Julia Larden

Julia for WebsiteI have been teaching adults  since 1982.   I teach both English Literature and Film Studies.  On the English Literature side I have taught numerous nineteenth and twentieth century novel courses and Poetry and Drama courses.  Other areas of interest include Shakespeare, Women Writers, Frankenstein and Pygmalion narratives.  I have been teaching a two-hour weekly course at Solihull for Warwick Open Studies: ‘Reading the Novel’ since 2006.   I have an Open University BA in Arts and Social Sciences, a BA in English,  University of Birmingham, and an MA (English and Women’s Studies) University of Lancaster.


This  five-week course will run for alternative weeks throughout the autumn  term of 2017 from Thursday  10 May, 10.30-12.45.

The rise of the post-war frustrated ‘Angry Young Man’ in the 1950s and early 1960s is well documented in Literature and Film.   What abut the young women of this era?  There were young women writers looking at the lot of young women at this time, and at how they too were to make their way in this new world.  Two of the best known British women writers of this time who are associated with the ‘angry’ movement were Shelagh Delaney and Lynne Reid-Bank.  Both produced a stunning work on the position of young women who conceived babies outside marriage in this time of new and loser relationships.

Weeks 1 and 2

A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delahey (1958)

This is not a novel at all, but by way of slight departure (we have done plays before) this is a play.  In the era of ‘angry young men’ Delaney has sometimes been described as an ‘angry young woman’.  Set in Salford, the story begins bleakly with Helen, a prostitute, and her teenage daughter, Jo, moving into rented rooms.  Helen disappears for a while to enjoy a relationship with a rich boyfriend.  Jo is not particularly happy or fulfilled, but she finds her ‘taste of honey’ in a relationship with a young black man.  However, her boyfriend disappears leaving Jo pregnant and alone.  What now?  This is a play which takes a ‘warts ‘n’ all look at the post-war world, with its prejudices and poverty for young women who did not ‘fit’ the usual pattern.  There is Guardian consideration of the writer and the play here, on a recent revival  It became a film in 1961, directed by the great New Wave British film director Tony Richardson, and starring Rita Tushingham.  There is a 2007 analysis of the film by on-line Journal Cinema-Retro There is also an interesting review of a 2016 re-mastered DVD of the film by Slant magazine. Amazon link

Here is a clip from the film.

Weeks 3,4 and 5

The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid-Banks (1960)

Lynne Reid-Banks, The L-Shaped Room (1960)  is about Jane Graham, a young French middle-class woman, living in the UK and trained as an actress.  She is sent away by her father when she is found to be pregnant.  She finds a room (Yes, an L-shaped room) in a run-down house of multiple occupation.  The people in the other rooms turn out to be interesting characters, and she quickly makes friends, but most especially with Toby a young Jewish writer, with whom she embarks on a love affair.  Eventually Jane decides to change her life in a radical way.   Written in a relatively straightforward way, but beginning in a modern style with some flashback,  this  is a novel which takes a look at Britain on the cusp of the 1960s, exploring the roles of racism, sexism and anti-Semitism in a still sometimes narrow world which is however under challenge to change.  There is a New Statesman Review of the novel, written in 2010.  There is well-known 1962 film, directed by Bryan Forbes.  There is a BFI review of the film

Amazon link

In this clip from the film Jane finds the room.

The Group

This is a friendly, well-established, study group where new faces are always welcomed.  Classes are run to a lively, tutor-led discussion based, format where, after introductions to the author and set texts, students concentrate on a set portion of the text each week and consider pre-selected extracts in order to discuss a range of questions and topics both those planned by the tutor and those introduced by themselves.

Additional Learning Resources

Students take away a set of pre-prepared student notes at the end of every session.

For registered students, there is also a course website (not visible to the general public) with a new post for every session.  Here a range of additional materials, including a summary of main points in texts, videos, where available, and  links to critical texts for further reading appear.  Some time after each session a brief summary of the session is added together with a downloadable copy of the student notes.  Student contributions to this are always welcome.


Solihull Methodist Church Centre, Blossomfield Road, Solihull, B91  1GL

Getting ThereOn a Map No matter how you plan to travel, this is a very accessible venue. The centre is next to Solihull Station), Satellite  Close-Up (The Church Centre is the long building on the right of the station).  Car drivers appreciate the fact that the centre stands in its own car park.  By Train: trains run regularly from Birmingham Snow Hill, Birmingham Moor Street,  Acocks Green, Widney Manor and Dorridge.  Check times with Chiltern Railways here.   Buses: The following numbers stop within yards of the Methodist Centre: 3, 5, 6, 37, 42, 49, 57, 57A, 71, 76, 82, 169, 966, 966A, S1, S2, S3, S4, S7, S9, S11.  For more bus info call Network West Midlands on 0871 200 22 33.

Course Fee


What Should I Buy?

Having the same version of the text as the teacher and the rest of the class is a huge help for ‘singing from the same hymn sheet reasons’.  We will be skipping around in the text a lot and precious minutes can be lost if a few people are struggling with different page numbering.   We will be using this edition of A Taste of Honey and this edition of The L-Shaped Room.

Are there any other charges?

Coffee and biscuits is offered at a cost of 25p per student.  This is collected weekly.  There are no other charges.

How do I join the course?

You can pay on PayPal or credit card here:

Buy Now Button

Note: if you are given the options: ‘pay with debit or credit card you may be offered a screen for the US.  Choose the UK from the drop-down box options.

This method should be simplest for both sides, but, if you really prefer, drop me a line using the form below and I can send you an enrolment form.  You may also use this form if you have any other questions about the course.  (You don’t need to fill in the website bit!)