Tag Archives: Windyridge

Just Catalogued! Willie Riley and the story of Windyridge

Willie Riley

Willie Riley circa 1900

We are delighted to announce that the Archive of Willie Riley is now catalogued and available to readers. The Archive is rich in detail about 19th and 20th century Bradford and district, Lancashire, Methodism, and the life of a professional author.  We have already seen glimpses of the stories it has to tell e.g. Three Yorkshire Romances, Sweet Memories of Chamonix.

Willie Riley was born in Bradford in 1866.  After a business career involving wool and magic lanterns in particular, he turned to authorship, writing the delightful Yorkshire tale Windyridge to entertain friends who had recently been bereaved.  It was a great best-seller, leaving its traces in the names of houses across Yorkshire.  Riley followed it up with over 30 other books, characterised by his love of Yorkshire, his ability to tell a good story, and his religious faith.  He lived in Silverdale, Lancashire for the latter part of his life: he died in 1961.   He fell out of fashion recently and was almost forgotten even in Yorkshire.  However he is now being revived and Windyridge is back in print!

The Archive catalogue and more information about Riley can be found on the Archive webpage.  The website created by Riley fan and scholar David Copeland is also packed with useful detail about this intriguing writer.

Sadly a few items in the Archive were badly water damaged during their history and are too fragile to make available without further treatment.  But everything else is freely available … please contact us if you would like to use it.

Windyridge on the Web

I am delighted to announce a new website devoted to Willie Riley, author of Windyridge and other popular tales of Yorkshire life.   The site was created by David Copeland, who has studied and written extensively about Riley for over 20 years, recently completing an M.Phil at the University of Bradford on his life, works, and legacy: “From Bradford Moor to Silver Dale”.  The website includes some of David’s key discoveries,  including a detailed account of Riley’s fascinating life, a bibliography, and photographs.  Riley’s Archive, much of it unearthed by David during his researches, is being donated to Special Collections at the University of Bradford.

Windyridge Reborn

“Windyridge”, the best-selling novel of Yorkshire life by W. Riley, is to be republished on 12 April by Northern Heritage Publications, thanks to David Copeland, who rescued Riley’s archive and has been researching his life and works.   Further detail about the new book and David’s work in this Telegraph and Argus article.

“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.