Mrs. Thrale’s Diary: when Mrs. Thrale and Dr. Johnson visited Tate Modern and other Bankside anecdotes.
This illustrated walking project is based in and around Tate Modern and its riverside neighbourhood, Bankside. The walk explores the area’s industrial past via 15 landmarks, beginning and ending at Tate Modern. Bankside is more familiarly (and infamously) known for its earlier histories of riverside coaching inns, brothels, assorted revellry and public entertainments, notably the Globe, Swan and Rose theatres. However, Bankside’s industrial heritage reveals an equally compelling story, being the site of several major innovations during and after the Industrial Revolution. The area has been witness to ‘progress’ in all its manifestations – the good, the bad and the ugly – between the latter part of the 18th century to the present day.
We are using local 18th century Bankside residents Mrs. Hester Thrale and Dr. Samuel Johnson as the walk’s narrators. Famous among many things for his diaries, Dr Johnson shared this enthusiam with his close friend Hester Thrale, the socialite wife of Henry Thrale, the owner of the Anchor Brewery, at that time world’s largest such establisment. She became famous herself for her own published volumes of Anecdotes and for her ‘table talk’ soireés with political and cultural dignitaries of the day. In our heritage walk, Mrs Thrale becomes our ghost time-traveller when she (and sometimes Dr. Johnson) drop in to observe and comment on the goings-on at each landmark. Hester provides the linking voice between the past and present day…
Mrs. Thrale’s Diary is work-in-progress, culminating in a book & play in 2018.