For Humfrey Coningsby – lord of the manor of Neen Sollars in South Shropshire – the world was a place of wonders and despair, of love found and then forsaken. He was a cantankerous, sentimental, petulant traveler; a gentleman soldier; a sly linguist; a confidant of Princes and Emperors; a receiver of such delights, and a doomed versifier. He walked out of this world on 10th October, 1610 – and now he walks back in, with barely a word of explanation.
This series of poems, complaints, explanations and demands for satisfaction forms the narrative of a life still being lived over four hundred years later. The Siege of Strigonium in 1595 was wretched; life in Aleppo in 2015 is worse.
Humfrey Coningsby’s story was also the subject of a BBC Radio Four Afternoon Drama by Jonathan Davidson, which was broadcast on 22nd June 2015. Full details here.
Praise for Jonathan Davidson:
“Jonathan Davidson’s poetry is quietly authentic and beautifully controlled, able to give a spin to mostly familiar subjects with a Larkinian sense of the electrifying mot juste.” — Adam Thorpe, The Observer
“Jonathan Davidson has a loving, observant and wry regard for the frailties of the human condition. He makes fresh something we thought we knew; writing the everyday the way Vermeer might be said to paint it.” — Maura Dooley
Jonathan Davidson was born in 1964 in Didcot, South Oxfordshire, and now lives in Coventry. He won an Eric Gregory award in 1990, and is the author of various pamphlets and collections of poetry, including Moving the Stereo (Jackson’s Arm, 1993), The Living Room (Arc, 1994), A Horse Called House (Smith/Doorstop, 1997) and Early Train (Smith/Doorstop, 2011). He has had seven radio plays broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4, along with radio adaptations of Geoffrey Hill's Mercian Hymns and W.S. Graham's The Nightfishing.
In April 2015, Valley Press published Humfrey Coningsby, a collection of 'poems, complaints, explanations and demands for satisfaction' by Jonathan, loosely based on the travels of a lord of the manor from Shropshire, in the late 16th century. Humfrey Coningsby’s story was also the subject of a BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Drama by Jonathan, broadcast in June 2015.
Date Published: 2015-04-24
Catalogue Number: VP0060
Number of Pages: 40
Cover design by Jamie McGarry
Cover photograph by the author
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