The bust of Naden rests upon a plinth carved in the shape of three volumes, originally gilded, representing her writings, with the inscriptions referring to her books.
This bust was commissioned as a memorial tribute on Naden's death for Mason's Science College, Edmund Street.(2) The commission of the work was probably organised by R.H. Lewins MD, a close associate of Naden. She had met him in 1876 and 'became his disciple'(3) in advancing a complex philosophical faith called Hylo-Idealism. Lewins also founded in her honour the Constance Naden Medal, given for the best competitive philosophical essay each year, and now awarded annually for the best thesis accepted by Birmingham University for the MA degree in the Faculty of Arts. In February 1892 Lewins offered to have Tyler execute a copy of the bust for Birmingham Art Gallery as 'a notability of their famous City, which of late years has so distinguished itself in Art, Science and Politics'.(4) Since portrait busts were only accepted 'in commemoration of great local or National services', the offer was refused.(5) The bust formerly stood in the German Room of the old University library at Edmund Street(6) (Mason's College having become Mason University College in 1898, and part of Birmingham University in 1900).
Constance Naden (1858-1889) was a well known Birmingham poetess and scientist. In 1881 her first book of poems, Songs and Sonnets of Springtime, was published and in the same year she began studying various sciences at Mason College, an institution with which she became particularly identified, and where in 1887 she won the coveted Heslop Memorial Medal for her essay 'Induction and Deduction'. Her premature death was considered 'a serious loss to the intellectuality of our age'.(1)
Inscribed on front:
'Songs and Sonnets of Springtime, A Modern Apostle, The Elixir of Life, ETC.'
'Induction and Deduction and Hylo-Idealism.'
PMSA recording information