Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Literature & Creative Writing Courses 2021

 New Courses for the New Year - from Inspire

Literature, Poetry, Creative Writing, Wellbeing... 

All of the sessions are to be delivered on Zoom, with each course including an induction session. The classes will be taught to between 5 and 12 learners. 

Literature Courses

Sherwood Writers (4 sessions)

When: 10/01/21 – 10/02/21

Cost: Free

Age: 19+

Featuring writers and their association with the legendary Sherwood Forest area. The course will focus on different locations such as Newstead Abbey, Annesley Hall, Blidworth and Edwinstowe, and look at some of the stories, poetry and literature related to the writers of Sherwood. Details

Nottinghamshire Authors – Crime Writers (4 sessions)

When: 22/01/21 - 12/02/21, Fridays 2pm-3pm

Cost: Free - £9.00

Age: 19+

This online course will focus on Nottinghamshire’s crime writers, featuring bestselling authors, long-forgotten stars, and the pick of the county’s contemporary scene. Learners will also discover many of the greatest crime novels that have been set in Notts. Details 

Reading for Wellbeing (6 sessions)

When: 25/02/21 to 01/04/21, Thursdays 10.20am – 11.30am

Cost: Free - £13.50

Age: 19+

The aim of this course is to explore the idea that reading is good for you. It is not about telling anyone how or what to read but it is about examining and valuing the act of reading. Details 

Creative Writing Courses

Creative Writing - Step into Creative Writing (5 sessions)

When: 18/01/21 to 15/02/21, Mondays 10am - 11:30am.

Cost: Free - £16.88

Age: 19+

To introduce learners to different stimuli to get writing and to try out different styles of writing, including Different ways to start a piece of writing, Evoking atmosphere through setting, Creating an authentic ‘voice’, Character development, Narrative arc, and Ending a piece of writing. Details 

Creative Writing - Short Stories (5 sessions)

When: 18/01/21 to 15/02/21, Mondays 1pm – 2pm.

Cost: Free - £11.25

Age: 19+

This course aims to bring together writers of all abilities to introduce you to short story writing. For more experienced writers, we will look at refreshing and honing your writing skills. Throughout the course, advice and support will be provided about how to develop an idea and structure a short story. Details 

Creative Writing - Write a Novel (5 sessions)

When: 20/01/21 to 17/02/21, Wednesdays 5.30pm – 6.30pm.

Cost: Free - £11.25

Age: 19+

If you are interested in writing a novel, join us on this course and look at how to sustain your work and what you need to do to become published. This course is suitable for both beginners and more experienced writers. Details 

Creative Writing - Writing Your Life (4 sessions)

When: 21/01/21 to 11/02/21, Thursdays 10.20am-11.30am

Cost: Free - £9

Age: 19+

The principal aim of the course is for learners to develop the confidence and skills to record and reflect on their lives through writing. Details 

Creative Writing - Your Life Through a Lens (5 sessions)

When: 22/01/21 to 19/02/21, Fridays 10am – 12 noon

Cost: Free - £22.50

Age: 19+

Every life has a story worth sharing – the challenge is finding a fun way to tell it! Details 

Creative Writing - Writing for Wellbeing (5 sessions)

When: 23/01/21 to 20/02/21, Saturdays 10am – 12 noon

Cost: Free - £22.50

Age: 19+

After such an awful 2020, the aim of this course is to help you find a little more peace, a little more space, and a little more joy through writing creatively. Details 

Creative Writing - Further Steps into Creative Writing (6 sessions)

When: 22/02/21 to 29/03/21, Mondays 10am – 11.30am

Cost: Free - £20.25

Age: 19+

To challenge learners to step outside their comfort zones and create pieces of writing using different styles. Details 

Creative Writing - Crime Writing

When: 22/02/21 to 29/03/21 (6 sessions)

When: 6.30pm – 7.30pm, Mondays

Cost: Free - £13.50

Age: 19+

Engage in creative writing in this introduction to many aspects of writing crime fiction, including research, creating characters, dialogue, plotting and a sense of place. Details 

Creative Writing - Finding your Inspiration (6 sessions)

When: 25/02/21 to 01/04/21, Thursdays 6.30pm – 8pm

Cost: Free - £20.25

Age: 19+



Play Writing

Play Writing - Beginners (5 sessions)

When: 21/01/21 to 18/02/21, Thursdays 6.30pm – 8pm

Cost: Free - £16.88

Age: 19+

This course aims to provide useful introductory techniques for any aspiring playwright. On this 5-week course, learners will gain skills to help encourage and guide them to get started on writing their own play. Details 

Play Writing - Next Steps (6 sessions)

When: 25/02/21 to 01/04/21, Thursdays 6.30pm – 8pm

Cost: Free - £20.25

This course aims to provide the next steps for any aspiring playwright.  On this 6-week course, learners will gain a further understanding of the play writing process. We will cover the following topics. Details 

Poetry - Creative Writing

Creative Writing - A Poet and I Didn't Know It... (1 session)

When: 19/01/21, Tuesday 1pm – 3pm

Cost: Free - £4.50

Age: 19+

If you’ve ever wanted to have a go at writing poetry but weren’t sure where to start, this fun and informal session is for you. We will use objects and prompts to start some poems, as well as writing a ‘class poem’ with everyone’s contributions. Everyone is welcome, no experience of creative writing is needed. Details 

Creative Writing - Poetry for Beginners (2 sessions)

When: 26/01/21 to 02/02/21, Tuesdays 1.30pm – 3pm

Cost: Free - £6.75

Age: 19+

What are the aims of the course?  

To enable learners to feel confident about writing a poem, To equip learners with tools, resources and techniques for writing poetry, To support learners in turning an idea in to a strong piece of writing, To learn from the work of published poets, To remove the barriers to getting started on writing poetry. Details 

Creative Writing - Poetry in the Making (3 sessions)

When: 05/02/21 to 12/02/21, Fridays 6.30pm – 8pm

Cost: Free - £12.38

Age: 19+

This course is for people looking for some focused help to kickstart writing a number of poems. Taught by two Inspire tutors who are poets themselves, the course offers a retreat-style experience to focus on the process of making a poem. Details 

Creative Writing - Spring Poetry (1 session)

When: 23/03/21, Tuesday 10am – 12 noon

Cost: Free - £4.50

Age: 19+

Spring celebrates hope and renewal. Through time and across the world, Spring has inspired poets to capture that spirit of the new. Using some famous (and not so famous) examples of Spring poetry to start us off, this course aims to help you record what you notice and want to remember about this special time. The session is particularly suitable for beginners, but those who have some experience are welcome also. Details 

Saturday, 19 December 2020

Some of 2020’s Best Books (with a Notts connection)

The Fall of the House of Byron: Scandal and Seduction in Georgian England by Emily Brand

Emily Brand’s research into the colourful eighteenth-century ancestry of the 6th Lord Byron has resulted in the publishing of a dramatic and scandal-filled family saga unfolding over three generations, setting the stage for the rise of the nation’s most revered (and on occasion reviled) Romantic poet. Following the lives of three siblings – a flirtatious countess desperately seeking true love, a villainous lord maligned as a murderer, and a navy hero with the century’s most remarkable tale of survival (the poet’s grandfather) – it offers an exciting and sweeping history of eighteenth-century Britain, through the eyes of a once notorious family now shrouded in legend.

More Non-Fiction:

Nottinghamshire (Pevsner’s Guide) by Clare Hartwell, Nikolaus Pevsner and Elizabeth Williamson.

A definitive guide to our buildings, this richly illustrated volume offers an enlightening introduction to the memorable and surprising structures of Notts. The county features the exquisite medieval churches of Newark, Worksop Priory, and Southwell Minster, whilst our country houses offer a fascinating range of architectural styles: Wollaton Hall shows Elizabethan architecture at its most fantastic, and Bunny Hall demonstrates the English Baroque at its most bizarre. Newstead Abbey, home of the poet Lord Byron, incorporates the haunting monastic ruins from a former Augustinian abbey. The city of Nottingham teems with Victorian and Edwardian commercial buildings, and is enlivened by a local tradition of first-rate Modernist architecture. 

Nottingham: The Postcard Collection by Alan Spree

Author Alan Spree has drawn on a remarkable selection of old postcards to give a pictorial record of life in Nottingham from the late nineteenth century to the early 1950s. Although much of Nottingham has changed over the years, many landmarks have remained and will be familiar today. The postcards show the changes to Nottingham’s fabric and its community adapting and changing over the course of this period.


The Catch by T M Logan

Ed finally meets his daughter's boyfriend for the first time. Smart, successful and handsome, Ryan appears to be a real catch. Then Abbie announces their plan to get married. There's just one problem. Ed thinks Ryan is lying to them. All of Ed's instincts tell him his daughter is in terrible danger - but no-one else can see it. With the wedding date approaching fast, Ed sets out to uncover Ryan's secrets, before it's too late… Another page-turner from Nottingham’s latest million selling novelist.  

Devil Gun by Steve Pickering

Set in the 19th century, this tale of danger and friendship follows the life of a Denim Armstrong: from working on his father’s farm, to hardship at sea aboard the Endurance, to a life on the run from both British Navy (for mutiny) and the Pinkertons (for murder). The story takes us across the turbulent Atlantic and the treacherous landscape of the Wild West, where we witness revenge killings, showdowns and turns of fortune with memorable, and sometimes notorious, historical characters that shape Denim's destiny. Never predictable, this debut novel (available in hardback and paperback) is a good old fashioned adventure story. The author was educated at Birklands Secondary Modern School in Warsop.  

If I Never Met You by Mhari Macfarlane

Laurie and Jamie have the perfect office romance. Everyone can see they're head over heels. This must be true love. Only, they’re faking it all. When Laurie is dumped by her partner of eighteen years, she's blindsided. Not only does she feel humiliated, they still have to work together. So when she gets stuck in the lift with handsome colleague Jamie, they hatch a plan to stage the perfect romance. Revenge will be sweet... But this fauxmance is about to get complicated. You can't break your heart in a fake relationship - can you? Always funny, always emotional, Macfarlane’s novels are a treat.


Sweet Nothings by Rory Waterman

Rory Waterman, a Senior Lecturer in English at Nottingham Trent University, brings us a book of hopes and passions - quiet and lyrical at times, but also fiercely witty and bold. The poems sometimes come in sequences; always they are in dialogue with one another, responding, echoing - within and between the book's two sections. At times, the leitmotifs are apparently personal, exploring divisions and painful losses. But we also encounter the largely invented academic Dr Bob Pintle, an anti-hero of the modern university system. 

Alan Sillitoe - Selected Poems Chosen by Ruth Fainlight

Drawn from Alan Sillitoe’s eight volumes of poetry, this selection has been chosen by his wife, the poet Ruth Fainlight. Presented here are poems that present the world as Sillitoe saw it. Using a storyteller’s skill, he brought to life the people and places that captured his imagination and took him on a search for meaning. It’s a vision that is at the same time clear and precise, politically engaged, fiercely intelligent, and deeply personal. 

Get Over Yourself by Leanne Moden

A biographical delve into belonging, exclusion, and the relationship between self-awareness and self-delusion, the rejection of social norms, and the ways in which we accept and question implied cultural rules. The poems in this collection question received wisdom, playfully unravelling the awkward and the bizarre aspects of modern life. Leanne’s poetry is an exploration of human failures and resilience, the things that make us angry, and the things that make us laugh. There’s social commentary ('A Piece of the Pie'), humour ('Bad Kisser') and wisdom ('Call and Response') as Moden brings us her take on modern life. 

Herd Queen by Di Slaney

Di Slaney is a poet, publisher and animal sanctuary founder who lives in Nottinghamshire. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University and owns Candlestick Press. Since 2005, Di Slaney has been filling her ancient Nottinghamshire farmhouse and its land with more livestock than is sensible. Herd Queen’s heroines remember teenage trysts, do battle with the slings and arrows of ageing, collage a poem from Prince lyrics and dream of achieving Shirley Bassey-hood in their seventies. 

Loves Burn by Kevin Jackson

A queer activist, Kevin Jackson writes poetry that “dares us to care”. His new poetry collection is ‘Loves Burn’, a book that sets out its stall on love with a patient probing, a tender curiosity that seems to place the narrator in that place where poetry uniquely exists - on the edge. 

Honourable mention: 

Speak Up My Voice Anthology

Across prose, poetry and script, the young writers explore racism, homophobia, bodies and gendered violence, the climate crisis, and the principle of taking a stand. The contributions to this anthology encourage the reader to experience the fears and anxieties young people experience to powerful effect.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Dorothy Whipple and Nottingham

A. H. 'Henry' Whipple was appointed Nottingham's first Director of Education in 1924, having held a similar post in Blackburn. He re-organised the city's education system, dividing schools into three: Infant (up to 7 or 8 years), Junior (with boys or girls from 7 or 8 to 11 years) and Senior (11 years and up), and the city into 16 districts. He was also a strong advocate for the education of women. The appointment had a hidden benefit for Nottingham in the form of the director’s wife, for ‘Henry’ had married Dorothy Stirrup in 1917, a woman half his age.

Between the world wars, Dorothy Whipple (1893-1966) was the best-known novelist living in Nottingham. The “Jane Austen of the 20th Century”, according to J. B. Priestley. The Whipples lived at 35 Ebers Road in Mapperley Park and it was from here that Dorothy wrote her hugely popular stories.

Dorothy Whipple’s ‘Greenbanks’ (1932) was chosen as the ‘Choice of the Book Society’ in 1932, helping it to become the author’s breakthrough novel. Following an ordinary family's joys and sorrows before and after the Great War, ‘Greenbanks’ is a tale of infidelity, divorce, autocratic parents and rebellious offspring. Two characters, the emotional and irresponsible grandmother, Louisa, and the unsentimental yet charming granddaughter Rachel, were particularly well received.

“It was queer, it was frightening, she thought, how in life you got what you wanted. Men, for instance, who admired above everything else, beauty in women, married beauty and, more often than not, found themselves with nothing but beauty.” (From ‘Greenbanks’)

‘Greenbanks’ brought with it a great success that continued with Whipple’s subsequent tales of everyday life, most of which are set in Notts, or as it appears, ‘Trentham’.

‘They Were Sisters’ (1943) tells the story of three sisters, the different marital choices they make, and how those choices impact on them; all set in an era when women stuck in a bad marriage had little or no option of reprieve. It’s an authentic account of domestic middle-class life, with a menacing undertone that holds attention.

“Moral failure or spiritual failure or whatever you call it, makes such a vicious circle... It seems as if when we love people and they fall short, we retaliate by falling shorter ourselves.” (from ‘They Were Sisters’)

Tastes changed after the Second World War and Whipple’s books fell out of favour. This was just as two of her novels had been made into films. 1945’s ‘They Were Sisters’ was voted one of the four best films of the year. The sisters are played by Phyllis Calvert (as Lucy), Dulcie Gray (as Charlotte) and Anne Crawford (as Vera), whilst James Mason is Geoffrey, one of their pursuers. He is an ambitious and cruel businessman, wanting a stay-at-home trophy wife. The film is noted for its harrowing depiction of marital abuse.

A year later, the noir-ish ‘They Knew Mr Knight’, starring Mervyn Johns, was released, featuring scenes of Ebers Road and the city centre.

The last of her sixteen novels, ‘Someone at a Distance’ (1953), is another of her best. Whipple describes it as, "a fairly ordinary tale about the destruction of a happy marriage.”

Whipple is another Nottingham writer to be have been published by John Murray. She wrote two memoirs: ‘The Other Day’ (1950) and ‘Random Commentary’ (1966). The latter offering reflection on her time in Nottingham. She returned to Blackburn after her husband’s death in 1958.

Persephone Books recently republished eight of Whipple’s novels and a collection of short stories. The writing has aged well; her characters well-drawn and recognisable.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Dr Dolittle, its Nottingham link.

Matt Turpin, the intrepid Lord Beestonia, has written about a ‘strange link’ between two Nottingham plaques, Henry Kirke White’s and J M Barrie’s. @Beeestonia’s theory is that the tragically short life of Kirke White (partly) inspired Barrie’s Peter Pan. Have a read.

Inspired by this, I’ve another story for you: that our Henry Kirke White plaque set in motion a chain of events that led to the publication of ‘Doctor Doolittle’.

Henry Kirke White was born a butcher’s son in the Nottingham meat market known as The Shambles. His plaque was put up near there in 1906, to mark the centenary of his death. In addition to this plaque, Nottingham University College launched their annual Henry Kirke White Prize for poetry.
The Shambles

A young poet, by the name of Cecil Roberts, knew of the HKW plaque having worked in the Shambles as a ‘snooper’ for the council. In 1912 Roberts entered a poem into the HKW competition. His long poem called ‘The Trent’, lamenting the loss of a friend, won the Prize, helping Roberts on his way to a successful career as a writer, one that would later see him return to the Council House to become the first novelist to be named a Freeman of Nottingham.    

Our boy Cecil Roberts, winner of the HKW Poetry Prize

Roberts was on a ship sailing to New York for a lecture tour when he found himself lounging next to an English civil engineer called Hugh Lofting. Every night at six, Roberts’ deck-chair companion would say “I have to go,” and he’d pop off to tell his kids a bedtime story.

Hugh Lofting, Roberts' shipmate.

Enquiring about this, Roberts was told, “Oh, I’ve invented a character called Dr. Dolittle. It’s a nickname I’ve given to my little boy Colin who has set himself up as a doctor for sick animals. They have all sorts of adventures.”

Roberts asked Lofting if he ever wrote the stories down. Lofting told him he did, and showed them to him, complete with his own illustrations.

“You should have these stories published,” said Roberts.

Lofting looked surprise. “Do you think they’re good enough?”

“Indeed I do,” said Roberts, who gave him a letter to present to his New York publisher Frederick Stokes and Co. 

Within 12 months, Roberts received an inscribed copy of ‘The Story of Doctor Dolittle’, the first of a successful series.

When Lofting died, his third wife inherited the Dolittle copyrights, which later passed to her son Christopher who became a millionaire. The original inspiration for Dr. Dolittle, Lofting’s son Colin, never received a penny.

Monday, 1 June 2020

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Nottingham's Women of Words 2020

On the Trail of Nottingham’s Women of Words

Updated 2020
Begin at Nottingham Castle.

It's near here that Rebecca Bradley's DI Hannah Robbins lives. Bradley is a retired police detective who brings her procedural knowledge to the Hannah Robbins series, the latest of which is A Deeper Song (2020).

In Ian Fleming’s Thunderball, Bond girl Domino Vitali, a ‘beautiful, sexy, provocative, independent, self-willed, quick-tempered, and cruel’ Italian chain-smoker, describes the image of Nottingham Castle on her packet of Player’s as “…a doll’s house swimming in chocolate fudge…” More… 

Walk past Robin Hood.

At the top of Castle Gate is the Severns’ Building, a medieval dwelling that was re-erected on this site in 1968, and later became the Nottingham Lace Building.

Hilda Lewis (1896-1974) started writing her historical and children’s fiction when she moved to Nottingham in the 1920s. Her novel Penny Lace (1957), authentically featuring the city's Victorian lace industry, was reprinted with a Bromley House edition from Five Leaves Publications (2011).  

Lewis’s novel The Day is Ours (1946), about a young deaf girl, was the basis of the film Mandy. The book was inspired by the work of her husband, Professor M. Michael Lewis, who was a specialist in the education of the deaf at Nottingham University.

Proceed down Castle Gate..

Cross Maid Marion Way

Ann Gilbert (1782-1866) once lived in this house.

A literary critic, Gilbert also wrote poetry and hymns. Hymns for Infant Minds (1805) was an early collection of poems and songs written especially for children. Her younger sister and collaborator, Jane Taylor, wrote the words to Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

Annie Matheson (1853–1924) also lived on Castle Gate. Matheson was a poet of the British Victorian era who argued for the rights of working-class women to education. Her books included the collection The Religion of Humanity and other Poems (1890) and one of the first biographies of Florence Nightingale (1913).

Lucy Joynes (1782-1851) was a poet who described a changing Nottingham. At one time she lived and taught on Castle Gate (near the independent chapel). Her father was a clerk for St Nicholas’ Church..

On the corner is St Nicholas’ Church where the feminist writer Caroline Dexter (1819-1884) was married. Dexter migrated to Australia where she wrote her Ladies’ Almanack: The Southern Cross or Australian Album and New Year’s Gift (1858). A street in Canberra is named in her honour. There’s a book about her and her husband entitled Folie A Deux: William and Caroline Dexter in Colonial Australia (1999).  

Towards the bottom, on the left, is the Castle Gate Congregational Centre.

It was here that two lace workers, Matthew and Lucy, married. Their daughter, Alma Reville (1899-1982), an editor and scriptwriter, was born in Nottingham a few hours after her future husband and collaborator, Alfred Hitchcock, was born in Leytonstone. Reville was the only person to whom her husband would defer. She can even take credit for there being music during the famous shower scene in Psycho, as it was on her insistence that Hitchcock, who had wanted the scene played out in silence, changed his mind.

Turn left and head up Albert Street.

On the next corner (Hounds Gate/Albert Street) is the former studio of the renowned artist Evelyn Gibbs (1905-1991).

Gibbs taught at a school for handicapped children while writing an influential book on art entitled The Teaching of Art in Schools. The book was illustrated by her pupils. She moved to Nottingham during World War II where she created the Midlands Group of Artists.

Gibbs also illustrated several of Hilda Lewis’s books.

Look up Hounds Gate. About half way up, on the right-hand side, was the site of the Library for Females. 

To the right is Wheeler Gate.

About half way-up on the right-hand side, where Sainsbury’s Express now stands, was the home of a large bookshop (Sisson and Parker's, then Hudson’s, then Dillons, then Waterstone’s).

It was on Wheeler Gate in 1987 that Pushing On, a large-scale street performance for women, toddlers and wheelchair users was performed. This early 'flash mob' was created by the theatre-maker, actor and writer Tanya Myers. 

Myers is a co-founder and co-artistic director of Meeting Ground Theatre in Nottingham. Her daughter Lily Lowe-Myers is an actress, singer and playwright who has performed at The Nottingham Poetry Festival and at Nottingham Lakeside.  

Across from here is St Peter’s Church.

Anne Ayscough and her husband William are buried here. Together with John Collyer they became Nottingham’s first printers in 1710. A few years later the Ayscoughs and Collyer held rival businesses. The Ayscough’s producing the Nottingham Weekly Courant whilst Collyer printed the Nottingham Post.

And here lies a small Christian bookshop.

Turn right at Bridlesmith Gate, at one time the place to come for typewriters.

It’s about here, between St Peter’s Gate and Pepper Street, that the Ayscoughs established their printing press. The oldest known work printed in Nottingham was produced here in 1714, Sir Thomas Parkyn’s Inn-Play, all about wrestling. In 1717 the Ayscoughs printed Grammatical Commentaries by R. Johnson, Headmaster of Nottingham’s Free School.

At the end of Bridlesmith Gate is Low Pavement. From here you can see this fine building.

This is the former residence of Abigail Gawthern (1757-1822). Gawthern’s diaries were copied into one important volume, documenting how Nottingham's professional classes lived between 1751 to 1810, a time of much conflict. On this street was a ‘Ladies Assembly’, run by women but open to both genders, just not the working class. In her diary Gawthern describes the social occasions of dancing and card playing that took place in the Assembly Rooms at the bottom of Low Pavement (now M&S). Gawthern died in this house (pictured). In 1798, Lord Byron and two Miss Parkyns spent the day here. 

On the left exterior wall of this building is a sign for Drury Hill.  

Drury Hill was obliterated to make way for the Broadmarsh shopping centre. Next time you head down the escalator spare a thought for the narrow old street which featured in the film of D H Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers. There used to be an independent bookshop on Drury Hill, called Bux, described as ‘the thinking sixth-former's alternative to Sisson and Parker's’. 

Head up Low Pavement and cross over at Weekday Cross (formerly Blow Bladder Street) where Nottingham Contemporary awaits.

The international art centre has a healthy book section and hosts many literary and spoken word events.

It was here in 2017 that Nottingham’s Young Poet Laureate Georgina Wilding presented a poem to HRH Prince Harry and his new fiancée Meghan Markle to mark their first official engagement. More… 

Georgina Wilding is Nottingham’s first Young Poet Laureate. More… 

From here you can take a walk down by the Contemporary to no. 59 Cliff Road at which you'll find The Loggerheads. 

The former pub features prominently in Nicola Monaghan's crime novel Dead Flowers (2019). More...

Back up to High Pavement and Ruth Bryan is said to have lived and died here, in a cottage between the (now) Pitcher and Piano and the (now) National Justice Museum.

Bryan came to Nottingham after her father became a minister here. She began writing a diary aged seventeen, and continued writing regular entries all her life. Her diary and letters record a spiritual life of hardship from which she offers advice.    

Continue along High Pavement. On the right is the National Justice Museum, home of Nottingham’s historic Courthouse and Jail. 

It was on the steps that a Luddite became the first person to be hanged here, after being found guilty of the attempted murder of his employer. Christy Fearn's novel Framed tells the story of the Nottingham Luddites.

The Courtroom here saw the trial of Joan Phillips, a notorious local highwaywoman. This inspired Rebecca S. Buck's novel The Locket and the Flintlock; whilst her book Truths contains two narratives, both of which are set in fictional versions of the historic Shire Hall and County Gaol.

The iconic National Justice Museum courtroom has hosted man literary and poetry events including an eclectic evening of spoken word featuring the acclaimed poet Nafeesa Hamid.

Next up is St Mary’s Church. More...

Dame Agnes Mellers established a Free School here in the parish of St Mary’s in 1513, partly as an act of atonement for her husband’s wrongdoings against the people of Nottingham. King Henry VIII sealed the foundation. The school later became the Nottingham Boys’ High School. After more than 500 years of teaching boys, the Nottingham High School is now a co-educational institution.

Lucy Joynes was baptised here; Jane Jerram was married here, and Abigail Gawthern is buried here.

Born in Radford, Jane Jerram wrote The Child’s Own Story Book (1837) as well as other books and poetry.

Cut up through St Mary’s Gate and take the next right into Broadway, perhaps Nottingham’s most attractive street.

Nottingham born Alice Zimmern (1855–1939) was a writer, translator and suffragist, whose books made a big contribution to the debate on the education and rights of women. She mixed with fellow suffragist authors Edith Bland, Eleanor Marx and Beatrix Potter. Alice also wrote popular children's books on ancient Greece. Collaborating with her sister Helen Zimmern (1846–1934), Alice opened up much European culture and thought to the British public. Their father was a German immigrant lace merchant.

Turn left and head along Stoney Street, where you can find the offices of Writing East Midlands. 

This area features in Jaq Hazell’s I Came to Find a Girl. More… 

On the left in the Adams Building, the largest and finest Victorian building in the Lace Market. T C Hine designed this building for Thomas Adams. The building housed a library and hosted a book club for its many lace workers.

New College Nottingham is now based here. Passing through the building you'll arrive on St. Mary's Gate.

Not far from the back of the Adams Building is Debbie Bryan, a craft shop with a tea room. 

The poet and novelist Anne Holloway hosts poetry events here. Holloway is the founder and editor of the Nottingham independent publishing house The Big White Shed. She also co-founded Mouthy Poets.

Pop back to Stoney Street, at the end of Woolpack Lane. Here is the wall of legends celebrating local favourites and, if you’re lucky, this talented busker.

If Nottingham auditioned for parents, we could do worse than cast Su Pollard and the hybrid ‘Byron Clough’ in the roles.  

It was on Woolpack Lane that William Ayscough moved his printing press in 1718. He died four years after moving here but Anne Ayscough continued the printing business.

Poetry is Dead Good have held their performances here.

Pass The Angel and the chippy to Goosegate.

Take a right and head all the way down.

It was at the bottom end of Goosegate in 1826 that Susannah Wright opened a radical bookshop. It had to fight for its survival against violence and daily picketing from the Committee for the Suppression of Vice during which the shop was broken into, with attempts made to drag out the proprietor. Inciting the riots was Rev G Wilkins of St Mary's Church. Undeterred, Wright moved to a larger premises higher up Goosegate where she continued to promote free expression. She had arrived in Nottingham after being released from prison after serving time for blasphemy. Before Goosegate she sold books at Trademen’s Mart which was roughly where Argos is now. More… 

Cross St. Belward Street and continue to where Nottingham Writers’ Studio used to be based, on the corner with Lower Parliament Street.

The studio hosts workshops for writers. One of the workshops was run by the published poet Lytisha Tunbridge, also a member of NWS.

Another workshop leader is the publisher Teika Bellamy, the director of Nottingham-based small press Mother’s Milk Books. Bellamy is the behind the series of books The Forgotten and The Fantastical.

As chair of NWS, Sarah Hindmarsh has coordinated many events including a members take-over of a Muslim-Jewish run soup kitchen to feed those needing a hot meal. Hindmarsh is the author of the award winning Animal Adventures series and the ever popular 1001 writing prompts books.

It's not far from here, on Sneinton Market's Freckingham Street, that Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature has its office (shared with LeftLion). Sandeep Mahal is the Director of NUCoL.  

Leanne Moden works for NUCoL as the Executive Assistant to the Director, as well as being a poet, performer and workshop leader. Her first solo show is called Skip, Skip, Skip. More... 

Ruby Tyler is the Creative Pathways intern, working on projects and communications. She moved to Nottingham to study English at the University of Nottingham.

Close to the NUCoL office is the Fox and Grapes pub. Poetry events at the venue have included a poetry reading from NTU teacher Becky Cullen, former poet-in-residence at Newstead Abbey and current NCoL collaborator.

Return back up Goosegate. On the left is the site of the first Boots Store.

Turn right at Heathcote Street. On the right is Jam Café, host to a monthly poetry evening.

The premises now used by Jam Cafe and Paramount Pictures used to house Mushroom Bookshop (1972-1999) which had sections devoted to women's writing, to lesbian writing, and to feminism. One of the founders of Mushroom Bookshop, Chris Cook Cann, recently published her memoirs. Face Blind in Berlin, Suffolk and Gedling (2019) which tells of her time at Mushroom and her charity work as one of the Masked Booksellers.  

Take the next left (High Cross Street) and left again at Broad Street.

Note the Lord Roberts Pub, once the home to Tales from Two Cities, led by Sophie Snell.

Lee Rosy’s Tea Room, on the right, host regular poetry events.

Past performers here include Cleo Asabre-Holt.

Asabre-Holt is a spoken word poet and workshop facilitator who was awarded the prestigious M3C Scholarship to undertake a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Nottingham. More… 

On the left is the Broadway Cinema.

Broadway hosts a popular Book Club, established by Pam McIlroy and later run by Leanne Wain.

A film festival Shots in The Dark was held here through the 1990s. Incorporating crime fiction it paved the way for Nottingham to host Bouchercon XXVI in 1995. This was the last time the world’s largest crime/mystery convention crossed the Atlantic. Nottingham’s crime festivals attracted many best-selling authors including James Ellroy and Sara Paretsky.

Nottingham’s crime festival Shots in The Dark returned in 2018. The event included an interview with the crime writer C J Tudor who lived in Nottingham when her debut novel The Chalk Man (2018) was published. 

Continuing along, Rough Trade is on the right.

Supportive of literary events Rough Trade is also venue for live poetry, spoken word, book launches and readings.

Local poets  Di Slaney (prize-winning poet and the co-owner Candlestick Press), Sue Dymoke, Aly Stoneman (Poetry Editor at LeftLion magazine and a Midlands3Cities AHRC-funded postgraduate researcher at NTU), and Bridie Squires have all performed at Rough Trade.

A researcher and educator in the teaching of poetry, Sue Dymoke has her own collections The New Girls (2004) and Moon at the Park and Ride (2012), both published by Beeston’s Shoestring Press.

Spoken Word Poet and LeftLion editor Bridie Squires was Nottingham Trent University’s first writer-in-residence. Her new one woman show is Casino Zero.
Veer right, up Goosegate and continue through trendy Hockley.

This area is featured in Caroline Bell-Foster’s The Cat Café. The Nottingham author and workshop leader is best known for her Call Me Royal series.

Also partly set here is Our Lady of Everything (2019) by Susan Finlay.

On the right is George Street where you can find Peggy’s Skylights where World Jam launched their multi-lingual poetry anthology with a series of poetry readings

Off Carlton Street is Pelham Street, near the top of which is Wired

This café hosts The Hockley Book Club and poetry nights but it’s time to head left instead, down Victoria Street.

To the right is Boots corner where the Blackmore’s Head used to be. This is where Lord Byron’s body lay in state.

At the corner of Bridlesmith Gate and Bottle Lane there used to be a bookshop, of the Sutton family (also publishers). A member of this family, Eliza S Oldham (1822-1905), wrote the novel By The Trent (1864).

On the other side of Bottle Lane is Waterstone’s, the self-declared ‘finest bookshop in the Midlands’, and Nottingham’s largest, another fine Victorian building.

Waterstone’s feature a busy programme of events, including talks from top authors, such as local talents Mhairi McFarlane, Elizabeth Chadwick and Eve Makis

McFarlane's latest rom-com is If I Never Met You (2020).

Chadwick's latest historical fiction is The Irish Princess (2019).

Makis has written a non-fiction guide and four novels, including The Spice Box Letters (2015).

The multi-storey bookshop also hosts an annual LGBTQ literary festival called Bold Strokes.

Going right at High Street (surely one of the shortest High Streets), walk along to ZARA which sits on the corner with Pelham Street.

This area was once called Hen Cross, or Women’s Market (before 1812).

The gorgeous Art Nouveau building used to be Boots’ premier store, their first ‘wonderstore’, featuring book sections and a library, all thanks to the influence of Florence Boot (1863-1952). For 67 years Boots libraries brought books to the people, and it all began here. Boots Booklovers’ Library was once the largest library system of its type in the world. More… 

Now head down Smithy Row.

Immediately on the right is Primark. Right at the back of this store, on the right, is an entrance/exit with Maypole Yard (where a Jewellers is). It was here in 1825 that the ‘White Lady of Newstead’ lost her life. Her real name was Sophia Pyatt (or Hyett, or Hyatt depending on who you believe). Sophia was knocked down and killed by a carrier's cart. A poet and fan of Lord Byron, her remains were interred in Hucknall Church as close as possible to Byron's. She is the famous ‘White Lady’ whose ghost is said to have haunted Newstead Abbey.

A little farther along The Works bookshop is on the right.

Next to this is an alleyway down which is Five Leaves, one of the few independent bookshops to open in a UK city centre this century.

This radical bookshop includes a feminist section. Five Leaves hosts regular literary events. Deirdre O'Byrne, Giselle Leeb and Rhiannon Jenkins Tsang are among the many local guest speakers to have appeared at the venue.

Five Leaves Publications, which started in 1995, operates from here. Pippa Hennessey, who worked on our bid for UNESCO status, has worked for Five Leaves, publisher of many books by local writers, including works from Hilda Lewis, Rose Fyleman, Nicola Monaghan, Helen Cresswell and Clare Littleford.

They also published Pauline Lucas’s biography of Evelyn Gibbs.

Down Five Leaves’ alley is where the author of Fair Rosamund (1839), Thomas Millar, had his premises.

Across the street is The Exchange, inside which is a plaque to the poet Henry Kirke White. 
Leah Wilkins, who works at Five Leaves, was the recipient of the Kirke White Poetry Prize 2017. A graduate in English with Creative Writing, Wilkins writes and performs poetry in addition to managing the production of the literary journal The Letters Page.

Situated next door, the Nottingham Tourism Centre also sells a good selection of Notts-themed books.

At the next corner, turn right, where Speakers’ Corner awaits at the site of the Brian Clough Statue. It was in 2008 that the Speakers’ Corner Trust created their first Speakers’ Corner in the UK, right here, recognising Nottingham’s history of rebellion.

The bus behind Cloughie represents Rosie Garner’s book of poetry inspired by the various routes of Nottingham City Transport and the people and places that go with it. For World Book Day NCT offered free travel for passengers presenting a book.

Continue up Queen Street then cross Upper Parliament Street.

On the left is Nottingham’s Theatre Royal, Theatre Square.

The Theatre Royal held the world premiere of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.

The 1952 premiere starred Sheila Sim along with her husband Richard Attenborough.

The Scarlet Pimpernel also made its first appearance here, two years before Baroness Orczy turned her play into a novel, spurning 13 sequels.

Cathy Grindrod has run a 55+ creative writing course at the Royal Centre, one of three writing courses for the over 55s at the Royal Centre and Nottingham Playhouse. Grindrod is an award-winning poet, formerly Derbyshire Poet Laureate, and the author of five published poetry collections. She is also a Coach for Writers.

One of the world's first global stars, the pioneering 19th Century French actress Sarah Bernhardt, captured the hearts and minds of the Nottingham audience here, and D H Lawrence brought her back in his novel Sons and Lovers.

It was also here at the Theatre Royal that the dyslexia-friendly publisher Dayglo Books were launched by Gloria Morgan. More… 

Head up South Sherwood Street.

At Shakespeare Street and North Sherwood Street is the Nottingham Mechanics Institute, home to Nottingham Writers’ Club’s regular meetings.

The award-winning author of the Harry Radcliffe series of crime mysteries Glenis Wilson is a member of the club which was established in 1927. Joan Wallace, author of four historical novels set in Nottingham, was also a member.

The Nottingham Poetry Society meet here. In 1941, Margery Smith and three other women formed the Nottingham Branch of the Poetry Society, which later became Nottingham Poetry Society. Current members include Cathy Grindrod. The Nottingham Poetry Society's Poetry Slam returned to the Mechanics in 2019.

Back along Shakespeare Street.

On the left is Nottingham Trent University’s Arkwright Building.

The MA in Creative Writing at NTU is one of the longest established postgraduate courses of its kind in the UK recently celebrating its 25th birthday with the launch of an anthology. 

The course's first leader was the novelist Sue Thomas. She later founded trAce Online Writing Centre (1995-2006) at NTU, an early global online community.

Former teachers on NTU's writing course include the biographers Katherine Frank and Kathryn Hughes, as well as the poets Catherine Byron and Clare MacDonald Shaw, former editor of the poetry magazine Quartz. The novelist, critic and cultural historian Elleke Boehmer also worked in NTU's English Department.

Among the current creative writing lecturers at NTU is Sarah Jackson.

Dr Sarah Jackson explores the intersections between creative and critical writing. Tactile Poetics: Touch and Contemporary Writing (2015), explores the relationship between text and tact in 20th and 21st-century literature and theory. Her poetry collection, Pelt (2012), won the Seamus Heaney Prize. In 2017 she edited Ten Poems on the Telephone. More… 

Dr Natalie Braber, who teaches in the School of Arts and Humanities within the subject area of Linguistics, is the author of Nottingham dialect books. More… 

The novelist, biographer and critic Miranda Seymour has been a visiting professor at Nottingham Trent University.

Among the authors who have undertaken MA writing courses at NTU are Clare Littleford, Frances Thimann, and the award-winning authors Nicola Monaghan a.k.a. Niki Valentine and Kim Slater a.k.a. K L Slater, Clare Stevens and Jo Weston, the first writer-in-residence at Maggie's Nottingham. 

Radford born Nicola Monaghan was brought up on Nottingham council estates, experiences that helped shape her debut novel, the Betty Trask winning The Killing Jar (2006). Monaghan was a driving force behind the Nottingham Writers’ Studio and is currently a teacher of creative and professional writing. She also writes psychological horror stories under the pseudonym Niki Valentine. More… 

At one-time Monaghan was tutored by the Nottingham born Julia Alison Casterton (1952-2007), the writer of Writing Poetry - A Practical Guide (2005). Casterton has been described as a startlingly vivid lyric poet, her writing infused with the influences of feminism.

Kim Slater is a respected YA author and, as K. L. Slater, one of Nottingham’s bestselling novelists, the city in which her books are set. Her debut novel, Smart, picked up 10 awards and around 100 nominations. Slater's fiction is heading for book sales of two million. More… 

Published widely, Panya Banjoko's award-winning poems address issues of sexism, racism and social justice. A NTU graduate, she has an MA in children's literature from the University of Nottingham. Not far from here is Nottingham Black Archive which has helped document Nottingham's black history, heritage and culture. Banjoko is the Black Archive's Learning, Engagement and Collections Manager. 
Annabel Abbs' novel Frieda (2019) tells of the dramatic story of former University College student D H Lawrence's elopement with Frieda Weekley.

The Arkwright Building also included a public library. When it was University College, Rose Fyleman (1877-1957) attended for a spell. She later taught in Nottingham and lived on Newcastle Road, The Park. (if you fancy a detour, you can find the entrance to Newcastle Road if you head up Derby Road and look left).

Fyleman is best-known for her poem Fairies (There are fairies at the bottom of our garden!). She also wrote plays, short stories and a Nottingham-set fantasy.

At the next crossroads look over to the right. Across the road, at the end of Waverley Street, is the former Nottingham School of Art, now NTU’s Art & Design department.

Dorothy Hartley (1893–1985) was a social historian, skilled illustrator, and prominent author. She attended Nottingham Art School and later returned here as a teacher. Her books cover six centuries of English history but she’s best known as the author of Food in England (1954). Still in print it’s been described by Delia Smith as, ‘A classic book without a worthy successor – a must for any keen English cook.’

Laura Knight also attended the Art School, becoming their youngest ever student in 1890 after enrolling as an 'artisan student' paying no fees, aged just 13.

Dame Laura Knight has two autobiographies, Oil Paint and Grease Paint (1936) and The Magic of a Line (1965). Knight was an official war artist whose work also focused on marginalized communities, including gypsies, circus performers, and workers in the American South.

Another literary link is through Richmal Compton’s popular ‘Just William’ stories. Her books were illustrated by Nottingham’s Thomas Henry. The writer-illustrator relationship lasted for 43 years but they met only once, at a book festival in Nottingham in 1958.

You might want to pop up Waverley Street (a rare street named after a novel) and seek out 6 Arthur Street on which Anne Gilbert (born Anne Gee) (1830-1908) once lived. It was here that she also taught children, an endeavour from which grew an important school. Gilbert is the author of Recollections of Old Nottingham (1904). She was an authority on the flora of Nottingham and local history.

Now retrace your steps a short way, along Shakespeare Street, until the road joins with Goldsmith Street.

On the left is Boots Library.

This NTU library is open 24-7 during term time. Jade Moore is an Information Assistant at Boots Library. Moore is also a published poet, an emerging performance poet, and editor of The Beestonian magazine.

Nottingham University’s first hall of residence was named after Florence Boot (born Florence Rowe).

Just on from Blackwell’s University Bookshop is the office of Notts TV.

Turn right and head up Chaucer Street. Towards the top, on the right, is the Nottingham Women's Centre, run by women, for women.

The only women’s library in the East Midlands, it contains many rare books and magazines. The library was relaunched in 2014 with special guest Kat Banyard, author and founder of UK Feminista. The redeveloped library, which is situated on the top floor, has become the hub of the National Feminist Archives and Libraries Network for the UK.

The poet and essayist Nicki Hastie used to work at the centre.

At the end of Chaucer Street turn left and head along Clarendon Street to Wollaton Street. Cross over to Vernon Street. From there cross Derby Road.

Here is St Barnabas' Cathedral.

Sarah Ann Agnes Turk (1859-1927) (a.k.a. Sheila Agnes Turk) had a Requiem Mass here at St Barnabas'. Turk was a local Catholic writer of diverse novels and short stories including spiritual, detective and romance stories.

Enter North Circus Street, with the Albert Hall on your left.

Just past the hall is Nottingham Playhouse.

The Nottingham Playhouse used to be in a converted cinema on the corner of Goldsmith Street and Talbot Street (between 1948 and 1963). It was previously known as the Little Theatre or New Repertory Theatre before becoming the Nottingham Playhouse. One of the reasons it moved from Goldsmith Street was the noisy traffic that could be heard by audiences.

There a modern sculpture on Maid Marion Way celebrating our theatres.

Host to several writing groups, the Nottingham Playhouse also features many plays from local writers; the Nottingham playwright Amanda Whittington being a Playhouse favourite.

Amanda Whittington is one of Britain’s most-performed playwrights. A former columnist for the Nottingham Evening Post, Whittington entered the mainstream with a string of popular and accessible plays featuring the experiences of women, including Amateur Girl, the story of a woman who lives in a Vicky Centre flat. More… 

The Mouthy Poets (2010-2016) performed at the Playhouse. The group’s director and founder is Debris Stevenson. More… 

Beth Steel’s play Wonderland made its successful Nottingham debut at the Playhouse in 2018.

Continue round and meet Oxford Street. No. 1 Oxford Street is site of the original Nottingham Girls High School founded in 1875.

Now on Arboretum Street, the High School’s former pupils include the authors Helen Cresswell, Dame Stella Rimington, Helen Cooper, Janice Elliott and Julie Myerson.

Dame Stella Rimington is the first woman to become Director General of the Security Service (MI5). She is the author of the Liz Carlyle thriller novels. 

Sherwood born Julie Myerson is an author and critic. Her book Home: The Story of Everyone Who Ever Lived in Our House (2004), revisits several of her Nottingham homes. Another memoir Not A Games Person (2005), covers her youth in Nottingham, including her time at the Girls’ High School.

On the corner with Regent Street is the former family home of the Hines.

Nottingham novelist Muriel Hine (1873-1949) features this home in some of her 'Lacingham' novels including A Great Adventure (1939). Hine also lived on the corner of Raleigh Street and Walter Street (off Alfreton Road).

It was at 15 Regent Street that Constance Penswick Smith (1878-1938) and her friend Ellen Porter, Superintendent of the Girls' Friendly Society Hostel, tried to re-establish the true Christian celebration of Mothering Sunday, a campaign which was to last for 30 years. Smith founded The Society for the Observance of Mothering Sunday in objection to the American Ann Jarvis's introduction of a commercialised Mother's Day. The book A Short History of Mothering Sunday (1921) by Constance Penswick Smith was published to promote the ancient Mothering Sunday customs from across the world.

At the top of Oxford Street turn left on The Ropewalk. Continue to the corner where the former Nottingham General Hospital (1782-1991) is.

In the mid-19th century the famous local architect T C Hine added a storey, the clock and the chapel. Hine’s granddaughter, Muriel Hine, achieved national fame as a novelist with her light fiction, which explored the challenges and expectations faced by women.

Move left down Park Row. At 14 Park Row is Roythornes Solicitors. One of their practising solicitors, and a partner in the law firm, is Shruti Trivedi. Dark Knight (2018) is her debut novel.

Now turn right into Postern Street leading to St James Terrace. Here is the site of The Royal Standard plaque, which marks the raising of the Royal Standard by Charles 1st, starting the English Civil War.

During this time, the Governor of Nottingham Castle’s wife was the biographer and translator Lucy Hutchinson, the writer of Order and Disorder, the first epic poem written in English by a woman. Hutchinson’s memoirs of her husband, governor of Nottingham whilst the parliamentarians held it during civil war, will be on display in the Castle Museum, the brown handwriting is still legible.

On the corner, at the top of St James Street, is no. 76, Newstead House, where Lord Byron lived between (1798-99).

Byron’s daughter Augusta Ada Byron, later known as Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), was a pioneer of computing science. Her famous 'notes on the translatio', which followed her collaboration with Charles Babbage, is arguably the most important paper in the history of digital computing pre modern times.

Not far from here is Friar Lane and Café Sobar where, for International Women’s Day 2020, there's a Women Saying Stuff Open Mic event. One of the performers, Maresa MacKeith, cannot talk but communicates by facilitated communication. MacKeith's book. Taking the Time, tells of her experiences of school and life. She's now part of the Nottingham poetry collective The Mouthy Poets and has a poetry collection, I Can Still See The Sky.

Head down the historic St James Street, one of our most notorious thoroughfares.

On the right used to be the News House pub. In Victorian times you could gather in pubs like this to hear newspapers being read aloud for those unable to afford to buy a copy, or unable to read.

On the left is The Malt Cross, home of the James Joyce Reading Group led by Elizabeth Watkins, and various spoken word nights, including appearances from the Storytellers of Nottingham.

Leanne Moden runs Crosswords Open Mic night in the cave beneath the bar and kitchen.

Turn left on Angel Row.

The Bell Inn is on the left.

This is a former meeting place of Nottingham Writers’ Club whose former members include Helen Cresswell (1934-2005), author of Moondial.

Cresswell penned well over 100 stories for children. She created the character Lizzie Dripping and adapted the stories for a hit BBC TV drama. Of all her books The Winter of the Birds (1976) is said to have been her personal favourite.

A few doors along from The Bell is Bromley House Library, founded in 1816. Mary Howitt (1799-1888) and her husband William attended the library. Mary wrote: ‘The remarkable well-supplied library at Bromley House furnished us with the constant stores of literature.’

Melanie Duffill-Jeffs is the library's Director having previously managed the Nottingham Women's Centre. More… 

Tours of the historic library can be booked.

Current members include the author Rowena Edlin-White who has been a director here for twenty years. Edlin-White is the author of Exploring Nottinghamshire Writers. Spanning several centuries it’s the best guide-book to our county’s writers. More… 

Bromley House Library supported the City Read project which included the commissioning of a new anthology These Seven by Nottinghamshire authors including stories from:

Paula Rawsthorne, the multiple award-winning author of young adult novels. Her third book, SHELL (2018), is a tense and thought-provoking thriller.

Megan Taylor, whose books include The Dawning (2010), a domestic thriller published by local publisher Weathervane Press and her latest novel We Wait (2020).

Shreya Sen-Handley, author of Memoirs of My Body (2017) and Strange (2019) a collection of thirteen twisted tales of the unexpected.

And Alison Moore, whose debut novel, The Lighthouse (2012), was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Moore’s latest novel is Missing (2018), whilst her first most recent children’s book is Sunny and the Hotel Splendid (2019).

A little farther on is Nottingham Central Library. Covering four floors this is the principal library of the East Midlands. The library will be moving to a new home on the south side of the city, set to become the best children's library in the country.

On the opposite side of the road is West End Arcade inside which is Books and Pieces, a second-hand bookshop owned by Jean Blacow.

Move back towards the Market Square and you’ll pass Yates’ Wine Lodge on your left-hand side.

Joan Adeney Easdale (a.k.a. Sophie Curley) (1913-1998) used to drink here. In the 1990s Sophie Curley was often to be found walking our streets, warming our benches and drinking in bars like Yates’. Thought to have become schizophrenic following a break down, Curley was a local eccentric. In her youth she had been destined for great things as a poet. Back then she was called Joan Easdale. Virginia Woolf described her as her 'discovery' and published some of her works. In the 1930s she wrote plays for the BBC. Her granddaughter Celia Robertson, wrote a book about her called Who Was Sophie?: The Two Lives of My Grandmother: Poet and Stranger (2008).

The final destination is the Old Market Square.

The most noticeable building here is the Council House with its stone lions.

This grand and official building has been the workplace of the City Councillor and author Catharine Arnold. More… 

In 2010 Gwen Grant was a guest speaker here at the Council House for a commemoration event for the late Alan Sillitoe. 

Worksop born Grant’s book The Revolutionary’ Daughter (1990) is set at the time of the Miners' Strike. Her picture book Jonpanda (1992) won a Nottinghamshire Libraries Acorn Award.

Note where Wetherspoons is, to the left as you look at the Council House. Next to the pub is a Nat West bank. Mary Howitt (1799-1888) lived around here in a fine old mansion. She considered herself ‘bound to no class’ and her writing was popular with both adults and children. In addition to her own prose and verse she translated the fairytales of Hans Christian Anderson and the novels of the feminist reformer Fredrika Bremer. The first volume of her autobiography recounts a fascinating period in our history. Wordsworth called her writing elegant. She’s now best known for The Spider and the Fly.

Dorothy Whipple (1892-1966), described by J B Priestly as the ‘Jane Austen of the 20th Century’ was once Nottingham’s best-known novelist and a big seller between the world wars.

Most of Whipple’s novels are set in Nottinghamshire, or as it appears, ‘Trentham’. Her novel They Knew Mr Knight (1934) was made into a 1946 movie partly filmed in the Market Square.

Two final city centre locations you might wish to visit:

Here’s the former home of Katharine ‘Mollie’ Morris (1910-1999)

She once lived at 22 Albert Grove (between Derby Road and Ilkeston Road). To supplement her family’s income Morris began to write children’s stories. Her daughter followed suit and had her first story published aged nine. The older Morris often set her own stories in Nottinghamshire. She became involved in PEN during the 1930s, the human rights organisation originally for ‘Poets, Essayists and Novelists. At her most prolific in the 1950s her books include The Vixen's Club (1951), The House by the Water (1957) and The Long Meadow (1958).

At the Forest Road/Mapperley Road/Mansfield Road junction was Gallows Hill. In 1802 Mary Voce was hanged at Gallows Hill. A Methodist woman called Elizabeth Evans visited Voce the day before her execution. Evans prayed with Voce through the night, heard her confession and accompanied her to the gallows the following day. Four decades later, Evans told this story to her niece, Mary Ann Evans (who later became the novelist George Eliot). 20 years after she heard the news, Eliot used it as inspiration for her first novel Adam Bede.

From here you’ll notice the General Cemetery where you can find the graves of Ruth Bryan, Ann Gilbert, Anne Gilbert, Annie Matheson and Sarah Agnes Turk.  


Take the Nottingham Booklovers Walk, with Felicity Whittle, award-winning Blue Badge Tourist Guide and founder of Gold Star Guides. This 2-hour guided walk celebrates some of the many writers associated with our UNESCO City of Literature. Book-list provided! More… 
There are also plans for a Women Writers Walk.


The Nottingham Women's History Group. A valuable resource and celebration of women's achievements in the city and beyond. 

And finally:

Read Exploring Nottinghamshire Writers by Rowena Edlin-White. Many of our writers, past and present, famous and forgotten, are featured.


Please let me know if you can think of a writer that should be added to the trail. My email address is on the contact page.