The Gaskell Society

The Gaskell Society

Celebrating the life and work of Elizabeth Gaskell

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How Manchester Made Shakespeare Modern – Rosa Grindon, the Suffragist Shakespearean Scholar

Wednesday 8 November, 2023, 5:30 pm - 7:15 pm GMT


Dr Ian Nickson (Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham) and Dr. Monika Smialkowska (Northumbria University) will talk about the largely overlooked career of Rosa Grindon. They will chart her journey from modest beginnings in a Derbyshire village to becoming a leading figure in literary and theatrical circles in Manchester, a ground-breaking Shakespearean scholar and, as a Suffragist, an outspoken champion of women’s rights. For example, her response to women being forbidden membership of some of the city’s societies was to resurrect Lydia Becker’s Manchester Ladies’ Literary Society, to which she invited the leading Shakespearean actors Henry Irving and Ellen Terry to speak.

Grindon was a bold and innovative scholar who challenged the largely male-dominated interpretations of female figures in Shakespeare’s plays and pioneered theatrical outreach by delivering lectures in association with Richard Flanagan’s Shakespearean revivals at the Queen’s and New Theatres. Such was her standing that she was the first woman to be invited to speak at the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford-in-Avon. Later, she led the preparations for Manchester’s Shakespeare Tercentenary Celebrations in 1916 and funded the Shakespeare Window in the Central Library via a bequest in her Will.
Dr Nickson will first provide a brief overview of the other six personalities who were involved in Manchester’s role in making Shakespeare modern – John Knowles, George Dawson, Charles Calvert, Henry Irving, Alfred Darbyshire, Bishop James Fraser – followed by an account of Rosa’s career before 1900.  Dr Smialkowska will then describe Rosa’s post-1900 career.
The event will take place in the Central Library’s Performance Space on the ground floor. Doors will open at 17.30 to allow viewing of items from the archive. The presentation will start at 18.00 and finish at 19.00 with 15 minutes Q&A to follow.
Admission is free and tickets can be obtained using the link below


Manchester Central Library
St Peter's Square
Manchester, M2 5PD
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Dr Ian Nickson