HomeEvents → Bury 2019 10 12 Sld Saturday Talk

Suffolk Libraries Day: Saturday Talk: 'Henry Cockton, Bury St Edmunds' Forgotten Novelist' by Robert Halliday

Celebrate Suffolk Libraries Day with a special edition of our Wednesday Talk programme, welcoming back one of our most popular speakers from this year, Robert Halliday.

While almost completely forgotten, Henry Cockton was once as popular and as widely read as his famous contemporary, Charles Dickens.

Henry Cockton may have been a Londoner by birth, but he chose Bury St Edmunds for his true home. At the same time that Charles Dickens revolutionised popular fiction, Henry Cockton was working to create a unique “comic masterpiece”. The Life And Adventures Of Valentine Vox The Ventriloquist, the story of a self-taught Suffolk ventriloquist who uses amazing skills of voice projection to create mischief and uproar wherever he goes, was a runaway success on publication, selling over 500,000 copies. Eight further novels followed from Henry Cockton’s pen, many with Suffolk connections. His works were sufficiently regarded for two public memorials to be set up in his honour in Bury St Edmunds, both on public view to this day.

If Henry Cockton’s novels are little read today, his life story is even more obscure. Standard works on English literature and biography have agreed that practically nothing is known about his life.

Local historian Robert Halliday has maintained a long-standing fascination with Henry Cockton and has located several previously unknown sources that fully detail the life and changing fortunes of this writer. He will deliver the first coherent biography and critical re-evaluation of Henry Cockton to give this author long overdue recognition.

Tickets are free, but ‘give what you like’ envelopes will be present for anyone wishing to make a donation. Prior booking is required, so please contact us to reserve your ticket.