Life story

Fascinating story from the life of WG Lyttle told in a new book by his great-grandson

AG Lyttle reads from his new biography of his great-grandfather WG Lyttle - 'The Storyteller'
AG Lyttle reads from his new biography of his great-grandfather WG Lyttle – ‘The Storyteller’

Wesley Greenhill Lyttle started the North Down Herald in 1880 and edited the newspaper that would soon become the Bangor Gazette. He was also an acclaimed novelist, comic short story writer in Ulster-Scots, and a popular stage artist.

His great-grandson AG (Tony) Lyttle has written a book that details WG’s main accomplishments, of which there are many.

He launched the book with support from the Ulster-Scots Agency and the Ards and North Down Borough Council at the Ards Arts Center last week.

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WG Lyttle was the author of “Betsy Gray” and interpreted her short stories in Ulster-Scots. He was also the founder and editor of the Bangor Gazette

Tony said: “Five years ago I wrote a historical thriller Dillon’s Rising, which is set around the time of the Easter Rising in Dublin. As soon as I was done, I jumped into the biography of my great-grandfather WG Lyttle.

“Unfortunately, I never met him, in fact my own father never met him either. My grandfather Roland passed all the anecdotes on to my father who passed them on to me.

“He was a distinguished citizen and important writer in Ulster-Scots, deserving of his life story told. The more I examined him, the more intriguing and interesting his story became.

Tony, 74, said: “He was the first shorthand teacher in Ulster. It was around 1864.

“He also started a traveling library. They didn’t have any municipal libraries at the time, people would team up to become a library, depending on the subscription they paid, they could borrow maybe one, two, or three books at a time.

“And he started an accounting business that continued after he started a newspaper.

“In his spare time, he joined Good Temperance. He started his own lodge, it helped alcoholics reform.

“While he was doing all these different jobs, he was writing his new comedies. He started performing them on stage at concerts hosted by Temperance.

WG Lyttle’s most famous novel is “Betsy Gray”, while he also published short stories under the title “Robin’s Readings”. Robin was the alter-ego of WG, a farmer from the Ards Peninsula who performed the stories on stage in Ulster-Scots.

Tony said: “When he appeared on stage to perform his stories, he disguised himself as Robin. The alter-ego took over, Robin became more famous than WG.

With ‘The Storyteller’ Tony has published a set of three complementary volumes – Robin’s Readings, Robin’s Further Readings and Robin’s Rhymes, showcasing the works of WG Lyttle.

All four books are available on Amazon via the following link – The Storyteller – and from the Ulster-Scots Agency in Belfast.

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