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Durham University

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Calling all budding poets!

(9 July 2020)

We love inspiring the next generation through our world-leading research. So we’re pleased to announce a new poetry competition for children, based on the work of philosopher Mary Midgley.

Who was Mary Midgley?

A British moral philosopher who made major contributions to environmental philosophy, animal ethics and the philosophy of science.

We hold the Midgley Archive in our Special Collections.

Mary died in 2018 and this competition is a way of celebrating her life.

What is the competition and who can get involved?

Children aged six to 13 are invited to submit poems based on Mary’s philosophy.

Illustrated philosophy worksheets aimed at different age groups are available to help out.

The worksheets are for Key Stages one, two and three and are designed to help children think and reflect on the pandemic, climate change, society and friendship.

The deadline for poems is Tuesday 15th December 2020.

Poems will be added to the Midgley Archive and the competition winners will be included in a published collection of poems by children for children.

Notes from a Biscuit Tin

The competition is part of a project called Notes from a Biscuit Tin, led by Dr Clare Mac Cumhaill from our Department of Philosophy and Dr Rachael Wiseman from the University of Liverpool.

Clare and Rachael were regular visitors to Mary in her final years and she always presented them with a choice of biscuits from her favourite biscuit tin, as well as dispensing wit, moral support and philosophical wisdom.

When she died, her family gave her biscuit tin to Rachael and Clare, and they set up the Notes from a Biscuit Tin project as a way of celebrating and sharing her work.

Clare and Rachael believe that studying Mary’s work can help us all think in different ways to help us makes sense of these troubling times.

Mary also thought that philosophy was not a luxury and she often likened it to a trade like plumbing. Everyone who enters can download a certificate to show to friends and family they are a qualified philosophical plumber!

How to get involved

The illustrated philosophy worksheets can be downloaded from the project website and poems can be submitted through the Notes from a Biscuit Tin website

Find out more:

Details of Mary Midgely's Archive can be found here

Dr Clare Mac Cumhaill is an Assistant Professor in our Department of Philosophy She is co-director (with Rachael Wiseman) of the Women in Parenthesis project, which focuses on the life, work and friendships of the philosophers Iris Murdoch, Philippa Foot, Elizabeth Anscombe and Mary Midgley.