Switch to English Switch to French

The Open University  |   Study at the OU  |   About the OU  |   Research at the OU  |   Search the OU

Listen to this page  |   Accessibility

the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

Reading Experience Database UK Historical image of readers
  RED International Logo

RED Australia logo


RED Canada logo
RED Netherlands logo
RED New Zealand logo

Record Number: 27841


Reading Experience:

Evidence:

Eliza Fenwick, a touring actress, to her mother, also Eliza Fenwick, 'Barbadoes, May 2nd [1812], Morning, 10 o clock,' describing her experiences following a nearby volcanic eruption: 'At this time yesterday morning we thought ourselves on the verge of eternity, & waited in total darkness & almost uninterrupted silence the expected shock which was to destroy us [...] It began, I believe, about two o Clock on Friday morning [...] I thought it the longest night I had ever known, & was watching for some appearance of daylight that I might get up, when Margaret came into my room, & told me, in a voice of terror, that it was past 7 o Clock. It was totally dark [...] I went into the balcony & felt that it [italics]rained[end italics], as I thought, but returning into the room I found I was covered with wet sand or ashes [...] Everyone thought an Earth-quake was coming [...] Mr R[utherford]. borrowed from Mr Ford, our next neighbour, the younger Pliny's account of an irruption of Mount Vesuvius, & read it. Pliny describes a fall of dust or ashes previous to the great shock. We all, I believe, thought the shock was coming [...] After breakfast I proposed going to Church, but none but my two companions in wickedness [Miss Simms and Mr Rutherford, who had also wanted breakfast, while the rest of Fenwick's companions slept, wept, or stayed silent with fear] were willing to join me [...] My next plan of of reading prayers was not better approved of. Mrs D[yke]. preferred the more pious amusement of abusing us to her black Confidant Margaret [...] Mr R. read the bible in his own room, I the Morning Service to Miss Brailsford in mine [...] We passed an hour in this manner, & met again to wonder at the still encreasing darkness'.

Century:

1800-1849

Date:

1 May 1812

Country:

Barbados

Time

morning

Place:

n/a

Type of Experience
(Reader):
 

silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Type of Experience
(Listener):
 

solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown


Reader / Listener / Reading Group:

Reader:

Mr Rutherford

Age:

Adult (18-100+)

Gender:

Male

Date of Birth:

1781

Socio-Economic Group:

Professional / academic / merchant / farmer

Occupation:

Actor

Religion:

n/a

Country of Origin:

n/a

Country of Experience:

Barbados

Listeners present if any:
e.g family, servants, friends

Eliza Fenwick junior, Mrs and Mrs Dyke, Miss Simms, Miss Brailsford (all fellow members of touring theatrical company).


Additional Comments:

n/a



Text Being Read:

Author:

Pliny the Younger

Title:

account of eruption of Vesuvius over Pompeii

Genre:

Autobiog / Diary

Form of Text:

Print: Book

Publication Details

n/a

Provenance

borrowed (other)


Source Information:

Record ID:

27841

Source:

Print

Author:

n/a

Editor:

A. F. Wedd

Title:

The Fate of the Fenwicks: Letters to Mary Hays (1798-1828)

Place of Publication:

London

Date of Publication:

1927

Vol:

n/a

Page:

109-110; 110

Additional Comments:

n/a

Citation:

A. F. Wedd (ed.), The Fate of the Fenwicks: Letters to Mary Hays (1798-1828) (London, 1927), p. 109-110; 110, http://can-red-lec.library.dal.ca/Arts/RED/record_details.php?id=27841, accessed: 22 January 2022


Additional Comments:

Reader's date of birth approximate; Rutherford (who later married Eliza Fenwick jr) mentioned in source as being aged about 31 in 1812.

   
   
Green Turtle Web Design