A Conference in Penshurst, England,

June 8-9, 2014

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The University of Lancaster is convening a conference called "Dramatizing Penshurst" at the ancestral home of the Sidney family at Penshurst Place and gardens (about 32 miles southeast of London, in Penshurst, near Tonbridge, in Kent) and will "explore how site and writing connect in the work of the Sidney-Herbert family."

The presenters are scholars in this field of research and include Margaret Hannay, an authority on Mary Sidney, and Dr Susan West, the architectural historian of Penshurst Place. The topics of memory, place and tradition and their contribution to literary innovation will be discussed, including sonnet sequences, lyric poetry, female-authored drama and pastoral romance. There is a call for proposals for 20-minute papers to complement these talks.

For more information, click *here* and also find the contact information for Professor Alison Findlay, Lancaster University, to whom proposals and enquiries should be directed.

The Sidney and Herbert families, and their literary coteries, were influenced and supported by the places in which they gathered.

Mary Sidney Herbert and her brother, Philip Sidney, grew up at Penshurst Place.

The Penshurst conference will also feature an initial Globe Theatre production of Love's Victory, by Mary Sidney's niece, Lady Mary Wroth. Conference attendees will be invited to comment on the performance with the aim of planning a larger production in the future.

In Love's Victory, Venus is miffed because she has not been shown enough respect, and she orders her son, Cupid, to wreck some havoc, whereupon the shepherds and shepherdesses get confused, and the fun begins. This is a closet drama, somewhat more formalized than a play, and it addresses various kinds of loves:  true, flawed, chaste and comic. Amongst other pastoral entanglements it refers to the great friendship and love affair between Mary Sidney and Dr Matthew Lister which occurred after the Earl of Pembroke died. (Dr Lister was later the physician for Queen Anne, queen of King James.) Mary Wroth also included a portrayal of her own true love affair with her cousin, William Herbert, Mary Sidney's son. 

Penshurst is well worth a visit; some accommodation suggestions nearby are at this site: <http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/dramatizing-penshurst/travel-and-accommodation/>

By the way, the playwright Ben Jonson was a close friend of the Sidney family, and a member of the extended Sidney-Herbert coterie; he wrote a poem in honor of Penshurst: to read it, click here.