Monday, 1 September 2008

Introducing: the first Fuselit Commemorative Paper Plate!

What’s that, you say?

We're offering a downloadable template for a decorative plate that you can cut out, construct and then proudly display on (a) your mantelpiece (b) your windowsill or (c) the top of your green recycling bin.

The plates are made to commemorate a person or event selected in connection with a previous Fuselit’s spurword, and will be published on a suitably auspicious date. Each plate is lovingly hand PDFed and will be dispatched to you by our diligent team of electronic cyber monkeys simply by clicking the link below:

Download Commemorative Paper Plate #1

The first word used is from Fuselit’s first issue: Demo.

Today is one hundred and twenty-eight years since the birth of Harriet Shaw Weaver. She was a supporter of women’s suffrage (but one wily enough to realise that the vote alone would not be a panacea to all the injustices women face) who later became a Labour party member and then a dedicated communist. ‘Comrade Josephine’ – as she was known – could be seen out on the streets on protests and selling copies of the Daily Worker; that is, when she wasn’t spending her not inconsiderable inheritance to bail out fellow comrades who had been ‘picked up’ by the police.

This was not all she had put her wealth to though – she had been the main financial backer (and company treasurer) for the journal ‘The New Freewoman.’ This later became ‘the Egoist’, and featured some of the most important modernist writers. She had a stint as editor, during which one of her prime achievements was ensuring the serialisation of James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man – no mean feat considering the First World War was on and he was in Austria at the time. She kept the full extent of her backing a secret, feeling that her unearned income should gain her no personal benefit, whether through gratitude or influence.

In everything she was involved in, she attained a reputation for steadfast reliability and a willingness to take on the unglamorous nitty-gritty that others shy away from. Conversely she avoided the limelight and had little confidence in her own writing. I think she's a fascinating figure, not least because of what her life reveals about the economics of the arts and of politics at the time, and what it means to be a key figure in both without a body of personal artistic achievement or substantial political standing.

There’s an excellent biography by Jane Lidderdale and Mary Nicholson (aka Mary Crawford), which I’d definitely recommend if you want to find out more. I may follow this up with a cut out paper doll of Miss Weaver and maybe a chum or two– watch this space!

Creative Commons License
Fuselit Commemorative Paper Plates #1 Demo: Harriet Shaw Weaver by Cliff Hammett / Fuselit is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Click here to download a jpg version, which should be easier to edit if you so desire.

1 comment:

Kirsten Irving said...

Maybe a plasticine Comrade Josephine next! Fantastico Cliff!