YORKSHIRE publisher Great Northern Books was started in 1999 by renowned editor, writer and publisher David Joy.

His remit was to promote many aspects of northern England - not least Yorkshire.

Based in Bradford, the business has grown to develop a national portfolio of titles working with many household names, including Chris Tarrant, Yorkshire Vet Julian Norton, actor and presenter Maria McErlane and Bafta-winning comedy scriptwriter Tony Nicholson.

Great Northern Books’ first two titles in 1999 were Farm Yarns and Dales People at Work by Hilary Gray. These were followed by The Commonsense Book of a Countrywoman, featuring the extraordinary Hannah Hauxwell.

Later that year came The Yorkshire Dales - A View from the Millennium, a remarkable volume written by Colin Speakman and David Joy, with a foreword from the then Prince Charles.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: This new Peter Sellers biography is the latest Great Northern Books titleThis new Peter Sellers biography is the latest Great Northern Books title (Image: Great Northern Books)

Yorkshire remains at the heart of the business. It is now in its 18th year of publishing Yorkshire County Cricket club’s yearbook and recently published the third edition of the Yorkshire Beer Bible.

This year sees the publication of The Three Peaks Race by Steve Chilton, which was recently featured in the T&A; two volumes from TV’s Yorkshire Vet Julian Norton; Best Sellers - a biography of Peter Sellers by Robert Ross; the biography of Galpharm founder Graham Leslie; a major biography of the Beatles with Patrick Humphries, and four more railway titles in the popular ‘Steam’ series from Peter Tuffrey.

Great Northern’s publishing output is wide and varied. Over the 25 years, successes include the republishing of works by Bradford’s JB Priestley, books with Kevin Sinfield, Ricky Hatton, Leeds United, singer Tony Christie and best seller The Great Book of Yorkshire Pudding by Elaine Lemm.

Recently The Songs the Beatles Gave Away has developed into a national tour for author Colin Hall and Whispering Bob Harris.

Here are some of the Great Northern Books titles the T&A has featured in recent years:

* The Songs The Beatles Gave Away: Colin Hall was given access to interviews he and Bob Harris, legendary music broadcaster and former Old Grey Whistle Test presenter, conducted in 2008/9 with Sir Paul McCartney, Sir George Martin, Cilla Black and others. The book brings together these exclusive interviews for the first time and takes a whole new look at the Beatles’ legacy.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Songs the Beatles Gave Away looks at songs by the Fab Four recorded by other artistsThe Songs the Beatles Gave Away looks at songs by the Fab Four recorded by other artists (Image: Great Northern Books)

It takes an in-depth look at songs written by the Fab Four, never recorded or released by the Beatles, but instead made famous by other artists. The book includes the time, on June 30, 1968, when Paul McCartney visited Saltaire to record an instrumental tune called Thingumybob, which he’d written for a brass band to play. Accompanied by his Old English Sheepdog, Martha, he spent a morning in Victoria Hall, and in the street, recording the track with Queensbury’s Black Dyke Mills Brass Band. The recording of Thingumybob was for a theme tune for a TV sitcom.

Writes Colin: “My focus has been those heady days of the Sixties when the 45rpm single bossed the world of ‘pop’ music and the charts. The singles featured here, however, were not ‘covers’ of Beatles. For want of a better expression, they are tunes John, Paul and George ‘gave away’. They are a separate Beatles songbook: a body of work released by other artists fortunate enough to be gifted original tunes, some composed for them, others originally written with the Beatles in mind, but not actually released by the group themselves.”

*Yorkshire Beer Bible: Simon Jenkins chronicles the resilience of pubs in this third edition of his ‘beer bible’.

Simon, winner of the British Guild of Beer Writers Adnams Award for his first book, The Great Leeds Pub Crawl, trawled Yorkshire, “seeking out brewers old and new, large and small, which between them have created an astonishing beer scene”.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Yorkshire Beer Bible profiles local pubs and breweries The Yorkshire Beer Bible profiles local pubs and breweries (Image: Great Northern Books)

From traditional brewers producing time-honoured beers in slate squares to new-wave craft brewers embracing a variety of imported hops and a brewery founded in a garden shed in lockdown, Simon found them all. His updated guide (published in 2023) lists more than 180 breweries and reveals how they coped with the pandemic.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Yorkshire Vet Julian Norton's book is one of the publisher's titles Yorkshire Vet Julian Norton's book is one of the publisher's titles (Image: Great Northern Books)

* The Squire of Knotty Ash...and his Lady: In this touching biography of the legendary comic, Ken Dodd’s widow, Lady Anne, revealed that he was proud of his record-breaking run at Bradford’s Alhambra theatre in 1958/59 panto Jack And The Beanstalk. Over the years he brought his comedy shows to Bradford, where he had many fans. He did a five-hour show at the Alhambra a few months before his death in 2018, aged 90.

Released in 2021, this biography, by Tony Nicholson with Lade Anne, is an in-depth account of Ken’s life and seven-decade career, and reveals the private man behind the zany comic.

Said Lady Anne: “Ken used to recall that Arthur Askey, one of his heroes as a child, told him ‘When you go through your front door Doddy, close it and keep it private, it’s your sanctuary’. He was always so amenable when out and about, totally approachable to the public in the street, shops and theatres and never refused an autograph or a few words. He just lived to perform. Ken was approached several times to write his autobiography. I’ve come across notes reminding himself of incidents to describe; he was definitely thinking about writing what he called a ‘Happy Book’.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Chris Tarrant's autobiography is one of Great Northern Books' recent titles Chris Tarrant's autobiography is one of Great Northern Books' recent titles (Image: Great Northern Books)

* Great Northern Books is managed by creative director David Burrill and sales manager Roger Arnold, who have both been involved since the beginning. David Joy is now in semi-retirement but is on hand to lend his wealth of experience. He continues to write and his next book, Railways and the Lake District, will be published by Great Northern Books this month. Visit gnbooks.co.uk