"Take what you want,' says God. 'Take it and pay for it,' 'Ah,' said Mrs. Beddows quietly. 'But who pays?'" This, Winifred Holtby's greatest work, is a rich and memorable evocation of the characters of the South Riding, their lives, loves and sorrow. There is Sarah Burton, fiery young headmistress, inspired by educational ideas; Robert Carne of Maythorpe Hall, a conservative councillor, tormented by his disastrous marriage; Jo Astell, a socialist fighting poverty and his own tuberculosis; Alf Huggins, haulage contractor and lay preacher of 'too, too solid flesh'; Mrs. Beddows, the first woman Alderman of the district, and the obsequious Snaith. These are the people who work together - and against one another - in council chambers and backroom caucuses. Alongside them are the men, women and children affected by their decisions: Tom Sawdon, landlord of the Nag's Head; the flamboyant Madame Hubbard of the local dancing school; young Lydia Holly who dreams if scgikarsguom and many more.
Winifred Holtby (1893-1935), born at Rudston, Yorkshire, was a journalist, critic, feminist, pacifist and author of six novels, South Riding (1936), winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, is 'a triumph of personality, a testament to its author's undaunted philosophy." - Vera Brittain