Sunday, 3 February 2013

Guisborough’s link to Lewis Carroll: Henry Savile Clarke (1841-93) and his family

While my original piece on Annie Weatherill’s 1863 diary (for which, see my blog post of 1 December 2012) was to be found on my previous website ( I was contacted by Dr Tony Nicholson of Teesside University.

Tony provided me with fascinating information regarding Henry Savile Clarke, the husband of Annie’s cousin Helen Weatherill.

In particular, he told me of Lewis Carroll’s correspondence with the Savile Clarke daughters, and of the further connection that linked the Savile Clarkes to President Franklin D Roosevelt.

This was such exciting news!  I have at last been able to complete my own research on it, which I'm going to start posting. 

I think it is a story especially worth telling because there are inaccuracies in some already published accounts – in particular, writers have confused Helen Weatherill with her daughter Clara Savile Clarke – and also because Clara deserves wider notice.

All the family – including the younger sisters Maggie and Kitty – attracted press attention in their day, but with Clara's early death, a promising literary talent was lost.

Certainly a great deal of research remains to be done into the Savile Clarkes, and I hope someone will do it – my work has been done from the warmth of home and the comfort of the sofa, and largely limited to internet resources.  In particular, I have found the British Newspaper Archive very useful.

(Subscribers to have access to the archive, but a much better search facility is available through a subscription to the archive’s own website.)

My account includes numerous hyperlinks, and I hope you find them useful.

I think they are especially valuable in linking to work by Clara Savile Clarke that would otherwise be hard to find, but I have also made full use of them to reduce the number of footnotes, and to convey a wider picture of the times to readers who perhaps may not be familiar with the period.


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