Poet, astronomer, pianist, author - retired Burnley teacher doing it all

Having taught for almost 30 years, it is clear that Linda Sunderland has a talent and passion for educating and inspiring children. So when, in retirement, a flair for creative writing and children's stories surfaced, it came as little surprise.
Linda taught for almost 30 years before turning her hand to creative writing.Linda taught for almost 30 years before turning her hand to creative writing.
Linda taught for almost 30 years before turning her hand to creative writing.

Born in Burnley, Linda taught in Rossendale and at Coal Clough Academy during her teaching career, before retirement coaxed a swathe of interests out of the sadly recently-widowed Linda, prompting her to take up piano lessons, and dust off the old telescope and join the Todmorden Astronomical Association.

But, inspired by the illustrations of artist Daniel Egneus which she saw through her sister’s London-based agency, Good Illustration, Linda was moved to write a children’s book called Raven Child and the Snow-Witch.

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“His vision of a frozen spirit on a lake gave me the first spark for the story and I worked with him to produce this book,” said Linda. “Story-telling was always my greatest pleasure. And there’s no better audience than a class of 9-and-10-year olds who still want to believe in magic!

“Raven Child is the story of a child whose happy life is turned upside down when her mother is kidnapped by the malevolent Snow Witch. The girl then goes off on a dangerous mission to rescue her.”

Explaining where her motivation comes from, Linda, of Brunel Street, said: “As a child, I loved the traditional stories of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm - maybe it’s something to do with my Northern soul! But also, my mother was falling into dementia and it felt like she was being stolen by a snow witch and kept in a cold prison.”

Having also studied for an MA in Creative Writing and Comtemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University from 2010 to 2014, the eclectic Linda was tutored by the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, with her final portfolio receiving a distinction.

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And with a long-standing passion for astronomy - “[As a child], I joined the Junior Astronomical Association and communicated by letter with Patrick Moore; I made my own telescope out of toilet rolls!” said Linda - few would bet against this former Burnley teacher reaching the stars.

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