Wednesday, 16 March 2011

John H Bartlett and GeoCities

At a loose end after finishing my (very late) tax return, I finished a project I've been planning for a while: to rescue the website of the late John H Bartlett from GeoCities oblivion.

John, who died in 2002, worked at Joel Segal Books; but his main career was as actor, writer and theatre designer.  His notable local productions were a one-man performance of Alexander Pope's poem The Rape of the Locke (a strange bit of mock-heroic satire written to defuse an 18th century scandal caused by an aristocratic twit snipping a lock of hair from a society beauty without permission); and That Tiger Life (a solo drama imagining Oscar Wilde posthumously recounting his life).

So here is: John H Bartlett.  (I recovered the site from the Internet Archive, and took the liberty of tidying up the layout for Blogger).  Apart details of John's productions, it has examples of his artwork for costume, and his interesting commentary on topics such as Restoration acting style, 18th century card games referenced in Pope's poem, the Restoration actor Thomas Betterton, and the voice of Oscar Wilde. It also features the video The Drop, an interesting fable filmed in the vicinity of the bookshop.

After finishing the revision, I found: John H Bartlett (the original site) - Phil Gyford had the same idea of preserving it. Phil's copy, however, keeps the site in its original style. As he describes - Ugly and neglected fragments - GeoCities (one of the original free hosting services, which was closed in October 2009) was a remarkable fossil of an early era of Web design, where ideas about site layout and aesthetics were very different, and personal sites weren't filtered through the visual and structural slickness of Blogger.

- Ray

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