19 April 2024

Book uncovers region’s rich literary history

By Rebecca Hannant

Historian Phil Mathison has launched a new book about some of the greatest writers to come out of our region.

The Literary Heritage of Holderness is Phil’s 12th book, having previously written about Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien’s time in the region, the history of Spurn, and more.

Phil said: This book is about all the people who have connections with literature in Holderness – some people who lived in the area, some who wrote books about the area and some people who have family connections with the area.

“The research for this book predates my research on Tolkein – I started researching this book and that is how I discovered him. I then went further and found all these other writers who had written books about Holderness or came from the area. So therefore, I thought I would write about them.”

The new book features well-known writers including Tolkien as well as Winifred Holtby. However, the book also features some who in their time were famous but are perhaps lesser-known today.

Phil added: “There is Mary Elizabeth Braddon – she wrote the bestselling book of 1863, Lady Audley’s Secret. The secret is in Withernsea, but she calls it Wildernsea.

“There is also Sarah Grand. She means nothing to modern readers, but she wrote the bestselling book of 1893, Heavenly Twins, which was autobiographical. She was interesting because she a feminist and involved with the suffrage movement, and eventually became one of the first women mayors of Bath. She came from Rysom Garth, Holmpton.

“Edward Charles Booth was one of the bestsellers going back to the early 20th century. He wrote several books in Holderness dialect. He is moderately well known.”

The book also features a section on other writers who had brief connections with the area including Ted Hughes, Andrew Marvell and Philip Larkin.

The book, priced £8.99, is available from the Gazette office in Seaside Road, Withernsea.