Mary Bailey’s is a unique female voice in the masculine world of nineteenth-century Nottingham working-class poetry. A ‘lace-runner’ whose sore eyes and tired fingers crafted intricately embroidered garments for ‘fine ladies’ as she raised her family of nine in conditions of poverty, she published thirteen poems in a pamphlet in 1826, two years before she died, in an attempt to raise money for her family. Often songlike in their rhythms, her verses reflect the struggle to survive and live in a decent way, in the face of hardship, and of such challenges as being told she had too many children (‘To a Lady who desired me to pray for the death of my youngest child’), trying to make her customers understand what it took to make fine lace and why they should pay fairly for it (‘Petition to the British Fair’), and tackling two middle-class girls seen tormenting an insect for their pleasure (‘The Locust’). Just two, extremely fragile copies of her original pamphlet are now known to have survived.
The present publication, part of a wider recovery of the rich literary past of Nottingham, a UNESCO City of Literature, brings it back into the public domain after 200 years.
There will be a short introduction to Mary Bailey’s life and work, followed by a reading of her poems
This event is free, bookable via email@example.com
Note: Bromley House – an historic building – does not have a lift and this event is on the second floor of the building