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Dorothy Una Ratcliffe's Literary Life

Jodie Matthews, literature scholar and co–curator of the "Rights and Romance: Representing Gypsy Lives" exhibition, discusses D.U.R.’s connections with writers, artists, and the people of Yorkshire.

Dorothy Una Ratcliffe (or D.U.R. as she was known), was the niece-in-law of Lord Brotherton. Born in Brighton, she came to consider Yorkshire her home and was a popular dialect poet and writer of travelogues. In 1950 she donated what she called her "Gypsy library" to the University, along with funds to make further additions to the collection.

This talk traces some of D.U.R.’s acquaintances, drawing in key writers and artists of the twentieth century – from Philip Larkin to Augustus John - as well as ordinary Yorkshire people. It introduces some of her writing, and also considers the ways in which she presented her own life in literary ways.

It is thanks to D.U.R. that many of the Brotherton Library’s treasures remained in Leeds. This talk makes a case for her "literary life" as integral to the literary life of Yorkshire.

Dr Jodie Matthews is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Huddersfield. She researches nineteenth-century representations and experiences of people who travelled around Britain including Romanies or Gypsies and canal boat people. In 2016 she was appointed the Canal & River Trust’s first Honorary Research Fellow.

Photograph of D.U.R .
Photograph of D.U.R .
Photograph of D.U.R .