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  • Writer's pictureAndy Bell


“Solitude sometimes is best society.” John Milton, Paradise Lost

What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Nottingham? Is it the link to English Folklore and the legendary outlaw Robin Hood? The Lace industry? Raleigh Bikes? The Cave network? The Castle? Goose Fair? Or, is it the City’s Literary Heritage? Nottingham has a long history of renowned writers and in 2015 the City was recognised for its literary excellence by being awarded UNESCO City of Literature status.

Among the literary greats from Nottingham are the three leading world-class rebel writers, Lord Byron, D.H.Lawrence and Alan Sillitoe Lord Byron – Bryon was one of the most renowned English Romantic Poets of the early 1800s. Known for his flamboyant and notorious ways, Byron was just ten years old when he became the sixth Baron Bryon of Rochdale and inherited the Newstead Abbey Estate. Famous for his poems including, She Walks in Beauty and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Another is Don Juan, a piece of work of often called the epic of its time and considered one of the most important long poems published in England since John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Don Juan was written over several years and was left unfinished. Consisting of sixteen cantos written between 1818 and 1823, the poem was issued in parts and the seventeenth was started but never completed.

Listen to canto 1 here:

D.H.Lawrence – born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, Lawrence is regarded one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. His work caused quite a stir in the literary world, his infamous novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover was published privately in Italy in 1928 but banned until 1959 in America and until 1960 in England due to some explicit content.

Other famous works include Sons and Lovers and Women in Love. Lawrence was also a keen painter, but this work was often received in the same way as his rather scandalous writing style. During his first exhibition at the Dorothy Warren Gallery in London in 1929, the full collection was exhibited for less than a month before Scotland Yard came to investigate and confiscate 13 of the 25 paintings.

“We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.” D. H. LAWRENCE, Lady Chatterley's Lover

A poem by D.H Lawrence –

Alan Sillitoe -

“Well, it's a good life and a good world, all said and done, if you don't weaken.” Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Alan Sillitoe was a writer of many novels and several volumes of poems but is most famous for his debut novel, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. Born in Nottingham, Sillitoe left school at 14, and worked at the Raleigh Bike factory until the age of 18.

Whilst he was influenced by the writings of Ernest Hemingway for this first Novel, there are comparisons to be made between Sillitoe’s own life experiences and those conveyed through the attitudes and situation of the main character Arthur Seaton, a young factory worker faced with the inevitable end of his youthful philandering. The novel was published in 1958 and won the Author's Club First Novel Award the same year. Two years later Sillitoe adapted it into film, and in 1964 David Brett adapted it as a play for the Nottingham Playhouse.

Sillitoe continued Seatons' story with three more novels, Key to the Door published in 1961, The Open Door, 1989 and Birthday in 2001.

A Poem by Alan Sillitoe -

How many of these writer's works have you read? Which was the first one you read? Do you have a favourite piece?

There is a rebel writers trail you can follow around the city centre, find out the locations here

5 word poems -

Line of light is a piece of public art commissioned by Nottingham City Council and created by Artist Jo Fairfax.

The installation was launched in 2016 and is in position under the Karlsruhe Friendship Bridge on Station Street.

The public art piece projects five word poems by renowned writers including Lord Bryon and DH Lawrence. Poems written by Nottinghamshire residents, collected through an open call out and selected by the Artist, are also included.

Sets of parallel lines, mirror the tram tracks above and light up and pulse whenever a tram goes overhead. Patterns of light also continue under the tram tracks to the canal, finishing with a projection of lace, honoring Nottingham’s lace history.

The installation is visible from dusk until dawn and a new poem is revealed each day.

"The inspiration for ‘Line of Light’ comes directly from Nottingham and the exact location was a significant influence on the overall design. I also wanted to celebrate the wonderfully rich literary position that Nottingham holds." JO FAIRFAX, ARTIST

*Have a go at writing your own poem using no more than 5 words*

Unfortunately the installation isn't currently visible but here’s a short video of it in action.

Nottingham A - Z

When we worked with Writer Andrew Graves at the beginning of the year, one exercise he asked participants to do was to write an A – Z of Nottingham.

Create your own A-Z

Write out the alphabet on a sheet of paper and match each letter with a word that comes to mind when you think of Nottingham. This might be a landmark, a place, a feeling, local dialect, an industry etc. You can be as general or specific as you want, some letters are bound to be easier than others!

Ie. A could be Art Galleries, (The fantastic selection of Contemporary Art Galleries the City has – Nottingham Contemporary, Lakeside Arts, New Art Exchange, The Bonington Gallery, The Castle Art Gallery)

L – Live Music, (The range of gig venues and festivals we have throughout the year. Rock City, The Bodega, The Motorpoint Arena, Rescue Rooms, Peggy’s Skylight, Hockley Hustle, Splendour, Beat the Streets)

C – Creative, (The creative quarter and the extensive group of creative individuals and businesses there are here)

R – Robin Hood! (Can you think of a less obvious R?)

See if you can complete the full alphabet and feel free to share your A-Z’s with us, it will be interesting to see what similarities and differences there are between everyone’s lists.

A little extra -

The Royal Academy of Dance has announced that they'll be hosting weekly dance classes online and the first class is at 1pm today.

These sessions are part of their Silver Swans programme of ballet exercise classes, designed to get the older generation moving to the music at home and are suitable for all levels of dance ability.

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