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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > January 2017 > Beat the bestsellers

Beat the bestsellers

The style and technique of JOHN BRAINE

Tony Rossiter looks at a writer whose first novel propelled him into the stratosphere of bestselling, high-earning authors

He shot to fame as one of the Angry Young Men of the fifties with his first novel Room at theTop (1957). It sold 35,000 hardback copies in the UK in its first year. For a debut novel that was an unheard-of achievement at the time. Within a year of the book’s publication, Braine’s earnings went from the £13 a week he earned as an assistant librarian to an estimated £1,000 a week, enabling him to buy a large house in Bingley for cash. A hugely successful film, starring Laurence Harvey and Simone Signoret, boosted paperback sales and in the 1960s the book became one of Penguin’s few million-selling titles. Braine went on to write a further eleven novels, but none of them made the same impact as Room.

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