Wrigley was born in Friarmere, Saddleworth in 1861 into a working-class family which was familiar with hardship and poverty. He lived and died 'on the cold grey hills' of Saddleworth. By the age of nine he was working as a part- timer in a local textile mill. There he showed an early interest in books and literature and wrote his first poem at the age of twelve. An interest in the folklore and history of the district followed, and it was these aspects of the Pennine culture which he came to record and celebrate in his writings. In prose and poetry he offered an intensely parochial vision of a world that he knew was disappearing. Wrigley died in 1946 and, in keeping with his own wishes, his ashes were scattered at the Dinner Stone on Millstone Edge, Delph where a bronze memorial plaque was placed.
This statue was commissioned by Roger Tanner for the Saddleworth Festival of the Arts of May 1991. The Manchester-based sculptor James Collins was chosen to provide the work. Collins based the sculpture on a well-known drawing of Wrigley which showed the poet on the moors in his hat and coat. The sculpture was unveiled by the local MP, Richard Wainwright in May 1991 and is located near the museum in Uppermill.