What is precious, tattered, torn and handed down?
When my grandfather, Tom Tansey, landed in Geelong in 1888 as a sixteen year old he brought with him this copy of WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE AS HE LIVED by Captain Curling.
Shakespeare’s grandfather had a farm at Tom’s home town of Snitterfield, just to the north of Stratford on Avon in Warwickshire. So why had Grandpa brought this particular book with him?
It was a farewell gift from Ben Currier and his wife Ellen. Ben was a farmer and much older than Tom but Ben and Tom were both members of the Snitterfield Town Band and this had been a parting gift and was one that Grandpa kept all his life.
In the band photo Tom is the short chap fifth from the left in the back row while Ben is standing at the right hand end of the row, This photo was taken the previous year (1887) in front of the Red Lion in Stratford on Avon when the band led the procession celebrating Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. Tom was 15 and Ben 32.
I was amazed to find that the book has been re-printed as a paperback but is also downloadable fron the Gutenberg Project, Monash Uni library, etc, etc. This book was first published in 1853 but Curling was a prolific writer and the book had been published before under different titles. It is described as a Romance and is based on fact with a lot of imagination thrown in !
It starts – “It was one morning, during the reign of Elizabeth, that a youth, clad in a grey cloth doublet and hose (the usual costume of the respectable country tradesman or apprentice in England), took his early morning stroll in the vicinity of a small town in Warwickshire…..”