Charles Jennens and Messiah

Oliver Condy finds out about the man who provided the texts for some of Handel's greatest works

Charles Jennens, the man who provided the texts for five of Handel's great oratorios, was much more than a librettist. An independently wealthy man, Jennens supported the arts, built an extraordinary Leicestershire mansion and was the first person to publish Shakespeare's plays in separate volumes.

A brand new exhibition opens today at the Handel House Museum shedding light on this most private and talented of 18th-century gentlemen, giving a valuable insight into his life, his work and his relationship with Handel.

Oliver Condy visited the exhibition ahead of its opening to talk to the curator Dr Ruth Smith about some of the exhibits (pictured below).

1. A letter from Handel to Jennens discussing 'Belshazzar', 1744. Handel House Collections TrustHandel Letter

2. A page from the manuscript of Handel's 'L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato'. Gerald Coke Handel Collection, The Foundling Museum

Manuscript of Handel music

3. The Handel House (right) next to the house where Jimi Hendrix lived

Handel house

4. Page from the autograph score of Handel's 'Saul'

Saul

Charles Jennens – the man behind Handel's Messiah runs from 21 November to 14 April 2013.
Dr Ruth Smith's book, Charles Jennens – the man behind Handel's Messiah  is on sale in the Handel House Museum shop.

For more information on the Handel House and the exhibition, visit the website.

To download the interview to listen on iTunes, Windows Media player or a similar programme, click on the button below