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John Ackworth was the pen name of the Rev. Frederick R. Smith, a Methodist minister who was born in Snaith, Yorkshire, but spent much of his career as a circuit preacher in Lancashire. Beckside Lights is the sequel to his popular collection of stories Clog Shop Chronicles. Set in the fictional village of Beckside (said to be somewhere between Manchester and Bolton), the book consists of 12 tales of everyday life in a close-knit Methodist community, which continue with a third volume, Doxy Dent (1899). Based on an entertaining group of Methodist who gather around Jabez Clegg's clog shop fire, the stories are sentimental at times, but Ackworth has a nice sense of irony and refrains from proselytizing. Ackworth was also a student of the Lancashire dialect and the spoken passages in his books are mostly written in a phonetic version of late 19th-century Bolton speech, which I have done my best to reproduce. ( Phil Benson)
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