Victorian Fayre

William Barnes Society Fund-Raising Event to celebrate the life of William Barnes the Dorset dialect poet.

Saturday 24th February 2018

William Barnes Collection

William Barnes Collection and Archive at the Dorset County Museum

William Barnes Collection and Archive
at the Dorset County Museum 

Apart from a very small archive at St John’s College, Cambridge, the Dorset County Museum’s extensive collection of Barnes material is the only one in existence.  Particularly important is the series of Barnes notebooks, which are invaluable for biographical material concerning this most important of English dialect poets.  Interestingly, a Barnes book was included in the display of a hundred British writers, at the Festival of Britain in 1951.  Barnes was one of the very few modern poets to write in the language of the common people, and the fact in so doing, he attained a very high level of artistic achievement, is amply witnessed by many distinguished literary admirers including Gerard Manley Hopkins, E M Forster and Philip Larkin.

William Barnes encapsulates the social history of an entire English social class over three centuries.  He is probably the only writer to re-create in his work the way in which the rural working class spoke, as well as recording their customs, traditions and daily life.  It covers the social history of agricultural life from the days of Shakespeare until the late 19th Century.

The William Barnes Collection includes correspondence between William Barnes and Julia Miles, during their nine year courtship, relatives and friends; handwritten Italian diary and original sermons, poetry manuscripts, reviews and clippings, paintings and other realia; photographs of the author, friends and families.

William Barnes Collection and Archive at the Dorset County Museum
Selection of Books written by William Barnes

Documents include different editions of published works as well as books from Barnes personal library, and collections bequeathed by Giles Dugdale, Dr Bernard Jones, Trevor Hearl and Clement Denis.

At this stage there is no web-based catalogue of the collection available. However, the William Barnes Archive is available to researchers strictly by appointment.  Researchers wishing to visit the William Barnes collection should complete and submit the Research Inquiry Form.  A minimum of 28 day’s notice of a planned visit is required to ensure your visit can be managed smoothly.

In order to provide the best possible research facility for you, the downloadable form available here should be completed as fully as possible and returned to The Curator, William Barnes Collection, Dorset County Museum, High West Street, Dorchester, DT1 1XA at least four weeks before your planned visit.  Click here to contact via the Dorset County Museum website. 

William Barnes Collection
Tuft or bunch of sedge grass

Follow us

Forthcoming events

Victorian Fayre William Barnes Society Fund-Raising Event to celebrate the life of William Barnes the Dorset dialect poet. Saturday 24th February 2018
What’s the point of William Barnes in 21st Century? For the many years of the dominance of Received Pronunciation (RP) it was easy to see William Barnes as an irrelevant eccentric. With more recent developments in linguistics, and a growing interest in national and regional diversity, it may be time for Barnes to reclaim his place as a significant figure in the world!! Dr Richard Bradbury will also discuss his more socially engaged prose works. Tuesday 27th March 2018
Annual Service of Remembrance of William Barnes Morning service, with dialect reading and wreath laying at William Barnes and and his daughter Laura grave Sunday 22nd April 2018
The Serpent and it’s Local Connections Come an listen to musician, Philip Humphries talk on the history and development of the strange bass wind instrument known as the 'Serpent' due to its curious shape. This talk will be interspersed with music and poetry. Tuesday 15th May 2018

Latest news

John Blackmore captivates Society members Following the recent William Barnes Society Annual General Meeting, John Blackmore presented 'Music and Song' to the audience. Sunday 15th October 2017
Service of Remembrance to William Barnes On Sunday 8h October 2017 10:30am, at St Peter’s Church, Dorchester, the Morning Service to commemorate the anniversary of the death of William Barnes took place. It was followed by a wreath laying at the statute. Monday 9th October 2017
Crossways Library opens its doors to welcome William Barnes Poetry On 19th September 2017, a group of William Barnes Society members gave an evening of poetry, music and song at Crossways Library for the Local History Group and guests. Wednesday 20th September 2017
Stock Gaylard Oak Fair 2017 Once again Members of the William Barnes Society were invited on August 27th to The Stock Gaylard Oak Fair. for the special event celebrating woodcraft, timber, conservation and the countryside. Monday 28th August 2017

Christmasing and Wassailing

Christmasing and WassailingChristmasing and Wassailing Regular contributor, Jim Potts looks at regional poetry surrounding Christmasing and Wassailing

William Barnes Collection

William Barnes CollectionWilliam Barnes Collection The William Barnes Collection and Archive at the Dorset County Museum
Mobile version served by CIMS - Cirrus Web Design's Internet Management System