Tribute to a real talent

Ian at the launch of his book Yorkshire Lives and Landscapes
Ian at the launch of his book Yorkshire Lives and Landscapes

Born in Sussex in 1936, Ian Emberson made his home in Yorkshire for more than half his life.

He moved to Todmorden following his marriage to Catherine in 1994, and with the two sharing a love of the Brontes it is unsurprising that his adopted home county provided a lot of inspiration for his writing, poetry and art.

Ian’s passing on November 4 was sudden and unexpected, and it leaves a big gap in the Calder Valley’s arts community, writes John Greenwood.

He took to painting and writing in early childhood, and pursued those activities all his life, drawing creatively on his life’s experiences in whichever form his work took. The results were always of high quality.

Following National Service (Royal Signals, Cyprus, 1955-57), he went on to earn a living in both horticulture and librarianship in different parts of the country, settling in Huddersfield in 1971 on becoming Music Librarian. He retired in 1986 to concentrate on painting and writing.

His work as an artist is best known through postcards and book illustrations. His publications include eight books of poetry and prose-poems, as well as many journal and magazine articles. In 1996 Bradford Playhouse produced his one-actor play Cockerel Crowing Dawn, based on the life of the Russian composer Mussorgsky. Ian also wrote the libretto for Daniel Bath’s opera The Forest, performed at the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival in 2003. Four other composers have set his poetry to music.

Ian met Catherine through the Brontë Society in 1988, and despite his love for his home village of Thurstonland, and the many musical interests of Huddersfield, he moved to Todmorden to be with her. Ian initially found it difficult to adjust, but soon came to love the town, its wonderful walking country and its swimming pool. He became well known at literary, artistic and musical events. He was a patron of Todmorden Orchestra and an enthusiastic member of Todmorden Antiquarian Society. His talk ‘A Comer-In’s View of Yorkshire’ - based on his semi-autobiographical book Yorkshire Lives and Landscapes - was due to be given to that organisation shortly.

Ian and Catherine worked together on various pieces of Brontë research. One of these led to the discovery of George Sowden’s Recollections of the Brontës – which had lain virtually forgotten for over one hundred years. The Brontë Society have published Ian’s book Pilgrims from Loneliness: an interpretation of Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre” and “Villette” .

Ian had two children by his first marriage – Beth, who lives in France, and the late Robert, who died in 2012.

His funeral will be at 1.30pm on Monday, November 18, at St Mary’s Church, Todmorden, and from 3pm to 5pm friends are invited to gather at the Bear Cafe to chat about Ian and hear some of his works.