Saturday, 22nd September 2012
The George Borrow society on Rock visit
For five days, from 27 September, twenty members of the George Borrow Society are descending on Gibraltar.
George Borrow (1803-1881) spent over four years in Spain from 1836 to 1840, working for the British & Foreign Bible Society, involved in printing and distributing the New Testament in Spanish and in Spanish Romani. He spent his final year, from 1839 to 1840, living in Seville. In summer 1839, he decided to make a trip to Tangier which required that he travel via Gibraltar. He spent four days here, from 4 to 8 August, and told the Bible Society that ‘nothing particular’ occurred during his stay.
Gibraltar, however, made a great impression on Borrow. He devoted three chapters of his best-selling book The Bible in Spain (1843) to Gibraltar, full of vivid, photographic descriptions of the people he met and of the places he visited. It is a fascinating travelogue, full of colourful detail. Just briefly, the uncommon characters he encountered come alive.
During their visit the members of the George Borrow Society will be following in Borrow’s footsteps in Gibraltar. They will go on a guided tour of the town, led by Richard Garcia, with particular emphasis on those places mentioned in The Bible in Spain. The tour will include the Rock Model in the Museum, which is a good representation of what Gibraltar actually looked like in 1839; John Mackintosh Square, where Borrow stayed at Griffith’s Hotel; and some of the historic city walls and places of worship. The architecture and appearance of the city in 1839 will be explained, and how commercial activities were zoned.
The members of the Society will then go on a tour of the Upper Rock, to see for themselves the three sites of visitor interest described by Borrow: St Michael’s Cave, the Galleries and the Moorish Castle.
They will then attend a series of talks to be delivered at the Garrison Library, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday 28 September. The first talk will be delivered by Dr Jennifer Ballantine Perera, Director of the Library, who will speak on Gibraltar in 1839. The second talk will be given by Dr Ann Ridler, Chair of the George Borrow Society and Editor of the Society’s Bulletin, on Borrow in Andalucia and Gibraltar in 1839. The final talk will be delivered by Professor Simon Hopkins, on Borrow’s use of Hebrew and Arabic in The Bible in Spain. Admission to the talks is free, and members of the public are welcome to attend.
The George Borrow Society has members from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Israel, Japan, Russia, Spain and the USA. It comprises a diverse group of people, ranging from academics to those who have read George Borrow and enjoyed his books.
More information about George Borrow and the Society visit can be accessed at http://georgeborrow.org/.