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George Heath
1844

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The Moorland Poet
1869

Manuscripts
Pictures Miscellanea About this Site

ABOUT THIS SITE

 

This site went online in March, 2002. Originally it contained the 1870 Memorial Edition of George Heath’s poems, some photographs and a few other related items. In June, 2002, I added the additional material from the second edition of 1880 and in August the facsimile copy of Heart Strains. As far as I know, the site now contains all the published poetry of George Heath.

At which point I was hoping to track down the unpublished work, including the poet’s diary, but despite enquiries at various local libraries and museums, and among various members of the Heath family, my search was unsuccessful.

I have to admit I then switched my attention to another Staffordshire poet, Robert Buchanan, which proved to be far more time-consuming than I expected, and as a result I tended to ignore George Heath and this site.

In April, 2006, thanks to Shaun Simms, I added copies of the birth and death certificates of George Heath to the site and in January, 2008, Shaun provided me with a Heath family tree, which will no doubt be of great use to all the Heath family descendants around the world.

In August, 2008, the original site went offline for a couple of days after Orange changed their free webhosting policy. The site started out on Freeserve, which was then taken over by Wanadoo, then Orange. I then switched to a free site on Bravenet.

In July, 2009, I discovered that the Internet Archive site now had copies of the 1880 Memorial Edition of George Heath’s poetry and also two books by Francis Redfern, his history of Uttoxeter and his own slim volume of poems, Dove Valley Rhymes. Redfern’s History and antiquities of the town and neighbourhood of Uttoxeter, with notices of adjoining places contains one mention of George Heath, an entry from his diary for November 1st, 1867, All Souls’ Day, which I added to the reconstruction of the diary on this site.

I had always intended to visit Uttoxeter in search of Redfern’s papers. Since he had written out Heath’s poems and parts of his diary for the Memorial Edition, I felt there was a slim chance that something may have survived. So slim a chance though, that I never got round to doing it. Until 8th July 2009, when I visited the Heritage Centre in Uttoxeter. After visiting many libraries and museums and bookshops in search of Robert Buchanan and being met by blank looks, I expected the same when I enquired about Francis Redfern in the Uttoxeter Heritage Centre. I even added the information that he’d written a history of the town. At which point the very helpful gentleman told me the dates of the two editions and then informed me that I was standing in Francis Redfern’s house. He then showed me the room where Redfern would have worked on the Memorial Editions of George Heath’s poetry. Now, I’m not saying that this was akin to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s visit to Uttoxeter to find the place where Samuel Johnson made his penance to his father (Hawthorne’s account of which is also available via the Internet Archive), but I did feel a certain frisson when I stood in the room. So, if there is such a thing as a George Heath Heritage Trail, after visiting the grave and looking at the ‘Poet’s Cottage’, then Endon Church and perhaps Rudyard Lake, the Roches and Mow Cop, I would suggest a journey to the Uttoxeter Heritage Centre, former home of Francis Redfern.

And so to August 2012, when an email from George Dance about his poetry site, Penny’s Poetry Pages, prompted me to take a look at my George Heath site, only to find it plastered with notices from Bravenet warning me that it would soon be deleted since they had changed their policy regarding free webspace. Since I had plenty of space on my Robert Buchanan site (which I actually pay for), I decided to just move it across. Simple enough, but in checking that the links still worked, I came across the website of the Archives department of the Staffordshire County Council, and the latest in their ‘Featured Collections’ - George Heath. It appears that the Staffordshire Record Office now has quite an extensive collection of original manuscripts relating to George Heath, explained in the following note:

“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.”

So, first I must apologise for not being as diligent in my research as Mr. Levitt (the blame lies with Robert Buchanan) but I had no idea that Heath’s notebooks had survived. My own enquiries were concentrated on the poet’s journal, which does not seem to be included in the Levitt collection. Second, I have to apologise for not rushing up to Stafford immediately, but, when time (and Buchanan) permits, I will do so. Until then, I have added a page on the Manuscripts, containing the descriptions of the material taken from the Staffordshire County Council website.

I have also taken this opportunity to add a page to the Miscellanea section on a subject which has always intrigued me, but which, I admit, is mostly pure speculation - the link between George Heath and his next-door neighbour, T. E. Hulme:

George Heath and T. E. Hulme - Coincidence?

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If you have any information about George Heath, or the three friends who did so much to preserve his work, namely the Rev. James Badnall of Endon Church, Herbert Wilson Foster and Francis Redfern, please let me know.

And if anyone is interested in why I decided to make this website and my own thoughts on George Heath, then click the link below:

A Personal Note

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Finally, for links to other Staffordshire, Victorian and Poetry sites, click the link below:

Links

 

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