Tonight PBS is featuring the first of a three-part series called South Riding, based on the novel of the same title by author Winifred Holtby. The story’s setting is the fictional South Riding of Yorkshire (based on the actual East Riding of Yorkshire) in the 1930’s. A plucky and idealistic young woman arrives in a small coastal town to serve as headmistress in the local girls school, and as a result, life takes interesting turns for everyone, including the married country squire with whom she falls in love.
It will air Sunday, May 1, 8, and 15 at 9pm Eastern and Pacific; 8pm Central and Mountain in most areas ( check local listings to verify times).
The book is beautifully written, full of passion and humor. The first edition, (Collins, London, 1936) has become fairly scarce and in the current market is going for up to $500 or more in fine condition in like jacket. Finished just before the author’s death of kidney failure at 37 years of age, it is a book that deserves to be better known. It was published posthumously in 1936, and is considered the author’s finest work. The book won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for 1936. It was also adapted for a 1938 film starring Edna Best as Sarah Burton, Ralph Richardson as Robert Carne and Edmund Gwenn as Alfred Huggins.
Read more about the current adaptation of the novel for PBS by the talented screenwriter Andrew Davies in his own words here.
Holtby wrote quite a number of books, but none attained the success of this, her last one.
Selected works of Winifred Holtby:
- My Garden & Other Poems, 1911
- Anderby Wold, 1923
- The Crowded Street, 1924
- The Land of Green Ginger: A Romance, 1927
- Eutychus; or, the Future of the Pulpit, 1928
- A New Voter’s Guide to Party Programmes: Political Dialogues, 1929
- Poor Caroline, 1931
- Virginia Woolf: a Portrait, 1932
- The Astonishing Island, 1933
- Mandoa, Mandoa! A Comedy of Irrelevance, 1933
- Truth is Not Sober and Other Stories, 1934
- Women and a Changing Civilization, 1934
- The Frozen Earth and Other Poems, 1935 (ed. Vera Brittain)
- South Riding: An English Landscape, 1936 (in U.S.: South Riding: A Novel [with] “Ave atque Vale, an Epitaph by Vera Brittain”)
- Pavements at Anderby, 1937 (ed. V. Brittain, H.S. Reid)
- Take Back Your Freedom, 1939 (with N. Ginsburg)
- Letters to a Friend, 1937 (ed. A. Holtby and J. McWilliam)
- Selected Letters of Winifred Holtby and Vera Brittain 1920-1930, 1960 (ed. V. Brittain and G. Handley-Taylor)
- Testament of a Generation: the Journalism of Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby, 1985 (ed. P. Berry and A. Bishop)
- Remember, Remember! The Selected Stories of Winifred Holtby, 1997 (ed. Paul Berry & Marion Shaw)