A frail basket

Arthur Morrison's "Cunning Murrell" novel

Morrison's Plaque
Frail Basket
The Basketmakers’ Association

In 1900, Arthur Morrison published his 310 page novel about Cunning Murrell; set between 1854 and 1860 the fast moving action takes place in Hadleigh and Leigh.  Though Morrison changed some of the names,  many of the people and trades ring true to life, and he detailed the geography of the area quite accurately.

Early in the book we are introduced to the  famous local herbalist of that era;  ” Quick and alert of movement, keen of eye and sharp of face, Cunning Murrell was perhaps a trifle less than five feet high.”    And Morrison continues his description:   “Over his shoulder he carried a large gingham umbrella and from its handle hung a frail basket.”

The frail is a traditional lidded rush basket, dating back to at least the 12th century. This distinctive basket with two handles and a fitted lid was used by farmworkers to take their lunch to the fields and was traditionally made with rush, yellow flag iris or grass depending on local availability.
Arthur George Morrison (1 Nov 1863 – 4 Dec 1945) was an English writer and journalist known for realistic stories about working-class life in the East End of London.

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