Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Dedication

According to a property website, the flats along Duchess Road offer the cheapest way of buying a little bit of Edgbaston. All of the properties on this road are the result of re-development; the Victorian houses have long gone. Without an old photograph of the area, it is hard to imagine the road as it was when Francesca M. Wilson lived there, at number 35.

Francesca M. Wilson

She was teaching at the Edgbaston Church of England School for Girls, but to call her a teacher would reflect only one part of who she was. Through the Society of Friends she spent much of her time helping refugees and the starving at times of war and their aftermath. Luckily for us she was also a writer who documented her experiences.

In 1944 she published 'In the Margins of Chaos', and dedicated it to Bachtin.

'In the Margins of Chaos'

It would be understandable to assume the Bachtin in question was the now famous philosopher, Mikhail Bakhtin, but it was actually his elder brother, Nikolai or Nicholas Bachtin, who was rescued from starvation in Paris by Francesca in 1928. Nicholas shared his brother's passion for language, and taught at the University of Birmingham via a bewildering route.

Nicholas Bachtin

For more information about Francesca M. Wilson and Bachtin, I recommend reading Sian Lliwen Roberts' thesis.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mike
    I would really like to use a photograph of Francesca Wilson in my biography of Nikolaus Pevsner, to be published in August by Chatto. She played a significant part in Pevsner's life, and I am quoting a good deal from her diaries - it would be great to be able to put a face to the name. Could you possibly tell me where you found this nice image of her, and whether I might be able to reproduce it?
    Many thanks
    Susie Harries