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The Cotton Queens had an interesting discussion about dialect words and phrases in the Lancashire region and specifically in the Bolton area. We discussed regional differences in accent and dialect phrases between towns which are in the same local area. The group suggested their own examples which are still in use, and others which have become disused due to changes in meaning. We listened to songs from The Houghton Weavers, and considered how accent could be represented in writing before looking at how representations of accent and dialect could indicate class, status and gender differences in fiction. For this, we discussed extracts from ‘That Lass O’ Lowrie’s’, a novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of ‘The Secret Garden’ and ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’.


Published in 1877, ‘That Lass O’ Lowries’  is set in the town of Riggan (Wigan) and we discussed how representations of accent and dialect helps the characterisation of four characters; the pit brow lasses, especially Joan Lowrie; the local curate, Paul Grace, a mining engineer Fergus Derrick, and the vicar’s daughter Anice Barholm. Joan Lowrie’s working class background and occupation are apparent in her speech, which distinguishes her from the ‘middle class’ speech of Anice and the men.


Joan herself comments on the division between herself and the middle class Anice, whom she meets while Anice is picking flowers in her garden. Joan comments;


“She’s inside o’ th’ hedge,” she said to herself in a dull voice. “I’m outside, theer’s th’ difference. It a’most looks loike the hedge went aw’ around an’ she’d been born among th’ flowers, and theer’s no way out for her—no more than theer’s a way in fur me.”


This session was followed by a very interesting talk and performance by Sid Calderbank, ‘The mon for Dialect and Song in Lancashire’. Link to Sid’s page here


Plus a link to Sid reciting dialect poetry on youtube


We also learned about and read some of the dialect poems of Allen Clarke who wrote under the pseudonym of ‘Teddy Ashton’. We discussed how writing in dialect as opposed to standard English can help to establish a sense of identity and considered how poetry readings acquire different meanings depending on who reads them. This session was followed by a talk by Paul Salveson, an historian and writer who lives in Bolton and author of ‘Lancashire’s Romantic Radical- The Life and writings of Allen Clarke / Teddy Ashton’ (2009).

A huge thanks to our wonderful guest speaker Sid Caulderbank.


February 2023


The Cotton Queens visited the Bolton Museum and Library to look at  photographs of Pitt Brow Lassies and learn about the collection from Matthew Watson.