Battlefield feeling changing perceptions of masculinity in war

A new project led by Dr Holly Furneaux from the School of English will shake up traditional views of masculinity on the battlefield by exploring the heroism of the English ‘Boy Captain’ Audley Lempriere, who gave his life fighting during the Crimean War.

Captain Lempriere was known as the ‘child of the regiment’ due to being one of the youngest and smallest Captains in the British Army. After dying heroically in battle in 1855, his body was picked up and removed from the battlefield by his commanding officer, Colonel Egerton, who declared “they shall not take my child”.

Dr Furneaux said: “The story of Lempriere’s life and death is compelling. It’s great that the skills of all the partners involved will come together to help young people engage with this fascinating part of their local history. Lempriere’s biography also calls into question stereotypes of the stiff upper lip and helps us to understanding how the Victorians valued soldiers’ emotional eloquence.”

Through a series of workshops in February 2015 led by Dr Furneaux, students will work with genuine artefacts from Victorian Army life and Lempriere’s own documents. In the early sessions students will respond to these original sources with creative writing exercises.

They will then be guided through music composition workshops by members of BBC Award winning folk band Bellowhead. The students’ compositions will be held as part of the Hampshire Record Office archive, adding to Lempriere's history.

Dr Furneaux added: “Recognising a widespread cultural emphasis on the gentle soldier, this project disposes persistent ideas about Victorian masculinity as well as enhancing our understanding of the complexities of battlefield feeling.”