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Friday, 21 March 2008

Lots of interest in Laurence and Clemence Housman

21st March 2008

The journal of the Housman Society dropped on my doormat yesterday with a kind note from Elizabeth Oakley. I met her when she was in Street researching the Housman connection with Street.

She has an article about Clemence and her leading part in campaigning for votes for women by withholding taxes.

The logic of the campaign was the same that the American colonists used: No taxation without representation. Clemence refused to pay what she considered an unjust tax. She arranged her protest carefully, living in a rented cottage filled with borrowed furniture, so that the bailiffs
could not seize her furniture. The other advantages of this type of protest was that, first, it did not bring women into disrepute in the way damage to property did, and secondly, it involved the authorities in long and costly legal battles.

Clemence was imprisoned, but was released after a week when the authorities realised that public opinion was with her, and there was no chance of getting money from her anyway.

A fascinating bit of history involving a long-time Street resident.

But that's not all with local connections in this journal.

The script of Laurence's 1952 broadcast about his sister's Arthurian novel Sir Aglovale
is reprinted with an introduction by Douglas Anderson, and there is a contribution from an American researcher, Rechelle Christie, on Clemence's best-known short novel, The Werewolf,
showing how its first illustrator tried to reduce the philosophy behind the tale to a conventional one, but how when Laurence illustrated it he brought out the revolutionary thought in the story about the position of the sexes in society.

And yet more... There's a short piece about Laurence's hymns, written for the English Hymnal, and there's an interview with Mary Lovell, youngest child of Roger and Sarah Clark, about her memories of Laurence and Clemence.

And finally - Elizabeth Oakley tells me that a new biography of Laurence and Clemence is due to be published next year.

To join the Housman Society or just find out more, visit their website.

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