1. Dawn Marsh - Always Busy
While most of you are fast asleep Dawn Marsh is busy baking oatcakes at her shop in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, in the traditional way. But as her mother says, there is much more to Dawn than making oatcakes. Always Busy charts how Dawn has worked hard to look after her family, had knock-backs, made sacrifices, changed directions and gained a love of diving which has taken her all around the World.
Tim Diggles was brought up in Stoke-on-Trent, he has been working in the arts and as an artist since the mid 1970’s. For many years he worked with writers groups and publishers in communities around the UK, Europe and USA. Tim makes photographs which explore in great detail his personal life and environment, and the area he lives in in Tunstall. He regularly blogs and has a novel Underpainting and a collection of short stories Tea and Blood, available online. To find out more go to his blog, timdiggles.wordpress.com.
2. Wilhelmina Slight - From Leiden to Longton
Wilhelmina Slight is lady of many talents and great energy. Not a born and bred “Stokie” she has lived in the city for most of her adult life. Her childhood, however, was spent in Holland where she lived through the best and worst of times. At the end of WW2 she came to the UK to look for a job, married and stayed to raise her family. Once retired from full time work, her interest in people and local affairs was channelled into voluntary work in the local community.
Misha Herwin is a writer of books for adults, children and young adults. Her novels “House of Shadows” and “Picking up the Pieces are published by Penkhull Press. Her short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and her plays have been performed in schools. She also runs creative writing workshops in schools, libraries and museums. She lives in Stoke-on-Trent with her husband and a very demanding cat and in her spare time bakes cakes and attempts to keep her garden in order.
Misha blogs at: mishaherwin.wordpress.com and penkhullpress.co.uk
3. Michaleen Hilton – A Certain Lady
Michaleen Hilton is a certain lady with tales to tell. Her job brings her into daily contact with more celebrities than most of us will encounter in a lifetime: bookmarks in a bumper book of the illustrious and the conspicuous, even though her own journey is one of equal note. This is a modest tale; a life like ours, requiring adjustment to aims and ambition through consideration and settlement.
Celebrity memoir is profuse, whereas the lives of ordinary people remain untold and unobserved, until we pause to listen to the songs of the waitress and nurse.
Fred Hughes is a local historian specialising in North Staffordshire’s community and industrial heritage. Also, a freelance journalist and broadcaster, community asset champion, schools governor, and consultant in public/private regeneration and place identity. Published work includes books on local heritage and biography. These include: Mother Town, A History of Burslem (2000 – Burslem Community Development Trust) Images of Burslem (2005 – History Press, republished 2010) Roses From Ashes (2012 – Community funded – Stoke-on-Trent Cultural Services) Knights – A history of a law firm (Private commission 2014) Strike! (2015 – Community funded, Stoke-on-Trent Cultural Services) An Arnold Bennett Companion (Commissioned chapter (2015)
4. Frank Leigh - Cobridge Troubadours
Since the discovery of piano at the age of 5 music has been the one constant in the life of jazz pianist, Frank Leigh. It has lit up Cobridge homes depressed by war, followed him around the world and back, helped him recover after tragedy and brought joy to those in need. This is the story of an extraordinary local man and the power of a good tune played with heart to bring people together.
Kat Boon is a playwright and producer from Stoke-on-Trent. She began writing for theatre as part of Liverpool Playhouse's Young Writers Programme and has since developed her craft as part of Birmingham Rep's Foundry. Kat is co-founder of local theatre company Potboiler Theatre which creates audacious live theatre events in unexpected spaces. Recent project The Rhapsodies & The Inn took storytelling and live music with a cast of irreverent pub inspired characters to audiences in local pubs. Kat's writing for theatre is character led, equally inspired by the mundane and absurd aspects of human experience as well as the profound, and motivated to give voice to the secret stories of our lives. She is interested in writing from which you walk away a little bit changed. This is her first step into the world of auto-biography.
5. Steve Shaw - Portrait of an Artist as a Working Man
Steve Shaw is a potter, an artist, a drummer, and a great human being. Inspired by Black Sabbath, Alan Hudson, Picasso, and the Potteries’ unique heritage, he has worked in ceramics for more years than he cares to remember, and currently works at Burslem Pottery in the Mother Town with Tracy Bentley. Portrait of an Artist as a Working Man tells the story of Steve’s working life in the Potteries, making pots and creating great works of art, and helping to keep the city’s traditional skills alive.
Dave is an urbanist, socialist, writer, lover of great buildings, a born and bred Stokie, and a passionate advocate for the Potteries and her hinterland, its people, and all that goes on there. His time is taken up with my family, Urban Vision, and the Sentinel newspaper, where I write a weekly column tackling urban issues across North Staffordshire. I also play the guitar badly, and once fronted a band that may have been responsible for the demolition of a pub in Hanley.
6. Nora Edwards - A Relic of Fenton
Born in 1947, Nora Edwards has lived in the Potteries town of Fenton since birth. The town has been a constant in her life. Nora grew up in Fenton; went to school, got married, worked, socialised, and, surrounded by her large family, has spent a life there. The good times and the bad. She's never left. She's never felt the need. Fenton watched as she grew and Nora has watched Fenton grow with her. Still. Warts and all.
Stoke-on-Trent born and bred, Rianne grew up in Chell, close to Stoke's northernmost town, Tunstall, before moving to Packmoor. Currently reading English Literature and Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University, Rianne's interests are bound by a sense of place with a particular resonance to the personal and familiar and fuelling an aspiration to work within the film and media industry.
Timed to coincide with the end of Leigh Clarke's exhibition, Fools Rush In, this special evening sees the launch of 6 autobiographies, acting as a counter to the celebrity culture which modern day glossy autobiographies have come to represent, tells the stories and celebrates the lives of 6 local citizens - ordinary ‘heroes’ - one from each of the city's 6 towns - Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke-upon-Trent, Fenton and Longton. The Fools Rush In Autobiographies are presented as a set of six mini- autobiographies ghostwritten by Stoke-on-Trent writers, Tim Diggles, Fred Hughes, Kat Boon, Misha Herwin, Dave Proudlove and Rianne Shelley. The event will be a chance to meet the authors and their subjects, purchase the books, and get your own signed copies of these special limited edition works.