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28 October 2014
Legacies - Tyne

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Myths and Legends
Rescue scene
The rescue, J.W.Carmichael, and Henry Perlee Parker c.1840

© Courtesy of RNLI
Grace Darling: Victorian heroine

’Help! Help!’ she could hear the cry of the shipwreck’d crew. But Grace had an English heart, And the raging storm she brav’d; She pull’d away, mid the dashing spray, And the crew she saved.

[The Grace Darling Song]

The story of Grace Darling’s courageous rescue of nine sailors in 1838 has become one of Northumberland’s most famous legends. However, after braving the storm and gale-force winds, Grace found herself up against what proved to be a far more difficult adversary: the cult of celebrity. Without leaving her remote home on the Farne Islands, Grace’s image penetrated every corner of Victorian society, from the readers of cheap and cheerful broadsheets to Queen Victoria. This fame was the result of a media frenzy of the kind we associate more with the 20th than the 19th Century – instead of snapping paparazzi, Grace had to fend off determined portrait painters. At the risk of over-simplifying, Grace Darling’s fame was the result of being in the right place at the right time. The courageous act of an otherwise ordinary girl caught the public’s imagination, and led to her exoneration as ‘the ideal woman’ in Victorian England. More...

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Your comments

1 from - 2 February 2004
2 Geetanjali from India - 16 January 2004
"Grace Darling died at the age of 27 because of tuberculosis. Info sent by Geetanjali, age 10 "

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Look back into the past using the Legacies' archives. Find nearly 200 tales from around the country in our collection.

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Ideals of womanhood in Victorian Britain
Grace's medal
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