Monday, 22 June 2015

The embroidered letter

I've been looking at teaching jobs, at lecturing in creative writing (which is why I studied writing in the first place). But the strange things about going on a journey like a job application is it leads to other things, wandering about touching on other things that matter. Several things have come up for me this year:

  • I will stop home educating this year after 22 years, my youngest is off to college
  • I love writing more than I expected and I'm writing easily (and stuff I like)
  • I need an adventure
  • I miss the Isle of Wight and my friends
  • All the time I've been a creative writer I've been creative in other ways e.g. textiles
  • I'm fascinated by psychology, and the social construction of 'madness'
  • Looking into a new job made me look at THIS
The embroidered letter of Lorina Bulwer

This is the rant of a middle aged woman locked up in the imbecile ward - full of dementia patients, alcoholics and mentally ill and learning disabled people - of a workhouse. She came from a middle class, well educated background,  and lived with her mother until the latter's death. Her rants reveal evidence of sexual abuse, that was not acknowledged at the time (her abuser is named and was suspected of abusing another 13 year old. He confessed to having written the child a number of explicit letters but denied touching her).Then her brother placed her in the workhouse.

I'm itching to use this amazing story in a project, so I have looked into this course. It inspires me as the sister of someone who wrestled with mental illness and had her voice taken away, as well as an artist and writer. Who knows? I'm also in the strange position of having some money to invest, so there might be a little income to spend.

I have no idea where this idea will take me, or whether it's a step in the direction of something else, but it's great to feel like we're moving forward again! 


  1. How odd, I'm sewing too, ahead of writing a new book, and reading a biography of John Craske. Here's a link: I do so love a coincidence. Smiles.

  2. Thanks for that, Nik, I'm beginning to think we're connected karmically! I've bought the book, it looks fascinating. I hope the writing (and stitching) are coming on well. Rx

  3. Great to hear from you, Rebecca. This does sound like an intriguing project. I too am fascinated by psychology and the social construction of madness - if pressed to summarise, I say the novel I'm writing is about motherhood and madness. Good luck with the course and the adventure!

    1. Thank you, Creaky Door Writer! Motherhood is what set off my worst forays into madness. Fantastic subject to write about, good luck with it.

  4. Hi Rebecca! I first embarked on the MA to examine these very subjects. When it came to the dissertation, I realized I wasn't ready as a writer to tackle those themes, so I went with other subjects that were dear to my heart. I'm still not sure whether I'm ready - in some ways I think my original idea is too experimental, in others almost a cliche. I'd also love to do that doctorate. But, hmm, the cost. Btw, I'm a great fan of sewing, both clothes and more "artistic" stuff. Going into a good fabric shop is almost as wonderful as entering a good book shop. I could spend hours! Have you read Elaine Showalter's book on women and madness? All the best, Boz

    1. Hi Boz, it is lovely to immerse myself in sewing as well as writing! I love getting that hit of enthusiasm about a new project. I don't know if the doctorate will work out (and the money is a big issue) but I'm enjoying doing the research. Not to mention a reason to go into a fabric shop and spend some time stroking bolts of fabric and choosing embroidery silks... I'll have a look at Elaine Showalter's book, though. I loved Mad, Bad and Sad by Lisa Appignanesi though, it set up the whole idea. Best wishes, Reb