Literary Lives: Mr Hardy and Mrs Henniker – An Enduring Friendship in Letters by Helen Angear

Thomas Hardy LettersCome and join us on Thursday 27 July 2017 at 7.30pm, for an interesting talk by Helen Angear who has been working on the Thomas Hardy Correspondence Archive at Dorset County Museum. 

“It occurred to me the other day that this year completes the eighteenth of our friendship. That is rather good as between man and woman, which is usually so brittle” (Aug. 1911).  So wrote Hardy to Florence Henniker, an aristocratic lady and fellow writer he met in 1893. Hardy’s comment might make you think of the 1989 film ‘When Harry Met Sally’ and the unresolved question of whether men and women can ever be ‘just friends’.

In fact, Hardy and Henniker’s platonic friendship lasted almost thirty years and both sides of their correspondence exist within the archive to tell the story. Henniker’s gift of an inkstand, sent in the post in 1893, can also be seen in Hardy’s study upstairs in the Museum. This talk examines the important role that letters played in their enduring friendship. I seek to dispel the assumption that this is simply a story of unrequited love and reveal how their dialogue provides an understanding of intimate, but non-marital, social bonds between the sexes at the turn of the century.

A selection of the letters will also be on display.

Helen Angear

Helen Angear

Helen Angear is an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award student at the University of Exeter, in collaboration with Dorset County Museum.  She is working on the Hardy correspondence archive, and her PhD is called Thomas Hardy’s Correspondents: Proximity and Distance in Postal Communication’. Helen is also an Associate Lecturer at Exeter College.

The forthcoming lecture will take place on Thursday 27 July 2017 in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall and is FREE to the public; however a donation of £3 encouraged to cover costs. Doors open at 7.00pm and talks start at 7.30pm.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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Literary Lives – Hardy and the Poetry of Encounter by Phillip Mallett

Philip Mallett - Image- Mark North_DCM © 2017

Philip Mallett

Come and join us for an interesting talk by Phillip Mallett on Thomas Hardy’s poetry from 100 years ago.

In his Notebook, Hardy wrote that ‘Reality is one sure fact, and the mind of the artist another’. Poetry is made out of the encounter between the two. This lecture explores a range of such poetic encounters, from his collection Moments of Vision, published 100 years ago.

Phillip Mallett is Honorary Senior Lecturer in English at the University of St Andrews, and Honorary Researcher at Lancaster University.  He is a Vice-President of both the Hardy Society and the Thomas Hardy Association, and since 2008 editor of the Hardy Society’s journals. In addition to essays on writers from John Donne to Larkin and Heaney, his published work includes a biography of Rudyard Kipling, and editions of The Return of the Native and The Mayor of Casterbridge for Norton, of The Woodlanders for Wordsworth Classics, and of Under the Greenwood Tree for Oxford World’s Classics. He has also edited a number of collections of essays, most recently The Victorian Novel and Masculinity for Palgrave.  He is currently working on new editions of Tess for Norton, and of the Mayor for the forthcoming Cambridge edition of Hardy’s novels and stories.

The forthcoming lecture will take place on Thursday 25 May 2017 in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall and is FREE to the public; however a donation of £3 encouraged to cover costs. Doors open at 7.00pm and talks start at 7.30pm.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

 

Literary Lives: Thomas Hardy and the Victorian School Mistress by Dr Jonathan Godshaw Memel

Kate Hardy (front left) with other teachers © DCM

Kate Hardy (front left) with other teachers © DCM

‘… she had altogether the air of a woman clipped and pruned by severe discipline, an under-brightness shining through from the depths which that discipline had not yet been able to reach.’

(Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure)

This description of Sue Bridehead during her brief time at college suggests the restrictive character of nineteenth-century teacher training. The two-year programme at Salisbury enforced standards of ‘humble femininity’ while preparing women from various social backgrounds for a vocation in the elementary schools.

Hardy’s sisters, Mary and Katharine (generally known as Kate), attended college at Salisbury while his cousin, Tryphena Sparks, trained at Stockwell.  As schoolmistresses their profession enabled greater independence from the pressure to marry, but their personal freedom was severely restricted during the process of qualifying. Trainee teachers were required to carry out extensive chores and study for long hours and their food portions were meagre. They were also subject to continual surveillance, while their choice of dress was restricted.

In this talk Dr Memel will consider representations of the work and training of female teachers in Hardy’s fiction, showing how the experiences of his female relations inspired acts of solidarity and resistance in his writing.

The forthcoming lecture will take place on Thursday 2 March in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall and is FREE to the public; however a donation of £3 encouraged to cover costs. Doors open at 7.00pm and talks start at 7.30pm.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Next Literary Lives talks:

  • Thursday 25th May, Hardy and Poetry of Encounter by Philip Mallett
  • Thursday 27th July, Mr Hardy and Mrs Henniker – an Enduring Friendship by Helen Angear
  • Thursday 14th September, The Infants’ Grammar by Dr Alan Chedzoy
  • Thursday 26th October, Hardy and Sex Education by Dr Karin Koeler

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Mammoth Book Sale at Dorset County Museum

Book Sale at Dorset County Museum

The Dorset County Museum’s popular annual sale of second-hand books will be taking place on 11, 12 and 14 November 2015 between 10am to 4pm.

Thousands of quality books will be sold at bargain prices – fact, fiction, hardback and softback. Hundreds of subjects and genres will be represented including Dorset, travel, history, music, art and gardening.  A wide selection of fiction will also be available including hard and soft backs. A few minutes’ careful searching could reveal untold treasures!

In addition, there will be a sale of Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society publications at knock-down prices – available only to buyers who visit the sale in person.

All proceeds go towards the upkeep of the Museum and its extensive collections.

Dorset County Museum Book Sale 2012Donations of good quality second hand books will be gratefully received up to and including Friday 11 November.

The Museum’s well-stocked gift shop is also worth a visit with Christmas lines now available, and the popular tea room awaits weary bargain hunters.

Everyone is welcome and entry to the sale is FREE – it would help the Museum if visitors could bring their own bags as supplies of plastic bags will be limited. Please note the Museum will NOT be open on Sunday 13 November.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Sharing Heritage: Museum Makers Group celebrates £6,000 Heritage Lottery Fund Grant

Museum-Makers

The Museum Makers rehearsing for their latest performance ‘The Vikings are Coming!’ at the Dorset County Museum

Dorset County Museum has received a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage grant, it was announced today.  The grant will fund an exciting Museum Makers project which will provide educational and inspirational opportunities for adults with learning disabilities as they engage with the collections at the Museum.  

The project will work with local disability groups, carers, specialist artists and performers on a wide range of creative activities inspired by the Museum’s desire to share the stories of Dorset’s heritage with vulnerable adults in the community.  Weekly creative sessions will include activities such as acting, music, craft making and shadow puppetry which will result in the group producing and performing a play and a film for friends, family and the wider community to enjoy, all inspired by the Museum’s collections.

The initial focus for the group will be recently acquired archaeology collections including the Viking skeletons discovered on the South Dorset Ridgeway, which the Museum Makers will use to explore the Viking connection with Dorset, performing a play based on their discoveries.

The latter half of the project will see the group explore themes relating to the Museum’s current exhibition of railway posters of the twentieth century, Speed to the West:  a Nostalgic Journey.  From this they will produce a film on the coming of the railway to Dorchester, connections with Dorset’s literary heritage and the founding of the Museum itself in response to the threat posed by the construction of the new railways to Dorset’s archaeological heritage and natural history.

Commenting on the award, Andy Worth, Museum Makers Volunteer, said “We’re thrilled to have been awarded this grant and we can’t wait to get started on the project. The Museum Makers group will feel a stronger sense of belonging to their community through engaging with Dorset’s past, and at the same time they will be developing their own self-confidence through learning new skills, performing and film-making.  We’re also delighted by the support we’ve had from Dorset County Museum, and can’t emphasise enough how crucial this interim grant is to the Museum Makers. ”  

Dr Peter Down, Chairman of Dorset County Museum added “This will be a really fantastic project, and staff and volunteers here at the Museum will give our whole hearted support to the Museum Makers in any way that we can.”

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Literary Lives: Thomas Hardy and Education by Dr. Jonathan Godshaw Memel

Thomas Hardy's  First School, Lower Bockhampton, Dorset

Thomas Hardy’s First School, Lower Bockhampton, Dorset

In his autobiography, Thomas Hardy remembers himself as an ‘apt pupil who galloped unconcernedly over the ordinary school lessons’ and a ‘born bookworm’ who learnt to read ‘almost before he could walk’. Education provided Hardy with the means to enter a profession and allowed his unmarried sisters, Mary and Kate, to live independent lives as schoolmistresses.

In this talk Dr. Jonathan Godshaw Memel will explore the ways in which Thomas Hardy’s fiction draws on these experiences, examining his treatment of residential training colleges, an ancient university and newly-built elementary schools. Hardy’s criticisms of the Victorian education system are also considered.

This talk is part of a series of four evening lectures organised by the Hardy Country project. A collaboration between the Dorset County Museum, the National Trust, Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Thomas Hardy Society, Bath Spa University and the University of Exeter, to promote knowledge and understanding of Thomas Hardy and his works.

The forthcoming lecture will take place in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall and is FREE to the public; however a donation of £3 encouraged to cover costs. Doors open at 7.00pm and talks start at 7.30pm.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Next talks:

  • Thursday 26th May, Emma Lavinia: The First Mrs Hardy with Helen Gibson and Marilyn Leah.
  • Thursday 30th June, Thomas Hardy and Folksong by Dr. Peter Robson
  • Thursday 3rd November, The influnence of Hardy on the Cornish Poet, Jack Clemo

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Museum visited by over 2,000 school children in 2015

School Group at Dorset County Museum -® Jonathan North  -DCM 2015

This year Dorset County Museum has been visited by 56 schools – that’s more than 2,000 school children through the front doors.

Many of these children are local, but the museum also attracts schools from further afield – this year we’ve even had a class from Germany, and 10 pupils all the way from Singapore!

Emma Talbot, Head of Education and Learning at the Museum says, “It is fabulous to see so many children actively engaging with Dorset’s past. We offer a programme for schools that is creative, fun and hands on as well as being linked to the national curriculum. Our tour guides are all volunteers and do an amazing job making history come alive for the children. We couldn’t offer this service without them and I can’t thank them enough.”

Class Teacher, Sasha Jones of Milborne St Andrew First School commented after a recent visit “The assistance we received from all staff and volunteers was excellent. The activities available were perfectly in line with what we have been learning, and the children had a fantastic day and learnt a lot which resulted in some beautiful writing. It was a great opportunity for the children to see and touch real Iron Age and Roman artefacts – and they loved eating their lunch on a real Roman mosaic too!”

With a brand new Ancient Dorset Gallery, Dorset County Museum can offer the following educational sessions: Dinosaurs & Fossils; Archaeology; Stone Age to Iron Age; Roman Dorset; a visit to The Roman Town House. All guides are knowledgeable and experienced, and children can handle objects.

If you’d like to find out more or book a session in 2016 for your school, contact Emma Talbot on 01305 756832, or email her at education@dorsetcountymuseum.org or visit the Dorset County Museum website for more details www.dorsetcountymuseum.org/education

Mammoth Book Sale at Dorset County Museum

Book Sale at Dorset County MuseumThe Dorset County Museum’s popular annual sale of second-hand books will be taking place on Friday 20, Saturday 21 and Monday 23 November 2015 between 10am to 4pm.

Thousands of quality books will be sold at bargain prices – fact, fiction, hardback and softback. Hundreds of subjects and genres will be represented including Dorset, travel, history, music, art and gardening . A wide selection of fiction will also be available including hard and soft backs. A few minutes’ careful searching could reveal untold treasures!

Dorset County Museum Book Sale 2012In addition, there will be a sale of Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society publications at knock-down prices – available only to buyers who visit the sale in person.
All proceeds go towards the upkeep of the Museum and its extensive collections.

Donations of good quality second hand books will be gratefully received up to and including Friday 13 November.

The Museum’s well-stocked gift shop is also worth a visit with Christmas lines now available, and the popular tea room awaits weary bargain hunters.

Everyone is welcome and entry to the sale is FREE – it would help the Museum if visitors could bring their own bags as supplies of plastic bags will be limited. Please note the Museum will NOT be open on Sunday 22 November.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Dorset County Museum celebrates its volunteers in National Volunteer Week

Volunteers-Week-LogoThis week is National Volunteer Week, and Dorset County Museum wants to recognise the generosity of its 200 volunteers who collectively give thousands of hours of their time to the Museum each year. Volunteers are involved in a wide range of activities at the Museum, from documenting, curating and conserving collections to staging exhibitions, working in the Museum Shop and helping with lectures, events and fundraising.

Museum Tea Room VolunteersJill Minchin, Volunteer Co-ordinator and herself a volunteer at the Museum explained: “The Museum simply could not care for its collections adequately or put on such a wide range of exhibitions and activities without the help of its volunteers. The Museum’s archaeology, geology, textiles, art, literary and photographic collections are all looked after by volunteer curators, and a team of volunteers also run the Museum’s library, where many important antiquarian volumes are housed.”

Museum-Volunteers-ArchaeologyJon Murden, Director added, “Volunteers are absolutely crucial to every aspect of the running of the Museum. We could not function without the enormous amount of work put in each and every day by our team of highly motivated and highly skilled volunteers. We can’t thank them enough for the essential work they do.”

Dorset County Museum has been awarded £10.3million of Heritage Lottery funding for a new Collections Development Centre. Part of this money will be used to improve the working environment for volunteers.

The Museum is always looking for volunteers for lots of different roles, so if you would be interested in getting involved please get in touch by phone on 01305 756826, or email volunteering@dorsetcountymuseum.org

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Spring holiday family fun at Dorset County Museum

Iron Age Round HouseHoliday Family activities continue to be FREE at Dorset County Museum thanks to generous sponsorship from Battens Solicitors.

The activity during spring half term is on Wednesday 18th February. Find out all about the amazing round houses that Iron Age people lived in on top of Maiden Castle and all over Dorset, then build your own model to take home. This takes place between 10.30am and 12.30pm and there’s no need to book.

At Easter the family activities focus on some of the burial customs from ancient times – looking at how people were buried and what special objects were chosen to go into the grave. There will also be an opportunity to find out more about the Museum’s famous horned Ooser.

Dorset County Museum welcomes families and has a range of family trails and plenty of activities for children in the galleries.

For further information please see www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or telephone 01305 262735.

Dates of Family Activities at the Dorset County Museum as follows:

  • 18th February: Make a Replica Iron Age Round House – 10.30am and 12.30pm
  • 1st April: Brilliant Burials and Skeletons – 10.30am and 12.30pm
  • 8th April: Make a Dorset Ooser Mask – 10.30am and 12.30pm