Friday, February 08, 2013

Me and Miss Martineau

How does a city’s biography inform its current life? What stories are told by places, and by people, past and present? What stories do they inspire in you?

26 Writers Norwich is a collaborative writing project which pairs contemporary writers with Norwich writers, all of whom pioneered an idea, or an institution, sometimes both. ‘The least religious city’ in England and Wales (2011 Census) was home to Bishop Herbert de Losinga, whose cathedral houses a world-renowned library; Julian of Norwich, the venerated Christian mystic whose books are the first written in English by a woman; and Elizabeth Fry, the renowned Quaker social reformer and prison reformer. Literary luminaries from the last 900 years include Britain’s first Hebrew poet, the “father of the English sonnet”, the author of Black Beauty, and the first Creative Writing scholar. Radicals pepper the Norwich archives – in journalism, feminism, science, sociology, philosophy, politics and education. Poetry blossoms and blooms in new forms. Novels break the rules. Folklore abounds and maps flourish. Is it any wonder that Norwich today is England’s first City of Literature?

Another wonderful 26 project!  I've been paired with Harriet Martineau, 1802-1876, said to be the founder of sociology and the inspiration for the ghastly Mrs Jellyby in Dicken's Bleak House.  

"Dry for days" do I hear you say?  You might think that, but you'd be wrong.  

"Prove it!" you say?  That's my plan.  Starting this weekend.  An atmosphere- and information-trawling expedition will ensue.  A meeting in a cafe with a young poet from the Cotswolds has been arranged - it's not just dead people we've been twinned with!  And I'm going to write a piece to make you like Harriet as much as I do.

It's going to be fun!

P.S.  Other 26 projects I've had fun with are 26 Treasures and 26 Stories of Christmas.
P.P.S.  For those of you who were wondering, Silver Skin is with my agent as we speak ...


At 3:03 AM, Blogger TheScribbler said...

Hello Joan, I found your blog via a tweet from the lovely John Simmons.

There's a guest house in Tynemouth n the North East of England named after Harriet Martineau

And a blue plaque which commemorates the time she spent here recovering her health.

I mainly know of Harriet through her friendship with Charlotte Bronte, so I was delighted to find this connection when I moved to the area.

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Mavis said...

I look forward to seeing how it goes -it sounds great fun and lovely to collaborate with someone else.

At 11:19 AM, Blogger Joan Lennon said...

Dear Scribbler - thanks for visiting and for flagging up the guest house - it looks lovely!

Thanks Mavis - beyond it being poetry, I've no idea yet what I'm going to be writing, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes too!

At 3:18 AM, Blogger madwippitt said...

Is there something mystical about the number 26 which has somehow evaded me?
And hurrah about Silver Skin! :-)

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Joan Lennon said...

Ah, Madwippitt, I'm so glad I'm not the only one who needed this explained! It's because there are 26 letters in the alphabet ...

At 4:52 AM, Blogger madwippitt said...

Doh. Of course!

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Joan Lennon said...

I've deleted some comments, not because they were rude or anything, but because they had links to downloads that might have been dodgy. Sometimes it's better to be over-cautious!


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