To celebrate the lives of Ruth and Eddie Frow, the first Frow Memorial Lecture fittingly features the poetry of Chartism, on which the couple were experts. The Working Class Movement Library, which the Frows founded, has lots of pamphlets, books and archives connected to the Chartists who campaigned for reform of the electoral system including the right for working class people to have the vote.
The Chartists will always be connected to Salford through the huge rally on Kersal Moor in 1838 when 250,000 people came from all over the North West to support the call for annual parliaments, a secret ballot for elections, equal constituencies, payment for MPs, the abolition of property qualifications to become an MP and the vote for all males.
During the time of the Chartists over a thousand poems were published in the poetry column of the movement's huge circulation newspaper the Northern Star, making the works the most widely read verses of their time. On May 1st, Maxine Peake will be paying tribute to the poets by reading a selection of their work.
Dr Michael Sanders from the University of Manchester, who has written a book called `The Poetry of Chartism: Politics, Aesthetics, History', will discuss Chartist poetry and Chartist choir, Corista, a seven-strong group of singers from Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, will perform with Gwyneth Morgan who was part of the Halifax Chartist Choir in 2006 (more on Corista here)
"Working people have always struggled to get their voices heard" says the Library's Margaret Cohen "It is fitting that the first Frow Memorial Lecture is on Chartist poetry, which was enthusiastically collected by the library's founders Eddie and Ruth Frow and on which they lectured and wrote extensively."
Dr Sanders adds: "These verses show us that poetry was once central to the way working class communities expressed themselves both politically and otherwise. Moreover, with a peak circulation of 50,000 and a readership of around one million, these writers had the largest audience of any Victorian poet. It's amazing that ordinary men and women who might have been working 12 hour shifts also took the trouble to write poetry and send it to a newspaper."
THE FROW MEMORIAL LECTURE
Saturday 1st May 2010
Old Fire Station, The Crescent, Salford
On Bank Holiday Monday, May 3rd, a plaque will be unveiled to the Chartists as part of A Celebration Of Kersal Moor 1-4pm on Moor Lane, Salford 7... Full details here...