‘Andrew Marvell at 400’ is a research project led by Dr Stewart Mottram at the University of Hull. It is supported by the Andrew Marvell Lecture, an annual public event at the University of Hull established in 2016.
When Hull marked the 300th anniversary of Marvell’s birth in March 1921, it was his connections to Hull as an MP and a former student of Hull Grammar School (now the Hands on History Museum) that the corporation chose to celebrate in a service at Holy Trinity Church (now Hull Minster), a wreath laying ceremony at Marvell’s statue, and a public meeting in which the mayor at the time – T. Beecroft Atkinson (pictured) – praised Marvell as ‘the greatest advance advertisement agent Hull ever had’. Atkinson was in part acknowledging Marvell’s reputation as a poet, but he made no connection between his poetry and the place of Hull within it.
Image: © Hull History Centre, Hull C DMX/168/11
Marvell’s poetry has never been entirely forgotten, but before 1921 he was chiefly remembered as an MP and political writer, a patriotic champion of political liberties and religious toleration in the tradition of William Wilberforce. The marble statue of Andrew Marvell, now outside the Grammar School, was commissioned for the new town hall in 1867 with the words ‘Andrew Marvell, the incorruptible patriot’ on its pedestal.