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Ad astra

Some early innovators had little formal education, yet they managed to acquire learning, some of them via the Mechanics' Institute. Tony Harrison, graduate of the University of Leeds, poet and playwright, drew attention to his journey away from his family background in his 1985 poem ‘v’. His education meant that he didn’t have to follow the professions of relatives, some of whom are buried in Holbeck Cemetery. Harrison, born in 1938, is one of eight innovators featured in the book who attended Leeds Grammar School between the 17th and 20th centuries. The others are: Ralph Thoresby 1658-1725 – historian; John Smeaton 1724-1792 – engineer; John Hawkshaw (later Sir John) 1811-1891 – engineer; T W Harding 1843-1927 – owner of Tower Works, instigator of the Leeds Art Gallery, benefactor of the original City Square; Wordsworth Donisthorpe 1847-1914 – pioneer in photography; Sir Gary Verity b.1964 – tourism promotion; Jonathan Straight b.1965 – entrepreneur