Author Harry Leslie Smith takes his readers to street level in his memoirs about the great depression the second world war and life during troubled times

Today, Celtic Connexions welcomes Harry Leslie Smith, author of 1923: A Memoir, Hamburg 1947, and The Barley Hole Chronicles.

Those who have read your first book, 1923: A Memoir, will know your background. For the benefit of those who haven’t can you tell us a bit about yourself?
First of all I’d like to thank you for interviewing me on your blog. I was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire in 1923 to a family who was making a rapid descent into poverty and hunger. Our plunge to the bottom was assisted by bad luck and the global depression which washed away a great many people poor, middle class and even the wealthy in the 1930’s. So my youth was not fortuitous. When the Second World War came, I was glad to get out of my surroundings which I think was par for the course with a great many young men of my generation. I enlisted with the RAF and was a wireless operator. I had what you use to be called a “good war.” I didn’t experience many horrors until after the Germans surrendered and I was part of the occupation forces in Hamburg, Germany. It was there I met my wife and eventually we moved back to Britain. After some years living in Halifax, Yorkshire, we eventually emigrated to Canada where I worked in the Oriental Carpet trade.

What was your motivation behind writing your memoirs?
I think I have had several motivations behind writing my memoirs. The first was to purge myself of unpleasant memories of my childhood and honestly explore my relationship with my parents and my past. I also wanted to leave a testament to my children, my grand children which would give them a greater sense of who I am as a man and where their history begins. There was also the need to preserve the social history of those times. Many have written about the great depression, the war and our post war existence in Europe but few have done it from street level. I wanted to write memoirs which capture the journey of an everyday man through some of the most tumultuous times in the 20th century.

Prior to your self-publishing journey, had you done any writing… articles, short stories etc?
Yes, I actually did some writing in the RAF and was published in some magazines for poetry and prose. I also did a lot of writing for trade magazines in the oriental carpet business.

Your books are available in e-book, paperback and hardcover. What made you decide to publish in all three formats?
I wanted to make sure that I covered every base for potential readers. I hope one day that my books will also be available as audio books.

If I’m not mistaken the Barley Hole Chronicles are 1923: A Memoir and Hamburg 1947 under one cover. Why did you decide to do that when they are both available as standalones?
Although 1923 and Hamburg 1947 are standalones, they form a story arc of my life and I thought that it might be beneficial for the reader to have both titles under one cover. It is also more economical for the reader if they buy Barley Hole Chronicles rather than each book. They save around 50% on both the traditional book price and the same goes for the e-book.

You launched The Barley Hole Chronicles and Hamburg 1947 on Black Friday. Do you feel it was a success?
At 88, launching two books at once is a success whatever the outcome. The books are doing well and it is only because of my many friends and readers that assist in getting the word out. There is so much selection now for readers that it takes a lot of effort to be heard over the clamour of each new book being released. I am pleased with the outcome and feel that my works will survive longer than me and my story will not die upon my departure.

Are you working on any more projects? If so, can you tell us about them?
Yes, I am working on the third installment of my memoirs The Empress of Australia which will complete my memoir trilogy. It should be out in late 2012. I am also working on a book about the descendants of Benjamin Smith my great grandfather who was born in 1812. It will be about how far the generations have separated and grown in 200 years.

If you live in the UK, you can buy Harry’s books from these links:
1923: A Memoir Kindle edition for £0.86, Paperback for £14.38 and Hardcover for £20.94.

Hamburg 1947: A Place for the Heart to Kip Kindle edition for £1.43 Paperback for £8.98 and Hardcover for £18.95

The Barley Hole Chronicles is currently available in Kindle format only for £0.86.

For North American residents, you can buy the Kindle editions of Harry’s books from
1923: A Memoir for $0.99, Hamburg 1947: A Place for the Heart to Kip for $1.99, and The Barley Hole Chronicles for $0.99.

US residents can order paperback and hardcover formats from at these links.
1923: A Memoir Paperback for $14.95 and Hardcover for $24.28.
Hamburg 1947: A Place for the Heart to Kip Paperback for $12.92 and Hardcover for $21.24 and The Barley Hole Chronicles Paperback edition for $18.95.

Canadian residents can purchase paperback and hardcover formats from at these links.
1923: A Memoir Paperback for $15.70 and Hardcover for $19.71.
Hamburg 1947: A Place for the Heart to Kip Paperback for $18.53 and Hardcover for $28.85.
At this time, The Barley Hole Chronicles isn’t listed on

Harry’s links…
Loveahappyending author page:
Twitter: @1923Memoir

About the Author Harry makes his home in Toronto but also spends time in Great Britain and Portugal. He’s the father to 3 children and 2 grandchildren. When he’s not writing, he enjoys spending time with my family and friends, brisk walks, travel, good conversation, watching first rate movies, a glass of sherry and reading.