Glyn Hughes lived a solitary childhood in the hedges, woods and fields of Cheshire, where he developed an insatiable appetite for the wonders of the countryside. When he moved to Yorkshire in later life, these childhood visions of England were upset by the remnants of the Industrial Revolution and the impact it so clearly had on the natural world. Yet throughout the 1960s and 1970s, with further and deeper excursions into his new homeland, Hughes became awkwardly attached in ways he didn't easily understand.
Taking the form of a fifty-mile walk through the West Riding and East Lancashire, exploring the moorlands alongside the industrial towns of the Pennines, Millstone Grit is a record of a growing attachment to place. Interviewing millworkers and interrogating the awakening of the urban working-class, this classic book is also an attempt to reconcile the clash between wild and human landscapes. By evoking the particular culture of a place, with poetry, humour, and the weave of history, Hughes' vision celebrates the complex intertwining of nature and culture, people and place.
Glyn Hughes (1933-2011) was born in Middlewich, Cheshire, where his father was a bus conductor and his mother worked as a cleaner. He attended Altrincham Grammar and went on to study at Manchester School of Art, after which he became a teacher of Art History and English in various places, including Strangeways Prison in Manchester. He was awarded the Guardian Fiction Prize and the David Higham Prize for his first novel, Where I Used To Play On The Green. His second novel, The Antique Collector, was short-listed for the Whitbread, James Tait Black and Portico prizes. West Yorkshire was the inspiration for much of his work, and in 1971 he moved to Mill Bank, Sowerby Bridge, where he died in 2011.
"Glyn Hughes has captured a transitional period – that is beautiful and funny and poetic and moving and true [...] Like the best books it exists in a genre of one. It is simply Millstone Grit."
– Benjamin Myers
"The best book I have read on the North of England for a long time."
– Alan Sillitoe
"The work of a subtle poet with the ear of a stand-up comic"
– The Times
"Easily one of the best books ever written about the area."
– Liverpool Daily Post