London, August 2012

The 8th Angus Fraser Memorial Lecture: Frances Groome, ‘The Rummest of the Lot’

In the sweltering closeness of a London August, on Saturday 18th,  members of the George Borrow Society gathered in the pleasant coolness of the London Student House, to have a buffet lunch together, and then hear the 8th Angus Fraser memorial lecture, given by Clive Wilkins-Jones.  A write-up will appear in the George Borrow Society Bulletin, with the full text of Clive’s lecture.

Lunch was a pleasant affair, as it always is with Borrovians, with a chance to catch up with friends, meet new people and politely but determinedly try and work out what was in the sandwiches.  Although an excellent selection, the labels saying “assorted fillings” puzzled everyone.   The fresh fruit and cookies presented no such challenge.

George Borrow Society, London Student House 2012, enjoying the

Angus Fraser was the first president of the George Borrow Society, and an almost annual lecture is given by the Society in his honour, this being the eighth such lecture.  Angus was an expert on Gypsies who were often described as “a rum lot”.  Angus once described nineteenth century Gypsy scholar Frances Hindes Groome as “the rummest of the lot”—so a lecture on Frank Groome seemed very appropriate.

George Borrow Society, before hearing of Frances Hindes Groome

Clive’s lecture was not only very informative and very funny (Clive having a wonderfully dry sense of humour), but took the respectable Borrovians into moral depths and risqué Romany vocabulary!  George Borrow’s connection with Frances Groome was recounted, and even through Groome could be harsh at times, encouraging comments about Borrow were quoted.

The questions after the talk threw up all sorts of new avenues for research, particularly about Frances’ second wife, Esmeralda.  In a very unusual turn of events it was asked how George Borrow’s step-daughter (Henrietta) became friends with Hubert Smith (Esmeralda’s first husband)—and not a single Borrovian present knew.   If you know, why not contact us and help save weeks of research?

Clive Wilkins-Jones with Ann and Tim after his excellent