Monday, June 06, 2016

Stratford Mosaic

     Gerald Jaggard. Stratford Mosaic (1960) Jaggard owned The Shakespeare Press, an antiquarian book shop on Sheep Street which he inherited from his father Capt. William Jaggard, who compiled the first Shakespeare bibliography. Peter and I visited his shop at least once. Besides the books, there were many memorabilia; it had the air of a museum.
     This collection of memories is an odd mix. It focuses on the Shakespeare Club and its role in developing the Birthday Celebrations, as well as some remarks on the first Memorial Theatre, the fire, and the new Memorial Theatre. He tells of the Gower Memorial, the Fountain in Rother Street, and the Mop, an annual fair that I remember with affection. He ends the book with brief memoirs of Marie Corelli, Sir Archibald Flower and Capt. William Jaggard.
     Jaggard was himself a member and later the Secretary of the Club, which gave him access to the minute books. His selection of highlights shows how the Club’s focus shifted slowly from enjoying their common admiration for Shakespeare (and good food and cigars at the annual banquet) to promoting Stratford as tourist town. As a record of some of the behind the scenes events, it’s a valuable resource. I’m not so sure about it as a history or as an impression of Stratford. Jaggard meticulously and repeatedly records all the honorifics and professional qualifications of the people he mentions. His bardolatry several times goes over the edge in self-satire. He waxes romantically and lyrically clich├ęd when describing Stratford as a beauty-spot. According to him, Sir Archibald Flower was man of pure civic virtues, with no warts at all. And of course Shakespeare is the Immortal Bard of Immortal Memory, etc.
     An amazing performance. My grandmother gave it to me. It mentions two of my ancestors, John Morgan, stationer and book seller (my great-grandfather), and F. C. Morgan (Uncle Peter), Librarian and Curator of the Hereford City Library. Jaggard's brother Geoffrey contributes nicely turned verses describing the streets of Stratford, most of them decorated with pleasant drawings by D. R. Mathews (uncredited). Published by Christopher Johnson (London), which I suspect was a vanity house. I found nothing about it online, but several copies of this book are available. If you are a fan of Shakespeare and Stratford, you could do worse than add it to your collection. **½

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