Teresa Harris

To Celebrate Canada’s Sesquicentennial, we present Penn Kemp’s new play, THE TRIUMPH OF TERESA HARRIS!


Photo of Teresa Harris: Harris Family Fonds, Western Archives, Western University.

With many thanks to our sponsors:a-palace-logo-header-copy


I believe I have a little of the ‘Bedouin Arab’ in me. –Teresa Harris

Our main character is Teresa Harris,  b.1839, Eldon House, London. d. 1928, Wick House, Berkshire, England. She tells her amazing life story from her home in Eldon House. Born the youngest of a prosperous pioneer family intent on bettering itself, Teresa married a wealthy Englishman who promised to carry her off to foreign parts she had dreamed of all her life. Teresa’s story emerges through her own voice and that of her protective mother and her two husbands. Both men offered Teresa escape from the ordinary domestic constraint for a woman of her time and position in colonial London society.

How does a young Victorian woman escape the confines of colonial London and become one of the great explorers of her time?   What conditioning does she carry with her about class, culture?  These questions have great relevance to our time and place.

Research reveals that Teresa and her second husband George Littledale were the greatest English explorers of their period, travelling further into Asia than any Westerner had. Hers is an historical life as mediated through my imagination.  The play is fiction but details come from THROUGH A LAND OF EXTREMES: THE LITTLEDALES OF CENTRAL ASIA, a book about Teresa and St. George Littledale that was researched and written by Elizabeth and Nicholas Clinch.  As well, I was inspired by THE ELDON HOUSE DIARIES (Champlain Society,1994), especially those of Teresa`s mother, Amelia.  My own visits to beautiful Eldon House brought the era alive. See http://www.eldonhouse.ca for a history of the house!

Penn Kemp


“I am translated: How does multimedia give form to a poem’s alternate expression?”

My essay in the anthology WOMEN AND MULTIMEDIA illustrates by example how one form demands to be expanded and experienced from the different perspectives of other media. When a poem was not enough, it became a performance, a monologue, a drama as it grips my imagination and expands into several dramatic iterations, including my latest play. The Triumph of Teresa Harris will be produced at London’s Palace Theatre in March, 2017. Poetry is always my first mode of expression but Teresa Harris escaped the bounds of a single poem, demanding that her story be heard more fully. WOMEN AND MULTIMEDIA is available from The League of Canadian Poets, http://poets.ca/product/women-and-multimedia/ and http://poets.ca/feministcaucus/livingarchives/. Posted on http://www.canadiancontentconsultations.ca/have-your-say/brainstormers/creativity/ideas/891



My original poem dedicated to Teresa Harris is performed by Brenda McMorrow and Penn. The video is up on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XO4_aJpvqjE?. Filmed at London’s glorious Aeolian Hall and produced by Dennis Siren.

My talk about The Triumph of Teresa Harris at www.wordsfest.ca, with a reading of the poem, is up on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCN5LQal0fw. “The Dream Life of Teresa Harris” starts at 19.31.

Pendas Productions is also recording a CD for release in 2017. With Light of East Ensemble musicians Mary Ashton and Panayiotis Giannarapis, and Penn as Teresa.

Read about our original processional play, The Dream Life of Teresa Harris, staged at Eldon House in London, Ontario. See  https://teresaharrisdreamlife.wordpress.com/about/, https://teresaharrisdreamlife.wordpress.com/the-team/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/152190684983472/.

What comes next? I have many out-takes and deleted scenes from THE TRIUMPH OF TERESA HARRIS. The stories of the Harris family of Eldon House and especially of Teresa are so fascinating that I long to fashion the extra material into poems. Teresa is indeed one of London’s LOCAL HEROES and that is the title of a book of poems that I will begin later in 2017.

For 2013 press, see https://teresaharrisdreamlife.wordpress.com/2016/01/25/press/.

With many thanks to our 2013 sponsors: Logos

Photos: Daniela Sneppova, Art Director, The Dream Life of Teresa Harris, Eldon House.







1 Comment

One thought on “Teresa Harris

  1. Bravo…wish I were there in London-town to see it!

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