Joseph Waterfall Poems
Joseph Waterfall (1840 - 1902) was born in Maidstone, county of Kent, England. He was born crippled, had limited use of his arms and hands, and could neither walk nor write. Joseph had poor parents and received little education. He lived in straightened circumstances during his adult life, eking out a meager living shining boots, and lived his last decade in an almshouse in Bakewell, Derbyshire. His poems were collected and published as a book of broadsheets in 1896.
Waterfall writes of one of the poems in his book, a statement which undoubtedly is applicable to all: "The author of this work, being an invalid for 58 years [since birth], never having walked in his life, born of humble parents, and deprived of the means of education, unable to write, cut from old papers the letters of this poem, which contain 2,500 pieces, placed them on a sheet for the printer and will be pleased to show them to anyone."
During a trip to Derbyshire the summer of 2007, the editor was made aware of Haddon Hall poems which he had not previously discovered. Included in his travels was a visit to the Local Studies Library in Matlock. Their comprehensive manual card system yielded the poems and an obituary of Joseph Waterfall. Two of the poems had Haddon Hall as its central subject and have been included in the book on this web site Poems of Haddon Hall - An Afterword. They are also included in this book.
The poems and unusual life story of Joseph Waterfall were found by chance. The editor has found no reference to Joseph Waterfall in books about Bakewell or Derbyshire; and is loath to allow this information, which surfaced by chance, to once again disappear.
The Local Studies Library has graciously made available the items in their possession to be placed on this web site.
Joseph Waterfall Poems has been included in the book Haddon Hall Historical Observations. A printed copy of the book may be purchased at www.LULU.com/shop
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