The life of a working-class author from Great Harwood will be celebrated on the radio

An East Lancashire writer, who is a rare example of an early 20th-century working-class female author, is being celebrated for her activism.

Ethel Carnie Holdsworth was an activist, poet, journalist and author who was born in Oswaldtwistle in 1886 and wrote her novel Miss Nobody in Great Harwood.

Marking her work and her legacy, BBC Radio 4 is adapting Miss Nobody in a musical drama by Mary Cooper, which follows the lives of two working women in 1911 Lancashire and will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on October 23-30.

Jenny Harper, PhD student working with Pendle Radicals and Mid Pennine Arts, is hosting a talk at the Great Harwood Library on Holdsworth.

Ethel Carnie HoldsworthJenny Harper and Ethel Carnie Holdsworth (Photo credit: Helen Brown)

The hour will be a celebration of Holdsworth’s work which included fighting poverty and introducing conscription, as well as advocating for the equal rights of all women.

Explaining why Holdsworth is important to discuss today, Jenny said: ‘She was a very fierce social activist and fought against social inequality so even now with the cost of living crisis her work is really relevant now .

“She was also part of the Independent Labor Party which formed the Labor Party, so she is very important in social history because as a woman it was very difficult at the time to protest inequality and prejudice.”

In the 1920s Holdsworth edited an anti-fascist newspaper The Clear Light and through her powerful writings sought to change opinion and policies on the poor conditions under which workers worked in the cotton mills of the East Lancashire at the time.

Jenny added: “Her literary career and her talent really took off in the city, so it makes sense to do this talk here, especially because of how deeply she cared about inequality, and it really speaks to what is happening now.”

Pendle Radicals, a research and creative project run by Mid Pennine Arts that explores the stories of Pendle Hill radical thinkers, is in contact with scholar Jenny Harper to explore the literary significance of Ethel and find her lost works.

The team dove into the depths of Holdsworth’s influence on society by releasing a series of podcasts about his novel This Slavery last year.

Jenny will speak and celebrate the life and works of the historic Great Harwood author at the Great Harwood Library on Friday October 14, from 11.30am to 12.30pm.

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