Monkey legend lives on thanks to Lisa

Lisa Empson
Lisa Empson

A HEADLAND artist has created a new range of memorabilia featuring the Hartlepool monkey legend.

Painter Lisa Empson has produced a new watercolour of the primate.

The monkey mug and coaster made by artist Lisa Empson

The monkey mug and coaster made by artist Lisa Empson

She has had it transferred onto a greetings card, and mug and coaster set.

Lisa has also written a ballad about the hanging of the monkey which shows the town in a more sympathetic light.

It is included with the mug and coaster sets and on the inside of the card.

According to the legend, the monkey was the only survivor of a French warship that was dashed off Hartlepool during the Napoleonic wars.

Lisa, a semi-retired English teacher, said: “Nobody seems to be doing monkey memorabilia at the moment.

“If there isn’t the legend will die which would be a shame, especially if you can provide a reason why instead of just ‘aren’t Hartlepudlians stupid?’

“I’ve put forward an original more sympathetic slant on why people thought it was spy.

“People really thought Napoleon was going to come across and kill us, they were in a no-win situation.

“Then somebody suggested making a mug and coaster and I’m trying to find local outlets.”

Lisa thinks the mug and coaster sets would make ideal gifts for ex-pats.

Her verse, entitled Monkey Business Ballad Number One, features the lines: “The locals, in their fear of death, mistook him for a spy.

“Though ignorance is bliss they say, it helped this monkey die.

“Their fear of death by Napoleon’s hand denied them of all reason.

“To aid a spy on English land would be no less than treason.”

Lisa, also a life coach, has at least two more ballads on the monkey legend in mind.

She did not start painting until four years ago and has held several exhibitions in her own home where she organises displays to give other artists the confidence to show off their work.