Exhibition to focus on famous visitors to town in 19th century

Exhibition to focus on famous visitors to town in 19th century

by Tom Martin (January 2022)

A SOUTHPORT student  has been awarded funding to launch an exhibition  featuring the stories of the town’s most famous visitors from the 19th century.

Michelle Caldwell, 44, will showcase her work at the Atkinson after she received financial backing from the British Association of Victorian Studies.

One of the most notable figures to visit  Southport was author and social critic Charles Dickens, who  visited the town  to deliver a lecture during his farewell tour of the region less than a year before he passed away in 1870. 

Authors  Elizabeth Gaskell and poet Oscar Wilde  also visited the town,  with  the latter visiting  Southport’s  Pavilion and Winter Gardens  in August 1884  to deliver a lecture on dress. 

Michelle, 44,  who studies MA Nineteenth-Century Studies at Edge Hill University, said: “We’ll be celebrating the  stories of some of Southport’s most famous faces, as well as highlighting the wider history of the town and its significance in the North West’s Victorian heritage. 

“We want  this project to  revitalise public interest  in the town’s rich history.   The majority  of Southport’s tourism sector is based on its Victorian heritage  and we hope the exhibition can help   bolster that knowledge and show people how much history there is in this town.

“It would be a shame for these stories to be forgotten.” 

Dr Laura Eastlake, Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader in English Literature, said: “Michelle is a fantastic  researcher,  and  this funding  award  bears testament to her ability to apply her 19th  Century specialism to real-word issues that exist in our society today.  It explores the legacies that our society has inherited from the 19th  Century, from the culture, architecture and the monuments  on display in our towns.

“Michelle questions their place in today’s world, and how we can reflect on Southport’s heritage and history to support the town’s future aims, as it emerges from the pandemic and sets out on the road to recovery.” 

The project is scheduled to launch at The Atkinson’s Discovery Box  later this year. 

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