DETAILS of the nostalgic calendar on sale to mark the 125th anniversary of Hucknall Library, featured in last week’s Dispatch, reminds me of the late Albert Brecknock, who succeeded Mr H.Dennis as librarian in 1903.
It is almost 100 years since Mr Brecknock’s splendid book, ‘The Pilgrim Poet — Lord Byron Of Newstead Abbey’ — was first published by Francis Griffiths, of The Strand, London.
Brecknock’s book attracted a great deal of interest and unlike many other local histories, it proved to be commercially viable.
Brecknock believed that there was a real need for a book about Byron from the local angle. Every one of his 18 chapters in the book is absorbingly interesting, especially those on Mary Chaworth and Byron’s life at Newstead.
A considerable part of the volume is taken up with accounts of Byron’s budding manhood, as remembered by old servants and the county people around Newstead, which throws a kindly light on the generosity, kindliness and thoughtful consideration of the poet folr his humble friends.
The book contains many excellent illustrations, and it is dedicated to Lieutenant-General Sir Herbert Charles Chermside, of Newstead Abbey, in grateful recognition of the assistance he had given Brecknock. Sir Herbert was formerly governor of Queensland, Australia.
Brecknock was born at Butler’s Hill and attended the Hucknall Board School under Aaron Riley. He showed a marked aptitude for learning, yet there was no other employment for him but the pit bank at Hucknall No.2 Colliery.
It was entirely due to perseverance and fondness for self-culture that his ability was spotted and led to him being appointed librarian at Hucknall in the early 1900s.
Owing to the proximity of the library to Hucknall Parish Church, where Byron was buried, Brecknock came into contact with men and women from all parts of the world (particularly the USA), who visited the poet’s tomb. They included Micheal Clemens, the cousin of Mark Twain, who was the author of ‘Tom Sawyer’ and ‘Huckleberry Finn’.
Brecknock was the librarian at Hucknall for many years and after his retirement, he continued to correspond with people he had met through their interest in Byron. He died in 1962, in his 90th year.