You might be aware that at the end of last year, Wedgwood launched a £10.5m museum at Barlaston in Stoke-on-Trent, just months before the company, sadly, went into administration. The museum (which is owned by an independent charitable trust) is not affected by the company’s financial troubles, and has in fact been long-listed for the prestigious 2009 Art Fund Prize. Has anyone been there? Do I detect a little dumbing down in the virtual portrait medallions?
Above: Portland Vase by Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Ltd, circa 1790. Source: Wiki Commons.
I live in the English cathedral city of Lichfield, which, despite having a population of fewer than 5,000 during the Georgian period, was home to many important artists and intellectuals including Samuel Johnson, David Garrick and Erasmus Darwin. I generally blog about the short 18th century (1715-1789), feisty Georgian ladies and Lichfield's 18th-century heritage. If you have any comments, feel free to email me at woffington [at] gmail [dot] com.
Virtually forgotten today, Margaret Woffington (also known as Peg or Peggy) would rise from humble origins to become one of Georgian London’s most famous actresses, sharing the stage with the likes of David Garrick and excelling in so-called ‘breeches roles’. Born around the year 1720 in Dublin, her childhood years were marred by the death of her father, which plunged her family into poverty. Having reputedly sold watercress barefoot in the streets of the Irish capital, she was soon talent-spotted by a tumbler known as Violante, who staged populist entertainments in booths around the city. Violante had a troupe of child actors called the Liliputians, and before long Woffington was making her debut as Polly Peachum in their version of The Beggar’s Opera. Moving to London, she gained plaudits for both her outstanding beauty and her talent – particularly in comedy – appearing at both Covent Garden and Drury Lane. Known for her quick wit and no-nonsense attitude, she had high-profile affairs with Garrick, Lord Darnley and Charles Hanbury Williams; she was also a generous benefactor, supporting her elderly mother and may even have endowed some almshouses in Teddington, where she had settled at the height of her success. She died, unmarried, in 1760, having suffered a long wasting illness, and is buried in Teddington's parish church of St Mary’s.
Step into the past...
Click on the shoes for a highlight from the archive.
Any copyrighted excerpts on these pages are intended as Fair Use, that is to say, for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis, but will be removed at the request of copyright holder(s). I do not advertise on this site, but from time to time I post links to products on Amazon.co.uk which may earn me a small referral fee via the Amazon Associates Program. However, I am selective about endorsing products and choose only those that are of genuine interest to my readership.