Book Club with Anna Caig
Literary City: The Sheffield Connection Welcome to Sheffield by David Price
“Ethnic minorities have contributed to Sheffield’s life ever since it was founded by a Frenchman,” says David Price in the introduction to Welcome to Sheffield.
Published in 2018, the book aims to foster a better understanding of the numerous ethnic groups which have made the steel city their home, why they came and how they have settled.
In 2007, Sheffield was unanimously declared a ‘City of Sanctuary’ by the city council, the first city in the UK to do so. But Price is keen to point out that the multicultural perspective goes back much further than this. “Sheffield industry has long been international in character.
Sheffield radicals have had an international outlook at least since the 1789 French Revolution.”
Price grew up in Surrey and studied history at Cambridge University before moving to Sheffield with his wife in 1980. “We have lived in Sheffield for 38 years now, in three different houses in Nether Edge,” says Price. “I became fascinated by Sheffield’s history - its radical tradition, independence and unwillingness to accept received wisdom without questioning.
“What inspires me, first and foremost, is the people - the willingness to take up radical causes, the concern for the underdog and for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. Also the fact that Sheffield’s rich history can be seen all around us.
“In writing Welcome to Sheffield, I also noted that some of the most distinguished authors linked with the city were migrants or the descendents of migrants. From Debjani Chatterjee to Marina Lewycka to Sunjeev Sahota.”
The book aims to give a broad account of the varied experiences that people from over thirty countries have had settling here. “I hope that the book will contribute to social cohesion in Sheffield. Sheffield’s story may also have lessons for other cities and towns.”
Price found support and encouragement from local historians in putting together the book. “I have been most impressed by their energy, commitment and friendliness. I was a new kid on the block and I found other local historians unfailingly helpful. I belong to the History Group which is part of Nether Edge Neighbourhood Group, which has produced two excellent books on Nether Edge history in the last two years. The Local Studies section of the Central Library is also most valuable.”
Price is well aware that he has taken on a mammoth task with this book, and would like to see other writers inspired to continue the work. “This book can only touch the fringe of a huge subject. I hope that over time other writers will fill in the many gaps in the story.” For more information about David Price and the book Welcome to Sheffield, go to https://welcometosheffieldbook.co.uk/