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The Manchester Literary Trail

Next tour: No public dates at the moment.
Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, time tbc.
Booking: Perfect for a private booking!

The three great epic novels set in and around Manchester are Magnolia Street (Louis Golding, 1932), Love on the Dole by Walter Greenwood (1933) and Fame is the Spur by Howard Spring (1940). Each is vast, sprawling and magnificent. A whole world lies within; a world of dingy streets, saloon bar pubs and noncomformist Pickwickian free traders supping in soot-begrimed chop houses. Forgotten classics each, which Penguin Classics may yet revive if New Manchester Walks’s Ed Glinert, who edited the Sherlock Holmes stories for Penguin Classics, has anything to do with it.

But reading is for after the walk. On the Manchester literary tour Ed Glinert, Penguin author and editor of Penguin Classics’ Sherlock Holmes stories, will tell the stories of what these authors and more famous names like Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell and George Orwell got up to on the city’s streets. Take Orwell for instance. In February 1936 Britain’s greatest ever political writer made his only trip to Manchester. Then a struggling writer, researching what became The Road to Wigan Pier, he stopped off at St George’s House, at that time the YMCA building and local HQ of the Youth Hostel Association.

Orwell wanted to cash a cheque, as he had only 3d. in his pocket, but was turned down. Next stop was Bootle Street police station where he asked the officer in charge to find a solicitor who would vouch for him. The policeman refused to do so and so Orwell found himself penniless in a strange city. “Frightfully cold. Streets encrusted with mounds of dreadful black stuff which was really snow frozen hard and blackened by smoke,” he recalled in his diary.

At a pawnbroker’s on Chester Street, near the modern day Macintosh Village, the owner refused to take his raincoat but gave him 1/11 for his scarf, which at least allowed the great writer to spend the night in a doss house.

We bring you stories such as these on our tours of literary Manchester. We have volumes of the stuff.

On the tour we will:

* Visit the International Anthony Burgess Foundation venue, one of Manchester’s best kept secrets.
* Visit the Georgian jewel that is the Portico Library.
* Locate Thomas de Quincey’s birthplace.
* Admire the Shakespeare window in Central Library (and hear how Anthony Burgess lost his virginity!).
* Marvel at one of W. H. Auden’s greatest works lovingly detailed in the Midland Hotel.
* Baulk at Howard Jacobson’s cutting critique of the Bridgewater Hall.
* Nostalgically recount the days of the great stagecoaches at the Peveril of the Peak pub, with its Walter Scott connotations.
* Wince at Charles Dickens’s descriptions of heavy industry from Hard Times.

Booking via Quaytickets