">
books

ACCIDENTS: NINETEENTH CENTURY ACCIDENTS IN WOLVERHAMPTON - JANE SMITH     SHARE OUR PAST LTD ISBN: 978-0957350519

Accidents in Nineteenth Century WolverhamptonAccidents happen to ordinary people in an ordinary town on an ordinary day. Horses gallop through the streets children work in mines and men wearing clogs try to jump over canals. Accidents are bound to happen and when they do, Nineteenth Century Wolverhampton comes vividly to life. Accidents are a neglected area of historical study and Jane Smith’s excellent book seeks to redress the balance by comprehensively recording accidents in the town during the 1800s. The author has sought out accidents large and small, as they were reported at the time, chiefly from Coroner’s Inquest Reports and newspapers. Each chapter has an introduction which describes the context in which the accidents happen, while maps and pictures help the reader to orientate themselves in the town at this time, showing where the events took place. Many accidents involved children, as when a poor woman attending Wolverhampton Fair with her 12-month old baby resulted in the child being dreadfully lacerated by a ferocious tiger. Fortunately, the child survived. In 1878, Mary Ann Jones, aged 2, of Darlaston Green, tragically died from burns after getting between the bars of a fireguard. The only other person then in the house was a deaf and dumb sister, who was tied to a chair. In 1870, George Smith, of the North Road, suffered concussion after being being hit with a brush by labourer Enoch Dunkling. George had knocked Enoch’s hat off as they larked about at Stafford Road rail works. These and hundreds of other incidents provide fascinating insights into the town and the lives of its people during the Nineteenth Century. Jane Smith was born in Wolverhampton and has lived nearby most of her life. She studied historical geography as an undergraduate and, after a lifetime spent mainly in farming, has returned to her love of social history. She is currently translating manorial documents from Latin in order to uncover more of life in a Shropshire Parish in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and intends to follow up the accidents research with the study of another English town.

I ONCE KNEW A POEM WHO WORE A HAT - EMMA PURSHOUSE & CATHERINE PASCALL MOORE     FAIR ACRE PRESS ISBN 9781911048022

I once knew a poem who wore a hatThis children’s poetry book is jam-packed with pictures, begging to-be-read-out-loud poems, and poetry performing ideas (poetry performing is now a mandatory part of the primary school curriculum). As well as advice to aspiring young people on how to perform - including help from Figment (of the Imagination) - there are nearly a hundred delightful, funny and inspiring poems by Emma Purshouse, charmingly illustrated by Catherine Pascall Moore. We meet an iguana partial to cheese, find out what fishes see and a dinosaur dines on, ponder the point of a gnat, and discover that mums really do know everything. Launched at the 2016 Wenlock Poetry Festival, ‘I once knew a poem who wore a hat’ is a brilliant introduction to poetry for children, which adults are sure to enjoy just as much. Emma is an accomplished writer and performance poet who has run workshops and performed to and with children throughout the West Midlands. She has been shortlisted twice for the Belmont Children’s Poetry Prize and wrote a very popular children’s poetry CD ‘Fair & Fowl’. Catherine was a teacher of MAPPING THE STAFFS AND WORCSSpecial Needs children and designed for the card company Jotterbox before returning to do an MA in Visual Communications. This is the first book that she has illustrated. ‘Emma’s poems are full of life and laughs, bubbling with music and wisdom and silliness and jokes and cute animals. She’s a great performer of her work and the book is crammed with tips to help the reader become a performer too. And as if that weren’t enough, Catherine’s fine and funny pictures add another dimension to the book.’ - A.F.Harrold, Bloomsbury Children’s Poet. Emma Purshouse lives on a narrowboat and enjoys travelling the inland waterways. The Staffs and Worcs is one of her favourite canals and she has just produced, with artist and printmaker Linda Nevill, a delightful and useful guide to the route - MAPPING THE STAFFS AND WORCS. Emma’s clever and witty words are beautifully illustrated by Linda, who has passions for wildlife, plants and gardens, travel, light and colour. ‘Wightwick, where an inland mermaid sings a siren song of good wine - a posher postcode.’ A thousand copies of the guide - ‘a creative journey’ - are available free along the length of the canal at various canal side businesses and places like the Bratch.

ELLEN’S FORGOTTEN MERCIA - ANTHONY PERRY    BREWIN BOOKS ISBN ISBN 1 85858 132 X

Ellen's Forgotten MerciaThe Fowler LegacyBorn and bred in Wolverhampton, Anthony Perry was educated at Wolverhampton Grammar School and works for the Property Services Division of Wolverhampton Borough Council. His interest in the Victorian period was sparked by a recollection that one of the books inherited from his grandfather was by a Wolverhampton author Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler. Ellen’s Forgotten Mercia explores the Midland settings - some obvious, some not – featured in Ellen’s novels. Excerpts from her books accompany nostalgic photographs of buildings in the real-life places that she called Silverhampton (Wolverhampton), Mershire (Staffordshire), the pretty village of Tetleigh (Tettenhall, where Ellen married in 1903), Tetleigh Wood, Crompton village (Compton), the Badgering Woods of Sedgehill (Sedgley), picturesque Codswell (Codsall), and the beautiful old town of Northbridge on the Severn (Bridgnorth). Some places remain elusive - Claverley Castle, the quaint old town of Chayford, the Tudor mansion Greyston, Journey’s End in ‘Salopshire’ - and have been included for readers to discover for themselves. Fascinating archive photographs show buildings such as the first Wrottesley Hall and Ellen’s own home, Woodthorne, that have been lost since the early twentieth century. Wolverhampton’s history is closely linked with the Fowler family, whose contribution to Methodism, local politics and literature is covered in another Anthony Perry book, THE FOWLER LEGACY (Brewin Books ISBN 1 85858 094 3). This recounts the history of Wolverhampton in the 19th and early-20th centuries and shows the outstanding contribution to the city’s development made by the Fowlers and other local families such as the Thorneycrofts. The text is generously illustrated with photographs and drawings.

THE NAILMAKERS’ DAUGHTERS     OFFA’S PRESS ISBN 978-0-9565518-8-7

The Nailmakers’ DaughtersThis stylish new collection features the poetry of Emma Purshouse, Iris Rhodes and Marion Cockin, deftly edited by Jane Seabourne, a poet and teacher who has worked locally for many years. These Black Country women’s lives are deeply rooted in the history of the area and their poems challenge and delight by turns. Emma Purshouse is one of Wolverhampton’s most successful poets (and a descendant of nail-makers). She has worked with Martin Parr and Dame Margaret Drabble and released two delightful CDs, Upsetting the Apple Cart and Fair or Fowl. Highlights in this new collection include Emma’s ‘Machine Parts’ and ‘Then and Now’, reflecting working lives past and present. She also imagines what the ‘Flamingos in Dudley Zoo’ are thinking and lists her collection of ‘Tat’ as well as the tenderly funny ‘Things I Learned from my Maternal Grandfather’. Iris Rhodes was born in Bradley, Bilston, and after living and working in London and Africa she has returned to her roots. She has had a lifelong interest in writing and poetry, and her work has been widely published. Iris fondly remembers here ‘The Queen’s Ballroom, Wolverhampton’, ‘Travellers’ Horses’ and ‘The Rocket Pools, Bradley’, and composes a beautiful ‘Black Country Aubade’. Marion Cockin was born in Wednesbury and wrote her first story when she was seven, writing poetry from the age of 16. She qualified as a librarian and was an Assistant Librarian for Wolverhampton City until she retired. Among her poems here Marion explores ‘The Wednesbury Mangle Theory’ and what it means to be ‘Common’, uncovers ‘The Writing on the Wall’ and finds out where the ‘Sparrows’ went. The Nailmakers’ Daughters received its world premiere at the City Voices evening at Lych Gate Tavern in Wolverhampton in September 2015, and this evocative collection of Black Country-inspired poetry from Offa’s Press is highly recommended.

BLACK COUNTRY STORIES - MARTIN PARR      DEWI LEWIS PUBLISHING

Black Country Stories by Martin ParrMagnum photographer Martin Parr was commissioned by Multistory in 2010,to produce a photographic portrait and archive about everyday life in the Black Country. Martin Parr has an international reputation for his innovative imagery and his oblique approach to social documentary and has published more than 80 books of his own work, edited a further 30, and exhibited in every continent. He said of this commission, ‘With it’s famous industrial past, there was going to be an inevitable sense of decline in the area, but what I had not counted on was the revitalisation that the many immigrant groups had brought to the area. ... It is this vital mix that we decided to focus on and, at the same time, looking for examples of traditional Black Country life that were in good health. As the lid was slowly eased open, we realised the power of the material that we were unearthing.’ To coincide with a major exhibition of these outstanding photographs at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Multistory and Martin Parr have published this beautifully produced book in partnership with Dewi Lewis Publishing. Black Country Stories has 140 pages that showcase more than a hundred of the best colour images from the exhibition. The diversity and spirit of the community comes shining through in scenes such as those captured at Molineux, the Goodyear factory and Bilston market. The book has been shortlisted for the PHE15 Best Photography Book of the Year Award and has been exhibited at the museum of the National Library in Madrid since June 2015 as part of the Official Section of PhotoEspaña 2015. Martin Parr has also directed four outstanding films as part of his four-year project for Multistory and these can be seen at the exhibition as well as on DVD.

EMMA PURSHOUSE - UPSETTING THE APPLE CART   OFFA’S PRESS

Upsetting the Apple CartEmma Purshouse is a poetry slam champion who performs her work across the UK, appearing regularly at literature festivals, and has had short stories and poetry published in various anthologies and small press magazines. Her highly recommended CD, Upsetting the Apple Cart, was released by Offa’s Press in 2010 and features 28 of Emma’s best poems. These combine wry West Midlands humour with pathos to explore the excitement of neighbourhood watch, warn of the danger of crashing your car in Wales, and report on the downside of being married to Superman or Shakespeare - the lyingest knave iFair or Fowln Christendom. The bravura wordplay of ‘The art school annual picnic’ and ‘Sometimes I can’t get going’ is balanced by poignant reflections in ‘How would it be’ and ‘All over.’ In this world, the weather can go missing and a Wolverhampton woman may lose her mind. There are problems with men who forget anniversaries, untidy the house, shout things at ladies, feed the cat left-over curry, and escape like Houdini. Emma Purshouse’s poems are original, witty, passionate and warm, and she reads them beautifully. Look out too for FAIR OR FOWL (Rowan Berry Press), a CD of entertaining poems for children in which Tarzan comes to England, we find out what really happened to the ugly duckling, discover what dinosaurs eat, and meet Sponge Bob Square Pants’ number 1 fan. Written and narrated by Emma Purshouse, the poems are delightfully illustrated by Linda Nevill, an artist and fine art printmaker who formerly lectured at the City of Wolverhampton College.

MARRIAGE MATERIAL – SATHNAM SANGHERA  WINDMILL BOOKS ISBN 978009955875

Marriage MaterialSathnam Sanghera’s novel, Marriage Material, was first published in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel award. The book is a modern version of Arnold Bennett’s The Old Wives Tale, which was set in a drapery shop in Burslem in the 1800s. Sathnam’s novel has moved the action 38 miles south to a Wolverhampton convenience store between the 1960s and 2011. It deals with the inner struggle of immigrant families over whether they should integrate more with English culture or try to preserve their own. To Arjan Banga, returning to the Black Country after the unexpected death of his father, his family’s corner shop represents everything he has tried to leave behind – a lethargic pace of life, insular rituals and ways of thinking. But when his mother insists on keeping the shop open, he finds himself being dragged back, forced into big decisions about his imminent marriage back in London and uncovering the history of his broken family – the elopement and mixed-race marriage of his aunt Surinder, the betrayals and loyalties, loves and regrets that have played out in the shop over more than fifty years. This Wolverhampton corner shop, itself a microcosm of the South Asian experience in the country, is a symbol of independence and integration, but also of darker realities. The dialogue is particularly well observed, including chitchat such as, ‘Ow bin ya? Bostin day, ay it? Bostin carrier bags, these. Tarrarabit, cocka, see yow tomorra.’ Funny, perceptive and touching, Marriage Material is an epic tale of family, love and politics, told with humour, tenderness and insight. ‘Dangerous material is handled with a darkly comic lightness of touch, and an impassively detached ironic tone…This book is so well researched you hardly notice the work that’s gone into it.’ - Margaret Drabble.

THE BOY WITH THE TOPKNOT: A MEMOIR OF LOVE, SECRETS AND LIES IN WOLVERHAMPTON – SATHNAM SANGHERA

The Boy with the TopknotIt’s 1979, I’m three years old, and like all breakfast times during my youth it begins with Mum combing my hair, a ritual for which I have to sit down on the second-hand, floral-patterned settee, and lean forward, like I’m presenting myself for execution. For Sathnam Sanghera, growing up in Wolverhampton in the eighties was a confusing business. On the one hand, these were the heady days of George Michael mix-tapes, Dallas on TV and, if he was lucky, the occasional Bounty Bar. On the other, there was his wardrobe of tartan smocks, his 30p-an-hour job at the local sewing factory and the ongoing challenge of how to tie the perfect top-knot. And then there was his family, whose strange and often difficult behaviour he took for granted until, at the age of twenty-four, Sathnam made a discovery that changed everything he ever thought he knew about them. Equipped with breathtaking courage and a glorious sense of humour, he embarks on a journey into their extraordinary past - from his father’s harsh life in rural Punjab to the steps of the Wolverhampton Tourist Office - trying to make sense of a life lived among secrets. ‘Could not be more enjoyable, engaging or moving’ - Observer.

USA BY RAIL - JOHN PITT

American trains have long had a firm hold on the popular imagination, inspiring countless stories, songs, scandals, films and legends. USA by RailAttracted by the pace of life and an ever-changing view, more people are discovering the joys of taking to the rails to cross this vast continent in comfort, taking in attractions such as the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Yellowstone Park and Disney World along the way. This new, fully updated Eighth edition of the Bradt guide, USA by Rail, reveals in entertaining fashion the unique pleasures of North American train travel with Amtrak and VIA Rail. Written by Wolverhampton born author John Pitt, this book describes 37 long-distance rail journeys in the United States and Canada and features 500 destinations, including sightseeing and recommended accommodation in 38 cities. There are helpful maps and comprehensive route guides to trains such as the Coast Starlight and California Zephyr as well as all the practical information you need to make reservations, buy tickets and find your way about strange train stations. Details of Amtrak high-speed Acela trains are included, as well as useful advice on local transport, making this the ideal travel companion and essential reading when planning your itinerary. ‘The best guidebook for the journey’ - Sunday Telegraph. More information can be found on the USA by Rail website.

BEAUTY - RAPHAEL SELBOURNE

BeautyBeauty - in both name and appearance - is a twenty-year-old Bangladeshi, back in England having disgraced her family by fleeing an abusive arranged marriage. Placed on the jobseekers’ treadmill, and under continuing domestic pressure, in desperation, she runs away a life of drudgery and bullying. Her encounters with officialdom, fellow claimants, and passers-by in the city streets, complicated by the restrictions and comfort of her language and culture, place her at the mercy of such unlikely helpers as Mark, a friendly, Staffordshire Bull Terrier-breeding ex-offender, and Peter, an ineffectual middle-class underachiever on the rebound from a bitter relationship. Determined and spirited, yet tormented by doubts, Beauty Begum is forced to examine her own beliefs and think seriously about her future. While her brothers search for her across the city, the conflict between her desire for personal freedom and her sense of family duty deepens. What will she do? The under-explored city of Wolverhampton is the setting for this sharply observed, compassionate and challenging portrait of a fragmented, multicultural urban England. Born in Oxford, Raphael Selbourne studied politics at Sussex University and worked in Italy and China before moving to the West Midlands. Beauty, published by the excellent Birmingham-based Tindal Street Press, won the 2009 Costa First Novel Award, where the judges said that it ‘Captures the raw humanity of inner city life with extraordinary authenticity’. Raphael Selbourne’s vibrant novel is an absorbing tale of discovery and surprising affections, shot through with sympathy and lightened by typically Wolverhampton humour.

 

[Home] [people C-E] [people F-J] [people K-M] [people N-S] [people T-Z] [news] [reviews] [books] [music] [dvds] [videos] [history] [visit] [about us]