Teresa Harris

Teresa Harris lives on! See https://riverrevery.ca/.

This animation by Mary McDonald, featuring the text of Penn Kemp and the music of Mary Ashton, is part of the Augmented Reality exhibit at Eldon House launched on July 22, 2018.

Along with more animations, it will be presented in November as part of The Poet Laureate Presents: the River Project.

Collage by Christopher Noble

Poems are from “Teresa Harris rides again” in Local Heroes (Insomniac Press, 2018).

See https://www.amazon.ca/Local-Heroes-Penn-Kemp/dp/1554832063.


Eldon House front, showing modern day building reflected in its windows, edited to appear painted, with picture of Teresa Harris on the camel appearing as paper flyer floating in front of Eldon House.


Transmedia Storyteller Mary McDonald has been working with Penn on multimedia expression of both Local Heroes and Penn’s plays celebrating Teresa Harris.  Thanks to a CAIP grant from London Arts Council, we will be presenting on July 22 the first exhibit of augmented reality markers for our new project, RIVER REVERY.


Penn’s poems about Teresa Harris in her new collection, Local Heroes, Insomniac Press, 2018:  https://www.amazon.ca/Local-Heroes-Penn-Kemp/dp/1554832063

Penn’s essay about Teresa Harris in Women and Multimedia, the anthology Penn edited: http://poets.ca/product/women-and-multimedia/

From multimedia artist Mary McDonald:

“The Wanderer Returns Home”, AR. https://vimeo.com/280812786 https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/#inbox/164b4f33b2449b77?projector=1

http://www.eldonhouse.ca/events/, “Hall of Horns”, https://youtu.be/KtAKikY-SsI.

The Dream Life of Teresa Harris Touchcast:
https://youtu.be/BHNgw6RQbPA (this is the YouTube version of the Touchcast video. The YouTube version isn’t interactive)

Digital multimedia “flyer” for The Dream Life of Teresa Harris https://youtu.be/Rqq1dJknTlw
How Teresa Harris could overcome her upbringing — The Dream Life of Teresa Harris and The Triumph of Teresa Harris https://youtu.be/-WYHHThGe-4
Here are links to the video tape of The Dream Life of Teresa Harris  on March 4, 2017
“What other woman”: https://youtu.be/gcVDOpB-pPM
“What would draw a woman”: https://youtu.be/7W8rcCEYTuY
“His girl Friday”: https://youtu.be/DBwmxMON8vU
Touchcast 4 part series on the Intersections of Art and the Digital Culture
Part 4 — Educational Impact (features interviews with Penn Kemp)

 Here is a promo trailer, featuring Teresa Harris of Eldon House, London! Western’s Community Engaged students produced it for my new poetry book, Local Heroes.

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-edwKodu0s.

Past Events

Launch of Local Heroes (Insomniac Press, London)

April 19, 2018, Lecture Theatre, Museum London, 421 Ridout St N.
Contact: Museum London, 519 661-0333, info@museumlondon.ca

6:30-7:15. Curator Tour: Women’s Lives in Canada: A History, 1875-2000
7:30-8:30. Penn’s reading, introduced by Insomniac publisher Mike O’Connor
8:30-9 pm. Book signing and videopoems.

London poet and playwright Penn Kemp launched her book Local Heroes (Insomniac Press). Local Heroes is a celebration of regional artists from Greg Curnoe and James Kemp to writers Alice Munro and Bonnie Burnard.
Local Heroes (Insomniac Press, London) features new poems dedicated to Teresa Harris.

The evening included an exhibition tour with curator Amber Lloydlangston, followed by Penn’s reading. The theatre showed several short videos on Local Heroes by Dennis Siren, Mary McDonald and Western’s Community Engaged Learning.

Our art director is Mary McDonald.  She created Augmented Reality markers of her fabulous photographs for display at Museum London on April 19 and then at Eldon House on July 22.  These AR markers link to qr codes of new poems for Teresa Harris.


Sunday, July 22, 1:00 p.m. Local London poet and playwright Penn Kemp presented an afternoon of readings from The Dream Life of Teresa Harris and Local Heroes, paired with a viewing of ‘Augmented Reality’ exhibits by artist Mary McDonald and music from the play The Dream Life of Teresa Harris performed by Mary Ashton. Afternoon Tea with the author and artist!  This option includes our regular Summer Tea menu.  


See https://www.facebook.com/events/2111776722426553#riverrevery

Teresa Harris became a trailblazer in a time when women were not allowed or meant to be trail blazers. These animations explore the background that Teresa came from, her home here in London, Ontario with the Thames River running through and around our city, surrounded by woods and meadows. We can only surmise and imagine what factors from her childhood influenced Teresa and what aspects of her upbringing and the Victorian culture formed and stayed with and within Teresa as she roamed. These animations take you on an imaginative journey into Teresa’s life at Eldon House, offering words and images to conjure up another world and a different time that once existed here.

Teresa Harris, an imaginative adventure — Lost in Translation. This video is a montage of movement, image, sound and words from Penn Kemp’s play, The Dream Life of Teresa Harris. It explores the world that formed Teresa Harris and helped her become a world traveller and explorer. Teresa Harris is a woman trailblazer from the Victorian era — and an inspiration and enigma to us today. 3 mins, 42 seconds:https://youtu.be/jB3FWVpcV0k

Teresa Harris, Victorian in Nature — a montage of sound and visual animation exploring the intertwining of the wild and nature in London, Ontario, the trappings and culture of the Victorian era and the traveler Teresa Harris became…what stays with us, within us, no matter how far or long we travel from home…1 min 23 seconds https://youtu.be/UCD7uMSQXRo














                                                            Photos by Mary McDonald.

The Dream Life of Teresa Harris, performed at Masonville Library, London, March 4, 2017 by Penn with musicians Mary Ashton and Panayiotis Giannarapis.  A CD of The Dream Life of Teresa Harris will be available from Pendas Productions in the Spring of 2018.

Penn Moe Diane laugh Eldon

Penn, Maureen Spencer Golovchenko and Diane Haggarty at Eldon House, March 2017.

To Celebrate Canada’s Sesquicentennial, we presented Penn Kemp’s new play, THE TRIUMPH OF TERESA HARRIS in March 2017 at The Palace Theatre, London ON!
All performances were sold out.


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



Young Teresa 2017

Wedding Waltz 2017

Teresa Tenzin St GeorgeTeresa dying 2017

Photos from The Palace Theatre production, March 2017 by Ross Davidson

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 2018. 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 Insomniac Press will publish in April, 2018.

Teresa’s letter to her mother, Amelia Harris, “in the wilds of Kashmir”, 1877, from
Through a land of extremes : the Littledales of Central Asia, by Elizabeth & Nicholas Clinch Publisher,  Stroud [England] : Sutton Publishing, 2007.

“Teresa wrote to her mother on 25 April from Gagnai, a hunting ground:

Here we are far in the wilds of Kashmir. The marching up was rather hard work as there     is so much snow. . . . I do not walk much as I have a dandy [sedan chair] and eight kahars [kuhars or bearers], so I can always be carried unless the road is too bad. I had to walk over most of the snow. . . . I am busy all day doing nothing. . . . We are very comfortable in our tents. We have a very good cook and bearer. .. . Eight other coolies who came at Bandipoor . . . said they had been with us before and wanted to be engaged again so we have a number of old faces around us.

She added, ‘Georgie and I as far as we have gone are getting on very well together so I hope we always shall.’  They were off to a good start.”

Letter written by Teresa Newcomen Littledale, Kashmir to Amelia Harris April 25th 1877, Harris Family fonds, Series 3: Correspondence, Western Archives, Western University:

Teresa letter to Amelia

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.













2 thoughts on “Teresa Harris

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

  2. Allan Briesmaster

    Congratulations, Penn! The photos are beautiful. I, too, wish I could be there for the play.

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