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Manchester Authors, Novelists, Writers & Poets


Anthony Burgess

Anthony Burgess, Novellist, Author

(1917-1993)
Probably now remembered best for the Stanley Kubrick film made of his novel "The Clockwork Orange" , he was born John Anthony Burgess Wilson on 25th February 1917 in Harpurhey, Manchester, the son of a bookkeeper and music-dance teacher. Both his mother and sister died of Flu when he was only 3 years old. He was educated at Xavarian College in Moss Side and at Manchester University, spent six years as a soldier and became a n education officer in Malaya and Brunei. He was invalided home in 1959, and took to writing. Some 50-odd books later and he had become a leading novelist on the world's stage.
Burgess retired to live in Monaco and died of lung cancer in 1993 at the age of 76.

Walter Greenwood

Walter Greenwood

(1903-1974)
Born in Salford to a poor working class family in 1903, Greenwood owed his eventual wealth and fame to that background which had provided the material for such novels as "Love on the Dole" and "There was a Time" .
He attended the council school in Langworthy Road, but left at 13 years of age. Thereafter he was self educated, and studied regularly at Salford Library. His writing proved very popular, and books like "His Worship the Mayor", "The Secret Kingdom" and "The Cure for Love" added wealth to his fame.
He eventually moved to live in a flat in Douglas, Isle of Man, where he died in 1974. He was married to an American ballerina.
Salford University awarded him its first Honorary Doctorate in 1971, and on his death, his manuscripts and letters were bequeathed to that university.

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

Mrs Elizabeth Gaskell

(1810-1865)
Born in Chelsea, London in 1810. Due to her mother's death when Elizabeth was an infant, she was moved to Knutsford, Cheshire to live with an aunt.
She grew to love the town of Knutsford, and this is evidenced in two of her books which are based on the town - "Cranford" and "Wives and Daughters". After her marriage to a Unitarian minister, she lived at various places in Manchester including Chorlton-on-Medlock and Plymouth Grove.
Charitable, socially aware and politically conscious, much of her material came through her husband. Her novel "Mary Barton" was a best-seller, and was admired by Charles Dickens. She contributed articles to his periodical Household Words. Also wrote "Ruth", "North and South" and a biography of Charlotte Bront�.
By 1865, the year of her death, she was a phenomenal literary success. She is buried in Knutsford Unitarian Chapel.

Shelagh Delaney

Shelagh Delaney

(b. 1939)
Born in Salford in 1939 of Irish descent, the daughter of a local transport worker, and was to become known as one of a generation of so-called 'Angry Young Women' writers of the 1950s. She attended Pendleton High School, where she was actively encouraged to write by an enlightened headmistress. On leaving school she had many brief jobs before becoming a research photographer with the Metropolitan Vickers Company (MetroVicks) in Trafford Park.
Her writing was steeped in her childhood experiences of life in the industrial north-west of England, and her roots were to provide the background to many of her most celebrated plays and novels. Perhaps her most famous, "A Taste of Honey" , set in 1950s Salford, and later made into a film starring newcomer Rita Tushingham, was classified by critics as a 'kitchen sink drama' or else it came from the 'kitchen sink school of playwriting'.
Delaney herself objected to the "glib label" however, and a programme note to this effect was included when 'A Taste of Honey' premiered on 27th May 1958 in London. Opening to strong critical acclaim, when she was barely 20 years old, it angered many Salfordians, for the unflattering glimpse of Salford it showed, with its post-war decay and the industrial grime of Salford Docks and the Ship Canal, around which most of the film was set. Yet the play had warmth and humour, despite its authenticity and seaminess.
Her second play "The Lion in Love" opened in London, just before 'A Taste of Honey' premiered on Broadway, and helped promote her further as a playwright of international appeal and stature. By 1961 she had already won the New York Drama Critic's Award for best foreign play, and by then her work was popular in theatres in Britain and America.
Her plays continue to be popular period dramas based on her childhood experiences in Salford.

Thomas De Quincey

Thomas de Quincy

(1785-1859)
Born in Manchester in 1785 and baptised in St Ann's Church, De Quincey was the son of a linen merchant in Market Street Lane. Shy and retiring, he was often severely bullied by his brothers.
The family moved to a house in the country called "Greenhay", about a mile from the town centre in 1791 - subsequently it became the urban district of Greenheys.
Educated in Bath and The Manchester Grammar School, and later, in 1803 at Oxford. Frequently in ill-health and impoverished, living in London and Scotland, he published "Confessions of an Opium Eater" as a serialised work in the London Magazine in 1821. Close friend of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, and many other romantic poets of his day. Wrote "Reminiscences of the Lake Poets" . Drug addicted and impoverished, his writings became more obscure and mystic.
After almost complete mental collapse, hedied penniless in 1859.

Elizabeth Raffald

Elizabeth Raffald

(1733-1781)
A businesswoman and writer, Elizabeth Raffald was mother to 6 children. Born in Doncaster in 1733, she worked as housekeeper to several families, the last of which, Arley Hall in Cheshire, was where she met and married the gardener, John Raffald.
They moved to Manchester in 1763, where she kept a confectioner's shop while her husband ran a market stall. They took over The Bull's Head Inn in the Market Place, and later the King's Head Inn in Salford.
Here she developed her culinary skills, training young ladies, collecting and inventing recipes and publishing "The Experienced English Housekeeper" - an instant success, reprinted many times, and much copied - it made her a wealthy woman.
She also opened, in Manchester, the first Registry for Servants, compiled her "Directory of Manchester" and wrote another book on midwifery. She died in 1781 and is buried at Stockport Parish Church.

Isabella Banks

Isabella Banks

(1823-1897)
Born in Oldham in 1823, author of "The Manchester Man" , daughter of a local chemist and politician.
She was active in the Anti-Corn Law League movement, and published poetry, notably "Ivy Leaves" (1843). She was born Isabella Varley and published under that name until her marriage to Linnaeus Banks, a notable lecturer and journalist, in 1846, and led a rather itinerant life due to her husband's many job changes, to which various newspapers she contributed regular articles.
"The Manchester Man" was serialised in Cassell's magazine, and revealed a hitherto unknown graphic realism on life, customs and the social fabric of 19th Century Manchester.
She detested the "modernisation" of Manchester in the light of industrial and social change which abounded around her at that time. She died in 1897.

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Copyright © John Moss, Papillon Graphics AD 2013 Manchester, United Kingdom - all rights reserved.
This page last updated 4 Dec 11.