For quite some time, I've been waiting for a suitable pretext to post a particular book recommendation (or rather, an author recommendation). None has come along, so I'll put it here anyway:
If you've not done so already, have a look at Alan Sillitoe. And not just his more well-known 50s works such as the Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner (the excellent short story collection) or Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.
The Wikipedia entry has missed a reference to Birthday - his 2002 (I think) encore for SNSM's Arthur Seaton - I'd change it myself, but I've lent my copy out, and I'd want to refer to it accurately if I edited wikipedia myself.
Leonard's War is a pretty special portrayal of loneliness, and the largely autobiographical Raw Material is directly comparable to The Road To Wigan Pier. Indeed, as it's not as much of a journalistic travelogue it some readers may find it more compelling than anything similar written by Orwell.
And I really don't think that I'm posting this just because Alan's a Nottingham boy either...