The Citadel andThe Keys to the Kingdom

by A. J. Cronin | Literature & Fiction | This book has not been rated.
ISBN: Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingCordelia-annewing of Decatur, Georgia USA on 10/3/2023
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Journal Entry 1 by wingCordelia-annewing from Decatur, Georgia USA on Tuesday, October 3, 2023
A most interesting thing about this book, published by Little, Brown and Company, is the advertisement brochure I found inside. On the cover the brochure features a heroically handsome physician with a most fetching blonde patient, half undressed. The 10-page brochure lists the $1 book club books that were available for order for the May 1959 selection. I have placed the brochure after the final page of THE CITADEL, right before the beginning of THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM. There is no dust jacket but this hardback book is in good shape. I have pasted a facsimile of the cover on the front of the book. THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM was made into a 1944 movie with Gregory Peck and I also vaguely remember THE CITADEL as a long ago Masterpiece Theatre series. The book has a certain strange sweetness from times long ago. A bookplate identifies it as belonging to the library of a husband and wife.

About Author A.J. Cronin:

Archibald Joseph Cronin (19 July 1896 – 6 January 1981), known as A. J. Cronin, was a Scottish physician and novelist. His best-known novel is The Citadel (1937), about a Scottish doctor who serves in a Welsh mining village before achieving success in London, where he becomes disillusioned about the venality and incompetence of some doctors. Cronin knew both areas, as a medical inspector of mines and as a doctor in Harley Street. The book exposed unfairness and malpractice in British medicine and helped to inspire the National Health Service. The Stars Look Down, set in the North East of England, is another of his best-selling novels inspired by his work among miners. Both novels have been filmed, as have Hatter's Castle, The Keys of the Kingdom and The Green Years.

Cronin was born in Cardross, Dunbartonshire, Scotland, the only child of a Presbyterian mother, Jessie Cronin (née Montgomerie), and a Catholic father, Patrick Cronin. Cronin often wrote of young men from similarly mixed backgrounds. His paternal grandparents had emigrated from County Armagh, Ireland, and become glass and china merchants in Alexandria. Owen Cronin, his grandfather, had had his surname changed from Cronague in 1870. His maternal grandfather, Archibald Montgomerie, was a hatter who owned a shop in Dumbarton. Cronin was a precocious student, who won prizes in writing competitions and was also an excellent athlete and association footballer. From an early age he was an avid golfer, and he enjoyed the sport throughout his life. He also loved salmon fishing. After his family moved to Yorkhill, Glasgow, Cronin attended St Aloysius' College. He played football for the First XI there, an experience he included in one of his last novels, The Minstrel Boy. A family decision that he should study either to join the church or to practise medicine was settled by Cronin himself when he chose "the lesser of two evils". He won a Carnegie scholarship to study medicine at the University of Glasgow in 1914. Having been absent in 1916–1917 for naval service, he graduated in 1919 with highest honours in the degree of MBChB. Later that year he visited India as ship's surgeon on a liner. Cronin went on to earn additional qualifications, including a Diploma in Public Health and Membership of the Royal College of Physicians. In 1925 he gained an MD at the University of Glasgow with a dissertation entitled "The History of Aneurysm." During the First World War, Cronin served as a surgeon sub-lieutenant in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve before graduating from medical school. After the war he trained at hospitals that included Bellahouston Hospital and Lightburn Hospital in Glasgow and the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin. He undertook general practice at Garelochhead, a village on the River Clyde, and in Tredegar, a mining town in South Wales. In 1924 he was appointed Medical Inspector of Mines for Great Britain. His survey of medical regulations in collieries and his reports on the correlation between coal-dust inhalation and pulmonary disease were published over the next few years. Cronin drew on his medical experience and research into the occupational hazards of the mining industry for his later novels – The Citadel, set in Wales, and The Stars Look Down, set in Northumberland. He subsequently moved to London, where he practised in Harley Street before opening a busy medical practice of his own in Notting Hill. Cronin was also the medical officer for the Whiteleys department store at the time and had an increasing interest in ophthalmology. In 1930 Cronin was diagnosed with a chronic duodenal ulcer and told to take six months' complete rest in the country on a milk diet. At Dalchenna Farm by Loch Fyne he was finally able to indulge a lifelong desire to write a novel, having previously "written nothing but prescriptions and scientific papers." From Dalchenna Farm he travelled to Dumbarton to research the background of his first novel, using files from Dumbarton Library, which still has a letter from him requesting advice. He composed Hatter's Castle in the span of three months and quickly had it accepted by Gollancz, the only publisher to which he submitted it, apparently after his wife had randomly stuck a pin in a list of publishers. It was an immediate success and launched Cronin's career as a prolific author. He never returned to medicine.Many of Cronin's books were bestsellers in their day and translated into many languages. Some of his stories draw on his medical career, dramatically mixing realism, romance and social criticism. Cronin's works examine moral conflicts between the individual and society, as his idealistic heroes pursue justice for the common man.

A prodigiously fast writer, Cronin liked to average 5,000 words a day, meticulously planning the details of his plots in advance. Cronin also contributed stories and essays to various international publications. During the Second World War he worked for the British Ministry of Information, writing articles as well as participating in radio broadcasts to foreign countries. After the war, he and his wife, also a physician, traveled to America where they lived for many years with their three sons. Eventually Cronin retired to Switzerland where he died in 1981 after a multifaceted medical and literary career.

Author Biography Adapted from Wikipedia

The 1944 movie of Keys to the Kingdom is available to see online:

As is the 1983 Masterpiece Theatre series of The Citadel:

It's hard to believe but 1983 was 40 years ago!

Journal Entry 2 by wingCordelia-annewing at LFL - Starfire Dr (1958) #20502 in Atlanta, Georgia USA on Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Released 8 mos ago (10/4/2023 UTC) at LFL - Starfire Dr (1958) #20502 in Atlanta, Georgia USA


This book from a different time, a time of post World War II American prosperity and idealism, is now a gift from BookCrossing, a random community of book lovers. I have found that its original owners, Lionel and Theresa, lived in Athens, Georgia. Lionel was from Rochester, New York. A veteran of World War II, he was employed by Eastman Kodak for 40 years. Lionel and Theresa were the parents of three girls. This book was passed along at some point and it wound up on the charity shelf at Atlanta's Eagle Eye Books near Emory. These books are displayed outside the shop and sold for two dollars to raise money for local charities. So that's the beginning of the BookCrossing story of this book. I purchased it sometime within the past year, vaguely remembering the movie and the PBS series that came from these novels. if you would like to join this book's BookCrossing story please make a journal entry at our site with the BCID (BookCrossing ID) on the bookplate. BookCrossing is free to join and confidential. You don't have to join to comment. We invite you to add your experience to this book.

Journal Entry 3 by wingCordelia-annewing at Decatur, Georgia USA on Saturday, April 27, 2024
This book has traveled from the spot where I left it. I hope new readers will enjoy it.

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