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Michael Eaton and the Good Humour Club

Wednesday 26 February 2014, 7.00PM

Speaker(s): Professor Michael Eaton

LECTURE: ‘The Good Humour Club: Imagining the Membership'

7.00pm in K/133

‘Tonight, for your delight, entertainment and edification, a number of gentlemen are gathering in Sunton’s Coffee-house for their weekly meeting of shared minds’...

In this lecture, playwright Michael Eaton will be discussing his recent drama ‘The Good Humour Club’, produced in collaboration with The Laurence Sterne Trust for Sterne’s tercentenary in 2013. The play is a richly evocative portrayal of an imagined meeting of a historic gentleman’s club in eighteenth-century York. The meeting takes place on the day in 1759 that the first two volumes of Laurence Sterne’s controversial novel, Tristram Shandy, were published in that city. In his lecture, Michael Eaton will describe the stages of this exciting collaboration, from the Trust’s original commission to produce a radio play, through to casting and performance. The lecture will address the challenges of turning an ongoing historical research project into a coherent, convincing, and entertaining historical fiction. How might you go about extrapolating character and dialogue from The Good Humour Club project’s primary source material: an eighteenth-century minute book?

Free entry. No registration necessary. All welcome. Those wishing to attend may find it useful to listen to the play beforehand. It is available to listen to online on The Good Humour Club’s website:


Michael Eaton has a degree in anthropology from Cambridge. His work has been widely broadcast on Radio 4, from the afternoon play and serialised drama to dramatic documentaries on the Northern Ireland peace process and 9/11. Five short plays about Dickens and London, The Special Correspondent for Posterity, were broadcast in February 2012 for the Dickens bicentenary. In 2013, he wrote ‘The Good Humour Club’ in collaboration with The Laurence Sterne Trust for Sterne’s tercentenary. He is a visiting professor at Nottingham Trent University.


This lecture is preceded by a Research Seminar:

'Sources of Drama'

 5.15pm in KG07, The King's Manor. 

Please contact Jim Watt, if you wish to attend this seminar.

Playwright Michael Eaton will be discussing different approaches to literary and historical adaptation in this research seminar. Eaton has written for radio, the stage and screen and has adapted classic works of Charles Dickens and George Eliot. He also frequently draws upon historical research and documentary sources in his own original writing, such as his stage play about a notorious Victorian murderer, Charlie Peace: His Amazing Life and Astounding Legend (Nottingham Playhouse and Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, 2013), and a radio drama Head Hunters, broadcast on Radio 3 earlier this year, about late nineteenth-century anthropologist Alfred Cort Haddon, who was also the subject of Eaton’s 2010 film The Masks of Mer.

Free entry, but please contact Jim Watt if you wish to attend.

Location: The King's Manor, Exhibition Square, York, YO1 7EP