An interview with Professor Eric Robinson


[Eric and his wife Victoria, taken during a visit to the Eden Project in Cornwall in June 2014]

This interview between Professor Eric and Roger Rowe was conducted, with kind permission of the Peterborough Central Library staff during August of 2014.  It was filmed by James Murray-White who also edited the couple of hours of filming we completed.

It starts with a short silent introduction, and lasts for around 17 minutes.

Just click here, turn up the sound a bit and prepare to be amused and informed by the great man:

https://vimeo.com/109587872

The piece below from Eric's pen is directly pertinent to the video...
Clare’s manuscripts and his pen sketches

In Clare's manuscripts there is a dimension not made clear until recently by Margaret Grainger's The Natural History Prose Writings of John Clare (Oxford, 1983) and Timothy Brownlow's John Clare and the Picturesque Landscape (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1983) and that is the numerous small pencil and pen sketches added by Clare in the margin.  The lovely ballad, 'I love thee sweet mary but love thee in fear' (B 247a-248), for example, is accompanied by a landscape sketch of fields, presumably the very fields near Clinton through which Mary Joyce and he wandered together.  Glinton's long elegant spire often appears and at B9 R14 there is a sketch of Langley Bush before it was destroyed.  At A5 2, 3 there is a crude but lively sketch of a waggon and horses, while at other places there are amusing sketches of a boy swimming naked, probably near Maxey mill and a nude girl shivering from the cold.

     Clare certainly had an artist's eye, and he numbered several artists, Peter de Wint, William Hilton, Frank Howard, E.V. Rippingille and others, among his friends and acquaintances.  This geographic dimension to his verse casts light on his visual imagination and is almost entirely neglected by his biographers.

     Clare's manuscripts are not merely collections of words, they are often palimpsests, and beautiful visual artefacts.  Sometimes they are also, by virtue of being old, sale-bills, advertisements and used letters, intriguing  historical records in themselves.  Nothing can ever adequately convey to the reader what the editor experiences by handling a Clare manuscript, yet some of Clare's biographers have hardly handled his manuscripts at all, as their references make clear.

Eric Robinson (1985)

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