Shirley Williams heads to Yorkshire

Baroness Shirley Williams is appearing at Grassington Town Hall tomorrow.
Baroness Shirley Williams is appearing at Grassington Town Hall tomorrow.
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One of the longest established and – deservedly – most respected arts festivals in Yorkshire, Grassington Festival presents a wide and varied programme over two weeks every June.

Currently celebrating its 35th anniversary, it consistently delivers high-quality events covering music, film, comedy, theatre and visual art.

And this year there is an exciting extra event taking place outside the festival fortnight – tomorrow night Baroness Shirley Williams will be appearing at Grassington Town Hall to speak about her mother Vera Brittain whose ground-breaking, powerful and moving First World War memoir Testament of Youth, now also a critically acclaimed film, continues to resonate with a new generation of readers.

Williams was due to appear in Grassington June but had to reschedule as the original date coincided with Charles Kennedy’s memorial service at Glasgow University.

“I’m exceedingly grateful to the festival organisers for rearranging the event to take place later as it enabled me to go the wonderful memorial service,” says Williams, who is very pleased to be speaking in the Dales village as her mother, she explains, had a special affection for Yorkshire.

“Quite apart from the fact that her dearest friend [the author] Winifred Holtby was a Yorkshirewoman, my mother was very taken with Yorkshire and visited quite often.”

There is also a Yorkshire connection with the film version of Brittain’s book, which came out last year, as much of it was shot on location around the county. Williams speaks very warmly of the film, of which she thoroughly approves – although she had some concerns before it appeared. “I was worried that it might be a Hollywoodisation, that it would just be made into a kind of weepy,” she says.

“But I’m delighted with it and the astonishing Yorkshire scenery adds a lot to it.”

Shirley Williams is appearing at Grassington Town Hall at 8pm on Thursday September 3. Tickets are available via