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WATCH: Pass On A Poem Celebrity Reading

Written by Rachael Norris, 21st April 2020

Nearly 100 famous faces, including Stephen Fry, Joanna Lumley, Sir David Attenborough, Sheila Hancock and Sir Ian McKellen are featured in a special recording of The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Tennyson that has just been released.

The film is the work of broadcaster, Matthew Stadlen, who embarked on the project in support of Pass On A Poem, a movement started in 2006 by his mother, Frances Stadlen, who set up group poetry readings across the country and beyond. The idea is that each reader shares a poem – not their own – that means something to them.

For the last five years, Pass On A Poem has been under the care of The Reader.

United in a common aim to bring people together to enjoy poetry – and great literature – aloud, The Reader and Pass On A Poem continue to send weekly emails and online readings that share favourite poems.

Talking about the recording’s release now, Matthew said: “I first started recording my interviewees reciting lines from The Lady of Shalott about five and a half years ago.

“I neglected the project for a while as other things took over, before picking it back up again during lockdown when I found myself with time on my hands. I hope it will encourage people to set up their own Pass On A Poem readings with friends, family and colleagues on Zoom during lockdown.'

The Reader’s founder, Jane Davis, added: ““It’s wonderful to hear the lines of The Lady of Shallot being shared – live and aloud – by such an array of familiar faces.

“We congratulate Matthew on pulling this project together and thank him for releasing it at a time when the power of poetry is needed more than ever.”

For advice on how to set up your own virtual Pass On A Poem meeting during lockdown, call The Reader on 0151 729 2250 or email

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