Marl Bank: Elgar’s Final Home, Elgar spends a Summer Afternoon with Frederick Delius, Dream Children, The Wand of Youth Suites, The Nursery Suite, Starlight Express, W, H. Reed’s Memoir, Elgar As I knew Him, and Death…

Elgar with Carice at Marl Bank. Image: National Trust

From Stratford-upon-Avon Sir Edward Elgar, in the winter of 1929, moved back to Worcester, renting a house called Marl Bank, initially for the Worcester Festival, but he liked it so much he stayed on after the festival, buying the house just two days after his friend, Fred Gaisberg, the artistic director of HMV, died. It was to be Sir Edward’s last home.

Pauline Collett…


“ If the reader prefers, this book may be regarded as fiction. But there is always the chance that such a book of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact.” Ernest Hemingway, Cuba, 1960

Image: Abe Books

When you re-read A Moveable Feast today one can feel both the stress Hemingway was feeling about Cuba’s future, and the strange comfort of going back and writing about his Paris of the 1920s (thanks in part to a suitcase full of Hemingway’s papers found in the basement of the Paris Ritz Hotel), and the friends and the drinking, and the…


Tiddington House, Stratford-upon-Avon, George Bernard Shaw & Billy Reed

Tiddington House. Image: ourwarwickshire

In the early 1960s I used to cycle to work in Stratford. It was a pleasant ride through open country for the most part, but about a mile from Stratford I would pass a few large houses. The first was an early Victorian pile called Kissing Tree House, where J.B. Priestley lived. The next house was Avoncliffe, a huge old stone mansion built in the 1870s that had once belonged to a member of the Flower family but was now the home of Peter Hall and Leslie Caron. Most mornings the…


Froissart, Variations on an Original Theme (The Enigma Variations), The Dream of Gerontius, The Apostles, and The Kingdom, and two extraordinary Symphonies. And a death…

Lady Elgar. Image: National Trust

On the 1st of September Elgar’s parents came down to stay and meet their granddaughter: one can imagine Edward handing over the ‘automatic irrigator’ with some relief, with smiles all round as mum and dad made a fuss.

The following morning Edward and his mother, Ann, took Carice to be baptised at their local Roman Catholic church, after which they were joined by Edward’s father for lunch, leaving Alice at home to rest.

Elgar the…


Caroline Alice Roberts, Music and a Baby

“ My darling Edu…”

Alice and Edward. Image: twitter

While at Spetchley the schoolboy Elgar had become a good pianist and violinist, playing alongside his father in local orchestras and music groups: it was a sound musical education that, coupled with his highly developed music reading skills, was bringing forth a unique composing voice — until Helen Weaver fled to New Zealand.

For a while, Elgar was unable to even think about music.

Inevitably music began to flow, with Elgar using the loss of Helen as a means of bringing to the surface the deep emotions of their…


The Early Years

Elgar’s Birthplace. Image: National Trust

Edward William Elgar was born in the village of Lower Broadheath, just a handful of miles from Worcester, on the 2nd of June 1857. His mother Ann Elgar(nee Greening) was the daughter of a Hereford farmer, and his father, William Henry Elgar, a Dover man who, after serving an apprenticeship in London, had, in 1841, moved to Worcester to open his own music shop and piano tuning business.

William found lodgings in in The Shades Tavern in Worcester, which operated more as a restaurant than a pub, and was run by a man who was married to…


A short profile of a Play about the ‘first’ translation of the Bible into English. The play was first produced in 2011…

Stephen Boxer & Oliver Ford Davies in Written on the Heart. Image: The Daily Telegraph

David Edgar has had a long and distinguished career, but only with Written on The Heart has he (for me) created something that will stand alongside, for instance, Miller’s The Crucible and Death of a Salesman, Shaw’s Saint Joan and Major Barbara, Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea, and not least Drinkwater’s Oliver Cromwell and Abraham Lincoln, all beautifully crafted plays that retain and stimulate an audience.


Seen through the pages of John Buchan’s biography of The Lord Protector

Image: magnoliabox.com

Cromwell takes his Seat in Parliament, and Charles I demands money. John Buchan heads for Oxford…

On the 23rd of January, 1628, Oliver Cromwell was returned as an MP, to represent the Borough of Huntingdon.

When Cromwell took his seat in the Commons, England was at war with France, with Charles I demanding money for a new fleet, with many ‘worthy gentlemen’ sent to prison for refusing to give the King ‘forced loans’.

There were some serious questions to be asked, but the King seemed prepared not to…


“ He was an Englishman through and through, with just a touch of John Wayne…”

Vachell. Image:spenceralley.blogspot.com

In the first half of the 20th century there were many popular English novelists and playwrights who are today pretty much forgotten, not least our own Richard Hughes, but also John Drinkwater and Charles Morgan; with perhaps the most forgotten of all, Horace Annesley Vachell, who was a great influence on Richard, with the two men becoming close friends.

I first came across Vachell when, some years ago, I wrote regularly for The Book and Magazine Collector which had a piece about him next to…


Songwriter, Screenwriter and Co-Creator of King Kong…

Edgar Wallace. Image: dnn.de

The Daily Mail employed Wallace as their principle correspondent in South Africa. By the end of the Boer War, and after a scoop about the signing of the peace treaty, Edgar Wallace was the most famous war correspondent in Britain.

By the end of the war Wallace had also married Ivy Caldecott, whose mother, a British missionary, had helped Wallace get his early poems and articles published.

Another great patron of Wallace’s was the financier Harry Freeman Cohen (who was a friend of Alfred Harmsworth, the owner of the Daily Mail), who’d had a hand in getting Wallace the peace…

Steve Newman Writer

Playwright, Historian, Biographer & Freelance Writer Living and Working in Shakespeare’s Stratford

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