South Shields playwrights’ Grace Darling appeal
Do you have a rare pamphlet?
Noted South Shields playwrights Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood are looking for your help in tracing a copy of a rare pamphlet written by the Bamburgh heroine’s sister Thomasin as they put the finishing touches to a play about the renowned north-east girl famous for her 19th. century wreck rescue at the Farne Islands.
Grace Darling was as much a victim of her own success as many modern day women who find fanciful stories written about them in today’s newspapers, the story of her short tragic life became somewhat twisted and over romanticised by poets and book writers of the period, hence sister Thomasin’s decision to write the pamphlet putting the family’s view of Grace’s achievements in plain simple factual English.
North East playwrights Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood are appealing to anyone with a copy of a rare pamphlet written by her sister.
The pair have read all the known books on Grace and were delighted to have been given copies of letters written between Grace and her benefactor, The Duke of Northumberland, by the Duke’s estate but they particularly want to read the pamphlet, called Grace Darling: Her True Story produced by Grace’s older sister Thomasin in 1880.
Grace Darling and her lighthouse keeper father, William, achieved national and international status in September 1838 after rescuing nine people shipwrecked on the Farne Islands’ notorious Harcar Rock, situated four miles off the Northumberland coast between the fishing port of Seahouses and Bamburgh Castle.
Grace, who died of TB in 1842, aged 26, four years after her heroic deed, became a recluse in Longstone lighthouse within three months of the rescue. Numerous plays, books, poems, songs and stories were written about her short life that were grossly embellished with sentimentality, romance and other lies.
Trevor explained: “Grace became a Victorian superstar and in popularity terms she was the equivalent of, say, Victoria Beckham today, except Grace did something worthwhile; her bravery led directly to the creation of the modern Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in 1854.”
He continued: “Sadly, from the minute she became a national heroine her life was not her own. Here was a young, naïve lass from Northumberland whose societal role was to look after her parents and tend the lighthouse but she was thrust into the media spotlight.
“Thomasin and Grace were very close and Thomasin wrote the pamphlet to put the record straight about Grace’s humble life. It was initially posted around Bamburgh. Sadly, because it wasn’t a sensational read, it sold a lot less than the plethora of made up nonsense about Grace.
Trevor added: “We know there are copies of Thomasin’s pamphlet in existence and we’d love to read one.”
So, if you have a copy of Thomasin’s pamphlet, have seen a copy of it, know someone who has a copy, or have a good clue as to where Ed and Trevor can gain access to a copy, then please get in touch with them via their website.