Literary Lives: The Infant’s Grammar by Dr Alan Chedzoy

Character from a Victorian Picture BookIs it possible to teach English grammar in pictures? Some early educators thought so. This illustrated talk takes place on Thursday 14 September 2017 in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall and will present two nineteenth-century picture books which attempted to inculcate small children with an understanding of the most basic grammatical subject, namely the ‘parts of speech’.

The books introduced their readers to a cast of linguistic ‘characters’ including not only the parts of speech themselves, but also Bobby who hates grammar, and Dr Brown, a sort of resident pedagogue, who swishes his cane at the little dunces in his care.

Though displaying many delightful absurdities, these books exhibit a considerable ingenuity. Yet in doing so, they raise a number of linguistic and even philosophical problems, including issues of children’s conceptual development. How can we define a preposition to them? Should we even attempt to do so?

No previous knowledge of grammar is required from those who attend. Indeed, those who have forgotten the last shreds of their grammatical knowledge may regain at least a modest insight into the most elementary foundations of the subject.

This talk presented by Dr Alan Chedzoy is addressed to a general audience but may be of especial interest to teachers who find themselves obliged by governmental decree to explain English grammar to little ones.

The speaker Alan Chedzoy taught in secondary schools, and for eighteen years in teacher education. A graduate in literature and philosophy, his doctoral thesis related the theory of literature to educational philosophy. His work has been published in such educational journals as: The Use of English and The Oxford Review of Education. His recent years have been chiefly devoted to writing literary biographies, and as a member of the William Barnes Society is an authority on Dorset literature and dialect. His readings of the work of Thomas Hardy and William Barnes have been widely praised. The Gramophone magazine’s verdict on his recordings of dialect poetry was that ‘you will hear none better’.

The talk takes place in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall on Thursday 14 September 2017, 7.00pm for 7.30pm. The performance is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

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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All the fun of a Victorian Fayre at the Dorset County Museum

The Victorian Fayre last year at the Dorset County Museum

The Victorian Fayre last year at the Dorset County Museum

On Sunday 21st February, from 2.00pm to 5.00pm, the Dorset County Museum opens its doors for the second year running to a traditional Victorian Fayre to celebrate the birthday of William Barnes, Dorset dialect poet. This FREE event will offer something for all the family.

Stalls will include traditional crafts and gifts and the chance to learn rural skills. There will be Maypole dancing for the children as well as popular parlour games.

The friends of the William Barnes Society and Tim Laycock, well-known folk musician, actor and storyteller will provide traditional singing, music, dance and poetry reading throughout the afternoon.

Frome Valley Morris Mummer

Frome Valley Morris Mummer

The Frome Valley Morris Men will perform the Mummers and Hoodening play. The event would not be complete without a raffle, quiz and a Victorian afternoon tea.

Marion Tait, Honorary Curator of the William Barnes Gallery and Archive said that last year the Victorian Fayre was a huge success and was hoping for a repeat performance.

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

Thomas Hardy Lecture: Hardy, Women and Marriage By Professor Ann Heilmann

Emma Hardy

Emma Hardy from the Dorset County Museum’s Hardy Collection © DCM

On Thursday 30th July, Professor Ann Heilmann of Cardiff University is giving a literary talk at Dorset County Museum entitled ‘Hardy, Women and Marriage’.

When, with the death of his first wife Emma, Hardy embarked on his Poems of 1912-13, the estranged husband reconstituted himself in author and journalist Claire Tomalin’s words as ‘a lover in mourning’. It is perhaps a fitting irony that the man who reconfigured his marriage after the event had spent his novelistic career waging war on conventional Victorian ideas of marriage.

Hardy’s attack on marriage as a social and legal institution pervades his entire fiction, from his first novel Desperate Remedies (1871) and its sensation-style foray into bigamy, to his final masterpiece, Jude the Obscure (1895): a book which prompted the Mrs Grundy of Victorian literature, Margaret Oliphant, to denounce Hardy as the leading figure in the contemporary ‘Anti-Marriage League’.

This talk discusses marriage in Hardy’s life and fiction, highlighting his radical critique of Victorian legal conditions and his early espousal of women’s rights.

All are welcome to the talk which starts at 7.30pm. Doors open at 7.00pm. The talk is free of charge but a donation of £3.00 is encouraged to cover costs.

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

Far from the Madding Crowd at the Dorset County Museum

Far From Madding Crowd CostumesThe Writers Gallery at the Dorset County Museum is currently embellished by three striking costumes from the new film adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd, currently on loan from Fox Searchlight Pictures and Cosprop costumiers. These are outfits worn by Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba, the headstrong yet vulnerable heroine of the story, in the wedding scenes in the film. There is the smart dress and hat of the runaway wedding day, the gold striped silk dress and embroidered silk jacket of her homeward journey, and a dress worn at the wedding party. These costumes were designed by BAFTA Award winner and four times Academy Award nominated costume designer Janet Patterson (The Piano, Bright Star)

Bathsheba Everdene and Sgt. Frank Troy illustrated by Helen Allingham for 1874 The Cornhill Magazine serial of Thomas Hardy's Far From Madding Crowd

Bathsheba Everdene and Sgt. Frank Troy illustrated by Helen Allingham for 1874 The Cornhill Magazine serial of Thomas Hardy’s Far From Madding Crowd

On display too is a section of the novel written in Thomas Hardy’s own hand, illustrations from the original publication by Helen Allingham. Among much else to be seen is a first edition, and reproductions of scenes of rural Wessex by Henry Joseph Moule, Hardy’s friend and watercolourist, and the first curator of the Dorset County Museum.

Thomas Hardy would surely have welcomed the new film dramatization of one of his greatest novels. Adapted for the screen by novelist, David Nicholls, it is directed by the acclaimed Thomas Vinterberg. It is a powerful film, which reflects the essence of this great novel. The photography is stunning, giving a strong sense of place in the atmospheric shots of Dorset landscapes throughout the seasons. We see the inner turmoil of the characters in close up as the drama unfolds, and their outward reactions to the danger when the farm is under threat by fire or violent thunderstorm. This is a film full of action and drama.

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene in the new film adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel Far From Madding Crowd

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene in the new film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From Madding Crowd – Fox Searchlight Pictures © 2015

Above all, Far from the Madding Crowd is a love story about the beautiful Bathsheba Everdene and the three men who desire her. A young woman of spirit and vitality, she has the courage to take on challenges presented by her romantic relationships, and in becoming a successful woman farmer. Carey Mulligan brings Bathsheba to life in a remarkably sensitive manner. We feel her strength and spirit, and her youthful disregard of danger and consequent vulnerability, which will resonate with modern audiences.

Far from the Madding Crowd was written when Hardy was 33, and was his fourth published novel. It first appeared in serial form in 1874 in The Cornhill magazine with illustrations by Helen Allingham. The novel became so popular that Hardy could afford to give up architecture, to marry Emma Lavinia, and to become a full-time writer.

Hardy’s acute sense of colours and beauty and detail make his writing easy to visualise. For instance, Gabriel’s first view of Bathsheba:

…It was a fine morning and the sun lighted up to a scarlet glow the crimson jacket she wore, and painted a soft lustre upon her bright face and dark hair.

Later, the season for sheep-shearing having finished:

It was the first day of June …Every green was young, every pore was open and every stalk was swollen with racing currents of juice. God was palpably present in the country and the devil had gone with the world to town.

Bathsheba’s meeting with Troy is vividly expressed as she sees him lit up by a lantern as ‘brilliant in brass and scarlet ’and

His sudden appearance was to darkness what the sound of a trumpet is to silence.

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene and Tom Sturridge as Sgt. Frank Troy in the new film adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel Far From Madding Crowd - Fox Searchlight Pictures © 2015

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene and Tom Sturridge as Sgt. Frank Troy in the new film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From Madding Crowd – Fox Searchlight Pictures © 2015

This is a dramatic story, full of pivotal moments, changing fortunes and expectations. Bathsheba’s inheritance of her uncle’s farm provides her with great opportunities, whereas Gabriel’s loss of his sheep does the reverse. When Bathsheba sends a Valentine card, as a joke, to Boldwood it awakens a doom-laden obsession, whereas the chance encounter between Troy and Bathsheba sets them on the path of their passionate affair, with consequences beyond their own fate.

The setting is rural Wessex with its farms, villages and market towns and a way of life virtually unchanged for centuries, dependant on the livestock and crops grown by those who worked the land. People travel by foot, horseback, or horse-drawn vehicles, and are thus mostly rooted in their locality.

The lives of the main characters are played out against the backdrop of a close-knit community and the wider natural world. This local community includes workers, the farm owners and wealthier land owners, their lives interwoven as the drama unfolds. Even the dangerously attractive Sergeant Troy has his roots in the world of farming, as have Gabriel Oak and gentleman farmer, William Boldwood. In this tale happiness and sadness, comedy and tragedy, light and dark, and the sheer variety of moods, combine to make it compelling.

In the words of Virginia Woolf, talking about Hardy’s Wessex Novels:

Our imaginations have been stretched and heightened; our humour has been made to laugh out; we have drunk deep of the beauty of the earth.

The costumes from the film are currently on display at the Dorset County Museum and on display until 8th June 2015. For further information contact the Museum on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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William Barnes celebrated at Museum’s Victorian Fayre

Dorset County Museum Victorian FayreOn Sunday 22nd February 2015, the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall was transformed into a traditional Victorian Fayre to celebrate the birthday of Dorset dialect poet William Barnes. The atmosphere was full of hustle and bustle with numerous stalls from traditional crafts to popular parlour games; Victorian paperboy selling his broadsheets and a demonstration of net making and other rural skills. The museum’s Tea Room worked flat out to provide Victorian afternoon tea for 350 visitors.

The Language of Flowers proved to be really popular with people queueing to create their own style Nosegays and Tussie Mussies with fresh flowers. Likewise the demonstration on creating Dorset Buttons saw very enthusiastic folk fashion their own design.

Net Making

Sue Worth of The New Hardy Players demonstrates Net Making

The Herb stall gave an informative look into culinary and medicinal uses of that period.
The fantastic display of hand-made bonnets drew quite a crowd as did the dining table which depicted the difference between the gentry and the rural labourers.

The children had their own entertainment including pin the tail on the donkey, making little peg dolls, a variety of toys to buy and dressing up in period costume.

Musician and Storyteller Tim Laycock captivated the audience of his portrayal of a teacher in a Victorian classroom. Whilst fellow members of the William Barnes Society and The New Hardy Players entertained all with music, song, poetry and country dancing which was enjoyed by people of all ages.

Alastair Simpson and the Cantate Rustique choir

Alastair Simpson and the Cantate Rustique Choir

Alastair Simpson conducted the Cantate Rustique choir to perform four pieces: Ralph Vaughan Williams’s famous Linden Lea; a setting of The Lew O’ the Rick by the blind organist of Shaftesbury, F. F. Coaker, from the 1950s; a 2002 work by Peter Lord, Come; and Alastair’s own harmonisation of the folk musician Tim Laycock’s touching melody to the words of Barnes’s grief-stricken poem The Wife a-Lost, the last being a premiere.

William Barnes Collection Curator, Marion Tait said “This was a hugely successful and amazing event where all had a great time at the Victorian Fayre raising over £600 towards the redevelopment of the museum’s William Barnes’ Gallery.”


 

A huge thank you to Battens Solicitors, Dorchester, for sponsoring the event and a special thank you to all volunteers who took part in the Victorian Fayre and celebrating William Barnes Birthday

  • Alastair Simpson and Cantate Rustique
  • Alistair Chisholm
  • Friends and family

Thank you to the following businesses for supporting the William Barnes Collection.

  • Dorset Flower Men, Dorchester Precinct
  • Bridget, Fruit and Vegetable stall, Dorchester market
  • Beth King, Tolpuddle

Is your Turkey Cooked Victorian Style

Dorset County Museum volunteer, Marion Tate and Stuart Jury stand outside County Town Butchers

Dorset County Museum volunteer, Marion Tate and Stuart Jury stand outside County Town Butchers

A splendid turkey has been kindly donated by County Town Butchers, Stuart Jury, to play centre stage at the display of a Victorian dinner. The Countess Elizabeth invites you to view an informal dinner party, only five-six courses, on Sunday 22nd February from 2.00pm to 5.00pm at the Victorian Fayre, Dorset County Museum, Dorchester.

At the Fayre children and adults can also experience a whole range of activities which will include learning about life in Victorian times from classroom lessons reciting Dorset dialect words to traditional rural crafts. There will be demonstrations of Dorset buttons, making bonnets, perfumery and net making. A variety of stalls will include Victorian children’s toys and popular parlour games. Have your photograph taken in Victorian costume as a memento of a very special day. There will also be a Victorian Tea as well as a raffle and quiz.

Tim Laycock, well-known folk musician, actor and storyteller and other performers will provide traditional singing, music, dance and poetry reading throughout the afternoon.

This fundraising event is free and offers members of the public an afternoon of live demonstrations, entertainment and stalls. The funds raised from the fayre will go towards the refurbishment of the Museum’s William Barnes collection and gallery which is dedicated to Dorset’s greatest dialect poet.

We are very grateful to Battens Charitable Trust which has sponsored this event

The Victorian Fayre takes place at 2.00pm to 5.00pm on Sunday 22nd February. The event is FREE but donations are welcome and all are welcome to attend.  For further information please see www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or telephone 01305 262735.

All the fun of a Victorian Fayre at the Dorset County Museum

Victorian Fayre at Dorset County MuseumThe Dorset County Museum will be hosting a Victorian Fayre on Sunday 22nd February from 2.00pm to 5.00pm.

This fundraising event is free and offers members of the public an afternoon of live demonstrations, entertainment and stalls.

Children and adults will experience a whole range of activities which will include learning about life in Victorian times from classroom lessons reciting Dorset dialect words to traditional rural crafts. There will be demonstrations of Dorset buttons, making bonnets, perfumery and net making. A variety of stalls will include Victorian children’s toys and popular parlour games. There will also be a Victorian Tea as well as a raffle and quiz.

Tim Laycock, well-known folk musician, actor and storyteller and other performers will provide traditional singing, music, dance and poetry reading throughout the afternoon.

The funds raised from the fayre will go towards the refurbishment of the Museum’s William Barnes collection and gallery which is dedicated to Dorset’s greatest dialect poet.

We are very grateful to Battens Charitable Trust which has sponsored this event

The Victorian Fayre takes place at 2.00pm to 5.00pm on Sunday 22nd February. The event is FREE but donations are welcome and all are welcome to attend.  For further information please seewww.dorsetcountymuseum.org or telephone 01305 262735.

Talk and Book Signing: West Dorset Country Houses by Michael Hill

West Dorset Country HousesMichael Hill’s new book, West Dorset Country Houses, is a superbly researched and illustrated account of country houses in eastern Dorset. Ranging from medieval palace buildings at Corfe Castle to Art Deco houses in Poole, over 30 homes are described in great detail including the use of many architectural drawings and plans.

During his talk at Dorset County Museum on 27th November, Michael Hill will discuss the book and explain how the social context of the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras became interwoven with architectural practices. The talk will be illustrated throughout with recent and contemporary drawings and photographs.

All are welcome to this talk which starts at 7.30pm. Entry is from 7.00pm and the event is free although a donation of £3.00 is encouraged to cover costs. Copies of Michael Hill’s book will also be on sale during the evening.

For more information phone the Museum on 01305 756827 or visit our website at www.dorsetcountymuseum.org