In 1773, Parliament passed the Regulating Act: in return for a loan of £1.4 million, the East India Company agreed to accept a Governor General appointed by Parliament and Warren Hastings was appointed to the post. In addition, the Regulating Act called for the appointment of three counsellors whose job was to oversee the Governor General. Unfortunately, these cousellors were hostile to Hastings from the start, in particular Philip Francis (lover of Mrs Grand see previous email, re ladders against windows and Prince Talleyrand). Francis sought to undermine Hastings’s authority at every opportunity.
By May 1780, Hastings had had enough. He decided that it had to be death or victory. He insulted Francis in a memorandum to the Council; Francis took the bait and challenged Hastings to a duel.
At 5.30 am on 16th August the two principle members of the Calcutta Council met in the grey light of morning on the Alipur Road, both middle-aged, neither of them with much interest in exercise or fighting. Francis had never fired a pistol before and Hastings could remember doing so ‘only once or twice’. Their seconds measured fourteen paces. Hastings defered his fire while Francis misfired twice. The third time they both fired simultaneously. Francis narrowly missed but Hastings’s bullet struck Francis on the right side and lodged under his left shoulder blade. Francis called out ‘I’m dead’ and fell to the ground.
‘Good God, I hope not!’ Hastings called back and hurried over. Having checked on the damage, he rushed home in his palanquin and sent for the surgeon general and his own doctor. Philip Francis staged a remarkably swift recovery but he left for England that December.
After much planning, we have finally started work to convert some redundant commercial buildings in Bishop’s Castle into a Writer’s Lodge, intended to compliment services already provided by YouCaxton. It will involve the conversion of a Victorian slaughter house and a medieval barn to provide space for seminars along with technical facilities and self-catering accommodation for aspiring writers.
Writers will be able to participate in courses, retreats, seminars and one-to-one tuition on a wide variety of pre-publishing issues. They will also be given access to the expertise at YouCaxton Publications for help with book design, as well as planning, publication and distribution.
Central to the project is the creation of a two-bedroom cottage and studio, both with lovely views over the south Shropshire hills and this is the renovation work which has now started. We expect it to be finished before the swallows return in June.
We also have a new member on the team, Caroline Denham, to oversee the project.
It’s Not About Shakespeare, Aspects of Ordinary Life in Stratford-upon-Avon 1775-1915 by Val Horton, published by YouCaxton Publications, has received a long and favourabel review in the Stratford Herald:
‘Prepare to be transfixed by chapters on slavery, insurrection, the workhouse, education, housing, suffragettes and more … We tend to think the past is largely about strong men dominating the scene but strong women are also key in this tale and, of course, some of the financial details are fascinating – seeing how much landmark buildings once cost and realising that the seemingly trifling sums quoted are considerable in today’s terms.
Indeed, the house that started it all was sold for the first time, a few years old, for £450 in May 1911 and in 1930 reached the giddy heights of £650 when it was sold again. But we’re drifting again into the detail.
Let’s just say this is the kind of book that is certain to add to what most of us will know of Stratford’s past, linking every aspect of life across the years. As others have said, it is brilliantly researched at the treasure trove that is the birthplace trust’s archives, with some of the evidence coming from past editions of the Herald.’
Philosophy Now has published a wide-ranging review of Consciousness Matters by Oliver Leech, published by YouCaxton Publications in 2017. ‘On a kindly reading, Consciousness Matters is an easy-to-read, nicely paced, clear introduction to philosophical ideas about consciousness. It is free from distracting jargon, provides a lot of accessible examples and analogies, and has the very great merit of taking seriously lines of argument even when they lead to highly counterintuitive conclusions.’
Snapper Films, an independent production company, has taken on The Seagull Hotel by Kirstine Richards, published by YouCaxton in 2018, the memoir of a remarkable young woman who, together with her German friend, opened a hotel in post-war Exmouth. Two female script writers are working on the project.
Joanne McShane will be reading from her new novel, Honora and Arthur, the last Plantagenets, at the Border Bean café, in Kington on the mid-Wales border, on Wednesday 20th November at 3.00 pm. The book is a meticulously researched, fictionalised account of the life of Honora Grenville who married Arthur Plantagent during the reign of Henry VIII.