The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0504 Friday, 18 March 2005
Date: Thursday, 17 Mar 2005 10:28:18 -0000
Subject: John Jordan's Book
Every fortnight The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Records Office writes a
popular article for publication in the Stratford Herald. Below is a
summary of the article printed in the Herald, 17th March.
JOHN JORDAN'S BOOK
The notorious John Jordan was Stratford's self-educated poet and
wheelwright, and a source of good stories about Shakespeare.
The Birthplace Trust has recently acquired a book owned by Jordan. This
is Samuel Ireland's, Picturesque Views on the Warwickshire Avon,
published in 1795. Samuel Ireland, already the author of several
illustrated travel books, visited Warwickshire in the summer of 1792 to
gather material for his next volume, a journey down the Avon.
Stratford, with its Shakespeare associations, was to feature
prominently. On reaching the town, Ireland was quickly put in touch with
Jordan. Jordan took him first to a dealer in Shakespearean relics, where
Ireland made a few purchases. They then went onto other sites, ending up
at Ann Hathaway's Cottage, where Jordan helped arrange for Ireland's
purchase of an ancient chair. Jordan also fed him numerous tales, many
of dubious authenticity, both during the visit and by letter over the
next year or two. Ireland then moved on downstream to Bidford, Evesham,
Pershore, Strensham, and finally Tewkesbury. His book, embellished with
the drawings he had made en route, appeared in 1795.
The copy of the book that the Birthplace Trust has acquired was given by
Ireland to Jordan, as he proudly recorded on the half-title page: 'John
Jordan's Book: Given by the Author July ye 17th 1795 For assistance in
Jordan also embellished his copy with some water colour drawings of his
own. One of these shows a house in Strensham dated 24 October 1792, the
year of Ireland's visit. Jordan may have acted as Ireland's guide for
the rest of his trip down the Avon.
Thanks to Dr Robert Bearman, Head of Archives at the Birthplace Trust,
who kindly sent me a copy of this article.
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