On the 10th June 2013 Ken, Sandra Burton & Ralph Savage, all members of Friends of Holbeck Cemetery, had a chance to meet with Tony Harrison when he came to visit and lay some flowers on his family grave .
Here is Ken’s blog about the visit.
“On the June 10th this year my wife and I, together with Ralph Savage ,had the pleasure of showing Tony Harrison and his charming partner round Holbeck Cemetery where his parents are buried in a family grave. We had previously met Tony at the 2013 Beeston Festival on our Beeston local History stand where he and Ralph had a lot in common with the area .
Tony was born in Leeds in April 1937 and lived in Tempest Road where he went to Cross Flatts School ; later after passing his 11-plus , he continued his education at Leeds Grammar School and the University of Leeds . He was the son of a baker and much of the material for his poetry is provided by memories of his working class childhood ( something to be proud of)
His best known collections are ‘The Loiners’ ( 1970) and ‘The School of Eloquence’, his most controversial work was probably his long poem ‘V’ (1985), this is commemorated in the Holbeck Cemetery, in which he describes a visit to his parents grave and how he found the cemetery” now littered with beer cans and vandalised along with obscene graffiti” ( the cans and some vandalism still go on in 2013)
Tony is a noted translator, dramatist and librettist whose works have been performed by the Royal National Theatre and the New York Metropolitan Opera. These works include his adaption of the English Medieval Mystery Plays based on the York and Wakefield Cycles, as well as tragedies from Ancient Greece . He also noted for his outspoken views, particularly on the Iraq War.
He is a man of whom South Leeds and in particular , our area, should feel justly proud of.” Ken Burton
Sadly I was on holiday so missed this meeting , but Tony did write to me afterwards adding some more about his connections with South Leeds. Eve Tidswell
He wrote ,” Ralph Savage took us back to the station via the house of my grandfather at 46 St Luke’s Road , with his initials JWH carved near the door. He was the Harrison of the Harrison Arms in Malvern Road. I hadn’t realised that the house was still there .”