The Art of Coarse Writing

“The Art of Coarse …..” is a book title unfamiliar to few. By my reckoning there were nineteen books in the series published by Hutchinson (originally Museum Press, via Stanley Paul); six by Patrick “Spike” Hughes, thirteen by Michael Frederick Green. The title itself hasn’t been copywrited as far as I know, because a rogue title, “The Art of Coarse Teaching” was written by Bill Flynn and published in 1975 by Leslie Frewin. I may even write my own “Coarse” title one day….

The Coarse books are a product of their age. It could be argued that Stephen Potter’s 1947 masterpiece “Gamesmanship” inspired the humour in Spike Hughes’ “The Art of Cricket”, which was written at a time (1954) when car ownership was sufficiently rare to influence team selection. The difference between “Coarse Cricket” and “Coarse Sex” is symptomatic of the social changes that happened between 1954 and the 80’s

What made these books so popular? Apart from their ability to make me (and I assume many others) laugh out loud, it is perhaps because of the topics, which touch on many people’s lives. Few older rugby players will be unfamiliar with “The Art of Coarse Rugby”; my first trip crewing on a sea-going boat was rewarded with a copy of “The Art of Coarse Cruising”, and I wonder how many copies of “The Art of Coarse Acting” have been given as first night gifts. If anyone has ever managed to buy a house without some event from “Moving” striking a chord, I envy them!

Both Michael Green and Spike Hughes wrote many more books. Green’s two autobiographies have added considerably to my interest, and Patrick “Spike” Hughes led a facinating life, chronicled in two volumes.

Why this web site? After a visit to the Norfolk Broads, I retrieved a copy of “The Art of Coarse Sailing” from the loft. Having chuckled as much again as I did when I first read it, I turned to the Internet to find out more about Michael Green and the other books in the series. Normally this is the sort of subject that would have a few pages devoted to it on the web, but I found little. There were plenty of the books for sale, some references to Spike Hughes, but no site specifically on the subject.

Another trip to the loft revealed I was a subconscious Michael Green fan, owning many of his books. I decided to put what little I knew on the web, and hopefully others would help me fill in the blanks. That great modern waster of time and money, eBay, lead me to start collecting, and now I have an almost complete set of early editions.

I first published this site in 2004, received little feedback, and just left it alone. Wikipedia now hosts biographies of both Michael and Spike. I’ve finally decided to rewrite the site using WordPress, replacing and updating the hand written HTML version, as a learning excercise while stuck indoors during the spring of 2020.

Last updated 13/4/2020