Winifred Holtby

Winifred Holtby: A BBC Radio Collection

Winifred Holtby: A BBC Radio Collection

South Riding, Anderby Wold, The Crowded Street and more


Full-cast adaptations of three of Winifred Holtby’s best-known novels, plus short stories and bonus programmes about the author

Winifred Holtby was an acclaimed novelist, journalist, feminist and social reformer. Her work encompasses six novels, two short story collections, a play and the first critical study of Virginia Woolf, but she is best known for her posthumously published masterpiece South Riding, which won the James Tait Black Memorial Award. She died in 1935, aged just 37.

Born into a Yorkshire farming family, Holtby set much of her fiction in the landscape of her youth, including the three novels in this collection.

Adapted as a 15-part radio drama, South Riding follows the lives and loves of fiery young headmistress Sarah Burton, landowner and school governor Robert Carne, and alderwoman Mrs Beddowes. Sarah Lancashire, Philip Glenister and Carole Boyd star in this rich, memorable evocation of a community in flux.

Anderby Wold tells the tale of a farmer’s wife, a radical young writer and a village rocked by social change. Dramatised from Holtby’s 1923 debut novel, it stars Joanna Mackie, Derek Smith and Joseph Peters.

The Crowded Street, set in the years leading up to World War I, centres around a woman's journey from introspective teenager to self-fulfilled adult. Claire Goose stars as heroine Muriel Hammond in this poignant coming-of-age drama.

Wry, witty and irreverent, Holtby’s short stories reflect the diversity of her writing. 'The Celebrity Who Failed', read by Alice Arnold, features a girl who learns to walk on water – but is unprepared for the public attention that follows. 'Why Herbert Killed His Mother' is the story of a beautiful baby who turns out to be very different as an adult. A searing condemnation of ‘mother love’, it is read by Anna Massey. And in 'The Voice of God', read by Hugh Dickson, a radio-like machine enables people to listen in on the conversations of historical figures – but what will happen once the newspapers get to hear of it?

Finally, Holtby’s life, legacy and significance are explored in a Woman’s Hour biographical segment and in a revealing radio portrait, The Divided State, written by Valerie Windsor and featuring Alison Fiske as Winifred Holtby.

Text copyright © Winifred Holtby 1923 (Anderby Wold), 1924 (The Crowded Street), 1934 (‘The Celebrity Who Failed’, ‘Why Herbert Killed His Mother’, ‘The Voice of God’), 1936 (South Riding)

South Riding
Anderby Wold
The Crowded Street
‘The Celebrity Who Failed’
‘Why Herbert Killed His Mother’
‘The Voice of God’
Woman’s Hour extract
The Divided State

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