A WEST Cumbrian-born author has self-published her first book, on the history of Gosforth’s Harecroft Hall – and wants to encourage others to do the same with their work.

Ruth Mansergh, 47, attended the now-closed school before moving to Giggleswick School in North Yorkshire, but only thought to write about its history and time as a school when researching her most recent book, Cumbria at War 1939-45 (published by Pen & Sword in January this year), during which she found three unpublished books about Harecroft Hall.

Saddened by the fact that, “despite promises from the industry”, former headmaster Tom Penrice’s book about the school was left unpublished, Ruth set about writing and publishing her own work on the topic.

The Cumbrian history enthusiast said: “[Mr. Penrice’s story] proved an ideal opportunity to self-publish a book, via Amazon, about Harecroft, including its time as a prep school that opened in 1926. It’s not solely about the school though, hence the title ‘1712-2017’, and therefore the market is not just former pupils.”

When researching and writing her book, Harecroft Hall 1712-2017, Ruth found that many people were eager to offer their memories and support, with the late Nigel Hepper’s unpublished book, Happy Hepperings at Harecroft, being posted to Ruth by Nigel’s son, David, along with a published book of Nigel’s from 2011.

Mr Penrice’s family also allowed Ruth to use the late writer’s research and photos, and many former pupils of the Gosforth school were more than happy to shared stories and memories. of Harecroft Hall with their fellow former pupil, Ruth.

It was important to Ruth to focus her book not around the school’s closure (it had been a prep school since 1926), but its part at the centre of many people’s lives.

She explained this choice, and the interesting stories she came across about the history of the area as well as Harecroft by making this decision: “There was a need, for me, to track Harecroft’s days since Mr Penrice left. I maintained a positive stance despite the school’s closure, and the book includes photos of head boy/girl and scholarship boards, and a list of all the pupils from 1948-2002.”

She continued: “I spoke to [former MP] Tam Dalyell, a former pupil, who has since died, and he told me that Seascale was known as ‘the brainiest town in Britain’ in the 1950s because scientists lived there.

“Colin Mann, a pupil at Harecroft in the mid-30s, wrote an unpublished book about his time there, and mentioned horse riding and numerous long rides to as far as Eskdale and around Scafell.”

Since self-publishing Harecroft Hall 1712-2017 in January 2017, Ruth has wanted to encourage others to do the same after realising how simple it can be, and how much people appreciate her work. The author initially published her first history book as an e-book when she had finished writing it on the app, Scrivener – an app that allows writers to easily prepare the document for publication, and upload to Amazon’s Kindle platform.

Ruth then decided, due to popular demand, to publish paperback copies of the book, with many copies being sold to former pupils and those interested in Harecroft’s history since.

Speaking of the ease of self-publishing, and getting used to the process, Ruth said: “Paperback publishing is a similar process to producing an e-book, only more attention needs to be paid to the page layout. Photoshop can be used to enhance photos with insufficient quality, but you don’t have to be an expert to do it!

Ruth’s final message to everyone was: “Everyone can write a book from home and publish it via the internet., both as an e-copy and hard copy”

n Harecroft Hall 1712-2017 is available to buy from Amazon, and Cumbria at War 1939-45 can be bought from Amazon and Pen & Sword’s website.