Successful Heritage Lottery Fund Bid for the Laurence Sterne Trust and Northumbria University
The Laurence Sterne Trust at Shandy Hall was awarded £66,260 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project designed in collaboration with a researcher at Northumbria University, Dr Helen Williams. The project explored two recently identified manuscripts, one in the collection of the Laurence Sterne Trust and the other in York Minster Library, which hold the key to an unknown aspect of York’s heritage: The Good Humour Club (1725-c.1770). These eighteenth-century manuscript minute books record the meetings of the gentleman’s club, which promoted laughter and comedy as a means of living a long and healthy life. Sterne’s comic novel, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, could be seen as the club’s manifesto, and members of the club include Sterne’s friend, his publisher, his bookseller, and his doctor. The award funded an exhibition, a webapp, a period dramatisation and a series of supporting comedy events and educational workshops based on the manuscripts to run in 2013, to celebrate the tercentenary of the birth of Laurence Sterne.