Made In England
Made in England: Berkshire
Wilde, Austen, Dickens and Paddington Bear are all part of Berkshire's literary lineage. Find out more about Berkshire's artistic heritage as part of the Made in England project.
Berkshire’s place in literary history and perhaps infamy is secured thanks to Oscar Wilde. The poet and playwright was imprisoned in Reading’s prison from 1895 to 1897, where he wrote his work ‘De Profundis’. After his release Wilde wrote ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’ whilst exiled in Paris. Much of the poem addresses the death penalty, referring to the execution of a fellow prisoner whilst Wilde was an inmate.
Mary Russell Mitford’s ‘Our Village’ is a series of charming tales based on her life in Three Mile Cross, a hamlet near Reading. Descriptions of countryside scenes and characters paint a vivid picture of life in early 19th century rural Berkshire. Mitford also wrote about Reading in the novel ‘Belford Regis’ and produced a large collection of plays and poems during her lifetime.
In other literary links, Jane Austen attended Reading Ladies Boarding School. Charles Dickens was asked to stand as MP for Reading. It was a role he declined, but playwright and author Thomas Noon Talfourd did become Reading’s MP for a number of years. Michael Bond, the creator of Paddington Bear, was born in Newbury.
The Reading Rock Festival is one of the largest in Europe and always boasts a lineup of top class international acts. Since 2005, the Reading Fringe Festival has taken place in the week before the main festival, showcasing local musical talent. Until 2006, Reading also hosted the Womad world music festival.
The area has several orchestras including Reading Symphony Orchestra and Reading Youth Orchestra. Local venues include the Hexagon and Progress Theatre.
Made in England
Made in England is a joint partnership between BBC English Regions and Arts Council England to bring audiences and artists together in unique collaborations to provide exciting new cultural experiences.
It is a project dedicated to exploring how England – the place and the people - is expressed through creative and artistic forms.
Think about the Lake District - dramatic and elegant, the lush greens and icy blues depicting an unspoilt England. William Wordsworth was so inspired by the landscape he wrote poems, sonnets and ballads dedicated to it.
Non-traditional art is just as important to recognise - graffiti on the streets, estates built in the Sixties, and even regional accents. Does this architecture, history and culture inspire you to think of all things English?
If you’re bursting with enthusiasm at the thought of creating something - why don’t you see how you can get involved? Visit the main Made in England site to find out how you can get your creative juices flowing.
last updated: 18/04/2008 at 14:26