In 2012, Writing on the Wall won Heritage Lottery Support for George Garrett Archive Project.
The George Garrett Archive Project explored, preserved and shared the life and work of Liverpool writer, seaman and political and social activist, George Garrett (1896-1966).
George Garrett was a radical activist and a ‘militant advocate of tolerance’ who travelled the world and wrote a series of short stories and plays that led George Orwell, who he met and gave guidance and support to in his research for The Road to Wigan Pier, to say: ‘I was very greatly impressed by Garrett. Had I known before that it is he who writes under the pseudonym of Matt Low in the Adelphi (a magazine published in the 1920’s and 30’s) and one or two other places, I would have taken steps to meet him earlier.’
Starting in January 2013, the project ran 18 months, culminating in a weekend celebration of George Garrett’s Life and Work during Writing on the Wall’s annual festival in May 2014.
To involve Project Participants/volunteers to work with local historians and other professionals to research, gain knowledge and raise awareness of the life and work of writer, George Garrett, and Liverpool’s literary, social and maritime history.
To enable project participants/volunteers to develop skills to research, collate and preserve the work of George Garrett, creating a physical and digital archive of his work.
To encourage the local population to celebrate Liverpool’s literary history by sharing the work of the project through public display and performance and making George Garrett’s work accessible to a wider audience.
To encourage an interest in local heritage and writing in schools, colleges and community groups, inspiring a creative response and encouraging a new generation of writers.
Since 2013 a team of volunteers – The Garretteers – have been collecting, collating Garrett’s archive, which is now available for viewing and research In Liverpool’s record Office, based on the 3rd floor of Liverpool’s central library. The legacy of the project was extended through an education pack and a short film and the housing of his archive at Liverpool’s Central Library.
In 2017 Liverpool University Press published Ten Years On The Parish, The Autobiography and Letters of George Garrett. Published in full for the first time since it was written in the late 1930s, this book shines a light on the hardships and poverty endured by many in the years between the wars. Click here to buy the book Ten Years on the Parish
In 2019, Garrett and Orwell’s historic meeting in 1936 featured on the BBC on The One Show.
George Garrett’s importance in the literary ‘canon’ of working class literature is also supported by a leading scholar of working class writing, Professor John Lucas from Nottingham Trent University, who states that, ‘Garrett is probably the most notable working-class writer of his time’.
In 1922, the Liverpool Contingent led the first National Hunger March to London. George Garrett, a seaman, writer, and social activist, was at the forefront of this historic event.
WoW and The George Garrett Archive Project were honoured to be asked by Ian Byrne MP to be part of the Liverpool 2023 Hunger March. One Hundred Years Hard is a short Agit-Prop play inspired by Garrett’s writings about the 1922 Hunger March.
The play is written by the talented actor, director, and writer Raymond Waring, in collaboration with the George Garrett Archive Project Group. The brilliant Liverpool actor, Paul Duckworth, took on the role of George Garrett himself.
The project has also published An Introduction to George Garrett, produced two rehearsed readings of his plays Two Tides and Flowers and Candles, held numerous exhibitions and talks, created an installation in conjunction with Liverpool John Moores University’s John Lennon Art and Design Academy, and delivered school-based educational and literacy projects – George Garrett, The Travelling Man. In 2015, as part of the city’s Three Queens celebrations, and as part of WoWFEST 2015 – American Dreams, Writing on the Wall Co-Director wrote and produced a play, Subterannean Theatre: The Maurie, which was based on The Maurie, a short story by George Garrett. The play, a site specific piece based in The Cunard Building, ran for two weeks to sold audiences and received very positive review.