We recently enjoyed a fruitful collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University on their CPD course ‘From Historical Fact to Contemporary Fiction’, taught by author Livi Michael. We are pleased to present these four stories written by students who undertook research into the diaries and life-writing in the Leech archive. They were guided in their research by Librarian Michael Powell, and then responded creatively to different parts of the archive. The quality and range of the writing inspired by the archive is exceptional, and well worth the read. Many thanks to all the writers for allowing us to publish their work here on the website.
The Stone Prince by Darragh Kempson is a beautifully imagined exploration of the story behind Frank Leech’s suicide in a hotel in Leeds on 22 May 1908.
Several Silences by James Lavender is a masterly re-creation of the unusual dynamic between Pauline and Ann Leech, one of whom spent time working as a code-breaker at Bletchley Park, and the other who remained silent throughout most of her adult life.
Mary Leech née Blackwell on Returning to her Parental Home by Sophie Ellen Parkes-Nield is a sensitive and emotional reimagining n of the tragic story of Mary Leech who suffered abuse by her father, and condemned to return to his custody.
Mary Blackwell’s Forgotten Diary by Bryony Whiston takes a different approach to the same story, using the diary format to evoke the forgotten voice of this tragic character with insight and skill.