Mary Elizabeth Coleridge’s Handwritten Poetry Collection

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Note written by Lucy Violet Holdsworth to accompany Mary Coleridge’s handwritten collection of poems, later to be published as ‘Fancy’s Following’. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts 56)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge was born on 23 September 1861, and she grew up surrounded by literary and artistic talent. She was the great-grand-niece of Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and her family friends included Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Anthony Trollope, John Ruskin, and Robert Browning. During her lifetime, she became best known for her essays, reviews and her five published novels. These included ‘The King with Two Faces’ which she received the substantial sum of £900 for in 1897.

However, posthumously it is her poetry which has taken centre stage. Our first Treasure of the Month for 2017 is a fair copy of Mary Coleridge’s first poetry collection, ‘Fancy’s Following’, which was handwritten by the poet for her friend, Lucy Violet Holdsworth.

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Page taken from Mary Coleridge’s handwritten collection of poems, later to be published as ‘Fancy’s Following’. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts. 56)

 

 

 

 

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Page taken from Mary Coleridge’s handwritten collection of poems, later to be published as ‘Fancy’s Following’. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts. 56)

The copy was made before it was later issued privately by Daniel Press in 1896, and in fact, it was this small white book which led to the publication. Holdsworth’s cousin, Monica Bridges (nee. Waterhouse) was married to the Robert Seymour Bridges, Britain’s poet laureate from 1913 – 1930. Holdsworth planned for the book to be left out for Bridges to take notice and when he did, he asked to meet Mary to encourage her to publish her work. Coleridge agreed, but with the stipulation that it was published under the pseudonym ‘Anodos’ in order not to disgrace her family name by acknowledging she was the author. It wasn’t until four months after her death in 1907 that a book of two hundred and thirty-seven of her poems was finally published under her real name, and by that time, it proved so popular that it was reprinted four times in just six months.

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The score for ‘The Blue Bird’, a poem by Mary Coleridge set to Music by Charles Villiers Stanford. (Stanford Collection, Op.119.3.)

 

‘A Blue Bird’, which appeared in ‘Fancy’s Following’, was one of eight of Mary Coleridge’s poems which was set to music by Charles Villiers Stanford. The score can be found in our Stanford (Charles Villiers) Collection, and you can listen to a performance of it below.

Education Outreach: Use your Loaf

A group of Year 9 (13-14 year old) students from Bedlingtonshire High School in Northumberland took part in a two day event inspired by a 17th century recipe from our Special Collections.  As part of this ‘Use Your Loaf’ project, they baked and sampled bread from a recipe that, as far as we know, had not been used in over 300 years!

Misc Manuscripts 17th C recipe

Misc Manuscripts 17th C recipe

Jane Lorraine’s recipe book, which was compiled between 1684-6, was adapted by the Food Technology students who transcribed the recipe for cake bread (similar to our modern day fruit loaf), interpreting the older spellings, letter formations, annotations and weights to create a recipe they could work with.

Next they visited the Chemistry Outreach Lab to gain an understanding of the science behind the chemical reaction of yeast and the impact that heat has on the effectiveness of yeast.

Students at NU

Students at NU

The following day they returned to have a go at baking both modern day bread and their newly discovered 17th century bread in NU Food – surprisingly finding more similarities than differences.  The students remarked that the 17th century bread was indeed edible (as Library staff who sampled the bread baked by the education outreach staff will testify – (in itself a miracle if anyone knows our baking abilities!).  They also did some food tasting and experienced the difference salt makes to the taste of bread before finding out about current University research on the benefits of various herbs and spices.

The primary purpose of the pilot was to work with the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development and the School of Chemistry on an outreach project with a widening participation school, which showcased the potential and breadth of University education to students from families with limited experience of higher education.  One student remarked of the University that “it is a big interesting place” with many others commenting on how “it was different” and how they got to do “something we don’t usually do”, whilst a significant number remarked on how the visit made them more likely to consider applying to University.  One student summed it up succinctly when asked what they would change about the visit:  “nothing, it was brilliant”.

17th C bread

17th C bread

We hope to condense the pilot into a one day event which can be offered to other schools and to open up the project to other interested parties through the development of a libguide.  Hopefully, more forgotten recipes that have not been baked for centuries will be revisited and eaten again.