Tim Murgatroyd to launch silent movie-era novel The Electric with readings, talk on York’s ghost cinemas and Phantom film

The book cover for Tim Murgatroyd’s novel The Electric. Illustration by South Bank architectural artist Elliot Harrison, alias @york.360, who says. “My first book cover, so I’m really pleased it worked out well and totally suited my illustrative style that also matches my other York cinema prints. It was great working with Tim and I wish him success launching this title”

YORK author Tim Murgatroyd is launching his latest novel, The Electric, in a series of events spread over October, starting this evening.

Published by York independent publishers Stairwell Books, this work of historical fiction depicts a young pilot returning from war. Can music, cinema, love – and a curious cat – heal his wounds?

“Each event is very different, with a special focus on the glamorous, lost world of silent cinema,” says Tim, whose writing spans historical novels, a dystopian trilogy and a poetry series, as well as being a former columnist for The Press, York.

Combining romance, tragedy and offbeat comedy, The Electric is set in 1919 when young pilot David Young returns from the First World War, scarred physically and mentally.

A gifted concert violinist, he drifts into a humble job accompanying silent movies at The Electric, a fleapit cinema in provincial York, joining a diverse cast of misfits, each with secrets and tragedies of their own.

A detail from Elliot Harrison’s cover illustration for Tim Murgatroyd’s historical novel The Electric

“These strangers, and a chance meeting, hold the key to regaining his lost hopes as the world of silent cinema meets the glamour of the Downton era in Britain’s most popular tourist city,” reads the publicity blurb.

As part of The Big City Read 2022 collection, Tim’s book will be the subject of an entertaining hour of readings, wine and discussions at York Explore Library and Archive, in Library Square, Museum Street, this evening from 6pm

Tim will explore bringing silent cinema back to life and love, with assistance from award-winning poet Ian Parks. Afterwards, Tim will be hosting drinks in the Eagle & Child on High Petergate.

Tickets are available on the door or by pre-booking at: eventbrite.com/e/book-launch-the-electric-with-tim-murgatroyd-tickets-403289819707?aff=odcleoeventsincollection&keep_tld=1. A Pay What You Can policy offers four options: £0, £2.50, £5 or £7.50.

Pianist Neil Brand: Improvising his piano accompaniment to The Phantom Of The Opera at City Screen Picturehouse on October 28. Picture: Julie Edwards.

On October 26, in An Evening With Tim Murgatroyd at 7pm at Waterstones, in Coney Street, the focus will be on Ghost Cinemas of York: Bringing silent cinemas back to life.

Prepare for surprising facts and stories about the characters and picture palaces of York that brought Hollywood glamour to a city recovering from war. Through images, music and film clips, Tim will show how the ghost cinemas of York haunt us still, and how silent cinema was never really silent at all, as he explores those lost cinemas and their legacy.

In addition, he will explain how he wrote The Electric in an evening led by Dr Rob O’Connor, from York St John University, in association with York Literature Festival.

Tickets are on sale at Waterstones, Coney Street, York or at waterstones.com/events/an-evening-with-tim-murgatroyd/york. The £5 admission qualifies buyers for a 20 per cent discount on the book price.

Lon Chaney and Mary Philbin in Rupert Julian’s 152-minute silent classic The Phantom Of The Opera, showing at City Screen Picturehouse later this month

The book launch trilogy will culminate in a night of romance, horror and suspense at a gala performance of the silent classic The Phantom Of The Opera (PG), with live improvised piano accompaniment from Neil Brand, at City Screen Picturehouse, Coney Street, on October 28 at 6pm.

Lon Chaney, “the man of a thousand faces”, gives his most famous performance in this first version of the oft-filmed tale, drawn from Gaston Leroux’s novel. Chaney’s Phantom haunts the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera, where he falls in love with the voice of a young opera singer (Mary Philbin). Infatuated, he kidnaps her, dragging her to the depths below, where she will sing only for him.

Directed by Rupert Julian, this lavish 1925 production launched the Hollywood Gothic style, one that can be appreciated all the more in the British Film Institute (BFI) Photoplay restoration that carefully reinstates the film’s dramatic colour techniques.

The screening will be preceded by a short Q & A with pianist and broadcaster Neil Brand and author Tim Murgatroyd about music in the silent cinema and its impact on audiences. Please note, a British Sign Language signer will be on hand at the Q & A; the BSL accessible viewing seating will be on the left-hand side of the auditorium.

Tickets can be booked at: picturehouses.com/movie-details/000/HO00012085/the-phantom-of-the-opera-1925-with-neil-brand?date=2022-10-28&cinema=018

Tim Murgatroyd: Author of The Electric

The author

TIM Murgatroyd was brought up in Yorkshire. He read English at Hertford College, Oxford University, and now lives with his family in York. He is the author of several novels of historical fiction, a poetry series and a trilogy of dystopian novels.

The verdict on The Electric

“AN evocative, almost poetic, love letter to 1920s’ York and the silent movie era. Poignant, charming and wryly funny, with a cast of beautifully drawn and unforgettable characters. Not to be missed.” Emma Haughton, author of The Dark.

“Fascinating…the ending was a lovely surprise – romantic but in a completely unexpected way.” Clare Chambers, author of Small Pleasures.

Did you know?

THE Electric Theatre, on the north-east side of Fossgate, was the first purpose-built cinema in York, opening in 1911 and later being renamed the Scala, closing in 1957. Converted into a furnishings store, Macdonalds, that shut in early 2016. Since 2017, it has housed the Cosy Club York bar and restaurant.