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Ballantine’s Literary Ads: A.J. Cronin

Between 1951 and 1953, P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company, or simply Ballentine Beer, created a series of ads with at least thirteen different writers. They asked each one “How would you put a glass of Ballantine Ale into words?” Each author wrote a page that included reference to their beer, and in most cases not subtly. One of them was A.J.
, who was a Scottish author, best known for The Citadel, “the story of a doctor from a Welsh mining village who quickly moves up the career ladder in London.”

Today is the birthday of Archibald Joseph Cronin (July 19, 1896–January 6, 1981), who was “was a Scottish novelist and physician. His best-known novel is The Citadel, the story of a doctor from a Welsh mining village who quickly moves up the career ladder in London. Cronin had observed this scene closely as a Medical Inspector of Mines and later as a doctor in Harley Street. The book promoted what were then controversial new ideas about medical ethics and helped to inspire the launch of the National Health Service. Another popular mining novel of Cronin’s, set in the North East of England, is The Stars Look Down. Both these novels have been adapted as films, as have Hatter’s Castle, The Keys of the Kingdom and The Green Years. Cronin’s novella Country Doctor was adapted as a long-running BBC radio and TV series Dr Finlay’s Casebook, revived many years later.”

His 1952 piece for Ballantine was done as a reminiscence of his first taste of Ballantine in America, just after a well-played round of golf:

My first meeting with Ballantine Ale is still vivid in my memory.

It was a sweltering summer day at York Harbor, Maine, shortly after I first came to these United States. I thought it would be a memorable day because I shot the lowest golf score I ever made — a 72.

But in the locker room after the game, a friend said: “Try a Ballantine.”

I did — straight from the icebox. And as it flowed over by parched throat — tangy and refreshing in every swallow — I realized with a big thrill that my search for my favourite beverage was ended. I had always like ale, but here was something lighter, something better than anything I’d ever had abroad.

Well, my discovery outweighed by golf course. I remember that day as the time the “three rings” first rang the bell for me.

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