‘A Really Lively Evening’ Our Annual John Clare Memorial Lecture 14/12/2015
Following the success of last year’s inaugural John Clare Memorial Lecture, which features a leading writer or academic discussing any topic related to the broad theme of Literature and the Environment — and in 2014 saw Professor Nick Groom speak on the English seasons — the English and Creative Writing subject area at the University of Northampton welcomed invited speaker Dr Matthew Beaumont from University College, London to speak on Monday 14th December 2015.
The Lecture series was begun to commemorate the one hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the famous romantic poet’s death last year. It draws attention to Northamptonshire’s strong association with Clare because of his local roots; Clare was born in the nearby village of Helpston in 1793. Clare Street in Northampton’s town centre is named after the poet, and in later life, suffering from mental health problems, he was committed to the town’s lunatic asylum.
Themed around another of the town’s connections to Clare — his infamous ninety-mile walk from Essex to Northampton in 1841 — Dr Beaumont’s lecture was entitled ‘Homeless at Home: John Clare and the Romantic Nightwalkers’. It came out of his wider research on the history of British “night-walking”, as illustrated in his recent monograph, Nightwalking: a Nocturnal History of London (Verso, 2015), the first of three planned books on the subject, and with a Foreword by novelist Will Self.
Dr Beaumont shared his pleasurable experience of the event:
‘A really lively evening, animated not only by the drinks beforehand, but during the discussion later, by extremely stimulating questions, both from John Clare specialists from the JC society, who were of course formidably knowledgeable, and from other attendees with a more general interest, who raised some fascinating issues to the Romantic (and post-Romantic) tradition of pedestrianism I’d outlined in my lecture’ - Dr Matthew Beaumont.
Our thanks to all the attendees, whether staff, students, Northamptonshire residents or members of the John Clare Society, and a special thanks to Dr Beaumont for his thought-provoking lecture. We hope to continue the success of this event for a third year running in 2016!