- by Philip Wilde, Information and Research, Central Library
Willie Riley, in his mid-forties, wrote Windyridge as an amusement, a distraction, for his wife, Clara, and two female friends, Ethel and Florence Bolton. It would be the first of some 39 books he was to write, the last being published a few months before he died in 1961 aged ninety-five.
Windyridge, published in 1912, is based upon Riley’s favourite West Yorkshire village, Hawksworth, on the edge of the moors near Guiseley, and tells the story of Grace Holden who, needing a break from the turmoil of London Town, heeds the call of the heather and falls under the spell of the village of Windyridge.
The novel went on to sell over half a million copies making Willie Riley a household name. Houses from here to the other side of the world were being named ‘Windyridge’ as a result of the huge popularity of this charming book. Not long before he died, Willie Riley gave to Leeds Central Library the original manuscript of this forgotten little gem.
Other books by Riley are available in our Local and Family History and Information and Research departments. Bradford University Library’s Special Collections department holds an archive of Willie Riley’s manuscripts and other papers and a further collection of his books.