Devonshire in the Long Nineteenth century: the Shadow of Sherlock Holmes?

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Sidney Paget’s illustration, ‘The Shadow of Sherlock Holmes’, illustrating chapter X,
The Strand Magazine, January 1902. PUNCS collection.

PUNCS members Dr Judith Rowbotham and Dr James Gregory spoke on 11 March 2017 at the ‘Moor than meets the Eye’ Heritage Lottery Fund-funded symposium on Dartmoor in the nineteenth century.

Judith Rowbotham’s paper, ‘By the Hand of Nature Marked? The Lure of Dartmoor as a Site for Crime and Criminals in Victorian Fiction,’ looked at the violent and criminal associations of Dartmoor, contrasting the meagre record of actual crimes with that looming large in popular culture in this period, most famously associated with Arthur Conan Doyle’s tale,’The Hound of the Baskervilles’, from which our two blog images are taken (Sidney Paget’s illustrations from the Strand Magazine originals), and which drew upon the area’s indelible association with the prison at Princetown.

 

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Black’s guide to Devonshire: with maps and illustrations (1874; image from copy in University of Plymouth collection)

 

James Gregory offered an overview, at the start of the symposium, on the representation of Devon in texts such as mid-Victorian gazetteers; guidebooks such as those produced by the publishers Adam and Charles Black, and John Murray; geography textbooks for school; and lavishly illustrated works of topography from earlier in the century; to answer the question: what might people from outside the second (or third) largest county in England know about Devonshire and its inhabitants, in the ‘long nineteenth century’? The notoriously drizzly weather, clotted cream and cider, the terra incognita of Dartmoor, figured heavily in this ‘knowledge’. The revised copy of Dr Gregory’s paper is available to download from his academia.edu site.

Fascinating papers from local historians and academics from the University of Exeter were presented on the representation of Dartmoor in the fine arts (Peter Mason), capitalism and its related industrial history and archaeology on Dartmoor (Dr Phil Newman); the agricultural history of the county (Dr Paul Brassley);  and the surprisingly early (and occasionally, surprisingly playful) commercial imagery of Dartmoor available to the wealthy, in stereoscopic photographs (Dr Tom Greeves).

 

For more details on the event, see: http://www.moorthanmeetstheeye.org/about-us/news/news-articles/shedding-more-light-on-victorian-dartmoor

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