About this site
This site is constructed as a resource for people to access the life and writings of Robert Gilchrist. I have been researching his life since 2009 after I made a chance connection following research into my family tree. Imagine my surprise to find a poet and songwriter in the family! Since then I've worked to gather Robert's published and unpublished work, trawling the web into the early hours, reading biographies and town histories and visiting archives in Newcastle. I've discerned that Robert wrote just around 120 original pieces, from cheaply produced broadsides of his songs, a 22 page poem, to short poems published in local newspapers and magazines. As far as I can tell he even wrote the first published celebration of the heroic deeds of lifeboatwoman Grace Darling, one of Victorian Britain's most noted heroines.
No sustained biography of Robert exists. Unlike later Tyneside poets such as Ned Corvan and George Ridley, Gilchrist has received little attention.
It is my intention to bring his works to wider public attention and to eventually publish a collected edition of his works with a critical introduction setting out the context of key pieces and of Robert's life.
Work is well underway for this project. I have given five presentations on Robert Gilchrist.
The leisure identity of the labouring class poet: reflections on the works of Robert Gilchrist, 'Bard of Tyneside', to the Leisure Studies Association annual conference, Salford, July 2013.
'Hail, Tyneside lads in collier fleets': song culture, sailing and sailors in North-East England', to the Port Towns and Urban Cultures Conference,
Portsmouth, July 2013.
The literary tourist trail and the genealogical imaginary, to the Sport and Leisure History South East Network, Sussex University, 26 October 2013.
Footsteps, biography and the genealogical imaginary, human geography work-in-progress seminar, University of Brighton, 20 November 2013.
Songs from the sailorhood: Robert Gilchrist, 'Bard of Tyneside', 'Broadside Day', English Folk Dance and Song Society and Traditional Song Forum, Cecil Sharp House, London, 21 February 2015.
Two book chapters have also been written, following on from these presentations and subsequent further archival visits. These are:
'Lamenting the dead: the affective afterlife of poet's graves', in Jacque Micieli-Voutsinas (ed.) Affective Architectures; More-than-Representational Approaches to Heritage. New York: Routledge, forthcoming 2019.
'Hail, Tyneside Lads in Collier Fleets! Sailing, Sailors and Song Culture in the North-East.” In Port Towns and Urban Cultures: International Histories of the Waterfront 1700 to 2000, edited by Brad Beaven, Karl Bell and Rob James, (2016), pp.29-48. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
I'd be happy to hear from anyone interested in Robert's life and those seeking further details.
Dr Paul Gilchrist
Robert's 3 x great-grandson
Contact me at P.M.Gilchrist@Brighton.ac.uk