Inspired by the prolific writings of Horace Walpole, we are inviting people to ‘Write to Horace’ about how their community has come together to make a difference during this crisis. In celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the restoration of Strawberry Hill House, created in the 18th century, these letters will then be displayed as part of an imaginative art installation at the House later this year.
Horace Walpole ‘Man of Letters’, was a prolific writer, starting at the age of 7 and continuing with this passion into his 70’s. During his lifetime he produced some 7,000 letters, the world’s first gothic novel, ‘The Castle of Otranto’ (inspired by a nightmare he experienced at Strawberry Hill House), and an account of his collection in ‘A Description of the Villa of Horace Walpole’. He even had a private printing press in the grounds of the house, the first in the country.
Walpole’s letters, which describe the people he met, his local community and his thoughts about the world around him, captured the spirit, issues and wit of the age. During this time of lockdown, in 2020, letter-writing feels more relevant than ever and the humble letter has had a resurgence as people have sought to keep in touch.
‘During his lifetime, Horace Walpole was a famed letter-writer, wit and social commentator. His vivid accounts of society, politics, art and literature, offer an insight into 18th-century life, as Samuel Pepys did a century earlier. The ‘Write to Horace’ campaign at Strawberry Hill captures the spirit of Walpole’s writing and the importance of putting pen to paper in order to share stories of communities coming together.’
Michael Snodin, Honorary Curator, Strawberry Hill House & Garden
Through this project our ambition is to inspire people of all ages to ‘Write to Horace’, to share their own tales of how local communities have supported one another during the Covid-19 lockdown. We want to collect stories from people to serve as a snapshot of the area in 2020; these could describe acts of kindness that people have experienced in their community, things they may have noticed about the natural world on their daily walks or general observations of life during this time.
We will provide copies of Horace’s letters as inspiration, on suitable themes, and we ask people to hand write letters, or, if preferred, children can draw a response instead, photograph and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
All the letters received will be collated, preserved and eventually displayed in an imaginative art installation for people to read and reflect on as a fitting welcome back to our local community and wider visitors after we have fully re-opened Horace’s ‘little gothic castle’. The letters will then be compiled and kept in Horace Walpole’s library within the House. We also would like to broadcast readings by local personalities of a selection of the letters via social media.
“I am writing, I am building - both works that will outlast the memory of battles and heroes!…”
Horace Walpole, 1761
‘Write to Horace’ will officially launch on Friday 29th May, when a webpage with all the campaign information will go live: www.strawberryhillhouse.org.uk/letters
You can also follow the story on the Strawberry Hill social media platforms using the hashtag: #WriteToHorace
This project was only made possible thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.