Review of ‘A Sense of Place: Derbyshire in Fiction’, by Ruth Gordon

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 25th September 2000, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

A SENSE OF PLACE: Derbyshire in Fiction
by Ruth Gordon

Ruth Gordon will be well known to all who spend any amount of time in the Local Studies Library at County Hall in Matlock. Many readers (and writers) owe a great debt of thanks to Ruth and the rest of the Library staff for facilitating their researches through an in-depth knowledge of the material at hand.

It now transpires that Ruth, familiar with countless factual and historical publications, has since her schooldays been a keen reader of fiction inspired by Derbyshire and the Peak District. And she must have been taking notes, for her newly published booklet A Sense of Place offers a list of titles which would last an average reader a good few years. The booklet takes the form of a literary tour around the whole county, seen through the story telling which the region has inspired. Readers with particular preferences for places and subjects will appreciate the potted descriptions given with the titles, especially useful where real places hide behind fictional names.The author has also drawn on her own childhood to suggest some first rate reading for children.

This most intriguing of tours begins on the outskirts of Sheffield and moves through Grindleford and along the gritstone edges to Chesterfield (meeting Sherlock Holmes on the eastern moors), carries on through the Derbyshire coalfields, swings back to Ashover and Pentrich then on to Derby and the county border. Returning northwards we alight at Ashbourne, Hartington, Dovedale and Brassington before turning towards Crich, Cromford, Wirksworth and places in between. Then up river to the Matlocks, Darley Dale and Two Dales. After picking up on tales set in Winster, Youlgreave, Bakewell, Monyash, Stoney Middleton and Eyam, the literary journey stops off in Hathersage, Peak Forest, Castleton, Edale and Kinder. Buxton, as might be expected, has a lot to offer the armchair traveller and the north-western Peak brings the itinerary to a close.

Many of the books described are readily available through the library service whilst a request may have to be put in for certain older ones held in small numbers. Just a few of the rarest titles can be read only in the reference local studies libraries at Chesterfield or County Hall - just the opportunity to browse through the extensive range of creative writing, old and new, held in these two libraries where collections are added to constantly.

A Sense of Place : Derbyshire in Fiction (ISBN 0 903463 61 X) is published by Derbyshire County Council, Libraries & Heritage Department, and is available through all county libraries, priced only £1.

Review by Julie Bunting


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