Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady brought to life at Keats House
- Credit: Courtesy of Broomdasher
Teacher and illustrator Edith Holden was an eco warrior before the term existed.
Through her posthumously published Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady she charmed a generation with her paintings, poems and seasonal 'Nature Notes' celebrating the flora and fauna of the English countryside.
The book was created in 1906 as a teaching aid for her art students at Solihull School for Girls. Now a new musical marking her 150th birthday plays in the garden at Keats House on July 3 as part of the Hampstead Festival.
Six piece acapella folk group Broomdasher intertwine her animated descriptions with the beautiful harmonies of "rousing, rueful and romantic" folk songs collected by Cecil Sharp - whose name graces the Primrose Hill headquarters of the English Folk Dance and Song Society.
John Palmer, who wrote and directs the folk musical, said: "The book was a worldwide phenomenon when published in 1977. Edith’s beautiful paintings and words created an exhilarating journey through the seasons, celebrating birds; flowers; animals and life in the countryside in 1906. Millions of homes still have kitchenware, soft furnishings, porcelain; diaries; albums; recipe books and tapestries featuring pictures from the diary.
"She moved to London and sadly died following her passion for nature and the countryside. She drowned in a backwater of the Thames at Kew when she fell in as she was reaching out to pluck chestnut buds overhanging the water."
Camden-based actor Margaret Moore plays Edith in the show which celebrates her connection with William Morris and Cecil Sharp.
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"The show is scheduled to be performed outside at 2pm, under the tree where Keats wrote Ode to a Nightingale, to complete the environmental theme," added Palmer.
Tickets are £10 and all proceeds will go to the Hampstead School of Art and Keats Community Library. Tickets from the Library and at https://www.wegottickets.com/