As you may have noticed, we’ve been enjoying a huge amount of media attention since our database launched two weeks ago! It’s been fantastic for us to share the poetry with new audiences and to hear from so many people who are as interested in Lancashire’s history and culture as we are. People from all over the world have visited our website, and the database has been used by literally thousands of people in the past two weeks. We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing from us and that the word continues to spread!
Below are links to the media coverage we’ve had:
David Collins in The Sunday Times, 5th August 2018 requires registration or subscription to read)
Simon talks to Mark Sweeney at BBC Radio Manchester, 6th August 2018 (from approx. 1.46.48)
Alison Flood in The Guardian, 9th August 2018
Simon talks to Mark Mardell on BBC Radio 4’s the World at One, 9th August 2018 (from approx. 40.00)
Simon talks to Rony Robinson at BBC Radio Sheffield, 9th August 2018 (from approx. 1.09.00)
Simon talks to Paul Ross at TalkRadio, 13th August 2018 (from approx. 4.33am)
Brigit Katz in the Smithsonian, 13th August 2018
Please do keep checking back on the database, as we’ll be adding more content in due course. We’re also planning more events to get the word out and will advertise these once they are confirmed. We are very pleased to say that we are working with the marvellous Manchester Literature Festival on two very exciting events on 21st November this year, including a very special performance by our musical partners Faustus. Please see below for more information and to book tickets – we recommend booking early to avoid disappointment as we do expect these to fill up fast!
Manchester Literature Festival – Finding the Poetry of the Cotton Famine (workshop)
Manchester Literature Festival – Faustus: Cotton Famine Poems (performance)
On Tuesday night – July 31st – we held the official ‘soft’ launch of the database at the beautiful Portico Library right in the centre of Manchester. This was the day that saw the culmination of more than three years of planning, when the first one hundred Cotton Famine poems were made freely available to the public and scholars alike, complete with images, audio recordings, and text commentary for most of the pieces. So now, if you explore the bar at the top of this page, you can read texts (and read about texts, and listen to them) which have been effectively inaccessible for over one hundred and fifty years, gathered together for the first time.
The launch event was an absolute sell-out, with the free tickets being refused to callers who could no longer access them through Eventbrite for a couple of days before the event. Extra chairs had to be brought in and over a hundred people packed into the small central space beneath the classical dome of the library to hear myself, Dr Ruth Mather, and Jennifer Reid introduce, discuss, and perform the poetry which was such a vital part of the culture of this region during the darkest days of the industrial revolution. We were able demonstrate the database live and show how even this arbitrary selection of the hundreds of texts we already hold shows the cluster of publication through the worst Cotton Famine months of late-1862 / early-1863.
It was a shame that Professor Brian Maidment, who has been so central to this project as Co-Investigator, could not attend, but he had an unavoidable clash with a conference in Canada for the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, of which he is president. This felt like the beginning of something which is expanding in various directions. Not only do we have hundreds more texts to add to the database, and hundreds more still to find in archives across the region, but the literary and historical implications of the body of work are now starting to become clearer. On the evening Ruth and I were approached by several people who had ideas and information which will take quite a lot of following up, and we are thrilled that so many people are as enthusiastic as we are about recovering the region’s real poetic heritage. Watch this space for updates on where Cotton Famine poetry is taking us. And of course, you can explore the world of Cotton Famine poetry yourself now. Do remember, this is an evolving resource with a growing cohort of contributors. If you have any corrections, comments, or suggestions, do not hesitate to message us through this site, or email myself at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Ruth at email@example.com.
We would like to thank Jennifer Reid for her amazing performance on the night, by turns funny and spine-tingling. We would also very much like to thank the Digital Humanities team at the University of Exeter for getting the site ready for the launch date, and the staff at the Portico Library for enabling the event to be such a resounding success.