Rediscovering the “Whitechapel Girl”
They are remembered as the “Whitechapel Boys,” a group of writers and artists who came from the Jewish working-class district of London and forged promising careers through the early part of the twentieth century. Isaac Rosenberg wrote some of the finest poetry to emerge from the First World War. Mark Gertler and David Bomberg became significant modernist painters.
What tends to get lost is that one of the “Boys” was a “Girl.” Clare Winsten, born Clara Birnberg, studied at the Slade from 1910 to 1912, and developed a fascinating body of work as a painter and sculptor. She became good friends with George Bernard Shaw, and illustrated three of his books.
Clara Birnberg became Clare Winsten when she married the writer, Stephen Winsten. He was imprisoned as a conscientious objector during the First World War, as she gave birth to the first of the couple’s two daughters. Stephen’s imprisonment led to Clare’s producing a series of haunting illustrations to Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol.
As part of the exhibition, “Colours More Than Sentences: Illustrated Editions of The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” running at the Berkshire Record Office until 8th June, the University of Reading Department of English has invited scholar and curator, Sarah Macdougall of the Ben Uri Gallery, to share her new research on Winsten’s life and career. Macdougall will be talking about her rediscovery of the “Whitechapel Girl” at a public lecture at the Berkshire Record Office in Reading at 6-15 p.m. on Thursday 19th April.
The lecture and the exhibition are both free, but places for the lecture are limited. People can register in advance for the lecture by going to www.berkshirerecordoffice.org.uk/ContactUs.