<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Dr Derek J Ripley on the forgotten Bard of Rossendale

PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 July 2015 | UPDATED: 17:58 19 January 2016

E.H. Torrance

E.H. Torrance

(c) Brand X Pictures

People didn’t mince words about E.H. Torrance - especially tripe butchers. Our resident historian tells his story

Of all the controversial figures I have encountered during my research for Forgotten Lancashire (Volume 2), none ranks higher than the novelist E H Torrance. He was also one of the most misunderstood, mainly because he wrote and spoke in a thick Rossendale dialect which few could understand.

Often accused of having an unnatural preoccupation with meat, his novels and poems are filled with sensual descriptions of beef, lamb and pork and were considered obscene by those who believed them to be a metaphor for human flesh. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Torrance was born in Loveclough, a sleepy village on the edge of the Pennines. His father was a butcher, given to simple pleasures such as shooting, fishing, gambling and womanising. Every day, he brought home meat and forced Torrance’s mother, who was vegetarian, to cook it.

When his father died, Torrance abandoned butchering in order to become a writer. If there is one theme which runs through all his work it is meat, particularly what he called ‘poor man’s meat’ - brains, chitterlings, elder, lamb’s fry, sweetbreads, pigs’ trotters and cow heel, all of which both fascinated and repulsed him.

In his first novel, the semi-autobiographical Lungs and Udders, the hero declares his love for cheaper cuts such as pork shoulder, lamb shoulder, and beef chuck. This was followed by the semi-autobiographical Women in Loveclough, in which he extols the virtues of tongue, sweetbreads, liver and kidneys and describes tenderloin as “overrated”. “There’s no flavour or fat, and the texture is horrible,” he wrote, incurring the wrath of the meat establishment.

In 1969, it was made into a film by the controversial director Ken Wrassle. It is probably best remembered for the infamous nude tripe dressing scene in which actors Albert Yates and Oliver Wright clean and trim the fat off unbleached sheets of raw tripe.

His most notorious book, however, is the semi-autobiographical Sadie Hattersley’s Mother. Notable for its controversial description of filet mignon as “one-dimensional”, the book is liberally sprinkled with four letter words such as rump, shin and loin. Pick up an old copy and it will fall open at a typical passage such as this:

“Admit it, you want it,” she said, breathing heavily. (She had forgotten to get a refill for her inhaler.) “You know you want it. Go on. Admit it.”

“Ah do, chuck,”

“How do you want it?” she asked

“Tha knows how I want it. T’Lanky way, stewed in milk wi’ onions an’ a pinch o’ nutmeg. T’way me mam used to mek it.”

Lawyers insisted that all references to meat should be removed from the 400 page manuscript. It was eventually published in 1928 in an abridged version with fewer than 20 pages.

It was described as “a festering cesspit full to the brim with maggot-ridden filth” by the noted vegetarian literary critic RAC Gill. It was, however, popular with butchers and was named Book Of The Year by Butcher’s Weekly in 1928.

Torrance never received the accolades he felt he deserved. His books are out of print and he has now been completely forgotten by the literary establishment. Nevertheless, he is still considered by many butchers to be one of the greatest exponents of the genre of meat-based literature. He has even been described as the Poet Laureate of Meat by Frank Beavis of FR Beavis and Sons (High Class Butchers) Ltd of Lytham. Four of his novels feature in the Meat Trades Journal’s ‘Books of the Century’ – ‘100 Novels You Must Read Before You Die’. w

Forgotten Lancashire and Parts of Cheshire and the Wirral is by Dr Derek J Ripley. To purchase a copy go to www.forgottenlancashire.co.uk

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Lancashire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Lancashire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Lancashire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

Tue, 00:00

One man who brought giants of the rock world to Lancaster has told his story in a new book. David Stocker went to meet him

Read more
Tuesday, November 7, 2017

All the items that have appeared in our ambitious project to mark the 70th anniversary of Lancashire Life.

Read more
Lancashire70
Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A poll taken by Lancashire Life readers has revealed who they think is the greatest.

Read more
Lancashire70
Thursday, October 26, 2017

A centre devoted to natural childbirth has just celebrated its 5000th arrival. Chief photographer Kirsty Thompson captured the celebration.

Read more
Blackburn
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The John O’Gaunt Rowing Club has a remarkable history – including the time one crew greased their shorts to make them go faster! Martin Pilkington reports.

Read more
Lancaster
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Lancashire rock star Jeffrey Hammond is back home and about to reveal his hidden talent for art. But first, he spoke exclusively to Barbara Waite

Read more
Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Troops clash in the seaside town as Allied forces attempt to capture a German fuel dump. Paul Mackenzie reports from the front line.

Read more
Lytham
Thursday, September 14, 2017

Presenter and journalist Beccy Barr tells Roger Borrell about her love of Lancashire, life as a single mum and dealing with trolls

Read more
Lancaster
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

This year’s Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards takes place at the Dunkenhalgh Hotel & Spa, Blackburn on Monday, October 16th

Read more
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Rebekka O’Grady meets people in Liverpool who are passionate about making their hometown the best it can be.

Read more
Liverpool
Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Beautiful boats like The Polly are still being built the old fashioned way on the river Wyre, writes Paul Mackenzie

Read more
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Lancashire Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search