I’m just home from London. There’s so much going on down there of course but my friends there are incredibly impressed with the amount of literary activity we have on offer here in Cumbria. Coming up later this month is the Kendal Yarns Festival of New Plays. This amazing project has invited anyone who would like to have a go to write a 15 minute play with a Kendal theme with the promise that it will be performed. 58 plays were submitted! They will be performed for free in a variety of venues between 25th and 30th July. What an opportunity for aspiring playwrights. Don’t miss this amazing event. You can check performance dates and venues on kendalcommunitytheatre.org.
We are hard at work preparing Handstand Press’s next publication.
KAY’S ARK is the lovingly told story of Kay Callaghan who escaped London for the Lake District in 1950. With three children, no money, a failing marriage and abandoned acting career she began a new life, opening up her home – Rosewood – on the banks of the River Brathay at Skelwith Bridge – as a café and a haven for all. The author, Kay’s daughter and prize wining poet, Kerry Darbishire, writes beautifully without over-sentimentalizing of a past era in a Lake District community and the impact made on it by this charismatic woman.
Author Angela Locke writes…
‘This is a love letter from a daughter to a mother, one we would all like to receive. Told with a fine poet’s eye, it shows a fascinating glimpse into the world of a small community in the South Lakes in the ‘50s…..Beautifully written and full of evocative descriptions.’
Angela Locke author of Dreams of a Blue Poppy.
KAY’S ARK will be published in late summer.
I spent a great morning with students from Settlebeck School in Sedbergh last week. Their inspirational English teacher, Sally Ingham, invited me to give a talk about publishing – in particular how Irvine Hunt’s novel The Drover’s Boy was published. The highlight of it all was linking with Irvine on SKYPE. It’s the first talk I’ve given like this and I was pretty nervous but in the end it was all very enjoyable – the students were such a lively group, bursting to ask all sorts of interesting questions.
Here’s Irvine Hunt, reading from his latest novel, The Ghost Show. He is now well into his eighties. We talk regularly on the phone and Irvine tells me that he continues to write every day. I am giving a talk to Years 7 and 8 at Settlebeck School in Sedbergh at the end of the month, linking up with Irvine on Skype. The head of English at Settlebeck, Mrs. Ingham, tells me she has a very enthusiastic group of writers in these year groups. I’m looking forward to meeting them and introducing them to Irvine.
This is the amazing cake which Jo Stoney made for the launch of our new book. So clever and absolutely delicious. Thank you Jo!
Lots of Helen Shacklady’s friends and supporters came to join in celebrating the launch of her book ULVERSTON – An English Market Town Through History at the Coronation Hall, last night. In true Ulverston style there was poetry, music, a quiz designed by quizmaster extraordinaire Tim Melville, and a fantastic cake made by Jo Stoney for us all to share.
But centre-stage was Helen. She gave us a wonderful talk about what she had discovered in researching and writing about Ulverston. The main message was that Ulverston has never been the isolated place we tend to think. From way back to Neolithic times the means of communication have existed to allow movement of people and trade in an out of the Furness peninsula. Ulverston has been, and continues to be, a centre of industry, commerce and culture with a lively attitude to the upheavals to which it has been subjected throughout history.
This time last year I wrote that a new history of Ulverston would be published by Handstand Press in 2015. We are a couple of months late! I’m pleased to announce, finally, that ULVERSTON, An English Market Town Through History, by Helen Shacklady, will be in the bookshops on March 4th price £14.99.
Tackling the history of any town is a challenge to any author. Where to begin? Where to end? What to put in or leave out? Helen has cleverly decided to approach the history of Ulverston in the context of English history so that we see the town not just in isolation but understand its connection with wider events. Her knowledge of history is evident throughout as well as her thorough research. But what makes the book particularly interesting are Helen’s own observations coupled with an unwillingness to be seduced by popular historical theories.
You can meet Helen Shacklady any time and purchase the book from her at the Bookshack bookstall in Ulverston Indoor Market, during shop opening hours in Ulverston (shops are closed on Wednesdays). It will also be available at Suttons Bookshop, 48 Market Street and can be ordered from any good bookshop.
206 Pages. 50 illustrations in full colour. 70 illustrations black and white.
You can order a book from us here
I hope you will find ULVERSTON, An English Market Town Through History, informative and a really good read.
Handstand Press was founded in 2005. Its aim was to publish Cumbrian books by Cumbrian authors, but chiefly to produce a new history of Ulverston. As a bookseller in Ulverston I had lots of enquiries from locals and visitors to the town and there was nothing in print. So at last, ten years on, Handstand Press is publishing ‘Ulverston – An English Market Town in History’. Its author, Helen Shacklady, has done a remarkable job showing how Ulverston, a typical market town, has developed over the centuries in response to events in British history. Her research has been thorough and her writing style is wry. I think it’s a winner and I hope that all who have looked forward to a new and comprehensive history of Ulverston will enjoy this book as much as I have enjoyed producing it. Liz
Publication will be in August 2015. ISBN: 9780957660946