Dorset councilors told to make the most of famous authors

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Dorset should do more to promote its literary links to attract visitors to the county – councilors have been told.

Marshwood Vale adviser Simon Christopher said more could be done to promote links with Thomas Hardy, William Barnes, Sylvia Townsend Warner, John Fowles and others.

Many of the literary group’s archives and artefacts are in the Dorset County Museum and the Dorset History Centre, along with works by world-renowned sculptor Elisabeth Frink.

Cllr Christopher told a County Commons Archives meeting that enthusiasts could be persuaded to travel to the county outside of the main holiday season to view the material and take in the local sites that feature in many of the books.

He said the county also had links with William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge who had met in the west of the county where Wordsworth lived for a short time near Pilsdon Pen.

“We just need to improve our game,” he said. “Dorchester and other parts of the county could do with a lift. We need to capitalize more on our literary links.

Cllr Christopher also called for what he described as the ‘dull’ welcome signs in Dorchester to be replaced, suggesting the ‘historic market town’ line could be replaced with something more interesting.

County Archives manager Sam Johnston told the meeting that a crowdfunding appeal to raise £60,000 to catalog Thomas Hardy material held by the Dorset History Center had failed to achieve its goal and still had a long way to go.

He said he realized that for many people, giving to the roll call would be seen as a non-essential expense in times of tight budgets, but the center would persevere.

Without proper cataloging materials, the center’s collection is more difficult to locate.

The meeting heard that among recent donations to the center were archival material, including old photographs and film, from the now defunct Bournemouth transport company, known locally as Yellow Buses.

Cllr Bev Dunlop praised the archive for taking the material saying many people were very passionate about the company and its history.

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