In Hirsuite of the Truth
A sequence of poetry, prose and music on the theme of that object of commerce and symbol of virility - hair.
In hirsute of the truth: hair can be a weapon with which to strangle your lover or a net in which to catch your crumbs. During the Victorian period, hair was a highly charged symbol of virility and an object of commerce. Changing hairstyles depict the changing power relationship between women and patriarchy. It has been fetishised, idolised and can be very useful if you're a cellist.
From the stories of Samson and Delilah and Rapunzel we see how hair - for centuries even - was considered a metaphor for virtue or righteousness: an idea especially evinced in the novels of Elizabeth Gaskell and George Eliot. Deryn Rees-Jones's haunting poem 'My Father's Hair' describes how her father's identity developed during his life and how, at his life's end, the 'long white wings' come to rest on the pillow of his sick bed.
Evil and violence pursue the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. First told in a Penny Dreadful of the 1840s, the story of Sweeney Todd inspired Stephen Sondheim's Opera of the same name. It follows a long history of compositions which conjure images of death and destruction: from Robert Browning's sinister 'Porphyria's Lover' to Carol Ann Duffy's 'Medusa'.
Producer: Gavin Heard.
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
For Ann Gregory, Oliver Dimsdale
Brother Grimm translated by Philip Pullman
Rapunzel, Sylvestra Le Touzel
The Rape of the Locke, Oliver Dimsdale
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I never gave a lock of hair away, Sylvestra Le Touzel
The Forest of my Hair, Oliver Dimsdale
My Father’s Hair, Sylvestra Le Touzel
The String of Pearls, Oliver Dimsdale
Porphyria’s Lover, Sylvestra Le Touzel
Sonnet 103, Oliver Dimsdale
Carol Ann Duffy
Medusa, Sylvestra Le Touzel
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Rondel, Sylvestra Le Touzel
Song to Amarantha, that she would Dishevel her Hair, Oliver Dimsdale