accepted for production but then largely loses control of its finances and indeed the performance play-text.

1936. WG begins to work for some of the year in Polperro, Cornwall, which hosts an artists’ colony. This stems from his friendship and collaboration with the artist Arthur Wragg, who already worked there for a number of months every year. Continues this pattern until his (theoretical rather than actual) retirement in 1965, when he moves to the Isle of Man. See Walter Greenwood Among the Artists: Polperro (1936 to 1965).

30 January 1936.  The Nottingham Evening Post in its radio listings (p.6) includes a broadcast of Greenwood and Gow’s play Love on the Dole in Sweden on Stockholm Radio (426.1 metres, 704 kc) from 6.30 to 8 pm. Was this in translation or in English?

2 February 1936. First US production of play of Love on the Dole (Shubert Theatre, Broadway, New York). WG travelled to the US to be present at rehearsals. Met Pearl Alice Osgood at a theatrical party. Production on till June 1936.

15 March 1936. BBFC (British Board of Film Censors Scenario Notes) judges that a film version of Love on the Dole will not be acceptable in British cinemas, on the grounds of its representation of political, sexual and moral matters. The film company British Gaumont Picture Corporation submitted not just a scenario, but the Cape edition of the play, so that the censors are able to object not just to the overall topics handled but also to detail, including specific scenes and uses of language (BBFC File 1936, pp. 42 and 42a, Reuben Library, British Film Institute, London South Bank). Unusually, the submission was read by both the censors, at this time Colonel Hanna and Miss Shortt, suggesting it was seen as important and potentially problematic.

March 1936. First  production of the play adaptation of the novel, His Worship the Mayor: Give Us This Day, Manchester Repertory Theatre.

2 April 1936. BBC Radio Northern Region broadcasts an eight minute extract from Love on the Dole, consisting of the whole of Act Two, Scene Two.

12 June 1936. Atlantic Film Productions resubmitted WG and Gow’s play-script in the Cape edition to the BBFC.  This time it is read only by Colonel Hanna, who wrote: ‘I have read the play a second time, but cannot modify the first report in any way. I still consider it very undesirable’ (BBFC File 1936, p.87).

June 1936. Stays with Gracie Fields in her villa on Capri. See:

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).

17 July 1936. WG publishes an article in the Spectator titled ‘On the Dole’ (in Walter Greenwood Collection WGC 3/35/2).

1936-39. Play of Love on the Dole toured nationally by two companies, reaching most cities in Britain. See: Who Went to See the Play in the Thirties? The Reception of Love on the Dole Revisited

1937. Czech translation of Love on the Dole published under the title Láska Na Podporu (publisher, Družstevní prace, Prague).

March 1937. French production of Love on the Dole, under the title Rêves Sans Provisions at the Comédie des Champs Élysees (translation by Charlotte Neveu). (Notice in the Era, 25 March 1937, p.2).

26 June 1937. Revês San Provisions published in the French periodical, La Petite Illustration, with a substantial commentary in an afterword by Robert Beauplan (from copy of the publication in the author’s collection).

23 September, 1937. Marries Pearl Alice Osgood at Caxton Hall Registry Office in London (the artist Arthur Wragg was best man).

October 1937. WG contributed ‘additional dialogue’ to a comic revue, It’s in the Bag, by Cecil Landeau and George Frank Rubens, which had a trial performance at the Manchester Palace, before moving to the Saville Theatre in London. Harold Conroy in the Daily Mail claimed that this was the writer’s ‘rebellion’ against being known as a ‘writer of sordid, low-life dramas’ (‘Mr Greenwood Rebels’, 11/9/1937, p.6).

October 1937. WG writes articles in the Daily Express (26 and 27 October) arguing that cinemas should be allowed to open on a Sunday (something then not permitted because of Sunday observance laws). 

1935-37. Correspondence with Edith Sitwell, who reviews his work very positively in several newspapers.

1 November 1937. WG and Pearl visit Edith Sitwell at her apartment in Paris (Letter in Walter Greenwood Collection, University of Salford Archives, WGC 2/1/5).

1937. The Cleft Stick or ‘It’s the Same the Whole World Over’, with illustrations by Arthur Wragg, published (London: Selwyn & Blount). See and

1938. US edition of The Cleft Stick published (New York: Frederick Stokes).

1938. Novel Only Mugs Work: a Soho Melodrama published (London: Hutchinson).

1938. Novel 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.

1938. Founded Greenpark Limited  – a stage and film agency and production company (with his Salford-based accountant James Park). The company produced at least thirty mainly short information films between 1942 and 1950. See: Walter Greenwood and Film

16 May 1938. WG publishes article in the Daily Mail, titled ‘We Owe All this to Lancashire’ (p.10).

29 July 1938. WG publishes article in the Daily Mail, titled ‘Can You really Get away from It All?’ (p.8).

30 September 1938. WG 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.

September 1938. The Evening Chronicle reports (28/9/1938) that WG is to stay in Manchester for a month to collect material [presumably interviews] for his next book, How the Other Man Lives.

1939. How the Other Man Lives published (London: Labour Book Service). Is made up of thirty-seven short sections each describing an occupation, and based on interviews with a worker in that trade.

1939. Czech translation of Only Mugs Work published under the title Špinavá práce (publisher, Přátelé Hodnotné Detektivy).

April 1939. Play version of Only Mugs Work produced at the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester, April 1939. Pearl Alice Osgood played the female lead, Susie Gaye, an American dancer.

1940. The Secretary of the BBFC (British Board of Film Censors), Joseph Brooke-Wilkinson, contacted Ronald Gow and WG to say that a film of Love on the Dole was now a priority: ‘this film’s got to be made’. The striking reversal of a long-held BBFC decision is thought be have been due to pressure from the MOI (the Ministry of Information) and its developing support for the ‘People’s War’ narrative. (See Levine, Carole, ‘Propaganda for Democracy: the Curious Case of Love on the Dole’, Journal of British Studies, Vol. 45. October 2006, pp.846-874). See The Film of Love on the Dole (1941)

1940. 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 already established ’star’ persona with her.

1940. More or less unknown actress Deborah Kerr cast to play Sally Hardcastle in film of Love on the Dole. See:

1941. During the Blitz  the Greenwoods’ London home (a studio flat in Ebury Street) was damaged by bombing and two manuscript volumes of WG’s unpublished historical novel trilogy The Prosperous Years about the industrial revolution in Lancashire were destroyed – as a note in the  surviving second volume records (WGC1/1/1). Pearl was injured, perhaps quite seriously (see below December 1941).

June 1941. Film of Love on the Dole released in the UK (British National Pictures; directed by John Baxter)   – received dozens of positive reviews in a great variety of newspapers, and drew audiences in British cinemas  continuously from 1941 onto 1946. The Film of Love on the Dole (1941)

17 August 1941. The Sunday Mirror (p.7) publishes an article by WG which reflects on the novel, play and film of Love on the Dole,  and on their relationship to what a very different post-war ‘New Britain’ should look like.

December 1941.  Edith Sitwell responds to letter from WG to say how sorry she is to hear that the Greenwood’s Ebury Street studio has been damaged by bombing and that Pearl has been injured. Sitwell says she realises that Pearl’s recovery is bound to take a long time. She also takes the opportunity to say that she is happy to hear what a ‘great success [the film] of Love on the Dole has had’ and that she ‘longs to see it’ (All information contained in a letter from Renishaw Hall dated 26 December 1941 and now in the Walter Greenwood Collection , WGP/2/1/8). 

August to November 1943. Served in the Royal Army Service Corps, training for the Army trade of clerk. Discharged as unfit for further military service. However, WG told the  Manchester Evening News (25 September 1945, p. 8) that he had then been a firewatcher and in the Home Guard (this is wholly compatible since many men served in the Home Guard precisely because they had been considered not fit enough for the regular Services). I do not yet know where WG served with the Home Guard (he had homes in London and Polperro, Cornwall).

1944. Something in my Heart (London: Hutchinson). Greenwood’s only novel written and published during the War. It is about the fortunes of two formerly unemployed Salford men who join the RAF, and about what a new post-war Britain should look like, and what the responsibilities of post-war state and central government should be.

1944. Publication of the French translation of Something in My Heart under the title Mais Aussi des Hommes (Correa, Paris). The translation was by Henri Delgove and Claude Vaudecrame. The Walter Greenwood Collection has an inscribed copy: ‘To Mr Walter Greenwood – this is how your child looks in a French garb. Hope you will give it part of your parental love! With bet wishes and regards, Henri Delgove’ [list of WG’s published work]. 

1944. Walter and Pearl divorce (without any publicity).

1945. Greenwood contributed his short story ‘The Mutineers’ to Voices on the Green, edited by A.J.R. Wise and Reginald A. Smith, and published by Michael Joseph, which raised money for St Mary’s Hospital for Women and Children, Manchester.

22 April 1945. WG was invited to be an expert at a Brains Trust held at the Connaught Theatre. The audience were asked to pose questions ‘concerning the theatre and public entertainment generally with emphasis on the future of the theatre’ (Worthing Herald, 6 April, 1945, p. 13).

17 August 1945. Miss Margaret Herbison, newly elected Labour MP for North Lanark, holds a ‘political rally’ in conjunction with ‘the city Labour Party, the Trades Council and the Co-operative Party’ in the Cosmo Cinema. ‘The film, Love on the Dole, Walter Greenwood’s portrayal of the depression of the nineteen-thirties will be shown’. Margaret Herbison ‘is expected to say something interesting about the legislation of the Labour Government as foreshadowed in the King’s Speech’ (Glasgow Evening Times, 17/8/1945). Clearly, Love on the Dole had already become a classic text to draw on to argue that the mistakes of the thirties must never be repeated. Margaret Herbison (known as Peggy) was MP for North Lanark until her retirement in 1970, and also  held a number of ministerial posts.

4 October 1945. WG is interviewed by R.B. Marriot for the Stage in an article titled ‘Theatre of Peace: Walter Greenwood Looks Ahead’. Greenwood thinks there will be a demand for ‘well-made plays’, and that with ‘the growing consciousness of social and political things, there is emerging a large audience with a taste for plays dealing with current topics. The dramatists who can treat serious social and domestic problems . . . without preaching will be particularly well-received, I’m sure’.

7 October 1945. A letter (signed LISTENER) to the Leicester Daily Mercury approves a protest against BBC Radio’s decision not to broadcast a play by its then Head of Drama, Val Gielgud (1900-1981, brother of John Gielgud). The play was Party Manners, said to be ‘detrimental to the interests of the Socialist Party’. The LISTENER says ‘it is good to see Labour novelist Walter Greenwood (Love on the Dole and The Cure for Love) join forces with Socialist publisher Victor Gollancz to attack this banning of Mr Gielgud’s work’ (p. 4). WG knew Val Gielgud well, since they often corresponded about radio adaptations of Greenwood’s work, as letters in the BBC Written Archives show. There is a brief Wikipedia entry for Party Manners which labels it as a ‘political farce’, and records that it had a number of stage performances from August to December 1950. See:

October 1945. Original play version of So Brief the Spring produced at Oldham Repertory Theatre. See: Walter Greenwood and Dora Bryan

  1. Play published: The Cure for Love: a Lancashire Comedy in Three Acts (London: French).

1947. Documentary film released: A City Speaks (Films of Fact / Paul Rotha Films, directed by Paul Rotha, screenplay by Greenwood, Ara Calder Marshall and Paul Rotha). A documentary about the post-war reconstruction of Manchester sponsored by Manchester City Council. Can be watched on BFI Sscreenplayer:

26 January 1949. Film released: The Eureka Stockade (Ealing Studios; directed by Harry Watt, screenplay by Harry Watt and Walter Greenwood). See:

6 February 1950. Film released: The Cure For Love (London Film Productions; directed by Robert Donat, screenplay by Walter Greenwood, Albert Fennell, Alexander Shaw and Robert Donat). See:

24 April 1950. Film released: Chance of a Lifetime (Pilgrim Pictures, directed by  Bernard Miles, screenplay co-written by Miles and Greenwood). ‘Critics will decide today if the major cinema circuits were right or wrong in refusing to book the £150,000 independent film, Chance of a Lifetime. It is the first film to get a West End premiere by order of the Board of Trade’ (Daily Mail, 25 April 1950, p.3). See:  (

  1. Lancashire: the County Books Series (London: Robert Hale Ltd).

5 May 1951. A radio adaptation of the film A Chance of a Lifetime was broadcast, with Greenwood and Bernard Miles credited as writers.

  1. Novel version of So Brief the Spring published (London: Hutchinson).

Play:  Too Clever for Love: a Comedy in Three Acts  (London: French).

  1. Novel: What Everybody Wants (London: Hutchinson).

Production of Saturday Night at the Crown (Morecambe, starring Thora Hird). See:

Play: Saturday Night at the Crown (London: French)

1956. Down by the Sea (London: Hutchinson). This novel completed The Treeloe Trilogy (So Brief the Spring, What Everybody Wants, Down by the Sea).

November 1958.  Play Happy Days produced at the Coliseum, Oldham; then plays in June 1959 at the Grand Theatre, Blackpool, in both cases starring Thora Hird.

1959. Saturday Night at the Crown (London: Hutchinson). WG’s last published novel.

25 February 1960. Memo from Ronald Gow to BBC Radio head of copyright about forthcoming new radio adaptation of Love on the Dole reminding him/her that in all publicity the play must be referred to as jointly written by Ronald Gow and Walter Greenwood (Ronald Gow Copyright File 1 1927-1962, last item, BBC Written Archives).

25 April 1960. BBC TV broadcast an adaptation of Love on the Dole.  There are mixed reviews.

Early 1960s. 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 the Salford Shopping Precinct.

May 1960. WG’s 1938 novel The Secret Kingdom is serialised on BBC television. Press reviews are mixed.

February 1963. Play Happy Days produced at the Victoria Theatre, Salford.

1967. 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).

26 January 1967. Granada TV adaptation of Love on the Dole broadcast. Most reviews are very positive. See: Love on the Dole in a Time of Full Employment: Granada/ATV’s Television Adaptation (1967)

October 1967. Play version of There Was a Time (revived in 1971 under the title Hanky Park). Mainly good reviews (Coventry Evening Telegraph  says ‘Greenwood autobiographical is as moving as Greenwood fictional’, 18 May 1967, p.10).

1970. Musical adaptation of Hanky Park (Nottingham Playhouse; revived Woking, 1995).

1971. WG gives a series of interviews related to the production of the play adaptation of There was a Time at  the Mermaid Theatre, London, directed by Bernard Miles under the title Hanky Park.  See: Walter Greenwood: ‘Those Turbulent Years’ Interview (John Tusa, BBC Radio 4, 1971Walter Greenwood: ‘Old Habits Die Hard’ Interview (George Rosie, the Radio Times, 1971)Walter Greenwood: ‘Dole Cue’ Interview, (the Guardian, Catherine Stott, 1971)

July 1971. WG awarded a D. Litt (honorary degree) by the University of Salford (reported in The Times, 6 May 1971, p.18).

November 1972 to October 1973. Correspondence between WG and the University of Salford about the purchase of the author’s papers and manuscripts (letters on this topic formerly identified in the Walter Greenwood Collection catalogue as folders WGP/2/32, WGP/2/33, WGP/2/34 and WGP/2/35). 

11 September 1974. WG dies at his home on the Isle of Man, aged seventy-one.