Saturday, August 29, 2009

Frances Bellerby's Birthday


29th August was the birth date of the writer/poet Frances Bellerby nee Parker. She was born in 1899, so that's 110 years ago. There is quite a lot about her on the web. One or two valuable sites include this book about Women's poetry of the thirties - another is The Archives Hub which tells you about the material about her at Exeter. Or you could look at the Oxford Companion. Bellerby's life was a very difficult and harsh one and given that her output of poems and fiction was quite varied, her accomplishment can only be admired.

She apparently considered herself to be first and foremost a poet and amongst other texts her early volume of poems, Plash Mill and Other Poems, was I understand written and published whilst she was living at Plash Mill near Caradon Hill in Cornwall (in the 1940's) - though after she left there she spent her last years in Devon. Recently I tried to find the whereabouts of Plash but as yet I'm not sure I've located the place. I Will need to research further, but one bit of information said this about Plash Mills 'On the north side of [North Yolland] are some tin mills, called Plash-mills, with a small coppice wood'. The location as far as I can work out would have been in the area of this map. (click on the side-bar to find it). In the vicinity is Caradon and the low-moor environment - bracken and ponies ubiquitous at this time of year.

 I found this photo which was apparently also taken in the locality. I've taken a few around Caradon, to try to capture the mood and mode of the place. In those days the moorscape would have provided the poet with ample opportunity to wallow in the solitude she reportedly craved. Somewhat different now perhaps, but there are still plenty of places you can stroll to to find the requisite peace and tranquility. I want to add more here - especially something from at least one of her poems, but will need to go and search them out so for now will be content to simply mark her birthday