Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Palgrave? Who he?



Yesterday I wrote about my father's poetry book, 'Palgrave'. As several people have asked who he was I thought I would give you a bit more information today.

Francis Palgrave was educated at Balliol and after working in education he eventually became Professor of Poetry at Oxford, from 1885 - 1895. We have to remember that to the masses Education was a relatively new phenomenon - compulsory education, that is.
My father was born in 1888, near enough to the 1870 Education Act to have parents who really valued education - it was seen as a way out of poverty and the work house.
My mother was terrified of the work house mainly because as a child she could remember the horrors of it. At the age of eleven my father won a scholarship to Grammar School but his parents were too poor to allow him to go (he was one of seven children), but there were books in the house, both his parents could read and did read widely and so he grew up surrounded by reading matter.

Palgrave brought out his 'Golden Treasury of Songs and Lyrics' in 1861. It was well-received by the generation who were thirsty for knowledge and was quite frequently updated and reprinted - Palgrave got valuable information as to what he should include from his close friend Tennyson.

By the time I came along, our house was also full of books. My mother was an avid reader of novels - the one she read over and over again was 'Red Wagon' by Lady Eleanor Smith - I think she almost knew it off by heart. But my father was made of sterner stuff - The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, Gilbert White's History of Selborne - but above all Palgrave's Golden Treasury. He had a book shelf and a small table by the side of his armchair by the fire and Palgrave lived, not on the shelf, but on the table - and if it was missing father sould say,'Who's been reading my Palgrave?'

He never lost his interest in poetry throughout his life. He never lost his interest in education and encouraged us (I am one of three) to do our best in everything. I was the first person of my generation in our family to go on to further education and to get a degree. He was very proud of that.

Maybe Palgrave is a bit old hat now but for me it has very treasured memories and it is the first place I look for a poem I want to read.

14 comments:

MorningAJ said...

You got me thinking there. Because I know it as the Golden Treasury - not as Palgrave. I love poetry. Wish I was better at writing it.

My personal favourite is The Dragon Book of Verse. See my blog post about why.

Incidentally - the word verification is "proem".

willow said...

Thanks for filling us in on Palgrave. I was wondering about him, as well!

Heather said...

I had heard of Palgrave but knew nothing about him. How much life has changed since your parents' youth - not all of it for the better.

Reader Wil said...

Belated congratulations on your wedding anniversary! May you celebrate many more of them!
Beautiful tribute to your father, so to speak :"You are a chip of the old blog"! I like your poem.

Pondside said...

The book sounds like a treasure - and an heirloom.
When I read 'Palgrave' I immediately thought of the town of the same name in southern Ontario.

MorningAJ said...

Thanks for calling by my poetry blog post Weaver....
How did we end up in the Midlands? VERY long story. Kev went to Wolverhampton Uni and then lived in Birmingham for a long time. I went off to Liverpool as a mature student (after a career in journalism that took me all round the country) and while I was there I met and fell in love with a guy who lived in Coventry. End of my degree I moved in with him. But that came to an end about six years ago. I moved to Derby with work and shortly after, I met Kev. The rest is history - as they say.
Kev and I now live close by East Midlands airport in the triangle between Derby, Nottingham and Leicester.

Were you in Wolverhampton itself? Kev knows it well, of course.
Cheers
Anne

Totalfeckineejit said...

I was going to look up Palgrave, but Weaver, you have come to my rescue with a beautiful explanation and I don't feel so 'thick' now!

As an aside what a beautiful family portrait you have painted here.

Jinksy said...

It was 'The Golden Treasury' for me in school, too, and I've been looking for a similar edition(unsuccessfully)ever since.

rallentanda said...

Oh now you've spoilt it for me. I thought it was a cruet set or a little container for keeping Gentleman's relish in.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for the comments.

acornmoon said...

My elderly relatives have a similar horror of the workhouse, we hear a lot about slavery and the injustice of that, this was on a par I am sure.

I was also the first of my generation to have the opportunity of going on to get a degree.

izzy said...

Wonderful! and so many great standards
brought along with it- I was blessed with an intro to poetry in 3rd grade
by a teacher who wove magical webs based on ( but not exclusive to ) " The Singing World " Louis Untermeyer.
You can still find copies of that ( and other works by him ) It opened a lifetime of reading and study; Hooray !

Patricia said...

I have my own old copy of this lovely book and reference it often. "May I Join the Choir Invisible" is in here by George Elliot...a mystically beautiful poem. Thanks for sharing your Palgrave with us!!

Amanda Sheridan said...

I have an ancestor called John Smithson from Hull - wonder if this book once belonged to him?