26th SeptembAbolitioner 2015, Embrace Arts

We have commissioned a creative response to the range of writing produced by Heyrick and Watts, based on their primary texts and on the rich resources held by the Records Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland at Wigston Magna. It was won by the poet Deborah Tyler-Bennett who has produced poems based on her readings of the original material by Heyrick and Watts in the Record Office for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Because the field was so very strong, with excellent work submitted in a range of genres and styles, we found it difficult to choose an overall winner, and we have also awarded a separate commission to Jayne Stanton. We would like to thank everyone who participated and who sent in such striking and unusual creative responses to the women's work.

Come and hear the poems!

Everyone is warmly invited to come along to a special reading by Deborah Tyler-Bennett at the Everybody's Reading Festival, on September 26th, 2pm, at Embrace Arts. Free, just turn up: find more details here.


As a follow-up to her commission, Deborah will also lead a creative writing workshop as part of the Literary Leicester fringe festival. Free to attend, but please sign up in advance: 3.30-5pm, at the Records Office for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, 11 November. All welcome!


Come along to the Everybody's Reading event! All welcome, 2pm, September 26th, Embrace Arts. More details here.


We're delighted to know that the work of Elizabeth Heyrick and Susanna Watts will feature in a ground-breaking new local film!

Candy Arts CIC has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, ‘Rothley, Slavery and Me’ in Leicester. Led by volunteers from the local community, the project focuses on the role Rothley, a village in Leicestershire, played in the abolition of the slave trade across the British Empire, and looks at the lives of those who tried to stop the cruel trade, including William Wilberforce, Watts and Heyrick.

Commenting on the award, the director Robert Queensborough said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and are confident the project will support young people to be active citizens with pride in their local heritage.”

You can find more details about the Candy Arts CIC project here and see photographs of the launch event at Leicester's African Caribbean Centre here.



18 September, University of Leicester

Life writing conference

Rebecca Shuttleworth, PhD student at the University of Leicester, gave a paper on her work on Elizabeth Heyrick and Susanna Watts at a conference on Romantic and Victorian biographies at the University of Leicester on Friday September 18th. What did the later Victorians find troubling about Watts and Heyrick? What gets left out of later biographies? Rebecca explored some of the tensions in the women's writings, and asked how they have been remembered.

The conference itself focussed on the ways in which Romantic and Victorian authors often wrote together, both in the sense of focusing on multiple subjects and in adopting collaborative modes of authorship. There will be keynote lectures by Professor David Amigoni on the Darwins, and Dr Daisy Hay on 'Adventures of an Unromantic Biographer'. Panels will include ‘Women Writing Together’, ‘Religious Interactions’, ‘Intellectual Families’, ‘Literary Communities’, ‘Creative and Digital Projects’, ‘Collaborative Suppressions and Experiments’, and individual authors including Dickens and the Brontë sisters.

This event has happened now, but you can see a storify of the day here put together by our delegate Emily Bowles, a PhD student from the University of York:
and a record of the event on the website for
'Writing Lives Together: Romantic and Victorian Biography'

A Walk with Susanna Watts

As part of Leicester's Everybody's Reading festival, we led a guided walk which commemorated two of the city’s most famous women writers: Susanna Watts (1786-1842), author of the first guidebook to Leicester, and her friend, the abolitionist campaigner Elizabeth Heyrick (1769-1831). Despite the pouring weather it was a very successful event.

This walk happened on Saturday 4 October, 2014, 10.30am
Great Meeting Unitarian Chapel, 45 East Bond St, Leicester LE1 4SX. If you missed it you can read an 1820 edition of Watts's guidebook here.

Susanna Watts and Elizabeth Heyrick: Leicestershire Authors and Activists in the 19th Century


In the opening decades of the 19th century, Leicester was home to two remarkable women, whose writings and involvement in social campaigns were to have a lasting effect on both their Leicester community and on British society. As tireless and outspoken advocates for the campaign to end slavery, and pioneers in the early animal rights movement, Elizabeth Heyrick and Susanna Watts played an active role in swaying public opinion in these campaigns. On a local level, they worked and wrote within their community for the rights of workers in the hosiery industry and prisoners, as well as the poor and aged. They also produced many literary works, including the first ever guidebook for Leicester. This talk by Rebecca Shuttleworth and Felicity James explored their life and works in Leicester and beyond as part of the Literary Leicester Fringe Festival.

This event happened on 14th November 2014, 4-5pm, at the Literary Leicester Fringe Festival, Embrace Arts, 35 Lancaster Rd, Leicester LE1 7HA. If you missed it you can find a recording of the event here.

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