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W. R. Mitchell Archive

Archive reference: GB 0532 MIT

The books and archives donated by Dr Mitchell reflect his career with the Dalesman, and his lifelong interest in the history and natural history of the Yorkshire Dales and the way of life of its people.

By Gum! Life were Sparse: Bill Mitchell's Scrapbooks.  No. 83 of the 100 Objects exhibition series.

"People Before Things": remembering Bill Mitchell (1928-2015).

Bill Mitchell | The Archive | The Books | Links

Bill Mitchell

W.R. ("Bill") Mitchell was born in Skipton in 1928. After gaining journalistic experience on the Craven Herald, he joined the Dalesman in 1948, later becoming editor. The Dalesman was first published from the Dales village of Clapham in 1939. It features Yorkshire life, past and present. Bill Mitchell also edited its sister magazine, Cumbria, for many years. He retired in 1988, but continued to write about Yorkshire, producing over 100 books, and many articles for other journals and local newspapers. In 1996 he was awarded the MBE, and, in the same year, the University of Bradford awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.  In 2009, he was named Yorkshire Dales National Park's greatest living cultural icon. Bill died on 7 October 2015, aged 87.

The Archive

The Archive collection includes articles and other writing by Dr Mitchell, correspondence with the many well-known Yorkshire writers and artists who contributed to the Dalesman, photographs by Dr Mitchell, audiocassettes of interviews with Dales and Lake District people, and scrapbooks bringing together many years of letters, ephemera and artwork on Dales themes.  There is also research material, notably files on Cherry and Richard Kearton, pioneering natural history photographers from Swaledale.

Further information about the Archive and how to use it:

WR Mitchell Archive Catalogue (pdf, 130 KB)

WR Mitchell Archive Catalogue (docx, 150 KB)

The Book Collection

Special Collections holds many books written by Dr Mitchell or published by the Dalesman or Castleberg (Dr Mitchell's imprint, set up in 1988).  They cover Lakeland, Lancashire, the North York Moors and the Peak District, on subjects including hill walking, caving, wildlife, social life and customs, humour, and industrial history.  All our Mitchell books are on the Library catalogue or you can make an appointment to browse them.  Dr Mitchell also donated many of the books in our W. Riley and Kearton book collections.


The WR Mitchell Archive project, led by Settle Stories, is seeking to make the Dales interviews freely available online.  The project website contains much more information about Bill Mitchell, the Dalesfolk, and other organisations which hold material from Bill.