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Authors, Playwrights, Writers & Poets
of Greater Manchester

Howard Spring

Howard Spring , novelist

Born in Cardiff in South Wales in 1889, the son of a gardener
from Ireland, Howard Spring was the journalist, author and novelist
who made Manchester his adopted home. He spent much of his life
at Hesketh Avenue in Didsbury, where the Olde Cock Inn was to
feature in several of his novels. His works were to include
“Shabby Tiger”, “Rachel Rosling” and “My Son, My Son” . Spring
was one of nine children born into the family of an odd job
gardener. Showing early aptitude in writing, young Howard left
school to become a butcher’s boy at the age of 12, and later
was office boy and then a junior reporter on a South Wales newspaper.
In 1915 he moved to Yorkshire to become a staff reporter on
the Yorkshire Observer, and quickly moved to work at the Manchester
Guardian (now simply The Guardian). After seeing military service,
he worked for 15 years at the Guardian as a book reviewer and
theatre critic.
Later he moved to work at the London Evening Standard, from
where, after 10 years he retired to Cornwall, where he died
in 1965. His last years were spent writing novels, including
perhaps his best known “My Son, My Son”, the manuscript of which
was donated by his widow to the John Rylands Library in Manchester.

Sir Neville Cardus

Sir Neville Cardus

Neville Cardus, journalist and author, was born 3rd April 1888
in Summer Place, Rusholme, in South manchester and had very little
in the way of a formal education. He was largely self taught by
long hours in the Free Library, and eventually became a celebrated
writer on Cricket and Music, both subjects close to his heart.
As a young man he had a variety of dead-end jobs, including delivering
laundry and as a junior in a Manchester insurance office.
By the age of 23 he had risen to the position of cricket coach
at Shrewsbury School. Eventually he returned to his native Manchester
and became secretary to C. P. Scott, editor of the Manchester
Guardian. By 1926 he had been promoted to the post of Music Critic
for the celebrated newspaper. After a few years living and working
in Australia (1939-1947 – for health reasons), he returned to
work at the Guardian and continued writing critiques on cricket
and music, and was a celebrated supporter of the Hall� Orchestra.
In 1967 he was knighted for his work. In 1970-71 he was president
of Lancashire Cricket Club. Neville cardus died on 28th February
1975 and over 700 people attended his memorial service at St Paul’s
church in Covent Garden

Robert Bolt

Robert Bolt, Playwright


Robert Oxton Bolt, the famous playwright, author and screenwriter,
was born in 1924 at 13 Northenden Road, Sale, and lived there,
above his father’s furnisher’s shop until around 1928, when the
family moved to live at 68 School Road. A commemorative plaque
was placed on these premises in June 2000.
An English dramatist and screenwriter. He wrote several historical
plays, including “A Man for All Seasons” in 1960, widely
considered to be his most important play, which was made into
a film in 1966. He also did many screenplays including for David
Lean’s film of “Lawrence of Arabia” in 1962, and “Dr Zhivago”
in 1965, both of which won Academy Awards. In 1970 he wrote the
screenplay for “Ryan’s Daughter ” , and for “Lady Caroline Lamb”
in 1972, which starred his wife, Sarah Miles, in the title role
– he also directed this film.
Later, in 1984 he wrote screenplays for the remake of “The Bounty”
which starred Mel Gibson, and in 1986, “The Mission” starring
Robert de Niro and Jeremy Irons. Bolt demonstrated outstanding
skill in the dramatisation of political and moral issues, and
was an expert in the use of dramatic structure, strong characterisation,
and expressive dialogue. This was demonstrated further in “Vivat
Vivat Regina” in 1970, which well illustrated his ability to bring
history to life. His “Revolution” in 1977, though not a popular
success, showed his ability to tackle intellectually ambitious
topics and to deal with them authoritatively.

Alan Garner OBE

Alan Garner

(Born 1934)
Alan Garner was born in Congleton in Cheshire on 17 October 1934,
and spent most of his childhood days in Alderley Edge. During
childhood he suffered from both pneumonia and meningitis. He went
to school at Alderley Edge Primary School and later studied at
Manchester Grammar School before going on to Magdalen College,
Oxford where he gained a degree in classics and met the authors
Tolkien and C S Lewis.
Later under National Service conscription, he spent two years
in the Royal Artillery as a Second Lieutenant, and by the age
of 22 he had begun to write his first novel, “The Weirdstone
of Brisingamen” . He worked for a time as a researcher at
Granada Television.
His children’s books are much influenced by local Cheshire dialect,
legend and and myth. In 1968 he won both the Guardian Award and
the Carnegie Medal (1968), for “The Owl Service” (published
1967) – the first author to win both awards for a book. His novel
“Elidor” had already been a 1965 runner-up for the Carnegie
He also won the Phoenix Award in 1996 for “The Stone Book
Quartet” which had been published in 1977.
Other awards include the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and First
Prize at the Chicago International Film Festival for his film
“Images” . Garner was awarded an OBE in 2001 for his
services to literature. Alan Garner continues to live in Cheshire
and is married with five children from his two marriages.

James Hilton

James Hlton, author of Goodbye Mr Chips and Lost Horizon.

(1900 – 1954)

Also known as Glen Trevor, author James Hilton was born in 26
Twist Lane, off Wilkinson Street in Leigh, now in the Metropolitan
Borough of Wigan, in 1900, the son of a local schoolmaster. The
family moved to live in London while James was still a young boy
and he attended various schools before finishing at The Leys School
in Cambridge. He edited and contributed to the school magazine
and later, while a seventeen year old undergraduate at Christ’s
College Cambridge, had one of his essays published by the Manchester
Guardian . He left university in 1921 and secured a job with The
Irish Independent , a Dublin newspaper which helped finance his
writing. His first novel ‘Catherine’ was published in 1920. Hilton
was to become the author of two very famous classic novels, in
a prolific and distinguished writing career, later adapted as
films: “Goodbye Mr Chips” (which starred Robert Donat)
and “Lost Horizon”, both of which were to become successful
films in their own right, the latter directed by Frank Capra in
‘Lost Horizon’ had been written as a result of his visit in 1931
to a remote valley in North Pakistan, on its border with China,
Afghanistan and Kashmir. He found a place so beautiful, so wild
and so remote he christened it “Shangri-La”, (meaning
“an earthly paradise”). The book was awarded the Hawthornden
Prize in 1934. Hilton went on to win an Academy Award for his
screenplay for “Mrs Miniver” , which starred Greer Garson.
Other award winning films based on his novels included ‘Half a
Sixpence’ (later made into a musical starring Tommy Steele) and
‘Random Harvest’. By this time a successful author, script and
screen writer, he had moved to live in Hollywood in California.
Sadly, his first marriage ended in divorce in 1937 and only seven
days later he married Galina Kopineck, a young starlet. This marriage
proved volatile and Hilton again divorced eight years later.
On 20th December 1954 Hilton died in hospital in Long Beach, California
of liver cancer. By this time his first wife, Alice, had been
reconciled with him and nursed him till the end. In 2000 a plaque
commemorating the centenary of his birth was installed in Leigh
Town Hall.

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This page last updated 6 dec 11.