David Love: Passion for Writing by Iona Scanlan and Elizabeth Rigby

The title page of David Love’s memoir named The Life, Adventures and Experiences of David Love written in 1823.

Throughout his life, and the documentation of it through his memoir, David Love’s passion for writing shines more than anything else. His countless jobs of horse riding, the army and mining filled some years, but writing was always Love’s favourite pastime, and eventually his full time job. Early on in his memoir, Love is desperately looking for ways to make money for his family, he eventually buys some books and sets out to ‘sell them in the country’ (Love, 1823, 31). Love’s skills for selling books soon aids him, giving him hope of becoming a ballad singer, but his wife seems to be ashamed, saying ‘are you going to bring me shame and disgrace by turning ballad-singer?’ (32). Love persevered and went to fairs far away to not bring shame to his wife, but to bring money to feed his family. Despite his wife’s worries, Love succeeded in this endeavor, noting ‘I sold all my songs on the first day of the fair, and I was sorry that I did not bring two thousand more songs with me’ (32). This exemplifies how well Love succeeded in his craft of writing and ballad singing, and could indicate why he repeatedly went back to the certain profession many times throughout his life. 

One of Love’s poems that he wrote whilst he was in the army reads:

‘My pen was bad, so was my ink

I a bad writer prove

Now at the last, what do you think

Of the author, David Love?’ (44)

After many years pass of Love in the army, he returns to his passion for writing, even selling some poems he wrote whilst away from home in the Fencible army. It is clear here that although Love found success in his trade, he still was not completely confident, even questioning himself in the poem. When his career in the Fencible army ended, he was free to return to writing, and ‘set out to my old trade’ (64). In doing so, Love encouraged his family to move across the country with him, in hopes of making more money writing and selling, even with his wife’s disdain at the idea. The writer even comprised a book in Portsmouth, named ‘Love’s Original Poems’, showing his success (65). The writer even sent his wife to sell books in the Isle, the memoir tells us that Love did not hear from his wife for two weeks like she had promised to do, therefore went in search of her. He was told ‘she had been there, and sold a great many’, and when he eventually found her she had been robbed of all the money she had made (75). This moment tells the reader that David Love’s hobby which he has so much passion for, in fact hurt his wife, putting him in a compromising situation. 

One of his poems which he wrote in London about working for Acrostics reads:

‘Who can on names Acrostics makes, 

In a poetic strain;

To please you, he great pains will take,

All for a little gain’ (77)

After three years in London, the family moved to Bristol, exemplifying how much writing and After three years in London, Love notes he and his wife were doing well. Love would even advertise himself on the front of his books to further his career.selling his work influenced the course of his life. It is important to note how Love’s main body of work consists of poetry, spoken word and ballads, and his memoir was published three years before his death. It is interesting that his memoir came at such a short time before his death, in a way implying to the reader this was his last piece of work, and that there was nothing left to write, except about his life story. The memoir consists of many of his poems and ballads included throughout, and a large collection of them placed at the end of the memoir, in a way honouring his life’s work, and representing that he wanted his poems to be his last words, not his written word. The memoir most certainly portrays Love’s life as full of adventure and enriching experiences, hence the title of the book. But, the poetry which is included is focussed on greatly, and because Love was always an avid promoter of his own works, his memoir is one last way to promote them and for them to be read for generations to come. 

Love, D. 1823. The Life, Adventures and Experiences of David Love. Sutton and Son. Nottingham.

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