Short Post

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Between Milnthorpe and Arnside

I have been making contacts towards a new work that is inspired by the writing of local Milnthorpe/Arnside novelist Constance Holme.

I was alerted to her work by Janice Wilson, the Cumbria, Blue Badge Tour Guide, I worked with as part of a Heron Corn Mill community project called “Threshold” a couple of years ago.   I then met with Ackerthwaite based local historian Roger Bingham with whom I have made three films documenting my naive early enquiries into the work of Constance Holme and her haunts.. Then through this blog I was contacted by Kenneth Hillier, a book collector from Derbyshire with an interest in Constance Holme and a tremendous collection of her papers and almost every edition of her books collections including an original manuscript of her unpublished novel “The Jasper Sea”.  I had a terrific visit to his home where I saw and photographed his wonderful collection of books.  There followed a delightful encounter with John Caldwell who lived in Milnthorpe and went to school in Arnside and  whose father was Constance’s doctor.  Dr Caldwell owned the surgery in Milnthorpe and he also worked with  Roger Bingham’s father who was also Constance’s doctor and part of the same practice.  I have a really fascinating film of John taking me around Arnside locating various places referred to in her books and venturing over the marsh to the farms referred to in “The Lonely Plough” and “Beautiful End”.  A journey I also made with Roger Bingham when I knew so much less than I do now.   I have also  had some email exchanges with a piano tuner who lives in one of the marsh cottages associated with her novel “Beautiful End”.   I am often at Southport Library on the free Ancestry.co.uk website researching Constance Holme’s family tree and have discovered her cousin lived in Southport and was part of the suffragette movement.  More of this later.   So all in all it has been a really fruitful period of research which recently culminated in a visit to Arnside and Silverdale AONB.

Watch this space as the project develops  supported by the ever hardworking Audrey Steeley from Heron Corn Mill with whom I am collaborating.

4 thoughts on “Short Post”

  1. Constance Holme novels are based on the people and places of her home county of Westmorland, to be precise the 20 square miles where she lived. The novels reveal rural life and have characters that locals would no doubt recognise. In many ways her writing, so contained ,reflect her own life with the boundaries of her father and then her husband’s professional life, as land agent. Her letters reveal the wider world and her connection to it.

    An internationally recognised writer mislaid through time by social expectations and norms where a professional woman would be somewhat frowned upon. A respected citizen by landed gentry and land labourers.

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