What Manchester means to me

When I was a child I lived in a council flat on the seventh floor of a tower block in Ashton-under-Lyne. I spent a lot of time on the balcony, looking out towards Manchester. Manchester to me was a long line of bright lights on the horizon. It was also the city where my mum…

Read More

Naughty Sophia

  Well, bloody hell! I’ve just discovered that Naughty Sophia was written by Winifred Mary Letts, who was born on 10 February 1882 in Broughton, Salford, and died in 1972! A word to the wise – never put Naughty Sophia into a search engine without adding ‘children’s story’  first… But, several pages of Italian dominatrices later, I’ve…

Read More

Write Practice

At some point in my childhood I announced that I wanted to be a writer. I usually say I was seven years old, but this may be apocryphal – the age to which defining moments are regularly attributed. However, I do remember completing some four-line stanzas about fairies, and announcing my intention to my mother…

Read More

From Court to Cloister

From Court to Cloister After nine years of research there is one moment that stands out to me, among all the remarkable events of the Wars of the Roses. The event I am talking about took place in October 1459, at the Battle of Ludlow, which is also known as the Battle of Ludford Bridge…

Read More

Reading the Market

  Obviously, people read for different reasons; to switch off, to turn on, to be informed about the world they live in or to escape from it; for research or for relaxation.  Various studies into reading fiction have investigated this, though none of them comprehensively. In 2005 the British Marketing Council conducted a survey into…

Read More

What I’m Reading Now

Of all the books that I currently have on my bedside table (and it is a considerable pile) the most unusual is probably In Heaven’s River, by Julian Daizan Roshi and Sumiko Hayashi. It is a tribute to the life of Enku, a mountain monk or yamabushi who lived in Japan in the 17th century,…

Read More

Hilary or Florence?

Two nights ago I attended a wonderful reading by Hilary Mantel at MMU. She was magnificent – wise, witty and engaging. She read from two brilliant stories and answered questions put to her by the audience and by the also brilliant Dr Eileen Pollard, who deserves much praise for arranging this event. Mantel said so…

Read More