Monday, 6 December 2010
On this day...American inventor Thomas Edison recorded one of the earliest recordings of the human voice in 1877. Known as the 'Wizard of Menlo Park' for his phonograph invention, Edison used tinfoil and a grooved cylinder to record poor quality sounds. The recordings could only be played several times, and the phonograph was redesigned a decade later by Alexander Graham Bell using wax-coated cardboard cylinders. Yet the occasion of Edison's remarkable breakthrough in 1877, was marked by him reciting 'Mary Had a Little Lamb', which can be heard here.
Although this has obviously had an incredible impact on modern society, the Poetry Archive is one small example of how it has furthered literature. Set up by former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, the site contains recordings of poets reading their own work, including names such as Alfred Lord Tennyson and Seamus Heaney. Motion created it with the thought that any lover of literature is able to gain deeper insight , levels of understanding, and enjoyment by listening to a poem in the voice in which it was composed.