Dr Gladys Mary Coles President, Biographer, poet, novelist and leading authority on Mary Webb. Author of Flower of Light, the acclaimed biography of Mary Webb.
Hon. Vice President
Donald is Mary webb’s nephew, son of her brother Douglas.Following a colonial/RAF/Red Cross career, Don is retired and living on the South Coast near his family. He first visited Much Wenlock in 1953, three years after the filming of Gone To Earth. His father had been very close to his sister Mary and so was able to advise on place names and locations. Don finally came across the Mary Webb Society in the early nineties during a second visit and joined in 1992. Along with his cousin, the late Ian Meredith, he unveiled the society’s bronze plaque at Much Wenlock in 2000. He is a lover of his aunt’s works and, like her, anxious to help preserve our countryside and its denizens from further decline.
Chairman & Vice President
Gordon is a retired librarian with a longstanding interest in the literary connections of Shropshire, his home county. He “discovered” Mary Webb’s writing while still a student and this inspired him initially to take up landscape photography, to try and capture or interpret that sense of place which she evokes so powerfully. He is the author of ‘An Illustrated Literary Guide to Shropshire’, ‘Shropshire Seasons’ and other photographic books on the county.
Vice Chairman & Membership Secretary
Liz joined in 1989 after being so inspired by the BBC production of Precious Bane, to re-read Mary Webb and to seek out like-minded people to share the ever growing passion in her work.
She has served on the committee as vice-chair, membership secretary, newsletter editor and joint manager of the original web site created by husband Jim in 1996. She is still just as enthusiastic about the society and the promotion of Mary Webb.
Secretary from 21st September 2019
Anne joined the Society in 2007 and worked alongside Gordon at Shropshire Libraries before becoming a sixth form tutor, librarian and houseparent at an international school in South Shropshire. She grew up on a farm below the Stiperstones and treasures her mother’s copies of Mary Webb’s works set in the mystical Shropshire landscape. She says ‘There is always so much more to discover about Mary Webb and her world. The Society has a lively programme of fascinating talks and special events, and is friendly and welcoming.’
Anne was appointed secretary at the AGM on 21st September 2019 replacing Sue Higginbotham who had held the post for 20 years !
Alliance of Literary Societies representative
I am a retired teacher and have only become a member of the Mary Webb Society in the last few years. I have always had an interest in Mary Webb and the Shropshire countryside. My Mother was an avid reader of Mary Webb’s books and encouraged me to read the book “Gone to Earth” when I was 13.
My Mother was born at the Old Mill in Habberley. My Grandfather and Uncle both worked in the barytes mines on the Stiperstones. My Uncle died of silicosis at an early age. My Auntie was one of the extras in “gone to Earth”. I spent most of my summer holidays in Habberley and regularly walked up the Stiperstones to pick whinberries.
I am enjoying renewing my knowledge of Mary Webb and all the activities the Society organises.
I first discovered Mary Webb when I came across a copy of Previous Bane in a second-hand bookshop. I found the style of writing challenging at first, but I loved the story. I went on to read the rest of her novels, but I am only just discovering her non-fiction and poetry now. I also enjoy walking in the Shropshire Hills (I think Shropshire is my favourite county), and so I joined the Mary Webb Society to find out more about both aspects. It is lovely to be part of a society that is so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about its subject.
We would like to welcome Louisa to the committee.
Sue joined the society in 1985 after reading Mary’s ‘Spring of Joy’ and discovering her beautiful nature writings and poetry. She also enjoys reading and re-reading her novels, her favourite being ‘House in Dormer Forest’.
During her time on the committee she has held the posts of Out of County representative, committee member, Chairman and Secretary.
She is still dedicated to Mary Webb and her society.
Sue stood down as secretary at the AGM on 21st September 2019 but still remains on the committee.
I joined the Society in 1993, having been to a talk at the Bayston Hill Library given by Dorothy Wrenn, shortly before she died. Dorothy, a biographer of Mary Webb, brought together, in this talk, memories of people who had known Mary when she lived on Lyth Hill. The talk was followed by a superb slideshow, given by Gordon Dickins , to illustrate Mary’s Shropshire.
The evening left me surprised and wanting to find out more about this author and her unusual life. My mother and godmother had both had copies of her books but I had never read them; I dusted them off and read. Her prose is not always to my taste but I found her evocation of Shropshire fascinating and her own character intriguing. At Society gatherings we delve further and enjoy a lively debate at times on the merits or otherwise of Mary’s novels, poems and her own life and attitudes.
As archivist for the Society since 2010, I have been updating the considerable mass of material accumulated about Mary’s life and works, the Mary Webb Society and varied associated activities. The archive is held at the Shropshire Archives and an exciting new project will see it catalogued on the Shropshire Archive website, with a range of material digitised and linked with the Mary Webb website for easy access.
Rachael Davenhill is a retired psychoanalyst living on Clee Hill. She grew up with Mary Webb’s poetry and novels in her grandmother’s house. She admires Mary Webb’s capacity to evoke the Shropshire landscape so vividly, and enjoys walking the hills and byways of Mary Webb’s novels and poetry.
Sue has kindly retaken the role of Treasurer following the resignation of David Bicker.