A radical novelist in eighteenth-century England: Robert Bage on poverty, slavery and women
My role in academia began in 1976 when I became a history student at Worcester College of Higher Education doing a Bachelor of Education degree.
This led to a position as a teacher in a preparatory school for three years, but my wish to be at the forefront of research led to me leaving to becoming an archaeological supervisor in Wiltshire. My subsequent experience in that field led to me doing field work in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Staffordshire and eventually becoming Dudley Borough’s Archaeological Officer. This has come to end with my retirement, but the desire to continue finding out more about the past has continued and therefore I have chosen to do a research degree leading to a MPhil /PhD at the University of Birmingham.
The subject matter of my research is the landscape garden of the eighteenth-century poet and gardener William Shenstone of The Leasowes, Halesowen. The reason for this is threefold: to begin with I taught, as a second subject, English Literature while I was teaching. This included poetry and I particularly liked the rural poets (I have lived in a rural community for the last 38 years which may account for this) and secondly having an acre of ground in my garden taught me to be a gardener. So I thought it very pertinent for a gardener to study a gardener! When I became Dudley’s Archaeological Officer I monitored and performed a number of excavations at William Shenstone’s home at The Leasowes, which is now a Registered Park and Garden, and became rather fixated on the man so much so that I have written a biography of him (not yet published). When I started to study him in some detail I realised that there was much more to him than appeared in written accounts and therefore, with the assistance my supervisor, Dr Malcolm Dick, I intend to find out more about his work as one of the leading proponents of the ferme ornée – the ornamental farm in England, Europe and America.