Grace Darling - 1st media celebrity

Contributed by Peter Borrie

Grace Darling - 1st media celebrity

GRACE DARLING's illusionary celebrity portrait - the origins of the cult of CELEBRITY and emergence of WOMEN from coverture to heroinism and modern media celebrity obsession - the Georgian/Victorian age when humble people, through more universal education, could challenge the landowning classes for positions of influence, acceptance and achievement - the beginning of Charity = RNLI

7th September 1838 - The Paddle Steamer P/S FORFARSHIRE was wrecked in a storm on Great Harcer Rock, Farne Islands, Northumberland. It was in the early days of steam and the crew were more used to sail. Forfarshire was the luxury liner of its day, the Titanic of the early Victorian period.

Grace Horsley Darling (1815-1842) persuaded her father, William Darling, to row their small boat into the storm to rescue the survivors of the P/S Forfarshire on the night of 7th September 1838. They were of humble Border origins and lived in the Longstone lighthouse on the Northumberland coast. Grace was 22. The story of the wreck and the rescue spread throughout the land and the World.

Grace became the first "Celebrity" and caused a media frenzy throughout the World....

I bought it on ebay and own it....

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  • 1. At 21:24 on 9 October 2010, Peter Borrie wrote:

    THIS IS THE FULL TEXT by author Peter Borrie:-
    GRACE DARLING?s illusionary celebrity portrait ? the origins of the cult of CELEBRITY and emergence of WOMEN from coverture to heroinism and modern media celebrity obsession ? the Georgian/Victorian age when humble people, through more universal education, could challenge the landowning classes for positions of influence, acceptance and achievement ? the beginning of Charity = RNLI

    7th September 1838 ? The Paddle Steamer P/S FORFARSHIRE was wrecked in a storm on Great Harcer Rock, Farne Islands, Northumberland. It was in the early days of steam and the crew were more used to sail. Forfarshire was the luxury liner of its day, the Titanic of the early Victorian period.

    Grace Horsley Darling (1815-1842) persuaded her father, William Darling, to row their small boat into the storm to rescue the survivors of the P/S Forfarshire on the night of 7th September 1838. They were of humble Border origins and lived in the Longstone lighthouse on the Northumberland coast. Grace was 22. The story of the wreck and the rescue spread throughout the land and the World.

    Grace became the first ?Celebrity? and caused a media frenzy throughout the World. She was received by HRH Queen Victoria and HG The Duke of Northumberland. I have at least 15 different books about her and that night, newspaper cuttings, oil paintings, prints, souvenir cups, spoons, Rowntree chocolate tins and many other memorabilia. Due to the power of the internet in the last 15 years, these have been collected from all over the World, not just ex-British Colonies, but also South America and Russia for example. This shows how her celebrity status spread and, itself, started the cult of celebrity. There may have been celebrities before but they were landowners and aristocrats such as Boedicea, Richard the Lionheart and Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, Nelson, Sir John Churchill, Jade Goody, Jerry Springer, Big Brother, Victoria Beckham, Diana, Princess of Wales.

    Grace was the first Celerity of humble origins; the ship was the first ship of humble origins which became famous without help from the land-owning class. This enlightened the media, even, I would suggest, Charles Dickens, to follow stories of the humble people who make a great contribution, good or bad, to the national and world stage, and who have created our obsession with celebrity which, for good or bad, rules much of many folk?s lives.

    In many books, Grace has been compared, in her day, as the equivalent of Diana, Princess of Wales. As a result of the Grace Darling Rescue, the Royal National Lifeboat Institute was founded (RNLI). The RNLI is today still one of the most successful charities, not supported by the State; one of the earliest evidences of charitable giving which has been a theme of this country?s culture of generosity and has inspired so many other countries in charitable work, and thus was inspired by Grace?s heroinism.

    The object which I should like to donate to Radio 4?s HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 100 OBJECTS or to The BRITISH MUSEUM is a black-basalt framed Victorian portrait of GRACE DARLING dressed as an illusion as the British Saxon Queen Boedicia, with a lifebuoy and a pike which looks like a rifle, commemorating her celebrity for the deed which she did which was blown out of all proportions, but made her the first media celebrity worldwide and launched the current cult of celebrity.


    P/S Forfarshire was built in thriving Dundee (now very depressed) by Thomas Adamson and its engines, paddles and boilers were built by Peter Borrie, my great-great-great-grandfather (1802-1856).

    Peter was the son of a humble Pendiclar (not even a tenant farmer, rearing oats, rabbits and potatoes) in the Sidlaw Hills of Perthshire. He was intelligent and made the most of his education; he was among the first to be able to move from his roots to express himself in the world of science and human development; before his time, his origins would have prevented him. This was the first time in World History when it became possible for any person with talent to shine. The feudal system no longer held sway; the Enclosure Acts and many other deprivations and horrors had sent many to the Colonies where they contributed so much, good and bad, to World Development. Some stayed at home and helped Great Britain become the first leading power in the World, but this paper is not about Peter, it is about Grace, also from humble origins.

    After the P/S Forfarshire and other ships, he went on to invent many amazing things (some of which are detailed in the Patent Office in Chancery Lane, London) such as the Floating Harbour his plans for which were used for the invasion of France in the Normandy Landings, and the Crain which swings and pivots which is now the essential of all commercial construction of buildings and many other things.

    (As an aside, the expensive china on P/S Forfarshire was made by a humble family of potters from Wath-upon-Dearne in Yorkshire named Brameld (later known as Rockingham China, some of which is still used in Buckingham Palace for State occasions, latest the visit of Nelson Mandela). The china has paintings of the ship and was, as such, one of the earliest examples of branding and ?logos? which is today such a major industry. (There is a coincidence here in that my mother?s humble ancestors were the Bramelds and my father?s humble ancestors built the ship and it was 110 years before they met each other!). Scientists and Artists. The scientist, Peter Borrie, had no financial backing and died bankrupt but leaving a legacy to the world in the Floating Harbour and the Crain. The Artists, the Brameld potters, were also bankrupt because they concentrated on their art and exports ? they had financial backing from The Earl FitzWilliam who made a condition that they name their china ?Rockingham? after his uncle who was one of Britain?s Prime Ministers and instrumental in the settlement of the colonial revolutions.

    Both the Borries and Bramelds, therefore, were from humble origins, died bankrupt, but left a great legacy which is still important today, none of which would have been possible without the widening of education or the acceptance by the peerage and landowners of talent which was bubbling to the surface from the humbler people, as has, 150 years later filtered into politics and power, as evidenced by our Prime Ministers since 1945 ? Attlee, Wilson, Heath, Thatcher, Blair, Brown?..all from humble but educated origins.


    Andrew Borrie, Peter Borrie, Mark Borrie
    Ottiwell Lodge
    Snaizeholme
    North Yorkhire

    7th October 2010

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