The Beckford Book Group
Join us at the Tower for our new quarterly book group exploring writings (loosely) related to the work of William Beckford. You don’t need to have read the book, just be interested in enjoying an evening of talks from experts, interesting discussions, tea, coffee (maybe wine).
by Jeremy Black
Thursday 22 September, 7pm at Beckford’s Tower
For our September Book Group we’ll be looking at another very important aspect of Beckford’s life – and the life of all eighteenth century gentleman – the Grand Tour.
The book we’ve chosen is ‘The British Abroad: The Grand Tour in the Eighteenth Century’ by Jeremy Black. From Amazon: ‘Travel for pleasure developed greatly in the 18th century, and here Jeremy Black – professor of history at the University of Exeter – examines travel on the Continent, the so-called ‘Grand Tour”, but if you would rather read another text on the Grand Tour, please feel free. We’ll also bring along some information about Beckford’s European travels to talk about, as well as the usual drinks, nibbles and (potentially themed) cupcakes.
by Peter Lovesey
Thursday 1 December, 7pm at Beckford’s Tower
Changing tone completely, for our December Book Group we’ll be reading ‘Skeleton Hill’ by Peter Lovesey.
From Amazon: ‘Battle and burial are built into the history of Lansdown Hill, so it is no great shock when part of a skeleton is unearthed there. But Peter Diamond, Bath’s Head of CID, can’t ignore the fresh corpse found close to the folly known as Beckford’s Tower’. *insert sinister music here*
As always, you can look forward to lively discussion, drinks and nibbles.
June 2016: The Volcano Lover by Susan Sontag – The Volcano Lover is a fictional interpretation of the lives of Sir William Hamilton, Catherine Hamilton (Sir William’s first wife), Emma Hamilton (his infamous second wife), and Admiral Nelson (Sir William’s cousin, William Beckford, also makes a few cameos). We discussed our interpretations of the text and our thoughts on Sontag’s writing style, compared parts of the dialogue in the book with the letters on which they was based, handled actual pieces of Vesuvius and nibbled on ‘volcano cakes’.
March 2016: The Sugar Barons by Matthew Parker – The Sugar Barons is an exploration of the families (including the Beckford’s) who made their fortunes on the sugar plantations of the West Indies. We discussed our thoughts on not only the text but the difficult history behind it. One of our most interesting Book Groups so far.
December 2015: A Christmas Carol – A very festive discussion of this supernatural classic. We shared our thoughts and ideas on the text and its many interpretatons and shared some Christmassy nibbles.
September 2015: Vathek – In Beckford’s birthday month we dicussed his gothic novel, reportedly written after his notorious 3-day long 21st birthday party in 1781. We discussed our interpretations of the text and its author and were lucky enough to view, and handle, some of the many editions from history – including an 1816 version from Beckford’s own collection.
June 2015: Fantastical Journeys and Imaginary Travels – We asked everyone to bring along their favourite piece of fictional travel writing and journeyed with Harold Fry on his Unlikely Pilgramage to the centre of the Earth via Discworld, Lilliput and London Below with little help from Robinson Crusoe.
February 2015: Tall Tales of Travel and Adventure – After discussing some of Beckford’s travel writing, everyone shared their favourite pieces, including Bryson, Dickens, Mishra and Nairn.
September 2014: Frankenstein – A talk by our curator, Dr Amy Frost, followed by a group discussion on this classic text.