Thanks to Joanne Winning and Birkbeck College, the Dorothy Richardson conference on Pointed Roofs was a great success. Wonderful papers from PhD students and academics from around the world. We had delegates from Germany, Sweden, the US, France, Spain, and Italy. John Hodgkin came from the Powys Society, bringing copies of the Powys-Richardson Letters edited by Janet Fouli. Selected papers from the conference will be published in the Journal in 2009 and 2010.
At the meeting of the Richardson Society at the end, we discussed the advantages and pitfalls of focusing on one of the ‘Chapters’ of Pilgrimage. It was agreed that this might be too restrictive and, with a biennial conference, would take too long. The next conference, in 2011, will have panels on Backwater and Honeycomb, but will offer the opportunity to give papers on any Richardsonian topic. Dauntingly, for the organisers, there was enthusiasm for a two-day conference next time. Suzette Henke generously offered the Society a panel at the University of Louisville, Kentucky Conference on Literature and Culture since 1900 on 18 February. I reported on the progress of the Letters project. Joanne Winning said it would be good to have a small Richardson event in 2010. Then, as is now traditional, the conference retired to ‘Donizetti’s’ aka Sardos in Grafton Way for dinner.
Earlier this year I was contacted by a bookseller who had a copy of Barbara Low’s Psycho-Analysis inscribed by Low to Richardson. Was I interested in buying? Stupidly, I suffered a lapse of bibliophilia and said no. It seemed expensive and we have a copy at Keele. When I realise my mistake, it’s too late and the book is sold. However, the bookseller puts in me in touch with the buyer and it turns out to be an academic who responds to my question, ‘no marked passages, rather sadly’. So at least it’s in good hands. Meanwhile, the bookseller offers me Richardson’s copy of Henry James’s Confidence, which I buy, although again sadly, no marked passages.
Working on the letters has made me follow up aspects of Richardson’s biography. I notice in Gloria Fromm’s biography that Richardson had for a short time, a close friendship with Josiah Wedgwood from 1913, after she reviewed his book, The Road to Freedom, possibly a close friendship after he separated from his wife. Keele has some of the Wedgwood papers, but it turns out they have been moved to the Wedgwood Museum. I contact the Museum’s archivist who reports back that Richardson doesn’t feature in their box lists, but that their early twentieth-century material is not fully catalogued. Something to follow up, when the Letters project gets properly started.
Writing blogs is something, like making their own muesli and wearing Clarks shoes, that men seem to start doing at a certain age. As I have already begun the first two practices, I find it relatively easy to start the third. This is a blog about Richardson matters and, appropriately perhaps, there’s a bit of temporal adjustment involved. I am actually beginning the blog in December 2010, but I’m posting retrospectively to fill in on the year’s progress. The main aim of the blog however is to keep the Society and anyone else interested up to date on the Letters project…
So were it the 3 March 2009, I would be writing that I’d just received an email from Andrew McNeillie at Oxford University Press to say that the Delegates have accepted a proposal for a critical edition of the Collected Letters of Dorothy Richardson. The edition will be edited by me, Scott McCracken, Gillian Hanscombe, Laura Marcus, Deborah Parsons, George H. Thomson, and Joanne Winning. Having heard the good news from OUP, the next, rather lengthy step, is to put together an application to the Arts and Humanities Research Council to fund the project.