Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady brought to life at Keats House

Country Diary in Song plays in the grounds of Keats House as part of the 2021 Hampstead Festival 

The Country Diary in Song plays in the grounds of Keats House as part of the 2021 Hampstead Festival - 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.


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"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."

Margaret Moore plays Edith Holden in Country Diary In Song

Margaret Moore plays Edith Holden in Country Diary In Song - Credit: Courtesy of Broomdasher

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/


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