David Holding from Chorley in Lancashire studied history and education at Manchester University qualifying as a teacher in the 1970s and working in the independent and state sectors. During this time, he continued historical research culminating in the award of an MA and Ph.D, his specialist area being British nineteenth-century social history. He later moved into lecturing in Higher Education and University in history and law, having obtained an LL.M, and Diploma in Legal Practice.
On retiring from academic teaching, Dr. Holding continues with legal and historical research, contributing articles to professional journals. He is a voluntary adviser to local law centres and contributes to student lectures and seminars. He served as a school governor for over twelve years. He is also a keen local historian having produced several guides to local community history.
David Holding's output with Words are Life / Scott Martin Productions initially consisted of three local history books, published simultaneously in early 2019, and further titles have been added over the following months.
More on these titles will be posted as and when we have the information.
Interview with David Holding, March 21st 2019
L: Hello David. Thank you so much for entrusting your three local history titles to Scott Martin Productions’ 2019 issue list. They’ve been a joy, and at times, a challenge to create: so many problems with formatting so many graphs! I’d first like to ask you how your career in the law, and your many various academic qualifications led you to the writing of local history publications about crime, witchcraft trials and murder?
D: My interest in local history can be traced back to my teenage years when I was a member of a local historical and archaeological association. This provided me with an opportunity to produce short descriptive accounts of local sites of historical interest. From this early background, it seemed a natural progression that I should read history at university. After graduation, I held teaching posts in colleges of Further Education.. It was during this time that I undertook further historical research culminating in the award of my Ph.D. It was at this stage that I took a career break by returning to university to study law and legal practice. My specialist areas were legal and forensic medicine and medical law. On completion of my studies, I returned to university teaching. This change in direction from the historical to the legal, had a positive effect on my writing and explains my 'forensic' approach to historical works. However, I do try to achieve a fine balance so as to appeal to both historical and legal readers.
L: Are there any areas of our local history that you wouldn’t write about? And, as a natural extension to this question, do you have any aspirations to write in any other genres – perhaps fiction or poetry?
D: I have no reservations regarding areas of local history that I would not write about, even potentially controversial issues. This I believe to be the legacy of my legal training, in that I endeavour to be as objective, as I can in my approach to my writing whatever the subject matter. As regards my writing in other genres such as fiction and poetry, I do not have any inclination towards these.
L: I really enjoy how in your book about the Pendle witch trials you provide the court transcripts so readers can see the same situation from different points of view. You also do this in your book, ‘Murder in the Heather’. It is such a good technique – objective rather than using the usual subjective viewpoint that most narrators or authors have. Is this a direct result of your law training? D: I do firmly believe that my 'objectivity' rather than 'subjectivity' developed from my legal training, particularly 'Advocacy Skills and Techniques' which I have a tendency to apply to my writing style. I do feel that it is essential that my readers are presented with facts and evidence from which they may draw their own conclusions. Indeed, I have always considered my readers to be 'partners' in what is, essentially, a 'joint enterprise' to use a legal expression, in an on-going narrative.
L: Do you come from a writing background? If not, where did the urge to create come from?
D: I have no personal knowledge that any of my relatives had writing backgrounds, so in this regard, I am a 'one off'. My urge to create and communicate emerged from my early desire to express my thoughts through the written word. I owe this, to the dedication and encouragement of my primary school teachers, who recognised my ability.
L: So, what writing projects are you currently working on? D: My current project work is centred upon a local historical event, the 'Pretoria Colliery Disaster of 1910'. Whilst this is not an original area of writing, its is a topic that is firmly embedded in local community history. My aim in this work is to provide the reader with an accurate but easily digestible account of the disaster, through an analysis of the Inquest and Home Office official reports into the disaster and its aftermath.
I hope to follow this work which I have entitled: “The Last Temptation”, with an in-depth analysis of the macabre but intriguing case of Dr Harold Shipman, the serial killer. Even after his death, the public still seek answers to explain the reasons for the catalogue of destruction this GP brought in his wake. It will examine the multiple factors involved in this momentous criminal investigation and trial. It is envisaged that the work will contribute to an explanation of what drove this doctor to his self-appointed journey to destruction.