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It’s not all about Shelley – Year of Culture celebrates diversity of Horsham District’s writing talent

One of the world’s greatest poets, Percy Byssche Shelley, does feature in one of 12 highly colourful panels that will be touring the Horsham District libraries, to celebrate literary achievement throughout the Horsham District Year of Culture 2019, but Horsham Writers Circle, and Horsham Museum and Art Gallery, know that the District’s literary heritage is far more diverse and surprising…

11 other illustrative panels tell a remarkable story, spanning 400 years of the District’s connection with the written word, featuring a host of other notable writers.

The story includes a Southwater born publisher whose shop featured in a Hogarth etching. That publisher, Lintott, changed the look of 18th century books and helped create the idea of a writer earning a living from writing.

Some 200 years later, a bohemian acolyte of the satanic, Allister Crowley, whose fame grew thanks to 1970s rock music, came to live in Vine Cottage in Steyning, where he created The Vine Press, publishing a number of his own works. Victor Nueberg’s Steyning born son would become a literary figure in his own right – thanks to his research on 18th century books. These books, and many many others, would be collected by one of the 20th century’s greatest book collectors, Major Abbey, who lived at Greyfriers, Strorrington. He features on a literary miscellany panel that recounts a Sherlock Holmes story which mentions Horsham and Sussex farms.

Conan Doyle’s brother- in-law lived at Partridge Green, where he would write about his war time experiences. Prior to that, E W Hornung had a very successful literary career writing Raffles books. His success, though, probably didn’t match the sales of Horsham born Hammond Inness or James Herbert, who lived at Woodmancote, both of whom have their own panels.

The panels, which include the writers Eliza Cook, who lived in St Leonards Forest, and Louisa Maria M Hubbard, who lived in Leonardslee, will be on display at various times throughout 2019 in the West Sussex County Council libraries within the Horsham  District.

The Library Service, working in partnership with Horsham Writers Circle, are creating activities and events that help to engage with the written word. Horsham District Council’s Horsham Museum have created the series of panels incorporating the written words by members of the Horsham Writers Circle and books from the Museum’s collection, a number of which were acquired in time for the panels and a major exhibition taking place from March to June 2019.

One such book, a volume of the magazine Work and Leisure The Englishwoman’s Advertiser, Reporter, edited by Louisa Hubbard was discovered (thanks to the internet) in Canada, owned by the Englefield Working Men’s Club, likely because of the articles in the book on emigration to Canada.

All of the panels on show are illustrated with images especially photographed by Toby Phillips, as a resource for the Year of Culture and future displays. They combine photographs of books, portraits and examples of the written word by various authors.

Horsham District has attracted a number of writers to its villages, from William Browne, in the early 17th century, who married Timothy Eversfield (daughter of Sir Thomas Eversfield, of Denne Park), to Julia Donaldson CBE, who moved to the District some five years ago.

Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Cllr Jonathan Chowen, commented: “I am delighted that the Horsham District Year of Culture has facilitated such a unique and impressive display of literary talent to be shared and enjoyed by everyone who visits our local libraries throughout 2019.

“These literary panels will also leave a lasting legacy long after the 2019 year of celebration. An amazing tribute to the considerable writing talent of our District.”

The 12 panels touch on a few of these writers, but there are many more who could be mentioned. Horsham Writers’ Circle and West Sussex Library Service are enabling that to happen through their events and activities throughout the Horsham District Year of Culture, whilst Steyning Bookshop and Waterstones in Horsham have a wide range of books written by local authors. Just waiting to be taken home and enjoyed.

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