Sunday 10 December 2023

Read in 2023 - 31: Northerners - A History

Northerners - A History

From the Ice Ace To the Present Day

Brian Groom

One of the books I bought back in July at The Little Ripon Bookshop, I was really looking forward to this work of non-fiction.

At first, though, I must admit that "Northerners" did not quite live up to my expectations. Especially with one or two chapters in the first part of the book, it felt like trudging through a rather bleak and exhausting part of a walk, always hoping for a more interesting, beautiful view and less challenging path after rounding the next bend of the path.

There were just too many Oswalds, Oswins, Edwins and other names that jumbled through my head as the history unfolded in that chapter, where it seems that no two brothers or father-son relationships ended any other way than in murder. I struggled through it and was left with an overall impression of violence and war left, right and centre. Life can't have been much fun or offered even a minimum of security and stability to the average person back then.

Gradually, I found myself liking the book more and more. Each chapter looked at a particular period of the North of England's history, and examined its political, cultural, social, religious and economical aspects, painting an overall picture with bold strokes.

Some aspects were given more attention than others, and those more detailed accounts made for the most interesting reading in my opinion.

I doubt that I will ever read the book again cover to cover, but it definitely makes a good work of reference if I shall wish to brush up on background knowledge about a certain period in the future. My overall feeling after I finished reading it was that, indeed, we humans never learn. If we don't get along for one reason, it's another, and it seems just short of a miracle that some countries (fortunately, mine is one of them) have managed to live at peace with its neighbours for several decades in a row now.

According to the first page, Brian Groom is a journalist and leading expert on British regional and national affairs, and this is his first book.

"Goodreads" gives a good account of the contents, if you want to know more. I could not find an "own" website for the author, but here is an interesting interview with him.


  1. Well, I can't imagine that I will read it, Meike. I've been reading mysteries again. Since I was recovering from Covid, I was stuck home reading a lot. I am finally testing negative and so am ready to get out and about again!

    1. What attracted me was first and foremost the cover, showing typical Yorkshire icons such as Ribblehead viaduct - a place I have long been wanting to see but so far have never managed. Second was the desire to read a good work of non-fiction, and deepen some background knowledge I knew I had only scratched the surface of.

      I am glad to know you are finally testing negative and can be out and about again! I hope you're not only testing negative, but also feeling much better.

    2. Thank you, Meike! I am feeling better!

  2. It sounds a rather indigestible read. I don't feel tempted to search it out!

    1. I wouldn't call it that, but a few chapters were relatively hard-going for me - maybe it was just that I wasn't in the right frame of mind for them at that time.