Friday (17th November) saw the official launch of our exciting new partnership project with Dean Heritage Centre: The Forest of Dean Writers Collection Project.
Reading the Forest friends and volunteers, joined trustees from the DHC for tea, coffee and cakes to hear news that this new two year long project had just received the go ahead from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The project will bring around 400 artefacts relating to Forest authors into the care and custodianship of the DHC. The new collection will include hand-written manuscripts, early drafts, notebooks, photographs, and personal items. There are poems, play scripts, novels and children's stories, some never published or seen before, some written in Forest dialect. The materials came to light during Reading the Forest's work with authors' families and literary estates, and with members of the local community. All were looking for a safe home for their unique collections, but also that the material might be properly researched, understood, AND used to benefit the Forest community - especially its young people. And so, the idea of Forest of Dean Writers Collection (FODWC) project was born: to save and conserve these unique artefacts; interpret, curate and share them with the local community, visitors, and researchers; promote this creative culture of the Forest of Dean; and use the work and stories of their authors to inspire local young people.
On Friday we were able to announce that The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded the project £133,873 of funding to make it all happen. University of Gloucestershire will lead, working in partnership with Dean Heritage Centre. The new collection will be based at the museum in Soudley, but the project will also see exhibitions and events happening around the Forest. In officially declaring the new project 'launched' Simon Phelps, Vice Chair of Forest of Dean District Council, and a trustee at DHC, spoke about his father, Forest author Humphrey Phelps. He talked about how precious the Forest's cultural heritage is, and how vital it is that we cherish it.
The work in the new collection will span almost 200 years of Forest history, writing and ideas, and will include authors Catherine Drew, Valerie Grosvenor Myer, Leonard Clark, Harry Beddington, Humphrey Phelps, Gladys Duberley, F W Harvey, Dr Tandy, Fred Boughton, Winifred Foley, and Ralph Anstis.
If you've anything unique (a letter? an unpublished piece of writing? a photograph? or anything else...) relating to a Forest writer, stuffed in a drawer or squirrelled away in the loft - we'd love to see it! And of course, if you're looking for a new home for it....