Resurgence of Interest in Manx Poet T. E. Brown

Manx born poet Thomas Edward Brown (colloquially known as T. E. Brown), will be remembered by members of the World Manx Association as they gather in Glen Falcon Gardens, off Broadway in Douglas, for an annual garlanding ceremony on his birthday, 5th May.
Born in Douglas in 1830, T. E. Brown attended King William’s College before gaining a double first at Christ Church, Oxford, and entering the teaching profession, eventually retiring as Master of Clifton College in Bristol in 1892.
His poetry explores various genres, but he is perhaps best remembered for his work with Manx dialect, and more specifically his Fo’c’s’le Yarns.
T. E. Brown
The appeal of T. E. Brown’s work has never waned, with a number of prominent Island figures regularly reciting bite-sized chunks of his poetry, from some of his lengthy pieces, but there’s been a renewed push to ensure that school children have a better understanding of the man and his poetry in the year designated Island of Culture.
During May 1914, the now redundant Manx Society pursued similar lines by gifting a portrait of T. E. Brown to each Island school in a bid to encourage them to read more of his work.
The Isle of Man Examiner which reported on the presentations said, “The rising generation should, as a result of the actions of the Manx Society this week, be encouraged to devote to the literary work of the Rev. Thomas Edward Brown that attention and study which its intrinsic merit should in itself be sufficient to command.”
Their report highlighted how ‘the poet has not reached the heart of the masses, as Burns, for example, appeals to the Scots’ citing a lack of education about the poet.
But now the Department of Education and Children is asking Island schools to seek out those portraits and discover how they marked the occasion a century ago.
Advisory Teacher for the Manx Curriculum, Jo Callister, said, “T. E. Brown is one of our greatest ever cultural figures. It will be fascinating to see how many of these portraits still exist, whether still on walls or stored away in attics or archives, and to raise the awareness of today’s pupils to Brown’s work in this culturally significant year.”
Coincidentally, the World Manx Association has located eighteen of these portraits tucked away in an attic, which will be given to the recently built schools, along with copies of a CD of T. E. Brown’s poetry read by Major Geoff Crellin entitled Treasure of the Island Heart.
Culture Vannin will also be presenting a copy of Dollin Kelly’s book T. E. Brown: An Anthology to each school on the Island.
T. E. Brown died in 1897.
Those interested in reading his poems can do so here:-
Valerie Caine

© May 2014