BILL STANTON BA(Hons)York

BIOGRAPHY

Bill was born in East Brightside, Sheffield, the seventh child of a blacksmith and his wife. Although means were tight his background was set within a working class methodist tradition, and his experiences as a child, which he wrote about in later life, described an upbringing rich in love, event and interest.

His father John Stanton understood the importance of an education. He was an avid reader himself and it rubbed off onto his children. The children worked hard at their studies, a difficult task when you share a small terraced house with seven other children. They used to get off the tram at Burngrieve Library where they would do their homework surrounded by books.

BILL'S CAREER

John Stanton sent his sons George and Arthur to Sheffield University, a phenomenal achievement at the time given his limited means. When it came to Bill's turn there was nothing left, and Bill had to settle for sponsorhip from the Sheffield Education Committee to train to be a teacher. Although Bill was proud of his calling as a teacher he always knew he could have achieved far more academically.

He started his first job as a qualified teacher in September 1939. Within a week he, along with the rest of his school, was evacuated to Edwinstowe in Nottinghamshire. By the end of the month he had enlisted into the army. His experience of the army left him sceptical of any notion that there was precision in military operations. In 1940 he was admitted to a military hospital for a minor operation. His papers were confused with those of another patient who was suffering from tuberculosis. Despite his angry protests he was medically discharged. It took him almost twenty years to finally persuade the War Department of the error, and it was a blight on his health record which made it difficult for him to secure life insurance and mortgages.

He spent his time during the war teaching in Bournemouth. He was once asked to teach the recorder, an instrument he knew nothing about. He took this on by being one or two pages ahead of the children in the recorder tutor. Inevitably one talented child overtook him. That child went on to a career as a professional flautist. Bill was never to be detered by the notion that there was something he couldn't do. He found out how to do it, and then he'd tell other people how it's done with confidence an authority, even when neither was warranted.

Later during the war he took over the running of a private school in Harrogate from his brother George. This was a difficult time for Bill. The school was bedevilled with problems which proved too much for him and by 1950 he abandoned the school and left teaching as a career.

He started work as a progress chaser for English Steel. He soon proved his worth. He went to night school and took a diploma in management studies. He completed it with distinction and then he challenged his boss to allow him to make proper use of it. For his cheek he was promoted. He was sent on to the road as a 'representative'. This job brought a move to the Midlands and then tweny years later a move back to Harrogate as British Steel's Regional Marketing Manager where he eventually retired in 1980.

BILL'S WRITING

Retirement was a misnomer. In 1960 Bill had a short story published by BBC Radio on their Morning Story series. It was the first of a series of stories published throughout the sixties. In 1969 he had his first radio play success. 'The Compost Heap' a play about an old man who had become a burden to his family was the first of a prodiguous output of radio plays. Bill was delighted that they got Wilfred Pickles to play the principle character Albert Smith. He met Wilfred and they became firm friends.

On the basis of this success and his experience Bill was invited to lecture at weekend courses for aspiring writers. He developed a following of students who were impressed by what he had to offer, and the style in which he presented the material. As a teacher Bill wanted to inspire rather than instruct. He placed a great emphasis on doing rather than talking about doing. He arranged 'workshops' rather than 'courses', and out of this came a number of projects. One was the Workshop 74 at St. Mary's College, Durham, and another was the Writer's Tutorial.

Both these projects brought him in touch with a remarkable and talented collection of people who over the years have become firm friends. In this sense Bill never retired. When he died at the age of 82, he had one of his student's 'scripts' on his desk and he was clearly working on a 'crit'.

In 1992 Bill was enrolled as a fresher at the University of York to read English Literature. He was delighted that after all this time he had the opportunity to study Shakespeare properly. He threw himself into his studies and received a well deserved two one. He loved the course. He was particular impressed by the work and presentation of Mike Cordner. He often enthused by the way Mike presented his lectures and after he had finished at York he took every opportunity to attend talks and lectures given by Mike.

His experience as an undergraduate was prized because it had never occurred to him until late that he could do that. On the day of his graduation service, he swaggered across the stage to Dame Janet Baker the Chancellor of the University bowed his head formally, took his degree certificate and then swaggered off again, easily the proudest of all who were in the hall that morning... and very possibly the oldest.

BILL, THE FAMILY MAN

Bill met Dorothy Walton in 1940. Their relationship started off with a bang. Shortly after they started seeing each other they were caught by the Blitz at the Sheffield School of Art. They sheltered in the school's air raid shelter. The School was hit by a bomb which completely demolished it. They both escaped without injury but then had to get home across a city which had been substantially bombed and finally arrived back at 4am.

Bill and Dorothy married in June of 1944, and Jennifer the first of their seven children was born in October 1945. Over the next twenty years they had a further six children. In 1955 the family moved to the Birmingham where most of the children grew up.

Bill was at his happiest and at his best when he was with his family. He never missed the opportunity to get up at family occasions and hold forth about what a lucky man he was. At weddings he had his 'turn' during the service. He would recite from memory the words of Corinthians 13. Then at the reception he would deliver with wit, humour and apparent spontaneity an 'off the cuff' speech which in fact he had been crafting for a week.

Bill saw himself as the patriarch of the family. He took every opportunity to surround himself and Dorothy with his sons and daughters, their partners and their children, friends they had met on the way, and adopted as family. The family could never be too big. With Bill it was not a case that you are apportioned a ration of love which you had to make go round. He thought everybody brought their helping of love with them. There would never be too much, and nobody would ever have to go without.

Bill loved the company of small children, as his output of childrens' stories and verse testifies. We all have cherished memories of his story telling. He was engaging and magical, and he always left them wanting more. Bill struggled with older children finding their challenges and attitudes perplexing. However, his commitment and love for us in our teenage years was unconditional and unquestioned.

Bill Stanton's death certificate describes his occupation as 'Author'. He was an author, and a scholar, and a family man, and a friend, and a teacher and most of all a happy man.

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