This September staff and students from Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) joined the Lincoln Book Festival to celebrate the bicentenary of the births of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with ‘V for Victoria!’ with a series of events from 23rd to 28th September capturing the ways in which the city connects the life and legacy of Queen Victoria.
From the most recent publications on Queen Victoria, the British Empire and Victorian authors such as, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, John Ruskin, and Janet Ross, but also Ada Lovelace, Charlotte Brontë’s publisher, William Smith Williams, there were exciting events for a variety of interests.
BGU has been collaborating with the Festival for a number of years and that relationship further increased this year spearheaded by Dr Claudia Capancioni, Programme Leader for English at BGU, whose specialism is Victorian Literature.
Staff and students were actively involved in the festival programme’s activities with our trainee PGCE students in English and Drama and staff opening the festival by leading workshops for school pupils who took part in a creative writing competition, Flash Fiction, and the creative writing programmes run by First Story and Writing East Midlands with the Society of Authors for Fiction.
Later in the week BGU sponsored ‘If Words Could Kill’, an evening with Claire Harman and Ambrose Parry (aka Chris Brookmyre and Dr Marisa Haetzman). There was murder most foul in this two-part author event with Harman’s Murder by the Book, which focuses on a true crime murder that shocked Victorian London, and the thrilling new novel, The Way of the Flesh, Parry wrote about the hunt for a killer in 1847 Edinburgh.
The University's involvement continued on Friday with Dr Capancioni introducing Janet Ross, a Victorian historian and biographer who entertained guests such as William Gladstone, Robert Browning, Mark Twain and Virginia Woolf at Poggio Gherardo, her villa near Florence. In Leaves from Our Tuscan Kitchen: or How to Cook Vegetables, Janet recorded the recipes of Giuseppe Volpi, her cook for over 30 years, which her guests loved and requested - George Frederic Watts in particular. Published in 1899 and still in print, it appeared at a time when vegetables were considered only as an adjunct to the main course, this recipe book has become an established resource for all British chefs interested in Italian food. Together with The Cheese Society and The Straw Collection, ‘In the Tuscan Kitchen of Janet Ross’ offered a taste of Ross’s recipes through sampling the cheese she used, accompanied by Tuscan wines.
Since the summer, the city of Lincoln has contributed to an array of national events including the series organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which will be the topic of the forthcoming lecture by the V&A director, Tristram Hunt, at Lincoln Cathedral on 10 October.