Surly Tim A Lancashire Story


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Yet here again, his argument doesn't quite make sense.

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The factory owners can only gain by educating their workers, he tells us, yet at the same time the agitators turn out to be those who are already educated. Son of a shoemaker and a printer by trade, he eventually became a full-time writer, whose most successful works were his dialect poems notably 'Come whoam to thy childer and me' and short stories.

Like other dialect writers he also wrote a great deal of work in standard English, which is of less interest. Sketches of Lancashire life and localities was Waugh's first book and consists of seven chapters on localities in and around Rochdale and Bury with an excursion to Rostherne Mere in Cheshire. At this point Waugh was living in Manchester and his pieces often have the character of a nostalgic return to country spots that are rapidly being overtaken by industrial development. Waugh had a penchant for antiquarianism, nature writing, poetry quotation and comedy, which are all crammed into the the centrepiece of the book - an epic 78 page account of a 10 mile walk from Rochdale to Blackstone Edge.

In an entertaining chapter on a visit to Milnrow, Waugh pays tribute to his dialect writing predecessor, John Collier. Waugh continued to write in this vein throughout his life and by its third edition, Lancashire Sketches had grown from 7 to 15 chapters.

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The notebooks were first published in the 18th century, and in the 20th century in an a 5 volume edition by Lucy Toulmin Part IX is of interest to this blog because it takes us from the south of England, county by county, through Lancashire to the borders of Scotland. As such it is one of the earliest texts to be published on the county. An early form of the 'gazetteer', this was quite a challenge to read aloud, with its numerous incomplete sections and spelling variations, and I have to admit that it might be best used as a cure for insomnia.

Nevertheless, the text is compelling at times as we realize that Leland was not only describing England but also discovering and knitting together its separate parts for the first time.


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Documenting what he didn't know as much as what he did know, Leland's account of Lancashire is much sparser than those of other counties and we are left with a definite that civilisation takes another turn once we leave Cheshire. Stanley Houghton was the star of the so-called "Manchester school" of playwrights whose plays were performed at the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester , whose acquisition by Miss Annie Horniman in heralded a new era for regional repertory theatre. In his preface to Three Lancashire Plays , Harold Brighouse explains that the name came from the use of local settings and characteristics in several plays and not from the intention to form a school.

Houghton and Brighouse were the best known exponents of the genre and Hindle Wakes and Brighouse's Hobson's Choice were its most successful exemplars. Humphry Ward An odd story that brings together Alan Helbeck, the robust Catholic owner of Bannisdale House, his agnostic young step-niece, Laura, and her rude Methodist cousins who farm higher up the valley. As an atheist, I found the religious side of the novel rather cloying and ultimately failed to understand its subtleties and as a contemporary New York Times review testifies, I am not alone.

But the characters are vividly drawn and there are some delightful descriptions of the countryside seen through Laura's eyes. If my geography is correct, this means that the book is set in Westmoreland rather than Lancashire, although it moves briefly into the county for a pivotal scene in which Laura witnesses the death of an iron-worker in what was, presumably, the iron works at Carnforth. To the best of my knowledge, she did not live in the north-west and her reasons for setting the novel in the area are not clear. Ward is also remembered as a president of the Anti-Suffrage and other of her novels were critical of the suffragettes.

This is, perhaps, reflected in the rather hopeless character of Laura in Helbeck of Bannisdale. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was an excellent read.

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Although I am counting this as a Lancashire book, the story is set mostly among the plains and meres of Cheshire. Mervyn ventures into the industrial smogs of Manchester only when he absolutely has to. This link is to a beautifully illustrated late 19th century edition published by Routledge. The other essays in the book are an odd but entertaining selection,and I was surprised to find myself reading a play and a poem about the River Irwell an extract from Michael Drayton's strange epic of the English landscape, Polyolbion.

A gas manager by profession and writer-antiquarian by inclination, his two major works were the Handbook for Gas Engineers and Managers and the History of the Forest of Rossendale Written in Italy in , the poem was not published until , ten years after Shelley's death.

"Surly Tim": A Lancashire Story by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The edition was published by Leigh Hunt, who explains in his preface that he held it back because of its potentially subversive effects. I am not a reader of Shelley's poems, but I imagine that this was not one of his best. It's advocacy of passive resistance to official violence are also rather suspect in retrospect.

Nevertheless, the poem grew on me over successive readings. Gaskell's first novel, set in industrial revolution Manchester and Liverpool, and probably the best known Lancashire novel. The first half of the book is a catalogue of the miseries of working class life and suffers from the lack of a plot. The story picks up in the second half, though, with an assassination and a dramatic trial. Charles Dickens is said to have commented on Gaskell's predeliction for prolonged and painful illnesses followed by death and there are a fair few of those here.

In comparison to the working-class dialect literature of the time, Mary Barton is utterly lacking in humour. In fairness, though, much of the dialect literature was nostalgic for a lost pre-industrial era, while Mary Barton tackled the conditions of its times head on. It was one of the first novels to be built around working-class characters and to deal directly with the class struggle as it was developing at the time.

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Thomas de Quincey was born in Manchester, the son of a moderately prosperous merchant, and spent some time at the Manchester Grammar School. More importantly, the first half of the book recounts his experiences of flight from the school and the city as a young man, which preceded his addiction to opium. This was de Quincey's first book, published in On finishing it, I was left with the impression of a solitary and arrogant man, who despite titling the book a confession, had yet to come to terms with the psychology of his addiction.

The earlier history is delightful mix of fact and fantasy - one passage has Lancelot du Lac battling Tarquin on the banks of the of the Medlock. The later history tends to focus on matters concerning the Collegiate Church of which Hollingworth, a staunch and intolerant Presbyterian, was a fellow.

The final entry for September is a list of fellows who had been imprisoned for their beliefs, which includes the author's own name! Hollingworth died two months later in Manchester. By the s the practice had died out but was remembered in the annual tradition of building a rush-cart and leading it in a procession to the local church during wakes week. Although rush-bearing was not specifically a Lancashire tradition, it seems to have survived there, and in western Yorkshire, longer than in other parts of the country. A precursor of the coffee-table book, Burton's account is designed to be browsed, rather than read from end to end, and appears to contain pretty much everything that had ever been written on the topic of rushes and rush-bearing, with informative chapters on morris-dancing and wakes thrown in for good measure.

I have added some of the many illustrations in the book to the picture gallery. I know nothing of the author apart from his name. And it is turning out to be fun. Let's not worry whether or not Wordsworth is a Lancashire poet, the River Duddon is in the northern bit of Lancashire that is disconnected from the rest and is now in Cumbria.

There are 33 sonnets in this edition later editions have 34 written over many years. The intriguing part is that they are chained together so that as we read we follow the 25 miles of the river from its source in the high fells to its disappearance in the sands. A clever idea - there are probably hundreds of poem series that follow rivers, but this is the only one I know.


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In a North Country Village M. Francis M. Francis was born Mary E. Sweetman in Dublin and moved to Lancashire on her marriage to Francis Nicholas Blundell, of the Blundell family who remain squires of Little Crosby to this day.

Surly Tim : A Lancashire Story

Blundell died young and Mary remained in Little Crosby, where she wrote many novels and collections of short stories, using her husband's Christian name for a pen name. In a North Country Village is a collection of 12 independent stories set in Little Crosby called Thornleigh in the book , which is described as a "sleepy little hamlet" that has "remained unchanged to all intents and purposes for several hundred years.

According to Wikipedia, which tells us that Little Crosby may be the last remaining recusant Catholic village in England, this description may even be true today! We are told that the residents of the village have decided to do without street lights and although Protestants are now allowed to live in the village, they must first be vetted by the squire! Catholicism does not play a great part in In a North Country Village, though, which is an engaging collection of vignettes of the lives of the local peasantry seen from an upper-class point of view.

Although M. Francis set much of her work in Ireland and Dorset, she published a number of Lancashire books, including A Daughter of the Soil , Yeoman Fleetwood and Marjory o'th' Mill LibriVox recording. Francis, who married into the Blundell family in the late 19th century. Finally, because of the failing Manchester economy, the family sold the store and immigrated to the United States. In they settled just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. Hoping to offset her family's continuing financial troubles, Burnett began to submit her stories to women's magazines.

She was immediately successful. In the late s her stories were published in nearly every popular American magazine.

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