Delving into history of city's literary past

Oxford Mail: colin Dexter colin Dexter

A GROUP of unemployed people inspired by Oxford’s literary history have graduated from their story-telling course.

The 15 trainees who were not in work or education were taught about the city’s connections with its literary greats.

The 12-week part-time course was run by The Story Museum on Pembroke Street.

It encouraged the trainees to delve into the world of Alice in Wonderland and Narnia.

Lord of the Rings author, JRR Tolkien, The Chronicles of Narnia writer CS Lewis and Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll, all from Oxford, were the focus of the project.

Inspector Morse writer Colin Dexter was on hand to celebrate the mini-graduation and present them with certificates on Saturday.

Michelle O’Donohue, from Barton, was one of the trainees.

The 36-year-old was unemployed for two years until the course began, but now works at Pitt Rivers Museum on South Parks Road.

She said: “It’s been a big eye opener. You forget about these connections, don’t you? I have lived here for 10 years but I am going to see Oxford with new eyes. I am going to know more about this city than my own.

“I can point so many things out now, I don’t know if I could do that in Glasgow. There is a bit of my Scottish self which is a little ashamed of that.”

Patricia Dowdall, from Headington, said she particularly enjoyed finding out more about Lewis Carroll.

The 46-year-old said: “It was absolutely fantastic to have the opportunity to explore the city and access places you can’t normally go. I was especially excited learning about my very, very favourite author Lewis Carroll. We visited where he wrote and where he studied in Christ Church College.

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“We even saw the area he met the two little girls on which Alice was based. Alice in Wonderland was my favourite book as a child and that never changed. We are starting tours of the places connected to Alice in the New Year.”

The project which cost £41,700, was funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Project co-ordinator, Jane Cockroft, said: “When you walk past somewhere with a connection to one of these books or authors your city becomes a richer place because you remember it. There comes a sense of ownership of the city and what it has to offer.

“But what is really exciting is what they are going to go on to do with these skills. They are going on to take tours, and visit schools to test their storytelling skills.”

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