Widow, 88, realises poetry dream after nasty fall in Hampstead home

Marjorie Burrell with her book of limericks. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Marjorie Burrell with her book of limericks. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

An 88-year-old widow who spent five months in hospital after a fall in January is enjoying a welcome end to the year with the publication of 20 years’ worth of her poetry.

Marjorie Burrell stockpiled two decades’ of limericks – humorous five-line poems with a strict rhyme scheme – on the computer in her flat at the Henderson Court sheltered housing scheme, in Fitzjohn’s Avenue, Hampstead.

But her dream of one day seeing the limericks published lay in ruins after a fall in January put the pensioner in hospital for five months and left her unable to walk unaided.

However, with the help of volunteers from charity Age UK Camden, the collection of limericks has been brought to life and last month Mrs Burrell launched the book, entitled The Tale of the Limerick, at Henderson Court Resource Centre, in Prince Arthur Road, Hampstead.

Mrs Burrell treated the audience to readings of her witty rhymes and also recounted the tale of how she came to write them and how they made it into print.

She said: “I’ve always loved languages and words. I was an associate of the Institute of Linguists. The limericks are about people.

“They are extraordinary people – sportsmen, inventors, estate agents and bank managers, just about every type of creature. I don’t think anyone could have met the characters, they are so outrageous!”

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Mrs Burrell, who lived in West Hampstead for 40 years, moved to Henderson Court five years ago when her husband suffered a stroke. He passed away three years ago.

After she left hospital in May in the wake of the fall, she found support from two volunteer carers who pledged to help make her dream of publishing a book become a reality.

As Mrs Burrell could no longer reach her computer and her eyesight was failing due to age-related degeneration, carer Davina Taylor, 19, set about bringing the limericks on the computer together for publication.

Marika Freris, 51, another volunteer carer, then managed to get 100 copies of the limericks professionally published. There are plans for additional copies to be printed.

The books are available at Henderson Court Resource Centre. Anyone who wishes to pick up a copy is asked to donate at least £3 which will go to the centre.

Mrs Burrell added: “They are very good people, the staff are wonderful. They have given me a home. I wouldn’t want the money to go anywhere else.”

For more information about Mrs Burrell’s book, contact Henderson Court Resource Centre on 020 7794 6588.