Leeds & West Yorkshire

Author Malachi Whitaker honoured with Wrose plaque

Malachi Whitaker’s daughter, Valerie Tordoff Image copyright Catherine Simes
Image caption Malachi Whitaker’s daughter Valerie Tordoff (pictured) performed the unveiling

Author Malachi Whitaker has been honoured with a blue plaque at her West Yorkshire birthplace.

Whitaker, born Olive Marjorie Taylor, was born at Clara Road in Wrose near Shipley on 23 September 1895.

The plaque was unveiled by Whitaker's daughter and Bradford Civic Society.

The author's biographer, Valerie Waterhouse, said: "If Malachi Whitaker had been a man she would probably have a statue outside the library by now but a blue plaque is an excellent start."

Whitaker left Belle Vue Girls' school at 13 and worked at her father's bookbinding workshop before her work was published.

She went on to write nearly 100 stories in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, including co-writing novel The Autobiography of Ethel Firebrace.

Bradford Civic Society said she was admired by H.E. Bates, Stevie Smith and Virginia Woolf's lover Vita Sackville-West.

Image copyright Catherine Simes
Image caption The plaque - funded by Wrose Parish Council - was unveiled at her birthplace in Wrose

Whitaker lived at Bolton Old Hall in Wrose with her husband, Leonard Whitaker, and their two adopted children. She died in Skipton in 1976.

Ms Waterhouse said the author deserved the plaque for her "exceptional" writing but also for being a "role model for women struggling against the odds".

"She was perhaps the only author of the time who wrote about ordinary Yorkshire people - tram navvies, quarry labourers, bookbinders - without ever looking down, in a style that was pithy, witty and entirely original," Ms Waterhouse said.

Alan Hall, of Bradford Civic Society, said it was "about time" that another of West Yorkshire's great authors was "properly honoured".

A blue plaque will be unveiled at the Thornton birthplace of the Bronte family later this year, and Bradford Civic Society has plans for several more in the city.

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