Category Archives: Riley, Willie

“Hullo Villars!” and “Sweet memories of Chamonix”. Images of the month March 2010

In honour of the Winter Olympics, and my recent holiday in Chamonix, this month’s images have an alpine theme. They are taken from the W. Riley Archive (RIL) and the Peart-Binns Collection.

Chamonix, the Mer de Glace

Chamonix, the Mer de Glace

Willie Riley, later to write “Windyridge” and many other novels of Yorkshire life, visited the Alps in July 1911 with his wife Clara and two friends Florence and Ethel Bolton.  The Boltons had recently lost their parents and a sister, and spent much time that year with the Rileys.  It was to help cheer these two the following empty winter that Willie began “Windyridge”.  The Alpine visit was a tour arranged for the party by Continental Travel.  It included Basel, Lucerne, Andermat, Zermatt, Chamonix and Geneva.  This image shows the Mer de Glace (France’s largest glacier) at Chamonix.  This along with many other photographs were collected into an album by Willie along with postcards and ephemera of the journey, and labelled “Sweet memories of July 1911”.

Cover of Encore Villars!

Cover of Encore Villars!

Christian socialist writer Maurice Reckitt and his brother Geoffrey became involved in amateur theatricals while holidaying in the Swiss town of Villars-sur-Ollon.  In particular, they took part in the Villars Revue, first held in 1914 in imitation of successful ragtime revues, and revived 1920-1931.  Maurice Reckitt wrote lyrics and performed on the piano.  Souvenirs of the revues were privately printed as  Hullo Villars!  Encore Villars! and Au Revoir Villars! , each featuring a retrospective by Reckitt.   The performances were rich in ski-themed parodies of popular songs e.g. “You made me shove you” (a skating duet), “Let’s do it (let’s go and ski)”.

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“From Bradford Moor to Silver Dale”

Some welcome recent press coverage of the work of one of the University of Bradford’s research students.  David Copeland has recently completed his M. Phil. thesis, “From Bradford Moor to Silver Dale”,  on Willie Riley, the Bradford-born author of “Windyridge” and many other bestselling tales of Yorkshire life.  Riley was extremely popular in his day, but is now little known.  David has in essence rediscovered him, finding many more published writings, locating the author’s archive, and writing a detailed biography and bibliography.  The archive will now be donated to Special Collections at the University.  David and the Special Collections staff will now work together to bring this heartwarming, life-affirming author to a wider audience.

The University’s Press release.

Article in the Bradford Telegraph and Argus 14 May 2009.

Article in the Yorkshire Post 16 May 2009.

Collection of the Month December 2008: Magic lanterns and Methodists

New on Special Collections web: the Joseph Riley Archive. Joseph Riley (1838-1926) came to our attention as the father of Willie Riley, author of “Windyridge” and other popular novels set in Yorkshire, but his archive is fascinating in its own right, full of detail about Bradford life and the Methodism that was so important to him. His career took him from poverty (he started work at seven) to great success in the stuff trade and magic lantern business, but he faced many setbacks, and ultimately bankruptcy. The global nature of the Bradford wool trade and the resulting cosmopolitan attitude of Bradford business is reflected in Riley’s account of a business trip to Constantinople.