Paper abstracts are provided below, following the order of the programme
Professor Helen Rees Leahy, University of Manchester
A Sense of Place: Authenticity and Imagination at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House
My aim is to explore the attraction and experience of writers’ houses in the nineteenth and the twenty-first centuries, with a particular focus on the home of Elizabeth Gaskell at 84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester. To what extent does the restoration and opening of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House replay the tropes of nineteenth-century literary tourism and its fascination with interiority, relics and genius loci? If these are indeed (some) visitors’ expectations, how do they respond to the relative absence of provenanced objects belonging to Gaskell and her family? And how are the tensions between historical immersion and contemporary interpretation negotiated and experienced by the House’s managers and visitors respectively? These and other questions will frame my consideration of the production of authenticity and the role of imagination in literary tourism, past and present.
Reflecting the conference theme, I will address the question of how Gaskell ‘placed’ herself in Plymouth Grove when she lived there between 1850 and 1865 and how, in turn, her visitors, friends and associates ‘placed’ the author ‘Mrs Gaskell’ on this particular domestic stage. The bequest of important objects from the House by Gaskell’s daughter, Meta (who died in 1913) marked a further episode of careful ‘placing’ devised to promote her mother’s literary and personal reputation. And recently, the process of repatriating Gaskell objects and texts – or their digital proxies – to 84 Plymouth Grove has ‘re-placed’ them in a space that is both authentic and imagined, where they are used to narrate stories of the past in the present.
The presentation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House today is, of course, a response to the contemporary politics of heritage as well as an exercise in historical research and reconstruction. Drawing on my role as Curatorial Adviser to the project, I will discuss the sources (texts, objects and images) and principles that informed the process of restoration and interpretation.
Panel A: Il turista: tourism and literary networks in Italy
Dr Jennifer Rushworth, St John’s College, Oxford
Petrarch, Laura, and Avignon: Placement and Displacement
Studies have already pointed both to Petrarch as a foundational figure in early manifestations of literary tourism and to Petrarchan anniversaries in the long nineteenth century as important focal points of memory and celebration. Against this critical backdrop, this paper seeks to explore the motivations for placing Petrarch and his beloved Laura in nineteenth-century Avignon, through attention to translations, biographies, critical works, anniversary programmes, and travel guides.
The catalyst for Petrarchism in this period is the abbé de Sade’s Mémoires pour la vie de François Pétrarque (1764-1767), which make the startling claim that Petrarch’s Laura was from Avignon and is a direct ancestor of the author’s own family. The subsequent century sees much debate over Laura’s actual birthplace, as well as her burial site (a site of contention since Maurice Scève’s claim to have found her grave in a church in Avignon in 1533). Placing the author goes hand in hand with the placement of literary characters, for Petrarch his idol Laura, and has wider implications of nationalism, medievalism, and genealogy.
French interest in Petrarch culminated in the establishment of the Musée Pétrarque in 1928 putatively in his Provençal residence, as if to solidify claims for a French Petrarch against well-established Italian sites of pilgrimage (Petrarch’s birthplace in Arezzo and grave at Arquà). This paper will analyse the connections between Petrarch and Avignon in order to show how nineteenth-century readers of Petrarch both paved the way for a French writer’s house and in these efforts enforced an inevitable process of utopic displacement. Crucially, this attempted adoption is complicated by Petrarch’s anti-Avignonese writings, nomadic lifestyle, and love for Italy. Moreover, Petrarch’s self-identification as Florentine and desire for belonging through burial reveal links between place, writing, and the grave that are illuminating for nineteenth-century Necromanticism.
 Harald Hendrix, ‘The Early Modern Invention of Literary Tourism: Petrarch’s Houses in France and Italy’, in Writers’ Houses and the Making of Memory, ed. by Harold Hendrix (New York and London: Routledge, 2008), pp. 15-29, and Harald Hendrix, ‘From Early Modern to Romantic Literary Tourism: A Diachronical Perspective’, in Literary Tourism and Nineteenth-Century Culture, ed. by Nicola Watson (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), pp. 13-24. Harald Hendrix, ‘Petrarch 1804-1904: Nation-Building and Glocal Identities’, in Commemorating writers in nineteenth-century Europe: nation-building and centenary fever, ed. by Joseph Leerssen and Ann Rigney (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), pp. 117-133.
 See Paul Westover, Necromanticism: Travelling to Meet the Dead, 1750-1860 (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), and also Samantha Matthews, Poetical Remains: Poets’ Graves, Bodies, and Books in the Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
Jessica Roberson, University of California, Riverside
Poems of Places: Cultivating Literary Heritage in the Ground and on the Shelf
In 1875 Thomas Bailey Aldrich sent two sonnets on literary pilgrimage to Longfellow for inclusion in the next volume of his extensive Poems of Places anthology project. One, on a visit to Stratford-Upon-Avon, was accepted. The other, “Herewith I send you three pressed withered flowers,” records visits to the Italian graves of Shelley, Keats, and Landor. Longfellow rejected the poem because it refers to two different geographical places, Rome and Florence, even though they occupy the figurative common ground of a poet’s final resting place.
Aldrich’s poem records both the tradition of collecting botanical relics, enfolded in letters, a record of touch and exchange, of literary inheritance via organic relics – and the importance of defining place in collections and anthologies as well. As an American poet visiting the graves of British poets in Italy, Aldrich negotiates a vast network of place and space through the meeting of commemorative text and souvenir.
Accordingly, in this talk I consider the role of planting and clipping in the negotiation of nineteenth-century literary inheritance. After Aldrich’s own death, his wife opened his childhood home as a memorial, complete with a garden featuring all the flowers mentioned in his writing. Lillian Aldrich also explicitly remediated this garden into a posthumous anthology of poetic fragments, The Shadow of the Flowers (1912). The poem, the garden, and the book all represent attempts to reconcile a transatlantic literary heritage by locating the dead. These practices of collection and craft are tied to both the space of the memorial house and to the contingent, dynamic and historically situated development of author reputations – those of the Romantics whose graves Aldrich visited, and his own.
Dr Claudia Capancioni, Bishop Grosseteste University
Janet Ross’s Poggio Gherardo: Intellectual Encounters and Collaborations in late Nineteenth-Century Rural Tuscany
A twenty-first-century place of literary and scholarly tourism, in the late nineteenth century, Poggio Gherardo was the place to visit so as to discover rural Tuscany, absorb the hostess’s knowledge of Tuscan costumes and folklore, or interact with an intergenerational intellectual community. This paper claims Poggio Gherardo’s significance as a place of literary intergenerational legacy. The daughter of travel writer, Lucie Duff Gordon (1821-1869), author of the acclaimed Letters from Egypt, 1863-65 (1865), Janet Ross (1842-1927) settled with her husband in Tuscany in 1869. Contrary to many Anglo-American settlers, they preferred the countryside to the city of Florence and, after two decades at Castagnolo, bought Poggio Gherardo, a villa ‘nearly two miles due east of Florence, above the Settignano road, […] overlooking the valley of the Arno.’ ‘[T]he old castellated villa’ needed care and attention;  Janet Ross ‘turned it into one of the outstanding homes in Europe’ visited by John Addington Symonds and his daughter, Margaret Symonds, Henry James, Marie Corelli, Alfred Austin, Robert Browning, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell.  Proud of owning ‘the palagio in which the joyous company of seven ladies and three youths [take] refuge’ from the plague in Boccaccio’s Decameron, Ross turned Poggio Gherardo into a nineteenth-century place for the conception of literary collaborations and their writing. Through auto- and biographical material, this paper examines Ross’s renowned Sunday receptions and her study, where one could have admired her mother’s desk and portraits by Thackeray, G. F. Watts, and Edward Lear.
 Ross, Janet (1901). Florentine Villas, London: J. M. Dent & Co.,p. 131
 Downing, Ben (2013). Queen Bee of Tuscany: The Redoubtable Janet Ross, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, p. 4
 Ross, Janet (1901). Florentine Villas, p. 133.
Panel B: Encounters past and present
Charlotte May University of Nottingham
Samuel Rogers: An Eighteenth-century Literary Tourist and a Nineteenth-century Tourist Destination
The house of the bestselling banker-poet Samuel Rogers, 22 St James’s Place, London, was a renowned site for the literary tourist in the Victorian era. Home of a poet who sold over 40,000 copies of his works, it also housed an extensive library and art collection, including works of Raphael, Titian, Turner and Reynolds.
This paper will examine both published and unpublished letters and journals of Samuel Rogers (1763-1855) and his acquaintances to demonstrate how influential this London-based poet became and how he sculpted the literary landscape of his city. Firstly, I will examine Rogers’s position in London literary society in terms of both his political and poetical friends; these included the Whig Lord and Lady Holland as well as the Conservative Prime Minister the Duke of Wellington, and the Whiggish Lord Byron as well as the arch-Tory William Wordsworth.
Secondly, this paper will examine how Rogers himself was a literary tourist. He published with the Della Cruscan poetic leader Robert Merry in the 1790s, and travelled extensively across Europe, meeting Byron during his self-imposed exile, and authoring travel journals documenting art and culture across continents alongside writing poetry. This information and the art that he acquired during these trips were brought back to his London home, and it was at his breakfast table that the famous and the fashionable met.
This paper will demonstrate that Rogers was not just a literary tourist, but that his very house became a tourist destination. It was at his house that generations of authors from Wordsworth to Dickens dined, and the editions of his Table Talk were bestselling publications after his death, indicating that the Victorian book-buying public were aware that some of the most fascinating anecdotes of the late 18th and early to mid 19th centuries came from behind the front door of 22 St James’s Place.
Dr Christopher Donaldson, University of Birmingham
The Lady of the Lakes: Harriet Martineau and Victorian Lake District Tourism
Harriet Martineau’s writings about the society and scenery of the Lake District exerted a powerful influence on Victorian perceptions of the region. In essays such as ‘A Year at Ambleside’ (1850) and ‘Lights of the English Lake District’ (1861), in particular, she not only helped to define the Lakeland’s literary pantheon, but also to install herself within it. Of all her Lakeland works, however, none was more influential than her Complete Guide to the English Lakes. Frequently revised and reprinted between 1855 and 1885, the Complete Guide established Martineau as a significant and highly regarded Victorian authority on the cultural landscape of the Lake District. Drawing on original research into the Martineau Papers (at the University of Birmingham’s Cadbury Research Library) this paper explores the origins and influence of this extraordinary guidebook, paying particular attention to how it worked in tandem with Martineau’s other Lakeland writings to promote her own literary celebrity and how – in sharp contrast to the writings of the Lakes’s pre-eminent Victorian celebrity, William Wordsworth – it embraced the changes brought to the district by the coming of the railway age.
Dr Irene Wiltshire
From Family Home to Literary Shrine: Elizabeth Gaskell’s House
Writers’ homes seldom become literary shrines immediately after the death or departure of the writer in question. They may have a different, but equally important, life during the years between the departure of the writer and the transformation of the property to a shrine. This paper would look at Elizabeth Gaskell’s house to examine its journey from family home to literary shrine.
Following her death, in 1865, the House continued to be home for members of the Gaskell family for another 48 years, during which time two daughters established it as Manchester’s leading cultural centre. While these years do not cover the entire time span between Gaskell’s death and the acquisition of the property by Manchester Historic Buildings Trust, it was an important period in the life of the house and one that created a significant historic and cultural legacy. Attention would be given to the ways in which Meta and Julia Gaskell developed hospitality along the lines that their mother had enjoyed and admired during her visits to Paris and especially Mary Mohl’s salons. After the death of Meta Gaskell in 1913 attempts were made by a group of enthusiasts to save the house and present it to the Nation; reasons for the failure of this endeavour would be discussed, along with the fortunes of the House before it was acquired, in recent years, by the Manchester Historic Buildings Trust.
Now that the Gaskell House is refurbished and open to the public it may be unique among literary shrines in having two reasons for visitors to make their journey: the association with Elizabeth Gaskell and her writing; and the achievements of her daughters who, through their hospitality and choice of guests, anticipated the kind of activities that take place in the house today.
The Brontës at home
Kimberley Braxton, Keele University
“Any relic of the dead is precious, if they were valued living” – The Cultural, Economical and Spiritual Power of the Brontë Relics
The power of the Brontë Brand is not to be underestimated, as recently as February this year the National Heritage Memorial Fund granted the Brontë Parsonage £580,000 to purchase their dining room table. Needless to say this is not just any dining room table; it is the mythical table on which the Brontë sisters wrote their classic novels. A willingness to spend large sums of money on articles owned by the family is certainly not a new occurrence, upon the death of their father in October 1861 items from their house were put up for auction and Charlotte’s husband Arthur Bell Nicholls made a profit of £91. Lucasta Miller’s The Brontë Myth is the most rigorous examination of the Brontë phenomena and the curators of the Brontë Parsonage have published their own short guide to the Brontë relics. However, there is less focus on why people are so obsessed with these relics and the impact this has on the Brontë’s work. By placing the Victorian fascination with death, religious relics and modern day celebrity culture alongside contemporary discourses of the psychology of owning and collecting, I aim to explain what the significance of these relics were and continue to be for literary tourists. The table excluded, there are very few of these relics which are in any way linked to the Brontës’ writing. Since Elizabeth Gaskell’s infamous biography The Life of Charlotte Brontë there’s been a tendency for focus to move away from the works of literature and onto the Brontës themselves. Whilst economically this provides a lot of revenue for the Parsonage, Haworth and the UK, with so much focus on the family what impact is this having on their work? In the 1977 documentary The Brontë Business a large number of the tourists at the Parsonage had never read any of the Brontë novels. Could our attempt to preserve everything that was Brontë actually diminish the one thing they wanted to be remembered for?
Dr Amber Pouliot, Bishop Grosseteste University
“Gather round the presences who have drawn strength from this solitude”: Summoning and Sustaining the Brontë Ghosts
The Brontës are part of a discourse of sustainability spanning more than one hundred fifty years. Within two months of Charlotte’s death, Elizabeth Gaskell framed her projected biography as an attempt to preserve her memories ‘before [their] vividness had faded from my mind’. In 1878, Thomas Wemyss Reid called on the people of England to oppose the demolition of Saint Michael and All Angels church (where most of the family are buried) and urge its conservation as a monument to national genius. Despite national and local efforts to protect heritage sites, the Brontës are still part of a discourse of heritage in peril. In 2010, Haworth Conservation Area was identified by English Heritage as one of the ten most at risk heritage sites in Yorkshire. In 2012, proposals to erect wind farms on the moors surrounding Haworth posed a unique challenge to the Brontë Society’s conservation policy, pitting the sustainability of landscapes associated with the family against the need for sustainable energy. Sally MacDonald, chairman of the board of trustees, responded with a question worth considering: ‘Five hundred years from now people will still be reading the Brontë novels which are as ever-lasting as Shakespeare. But will people still come to Haworth?’.
From the nineteenth century to the present day, the Brontës’ legacy has been viewed as singularly vulnerable to the ravages of time because it is singularly dependent on the sustainability of the material remains of the family and the locations with which they are associated. This paper explores the historic relationship between materiality and our ability to summon and sustain the Brontës.
 The Letters of Mrs Gaskell, ed. by J. A. V. Chapple and Arthur Pollard (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1966), pp. 345-348, 4 [June] 1855.
 ‘370ft wind turbines could tower over Brontë country’, Telegraph, 19 August 2012 <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9485712/370ft-wind-turbines-could-tower-over-Bronte-country.html>.
Dr Amber Regis, University of Sheffield
Weird writing in a wild old place: Gaskell’s fantasied parsonage in The Life of Charlotte Brontë
In a letter to George Smith, written as she prepared her biography of Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell declared a preference for visual impression over exactitude: “I should like an engraving of the wild old place, & think perhaps this would be better than the Photograph” (6 February 1857). Gaskell’s own sketch of Haworth and the parsonage would soon adorn the frontispiece of the second volume of The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857). With its combination of light and dark, familiar and unfamiliar, realism and fantasy, the sketch reproduces in miniature a key set of thematic and narratival oppositions running throughout the biography, informing and shaping its representation of biographical subject and location.
Read in the context of mid-nineteenth-century developments in fiction, the biography can be seen to borrow its structure from fantastic realism. At one and the same time, the parsonage is both a domestic space and a “wild old place”; and Brontë is both appropriately feminine and the author of “wild weird writing.” This paper will explore Gaskell’s use of fantasy as she negotiates these contradictions, focusing in particular on her portrayal of Haworth parsonage and the flights of imagination taking place within its walls. Caught somewhere between the real and marvellous, the uncanny strangeness of Gaskell’s fantasied parsonage cuts against the grain of literary biography—it both expresses and expels writerly identity.
Professor Deborah Wynne, University of Chester
Charlotte Brontë At Home
Even before Elizabeth Gaskell published her Life of Charlotte Brontë in 1857, the biography responsible for presenting Haworth as a ‘shrine’ to the Brontës, Matthew Arnold had been curious to see the Yorkshire settlement in which the sisters had lived and died. Arnold’s poem, ‘In Haworth Churchyard’, published shortly after Charlotte’s death in 1855, suggested that Haworth was haunted by the ghostly presence of the Brontë siblings. This belief intensified following Gaskell’s careful presentation of her friend in the Life, when literary pilgrims visited the parsonage home to see for themselves the place that nurtured ‘Charlotte’, a place that came to symbolise for many the border between human settlement and wilderness.
This paper traces the development of the Victorian desire to find ‘Charlotte Brontë at Home’ (to borrow the title of one literary pilgrim’s story) by analysing a selection of accounts written in the second half of the nineteenth century of journeys to Haworth. By the 1890s the page of the marriage register signed by Charlotte Brontë and Arthur Bell Nicholls had, Marion Harland’s complained in Charlotte Brontë at Home (1899), become ‘shockingly bethumbed and soiled’ through ‘being handled by every sight-seer’. This sort of destructive veneration prompted the need to preserve what remained of the sisters, leading to the establishment of the Brontë Society in 1893. This paper begins with Gaskell’s journey to West Yorkshire to find her version of ‘Charlotte Brontë’, and goes on to examine accounts of Victorian literary pilgrimages to Haworth Parsonage. It closes with a discussion of Virginia Woolf’s visit in 1904, in which she expressed a concern that Charlotte Brontë, the author of some of the most powerful novels in English, had become subsumed beneath the ghostly traces of ‘Charlotte’ the woman, the objects she owned, and the house in which she lived and died.
Panel A: (Re-)visiting the past
Dr Dana Lawrence, University of South Carolina Lancaster
“We had been that day to see Shakespeare’s house”: Tourism, Adaptation, and Nationalism in E. Nesbit’s The Children’s Shakespeare
In her introduction to The Children’s Shakespeare (1895), E. Nesbit describes her narrator’s inspiration for the collection of tales that follows: two girls, Iris and Rosamund, struggle to read Shakespeare’s plays, so they implore the narrator to “write the stories for us so that we can understand them” (6). The setting for this scene is not a private home but the “parlour” of an inn in Stratford-upon-Avon, because the trio “had been that day to see Shakespeare’s house” (5). By immediately situating Nesbit’s collection within the context of Shakespeare tourism—further emphasized by the woodcut illustration of Shakespeare’s Birthplace printed on the same page—the introduction invites readers to connect Nesbit’s contribution to the children’s Shakespeare market with tourism in Stratford-upon-Avon. The history of nineteenth-century children’s Shakespeare parallels that of Shakespeare tourism, particularly in establishing the Bard as an icon of English literature and English national identity. In this paper I argue that, with her seemingly immaterial mention of the Birthplace in her introduction, Nesbit invests herself and her book with the authority to re-present Shakespeare’s plays, deviating from the “rules” set forth by previous adaptors even as she draws from their work. Combining Shakespeare tourism with the literature that inspired it, Nesbit challenges the bard’s status as a symbol of English national identity and subtly questions Victorian ideologies of class and gender.
Dave McLaughlin, Emmanuel College, Cambridge
“It should be great fun to follow in their footsteps”: (Dis)placing the author in David Hammer’s Game series
Between 1983 and 1996 David Hammer, an American Sherlock Holmes fan, wrote his Game series about the world of Sherlock Holmes. There were four books in all: The Game is Afoot (1983); A Dangerous Game (1986); The Sake of the Game (1993); and The Worth of the Game (1996). Part travel writing, part instructional guidebook, these four volumes recount Hammer’s travels through Britain, continental Europe and America in search of places associated with the Sherlock Holmes stories.
Hammer’s books provide a rich site of interpretation because their intentions run counter to the traditional expectations of literary tourism. They do not explore Western literary heritage through sites related to an author’s life or inspirations for his or her books. Yet neither does Hammer’s tourism fully become a spiritual journey of walking in fictional detectives’ footsteps. Rather, Hammer is guided by a ludic engagement with literature, one that professes a belief in the Great Detective’s historical reality (known as ‘playing the game’), which deliberately sidelines Doyle’s role as author; which in effect displaces him. Hammer views European and American sites of Sherlockian significance through a particular gaze that both recognises their role as pilgrimage sites and bestows them with such power in the same moment, placing the character firmly into the landscape of literary heritage.
My paper seeks to explore the deliberate entanglement of fantasy and reality in Hammer’s travel writing and it’s role in placing Holmes, not Doyle, as the central figure of tourists’ interest. I will consider how far Hammer’s writing contributed to a particular form of pilgrimage, at once fantastical and yet studded with plausibility.
Dr Jane Darcy, University College London
The Dickens of Doughty Street
The recently restored Charles Dickens Museum in Doughty Street presents a charming image of Dickens as magisterial writer and devoted family man. In thoughtfully restored rooms we can see objects he loved and hear both his voice and those of some of his familiar characters. Less emphasis is given to the fact that Dickens only lived in this house briefly. Thanks to the success of The Pickwick Papers, Dickens, Catherine and their first baby moved there in March 1837. Catherine’s 17-year-old sister Mary died in the house the same year. In December 1839 the small Dickens family moved on, Dickens having found further success with Oliver Twist.
In Jack Maggs (1997), a vivid postcolonial reimaging of Great Expectations, Peter Carey offers a very different Dickens from the canonical figure celebrated in the Doughty Street Museum. The novel’s setting of 1837 allows Carey to imagine Dickens – here fictionalized as Tobias Oates – as an altogether less admirable figure. His career trajectory not assured, Oates is desperately struggling to maintain the early success of his Pickwick-like adventures of Captain Crumley. Oates is a ruthless exploiter of other people’s stories, and when he meets the likeable Jack Maggs, is instantly alert to the ex-convict’s potential as a source of dark stories. Oates unscrupulously pressures Maggs into being mesmerized – and Maggs is rightly afraid of this intimate theft. Pip, meanwhile, is here a shallow debauchee. Carey’s brightly mischievous creation of the Doughty Street house as a place of dark sexual secrets in turn can animate our experience of the museum by calling into question our tendency to elevate national icons.
Panel B: The Business of Literary Tourism
Dr Gillian Hughes, Visiting Scholar, University of Edinburgh
Hogg’s Homes and Haunts: Placing a Labouring-Class Author
Although there are house museums associated with authors of labouring-class background (e.g. Robert Burns or Thomas Hardy), the phenomenon is perhaps more characteristic of writers of established social background and substantial residence such as Elizabeth Gaskell or Sir Walter Scott. The placing of James Hogg (1770-1835), both in his lifetime and subsequently, illustrates some of the issues involved with less socially secure writers.
Although Hogg was embedded in the thriving print culture of Edinburgh, there is still no city memorial to him, his dwellings there being old and often demolished during city improvements in his lifetime. Also, his nom de plume of the Ettrick Shepherd associates him almost exclusively with Selkirkshire in the Scottish Borders.
Hogg’s birthplace in Ettrick was demolished shortly after his death, while in youth Hogg, as a farm servant, often slept in outbuildings. In later life he created a substantial house at Altrive in Yarrow valley, a focus for literary tourism and the exercise of a lavish hospitality echoing that of Scott’s Abbotsford. Hogg’s rechristening of Moss End as Altrive Lake is reminiscent of the transformation of Cartley Hole into Abbotsford, and also perhaps with a suggestion that the nearby St Mary’s Loch and the Loch of the Lowes might form an alternative Lake District. After his death, however, his surviving family relinquished the tenancy, and few furnishings or records of the interior’s appearance survive.
Hogg is commemorated largely in relation to landscape not buildings, his most substantial monuments being the seated Victorian statue of him, with crook and dog, looking out over St Mary’s Loch, an obelisk marking the site of the house in which he was born, and his grave in Ettrick churchyard. Until recently this landscape has been effectively subsumed into Scott country.
Emily Bowles, University of York
“Reflect[ing] and refract[ing] in all kinds of ways”: Charles Dickens’s Swiss Chalet
Erected at Gad’s Hill in 1864, a gift from actor Charles Fechter, the Swiss chalet became Dickens’s writing retreat up to the day he died. Secluded away from the life of the house, the chalet epitomised the author’s introspection and desire for privacy. Following his death, Dickens’s son Charley bought Gad’s Hill and the chalet. In response to financial worries, and against the wishes of the family, Charles Dickens Jr. planned to exhibit the chalet at the Crystal Palace and in America. Although the plans fell through, the incident is indicative of many of the wider concerns with literary tourism for both the literary estate and also the would-be tourist: Dickens’s sister-in-law viewed the chalet as sacred and was worried the family would be perceived as ‘hawking’ the author’s memory, while ultimately the Crystal Palace rejected the chalet on the grounds that it did not, in fact, offer the public anything new worth paying for.
Reflecting the concern within Victorian biography of protecting a subject’s privacy and the privacy of those still living, this incident exposes attitudes towards literary tourism and explores the perceived inappropriateness of those displaying literary homes and relics. I will use the Swiss chalet as a case study in Dickens’s posthumous representation, showing how members of his family sought to maintain – and capitalise on – the author’s reputation. I will address the nature of literary tourism when the ‘site’ is moveable, and consider why, when Dickens wrote from this chalet for the last six years of his life, the famous ‘Empty Chair’ painting by Fildes and Buss’s ‘Dickens’ Dream’ placed the author in the more conventional surroundings of his Gad’s Hill study.
Associate Professor Sue Carson, Queensland University of Technology
The Lime Street Literary Tourist: managing the complexities of the Coleridge Cottage
After a determined local campaign to acknowledge the former residence of Samuel Taylor Coleridge a memorial plaque was fixed to the ‘Coleridge Cottage’ in Nether Stowey, Somerset on 9 June 1893. Coleridge lived with his wife Sara and young family in this small cottage on Lime Street for only two years, between 1797 and 1798, but the period was fundamental to the creative output of both Coleridge and William Wordsworth, who with his sister Dorothy rented the grander home of Alfoxton in nearby Holford. Coleridge lived in many houses during his lifetime and for some readers the natural environments in which he walked and conversed, rather than a building, remain his ‘home’. Yet the Nether Stowey site has become an important memorial to the poet’s time in Somerset. Today the Coleridge Cottage is managed by the National Trust of Great Britain and the Lime Street address, which won two tourism awards in 2014, attracts a steady stream of domestic and international tourists.
This paper considers the Cottage as literary heritage in contemporary Somerset cultural tourism and the addresses the complexities of the site in relation to the land and streetscape, nineteenth-century conservation campaigns, literary history, and current tourism expectations. The Coleridge Cottage, a source of both frustration and delight for the poet so long ago, represents some of the challenges of regional literary tourism today.
Professor Nicola J. Watson, Open University
Mrs Gaskell’s Fire and other ways of animating the Author
In which I investigate the different ways in which museums dedicated to nineteenth-century authors – Dove Cottage, Brantwood, Chawton Cottage and the Gaskell house amongst them – have set about ‘bringing the author to life’.