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and McCann – all Leeds lads – have taken up
Peace’s “Yorkshire Noir” and expanded the genre to
poignantly examine the city’s forgotten underclass.
Te Leeds Movement is not a modern
phenomenon. What about Tom Maguire, a 19th century
rabble-rouser and poet? Or Wilson Armistead, a writer who
campaigned against slavery? Have you ever heard of Isabella
Ford, who wrote three social realist novels? Ten there’s Mary
Gawthorpe, co-editor of the radical periodical
Te Freewoman
Charles Turner Tackrah, Richard Oastler, David Hartley and
Joseph Priestley. I could go on.
It is somehow expected that writers, musicians, actors
and artists that live on the wrong side of, say, Liverpool or
Manchester will one day emerge as national fgures. It is
almost compulsory. From the Beatles and Coronation Street
in the 1960s to the Manc bands who reinvented indie music,
the north has made a huge impact on contemporary culture.
But whereas scrufy, bedraggled lads and lasses from our rival
northern cities are always viewed as part of a movement – the
Merseybeat poets, the Madchester sound etc – no-one ever
talks about Te Leeds Movement.
When the Fab Four were dominating popular culture in
the 1960s, it was hip to come from Merseyside – hence the
great success of poets like Roger McGough. But Tony Harrison
began writing poetry in the same decade and he is acknowledged
to be not only better than McGough and his Merseybeat
heard that opportunities for employment were greater in the north of
England,’ he writes, ‘and somewhere at the back of their minds they hoped
that should they fnd work and make a home, then perhaps, one day, it
might be possible for their son to achieve an education in this northern
city.’ Phillips, who studied English Literature at Oxford University, was
named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year in 1992 and was on the
1993 Granta list of Best of Young British Writers. He has written many
acclaimed books, the fnest perhaps being
Crossing the River
which was
shortlisted for the 1993 Booker Prize. Mellor is the writer of some of the
most successful television dramas of recent times, including ‘Band of Gold’,
‘Fat Friends’ and ‘Playing the Field’. Still based in Leeds, she frmly believes
that the city, and Yorkshire, provides a rich inspiration for her characters.
And Peace has become internationally famous in recent years for novels
Te Damned Utd
. He invented a new genre of fction, ‘Yorkshire Noir’,
and his books on Leeds and its environs in the 1970s and 80s dominated
not just the bestseller lists, but have also been successfully adapted for
television and the cinema.
As McCann, author of the superb
How Leeds Changed Te World
puts it: “Be it modesty or some weird inferiority complex, we don’t usually
brag about our achievements, or those of our city, and they sometimes
disappear or go unnoticed.”
Te early 21st century saw some great books and plays by a new crop
of writers. Simpson’s account of cult band Te Fall was highly praised,
Nutter and Whalley – members of another cult band Chumbawumba –
have written for the Leeds theatre company Red Ladder.Palmer’s children’s
fction is acknowledged as a leader in its feld – and, like Endeacott, he
has written beautifully about his support for Leeds United. Brown, Lake
The Leeds Movement