David Leaver Shares His Views On Dylan and the Nobel Prize from “Across the Pond”

Ed Newman
6 min readJan 16, 2019
Award Ceremony Program, courtesy Bill Pagel. Photo by the author.

The latter part of 2016 was more than a little exhilarating for Dylan fans, not only for those here in the Northland but for fans all over the world. Bob Dylan had just been selected for the Nobel Prize in Literature, “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

Don’t Look Back. Painting by the author.

One of these was a Mr. David Leaver whom I met five years ago at the Ochre Ghost Gallery in Duluth where there had been an exhibition of Dylan-themed art. Appropriately, my painting “Don’t Look Back” was one of the pieces, the title pilfered from D.A. Pennebaker’s 1967 Dylan documentary featuring Dylan’s 1965 tour of England.

Mr. Leaver entered the small space where we were introduced to one another and I learned he was an Englishman who lived for most of his childhood in a small town near Blackburn, Lancashire, made famous by the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.” It’s been a great delight getting to know him better since that first meeting. Here’s David Leaver’s story.

EN: Can you share a bit about yourself and how you came to be such a dyed-in-the-wool Dylan fan?

David Leaver: My mother died when I was one and my dad when I was 13. My Dad’s last job was as a gravedigger. I lived with foster parents for three years but then lived with my two older brothers after the age of 16. At 18, I went to Oxford University to study Geography.

My college was Christ Church, which is Oxford’s grandest college with 13 British Prime Ministers (out of 27 in total from Oxford). ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was written there and its current claim to fame was that much of the early Harry Potter films was shot there. I played for the College soccer team and my teammates included the nephew of a Prime Minister; the son of the Lord Chancellor and a future Field Marshall. Michael Dobbs creator of ‘House of Cards’ was a contemporary. It was certainly a different world to the one I had grown up in.

One of my courses at university was ‘The Economic Geography of Eastern Canada,’ which gave some insights into the Great Lakes. After…

Ed Newman

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y3l9sfpj