A fresh look back at town’s history

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A HISTORIAN has turned his attention to Harrogate for his latest book.

Paul Chrystal’s Harrogate Through Time looks at the way Harrogate began, as two villages, and developed into a spa town.

Supported by artist and designer Simon Crossley, Chrystal looks at the grand hotels, floral displays, the Stray and the Valley Gardens, as well as speaking to long-standing local companies including Bettys and Ogden’s.

The book includes photographs from the town’s history, alongside modern pictures for comparison.

NOVELIST Ann Cliff will throw light on a vanished way of life when she gives a talk at Ripon library next month.

Five of Ann’s novels are set during the 19th century in the Ripon area, inspired by the local history and give a fascinating glimpse into the way of life of these earlier days.

Ann’s first historical novel, Moorland Lass, was published by Robert Hale in 2006. The “lass” in question was a girl who figured in the memoirs of Dr Bishop, who practised at Kirkby Malzeard at the end of the 19th century. Ann has published five others novels since, with a sixth due out soon.

Tickets for the talk, which will take place on Tuesday, September 20 at 6.30pm, are available in advance form Ripon Library at £5 per person. For more information email ripon.library@northyorks.gov.uk or call the library on 0845 034 9524.

AUTOBIOGRAPHIES. Love them or loathe them, there is no denying that people’s life stories make top-selling books.

And no doubt this autumn will bring a fresh batch of celebrities and other public figures ready to bare their souls - or at least seem to be doing so - for their fans. Or, more cynically, for a lot of money just before Christmas.

We have never been particular fans of the genre, possibly because most of the people who who bring out autobiographies are younger than us. But we have read a few, mostly by people we are interested in, rather than those at the top of the bestseller list.

Last year, we quite enjoyed Julie Walters’s That’s Another Story, which was humorous and entertaining, giving a greater understanding of the actress - particularly why she has spent so much of her career dressed as strange, elderly women.

More recently, we have read both of Stephen Fry’s two autobiographies.

The first, Moab is my Washpot, covers his early life up to leaving school, including his imprisonment for fraud, while the second,

The Fry Chronicles, follows Fry until he reaches 30 and ends with a cliffhanger which leaves no doubt there will be at least one further volume.

Known for his intellect and verbal dexterity, Fry delivers what could reasonably be expected of him: thoughtful, detailed accounts of his earlier life with a great deal of analysis.

We really wanted to like him in the books, and in many ways we did but, we have to confess, we were sometimes slightly lost and found ourselves re-reading some of the paragraphs to try to understand what he was saying. Perhaps that says more about us than it does about him.

We would certainly recommend both books to anyone who is a fan, and to anyone who is uncertain of how much they like him - they will probably be more certain by the end.

Are autobiographies interesting, or just a way for minor celebrities to cash in on their 15 minutes of fame?

Whose life stories have you enjoyed and who would you like to write theirs so you can find out more about them?

l Email books@ypn.co.uk and don’t forget to include your name and where you live.