#whatsyourstory – Meet Wayne

Our Leeds Libraries #whatsyourstory campaign had its big launch this week. This post tells you all about another of our inspirational Leeds Libraries ambassadors – Wayne Levitt.

WayneWayne had always been interested in his family history, but never had the computer skills to be able to access online archives, and didn’t realise how close the facilities for learning these skills are, right here in Leeds.

One day, Wayne, from Belle Isle, took a shortcut through his local cemetery on the walk back to his house. Here, he noticed the headstone of a lady who shared the surname ‘Levitt’. Inspired to find out more, Wayne enquired about the facilities available at Morley library, picking up information about basic computer tuition. From this, he found out about the Leeds Local and Family History library, based at Leeds Central Library. Wayne soon became a regular.

The first step on Wayne’s journey back through history was to find out about the lady on the tombstone. After tracing his family tree back two generations, he discovered that this was his great-grandmother.

Step-by-step, Wayne went further and further back through his family history – and made a ground-breaking discovery. He found that he was related to local war hero Arthur Lewis, the only person in Leeds to win a Victoria Cross for his bravery in World War Two. Looking deeper into this story, Wayne uncovered that Arthur Lewis was shot in the jaw, chest and arm, but managed to keep himself alive long enough to fly his plane to safety. Despite his fatal injuries, Arthur made it back to England but died nine hours later.

Wayne has currently traced his family tree back as far as 1803, to his great-great-great-great grandfather and wife, David and Anna Levitt. In the past month, Wayne has found a family of Levitt’s in Brierley that fit with his existing links, as well as some warm connections in the Hull and Goole area, where he assumes that the family followed the river up to Selby where later generations lived.

Now you’ve met our first two Leeds Libraries ambassadors, could you be the next? If one of the many services available at Leeds Libraries has helped you, we want to know. Tweet us or write on our Facebook page using the hashtag #whatsyourstory, or email us at whatsyourstory@leeds.gov.uk, and let us know how we’ve helped you.

Keep an eye out for Wayne and Ma in your local area, as you’ll be seeing their faces popping up around the city soon…

#whatsyourstory – Meet Ma

We’re very excited to announce that our #whatsyourstory campaign has officially launched! Designed to make our Leeds community aware of all the different services available at your local library, today, we’d like to share with you the story of one extremely inspirational Leeds resident.

Ma MaposaMa Maposa’s story is all about having the strength and courage to follow your dreams – you never know how far they might take you.

Ma had a tough childhood. Growing up with limited prospects, he always dreamed of something bigger. After a particularly bad day, Ma walked into the town centre to get some much-needed space. He found himself walking past Leeds Central Library, where Jamie from Studio12 was handing out flyers. Attracted to Studio12’s free music production studio, Ma began to visit. He finally had a place to be himself, and do what he loved.

Ma went from strength-to-strength, and soon found himself taking part in ‘Writing Britain’ alongside Studio12, a national project led by the British Library. You can see the short film that Ma created for Writing Britain here – which led to his work being shown on BBC3.

With a clear stepping stone formed – and a strong support network behind him in the form of Leeds Libraries and Studio12 – Ma set up his own YouTube channel, BigOnRoadTV, that promotes the talents of local up-and-coming music stars. As this grew, so did his passion for music, and he developed BigOnRoad to form his own record label under the same name.

Ma then partnered with Leeds University to run a competition called Undiscovered: Leeds, with the same aim of empowering young, talented people to get into music, with the winner receiving a record deal with BigOnRoad.

By this point, Ma had created a growing business empire. Expanding on his natural entrepreneurial flare – he had an idea for a smartphone app. Ma created Cardnet, a virtual business card sharing app, that allows you to carry and share your business cards virtually. Cardnet is a huge success, and he’s recently sold this business on.

Currently in pre-production for a film that he’s written and produced himself, Ma teaches us that you can achieve goals that you never thought possible. With the right support network – and access to the facilities you need – you never know what’s around the corner.

Now you know Ma’s story, we’d love to know yours. If Leeds Libraries has changed your life for the better, tweet us or write on our Facebook page using the hashtag #whatsyourstory, or email us at whatsyourstory@leeds.gov.uk – and it might be your story that we’re telling next.

Poem of the Week – Heather by Blake Morrison

Shingle StreetAs holiday season happens upon us, this poem from Blake’s new collection of poems, Shingle Street amused me. Does it bring back memories for anyone else?

Heather

The heather threaded through the radiator grille

was proof we’d been to the Highlands,

and the canvas on the roof-rack that we’d camped.

 

What else can I say? That it rained all week,

That the windbreak blew over on the shingle,

That the saucepan on the Primus failed to boil.

 

Home seemed as far away as Africa.

The yellow pills I took to stop me feeling carsick

were the first thing I threw up.

 

Grey lochs. Black glens. The sepia troutbeck

where the horsefly stung me. Ferns too tall

To see over and mist too thick to see through.

 

In the photos I seem to be enjoying myself.

So it’s strange how I remember hating it

And even stranger how I long to have it back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review – The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

the light between oceansThis book was one of our readers group collections that was read by a number of our readers groups across our libraries in the city. Halton Readers group were the last group to read it, and I received a number of reviews from them this week.

Here’s what they thought of it:-

“I loved this book. I ended up reading until late to find out the ending. I must admit I cried at the last chapter – it was beautifully written and the characters made your heart go out to all of them. You wondered what you would do in such a dilemma. I also found the description of the island and  the working of the lighthouse intriguing. The soldiers stories on their return from the war was so sad.”

If you are intrigued and want to read The Light Between the Oceans yourself we have a number of copies of the book available to borrow.

If you are interested in coming along to one of our readers groups a full list can be found on our website.

 

Britain’s favourite bird

robin-539789_640Yesterday the results of a very special poll were revealed, the search to find Britain’s favourite bird. A long list of 60 candidates had been shortened to a final ten most beloved feathered friends. Garden species are well represented with bird table regulars the blackbird, robin, wren and blue tit all charming their way into our affections. Then there are the water birds, the regal mute swan and the enigmatic little kingfisher. Representing coastal birds are popular puffins. Birds of prey top off the list with a trio of aerial hunters, the charismatic barn owl, the critically endangered hen harrier and finally the magnificent red kite thriving once again in England and Scotland thanks to a successful reintroduction program.

The Christmas card favourite, the Robin fought of all the completion to maintain it’s place as our national bird, despite the originator of the poll admitting that he would have preferred the Blackbird to win.

The poll has proved that the diversity of British bird life is something worth celebrating. So whether you’re a back garden amateur or a dedicated twitcher and want to learn more about British birds why not expand your knowledge with this selection of avian themed books:

RSPB Handbook of British Birds. A comprehensive and jargon free guide to our national birdlife and the perfect field companion for birdwatchers of all levels.

Birdwatching by Rob Hume. Expert tips on getting the most from your bird watching experience covering everything from the best viewing sights in Britain and Europe to the correct kit for the greatest results.

Our Garden Birds: A Bird for Every Week of the Year by Matt Sewell. Boasting 52 beautiful watercolours this enchanting book is a lovely and unique tribute to some of our garden favourites.

Garden Bird Behaviour by Robert Burton. Get more out of your garden bird experience with this guide to recognising and interpreting everyday bird activities.

Attracting Birds to Your Garden by Stephen Moss. Perfect for the armchair ornithologist this practical guide to creating a bird friendly garden will encourage birds to your home environment as well as helping to support native species throughout the year.

Whilst Flocks Last : An armchair birdwatcher goes in search of our most endangered species by Charlie Elder. An amateur ornithologist sets out with a field guide and binoculars on a mission to find 40 rare birds and to uncover the reasons why they are in such serious decline.

A History of British Birds by D.W Yalden. Packed with information this fascinating book explores the archaeological background and historical importance of our native wild species as well as exploring the debates around issues such as their future preservation and the reintroduction of lost species.

Adventures Among Birds by W.H Hudson. Story’s and anecdotes fill this reissue of a classic and very personal collection of writings about a life spent studying birds.

The Poetry of Birds. Simon Armitage and Tim Dee gather together some of the most beautiful and inspiring verse written in celebration of birds for this unique anthology.

Birds Britannia: How the British fell in love with birds by Stephen Moss. Brits seem to have a peculiar passion for wildlife and birdwatching is a pastime shared by many. This fun book explores British birds and our national fascination with them.

Missing Mad Men?

Mad MenWith the final series of Mad Men now sadly finished, here are nine books available to loan from Leeds Libraries; nine books that will allow you to re-live – at least part – of the Don Draper chronicles:

Revolutionary Road (Richard Yates) 

While Matthew Weiner – the show’s creator – says that he’d never heard of Richard Yates when writing his pilot episode, this 1961 novel about a frustrated suburban couple shares many of the themes later explored in Mad Men.

 

John Cheever

Weiner, however, openly acknowledges the influence of Cheever – the ‘Bard of Suburbia’ – and especially his highly-regarded short stories. The library has the complete collection, as well as Cheever’s journal, where the torturous – indeed, Draper-esque – contradictions of the author’s life quickly become apparent to the reader.

Mad Men: Dream Come True TV (ed., Gary R. Edgerton)

The relationship between literature and Mad Men is apparent in this fascinating collection of essays by academics exploring the explicit and implicit themes of the show. While the book only covers the first three seasons it does include an interview with series producer Scott Hornbacher, which illuminates some of the story behind the show’s genesis during a golden era for American TV drama.

Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution (Brett Martin); The Revolution was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers who changed TV drama forever (Alan Sepinwell) 

Two books that further explore that creative explosion in American TV over the last 15-years. Difficult Men provides a narrative account of the background events to the shows in question – from The Sopranos through The Wire and onto Breaking Bad – while Revolution is a more thematic, analytical, look at what each one of those shows brought to viewers.

Mad Women: The Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the ‘60s and Beyond (Jane Maas) 

Noticeably, both the two books above focus almost entirely on those shows telling stories of men; ignoring, for instance, programming like Sex and the City and, more recently, Girls. And, while Mad Men, is ostensibly about the journey of Don Draper, it is as much about the story of Peggy Olsen and the changing nature of female consciousness through the 1960s. This book tells the same story – but as fact, not fiction.

The King of Madison Avenue: David Ogilvy and the Making of Modern Advertising (Kenneth Roman) 

Jane Maas worked under legendary advertising creative David Ogilvy. This biography of Ogilvy details the extraordinary life of one of the – many – models for the fictional Don Draper.

From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbour: Front-Line Dispatches From the Advertising War (Jerry Della Femina) 

Ogilvy famously spoke of the “lunatics taking over the asylum” during the 1960s – referring to the new generation of publicity-hungry ad-men like Della Femina, who were almost as famous as their creations. Della Femina’s 1970 memoir was an inspiration for Mad Men and he served as a series consultant during the show’s first season.

The Golden Age of Advertising: The 1960s (ed., Jim Heimann) 

As brash as the personalities were on Madison Avenue, in the final analysis the advertisements are what truly mattered. This Taschen book contains some of the most memorable adverts from the 1960s; artefacts that hold a mirror to the tumultuous America of the 1960s.

America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s (Maurice Isserman and Michael Kazin)

 

Mad Men has “done” the 1960s better than any other comparable cultural work. Eschewing the Forrest Gump approach – in which the central character exists outside history, adapting smoothly to their changing times and being directly affected by the major events of the era – Mad Men is more subtle; showing its characters dealing with that change one day at a time, with the familiar mixture of everyday adaptation, resistance, apathy and passion that defines lives lived in history. America Divided provides the reader with all they need to better understand the life and times of Mad Men’s richly-drawn characters.

Female Authors top of the list for the Desmond Elliott Prize

Desmond-Elliott-2015Three female authors will compete for The Desmond Elliott Prize 2015.

All three authors shortlisted for this year’s £10,000 award, which is for debut novels, are published by Penguin Random House.

Emma Healey is shortlisted for Elizabeth is Missing (Viking), Carys Bray for A Song for Issy Bradley (Hutchinson), and Claire Fuller for Our Endless Numbered Days (Fig Tree).

Chair of judges, author Louise Doughty, said: “It’s fascinating to see that each writer arrived here from slightly unorthodox beginnings and it’s a testament to The Desmond Elliott Prize that it identifies and rewards the very best new writing talent, whatever the author’s date of birth. Our shortlist shows that there’s no age limit on being a sparkling new arrival on the literary scene.”

our endless numbered daysFuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days is about a young girl who is taken to live in a cottage in the forest by her survivalist father.

Fuller originally studied sculpture at Winchester School of Art, specialising in wood and stone carving, then ran her own marketing company for 23 years.

She began writing fiction in her 40s, spurred on by National Novel Writing Month.

Elizabeth is missingHealey’s Elizabeth is Missing is about an elderly woman who is searching for her old friend called Elizabeth. Fuller’s first degree was in bookbinding, after which she worked in an art gallery. She eventually enrolled in the UEA Creative Writing Course before Elizabeth is Missing went on to sell at auction.

Bray’s A Song for Issy Bradley is about a Mormon family coping with the death of a child. Bray was restricted from writing until recently, and five years ago she and a song for issy bradleyher husband removed their family from the Mormon faith.

Dallas Manderson, chairman of the prize trustees, said: “We are delighted to present these outstanding titles in our search for this year’s best debut. The judges have done an admirable job selecting a shortlist from a particularly strong and varied longlist this year and we look forward to seeing which book ultimately comes out on top.”

Doughty is joined on the judging panel by bookseller Jonathan Ruppin and journalist and author Viv Groskop. The winner will be revealed at a ceremony at Fortnum & Mason on 1st July, where she will be presented with a cheque for £10,000.

Adapted from an article from The Bookseller Magazine