Caught by the River

Caught by the Reaper – Glyn Hughes

28th May 2011

Pic (Glyn in 1996) is from the Halifax Evening Courier.

Author, poet and artist Glyn Hughes, often referred to as the voice of the North has died, aged 76, after (with typical stubbornness) giving cancer a bit of a battle. Nick Small pays his respects.

Glyn settled in the small Pennine hamlet of Mill Bank, near Halifax, in the early 70s and found acclaim, if not fame, through his writing and Radio 4 broadcasts on the Brontes and the superb Long Causeway. He was a favourite of the Guardian: two of his books being listed in their 2005 survey of all literature as “Eco Classics”.

Personally, when I moved back to West Yorkshire in 1992, having been in exile most of my life, his classic 1975 tome Millstone Grit was given to me. It was such a fantastic portrait of the landscape and people of my new home in the hills that I soon forgot about “that London” and immersed myself in the wild and bleak moorland scenes I was reading about. It’s a superb book which was a real influence upon me as a writer.

I sought Glyn out in the late nineties and for some time, we worked together, trying to persuade the BBC to commission us to make a series about the way the landscape of West Yorkshire has been redefined since the collapse of our manufacturing industries. The canals, the mills, the disused railway lines: all industrial infrastructure now redeployed in the leisure and tourist business. The BBC didn’t think Glyn would make a great presenter. The were absolutely, 100% wrong on that count.

If there was ever an author that readers of Caught By the River should have on their well stocked book shelves, it’s Glyn Hughes.