Loughborough Researcher hosts bimodal conference on Marie Corelli

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On 4 May 2024 Loughborough Doctoral Researcher Joanna Turner and Eleanor Dobson from the University of Birmingham hosted a bimodal conference on the enigmatic and prolific author, Marie Corelli, a century after her death.

This event, held at Corelli's former home, Mason Croft in Stratford-upon-Avon, brought together scholars and enthusiasts whose papers shed new light on the literary contributions and enduring legacies of one of the most successful writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

With delegates hailing from Japan, India, Türkiye, Spain and the USA, as well as more locally, the conference showcased interest in Corelli beyond her native Britain, revealed heretofore unidentified texts written by Corelli under pseudonyms, emphasised the meaningfulness of her works to her varied readership, and highlighted the contradictions that make her such a compelling historical figure. In between papers, delegates attending in person had the opportunity to enjoy the gardens and the folly in which Corelli wrote her novels once she and her lifelong companion, Bertha Vyver, moved to Mason Croft in 1901, where the couple lived until Corelli's death. The day was rounded off with a keynote lecture by Kirsten MacLeod (Newcastle University), and a roundtable led by the Stratford Society's Nick Birch, open to the public.

The event was organised to coincide with the Stratford Literary Festival, with delegates enjoying an exhibition of letters and material artefacts relating to Corelli, a performance of music composed by Corelli identified by Turner during the course of her research, and a read-through of the stage adaptation of Corelli's bestselling novel The Sorrows of Satan in Stratford Town Hall the day after the conference. Corelli's Italian gondola (owned by Birch) was displayed outside, and a Corelli lookalike arrived in the afternoon to the delight of onlookers. These events commemorating Corelli were featured in local news, on TV and radio, in print and online, including a BBC news article.