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The Peak District's Literary Connections

Derbyshire and the Peak District has not produced a Charles Dickens or a William Shakespeare but has attracted a wide range of literary visitors and admirers over the years.

As far back as 1586 Elizabethan historian William Camden, was writing about the Wonders of the Peak, naming nine of them in his Britannia. Thomas Hobbes published his De Mirabilibus Pecci: Concerning the Wonders of the Peak in Darby-shire in 1636, followed by Charles Cotton's The Wonders of the Peak in 1681, probably the first successful guidebook to the region. The Wonders were Pooles Cavern and St Annes's Well at Buxton, Peak Cavern at Castleton, Eldon Hole, Mam tor, the Ebbing and Flowing Well at Barmoor Clough, Peak Forest and later Chatsworth House.

Then came Celia Fiennes, who from 1685 until 1703 travelled extensively around England alone apart from two servants. On her journey Celia kept notes in her journal about the places she visited and provided the first comprehensive survey of England since Camden. Celia Fiennes died in 1741. Her journal was discovered in 1885 and published three years later under the title, 'Through England on a Side Saddle'.

Of Derbyshire, Celia Fiennes wrote, 'All Derbyshire is full of steep hills, and nothing but the peakes of hills as thick one by another is seen in most of the county which are steepe which makes travelling tedious, and the miles long, you see neither hedge nor tree but only low drye stone walls round some ground, else its only hills and dales as thick as you can imagine,'

Celia Fiennes was followed 30 years later by Daniel Defoe on his 'Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain' in 1726, who dismissed Hobbes and Cotton's wonders except for Eldon Hole and Chatsworth, of which he described as 'one a wonder of nature, the other of art'. The landscpe to his eyes was just a 'howling wilderness' and he found the Peakrills, 'a rude boorish kind of people'.

These webpages offer a little information about some of the other literary 'notables' who have travelled through, stayed or lived in Derbyshire and The Peak District.If anyone has any information on any of the writers we have included below or any we have'nt mentioned please feel free to e-mail us so we can share it with the rest of our readers, thanks, please enjoy.

Jane Austen 1775 - 1817

Jane Austen was an English novelist, the daughter of a clergyman. Today she is regarded as one of the great masters of the English novel. She spent the first 25 years of her life at 'Steventon', her father's Hampshire vicarage. Here her first novels, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Northanger Abbey, were written, although they were not published until much later. On her father's retirement in 1801, the family moved to Bath for several years and then to Southampton, settling finally at Chawton Cottage, near Alton, Hampshire, which was Jane's home for the rest of her life. Northanger Abbey, a satire on the Gothic romance, was sold to a publisher for £10 in 1803, but as it was not published, was bought back by members of the family and was finally issued posthumously. The novels published in Austen's lifetime were Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1816). Persuasion was issued in 1818 with Northanger Abbey. The author's name did not appear on any of her title pages, and although her own friends knew of her authorship, she received little public recognition in her lifetime.

It is generally believed that Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice was partly written in Bakewell which she calls 'Lambton' in her novel, possibly staying at the Rutland Arms in the centre of the town.

Charlotte Bronte 1816 - 1855

Charlotte Bronte visited her close friend Ellen Nussey whose brother Henry was the vicar of Hathersage in 1845. She stayed for three weeks at the vicarage, around the same time that she was writing Jayne Eyre, which was published in 1847.

The name of the heroine in the novel and descriptions of places seem to tie in with the Hathersage locality. Her description of Thornfield Hall, 'three stories high, of proportions not vast, though considerable; a gentleman's residence, not a nobleman's seat; battlements round the top gave it a picturesque look', seem to match that of the 15th century manor house of North Lees Hall. 'Morton' in her book is possibly a rename of Hathersage.

Charlotte Bronte contains much info on her life and works.

Charlotte Bronte is Elizabeth Gaskell "The Life of Charlotte Brontë".

Charles Cotton 1630 - 1687

Charles Cotton, English writer, angler and friend of Izaak Walton, was born in 1630 in Beresford, on the Staffordshire, Derbyshire border. His mother was Olive, daughter of Sir John Stanhope of Elvaston, Derbyshire and his father a wealthy landowner with many literary connections.

He was well educated, with a good knowledge of french, italian as well as the classics, but it usure as to wether he went to Cambridge.

In 1656 Cotton married Isobella Hutchinson, daughter of Sir Thomas Hutchinson of Owthorpe, Notts. Two years later his father died, leaving him the considerable estates at Beresford and Bentley. The River Dove flows through Beresford Dale and it is here that he learnt to fly fish and possibly where he met up with Izaak Walton who befriended him for many years.

In 1664 he published a burlesque titled Scarronicles, which became a popular work which ran into 14 editions. His pleasant, unaffected verse includes "An Ode to Winter and "The Retirement. He also wrote burlesques of Vergil (1664) and Lucian (1665) and a translation of Montaigne's Essays (1685-86).

His wife died in 1670, leaving him 3 sons and 5 daughters. He remarried in 1675 to Mary Russell, daughter of Sir William Russell, and widow of the Earl of Ardglass.

He spent a great deal of time fishing with Izaak Walton and together they built a fishing temple on the banks of the River Dove in Beresford Dale near Hartington, bearing the inscription Piscatoribus Sacrum. The temple still stands, on private land.

Two years later he wrote the celebrated second part of Walton's 5th edition of 'The Compleat Angler'. The work was the first detailed treatice on fly-fishing.

He also wrote 'The Wonders of the Peake', a long topographical poem popular in the 18th century. This and his other poetry, published posthumous reflect Cotton's enjoyment of life.

Cotton's later years were marred by financial difficulties, his income from his estates and writings being insufficient to support his life style and he had to sell Beresford Hall in 1681.

He died in 1687 and is buried in St James's Church, Picadilly, London.

There is a family pew in the small church at Alstonefield, Derbyshire and a pub in Hartington bears his name.

Daniel Defoe 1661 - 1731

The son of a London butcher, and educated at a Dissenters' academy, he was typical of the new kind of man reaching prominence in England in the 18th cent.-self-reliant, industrious, possessing a strong notion of personal and moral responsibility.

He was nearly sixty when he turned to writing novels. It was not until 1719 that he published his famous 'Adventures of Robinson Crusoe'.

Defoe's great novels were not published under his name but as authentic memoirs, with the intention of gulling his readers into thinking his fictions true. Two excellent examples of his semihistorical recreations are the picaresque adventure Moll Flanders (1722), the story of a London prostitute and thief, and an account of the 1665 great plague in London entitled A Journal of the Plague Year (1722). Defoe's writing is always straightforward and vivid, with an astonishing concern for circumstantial detail. His other major works include Captain Singleton (1720), Colonel Jack (1722), Roxana (1724), and A Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain (1724-27), which is where we find his Derbyshire connection.

Richmal Crompton 1890 - 1969

Richmal Crompton Lamburn, author, was born on 15 November 1890 on the outskirts of Bury, Lancashire, the second child of a clergyman, the Revd Edward John Sewell Lamburn, and his wife Clara (née Crompton).
Richmal was educated at St Elphin's, a boarding school for daughters of the clergy in Warrington, Lancashire. A former convent, the school had a resident ghost. After the building was condemned, the school moved to Darley Dale in Derbyshire in 1904. "˜It was larger and healthier and we loved the moors, but we missed our ghost,' wrote Richmal. After taking her degree at the Royal Holloway College in Surrey, Richmal returned to St Elphin's as the classics mistress in 1914, later moving to Bromley High School.

In 1923 Richmal was struck with polio. She lost the use of her right leg and remained lame for the rest of her life. Teaching proved a strain because of her condition and so she gave it up to concentrate on her writing.The William stories had been born in 1919. They were originally written for adults and published in Home Magazine and the Happy Mag. Twelve of the stories, collected in book form and published by George Newnes in 1922 as 'Just William', were aimed at the juvenile market, and the rest is history.

Roald Dahl 1916-1990

Roald Dahl, best selling author of 25 books for both children and adults, came to stay as a boarder at Repton School in South Derbyshire in January 1930 and remained there until July 1934. He lived at the Priory on High Street in the village.

He was remembered by his schoolmates as a tall, soft faced boy, not especially popular but very close to the few boys who became his friends.

He and his actress wife Patricia Neal had 5 children and he attributed his success as a writer of childrens books to them.

His works included The Gremlins, 1943; James and the Giant Peach, 1961; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 1964; The Magic Finger, 1966 and Fantastic Mr.Fox, 1970. He wrote some of his best works during the last seven years of his life, The BFG, The Witches and Matilda.

He died in Oxford, in 1990.

George Eliot 1819 - 1880

George Eliot was the pseudonym of Mary Ann or Marian Evans, English novelist, born in Arbury, Warwickshire. One of the great English novelists, writing about life in small rural towns, George Eliot was primarily concerned with the responsibility that people assume for their lives and with the moral choices they must inevitably make. Although highly serious, her novels are marked by compassion and a subtle humor.

Three of her novels dealing with provincial life are Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), and Silas Marner (1861), but it was Middlemarch (1871-72), a portrait of life in a provincial town, that is considered to be her masterpiece.

Samuel Evans and his wife Elizabeth came to live in Wirksworth in Derbyshire in about 1814 in order for Samuel to take up employment as a manager at Haarlam Mill. George Eliot was the niece of Samuel and Elizabeth and came to stay with her aunt and uncle in 1826. It is generally thought that Wirksworth is the backdrop of her novel Adam Bede, refering to Derbyshire as Stoneyshire, Wirksworth as Snowfield and Ashbourne as Oakbourne and that Samuel and his wife were portrayed as Adam Bede and Dinah Morris.

An explanatory leaflet which provides much detail on the Wirksworth - Adam Bede connection is obtainable from the Wirkworth Heritage Centre.

Llewellynn Jewitt 1816 - 86

Llewellynn Jewitt was born at Kimberworth, Rotherham, on November 24th 1816, the seventeenth child of school master Arthur Jewitt and his wife Martha. Two years later the family moved to Duffield in Derbyshire where he received his education, largely from his father.

Jewitt worked with the engraver F.W. Fairholt, illustrating the publications of Charles Knight, and contributing to the Pictorial Times and the Illustrated London News. For a time he had management of the illustrations in Punch.

In 1849 he became the chief librarian of Plymouth Public Library before returning to Derbyshire in 1853 where he edited the Derby Telegraph, and in 1860 founded the antiquarian magazine 'The Reliquary' which he edited until his death.

He was a member of the British Archaeological Association and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and he became a prolific writer on English antiquities and topography. He was the editor to the '1872 Black's Guide to Derbyshire', a tourist guide to 'It's Town's, Watering-Places, Dales & Mansions'. His most memorable achievement was, however, The Ceramic Art of Great Britain, published in 1878 but which had teken 20 years to compile.

Llewellynn died at The Hollies, Duffield on June 5 1886.

Samuel Johnson 1709 - 1784

1709-84, English author, b. Lichfield. The leading literary scholar and critic of his time, Johnson helped to shape and define the Augustan Age. He was equally celebrated for his brilliant and witty conversation. His rather gross appearance and manners were viewed tolerantly, if not with a certain admiration.

Samuel Johnson, poet, essayist and lexicographer, was born in Litchfield, son of a book seller, who himself was born in Great Cubley in Derbyshire.

Johnson lived and worked in Litchfield for a time as a teacher and a bookseller and married Mrs Elisabeth Porter, who was 20 years his senior, in St Werburghs Church, Derby, in 1735.

He moved to London 2 years later and earned some reknown as a prose moralist, notably with his periodical essays 'The Rambler' and The idler', and later with his philosophical romance 'The Prince of Abysinia, later known as Rasselas.

Johnson's most famous work was the 'Dictionary of the English Language', published in 1755, which remained without rivel until the creation of the Oxford Englidh Dictionary, over a hundred years later. Johnson wrote the definition of over 40,000 words illustrating them with 114,000 quotations from every field of learning.

With James Boswell, who was later to become his biographer, he travelled in Scotland and published his observation's in 'A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland'. It has been suggested that he was in person slovenly, in manner abrupt and even rude, driven by fears of insanity and damnation, suffering from hypochondria, but he emerges from Boswell's Life as a man of essential kindness, generosity, and sociability.

His biographical essays of English poets were published in 1781 as 'The Live's of the Poets'.

He visited Derbyshire on many ocassions, sometimes staying with his friend Dr John Taylor who lived at 'the Mansion' in Church Street, Ashbourne. He also stayed at numerous inn's in the county.

He died in 1784 and was burried at Westminster Abbey having been one of the outstanding figures of 18th century life and letters.

D.H.Lawrence 1885 - 1930

D. H. Lawrence lived and worked at Mountain Cottage in Middleton-by-Wirksworth for several years. His story "The Virgin and the Gypsy" was made into a film using the village of Youlgreave and Beeley Moor for its main setting. Other films using the Derbyshire Dales as their location include Women in Love, The Princess Bride, Lady Jane Grey and The Chronicles of Narnia.

David Herbert Lawrence, better known as D.H.Lawrence the novelist, poet and painter, was born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire in 1885, son of a miner.

His mother, Lydia Lawrence, whose family the Beardsalls had originally came from Wirksworth in Derbyshire, encouraged him to obtain an education. After attending a local Board School he won a scholarship to Nottingham High School. He left at 16 and found work as a clerk. In 1902 he left his office job and became a pupil teacher at a school in Eastwood. He then attended Nottingham University College where in 1908 he qualified as a teacher and went to work in Croyden.

The following year, Lawrence had some poems published in The English Review, whose editor also helped Lawrence to have his first novel 'The White Peacock' published. Sons and Lovers was published in 1913 and it established his reputation as a writer. In 1912 he eloped with Frieda Weekley, the German wife of a professor at Nottingham University and a cousin of Baron von Richthofen. They went to live in Cornwall but when unfounded accusations were made that they were spying for Germany, they were given notice to leave.

After brief spells in London and Berkshire they moved to Derbyshire in 1918 where they lived for 12 months at Mountain Cottage, on the outskirts of Middleton by Wirksworth. Here he wrote 'Wintery Peacock', a short romantic story about Ible, a small hamlet near to whee they were staying.

After Derbyshire they travelled extensively and 'The Kangaroo' was published after a stay in Australia, and 'The Plumed Serpent', in 1926, after living for several years in New Mexico.

Lawrence explored martital relationships in 'The Rainbow' and 'Women in Love', and in more explicit detail in 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' in 1928. It was printed privately in Florence and not allowed to be published in the Uk, until 1961.

Lawrence died of tuberculosis in France in 1930.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712 - 1778

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born on June 28, 1712 in Geneva, Switzerland. His mother died shortly after his birth. When Rousseau was 10 his father fled from Geneva to avoid imprisonment for a minor offense, leaving young Jean-Jacques to be raised by an aunt and uncle. Rousseau left Geneva at 16, wandering from place to place, finally moving to Paris in 1742. He earned his living during this period, working as everything from footman to assistant to an ambassador.

Rousseau's profound insight can be found in almost every trace of modern philosophy today. Somewhat complicated and ambiguous, Rousseau's general philosophy tried to grasp an emotional and passionate side of man which he felt was left out of most previous philosophical thinking.

Rousseau's "The Social Contract" describes the relationship of man with society. Contrary to his earlier work, Rousseau claimed that the state of nature is brutish condition without law or morality, and that there are good men only a result of society's presence. In the state of nature, man is prone to be in frequent competition with his fellow men. Because he can be more successful facing threats by joining with other men, he has the impetus to do so. He joins together with his fellow men to form the collective human presence known as "society." "The Social Contract" is the "compact" agreed to among men that sets the conditions for membership in society.

Rousseaus's progressive ideas had already seeen him hounded out of several European Countries when in January 1766 the philospher David Hume invited him to take refuge in England.He was offered the use of Richard Davenports country mansion,Wootton Hall, and moved in on march 22nd. He developed a passion for studing the flora of the area and would often walk the 7 miles to Dovedale with his dog. Dovedale became one of his favourite haunts.

He became friends with a 22 year old baronet's son Brooke Boothby of Ashbourne Hall and enjoyed the company of Lady Dorothy Cavendish, daughter of the 4th Duke of Devonshire. However paranoid that someone was out to kill him he departed hastily in May of the same year. Brooke Boothby visited him in Paris ten years later and Rousseau entrusted the recently written 'Dialogues', to him on the condition it was not published until after his death. Boothby dutifully saw this work published in 1780.

John Ruskin 1819 - 1900

John Ruskin, the son of a prosperous wine merchant, was born in London in 1819. After being educated at home he studied at Oxford University where he won the Newdigate prize for poetry.

John Ruskin often visited Matlock and Matlock Bath ( staying at the New Matlock Bath Hotel in 1826) as a child and called the county 'a lovely child's first alphabet; an alluring first lesson in all thats is admirable'. His words made the Peak District a fashionable place to visit again.

In his time he considered to be Britain's leading writer on culture having many works published on architecture, art and painters, as well as political works.

The building of the Midland Line through Monsal Dale in 1863 was the cause of one of Ruskin's most famous outbursts. 'There was a rocky valley between Buxton and Bakewell, once upon a time, divine as the Vale of Tempe...You Enterprised a Railroad through the valley - you blasted its rocks away, heaped thousands of tons of shale into its lovely stream. The valley is gone, and the Gods with it; and now, every fool in Buxton can be in Bakewell in half an hour, and every fool in Bakewell at Buxton'.

John Ruskin contains information on his life and works.

Edith Sitwell 1887 - 1964

In the twentieth century the Sitwell family from Renishaw became famous through the writings of Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell, the three gifted children of the eccentric Sir George and Lady Ida Sitwell.

Edith Sitwell was famous for her wit and her eccentric appearance. Her poetry, strongly influenced by the French symbolists, ranges from the artificial and clever verse of her early years to the deeper and more religious poems of her maturity. Collections of her work include Clowns' Houses (1918), Rustic Elegies (1927), Gold Coast Customs (1929), The Song of the Cold (1948), Façade, and Other Poems, 1920-1935 (1950), Gardeners and Astronomers (1953), and The Outcasts (1962). Her Collected Poems appeared in 1954. Façade, characterized by ragtime rhythms and abstract word patterns, was set to music by William Walton and first read by her in 1922. Important among her critical works are Poetry and Criticism (1925), Aspects of Modern Poetry (1934), and A Poet's Notebook (1943), a collection of aphorisms on the art of poetry. Other prose works include Alexander Pope (1930); The English Eccentrics (1933); I Live under a Black Sun (1937), a novel about Jonathan Swift; and Fanfare for Elizabeth (1946) and The Queens and the Hive (1962), biographies of Queen Elizabeth I. In 1954 she was made dame of the British Empire

Osbert Sitwell 1892-1969

Sir Osbert was the author of poems, short stories, novels, and memoirs. Most of his verse is light and satiric. His works include: Triple Fugue (1924), short stories; Before the Bombardment (1926), a novel; Collected Poems and Satires (1931); Selected Poems (1943); Four Songs of the Italian Earth (1948); Collected Stories (1953); The Four Continents (1954), discursions on travel, art, and life; and Tales My Father Taught Me (1962). His five-volume reminiscences about his family are a delightful account of British society of the Edwardian era-Left Hand, Right Hand (1944), The Scarlet Tree (1946), Great Morning (1947), Laughter in the Next Room (1948), and Noble Essences (1950). Upon his father's death in 1943, he became 5th baronet.

Sacheverell Sitwell 1897-1988

Sir Sacheverell was known for his art criticism-Southern Baroque Art (1924), German Baroque Art (1927), and The Gothick North (1929)-and for his poetry-The Cyder Feast (1927) and Canons of Giant Art (1933). He was also the author of biographies, Mozart (1932) and Liszt (rev. ed. 1955); essays and observations, Conversation Pieces (1936), The Hunters and the Hunted (1948), and Cupid and the Jacaranda (1952); and travel books, Spain (1950), Denmark (1956), and Golden Wall and Mirador (1961).

The youngest child of Sir George and Lady Ida Sitwell, known as 'Sachie', was the only one to marry, and Renishaw now belongs to his elder son, Sir Reresby Sitwell.

Alison Uttley

Alison Uttley, English author, was born on December 17th 1884, first child of Henry and Hannah Taylor, at Castle Top Farm near Cromford in Derbyshire.

She started school in the village of Lea when she was seven and as a child revelled in the wonderful festival traditions of Victorian England, memories of which she later recaptured in some of her books. Whilst at school she also developed a love of science, and won a scholarship to read physics at Manchester University. In 1906 she became only the second woman honours graduate of the university.

Her husband, James Arthur Uttley, died in 1930, his health broken by service in the First World War. She turned to writing as a means of supporting herself and her young son. 'The Country Child' was published in 1931 and was followed by a flood of books mainly for children which revealed her great love and knowledge of the countryside and country lore.

Many of her books were in the Beatrix Potter style and feature much loved characters such as Little Grey Rabbit, Sam Pig and Little Red Fox. Later, she also wrote books for older children and adults and produced over one hundred titles, for which was awarded an honorary Litt.D. by Manchester University in 1970.

Izacc Walton 1593 - 1683

Izaak Walton, English writer, was born in Stafford in 1593, son of an alehouse keeper. Though he lived in London for much of his life, he was well aquainted with Charles Cotton, from Beresford, which lies on the Staffordshire, Derbyshire border, and the two men spent a great deal of time fishing and strolling along the banks of the River Dove.

He is best remembered for writing the 'Compleat Angler' or the Contemplative Man's Recreation', which became and remains the greatest classic of angling literature and is a unique celebration of the English countryside. It became one of the most reprinted books in the history of English Literature with over 300 new reprints.

The Compleat Angler tells the story of 3 sportsmen, Auceps, the fowler, Venator the hunter and Piscator the fisherman, who compare their favourate pastimes whilst travelling through the English Countryside along the River Lea. The discourse is enlivened by songs, poems, country folklore, recipes anecdotes, moral meditation, quotes from the bible and classic literature, and lore about fishing and waterways. Charles Cotton wrote a second part to the 5th edition which is mainly concerned wth fly fishing.

The 2 men built a fishing temple which still stands on private ground on the bank on the River Dove in Beresford Dale.

Walton was also known for his biographies of several senior churchmen, including ones of John Donne (1640), Sir Henry Wotton (1651), and George Herbert (1670), all of whom were his friends. Walton was married twice and upon the death of his second wife, he moved to Farnham Castle as a permanent guest of George Morley the Bishop of Winchester. He died in 1683 and is buried in the cathedral.

The Izaak Walton cottage in Shallowford, near Stone, stafford, is a museum dedicated to the man.

Ashbourne in Derbyshire is known as the gateway to Dovedale and Izaak Walton country. A popular hotel The Izaak Walton hotel is situated close to the southern enterance of Dovedale, the finest dale in Derbyshire, and Viator bridge in Milldale is named after a character in his book, The Compleat Angler.

Don Shaw

Don Shaw is a man of many parts. His pre-writing careers have included a brief stint at Sandhurst, teaching the deaf and acting. He also found time to manage a Grand Prix motor racing team (The British Racing Team) in the seventies, competing in the British, Dutch and Spanish GPs. In 1968 he became a full-time writer, known for programmes such as 'Z-Cars', "˜Softly Softly', "˜Dangerfield', "˜Bomber Harris', 'Wingate', 'Danger UXB', 'Crown Court', 'Van der Valk' and "˜Beyond Fear'. He is Visiting Professor in drama at Derby University.
Don has run marathons from the age of 22 and started jogging before it became fashionable. He still runs three miles every day. He drives a sports car (Mercedes SLK Kompressor), and when not hiking follows his other great passion - flying. He has his own aeroplane, a Piper 22.

Married with three children, Don lives in Mickleover, near Derby and London, near Marble Arch. He is a competition judge for the Derby Telegraph, and speaks regularly on Radio Derby and at local events and dinners. He is a patron of the Derby Heritage Development Trust.

Writing and Television Career Don has been a full-time writer for film, stage, radio and TV since 1968. He won his first award (Best TV Drama) for "˜A Question of Honour', and went on to become one of the top television writers of the 1970s-90s. Other awards include a Bafta for the BBC 2 trilogy of plays "˜Wingate' in 1976, a Bafta "˜Best Drama' award for "˜Bomber Harris' in 1989 and winner of the International Science Film Festival gold award for 'Faraday's Dream' in 1992.

Actors who have starred in Don's work include Robert Hardy, John Thaw, Tom Baker, Thora Hird, Donald Sinden, Michael York, Barry Foster, Gwen Taylor, Johnny Lee Miller, Michael Kitchen, Nigel Havers and Nigel le Vaillant.

Don has appeared on television on several occasions:

BBC2 1970s-90s. Studio discussions with Paul Foot and others on the Carl Bridgewater murder - 'Bad Company', with military experts on his trilogy of plays 'Wingate', with theologians about the Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer - 'True Patriot', TV interviews about his play ' Bomber Harris', and with Ted Dexter and Hugh Mclvanny on the topic of "˜Are we a sporting nation?' (Don led the 'Keep Brian Clough at Derby' campaign in 1973). Studio discussion on the IRA - 'Are You Dr Herrema?', and his play 'The Falklands Factor' re the war to save the Falklands. Plus other interviews, Midlands TV and radio.

Don also wrote the feature film 'True Blue' story of an internal revolt within the Oxford University Boat Club, directed by Ferdie Fairfax. His Hollywood movie, 'Wingate' directed by Norman Jewison, had to be abandoned on location when the Egyptian army invaded Israel in October,1973. This film had a three hundred million dollar budget (in today's money after inflation).

BBC1 1968-90s. Two BBC Breakfast programmes with Nick Ross re drama series 'The Citadel', a ten-part series that beat 'Coronation Street' for viewing figures.


There must be many other writers and poets who have spent some time in Derbyshire. Agatha Cristie spent many happy hours in Derbyshire, walking the windswept moors around Kinder Scout, possibly the setting of one of her murder mysteries. In 1830 the poet William Wordsworth spent three days travelling through the county with his trip inspiring him to write at least 2 sonnets, one called 'A tradition of Oaker Hall in Darley Dale, Derbyshire' and another about the splendors of Chatsworth.
Edward Carpenter, the socialist author lived out near Millthorpe and was visited bt the likes of W.B.Yeats, John Galsworthy, E.M.Forster and H.G.Wells. The novelist Olive Shreiner rented a cottage adjacent to Cordwell Farm in the same area as Carpenter. Henry Salt, the Humanitarian Reformer, also built himself a house in the area calling it Little Orchard and was often visited by George Bernard Shaw.

Photos and information provided by Edward Rokita - see Derbyshire UK at