In-depth lecture explores stories from US Civil War

From left: Speaker Andrew Wines, organisers Lucy Drummond and Emilie Myers and writer Michael Paraskos
From left: Speaker Andrew Wines, organisers Lucy Drummond and Emilie Myers and writer Michael Paraskos

History enthusiasts packed into a Horsham pub last week for a fascinating lecture on the American Civil War.

The talk, titled ‘The Reckoning: Reflections on the US Civil War on its 150th Anniversary’, took place at The Bedford, Station Road, on Thursday evening (January 16).

It was the first meeting of The Bedford Culture Club, which is offering a series of talks about history and world culture on the third Thursday of every month.

Speaker Andrew Wines, who studied under Civil War scholar, Professor David Shi, at Davidson College, North Carolina, explored the build-up to war, events during the conflict and its aftermath with illuminating photographs and illustrations.

Andrew, a native of Virginia, told The County Times that he admired the “vibrant cultural institutions in Horsham.”

He said: “I wanted to take part in building on that but to also talk about something I’m fascinated with and share that with other people.”

Andrew said he was most interested in “the personalities” of the American Civil War.

He explained: “You almost believe that these are going to be tall tales, that these are ridiculous stories, but there’s a narrative of human endurance, self-reliance and a sort-of rustic unvarnished genius.

“I think it’s reassuring and it’s the kind of story you can take into any challenge. I mean, if you study any leader in the civil war and you think about them after a bad day, you know that your bad day was nowhere close to theirs.”

Emilie Myers, one of the organisers, said she was “overwhelmed” by the response to the first lecture, explaining that the idea for The Bedford Culture Club had simply evolved over time.

She said: “Lydia (Sanderson), who owns The Art Academy in Horsham used to run art lectures every quarter and, because she was so busy, she found it too much to take on on top of her role.

“She mentioned it to me, we had a few chats about it and I said: ‘okay, I’ll take it on, I’ll find a venue and we’ll see what happens’.

“And because I know quite a few people like Andrew I decided to create a monthly series.”

Emilie hopes the Bedford Culture Club has a broad appeal and aims to involve sixth form students too.

She said: “There are a lot of people in Horsham who are interested in learning, meeting people and sharing ideas and this is an ideal way to do that.”

The next talk is ‘The Landscape in British Art’ on February 20 and will be given by Michael Paraskos, an art lecturer and writer who has reviewed exhibitions for BBC Radio 4.

Michael, who attended the Civil War talk, said: “We think of landscape painting as something that’s always been there. But it actually developed and you can see it developing.

“It starts as something in the corner of figure paintings or religious paintings and it’s only over time that it grows and becomes more important and that’s hand-in-hand with poetry, with writers like Wordsworth and Coleridge and the Romantic poets.”

Lectures start at 7pm. Tickets cost £10. To book contact Emilie Myers on The Bedford Culture Club Facebook page. You can also call 01403 211962 or text 07771 821 741. Alternatively, people can email mail@emiliemyers.com.

Other events this year

March 20: STATUMANIA! The Victorian Love Affair with Public Statues, Ben Read.

April 17: Living With Arabs: Nine Years with the Petra Bedouin, Joan Ward.

May 15: Kennedy, King and Klan, Andrew Wines.

June 19 : American and English Politeness, Lynne Murphy.

By Lawrence Smith