Biographical

Stephen Fothergill is a writer of fiction. He is from Attercliffe, a once teeming mini-city within the great industrial city of Sheffield. He was born, at home, in a house alongside the River Don. His mother tells him that it was a difficult delivery, but she nevertheless endured childbirth on four more occasions. Fothergill is one of a minute proportion, reputedly less than one percent, of adults able to recall events from before the age of two. The family lived in a single room next to Newhall Bridge in Attercliffe, but when a second child, a brother, arrived they moved into two rooms around the corner in Swallow Street. Though just eighteen months old when the move happened, Fothergill can recall living there. ‘I can remember standing at the front door with my mother and another woman, when I was frightened out of my wits by a massive steamroller rolling the road outside. I can also recall grazing my knees when falling off an old wheeled tin horse that I had been given. I screamed at the sight of the horse after that, and I retain an exceptionally vivid memory of my uncle, in an attempt to pacify me, throwing the horse into the River Don just along from where we lived.’

Banners Store, Attercliffe
A Typically Busy Attercliffe Offered Better Shopping Than The City Centre! (Image courtesy of George Cunningham)

 

When he was barely two years old, Fothergill contracted TB, and the family were forced to move from Attercliffe, in the industrial east-end of Sheffield, to live in a small, almost derelict cottage on the slopes of Wincobank Hill in Shiregreen. When the cottage was later condemned as unfit for habitation they were re-housed in a three bedroom house on the Stradbroke estate near Handsworth, where Fothergill spent the rest of a happy childhood with his brother and two sisters (a second brother arrived when Fothergill was twenty years old).

Handsworth Tram
Handsworth Church and Passing Tram in the Distinctive Sheffield Livery (Image courtesy of Mick Rick)

Fothergill attended Stradbroke Infant & Junior School. He passed the eleven-plus examination, and should have progressed to a grammar school. But Sheffield had just introduced the comprehensive system, and his intended school was integrated into the huge, twelve hundred pupil Hinde House Comprehensive School, where he spent a very happy two years. He was a good student, particularly at Art, History and Geography, but his real love was for English, and he excelled in the subject.

However, already possessing the strongly developed characteristic of never being satisfied, he decided that he had been short-changed in not attending a grammar school and so made what turned out to be the disastrous decision to move to Sheffield’s Central Technical School. Despite CTS  having an excellent academic reputation, Fothergill hated the place. He left at fifteen before taking any examinations. Despite his talents being inclined towards the arts, and having virtually no ability with the sciences he became an apprentice mechanical services engineer. He always  sensed that he didn’t really fit the mould of an engineer, but he stuck at it and was fortunate to meet and receive valuable guidance from many of the older engineers, some of whom had a significant long-term influence upon him. He also made some exceptionally good friends.

Characteristically, wanderlust took hold on his twentieth birthday when his apprenticeship ended and he was free to work elsewhere. He and several friends decided become farm labourers in Jersey in the Channel Islands to earn enough money to travel to Australia, which several of his friends succeeded in doing. But Fothergill met his first wife while in Jersey, and stayed there for three years. After leaving the island he worked for several years at the British Steel Corporation in Sheffield, before going to work overseas; spending seven years in Saudi Arabia, followed by spells in California, Malaysia, and Bangladesh. His time in the desert provided much spare time with little to do, where he began to do an enormous amount of reading and also began to write.

He eventually returned to England, working for several companies, until in 2010 he decided he had been an engineer for long enough and made the decision to return to continue his abandoned education. Fothergill studied initially with the Open University, gaining several credits, which qualified him for entry to a conventional university. He was offered a place at the University of Hertfordshire University to study English Literature with Creative Writing, subsequently transferring to the University of East Anglia where he graduated with a BA in 2014.

Fothergill is currently a post-graduate student at UEA, studying Creative Entrepreneurship. Fothergill’s writing began to come to fruition at UEA. He has written several short stories, and is currently putting the finishing touches to novel. He lives just outside London in Bushey, Hertfordshire with his wife and until recently, his two sons, who have both now departed to university.

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