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Humphry Davy

1778 – 1829

Writing by Numbers

Look at this report about the Felling mine disaster in 1812, and take note of how many different numbers it mentions, e.g. dates, casualties etc:

Now look at this letter, from the vicars of Durham in 1812. It’s one of hundreds in the archives, which offer donations of money to those widowed and orphaned by the Felling disaster.

Can you read the amount of money being donated in this letter?

Write three or four lines about this disaster and its effects. Include a different number in each line.

Next, write three or four lines which suggest how a hero would solve this problem. Again use a number in each line, this time imagined, e.g. ‘I will spend 2017.5 hours inventing a solution’; ‘I will walk 600 miles and raise 900 pounds’; ‘I will offer a home to 37 widows and all 112 of their children’…

You could write in this way about a different problem which has been solved heroically.

For example, your first lines might be about the number of days someone has been ill, or the number of things they’ve lost, or the number of mistakes they’ve made on particular dates.

You can then finish the poem with solutions which involve numbers, dates, sponsorship amounts, statistics, e.g. ‘I tell you your chances of dying from this are 12% lower each day’.

Give your poem a title which includes the word ‘Numbers’.

What to do next?

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Take a look at the next workshop

The next workshop is entitled: Humphry’s Bright Idea

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