Authors, Playwrights, Writers & Poets of Greater Manchester
(1889-1965) 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
(1888-1975) 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
(1924-95) 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
(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 medal. 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.
(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 1937. ‘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.