My review of two plays in one novel, The Sellwood Girls and When Queen Victoria Came to Tea by Margaret Crompton
'The Sellwood Girls': Emily, Anne and Louisa Sellwood were born and brought up in Horncastle, Lincolnshire. Their father was a solicitor. Their mother died soon after Louisa was born and an unmarried Franklin aunt came to care for the children. In 1827, the girls attended a boarding school in Brighton. Emily and Louisa married the Tennyson brothers Alfred and Charles, who grew up in Somersby in the Lincolnshire Wolds. Anne married Charles Weld. Their stories are characterised by hope and anxiety, love and loss, delight and despair, illness, guilt and, eventually, reconciliation. These stories emerge throughout the play. Hallam Tennyson (son of Alfred and Emily) is completing a submission to a playwriting event at the University of The Wolds - 'Bring-along-a-script, ' In seeking to give a voice to his mother and aunts, he finds a voice for himself. Hallam imagines the 3 sisters together in the garden of their boarding school in Brighton, 1827. He becomes the involved narrator. The girls reflect on their home life, then imagine future husbands (who appear silently to illustrate these visions). The girls are transformed into their adult selves and through narration, reflection and discussion, they review their lives. Eventually they address Hallam directly, so that he becomes not only writer and narrator but also involved in the interactions and emotional development.
'When Queen Victoria Came To Tea': Early autumn 1857. Emily and Alfred Tennyson are in residence at 'Farringford, ' their Isle of Wight retreat in Freshwater. This is not far from 'Osborne House, ' East Cowes, recently bought by Victoria and Albert. Events to which the play refers are actual, including Albert's unannounced visit in 1856, Victoria's never-realised intentions to visit, and her attitude to 'fun.' However, there is no evidence for the action which imagines secret, informal visits from Victoria to Emily, and Albert to Alfred, unique and precious opportunities for relaxation and revelation. Alfred is already Poet Laureate, and will not become 'Lord' until 1883. As far as possible, material is drawn from contemporary documents, including letters.
- Paperback: 78 pages
- Publisher: Magic Oxygen (November 5, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 191009434X
- ISBN-13: 978-1910094341
I just want to start by saying how much fun this was to read overall. Both authors did a wonderful job researching not only the well known poet and his immediate family but brother Charles Tennyson Turner and Emily's sisters Anne and Louisa Sellwood. Although, there were only one or two discrepancies I could find about The Tennyson's, it did not detract from how much I enjoyed reading both plays. How refreshing to read about various aspects of the lives and relatives of the most beloved poet of the nineteenth-century. Having a grown Hallam Tennyson, Alfred Tennyson's first born narrate, 'The Sellwood Girls' is pure genius! It made me want to learn more about Louisa and Charles Turner.
On to Queen Victoria. As noted above, throughout Tennyson's life he and his family were invited to Osborne House on two occasions that are well documented. In one visit Alfred went alone and in another visit, he, his wife and two boys went while the boys were still small. It is an enchanting visit to read about. There is also one documented visit of Prince Albert showing up at Farringford to see Alfred Tennyson without Queen Victoria. I have often wondered if Victoria herself did not summon a coach to drive her from Osborne House to Farringford House to speak with her beloved favorite poet and friend Alfred Tennyson. Especially, after Albert's death and her adoration for In Memoriam. Well, imagine no more...Margaret Crompton has written a wonderfully humorous and engaging royal visit.
I hope everyone who admires Queen Victoria and Alfred Tennyson will buy this novel and enjoy both plays. The Sellwood Girls and When Queen Victoria Came to Tea is out now and was published on November 5, 2015.
Thank you very much to the author, Margaret Crompton and her husband co-author John Crompton along with publishing house Magic Oxygen for sending me a review copy.
To purchase your copy, Amazon US To purchase your copy, Amazon UK