A teenage star: The forgotten contribution of Dorothy L. Sayers to a pageant
in In and out of Bloomsbury
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The essay reveals, describes, and discusses an important event, overlooked by her biographers, in the childhood of the detective novelist and religious writer Dorothy Leigh Sayers. In August 1908, when she had only just turned fifteen and was still being educated at home, she made a major contribution to a pageant in the Huntingdonshire village of Somersham, near her home in Bluntisham, where her father was rector. Historical pageants were so much in vogue at this time that the term “pageantitis” was coined to describe the infectious enthusiasm for them. The Somersham pageant, under the professional direction of D’Arcy de Ferrars, was an important local event and even the subject of a report in a national newspaper. Dorothy, as well as being one of three musical accompanists, composed the words for the “Somersham Triumph Song,” sung by a professional soprano, and the verses for at least two of the tableaux. Her compositions, revealing a prodigious talent and singled out for special praise at the time, including in the national newspaper, total a minimum of fifty-six lines of verse.

In and out of Bloomsbury

Biographical essays on twentieth-century writers and artists

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