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Department of English Studies

Horace Walpole and His Legacies: Tercentenary Lectures

Horace Walpole (1717-1797) was a man of remarkably diverse talents: novelist, art historian, dramatist, designer, collector, man of letters, and politician.

Today he is most famous for writing the first novel to call itself 'A Gothic Story', The Castle of Otranto, and for creating the neo-Gothic Strawberry Hill house in London. However, Walpole’s legacy can be traced across many fields that give a flavour of the culture and politics of the eighteenth century. Join us at this series of free public lectures to discover more; participate online by tweeting #WalpoleLegacies.

All lectures are on Tuesdays, 18.15–19.15, in Elvet Riverside Room 141. There is no need to book. The convenor is Professor Fiona Robertson.

Next Lecture

Greenth

14th November 2017, 18:15 to 19:15, Elvet Riverside 141, Stephen Bending (University of Southampton)

The word 'greenth' is unusual. This lecture in our Walpole and His Legacies series will show how it was coined to describe a particularly English landscape, linking our environment with a sense of national pride. Join the conversation via #WalpoleLegacies.

In 1753 Horace Walpole coined the word greenth. Dictionaries tell us that it means ‘green vegetation’, but it means much more, and in this lecture I’m going to explore some of the ways in which green stuff mattered to Walpole and his contemporaries. Merging green and growth, Walpole’s greenth signals not just greenery, but the urge to see in the growth of the green an account of the natural; in adding an Old English suffix, Walpole signals, too, that greenth is not only natural, but naturally English. If this sounds like a celebration of easy and untroubled pleasure, of a simple communion with nature, I’m going to suggest that it offers us something more complex, that the celebration of greenery and growth—much like our modern economy’s hoped for, but rarely glimpsed, green shoots of recovery—is the stuff of political fantasy, national pride, and suspicion of foreigners both living and dead.

Image credit: Cliveden near Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, in A Description of the Villa of Horace Walpole (1784). Reproduced courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

Contact fiona.robertson@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.

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