Friday, 28 August 2009

Manchester and Tyneside

A couple of excellent books on these two subjects: each has given me lots of material over the years, as well as prompting me to follow up subjects which they raise. Manchester in the Victorian Age by Gary S Messinger, Manchester University Press 1985, is particularly good on the city's cultural achievements in Victorian times and on the myths about its grimness and how they grew. It quotes Disraeli's Coningsby on the title page: "Rightly understood, Manchester is as great a human exploit as Athens." I've also learned a lot from The Diaries of Absalom Watkin, A Manchester Man, most recently edited by Magdalen Goffin, Alan Sutton Publishing, 1993., Manchester by Alan Kidd, Ryburn Publishing, Keele University Press 1993 and The Manchester Man by Mrs G.Linnaeus Banks 1896, republished by Printwise Publications 1991, The Manchester Outrage by Jack Doughty, Jade Publishing 2001, which describes 19th century community tensions well, and After the 1996 Bomb by John Myles and Ian Taylor, Institute of Social Research, Salford University 1999, which deals with the results of those tensions in more recent times. Scouses vs Mancs by Ian Black, Black and White Publishing 2006, takes a humorous look at Manchester and Liverpool's rivalry. And, of course, everything by Elizabeth Gaskell is instructive as well as a good read .

Geordies, edited by Robert Colls and Bill Lancaster, Edinburgh University Press 1992, is crammed with riches. I am particularly grateful to the chapter on Black Geordies by Barry Carr, which gives an excellent account of the Yemeni community in South Shields. Tucked inside my copy is an article from the Newcastle Journal of 22 November 1997, sent to me by Alan Myers (see the book) and all about Wittgenstein's curious stay in Newcastle. The North East Engineers' Strikes of 1871 by Allen, Clarke, McCord and Rowe, Frank Graham (Newcastle) 1971 is a fascinating and detailed study of industry and industrial relations. I warmly recommend anything by the late Bill Griffiths, linguistic and historical expert in the North East, and just got his last book in time, Fishing and Folk Northumbria University Press 2008. Even better is his Pitmatic, a study of North East miners' fascinating argot, also published by Northumbria University Press, 2007.

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