THE SURVIVING MANUSCRIPTS OF GEORGE HEATH
In August 2012 I discovered that the Staffordshire Record Office possessed a number of items relating to George Heath, including sixteen of his notebooks. The explanation of how they came by this material was given on their website when Heath was the subject of their Featured Collections:
“All the documents shown are from a collection of manuscript notebooks and other items, which had been kept by his family until they were passed to a local man Mr J. Levitt who was researching Heath's life and works in the 1960s. They were donated to the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service in 2008 with the permission of the remaining members of the Heath family in Leek. The collection is held at Staffordshire Record Office and its collection reference is 6857.”
Details of the collection are available on the Gateway to the Past website but I thought it might be useful to copy the brief descriptions of the contents and list them here.
Contains one or two long poems written in pencil, including all or part of “Consumption” [the position of a loose page makes it unclear].
Hard-backed book originally used as a school exercise book for arithmetic. Inscribed at front end “Of Jessy Hall 1861” and “William Heath”. From the back end, other names are recorded, (perhaps contacts, within and outside Staffordshire). Also contains accounts of wages paid to George Heath by S Heath; a pencil comment apparently taken from a review of “Heart Strains” in the Ladies’ Own Journal (“...gracefully written but very mournful...”); drawing of the Cape of Good Hope, signed by Heath, above a four-line verse.Dated poems are 1865 and 1866.
Originally used as a school exercise book for arithmetic. Inscribed “Simeon Sims His Book Nov 24 1811”, with exercises written in ink. Also contains notes in ink relating to woodlands or timber?, 1853, and caricature sketch.
Notebook, loose covers.
Continuation of The Doom of Babylon from MS Book 4. Remainder of book unused.
Notebook titled “My Scrap Book, January 1st AD 1864”.
Hard-backed book. Fly leaf bears the title “Odds and Ends. Gratton 1866”.
Notebook, loose covers.
Notebook, titled “George Heath 1865”.
Notebook containing poems written in ink, with some annotations.
Notebook, inscribed “Waifs and Strays, Gratton December 1866”.
Notebook containing neat ink copies of poems, some pencil annotations.
Loose pages only, previously stitched together, apparently prepared for a publication, some poems crossed through. One page bears the covering address “Messrs Bemrose, Publishers Derby”, postmarked 1870.
Small notebook marked “Memorandum”, inscribed “George Heath Jany 1865”. Front page contains pencil notes relating to timber and funeral expenses.
Small notebook titled in pencil “The Invalid Poet, Gratton, 1867”.
(Notebook No. 16 is missing from the collection.)
Small notebook containing only the poem Found Dead No 2.
1. Loose copies of single poems.
Now Thou art Gone: A Lament; Extract from A Sermon to Fishmen (Rev 3); Spring; two copies of Mow Cop/Man o’ Mow (Reminiscences) “Inscribed to GH”; To Ida; Windy; Lines to ****; “Such lofty ambitions and hopes...” [with note and verse about the death of sister “Hannah”]; “Once more your fingers swept over the keys...” with A Fragment; Fragments to be added to “The Discarded”; A Persian Fable; Ah me! What a dreary day!; An Idyl of Staffordshire; poem inspired by the hymn Come unto me, all ye that labour...; Translation.
2. Annotated set of poems.
These appear to have been written out and commented on by a critical adviser. The name written at the end is Mlle Ida Raetzer, “a Swiss Lady” to whom Heath dedicated at least one poem [the published Preface refers to her as Mlle Ratchez].
3. Notes and drafts by George Heath.
Includes copies of Hannah, Childhood, To a Thundercloud, Introduction to How is Celia Today?, “I drew the white sheet slowly slowly down...” [written on the back of a memorandum of road labour, George Sims, 1868]; materials for the “Doom of Babylon”; Thoughts for the “Doom of Babylon”; “When myriad-funded sleep shall drop upon...”; Greek alphabet, with transliteration of George Heath Gratton Anno Domini 1846 [sic]; the first line of Virgil’s Aeneas with scansion notes.
Letters from George Heath.
1. Four copies of the HW Foster drawing of George Heath, with other items.
Envelope also contains draft notice by Heath requesting the return of his copy of the poem To Ida, 1867, with some pencil verse notes; and a recipe for Mixture for Diarrhoea.
2. Miscellaneous printed items.
Pre-printed letter from George Heath addressed to his readers or subscribers; printed article “Suggestions for the Unemployed: showing them how they can profitably employ their leisure time”; “Papers relative to the Wesleyan Missions and the State of the Heathen Countries”, Sep 1865; advertisement torn from book [?unused scrap paper]; paper wallet from PA Rayner of Spout Street, Leek [suppliers of wool, milinary products, stationery etc.]; poem titled The Postman’s Compliments [light-hearted verses, the name George Heath written in pencil beneath].
3. George Heath’s copy of Webster’s Pronouncing Dictionary.
Authentication written by George’s brother James, 1894. Also contains partial book plate bearing name of James Heath as Sunday School teacher.
The collection also contains material relating to the Memorial Editions, various newspaper clippings and other items concerning George Heath.