This was the title of a fascinating talk at the History House last Friday evening given by local historian and author, Haydon Luke.
Many writers and artists of note have been attracted to the Fairlight area in the past mainly due to the wonderful location and scenery. Most of us know of the connection of Fairlight and Hastings with the pre-Raphaelites including the Rosettis, Edward Lear, Robert Martineau and Holman Hunt but Haydon also reminded us of visits by J.M.W. Turner, John Millais, Coventry Patmore and William Thackeray.
In the early 20th century, the well-known artists James McNeil Whistler and Lucien Pissarro are known to have had local connections and later in the same century Paul Nash worked in many locations on Romney Marsh whilst the authors Joseph Conrad, Henry James and Ford Madox Ford were based nearby in Winchelsea or Rye.
Haydon included several lesser known and local writers in his talk such as Coulson Kernahan who entertained various renowned authors of the period, including J.M. Barrie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling and H. Rider Haggard, at his house in Martineau Lane.
Finally, we were brought right up to the 21st century with mention made of several well-known contemporary local artists including Annie Soudain and Richard Baines.
Haydon’s talk was immensely interesting and we were all intrigued to learn of the number of artists and writers both famous and not so famous who have been drawn to the magical light and scenery of our beautiful local area. We shall be waiting in great anticipation for the publicationlater this year of Haydon’s book “Fairlight; A Sussex Village by the Sea”which will cover not only writers and artists but will give much more detailed information about the history of the Fairlight area.