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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Did Charlotte have a real-life inspiration for Mr Rochester?

Skipton library marks the bicentenary of the birth of Charlotte Brontë with a talk at 7.30pm on Wednesday 14 September entitled Charlotte Brontë: The Stories behind the Stories.

Sue Newby from the Brontë Parsonage Museum will explore the idea that much of the author's writing has its origins in events and characters from her own life. For instance, did she really know of a “mad” wife locked away in an attic, and to what extent was the passionate, mysterious Mr Rochester inspired by a married Belgian school teacher?

Further information about the talk: email

Monday, 6 June 2016

Bi-lingual bombardment book launch

Robin McDermott with
the new book. Photo
by Tony Bartholomew.
Historians from Germany and Britain have worked together on a bilingual book about the German bombardment of the East coast in 1914 which is launched today (Monday 6 June). Both authors will be on hand to sign copies.

Scarborough Bombardment, by Dr Jann M Witt, naval historian at the German Naval Memorial, and retired British military officer Robin McDermott tells the story of the attack by the German High Seas Fleet on Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool on 16 December 1914.

It was the first effective attack on British soil of World War One and killed 157 men, women and children, the youngest, in Scarborough, just 14 months old. The attack caused public outcry, and Remember Scarborough! became the slogan for an impassioned recruitment drive for much of 1915.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Celebrated author's national park date

Rob Cowen.
Award-winning local author Rob Cowen talks about his work at an afternoon event at The North York Moors national park's Danby visitor centre on Sunday 19 June.

The event is being organised with Ryedale Book Festival.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Boots to book: Cleveland Way tale author's Sunday signing

Best foot forward: author
 Andrew Nichol.
Helmsley's Cut Price Book Store hosts a signing on Sunday (8 May) with the author of a novel which follows the true and funny tale of seven young men walking the Cleveland Way in 1974.

We'll Have a Laugh by Andrew Nichol details the humorous, and at times challenging, experiences the boys face as they hike along the well known track. The book is full of nostalgia, especially the music of the glam rock era.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Insights into Blyton and her work

Scarborough Art Gallery holds an illustrated talk on the life and work of children’s writer Enid Blyton on Friday (15 April). 

David Rudd, professor of children’s literature at the University or Roehampton. London, will speak at the event which starts at 7.30pm.

Professor Rudd studied Enid Blyton's work for his PhD, the first person to do so: the result was a book, Enid Blyton and the Mystery of Children's Literature. He has written four books and about 100 articles on children's literature.

Mystery, Magic and Midnight Feasts, the first ever major exhibition celebrating the life and work of Blyton, created by Seven Stories National Centre for Children's Books, can be seen at the art gallery until late June.

Further details about the talk are available by calling the gallery on 01723 374743.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Bragg's book festival date

Melvyn Bragg.
Veteran TV and radio broadcaster and novelist Melvyn Bragg will appear at the Spa as a headline guest at this year’s Scarborough book festival on Friday 15 April.

Further information is available at

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Hocus pocus: Steve has the magic touch for children's writing

York's Steve Howson has made his foray into writing for children with his new picture book, Hocus Pocus Diplodocus.

As a freelance copywriter, Steve has been writing for businesses for the past 15 years.

Women's wartime role recognised

Aunt Kay.
In the book, Elsie and Mairi Go to War, the two central characters aged 18 and 30, are madcap motor-bikers who met while roaring round the Hampshire and Dorset lanes.

When war was declared Elsie wrote to Mairi that there was 'work to be done', and suggested they go to London to join the Women's Emergency Corps.

Eventually recruited to the Flying Ambulance Corps, to help wounded Belgian soldiers, one of their colleagues in the Corps called them 'Valkyries
in knickerbockers.'

Author Diane Atkinson will speak about her book and the vital role that women played in World War One at Markenfield Hall on Saturday 26 July. The talk will highlight the role of  Aunt Kay, sister of 5th Lord Grantley. Kay Norton left home at the age of 21 and began her “bachelor girl’s life” in London.

Lord Grantley was drafted to France to St Addresse near Ypres  and his memoir describes some of
his time there.

Further information about the talk, which begins at 7.30pm, is available at

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Literature festival organisers go by the book with top line up

Organisers of this year's new-look Scarborough Book Festival have unveiled a heady mix of top authors, broadcasters and historians.

The line up from 24-27 April includes Kate Adie, Joanna Trollope, Lucy Worsley, Margaret Drabble, Peter Snow, James Naughtie, Mark Lawson, Joanne Harris, Jo Baker, Michael Jones, Philippa Langley, Allan Mallinson, Sally Magnusson and Lynn Shepherd.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Andrea's book chases the blues away

Feeling good: York-based
Andrea Morrison.
With Blue Monday looming – 20 January and the lowest point of the year for many – a new book by North Yorkshire author Andrea Morrison could be the tonic.

In Feel Good Factor in 30 days, she shares her techniques to help restore the feelgood factor. She lives by the principles because, in her words, they've changed her life.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Markenfield literary lecture explores the real life of Bertie

Listeners to the latest in the series of literary lectures at Markenfield Hall, on the outskirts of Ripon, will be treated to a talk on Bertie by royal biographer Dr Jane Ridley on Thursday 19 September

Friday, 21 June 2013

What did the butler really see?

Writer Lucy Lethbridge offers an insight into the downstairs world of the Downton Abbey era at a forthcoming York Festival of Ideas talk.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

As Far As I Know, poet Roger will not be a-verse to this reading

Roger McGough.
Menace and melancholy along with wit and wordplay will be evident when poet of many voices Roger McGough reads and discusses his new work As Far As I Know at Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre on Saturday 11 May.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Literature festival will be a page turner, say organisers, as tickets sell fast

Three thousand tickets have already been snapped up for The Long Weekend, Scarborough's seventh annual literature festival. 

Friday, 22 March 2013

York library goes by the book with sale

Book, music and film lovers in York are likely to find a bargain if they head to the city's Explore Library Learning Centre which is staging a four-day sale from today (Friday 22 March)

Monday, 18 March 2013

It's a crime! Literature festival shows its darker side

Talking crime: David Hewson.
Photo by Mark  Bothwell.
This year's Scarborough Literature Festival will have a dark side when it comes to town next month with a string of big name writers.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Time capsule and exhibition mark new stories project chapter

The next chapter in City of York Council’s York Stories project opens today (Saturday 16 March) with an exhibition of stories gathered from past and present residents of York — and an opportunity to help fill a time capsule.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Scarborough goes by the book and builds on literary reputation

Scarborough is fast becoming a hotspot on the nation’s literary map as it builds on its successful literature festivals.

And preparations are in full swing for this year's event — the coastal town's seventh — from Thursday 11 April until Sunday 14 April.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Psychic unable to see the danger ahead in Paul's York thriller

The White Swan:
available as an ebook.
York provides the setting for a thriller by author Paul Morrison about a psychic who is out of his depth attempting to help solve a murder.

The White Swan is available as an ebook and reviews on Amazon have already got it off to a good start.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Trish unearths the momentous to the outlandish for district's pocket guide

book review by Mervin Straughan

Quizmasters are a rare breed. They amass an inordinate number of facts from the bizarre to the truly outlandish and then tease their participants.

Combining the old with
the new: Trish Colton's
new "not a guide"
Our local quizmaster is no exception. But, as we drown our sorrows at the pub at the end of the evening, we take consolation in the knowledge that we are enriched — culturally, geographically, historically and sociologically.

Whether she is or not, I'll wager that regional historian Trish Colton would reign supreme as a quizmaster. In a similar fashion, she delights in unearthing the momentous to the outlandish.

Her latest book Not a Guide to Harrogate & District (£5.99 and published by The History Press) contains a plethora of entertaining and quirky facts about the spa destination and its satellite towns, villages and hamlets.

It's an easily digestible read that the publisher says will surprise folks who think they know the area well.

Trish, who has lived in Yorkshire most of her life, is passionate about local history and has written articles for newspapers and magazines in the UK and abroad. She's author of The History Press title Not A Guide To: York and the co-author of The Knights Templar in Yorkshire.

Her latest offering takes readers through hidden gems, buried treasures, rebellious heritage, famous personalities and even its druid temples. There are more than 120 photographs depicting life across the area. The aim is to bring together the past and present and offer a fresh perspective on local history.

A spokesperson for the publisher, the History Press, said: "Not A Guide To: Harrogate & District offers a contemporary slant on the ‘city guide’ that simply cannot be missed."

The great philanthropist Andrew Carnegie financed the building
of Harrogate's library in 1906 but, we are told, drew a line at donating
funding for building new council offices nearby.
It's difficult to argue with that. After removing it from its padded envelope and, sitting with a cuppa, I was absorbed for half an hour before remembering my urgent appointments. I, therefore, put it down and dedicated proper review time later that day but, in the meantime, kept recalling what I had learnt as I went about my business.

For instance:
  • As the main coaching town between Edinburgh and London, Boroughbridge had twenty inns.
  • Five of the district's men have been awarded the Victoria Cross.
  • Late one January afternoon in 1192, locals would have seen the aurora borealis.
  • Squadron leader James Harry "Ginger" Lacey DFM, one of the RAF's top-scoring World War Two fighter pilots attended King James's School, Knaresborough.
  • Ten rivers flow through the district.
  • Jim Carter, of Downton Abbey, Shakespeare in Love and Brassed Off fame is Harrogate born and educated.
  • On 12 February 1962, a 100 mph gale blew down 800 mature trees in Harrogate and blew the dome off the observatory.
There are many more.

And all these facts bring us neatly back to our quizmaster. Local knowledge continues to feature prominently in his devilish challenges but, this time, I might just be one step ahead.

The book can be bought at