South Riding was Winifred Holtby’s last and greatest book. She died only few months after finishing it and never saw it in print.
South Riding won the James Tait Memorial Prize in 1936, and had been reprinted a dozen times when, two years later, it was made into a film starring Ralph Richardson, albeit with a different ending. It has been adapted for television twice: in 1974 for ITV by Stan Barstow and in 2011 for the BBC by Andrew Davies.
It was Holtby’s close friend Vera Brittain who pushed to get the manuscript of South Riding into print, despite the opposition of Winifred’s family.
Set in a mythical South Riding of Yorkshire the novel was still too close to home for Winifred Holtby’s mother Alice, who resigned her position of alderman on East Riding County Council on publication.
It seems Winifred had anticipated this. South Riding starts with a letter to her mother.