This has been a sad year for us. We have lost two very valuable and stalwart members of our Committee. In August we learnt of the death of Gillian Morgan, our Assistant Secretary. We published a tribute to her in our last Newsletter. A number of us attended her funeral service at Barham Crematorium. In November Pat Cockett, our indefatigable Social and Events Secretary, died in hospital after a long illness. Pat was responsible for organising most of Society's events in the last ten years, and had also hosted many of the Committee meetings during that period. Her hospitality was legendary. She and Gillian will be sadly missed, for they were close friends to so many of us. A fuller tribute to Pat will appear in the next Newsletter. Eight of us attended her funeral service in St. Nicholas's Church in Chislehurst.
Naturally the events of the Society's year were overshadowed by the deaths of Gill and Pat. The AGM was held at the George Inn, Southwark, on Saturday 25 February 2006, and the existing officers were all re-elected. In the afternoon Dr. Maggy Williams of Globe Theatre Education gave us a fascinating talk on the Theatricality of Tamburlaine, ably assisted with readings from the play by her husband, David. Three weeks earlier, on Saturday 04 February, the annual Celebration of the Life of Christopher Marlowe was held at St. Nicholas's Church, Deptford, and was well attended.
Marlowe Day was held at the St. Alphege Environment Centre, Canterbury. A wreath was laid at the Marlowe Memorial outside the Marlowe Theatre by June Brewer, Chairman of the Friends of the Marlowe Theatre. Members then adjourned to the Centre for the morning's talk given by Professor Kenneth Pickering, former Chairman of the Society, based on his recently published book, Key Concepts in Drama and Performance. The talk held us all fascinated. After lunch Marjorie Lyle, the well-known Canterbury historian, talked to us about Nature and Nurture At War In Canterbury, which was full of enthralling details about Marlowe's Canterbury. The afternoon ended with readings by members from the play, Lust's Dominion, to which Marlowe's name was affixed in the first edition of 1657. The purpose was to give the audience the opportunity to hear some of the fine verse in the play, and to form their own opinion about the authorship.
On Saturday 21 October, the Sub-Dean of Westminster Abbey allowed us to hold a short ceremony in Poets' Corner to commemorate the installation of the Marlowe Window in 2002. This proved a magnificent and moving occasion, supported by forty members. Julian Glover, the actor, read the closing scene from Dr. Faustus, and the power of his delivery brought the Abbey to a stand-still. Anna Steel of the National Theatre read verse from Hero and Leander, and Maggy and David Williams from Globe Theatre Education read passages from Tamburlaine I & II. All the readings were powerful and moving. Dr. Colin Niven, a Society Vice-President, gave the address, and the Vote of Thanks was delivered by Professor Christopher Miles, our Patron. Mrs. Suzy Miles had expertly made a wreath of marigolds and she and Christopher placed it beneath the Marlowe Window. Canon Jane Hedges led the prayers. Afterwards a number of us adjourned to the Central Hall Cafeteria for lunch, and then Professor Miles was kind enough to take us round the Garrick Club, an opportunity for which we were very grateful. In all it was a most memorable day. It has been agreed the Marlowe Service will become a regular event.
The Society has been deeply indebted to its officers and Committee members for its continuing success. Bruce Young continued to run our financial affairs as Treasurer with his usual expertise, and we are deeply indebted to him. Frieda Barker was as ever an efficient Membership Secretary, and our membership has been maintained at the promising level to which she has built it. She has also represented the Society on the Alliance of Literary Societies. Frieda and Michael Andrews have travelled to Committee Meetings from the West Midlands at considerable personal sacrifice and expense, as has Roger Hards from Bristol. Roger has continued to produce the Newsletters and Journals for which he and the Society are widely praised, and has also maintained the Web-Site. Mark Abbott has been kind enough to attend Committee Meetings with proposals to redesign the Web-Site.
John Hunt, the Vice-Chairman, acted also as Secretary, but now the Society is indeed fortunate that Valerie Colin-Russ has agreed to take over the position. Valerie has been kind enough to take minutes for us on a number of occasions in the past. Caroline Ovenden has continued to deal with publicity and maintained our Archives at St. Alphege's, while she, Gillian, John Hunt, and Frieda, all contributed to making Marlowe Day such a success. June Everett-Powls has been the member of the Committee responsible for Design, and Dr. Colin Niven has also regularly attended meetings. A new member, James Clune, has agreed to take over Gillian's position as Assistant Secretary. Isabel Gortázar has been noble enough to fly from Spain to attend meetings. Our deepest thanks go out to all the members for their devotion and dedication to the Society.
Sadly I have to announce my decision to stand down as Chairman after six years in post. I hope to remain on the Committee and to continue as Research Officer.