2nd Dec, 2016

#SaveThePriory: Lady Godiva author from down under welcomes rescue plan

Les Reid 25th Jul, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

NEWS that the ‘internationally important’ home of Coventry’s ‘Lady Godiva-founded’ first priory and cathedal is a step closer to re-opening has been welcomed ‘down under’ by a novelist enchanted by the city’s great legend.

We reported last year on the book launch of Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd’s ‘Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva’, and how the academic living in Australia was inspired to write it following a trip to our city she loves.

The book by the academic in gender studies at the School of Psychology and Social Science at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia was published internationally – under her pseudonym Eliza Redgold – by St Martin’s Press (Macmillan), New York.

On the anniversary of the book’s launch, she welcomed news last week that the Priory Visitor Centre, closed in February in Coventry City Council cuts, is set to re-open this autumn, following our #SaveThePriory campaign and the selection of a preferred bidder called Inspiring Communities to run it as a social enterprise.

Dr Reid Boyd said: “It’s good news that the campaign to keep the Priory open appears to have been successful– it seems to be a tradition of the people of Coventry to speak up and be heard.

“One of the best historical records we have about Leofric and Godiva is at the Priory. As the place where the remains and artefacts of the city’s first priory and cathedral are housed, it is a crucial site for tourists and Godiva fans. The atmospheric area around the Cathedral is something of a shrine for many international visitors.

“People everywhere continue to be fascinated by Lady Godiva… I call Godiva the first female superhero!”

Dr Reid Boyd’s research also led to her last year presenting a paper about Lady Godiva at the American Cultural Association Conference in Cincinnati, USA, which examined Godiva’s enduring legacy and ‘why she remains important today’.

Dr Reid Boyd is now working on a screenplay of her book, saying: “The last film made about Lady Godiva was in the 1950s, yet everybody knows her name.  I would love to bring her story to visual life – it’s time for her to ride back on screen!”

She said she has been ‘thrilled’ by the response to her book, receiving messages from across the world.

She added: “One of my favourites was from India: a reader said that the story made her fall in love with both the main characters – Godiva and Lord Leofric.

“I’m delighted about that because I wanted to portray Godiva’s husband Leofric in a new way. History has been hard on Lord Leofric of Mercia. In most of the Godiva stories, Leofric is definitely the villain of the piece, ready to impose heavy taxes and to ignobly allow his wife to carry out her daring ride.

“Yet by the end of his life, historical documents reveal Lord Leofric was a changed man. Ancient records suggest their marriage was a strong one, and may indeed have been a love match.

“By the end of their marriage, Leofric and Godiva together supported monasteries, built abbeys and churches, and aided the poor. The original cathedral in Coventry was believed to be founded by Godiva and Leofric as a monastic site.”

* To celebrate one year of publication, the author is giving away ten copies (hard copy or e-copy) of ‘NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva’ to Coventry residents.

If you live in Coventry, answer the question:

Why is Lady Godiva important to Coventry today?

To post your reply,

Visit Facebook: www.facebook.com/ElizaRedgoldAuthor

Twitter: @ElizaRedgold

Include the hashtag #SaveThePriory