Joanna Burton was born in South Africa but sent by her missionary father to be raised in Yorkshire.
There she dreams of the far-off lands she will visit and adventures to come. At 18, tall and flaxen-haired, she meets Teddy Leigh, a young man on his way to the trenches of World War I. Joanna has been in love before – with Sir Walter Raleigh, with the Scarlet Pimpernel, with Coriolanus – but this is different.
Teddy tells her he’s been given the world to wear as a golden ball. Joanna believes him and marries him, but the fabled shores recede into the distance when, after the war, Teddy returns in ill health. The magic land turns out to be the harsh reality of motherhood and life on a Yorkshire farm, yet still she dares to dream.
‘By God, I’m going to spin’
Winifred Holtby wrote South Riding, a grand sweep of 1930s life in Yorkshire’s sea-facing flatlands, quite literally against a deadline. She completed the novel only weeks before her death, and the...Read more