The Shepherd Lord Fact or Fiction

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A Bank holiday read or a book for Fathers Day, this Faction is an interesting cross between fact and fiction. The historical embellishments are entertaining.

Product Description from Amazon
‘Young Henry Clifford, heir to vast estates in the North of England, is spirited away after the Battle of Towton for fear that the Yorkists will take his life in reprisal against his father’s actions. He is brought up as a simple shepherd boy so that his noble background does not betray his true identity. Narrated by the shepherd that raised him until it was safe to reveal his true identity and reclaim his birthright, this is a riveting tale contrasting a life on the run against an idyllic pastoral backdrop. It is a tale of identity, roots and nurture one of an unbreakable and everlasting bond that develops between two people from very different backgrounds. A true story, that has been all but ignored for centuries and is now bursting to be told.’

From the Publisher
The Shepherd Lord is a fascinating, but largely forgotten episode from medieval English history, rummaged from the shadows of two dusty poems and brought back to life. Set in the 15th century, against the backdrop of the Wars of the Roses, it is the story of Henry Clifford, the aristocrat who was raised as a shepherd.

This is a work of fiction but set on a firm basis of well-researched historical fact. The important issue in this type of novel is how well the author has rendered the tale as a dramatic adventure. The answer, in this case, is very well indeed. It’s an involving and deeply human story of danger, companionship, high emotions and all the other elements required of a gripping tale.

What is it about Scarborough and Fiction

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The Last Train to Scarborough is a Jim Stringer Steam Detective novel by Andrew Martin.

Hot on the heels of our review of the murders in Scarborough in ‘The Other Child’ by Charlotte Link is another book in Andrew Martin’s railway detective excursion into the Edwardian past. The Last Train to Scarborough has his ex-railway-worker-turned-detective Jim Stringer tackling an uncomfortable assignment from lodgings in a wet and gloomy off-season Scarborough.

Andrew Martin’s following is growing as his obvious love of the period and trains becomes clear to his loyal and new readers alike. Not everyone’s cup of tea you either fall for the books or not but give one a chance as they are worth reading on a long holiday train journey. Martin’s ability to summon up the Edwardian era provides an interesting atmosphere ‘as if you have gone back in a time machine and you are actually there’.

Some of the other titles in this 8 book series include The Blackpool Highflyer, The Necropolis Railway, Murder at Deviation Junction and The Baghdad Railway Club which is the latest Jim Stringer Steam Detective novel due to be published this week (June 2012)

The Bristolian near Woodley
Credit The Bristolian near Woodley by NH53 CC BY 2.0

Also on the Scarborough theme we shouldn’t forget Scarborough born lass Susan Hill CBE who has been riding high in the best seller lists with The Woman in Black.
Scarborough Fair by Chris Scott Wilson is a fictionalised version of the Battle of Flamborough Head explored from the American and British perspective. (not quite what I had in mind.)

Haworth no Bronte Publicity II PY

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When a Haworth based family buy a beautiful vintage Rolls-Royce, little do they know they would get more than they bargained for. Named after the car’s registration II PY this book by a local author is ‘Fast-paced and action-packed, II PY takes us on a rollercoaster ride through the landscapes of Britain and France, where the old world charm of nostalgic rallies and vintage shows collides with a ruthless, audacious underworld of gangland bosses. Part taut thriller, part homage to one of automobile history’s greatest cars, II PY will have you on the edge of your ivory leather seats!’

Defeating the ‘Crims’ time after time the plot is starting to wear thin as it takes the police such a long time to catch on. For a fast read and ‘the thrill of the chase’ this is an enjoyable read and cheap to borrow from the library.

Look out for this registration plate on a car near Haworth. That is where the author and his own car live and until this book is made into a film I guess they won’t be moving to Monte Carlo.

II PY by Edward Evans

These lesser known Haworth authors have had large parts of the county named after them and on that basis need no publicity from this web site.

Sir Fred Hoyle Astronomer, Cosmologist and Sci-fi Author

Sir Fred Hoyle FRS 24 June 1915 – 20 August 2001 a Yorkshire man who coined the phrase ‘ The Big Bang’ and missed out on not one but two or three Nobel prizes for physics.
Fred Hoyle was born in Gilstead and went to Bingley Grammar school and Emmanuel College, Cambridge. During the war he worked on radar and assessing the height of enemy planes. After the war and a period as a lecturer at St Johns College he reached the top of ‘world astrophysics theory’ and was appointed to the illustrious Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at Cambridge University.

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Fred Hoyle: A Life in Science by Simon Mitton

A fascinating biography ‘The scientific life of Fred Hoyle was truly unparalleled. During his career he wrote groundbreaking scientific papers and caused bitter disputes in the scientific community with his revolutionary theories. Hoyle is best known for showing that we are all, literally, made of stardust in his paper explaining how carbon, and then all the heavier elements, were created by nuclear reactions inside stars. ‘
Fred Hoyle: Fellow of the Royal Society, Astronomer, Stellar nucleosynthesis, Cosmology, Big Bang, Science fiction, Geoffrey Hoyle.

Looking at Stars not Feet in Shipley Glen

In 1997 at the age of 82, while hiking across moorlands in West Yorkshire, near his childhood home in Gilstead, Fred Hoyle fell down into a steep ravine we know as Shipley Glen.
It was approximately twelve hours before Fred Hoyle was found by a search dog deep in amongst the rocks and trees.
He was hospitalized for two months with kidney problems as a result of hypothermia, pneumonia and a smashed shoulder.
It is probable that he never fully recovered as from around that time he suffered from memory and mental agility problems.

Quotes from Fred Hoyle

It seems Fred Hoyle had a way with words and could help the uninitiated get their heads around difficult astronomical concepts as he did with his use of the phrase the ‘Big Bang’ as opposed to his own theory of ‘steady state’.

‘Space isn’t remote at all. It’s only an hour’s drive away if your car could go straight upwards.’
‘When I was young, the old regarded me as an outrageous young fellow, and now that I’m old the young regard me as an outrageous old fellow’. Well I guess that generally goes with being outrageous.

‘The Cambridge system is effectively designed to prevent one ever establishing a directed policy — key decisions can be upset by ill-informed and politically motivated committees. To be effective in this system one must for ever be watching one’s colleagues, almost like a Robespierre spy system.’ Not exactly a tow the line academic!

‘The successful pioneer of theoretical science is he whose intuitions yield hypotheses on which satisfactory theories can be built…..’ Fred put this to the test many times with his own theories. Many of his views were disproved or ridiculed by the establishment and he certainly used intuition in developing his own inimitable style.

‘Things are the way they are because they were the way they were.’

Fiction some co-authored with his son Geoffrey include The Black Cloud, The Westminster Disaster, Molecule Men, In to Deepest Space and Fifth Planet from Amazon

Alan Bennett Facts not Fiction in a Van

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What do Ladies in Vans, Smut and Talking Heads have in common? They are works by Alan Bennett, Lady in the Van being his latest DVD to be released.

Alan Bennett mini Biography

  • Bennett was born 1934 in Armley the son of a co-op butcher.
  • He went to Leeds Modern School and is reputed to have been in the same class as Bradford Taylor Bradford
  • At one time he thought he looked like a vicar and that this would become his occupation
  • Alan Bennett is an award-winning dramatist and screenwriter.
  • He was one of the original members of Beyond the Fringe, a satirical review that was a hit in both the London and on Broadway.
  • Other members were Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore.
  • Bennett had a close relationship with ‘Cafe Anne’ Davies of Clapham. There were portraits of him posing with the painter David Hockney on the walls of Davies’s tearoom until her demise in 2009.

Literary Works

  • Alan wrote the plays The Madness of King George and The History Boys and Lady In The Van.
  • He features on many peoples top Yorkshiremen lists including that published by biography on line listed only 36th.
  • He has survived 9 years since admitting he had long  suffered with colon cancer.
  • Alan was given the sobriquet “curmudgeon laureate” by Mark Jones.
  • A Private Function showed his droll sense of humour as did Take a Pew a skit on ‘with it’ vicars from the Edinburgh fringe

‘Alan Bennett at the BBC’ featured above is a DVD that includes his first television play, A Day Out, autobiographical pieces such as Dinner at Noon and Portrait or Bust and celebrated plays such as A Woman of No Importance, An Englishman Abroad and A Question of Attribution.

The Lady in the Van

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Based on the true story of Miss Shepherd was a woman of uncertain origins who “temporarily” parked her van in Bennett’s driveway and proceeded to live there for 15 years. The film version stars Dame Maggie Smith.

A wide range of other titles is available from Amazon



OED defines smut as lascivious talk or pictures…. There are some less refined definitions of smut on the Urban dictionary.

Talking heads  were an American band and is now a  Sheffield based Language Service in addition to being the Alan Bennett series of dramatic monologues written for BBC television.

Lassie the Literary Wonder Dog

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Eric Knight the author and creator of Lassie was born on 10 April 1897, in Menston Yorkshire the son of a Quakers family.

Lassie first appeared in a magazine story published by Evening Post and was subsequently expanded into as novel. Lassie Come-Home appeared in 1940 and was filmed by MGM in 1943 with Roddy McDowall in the role of Joe Carraclough and canine actor Pal in the role of Lassie.
The Plot
‘Set in Depression-era Yorkshire, England, Mr. and Mrs. Carraclough are hit by hard times and forced to sell their collie, Lassie, to the rich Duke of Rudling, who has always admired her. Young Joe Carraclough grows despondent at the loss of his companion. Lassie will have nothing to do with the Duke, however, and finds ways to escape her kennels and return to Joe. The Duke finally carries Lassie to his home hundreds of miles distant in Scotland. There, his granddaughter Priscilla senses the dog’s unhappiness and arranges her escape. Lassie then sets off for a long trek to her Yorkshire home and the boy who loves her. She faces many perils along the way—dog catchers and a violent storm—but also meets kind people who offer her aid and comfort. At the end, when Joe has given up hope of ever seeing his dog again, the weary Lassie returns to her favorite resting place in the schoolyard at home. There, Lassie is joyfully reunited with the boy she loves.’ with acknowledgment to wikipedia

The success of the novel and film generated more films and eventually several television series, cementing Lassie’s icon status. The Son of Lassie, who was inevitably named Laddie, was set as Joe starts RAF training at the start of World War II.

Other Works
His first novel was Song on Your Bugles (1936) about the working class in Northern England.
As “Richard Hallas,” he wrote the hardboiled genre novel “You Play The Black and The Red Comes Up”
“This Above All” is considered one of the significant novels of The Second World War.
Knight’s last published work was “The Flying Yorkshireman” about an otherwise undistinguished man from Yorkshire named Sam Small, whose sojourns are reflected in a series of short stories with ethnocentric and eccentric observations of life around him.

Eric Knight Died at the age of 49 in 1943 in an air crash.

Post Script
Greg Christie the biographer of Eric Knight will give the De Grey lecture at York St Johns University on 20 March 2010 at 3.00 pm. He is also trying to get a blue plaque in Menston in memory of Eric Knight.

A Yorkshire Woman of Substance

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After selling over 80,000,000 books the Leeds born Barbara Taylor Bradford aged 84, must certainly be a woman of real substance, even though she now spends most of her money living in the USA. It is 30 years since the 1200 page block buster ‘Woman of Substance’ was released in British book shops and there has been a prolific output of another 24 books, films and TV spin-offs. Not a bad output for a former cub reporter with the Yorkshire Post.

Marrying a Yank (at least he had a Yorkshire surname) Barbara kept her maiden name Taylor but added the alliterative Bradford. After 46 years marriage they still work together “I refer to him as the General,” she says, “and he calls me Napoleon!” Robert Bradford produces all of her mini-series and films, structures her contracts and spearheads all of the activities of ‘the industry that is Barbara Taylor Bradford’. The Napoleon reference is said to be linked to the expat Yorkshire traits of Barbara’s strong will and blunt straight talking, although I never saw Napoleon as a Yorkshire man.

Barbara’s 25th book is ‘Breaking the Rules’ and ia available from the 3rd September 2009
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Continue reading A Yorkshire Woman of Substance

My Favorite Yorkshire Fiction

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The Harrowing by Robert Dinsdale – ‘January, 1916, and the rooftops of Leeds creak with the weight of the winter’s snows. William Redmond, soon to join the Chapeltown Rifles, wanders with his younger brother Samuel through the old haunts of their childhood – and, there, at the top of the Moor across which they are forbidden to walk, Samuel, for too long trapped in his brother’s shadow, stoves William’s head in with a stone’ so this book is described. The reviews I have read are very much in favour of this book and I think I will give it a try. Powerful and Atmospheric this is a highly promising first novel ‘Daily Telegraph’ and ‘Slow Start Turns Into An Unputdownable Read’ Amazon

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D I Charlie Priest is the sort of Yorkshire detective I like to read. The books have that underlying Yorkshire humour that can be detected by the sledgehammer in the titles of other books in the series such as ‘Grief Encounters’ and ‘Judas Sheep’. There are 8 books so far and the Yorkshire author Stuart Pawson is worth following if you like a bit of escapism close to home in Yorkshire.

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I bought Ballad of a One Legged Man at Waterstones remainders sale and I could have saved 99 pence. Set around Leeds at the retirement of a unexceptional ‘Copper’ the story is his reflections of times and friends past. Focusing on the hot summer of 1976 the pressures on a trainee bobby and the situations faced by all our police proves to be an interesting tale. Quick to read there is no plot to speak of and the characters could be drawn more sharply but the book has some simple charm. Also by Colin Campbell are Through the Ruins of Midnight and Darkwater Towers.

Keighley Detective Series by Lesley Horton

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Twisted Tracks is the 5th and latest offering about Inspector Handford or now Detective Chief Inspector Hanford and his Keighley based team. With an escaped convict recaptured in the lake at East Riddlesden Hall through the angst and envy of police versus miners this is an escapist detective with just enough local input to make it a good read. Twisted Tracks by Lesley Horton can be bought from Amazon by clicking here.

East Riddlesden Hall is a 17th-century West Riding manor house with formal and wild gardens, duckpond and grounds maintained by the National Trust. There are  fascinating associations with Yorkshire’s Civil War past and a charming country garden, grass maze and duck pond. It is the home  to the celebrated Airedale Heiffer and there is a local pub by the same name.

Lesley Horton was a teacher in an inner-city Bradford school, has run an educational unit for pregnant schoolgirls, and worked as a volunteer for Victim Support. She lives in Yorkshire. In this series of books the hero is Bradford based Detective Inspector John Handford

Some other books by lesley include:-

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Devils in the Mirror set in Harden

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The Hollow Core was her fourth DI Handford novel based on the plight of children trapped in Bradford’s harsh criminal underworld,

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Snares of Guilt was the first in the series  set in the ‘cultural hot pot that is Bradford, the area is well brought to the page’.

The Yorkshire Pudding Club

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The time was when if someone said they were in t’club it was not unusual to ask ‘Christmas, Pudding or Workingmen’s?’ Who would have answered the Book Club but that would be more appropriate for Milly Johnsons ‘literary’ offering.  From what I know I doubt Milly would want to be termed a Chick for her lit or other reasons, nor may she want to be a Lass but that will have to do.

You can’t have too many Yorkshire Puddings

From the Inside Flap of The Yorkshire Pudding Club
‘Three South Yorkshire friends, all on the cusp of 40, fall pregnant at the same time following a visit to an ancient fertility symbol.
For Helen, it’s a dream come true, although her husband is not as thrilled about it as she had hoped. Not only wrestling with painful ghosts of the past, Helen has to deal with the fact that her outwardly perfect marriage is crumbling before her eyes.
For Janey, it is an unmitigated disaster as she has just been offered the career break of a life-time. And she has no idea either how it could possibly have happened, seeing as she and her ecstatic husband George were always so careful over contraception.
For Elizabeth, it is mind-numbing, because she knows people like her shouldn’t have children. Damaged by her dysfunctional childhood and emotionally lost, she not only has to contend with carrying a child she doubts she can ever love, but she also has to deal with the return to her life of a man whose love she must deny herself.
Heart-warming, up-lifting, tear-jerking and lovely, The Yorkshire Pudding Club is the story of how three women find themselves empowered by unexpected pregnancy. How it revitalises one woman’s tired marriage, strengthens another’s belief in herself and brings love and warmth to a cold and empty life.’

Milly Johnson is a half Barnsley, half Glaswegian writer of greetings cards, novels and shopping lists featuring gin and buns. A self confessed ‘ disciple of the clutter-clearing experience she says ‘It’s magical, energizing and you really do feel lifted and light after shifting rubbish from your house.’ Mmm I am clearing out a lot of books but I don’t have any ‘Chick Lit’ and dare not ditch my wife’s copy of The Yorkshire Pudding Club.

Follow up books  by Milly include  ‘A Summer Fling’, Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Café and Ladies that Launch and features some of the same characters.

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