A major new biography of George Formby – IT’S TURNED OUT NICE AGAIN! – was published on Friday, September 30th, and is available now from the georgeformby.org shop.
IT’S TURNED OUT NICE AGAIN!
The authors, Sue Smart and Richard Bothway Howard, cast a welcome, fresh light on the life of the great George Formby. Meticulously researched, using previously unpublished sources, It’s Turned Out Nice Again! debunks the many tedious cliches and myths that have grown around the accounts of Formby’s life, career and relationships, painting in their place a compelling portrait of a young man reluctantly thrown into the limelight, and his rise to become a showbusiness legend. The book also tells fascinating new stories from the life and times of his father, music hall star George Formby Senior. I was pleased to make available to the authors (rather late in the day) many hours of previously unheard taped interviews from the 1960s my father carried out with George Formby’s mother (George Formby Senior’s widow), Eliza; it is gratifying to see selections from these interviews finally in print, helping to create a truthful, intensely human portrait of two Lancashire legends of popular music.
It is appropriate that Eliza should make a last-minute appearance in the book, as another of her sons, Ted, was instrumental in its conception. He very much wanted to ‘put the record straight’ about his brother. He sadly died before he could see the book’s completion, but his involvement and generosity are very much evident throughout its pages.
It is gratifying for me to see the rehabilitation in print of those two great women, Eliza, and George’s much-maligned wife and manager, Beryl. My own thoughts on George’s relationship with his wife are spelled out clearly on this site, and my strong affection for Eliza is, I hope, clearly expressed. Neither of the two Georges would have achieved what they did without their wives. Sue and Richard are to be congratulated for making their case so compellingly.
This is a splendid book, an important and well-overdue account of the lives of four truly incredible people.
MICHAEL DALY, September 2011
They were Music Hall aristocracy. George Formby senior was the first Northern comedian to gain a national reputation. The great Marie Lloyd maintained there were only two performers she would turn out to see – and he was one of them. His story of rags-to-respectability hid a secret he took with him to the grave. An international star of stage, film, music and radio in the mid-twentieth century, his ukulele-playing son, also George, entertained three million troops in every theatre of war except Russia during the Second World War and raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity. His role in boosting British morale was second only to that of Churchill himself. In short, the nation, and the Royal Family, loved him. He and his wife Beryl had style and charisma, but they always retained the common touch. Struck down by ill-health in the 1950s, George spent more and more time on his boat on the Norfolk Broads, always with Beryl, making friends wherever he went. Both the George Formbys wove myths around themselves and have had myths created for them. Here, through new research and a wealth of previously unpublished photos, the real men emerge for the first time. It certainly has, as young George might have said himself, ‘turned out nice again’.
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Melrose Books (30th September 2011)