We were very fortunate to have Rowena visit the library today to talk to us about the recently published Exploring Nottinghamshire Writers. A guidebook to local writers both well-known and obscure, dead and alive, Rowena has managed to encapsulate Nottingham’s rich literary scene. Rowena has worked very closely with Five Leaves Bookshop to write, edit and publish her book, following an extensive research period in which she described foraging through libraries, second-hand shops and even graveyards to uncover Nottingham’s literary past.
Around 130 different authors are featured in the book, including the likes of Lord Byron, D.H. Lawrence and Alan Sillitoe, as well as some hidden gems of our city. Each and every one of the writers was either born, settled, or worked and wrote about Nottingham at some stage of their life. Rowena explained the processing of selecting which authors to include, expressing her desire to select individuals who made, or continue to make, their mark on whichever literary genre they favour. She is well-qualified to account for all these authors, as she revealed that she has read at least one text written by each of them. Despite this, she resists the temptation to comment on the quality of their work, or delve into literary criticism.
In the talk Rowena also discussed how this is not an academic work, instead she wanted to make it accessible and fun for all. The guidebook is clear, easy to navigate, and visual, featuring photographs and illustrations. As can be expected, it is highly informative, providing us with a hefty tribute to the kind of writing that Nottinghamshire has produced. As well as biographical information, for each author there is a short list of places to visit, therefore Rowena is keen for her readers to discover the locations that inspired, or are connected to these writers.
Exploring Nottinghamshire Writers is a one of a kind, a wonderful guide to local literacy, and we very much look forward to Rowena’s future projects. She is constantly looking for new additions to her guidebook, and has hinted that there may be a second edition on the cards, so keep your eyes peeled for more.