Fragment 1

April 17, 2007

My name,
is Elizabeth-
Elizabeth Heyrick, wife of John,
Born in Leicester, 1769.
You won’t know me
Don’t be embarrassed,
we’ve never met-
you might know William though –
William Wilberforce?-
yes?

William Wilberforce.
1769-1833.
Politician,
philanthropist.
Leader of the
parliamentary campaign
against the trade in slaves-

William hated me. You see,
after my good husband’s death
(god rest his soul)
I began to get
much more involved
in all those
mannly things
like politics and public life-
the immediate end to slavery,
was one if my major fights.

Heyrick believed that women
were especially qualified
‘to plead

for the oppressed’

Well I rather think I did-
I guess I lacked a little patience
when it came to
female slaves being raped,
men in chains
and babies being sold
like slabs of meat.

I wanted it all to stop
immediately.

William-
whose official society
was boys only-he
wanted to take things
much more slowly.
Just the trade in slaves,
for now. ButHe
didn’t get the urgency.he’d
never been forced
to sit in church
with his head down.
Forced to marry a man
twice, thrice,
four times old.
he never knew,
what it was like
not to have the vote.

*****
In the early 1820’s
Heyrick shocked those around her
By openly sympathizing
with the West Indian
slave revolts

and I’ll tell you something else I did
Back home in Leicester
I went door to door
calling for a boycott
on slave grown sugar-

and I mobilized the woman-
the ones in the kitchens
buying the sugar
to fold in the puddings
to stir in their husbands tea

And they understood.
And they stopped buying it.

Elizabeth Heyrick,
helped to form
the Birmingham Ladies’ Society
for the Relief of Negro Slaves.
The group would subsequently change its name
to the Female Society for Birmingham.


John,

when all was said and done
I did miss you-
it’s just,
for the first time
in nearly 30 years
I finally felt free.

In 1824
Elizabeth Heyrick
published her seminal work
Immediate not Gradual Abolition
It was in stark contrast
to the gradulistic stance

of the mainstream society

William-
Do you remember what you did?
you stopped your men
from coming to speak
at any of our meetings

William,
do you remember?
You tried to block the
distribution
of my pamphlet.

What were your words..?

“for woman to meet,
to publish,
to go from house to house
stirring up petitions..
these appear to me
to be proceedings
entirely unsuitable
to the female disposition.”

William-

when it came to woman
you really didn’t get us-
did you?

in 1830
Elizabeth Heyrick submitted a motion
to the National Conference of Wilberforce’s Society
She called for it to demand
a direct end to slavery.

Dear John,
we begged and we pleaded
we used all our female ways
all our feminine wiles-
but when they didn’t work
we pointed to the money.

Heyrick’s network was the 5th largest donor
to Williams Party

and when our 73 different cells
of Women Against Slavery
all threatened to withdraw that funding-
William Wilberforce, began to take us
much more seriously.

*********

In America,
Elizabeth Heyrick
Is sometimes remembered
as the first one to speak out
in favour of abolition..

Google me.
Go on, Google me:
2 siloettes,
4 photos of my pamphlet
and more pictures of Wilberforce
than you’ll find of me.

You won’t find my painting
Hanging in the British Library

I never wanted fame
but still, it’s strange
isn’t it?

*****

In a time of male dominance,
Elizabeth Heyrick
endeavored and succeeded
in assuring the abolition of slavery.

I never lived to see it.
the bill we pushed was passed
in 1833. I died
in 1831-
just too early.

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2 Responses to “Fragment 1”

  1. Pam said

    This is really working, Lydia.
    Thanks for all the nice comments-yep, people do call me Pammy.

  2. Hey Pam,

    Thanks so much for all your support with this. That advise really helped. I was going around in circles trying to move it forward before, so I’m so glad you commented:)

    I’m a bit worried about the length at the moment. I’ve got 7-8 mins but I wanted to follow the Herrick piece with the singing piece I did at Word the other week..Will have to time them both once properly finished and see where I am.

    Glad you think it’s working. I’m just trying to see whether I can break it up any more – then there’s the beginning to think about…

    Thanks again though, VERY much appreciated.

    Lx

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