Teachers and Students - Resources for studying Joe Orton
Resources for teachers and post-16 students studying Joe Orton and Edna Welthorpe's Letters that can be used as a lesson or enrichment activity.
Joe Orton, Edna Welthorpe, Play, playwright, Leicester, Letters, Entertaining Mr Sloane, letters, teacher resources
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RESOURCES

Teachers and Students

This website is a resource for teachers and post-16 students. Use it as the basis for a lesson or enrichment activity.

1. Read the introduction to Joe Orton and Edna Welthorpe on this website.

 

2. Read some original Edna letters or listen to Leonie Orton reading them by clicking here.

 

3. Analyse Edna’s voice and style (click here to jump to the worksheet).

 

4. Write your own Edna letter (click here to jump to the worksheet).

 

5. Discuss: John Major asserted that we live in ‘a classless society’ and Tony Blair claimed that ‘the class war is over.’ Do you agree? Do social inequality and snobbery still exist today?

 

6. Debate: Is satire an effective political weapon? Can it be used, as Jonathan Swift suggested, to ‘mend the World’ and make ‘Mankind better’? Or does it, as Jonathan Coe argues, produce ‘comfortable’ humour that ‘suppresses political anger rather than stoking it up’ because ‘laughter replaces protest’?

SUBMIT YOUR OWN EDNA LETTER

The 10 best letters submitted by post-16 students before 31 December 2017 will be added to this website.

 

Write your own Edna Welthorpe letter using the guidelines on this page and send it to Emma Parker (NOT the addressee) before the deadline and the best ten will be featured on the site from January 2018. Click on the button below to send your letter.

SEND MY LETTER

RESOURCES

Teachers and Students

This website is a resource for teachers and post-16 students. Use it as the basis for a lesson or enrichment activity.

1. Read the introduction to Joe Orton and Edna Welthorpe on this website.

 

2. Read some original Edna letters or listen to Leonie Orton reading them by clicking here.

 

3. Analyse Edna’s voice and style (tap here to jump to the worksheet).

 

4. Write your own Edna letter (click here to jump to the worksheet).

 

5. Discuss: John Major asserted that we live in ‘a classless society’ and Tony Blair claimed that ‘the class war is over.’ Do you agree? Do social inequality and snobbery still exist today?

 

6. Debate: Is satire an effective political weapon? Can it be used, as Jonathan Swift suggested, to ‘mend the World’ and make ‘Mankind better’? Or does it, as Jonathan Coe argues, produce ‘comfortable’ humour that ‘suppresses political anger rather than stoking it up’ because ‘laughter replaces protest’?

SUBMIT YOUR OWN EDNA LETTER

The 10 best letters submitted by post-16 students before 31 December 2017 will be added to this website.

 

Write your own Edna Welthorpe letter using the guidelines on this page and send it to Emma Parker (NOT the addressee) before the deadline and the best ten will be featured on the site from January 2018. Click on the button below to send your letter.

SEND MY LETTER

WORKSHEET

Edna’s Voice and Style

Download a PDF worksheet
DOWNLOAD

What linguistic strategies does Orton use to create Edna’s distinctive voice and style?

 

What is the effect of Edna’s frequent use of the exclamation mark?
‘And really!’; ‘the idea is absurd!’

 

Why does Edna favour the rhetorical question: ‘Surely this is wrong?’ What’s its impact on the reader?

 

Edna’s letters are polite: ‘May I….?’; ‘Please, please…’; ‘Please let me say…’ What impression of Edna and her views is conveyed by her good manners?

 

How does Edna seek to communicate her elevated class status in terms of her vocabulary and style as well as through content? For example, in one letter she refers to Joe Orton as ‘Mr Joe Horton’. Why does she add the ‘h’ to his surname?

 

Is Edna as grand as she would like to appear? What aspects of language suggest that Edna’s airs and graces are a pretence?

 

What do Edna’s references to her MP and the Lord Chamberlain (a member of the royal household responsible for theatre censorship until 1968) suggest about her character and social attitudes?

 

Why does Edna invoke her status as a wife and mother in some letters? How does this support the point of view expressed in her letter?

 

Edna always signs off ‘Yours faithfully’, ‘Yours sincerely’ or ‘Yours truly’. What does the formal tone of her letters convey about her character and outlook?

 

What is the effect of adding ‘Mrs’ after her name in brackets in her signature?

WORKSHEET

Edna’s Voice and Style

What linguistic strategies does Orton use to create Edna’s distinctive voice and style?

 

What is the effect of Edna’s frequent use of the exclamation mark?
‘And really!’; ‘the idea is absurd!’

 

Why does Edna favour the rhetorical question: ‘Surely this is wrong?’ What’s its impact on the reader?

 

Edna’s letters are polite: ‘May I….?’; ‘Please, please…’; ‘Please let me say…’ What impression of Edna and her views is conveyed by her good manners?

 

How does Edna seek to communicate her elevated class status in terms of her vocabulary and style as well as through content? For example, in one letter she refers to Joe Orton as ‘Mr Joe Horton’. Why does she add the ‘h’ to his surname?

 

Is Edna as grand as she would like to appear? What aspects of language suggest that Edna’s airs and graces are a pretence?

 

What do Edna’s references to her MP and the Lord Chamberlain (a member of the royal household responsible for theatre censorship until 1968) suggest about her character and social attitudes?

 

Why does Edna invoke her status as a wife and mother in some letters? How does this support the point of view expressed in her letter?

 

Edna always signs off ‘Yours faithfully’, ‘Yours sincerely’ or ‘Yours truly’. What does the formal tone of her letters convey about her character and outlook?

 

What is the effect of adding ‘Mrs’ after her name in brackets in her signature?

Download a PDF worksheet
DOWNLOAD

How to write a new Edna Welthorpe letter:

 

1. Choose a target. Who or what embodies snobbery, social conservatism or injustice today? Your target must be a well-known person or institution.

 

2. Choose a focus. What aspect of this person or institution deserves to be satirised?

 

3. Draft your letter (200 words max), remembering to incorporate the rhetorical strategies that create Edna’s distinct voice and style.

 

4. Swap letters with a partner and offer each other feedback. Have effective strategies been used to mimic Edna’s voice? Is the letter funny without being nasty? Is it clearly satirical rather than simply a letter of complaint? What works well? What could be revised?

 

5. Develop your letter.

 

6. Share your letter: read your Edna letters aloud to the group.

WORKSHEET

Creative Writing Workshop

Download a PDF worksheet
DOWNLOAD

WORKSHEET

Creative Writing Workshop

How to write a new Edna Welthorpe letter:

 

1. Choose a target. Who or what embodies snobbery, social conservatism or injustice today? Your target must be a well-known person or institution.

 

2. Choose a focus. What aspect of this person or institution deserves to be satirised?

 

3. Draft your letter (200 words max), remembering to incorporate the rhetorical strategies that create Edna’s distinct voice and style.

 

4. Swap letters with a partner and offer each other feedback. Have effective strategies been used to mimic Edna’s voice? Is the letter funny without being nasty? Is it clearly satirical rather than simply a letter of complaint? What works well? What could be revised?

 

5. Develop your letter.

 

6. Share your letter: read your Edna letters aloud to the group.

Download a PDF worksheet
DOWNLOAD

Students who attended

an Edna Welthorpe

creative writing workshop

at the University of Leicester

made the following comments

I really enjoyed reading the Edna Welthorpe letters.

 

I have developed an interest in Joe Orton.

 

This taught me how to take on a different persona.

 

It made me think more about tone and voice.

 

I learned how to openly criticize institutions and individuals through comedy and satire.

 

I hadn’t heard of Joe Orton before. Now I want to know more.

 

I have been inspired to write more.

 

I will be more creative after this.

 

I’ve realised that satire is a form of activism.

 

I now want to find out more about C20th playwrights.

 

This made me want to pursue English in the future.

 

I’ve learned a lot about satire.

Students who attended an Edna Welthorpe creative writing workshop at the University of Leicester made the following comments:

I really enjoyed reading the Edna Welthorpe letters.

 

I have developed an interest in Joe Orton.

 

This taught me how to take on a different persona.

 

It made me think more about tone and voice.

 

I learned how to openly criticize institutions and individuals through comedy and satire.

 

I hadn’t heard of Joe Orton before. Now I want to know more.

 

I have been inspired to write more.

 

I will be more creative after this.

 

I’ve realised that satire is a form of activism.

 

I now want to find out more about C20th playwrights.

 

This made me want to pursue English in the future.

 

I’ve learned a lot about satire.

For additional resources on Joe Orton and Edna Welthorpe, click here.

1 Comment

  • Fi O'Sullivan

    15.08.2017 at 13:04 Reply

    Thank you Emma and Chris for doing this, I did really enjoy writing my Edna letter! After the event, as only spotted it at the weekend. I’ve just noticed here it’s not too late to enter a letter for a chance to be on the website. I’m quite in the mood now to write some more, or to reply to some already posted, as Edna, but worried she will take over as she is a force to be reckoned with and I don’t know I have the energy , brains or moral fibre to resist ! My children I hope, would be able to pull me back from the brink.! Thank you for a terrific project and Wishing that others will find their own inner Edna.

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