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Mabel Ferrett

Poet, novelist, historian, journalist and editor Mabel Ferrett took on many roles in her long life.

She will be best remembered as our founding president and later life president of the Society and for her books on the Brontë family.

She was also a member of the Pennine Poets, hosting their workshops at her home for 30 years and founded the Fighting Cock Press publishing house.

Born Mabel Frankland in Ossett, she trained at the College of Ripon and taught in Leeds during the war. She moved to Heckmondwike after marrying Harold Ferrett, a solicitor.

By the 1960s Mabel was an established poet, her first collection appearing in 1956. Her historical novel "The Angry Men" was serialised on BBC Radio in 1967 and 1968. It portrays the struggle of desperate weavers, against the building of industrial mills along the Spen Valley.

When our Society was formed in 1972, Mabel and Harold were on the committee. The name ‘Spen Valley’ was chosen to include Oakenshaw, Cleckheaton and Heckmondwike along the valley bottom and Gomersal and Hartshead on the uplands. At our first AGM, Mabel was elected president.

Mabel’s many articles appeared in the Society’s journals, local press and magazines. In 1976 she won an award from the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, one of many prizes during her career.

After Harold’s death, she earned her living as a journalist and was a regular contributor to the Yorkshire Ridings Magazine and the Yorkshire Journal.

Mabel also worked at the Red House Museum and Oakwell Hall and traced the Brontë family’s connections with the Spen Valley. Her books "Shirley Country", "The Brontës in the Spen Valley" and "The Taylors at the Red House" were successful, as were her booklets on Hartshead Church.

Her love of the area is also seen in her poetry. Between 1971 and 1996 five more collections were published, including a prestigious selection by the University of Salzburg, "Scathed Earth".

She continued writing and editing well into her eighties. Her last poetry collection "Imaginary Gates" and an autobiography "After Passchendaele" were published in 2001 and 2003. To celebrate the Pennine Poets Anniversary in 2006, she wrote a fascinating account of the group and its many connections, "Forty Years of Pennine Poets: Spirit and Emotion".