Devon Blue

Alberta in her V.A.D. uniform, 1917

Alberta in her V.A.D. uniform, 1917

One of the curious things about a blog like this is the incidental references and stories that you turn up.

Whilst I was doing research on the previous post about Thomas Aggett I came upon a reference to the Reverend Edwin Emmanuel Bradford, born in Torquay, who has been described as ‘a leading gay poet of the early 20th century’.   He was part of an informal group of English “Uranian” poets and he produced copious amounts of homoerotic poetry.  Unfortunately there is no connection I can find with Teignmouth so you’ve been deprived of the opportunity of Teignmouthian homoerotica.  I wonder whether the Church’s reaction today would be any different from a 100 years ago to a headline like “Gay Teignmouth vicar publishes homoerotic poetry”!

But I did find another connection, though still tenuous, with Teignmouth – a poet called Alberta Vickridge.  She was a northern lass who came to Torquay in the middle of the First World War.  She worked for the Voluntary Aid Department which helped shape some of the war poetry she wrote.  She also won a Bardic Chair at the 1924 Eisteddfod!  The tenuous connection is her poem “Devon Blue” which makes a reference to Teignmouth.  It also occurred to me when I discovered her that only two of my previous posts have featured works by female writers – surely a damning historical indictment.

I must try to find more work by female poets.  Meanwhile, here is Devon Blue:

(Alberta Vickridge)

Every morning when I awake,
Greeting day and life anew,
First, a cup of tea I take
From a set of Devon-blue.

Cup and saucer, pot and plate –
On each separate piece I view
Seagulls on a rock, sedate,
‘Gainst a sky of Devon-blue.

Even so in mildTorbay,
Dawlish, Brixham, Teignmouth too,
Deeply sapphire gleams the day
From a sea of Devon-blue.

Though my Northern home is far
From the seas and skies I knew,
Brighter all my mornings are
For a glimpse of Devon-blue.

I forget how mist and rain
There as here change heaven’s hue,
Living happy hours again
In a world of Devon-blue.


Want to know more?  Check out Alberta Vickridge


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