‘Born Rebel’ returning to discuss nostalgic new book rooted in South Shields and Sunderland

An academic and author is returning to the North East to talk about his fascinating new book, which is rooted in Sunderland and South Shields.

Michael Williams discusses Born Rebel, on Friday, October 28 at the Elephant Tea Rooms on Sunderland’s High Street West as part of autumn’s Sunderland Literature Festival.

Michael, 73, lives in Hertfordshire. He has lived away from the North East since 1967 when he went to university. Before retiring he was as a lecturer in history and politics at Hertfordshire University.

But as the book shows, his background is never far from his thoughts. He was born in South Shields and moved to Sunderland aged four, later attending Bede School.

Michael Williams will be discussing his new book, Born Rebel, at the Elephant Tea Rooms on October 28.

Born Rebel is nostalgic, looking back on three generations of family life: his grandparents, parents and his own.

Michael said: “There’s a sketch of my own life at the beginning, then I talk about my grandparents and wider family. Both of my grandfathers were in the Merchant Navy, one was a chief engineer and the other was a captain. They were both Welshmen, but based in South Shields.

“It features my paternal grandfather’s (Captain Jim Williams) maritime exploits. He went to sea at 13 as a cabin boy and rose to become captain on a liner. He was born in 1890.

“He led two daring sea rescues in the North Atlantic in the 1920s. One was quite near Newfoundland – in the winter. I have the press cuttings.

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The book gives three generations' worth of nostalgia.

“He was torpedoed by a U-boat ace in the Second World War and spent two weeks with the other survivors in open boats in the Atlantic. I have a very detailed account of that.

“The most complex chapter is on my parents and focuses on their lives before they married.

"There are a lot of photographs and many of the letters from my parents while I was at university. I also kept a teenage diary, so there’s a lot of Adrian Mole-ish stuff – particularly the pursuit of girls.

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A romp through Sunderland's rich literary history - from the Venerable Bede to L...
Academic and writer Michael Williams was born in South Shields and brought up in Sunderland.

“I was also obsessed with the Second World War and there’s a lot about the 60s, youth clubs and bands."

The illustrated book is still being set, but will be over 200 pages and sold for £10 at outlets including Waterstone’s and Sunderland Museum.