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Record 21437

Reading Experience:

Elizabeth Gaskell to John Forster, on presentation of inscribed copy of Tennyson's poems to Samuel Bamford, 7 December 1849: 'I have not yet taken my bonnet off after hunting up Bamford. First of all we went to Blakeley to his little white-washed cottage. His wife was cleaning, and regretted her "master" was not at home. He had gone into Manchester [...] At last we pounced upon the great gray stalwart man coming out of a little old-fashioned public-house where Blakeley people put up. Whe I produced my book he said, "This is grand." I said, "Look at the title-page," for I saw he was fairly caught by something he liked in the middle of the book, and was standing reading it in the street. "Well, I am a proud man this day!" he exclaimed. Then he turned it up and down and read a bit (it was a very crowded street) and his gray face went quite brown-red with pleasure. Suddenly he stopped. "What must I do for him back again?" "Oh! you must write to him, and thank him." "I'd rather walk 20 mile than write a letter any day." "Well then, suppose you set off this Christmas, and walk and thank Tennyson." He looked up from his book, right in my face, quite indignant. "Woman! walking won't reach him. We're on the earth don't ye see, but he's there, up above. I can no more reach him by walking than if he were an eagle or a skylark high above my head." It came fresh, warm, straight from the heart, without a notion of making a figurative speech [...] Then he dipped down again into his book, and began reading aloud the "Sleeping Beauty," and in the middle stopped to look at the writing again. And we left him in a sort of sleep-walking state, and only trust he will not be run over.'
Century: 1800-1849
Date: 7 Dec 1849
Country: England
Time: n/a
Place: city: Manchester
other location: street
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:Samuel Bamford
Age Adult (18-100+)
Gender Male
Date of Birth 1788
Socio-economic group: Labourer (non-agricultural)
Occupation: Writer / former hand-loom weaver
Religion: n/a
Country of origin: England
Country of experience: England
Listeners present if any:
(e.g. family, servants, friends, workmates)
Additional comments: n/a


Text Being Read:

Author: Alfred Tennyson
Title: Poems
Genre: Poetry
Form of Text: Print: Book
Publication details: n/a
Provenance: owned


Source Information:

Record ID: 21437  
Source - Print  
  Author: Hallam Tennyson
  Editor: n/a
  Title: Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Memoir by His Son
  Place of Publication: London
  Date of Publication: 1897
  Vol: 1
  Page: 284-285
  Additional comments: n/a

Citation: Hallam Tennyson, Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Memoir by His Son (London, 1897), 1, p. 284-285,, accessed: 03 December 2023

Additional comments:

On 8 Oct 1849, Gaskell wrote to Forster to tell him of how she had heard that Bamford knew many of Tennyson's poems by heart, and recited them to himself for comfort when he could not sleep at night. She went on to relate: 'I asked him the other day if he had got them of his own. "No," he said rather mournfully: he had been long looking out for a second-hand copy, but somehow they had not got into the old book-shops, and 14s or 18s (which are they) was too much for a poor man' (p.283 in source). Forster complied with Gaskell's subsequent request that he ask Tennyson to buy and sign a copy of the Poems for Bamford; Tennyson wrote back to Forster with his consent to the plan, also remarking: 'I reckon his [Bamford's] admiration is the highest honour I have yet received' (p.284 in source). See pp.285-86 for Bamford's own letter of thanks to Tennyson.



Reading Experience Database version 2.0.  Page updated: 27th Apr 2016  3:15pm (GMT)