Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Westerman Seminar 2013

The seminar at Portsmouth Grammar School on Saturday 16 November was a real departure from our previous programmes. We kicked off with an abridged performance/reading of the play of Captain Blundell’s Treasure by a talented group of students from Springfield School, Portsmouth who really captured the spirit of Westerman’s characters. After their performance they happily answered questions from the delegates about their perception and views of the play and the style of writing.

Steve Rudge showed examples of rare and unusual dust wrappers from his collection, looking at their introduction and development including some very unusual examples with advertising wrap-around’s that many of us had never seen before. I then gave out copies and discussed the story The Prisoner of War, written by Percy and included in a feature about him and his first book A Lad of Grit from a promotional paper printed by the company W. Pink and Sons Limited for circulation in the Portsmouth area at Christmas 1908.

The introduction of 'bring and buy' where delegates were invited to bring along spare books for sale was a great sucess and we will definately carry that through to the next seminar.  During the breaks there was plenty of time for networking and chat, and a few people have already offered ideas for the next seminar.

After lunch Greg Worwood discussed the use of dating Blackies annuals and periodicals using the production codes. These codes can also be used to track the order that books were published in any given year. I then shared the results of recent research including quotes, forewords, acknowledgements and press cuttings that are helping to build the Westerman story.

We closed the day with a presentation about the history and background to the rediscovered silent film of the Westerman book Haunted Harbour mentioned on the dust wrapper blurb of the 1936 book, followed by a screening of the film.

Our thanks to Portsmouth Grammar School for their continued support of the Westerman Seminar; The University of Worcester Research Archive for the loan of material from the Westerman Research Collection; The Media Archive for Central England, Brian Griffiths – Walsall Sea Scouts, Robert Crewdson and Greg Philpot for the Haunted Harbour film and information; Drama Students from Springfield School, Phelim Rowland and the loan of the script from The University of Worcester Research Collection for the performance of Captain Blundell’s Treasure; Greg Worwood and Steve Rudge for their presentations.