North West Wales

Conwy poet Margaret Sandbach's work recorded to music

The work of a 19th Century poet who was "on a trajectory to fame" has been put to music 160 years after she died.

Born in 1812, the same year as Charles Dickens, Margaret Sandbach lived at Hafodunos Hall, Conwy.

Historian Mark Baker believes she was a rising star before dying of breast cancer at the age of 40 in 1852.

With the help of a grant from the Arts Council of Wales, Mr Baker and singer Linda Lamb have re-worked one of her poems - Lamentation - to music.

Mr Baker, from Abergele, became interested in the poet when researching and writing a book on Hafodunos Hall.

He said: "She was there from about 1832 to 1852.

"She was born in the same year as Charles Dickens, but she died suddenly and didn't soar to fame, whereas he did.

"I think she was on a trajectory to fame. She died at the age of 40, just before her career was taking off."

During his research, Mr Baker came across manuscripts that had been written to music.

It inspired Mr Baker to create a modern-day version.

Ms Lamb, who has worked on albums with French electro-techno musician/producer Vitalic, was introduced to Sandbach's poetry by Mr Baker in Cardiff, and began by writing a song from Lamentation.

Ms Lamb was awarded a £5,000 grant from the Arts Council of Wales to develop the project.

She then wrote six further songs and aims to perform them in the spring.

Image caption Margaret Sandbach lived at Hafodunos Hall

"I actually am surprised as to how the songs are coming out as they seem to be writing themselves in a way," she said.

"Margaret Sandbach had planned on putting much of her poetry to music before she died and I can see why now.

"As I worked with her writings, the words seemed to flow with greater ease when put to music and their intent became more clear to me."

Part of the poem has been set to music along with a video clip depicting John Gibson - a sculptor with whom Margaret Sandbach used to work - visiting her grave.

Mr Baker added: "It's all about the impending doom because she knew she was dying.

"She knew the end was in sight, but she didn't realise at that point she had another 10 years to live.

"The music is reflective of the mid 19th Century."

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