Pennine Poets

Mabel Ferrett

Pauline Kirk says

Novelist, local historian, critic, journalist, and poet, Mabel Ferrett's career spanned many decades of creativity. Born in 1917, the year of Passchendaele, and dying in January 2011, her life was shadowed by war: 1914-18 and then 1939-45. The war of words was equally important to her, fought against the personal difficulties that affect many writers - marriage and family, looking after elderly dependants - but also against a background of national troubles such as the Miners' Strike. As a young teacher, and then as a writer, she responded to all such challenges creatively.

Seven collections of Mabel Ferrett's own poetry have been published, as well as short stories, features, articles, two scholarly books about the Brontës, and a respected novel, The Angry Men, which was adapted for radio. As an editor, she gave new or undervalued northern writers an outlet, publishing their work under various imprints from the 1960s onwards. As the host of the Pennine Poets, she inspired loyalty from the many poets who belonged to the group, and whose talent she always encouraged.

I myself have reason to be grateful for that encouragement, for an article Mabel wrote for the Yorkshire Arts Magazine soon after we met, did a great deal to further my own writing career. Between 1997 and 2005, we worked in close partnership as editors of the Fighting Cock Press, and shared its joys and frustrations. I was therefore delighted to be given the chance to help Mabel to record some of her memories.

A very personal record, often amusing and poignant, her account gives an insight into the difficulties and opportunities encountered by many writers and artists. As a former journalist she knew how to tell a good anecdote, and to bring characters to life. Her editorial eye was sharp. The narrative and the Anthology section which follows it, include an impressive selection of poems by over fifty of the poets associated with the Pennine Poets group and the Fighting Cock Press. I am certain Fighting Cocks: 40 Years of the Pennine Poets will be of interest to readers, and writers, alike.

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