There have been weeks recently where it’s felt like I’ve been writing Britain – albeit, not very well! But this week I finally made it along to the Writing Britain exhibition at the British Library in London. And well worth the visit it was too – despite the initially off-putting din of school children. But once I’d discovered the audio recordings which can be listened to through headphones and nicely edited out any surrounding noise, I was well-sorted.
Among the highlights for me were:
Earthly Paradise: the Rural Idyll – a proof copy of Thomas Hardy’s ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’, 1874 and Helen Thomas reading her husband Edward Thomas’s ‘Adelstrop’.
Decline, depression and Division: 20th century – a copy and audio recording of Ciaron Carson, ‘Belfast Confetti’, 1989.
Industrial traces: the post-industrial landscape – a letter from Ted Hughes to Fay Godwin re ‘Return to Elmet’ (of particular interest because of the current Ma research project I’m doing).
Pilgrimage and the Sacred Wild – Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journal.
City of Dreadful Night: London divided - William Blake’s brother’s notebook (carried and used by William) containing Blake’s ‘London’ (1790s) and also drafts of ‘Tyger’
Water and Memory – ‘The Seafarer’ in the tenth century Exeter Book, one of only 4 surviving collections of Old English poetry and a notebook with Daphne du Maurier’s very early plan for ‘Rebecca’.
And in other news:
I’m going to leave the pictures below to do tell most of the tale of a slightly hectic weekend, hightailing from our son’s leavers’ ball up the motorway to Blackburn/the Ribble Valley area for six hours of amazing but tiring Neurolinguistic Programming. It was exhausting stuff but we did manage to fit in a little bit of sightseeing while we were up there and, shock, horror, the sun was shining!
One of the views from Clitheroe Castle
The countryside was really beautiful and inspiring so I’m also secretly hoping the trip may prove fruitful on the poetry front…but only time will tell. Meanwhile, here’s hoping the sunshine continues and there’s an end to the recent flooding.