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Grace Darling

1815 – 1842

Fan mail (and the trouble with celebrity)

This exercise helps you to write a praise poem (and then an anti-praise poem!)

This is one of the many poems that fans sent to Grace Darling at her Longstone Lighthouse:

At first, Grace copied her fans’ poems into the big book shown above. But when her fan mail began to arrive in sackfuls, she stopped!

Can you read Grace’s handwriting? What do you think of the style of the poem? Do you find it grand or plain?

This poem is an ‘acrostic’. The first letters of each line spell out Grace Darling’s name, in her honour.

Write your own acrostic.

Write the name of one of your heroes, vertically down the page.

Write a word or line of praise, for each letter of your hero’s name.

Before you start writing, read this poem by Grace Nichols

This poem is modern and uses a style of language you might prefer to use in your own poem.

Grace Darling did not like being famous, and she didn’t like all the fuss about her – she described it as ‘fesh about nowt’!

She felt like she was ‘on show’. At first, she tried hard to meet her fans’ expectations.

You can see this on a scrap of paper where she practises her signature over and over again before replying to fan mail:

Think about the difference between a hero’s public face, and what he or she is like in private.

Write ‘Grace Darling’s Complaint’ by playing with words that rhyme with ‘hero’. Try to follow this pattern:

e.g. ‘I’d rather be me than a hero
I’d rather be wide than narrow
I’d rather be a seagull than a sparrow
I’d rather be Bamburgh than Rio de Janeiro…


Write about Celebrity as if you were reviewing it on Amazon.

If ‘Celebrity’ were a product, what would you pay for it? How would it be packaged? Would it be easy to carry or would it weigh you down? Did it do what you expected it to? Did it come with detailed instructions? Would you recommend it to others? What star rating would you give it?

Before writing, read Peter Porter’s poem, ‘Consumer Report’

In this poem, the poet is writing a customer review of the ‘product’ Life.

Now write your own poem in this satirical style.


Write in the voice of your chosen celebrity, e.g. ‘I’m writing to complain about this product you supplied…’

What to do next?

Send us your work

We’d love to see your work from this workshop. Send it in using the link below.

Submit your work

Take a look at the next workshop

The next workshop is entitled: How to Make a Fire and Waterproof Hero

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