Newstead Abbey (Nottinghamshire)

As part of the Georgian module, my university arranged a trip to poet Lord Byron’s gothic home, Newstead Abbey. Byron being revered as “mad, bad and dangerous to know” indicated that the trip was going to be truly fascinating.

Corinna outside Newstead

We were extremely fortunate to have a guided tour of several of the rooms. These included the Great Hall, where Byron practiced his shooting, the dining room, where Byron held many raucous parties, the Library, and a room where Byron’s items from his university room is housed, including a model of Byron’s skull cup from which he drank. We also got to see the table at which Byron wrote one of his famous poems.

One of the facts the tour guide revealed was Byron’s love of animals. He always kept dogs, but upon being informed by the Dean he could not keep domesticated animals in his university room, Byron kept a bear (stating he could keep it, as it was not domesticated after all). This bear moved with Byron to Newstead Abbey, where it wandered the grounds and house. Another favourite animal of Byron’s was his Newfoundland dog Boatswain. Upon the dogs death, Byron had a monument erected in the gardens, where a beautiful poem is inscribed.

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After the brilliant tour, we were given free reign to explore the vast gardens of the Newstead Abbey grounds. Armed with the map, we weaved our way through the different sections of the gardens. I personally loved the Japanese Garden, complete with stepping stones, pagoda style outhouses and blossom trees. There are 19 different gardens or natural sites of interest in the Abbey, meaning there was lots to discover around the next corner of the footpath.

The great impression of both the building and grounds upon viewing means it is easy to see why Newstead appears in some of Byron’s works. It is referenced both in Canto 1 of Childe Harold (the work which made Byron famous) and the final Cantos of Daun Jaun.

I had a fabulous day visiting Newstead, and I implore anyone with interests from religion, history, art, architecture, landscaping, literature etc to take a look if you get the chance. Even if you have no particular interest in any of the above, the beauty of the grounds themselves definitely makes the site worth a visit.

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Thank you for reading! I hope you have enjoyed my post and that I did Newstead justice. I love the fact that I can use my blog to show literature is so much more than words on a page.

Have you come across any of Byron’s work? Have you yourself visited Newstead- or if not will you consider it now? Have you ever visited an author’s home or a museum dedicated to a particular writer or type of literature? I always enjoy hearing from you, so please like, share and comment away!

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The Lincoln Cathedral Library

LibraryFirstly, apologies for not posting recently, I’m coming up to the last three weeks of my BA so university work has taken priority (over what feels like ALL aspects of my life).

Recently, my parents came up to visit me, which was a welcome break from my studies! I took them to visit the Lincoln Cathedral. Situated at the top of Steep Hill, we opted to go on a tour that takes you to the top of the Tower, to take advantage of the picturesque views. They were truly breath-taking! Whilst I was there, I couldn’t resist the chance to take a look around the Library!

The Library consists of many documents, ranging from 15th Century Manuscripts to 17th Century early printed books. Although many items have restricted access, when I visited there was a very helpful guide there who was more than happy to answer any of my questions. Also, if you arrange it prior to your trip, you can have a guided tour of the Library.

It was fascinating to be able to look such historic texts, and it was great to see how well preserved and cared for they were. I also enjoy learning about the rich history of Lincoln- I go to university here so it would be a shame not to learn about the areas past.

On the 4th May 2016 I will be returning to the Wren Library of the Cathedral. The University has invited me to attend a symposium of the MA Students from the English School, as I have secured a place to continue study on an MA in 21st Century Literature in September 2016. I can’t wait to return- I love the fact that the university is engaging with one of the many historic locations in Lincoln. The fact it is the Cathedral Library makes it even better!

 

Thanks for reading! Is there anything similar near you? Have you visited anywhere of historical importance recently? Are you from an area with a rich history? Or, have you found a new bookworm spot? Let me know below in the comments and please like and share!

My Top Three Texts

As I am super busy with my final hand-ins and assessments for my degree, I thought I would do a round up of my top three favourite books. If you have been following my blog, you will notice I have already posted an Author Haul on Ian McEwan. So, to save repeating myself and boring you all, here my other favourites:

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1)The Waves (1931) by Virginia Woolf

I love love love Virginia Woolf, she was the focus of my undergraduate dissertation and I find her work within literary modernism truly inspiring. In particular, I really enjoy her focus on the interiority of character. She was one of the first authors to think of the text reflecting thoughts and feelings, bringing the reader closer to the life of her constructs.

My favourite fictional work of hers (I would highly recommend also reading her literary criticism) is The Waves. Written in 1931, The Waves is regarded as one of Woolf’s most experimental novels; which follows the lives of Bernard, Neville, Louis, Jinny and Rhoda. The narrative follows the characters relationships with one another and the natural world, and mainly consists of what many critics refer to as ‘soliloquies’, due to the rhythmical nature of the prose. Interspersed between these soliloquies are sections of descriptions of the natural world, focussing on water and light, which pose a close relationship to the characters subject matter within their soliloquies.

I found the intricate technique employed by Woolf fascinating, which means I couldn’t help but continue to turn the pages. On a more basic level, the close relationship Woolf inspires between characters and reader means you become really invested in the text!

 

2) Tristram Shandy (1759) by Laurence Sterne

I had never read any Sterne prior to university, however Tristram Shandy was on my reading list for the Georgian module. Many of my peers didn’t enjoy this text which I can understand due to its investment in John Locke’s philosophies. The text is also loaded with reference to Sterne’s wider reading, which I for one can say was lost on me at times. It is also a lengthy text- but persevere as I assure you there are brilliant moments!

Throughout Tristram Shandy, particularly in earlier editions, there are features such as the marbled and black page. There are also embellishments of Sterne’s illustrations, such as the squiggly lines (don’t laugh- it literally is a squiggle). These illustrated qualities of the text are said to be reflective of character feeling, for example (spoiler alert) the black page is arguably representative of Tristram’s feelings about Yorik’s death.

Perhaps I enjoy this closeness to character consciousness, through writing this post I have realised this is the theme that has drawn me to both books!

 

3) How to Be a Woman (2011) by Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran’s non-fictional text is something I would encourage anyone to read. It poses the awkward questions that come along when becoming a woman in a hilarious fashion. Moran isn’t afraid to speak the truth and ignores social taboos- something really refreshing and honest to read. It is this combination of honesty and hilarity which has made it so enjoyable to read. As a reader I found myself relating greatly to the text alongside questioning some of my pre-existing ideals.

I have also read her fictional text How to Build a Girl (2014) which has similar themes, so although cringing at times (I wont spoil as to why) I found this book to be a breath of fresh air as well.

If you haven’t already I would definitely recommend a read of both!

 

As always, thank you for reading! What are your favourite texts? Have you read any of the above? It would be brilliant to hear from you so please like/share/comment to your hearts content!

 

The Bookstop Cafe (Lincoln)  

Living in Lincoln I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by some brilliant bookworm hideouts! One of these is The Bookstop Cafe halfway up Steep Hill.

Today was my first visit, but I loved the location in the historic Cathedral Quarter of Lincoln. The cafe is in the refurbished basement of Imperial Teas of Lincoln, meaning there is a great range of coffees and tea. As you settle down into the plush leather sofas or wicker chairs, you are surrounded by bookshelves holding a range of fiction and non-fiction. There is even a shelf especially dedicated to books by local authors!

Whilst I was enjoying my hot chocolate (decorated with cream and marshmallows, of course) I spotted an original Bloomsbury cover version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I snatched the copy from the shelf, eager to see how much it would be. I’ve been trying to collect the original covered books as they were the ones I had as a child. Expecting Rowling’s book to be quite pricey, as they are online, I was delighted to see the price was only £1.50!

Content with my carrot cake, hot chocolate and newly acquired Harry Potter, I settled down to have a quiet read. The Bookstop Cafe is the perfect environment for this, the size meaning it is never noisy and they often play tranquil, classical music.

I’m so glad I gave it a try- I have a feeling I will be popping up the hill for a couple more visits!

As always, thank you for reading! Do you have a favourite place to go for a quiet read? Where do you find some bargain best sellers? Please feel free to comment/like/share!