Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 33 (2002)
Looking back thirty years to my report for 1971 I found that I had written 'It is most rewarding to be able to report a successful and stimulating year'. Thirty years later I can say the same - despite having drawn in our horns after the less than successful Millennium year.
At the Annual General Meeting in March we thought we were to lose our new treasurer, Sophie Pavier, but she found she was able to continue for a further year, much to our relief. Ted Bates retired from the Council after many years' service owing to ill health. I was sad to have to report his death six months later. The Fellowship was represented at his funeral and memorial service. Miss Susan Healey took Ted's place on the Council and Mary Somerville and Vivienne Wood were co-opted for the year. The Chairman's Address was particularly concerned at the falling off of local support for the Fellowship and its activities and he spoke of his fears for the future of the Fellowship if no one was willing to take office when he and I are no longer able to continue our work. The Address was included in the April newsletter but seems to have had little or no effect. I am sure we are not alone amongst similar societies in being in this situation.
On 4 and 5 April Gabriel Woolf, on his thirty-second visit and accompanied by Rosalind Shanks, presented 'Victorian Voices', a programme marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the Victorian era. Strenuous efforts were made to raise an audience in Leamington and in Nuneaton and we succeeded in an acceptable audience in both places. It is a pity we have to push so hard to get some of the members to support such an attractive event but we simply don't know what else to do. We cannot remain complacent, sitting back and hoping for support at the last minute for it would be most embarrassing to invite actors or speakers for only a handful of loyal supporters. In the event we made a loss for the first time in thirty-two years so had to decide, a little reluctantly, to restrict the 2002 programme to Nuneaton only.
The George Eliot Day on 19 May was very successful. Entitled 'From Milby to Florence', it covered Scenes of Clerical Life ('Milby') and Romola. Ruth Harris and Vivienne Wood with Dr Andrew Brown, editor of the Clarendon edition of Romo/a, gave excellent papers and we showed slides of Florence and the Romo la connections. We had very good food and very good company. It is an opportunity to meet members from further afield as well as to welcome new faces. The following day the first George Eliot Country tour took place with a coach-load of friendly and enthusiastic passengers.
We had a lovely sunny day for the Nuneaton Wreath-laying on 10 June. Lynda Carnes, Chairman of the Bedworth Society was our special guest and, much to our pleasurable surprise, resurrected the custom of handing out sprigs of rosemary. This was the custom many years ago and we liked it so much it is to be incorporated in the ceremony each year in future. For the first time we had readings instead of hymns - a welcome change as long as we do not have to stand too long! After the service we invited everyone for tea and biscuits at the Museum.