A new book detailing the life of Salford born playwright Shelagh Delaney is set to launch next month, telling the story of the working class hero from Broughton.

Author Selina Todd’s newest book, ‘Tastes of honey’, is named after the famous Shelagh Delaney play, ‘A taste of honey’, and details the life and work of the Salford born writer, and the effect she has on the working class movement in the 20th century.

We spoke to Selina about her inspirations for writing the new book, and just why she idolises the Salford-born Delaney so much.

“When I was a teenager I watched the film, and I fell in love with all the novels and the films of that era that gave a voice and a picture to working class people for the first time.

“Although the film in some ways tells quite a dark story of a young woman struggling with poverty and an unwanted pregnancy, there is a lot of hope and defiance in it.
I grew up in Newcastle in the 1980’s and 90’s where there was a lot of unemployment, so it really resonated and felt like this was something inspiring.

“Years later, my last book, which was published in 2104 called ‘The people’ was about the history of the working class. I did some research and found that Shelagh Delaney had only been 19 when she wrote a taste of Honey. That really made me want to find out more about her and that’s how this book began.”

“I think that it’s a real Salford gem” – Selina Todd on ‘A taste of honey’

Shelagh Delaney’s ‘A taste of honey’ was set in her home city of Salford, and was first performed on 27 May 1958. It later went on an incredible run of showings in the both the West End and on Broadway.

“I think that it’s a real Salford gem. She set it in Salford because she grew up there, and like a lot of us she had a real love/hate relationship with the place that she came from.

“She left at 19 to live in London, and never lived permanently in Salford again, but it meant a lot for her to come back and visit her family and she ensured that her daughter spent all of her school holidays there.

“What really comes through is the Salford humour, and the sense of spirit and determination to survive against the odds.”

Selina has previously written a number of books surrounding the working class movement, and takes huge inspiration from Shelagh herself.

“It’s still very hard now to get women’s writing taken seriously, especially writing about working class women.”

“One of the things I love about Shelagh’s work is that she makes no excuses about putting women at the centre of the action. They’re not heroes, they’re not martyrs, they are just spirited people trying to get on with their lives.”

The launch of ‘tastes of honey’ will take place at the Salford Museum & Art Gallery on Thursday 12 September 2019, from 6.30pm.

This celebratory evening will feature a roundtable discussion with Selina Todd, Rob Lees (Artistic Director, MaD Theatre Company), DJ Lippy, Vanessa Maria (musician) and Jenna Omeltschenko (Touring Partnerships Manager on the National Theatre’s new production of A Taste of Honey), with music and performance by MaD Theatre Company. The author will also be signing copies. Tickets are free and available online now.

Check out the full interview with Selina below.

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