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Writer's In A Derbyshire Landscape: Inspiration in the Bath!

Posted Friday, July 6, 2007

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Inspiration in the Bath!

Writer’s In the Derbyshire Landscape:

`The artistically inspiring landscape of Matlock Bath'

Derbyshire’s recent Millennium Literature Festival served to highlight the hot-bed of burgeoning literary talent emerging from the artistically inspiring landscape of Matlock Bath and its intrinsically beautiful surroundings.

The very corner of Derbyshire that inspired local legend Alison Uttley, D.H.Lawrence and many famous visiting authors is now lending its sense-impressions to a whole host of new-generation poets, novelists, script-writers, and authors of every kind.

`Inspiration from the natural beauty of this local living landscape fuels the pens of poets like Reb Lee and Bob Windsor...'

Inspiration from the natural beauty of this local living landscape fuels the pens of poets like Reb Lee and Bob Windsor, the imagination of story-tellers like Pauline Chandler and script-writer Chris Thompson, and the success of books like “Rumblings in the Dust”, “Dark Thread”, “Staple Magazine” – all available at local libraries - and Radio 4’s `The Archers’ and one of T.V.’s favourite soaps, “Emmerdale”.

“Dark Thread” from Gaslight Cottage -Pauline Chandler

Children’s writer, Pauline Chandler has both a romantic love of old places, and works from home in an environment that would make most authors extremely envious. Pauline and husband Bruce Chandler live in a very tastefully converted Victorian Gas Works - which they have delightfully re-named “Gaslight Cottage” and which nestles snuggly in splendid sylvan surroundings beside the River Derwent deep in the heart of picturesque Matlock Dale; and it is the `sense of place’ of her riverside studio that provides the necessary inspiration from which Pauline weaves her words.

Her latest childrens novel `Dark Thread’ published by Oxford University Press, is set in the neighbouring industrial village of Cromford with its “powerful historical resonances”; she is currently working on a new novel for `young adults’ based on the Greek legend of Persephone.

Sutton-in-Ashfield born Pauline has always enjoyed writing; she was Head Girl at the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Mansfield and excelled in English Language and Literature, gaining a degree in those subjects at the University of London. Teaching seemed her natural vocation and after teacher training in London Pauline returned to the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School where for ten years she taught and was responsible for setting up the G.C.E. English course and examinations.

The family moved to Matlock in 1991 and Pauline soon had a short story accepted by `Raconteur’ magazine, but her first novel was turned down 11 times by publishers O.U.P. and `Dark Thread’ was finally accepted and published in 1998 after 7 years of perseverence.

In between writing in her beautifully appointed garden studio Pauline continues teaching children with special needs at Stanton Vale School in Ilkeston and is mother to Simon, a molecular biologist at the University of Portsmouth; Matthew who is a jazz guitarist with a degree in music, and 16 year old Ben, a student at Highfields School, Matlock.

From Archers to Emmerdale - Chris Thompson

Top playwrite and television script-writer Chris Thompson and wife Ann have just celebrated their silver wedding anniversary, and live in a splendid split-level home high up on the west bank of the River Derwent with panoramic views over Cromford Meadows to the magnificent parkland of Willersley Castle. From his lounge window Chris enjoys the same landscape that inspired local legend Alison Uttley, whose former home at Castle Top Farm can be seen directly opposite on the eastern side of the valley.

The suitability of this inspirational writing environment is evidenced by Chris’s success since he came to live here, but appropriately the man who writes dialogue and direction for the Yorkshire folk of Emmerdale is himself a Yorkshireman, born in Leeds. His early love was writing poetry and song lyrics, encouraged by the fact that he was educated at the same Leeds Grammar School as playwrite, Alan Bennett.

Chris graduated from Cambridge University with an English Degree before taking a post at Reading in 1971 where he met Ann, a student teacher from South Shields and they married and moved north in 1975 when Chris joined the English Department at Belper School.

In 1978 he became head of English at a school in Sutton in Ashfield, being promoted to Deputy Headmaster in 1981. Chris began writing seriously during the mid-1980’s and his first play was broadcast on Radio Four in 1987. By 1989 he had written 5 plays for radio and in August that year he resigned his Deputy Headship to become a full-time writer.

In 1990 Chris was offered a job at Granada as a storyline writer for Coronation Street, which he turned down, and for a couple of years he worked as a script writer on `Familes’ and wrote drama for Radio Four.

In 1993 he was asked to join Radio Four’s `The Archers’ team and script-wrote for Granada T.V.’s `Children’s Ward’ and `Revelations’ - and Yorkshire T.V.’s `Just Us’, combining radio and television work until 1997.

He joined `Emmerdale’ in 1998, - a Yorkshireman, writing a Yorkshire soap-opera set in the Yorkshire Dales – Chris Thompson really felt at home!

Today this versatile wordsmith who wrote his first radio play fifteen years ago has become one of the countries most accomplished script-writers and finds writing for 12 million viewers very exciting and stimuling - and has ambitions for writing his own television series.

Bob’s Staple Diet - Twenty Years of 20th Century Poetry

For twenty years Bob Windsor & co-editor Don Measham have been on a staple diet of poetry – or rather a diet of Staple Poetry - for they are co-founders of Staple, the Matlock based poetry magazine which is celebrating it’s 50th issue this month with a superb anthology entitled “20 Years of Twentieth Century Poetry”. But for both it is matter of `50 and out’ as this is their last issue together before handing on to new editors Ann Atkinson and Elizabeth Barrett, two well known local writers.

Bob Windsor

Bob Windsor is one of those rare and endearing individuals who have the ability to restore ones faith in the innate goodness of human nature.

An intellectually stimulating man of letters with a mild disposition, a genuine modesty which is both refreshing and captivating - and a passion for poetry which he expresses with such erudite charm and gentlemanly conviction that his beguiling eloquence cannot fail to capture the attention of any audience – Bob is one of the unsung heroes of modern English poetry.

Born in `Denis Potter country’ in the Forest of Dean, Bob has lived in both Somerset and Lincolnshire – and Uganda.

He graduated from Keele University in Staffordshire during the 1950’s with degrees in English and History and became a teacher.

Following his return from Uganda in December 1966 Bob moved to his current family home high above the Derwent at Matlock Bath, from where he continued his teaching profession.

He and co-editor Don Measham PhD. have worked together for 35 years, both in the English faculty at Matlock College and later at the University of Derby. In between teaching English and lecturing, Bob has found time to indulge his passion for writing and has also edited the `African Writers Series` for publisher’s, Heineman.

Staple magazine was a product of the weekend writer’s workshops at Matlock College during the early 1980’s and the first issue was launched in 1983 with just 150 subscribers. In twenty successful years that number has risen to a regular 500 - 600 copies per issue and earned Staple a reputation as one of the foremost poetry magazines in the country.

Well done Bob Windsor, Don Measham, and cover designer Bill Berrett, and congratulations to Staple magazine as it celebrates twenty years of success with it’s 50th. and most superb issue to date.

We salute you!

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