Elizabeth Tweddell (1824-1899), who often wrote under the nom-de-plume of Florence Cleveland, and her husband George Markham Tweddell (1823-1903) enjoyed a modest fame in the northeast of England during the second half of the nineteenth century. Although this reputation slowly slipped away in the next century, their work has recently received growing interest again, especially in the Teesside and North Yorkshire Moors area of Cleveland. Elizabeth is particularly admired for the sensitive way her poems caught the speech of local people and expressed their daily concerns in her dialect poetry (Cum stay ‘t hame teneet). George left two legacies, in the first for the way he encouraged 18th and 19th century North Country writers by publishing their work and thus preserving it for posterity, and in the second as an assiduous local historian. Unfortunately, present-day historians are frustrated by the loss of his extensive notes after his death in 1903 during one of the periodic floods of the North Yorkshire town of Stokesley, which is where he and Elizabeth lived for most of their lives. Most photos of such floods show deep water in the High Street, but a family photo shows the hard work in clearing up afterwards by the”flood-mopper brigade”.
This article is based on an as yet unfinished book written at the request of their descendants to give more insights into the lives of their ancestors. Despite the genealogical slant of the work, chapter two, which describes the professional work of Elizabeth and George Markham Tweddell, has created an interest beyond its intended audience. Although the borough librarian of Middlesbrough, William Lillie, set up a collection of Tweddell material in the early 20th century, with the family contributing material for it, much still remains in private hands at the time of writing (2006). The consequence of these sources being difficult to access has allowed a number of misunderstandings to creep into contemporary commentaries about the couple’s work. The present paper, therefore, brings together information about the Tweddells from both the public and family domain to throw more light onto their lives and works