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Richard Morris: Writing, Yorkshire

    Richard described his tussles with the publisher over the book’s title over concerns about public preconceptions limiting the books ‘shelf’ appeal should the wrong impression be given. Those preconceptions originating in the large volume of writings on, or set in, Yorkshire since the Industrial Revolution driven by demand from the increasingly affluent residents of the West Yorkshire Towns; many of whom were immigrants from other parts of Britain who wanted to know about their new home. Richard noted that inward migration and geology/geography are highly significant drivers of human activity throughout Yorkshire’s history influencing culture, language and the built environment; as well as its shifting boundaries and loyalties over time. From the Iron Age Parisi who lived in South Yorkshire near Hull (they came from around, and gave their name to, Paris) to the Normans who finally welded Yorkshire into the Kingdom of England by turning much of it into a wasteland: Romans, Welsh, Angles and Vikings have all ruled over all or parts of Yorkshire. All attracted to Yorkshire by the rich soils of the Vale of York and its stone, minerals and other resources most notably wool; all have left their mark on the Landscape and Language: all are ancestral to those that live here today. Yorkshire centred on York was for centuries a rival centre of wealth and power to London and the South, which anyone who would rule England had to control. The many great Castles, Estates and Monasteries which still inhabit the landscape are a legacy of this; and so are the sites of the great battles fought over them along the narrow corridor between the impassable marshy east and hilly west. The many navigable rivers; which made marshes and up which invaders rowed, also facilitated trade from an early date. In medieval times the unique qualities of Yorkshire wool became a prized resource for the weaving of fine cloth in Flanders and Italy. Wool production and trade thus became a major driver Yorkshire’s economy and the development of a local cloth industry. The wealth and skills accumulated leading to the early adoption of industrialised cloth manufacture and to those affluent, literate folk who wanted to read about Yorkshire. But this is where we came in.