Glyn Hughes

GLYN HUGHES, who was the last of the great Northern artists of his generation, has died aged 75, after a long battle against cancer.

As a poet, novelist, painter and playwright, he was the last of his talented era after Ted Hughes.

As a young man brought up in an urban environment in the North West, the inspiration for his work was nurtured by the nature on the moors and countryside in its hinterland, to which he and friends would escape for walks.

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And it was the countryside around his West Yorkshire home which was later to continue to inspire almost all his work, except for a brief spell in Greece.

As a poet, he stressed the importance of nature to his work, and he once revealed that it was a particular view of Hardcastle Craggs, near Hebden Bridge, that made him decide to be a writer – an idyllic view of trees, lush meadow and the river.

His poetry and books won him national awards and accolades at various stages of his career beginning with his first poetry collection, Neighbours: poems 1965-69 which won the Arts Council of Wales Poetry Prize and which was followed by further collections.

His first novel was Where I Used to Play on the Green written in 1982 and won the Guardian Fiction Prize and the David Higham Prize for Fiction. It was followed by further novels, including The Antique Collector in 1990, which was set in the Pennines and shortlisted for the 1990 Whitbread Novel Award.

His sixth novel Bronte, a fictionalised life of the Brontë family was described at the time by the Yorkshire Post as “probably the best likely to be written about the sisters”.

He was also once picked by The Times as one of the six best authors ever on North England.

Two of his probably best known books, Millstone Grit, later revised and republished as Millstone Grit: A Pennine Journey, and Fair Prospects were biographical.

Hughes also wrote a stage play, Mary Hepton’s Heaven, which was performed at the Coliseum Theatre in Oldham in 1984, and three radio verse plays for children. Recently he produced plays and features for BBC Radio Four including a series following a journey across the North of England called The Long Causeway.

His most recent works were Two Marriages in 2007, a book of poems and drawings, and a book of short stories set in Greece, The Summer The Dictators Fell, in 2005, which reflected the time of his second marriage when he and his Greek wife lived in Greece.

Mr Hughes was born in Middlewich, Cheshire and spent his childhood in Altrincham being educated at the local grammar school. He later went to art school, although still composing poetry which had already taken hold of him.

He then spent some time as an organic gardener and smallholder during which time he bought his house, Mill Bank, at Sowerby Bridge, before his writing eventually took over..

He was married three times and had a son Gwillym, by his first wife Wendy. He later married his Greek wife Roya, and that was followed by marriage to Jane whom he met while a Write in Residence at the home of DH Lawrence, in Nottingham someone whose work he greatly admired.

For the last eight years he has lived with his partner Liz.

He was known as a very loyal and conscientious letter writer who had many friends, and who regarded him as a very open, giving and generous person who was also very creative.

Mr Hughes, who died a day before his 76th birthday, is survived by his son, Gwillym, a grandson Thomas and his partner Liz.