Ready, Set, Bake: Recipes from the 18th and 19th Century

Front piece from Henderson's 'The Housekeeper’s Instructor' c.1800

Front piece from Henderson’s ‘The Housekeeper’s Instructor’ c.1800

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

In honour of the return of much loved T.V. show ‘The Great British Bake Off’ we’ve pulled together some wonderful recipes and baking tips from our favourite 18th and 19th century cookbooks.  Despite their popularity and the handy tips provided by the authors, I have to admit, some of these recipes seem trickier than a Bake-Off Technical Challenge but if you do brave tackling one or two, let us know how you get on!

There are several things necessary to be particularly observed by the cook, in order that her labours and ingenuity under this head may be brought to their proper degree of perfection.

(Henderson, c.1800)

 

Cakes

The author of the following recipe, Maria Eliza Rundell, became a household name in cookery when she published, ‘A New System of Domestic Economy’ in the early 1800s.  The title became an instant best seller, “with almost half a million copies sold by the time of Mrs Rundell’s death and remaining in print until 1886,” (Holt,1999).

Although this recipe suggests baking the cakes in tea-cups, Queen Cakes were often baked in a variety of shaped tins, one of the most popular shapes being that of the heart (Day, 2011).

Queen Cake Recipe - Rundell, 1822

Queen Cake Recipe – Rundell, 1822

Queen Cakes – (Rundell, 1822)

Mix a pound of dried flour, the same of sifted sugar, and of washed clean currants.  Wash a pound of butter in rose-water, beat it well, then mix with it eight eggs, yolks and whites beaten separately, and put in the dry ingredients by degrees; beat the whole an hour; butter little tins, tea-cups, or saucers, and bake the batter in, filling only half.  Sift a little fine sugar over just as you put it into the oven.

 

Biscuits

Our next recipe from Kettilby (1719) is the Ratafia Cake, a macaroon like biscuit that takes its name from the flavourings used.  The word Ratafia, meaning liqueur, “came to denote almost any alcoholic and aromatic ‘water.’” (Boyle, 2011)

To make Ratafia-Cakes – (Kettilby, 1719)

Ratafia Cake Recipe - Kettilby, 1719

Ratafia Cake Recipe – Kettilby, 1719

Take eight ounces of Apricock-Kernels, or if they cannot be had, Bitter-Almonds will do as well, blanch them, and beat them very fine with a little Orange-Flower-Water, mix them with the Whites of three Eggs well beaten, and put to them two pounds of single-refin’d Sugar finely beaten and sifted; work all together, and ‘twill be like a Paste; then lay it in little round Bits on Tin-plates flower’d, set them in an Oven that is not too hot, and they will puff up and be soon baked.

 

Bread

Maria Eliza Rundell suggests that her bread roll recipe is just as good as that found at Sally Lunn’s in Bath, which is quite the claim as Sally Lunn’s highly popular bun achieved legendary status in its day, (Sally Lunn’s, 2016).  You can judge for yourself however, as Sally’s buns can still be enjoyed at her old house in Bath.

Excellent Rolls – (Rundell, 1822)

Bread rolls recipe - Rundell, 1822

Bread rolls recipe – Rundell, 1822

Warm one ounce of butter in half a pint of milk, put to it a spoonful and a half of yeast of small beer, and a little salt.  Put two pounds of flour into a pan and mix in the above.  Let it rise an hour; knead it well; make into seven rolls, and bake in a quick oven.  If made in cakes three inches thick, sliced and buttered, they resemble Sally Lumm’s, as made at Bath. The foregoing receipt, with the addition of a little saffron boiled in half a tea-cupful of milk, makes them remarkably good.

 

Desserts

In the preface to, ‘A Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery,’ Kettilby laments the unintelligible nature of many of the recipe books that came before hers, “some great Masters having given us Rules in that Art so strangely odd and fantastical, that it is hard to say, Whether the Reading has given more Sport and Diversion, or the Practice more Vexation and Chagrin, in spoiling us many a good dish, by following their directions.”  Hopefully, her recipe for ‘the best orange pudding ever tasted’ will be a piece of cake to follow!

The best Orange-Pudding that ever was tasted – (Kettilby, 1719)

Orange Pudding Recipe - Kettilby, 1719

Orange Pudding Recipe – Kettilby, 1719

PARE the Yellow Rind of two fair Sevil- Oranges, so very thin that no part of the White comes with it; shred and beat it extremely small in a large Stone Mortar; add to it when very fine, half a pound of Butter, half a pound of Sugar, and the Yolks of sixteen Eggs; beat all together in the Mortar ‘till ‘tis all of a Colour; then pour it into your Dish in which you have laid a Sheet of Puff-paste. I think Grating the Peel saves Trouble, and does it finer and thinner than you can shred or beat it: But you must beat up the Butter and Sugar with it, and the Eggs with all, to mix them well.

 

 

Pastries

When it comes to tackling pastry, William Augustus Henderson had a number of great tips in his bestselling guide from the late 18th century, ‘The Housekeeper’s Instructor’, including how to avoid the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’:

One very material consideration must be, that the heat of the oven is duly proportioned to the nature of the article to be baked.  Light paste requires a moderate oven; if it is too quick, the crust cannot rise, and will therefore be burned; and if too slow, it will be soddened, and want that delicate light brown it ought to have.

Once you’ve mastered the oven temperature you’ll be ready to bake this delicious treat:

Rasberry Tart – (Henderson, c.1800)

Raspberry Tart Recipe - Henderson, c.1800

Raspberry Tart Recipe – Henderson, c.1800

ROLL out some thin puff-paste, and lay it in a patty pan; then put in some rasberries, and strew over them some very fine sugar.  Put on the lid, and bake it.- Then cut it open, and put in half a pint of cream, the yolks of two or three eggs well beaten, and a little sugar.  Give it another heat in the oven, and it will be fit for use.

And finally, just in case you need to know how to get that thin puff-paste for your raspberry tart, here’s Maria Eliza Rundell to the rescue:

Rich Puff Paste – (Rundell, 1822)

Weigh an equal quantity of butter with as much fine flour as you judge necessary; mix a little of the former with the latter, and wet it with as little water as will make into a stiff paste.  Roll it out, and put all the butter over it in slices, turn in the ends, and roll it thin: do this twice, and touch it no more than can be avoided.  The butter may be added at twice; and to those who are not accustomed to make paste, it may be better to do so.

 

What makes these cookbooks particularly lovely is evidence that they were well used and well loved.  The

Autograph inscription in 'A Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery.' Kettilby, 1719

Autograph inscription in ‘A Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery.’ Kettilby, 1719

autograph inscriptions hidden inside ‘The Housekeeper’s Instructor,’ (Henderson, c.1800)  show it was a treasured family heirloom; given first to Helen Leachman by her Aunt Jane in 1879 then to Emma Leachman by her mother, June in 1825.  Sophia Ann Leachman’s name also appears on top of the first page.  Meanwhile ‘A Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery.’ (Kettilby, 1719) proved such a hit with Martha Kerricke, that she married the man who gifted it to her!

It’s lovely to see that baking and great recipes are things we continue to treasure and share- happy baking all!

 

Sources:

National Allotment Week: Top tips for green fingers!

Wright, and Wright (c.1909) The Vegetable Grower’s Guide.

Wright, and Wright (c.1909) The Vegetable Grower’s Guide.

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

 

It is not uncommon for inexperienced people to be guilty of omissions in providing for the establishment of a garden which strike horticulturists as almost ludicrous.

(Wright and Wright, 1909)

In honour of National Allotment Week we have dug up some handy horticultural tips from our collections to help turn us all into green-fingered gardeners!

 

 

Let’s start with some basics:

Tip #1: Setting out your plot the right way can make a big difference:

“All kitchen garden students should be taught the simple rule of arranging their plots so that the rows of vegetables run north and south.  This permits of sun rays getting free access to the rows.  When they run east to west the sun is kept from the inner rows by the outer ones in the case of tall crops.” (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Wright and Wright (1909) also suggest that a parallelogram shaped plot is best and emphasise not to forget planning in space for paths when designing your allotment garden!

 

Gardening Tools (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Gardening Tools (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Tip #2: Always have the right equipment for the job!

“Garden equipment cannot be provided without expense, and it is wise to face what is entailed resolutely.” (Wright and Wright, 1909)

There certainly is a lot to consider but this helpful illustration (right) should help you know your dibble from your bill-hook!

 

Tip #3: Make sure your plants get enough water at the right time:

When it comes to watering plants, Moore (1881) cautions that, “it is a wrong though common practice to press the surface of the soil in the pot in order to feel if it is moist enough, this soon consolidates it, and prevents it from getting the full benefit of aeration.”

While Garton (1769) helpfully adds, “whilst the nights are frosty water your plants in the morning; in warm weather water than in the evening, before the sun goes down.”

 

Now we have the hang of the fundamentals, how do we go about growing some vegetables?

Carrots (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Carrots (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Tip #4: Getting the soil right is very important!

According to Moore (1881) the enrichment of soil is often overlooked so when planting onions for example, remember, “a portion of good soil should be provided for each plant, and heavy mulchings of manure should be placed upon the surface as soon as practical after planting to prevent the soil becoming dry and parched.”

While for carrots, Wright and Wright (1909) suggest that, “the land best suited […] is unquestionably a deep, sandy loam. […] They are best grown after celery or some other fibrous-rooted crop for which the ground was manured the previous year.”

 

Tip #5: Not any old carrot will do, make sure yours are the cream of the crop with this advice from Wright and Wright (1909):

“Thinning is of the first importance, as on it turns not only the question of getting shapely roots, but also of baffling the maggot.  […] Carrots should always be thinned twice; the first time a few days after they have come through, the second when they are about the size of radishes.”

To make sure your carrots are a rich bright red, try mixing soot and wood ashes “into the drills when the seed is sown.” (Wright and Wright, 1909)

 

Tip #6: Protect your plants and keep garden enemies at bay:

To fight against an attack by slugs and snails, Wright and Wright (1909) suggest that as, “they are principally night feeders, […] an attack can be stopped by looking over the beds at night with the aid of a lantern, dropping any slugs into a jar of brine.  Lime dusted round the outsides of the bed will stop the approach of fresh hordes.”

 

Onions (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Onions (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Tip #7: Harvest your crops with care:

You have chosen the right soil, fought off the slugs, tended your plants with care and it’s finally time to reap your rewards but while some vegetables can be easily pulled up Wright and Wright (1909) suggest a different method for large onions:

“The authors find it a good plan to gently heave the best bulbs from side to side with the hands day after day for a week, breaking a few roots each time, and thus bringing growth to a standstill by degrees.  This answers much better than forking them straight out of the ground at one operation.”

 

Great advice, now what should we be doing in our allotments during August?

In his, ‘The Practical Gardener and Gentleman’s Directory, for Every Month in the Year,’ Garton (1769) makes some useful suggestions:

  • “Cauliflower-seed to produce an early crop next summer must be sown between the 18th and 24th of this month, which will be ready to plant under frames in the last week in October, to remain there till the latter end of February, or beginning of March.”
  • “Weed and keep clean the asparagus beds, and the plants sown in the spring. Do this work with the hand only.”
  • “Sow carrots for spring use. Do this in the 3rd or 4th week of this month, and don’t sow this seed too thick.”
  • “This being the season for pickling cucumbers; they must be well watered in dry weather, three or four times a week; and be gathered at proper sizes three times a week.”

Finally, according to Mrs Loudon (1870), August is “about the best time of the year to visit famous gardens, one of the best ways of improving our knowledge of the art of gardening.”

Frontpieve from 'The Complete Gardener' by Thomas Mawe and John Abercrombie, 1854 [MERL LIBRARY RESERVE--4756-MAW]

Frontpieve from ‘The Complete Gardener’ by Thomas Mawe and John Abercrombie, 1854 [MERL LIBRARY RESERVE–4756-MAW]

You can find more advice on allotments and growing your own food at the National Allotment Society webpage.

 

Sources:

Moore, Thomas (1881) Epitome of Gardening. Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black [MERL LIBRARY RESERVE–4756-MOO]

Wright, J. and Wright, H. J. (c.1909) The Vegetable Grower’s Guide. London: Virtue and Co. [MERL LIBRARY RESERVE–4752-WRI]

Garton, James (1769) The Practical Gardener and Gentleman’s Directory, for Every Month in the Year.  London: E and C Dilly [RESERVE– ]

Mrs Loudon (1870) The Amateur Gardener’s Calendar.  London: Frederick Warne and Co. [RESERVE–635-LOU]

All items are available upon request.

Delightes for Ladies

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Originally published in 1602, ‘Delightes for Ladies’ by Sir Hugh Plat is one of the earliest cookery and

Delights for Ladies to Adorne their Persons, Tables, Closets, and Distilatories, 1628

Delights for Ladies to Adorne their Persons, Tables, Closets, and Distilatories, 1628

household recipe books produced in England.  It contains a fascinating array of recipes, instructions and advice on everything from making almond butter and preserving roast beef to creating candles for ladies tables and dying hair a lovely chestnut colour.

The little book was a perfect companion for the wealthy Elizabethan housewife who owned her own Still Room; a place in the house, usually linked to kitchen and garden, where the ‘still’ was kept for “the distillation of perfumes and cordials,” (Oxford Dictionaries), it was also where food was preserved and stored and where medicines, cosmetics and alcohol could be made.

The author began writing shortly after graduating from Cambridge University in 1572 (Plat, 1955), publishing a number of books which similarly offered advice and new ideas on the topics of agriculture, food preservation and gardening.  Plat’s ‘Delightes for Ladies’ however, was one of his most popular works, having at least thirteen editions produced before the middle of the seventeenth century (Plat, 1955).  The work was more recently reprinted in 1948 amidst post-war austerity by G.E. & K.R. Fussell with the hope that “we may be able to use some of the simpler and less recondite recipes for the zest they may add to our plain, wholesome diet.”

Although ‘Delightes for Ladies’ was often bound together with another similar work, ‘A Closet for Ladies and Gentlewomen, or the Art of preserving, conserving, and candying,’ believed by most to be by the same author, our edition contains only the ‘Delightes’.  The book itself features a poetical preface and is divided into four sections with the table of contents acting as an index.  The sections cover, ‘The Art of Preserving, conserving, candying, &c’; ‘Secrets in Distillation’; ‘Cookery and Huswifery’ and ‘Sweet Powders, Oyntments, Beauties, &c.’  Below are some of my favourite pieces of advice from the book:

A 29. To make gelly of Strawberries, Muberries, Raspisberries, or any such tender fruite.

Gelly of fruits

Gelly of fruits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C.40 How to hang your candles in the aire without candlestick.

Candles hanging in the aire

Candles hanging in the aire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D.20 How to take away any pimple from the face.

Face full of heate, helped

Face full of heate, helped

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D. 37 How to colour the head or beard into a chestnut colour in halfe an houre.

Hair black altered

Hair black altered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is probably best not to try some of these at home…

Sources

Plat, Hugh (1628) Delightes for Ladies to Adorne their Persons, Tables, Closets, and Distilatories with Beauties, Banquets, Perfumes and Water.  Read Practice, Censure. London: H.L and R.Y. [Stenton B/G27 – available upon request]

Plat, Hugh (1955) Delightes for Ladies. Reprint of Delightes for Ladies by Sir Hugh Plat, 1609.  Introductions by Fussell, G.E. and Fussell, K.R. (ed). London: Crosby Lockwood and Son LTD. [MERL LIBRARY NUPTO NH10 – available upon request]

Oxford Dictionaries (2016) http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/still-room OUP.

Archive Animals – Cats

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Our Special Collections Library and Archive is full of interesting creatures, big and small.  They can be found everywhere from our Children’s Collection story books to the detailed scientific tomes of our Cole Library.  So far we’ve explored the Ducks, Horses and Bees but today is the turn of the graceful Cat. Here are just a few of my favourite titles on Cats from our collections:

 

Cats in Literature

Orlando the Marmalade Cat – Kathleen Hale
[Children’s Collection 823.9-HAL]

This beautiful series of Children’s books created by Kathleen Hale feature the adventures of Orlando the

Orlando the Marmalade Cat, 1964

Orlando the Marmalade Cat, 1964

ginger cat, his wife Grace and their three kittens, Pansy, Blanche and Tinkle.

In ‘Orlando’s Invisible Pyjamas’ poor Orlando gets himself covered in paraffin oil, which makes him bald from waist to tail.  Grace manages to coax Orlando from hiding with the promise of knitting him some fur pyjama trousers.  While Grace knits, Orlando regales the kittens with stories from their family photo album.

According to MacCarthy (2000), Hale wrote to “reinvent a childhood, to recreate the domestic structure she had so badly lacked.”  And the bright story books with their tales of a tightly knit family of cats were a perfect distraction for children during WWII.  Indeed the bright colours of the ‘Orlando’ books are one of their best features; inspired by the series ‘Babar’ (Jean de Brunhoff), Hale had “envisaged a large format book in seven colours,” (MacCarthy, 2000) and although after some convincing from her publisher, only four were used, the effect is just as attractive.  After the publication of her first two Orlando books, Hale even learned the art of lithography herself, (Roberts, 2014) her efforts with the medium setting new standards for Children’s illustrated books.

As well as copies of a number of Hale’s books, our collection also includes archival material relating to their publication, such as uncorrected proofs of the text, holographs, typescripts and carbon typescripts.

For more information on Orlando see our 2007 featured item, Kathleen Hale, Orlando (The Marmalade Cat) buys a farm, 1972 

Sources:
Roberts, P. (2014) Orlando the Marmalade Cat
MacCarthy, F. (2000) Obituary: Kathleen Hale

 

Cats in Music and Art

Tabby Polka by Procida Bucalossi / Louis Wain
[Spellman Collection of Victorian Music Covers – Box 11]

This charming image comes from our Spellman Collection of Victorian Music covers, which consists of around 2,500 Victorian sheet music covers, illustrating virtually every aspect of Victorian life, culture

Tabby Polka [Spellman Collection]

Tabby Polka [Spellman Collection]

and preoccupations.

This particular piece, dating to c.1865 was composed by Procida Bucalossi (1832-1918), a theatre conductor and composer at the Prince of Wales’s Theatre, London who was known for his dance arrangements for the Savoy Operas. (Stone, 2001).

The artist behind the illustration is Louis Wain (1860-1939), a British artist renowned for his wonderful pictures of cats.  Later in life, Wain began to show signs of mental illness but continued to draw and paint.  His artwork however, took on an unusual quality and he “produced the first of his fascinating series of “kaleidoscope” cats,” which included intricate geometric patterns and “images in which the figure of the cat is exploded in a burst of geometric fragments.” (Boxer, 2016)

Sources:
Stone, D. (2001) THE D’OYLY CARTE OPERA COMPANY
Boxer, J. (2016) Louis Wain –  Henry Boxer Gallery 

 

Cats in Science

Celestial Atlas by Alexander Jamieson, 1822
[Reserve Middle Folio 523 JAM]

Felis - Celestial Atlas, 1822

Felis – Celestial Atlas, 1822

One of the many constellations described in “A Celestial Atlas” by Alexander Jamieson in 1822, Felis was composed by French astronomer Jerome de Lalande in 1799 from stars between Hydra and Argos Navis.  Sadly Felis did not make the list of 88 modern constellations when the IAU (International Astronomical Union) created an official set of constellation boundaries in 1930.

Sources:
International Astronomical Union, (2016) The Constellations
Ridpath, I. (2016) Felis the Cat

 

The Cat by St. George Mivart, 1881
[Cole Library 185]

Cat Paws - The Cat, 1881

Cat Paws – The Cat, 1881

‘The Cat’ by British biologist St George Mivart is a fascinating, in-depth study of our feline friends.  The book provides highly detailed anatomical descriptions and illustrations, such as this of the cat’s paw:

Of these [pads of the feet] there are seven in the fore paw, and five in the hind paw.  Each pad consists of a mass of fibrous tissue and fat and a large trilobed one is placed beneath the ends of those bones on which the animal rests in walking.

Many of the careful illustrations, particularly those of the cat’s muscles, have been coloured over and annotated, showing that the book was very much in use by its owner.

Annotated Cat Paws - The Cat, 1881

Annotated Cat Paws – The Cat, 1881

As well as anatomy, ‘The Cat’ also delves into the development and psychology of the cats, and one of my favourite features of the study are the small footnotes which include interesting anecdotes about the nature of the cat, such as this one from p369:

Mr Douglas A. Spalding found kittens to be imbued with an instinctive horror of dogs before they were able to see it.  He tells us: – “One day last month, after fondling my dog, I put my hand into a basket containing four blind kittens, three days old.  The smell my hand had carried with it set them puffing and spitting in the most comical fashion.” (Nature, October 7, 1875. P507)

gif of cat anatomy from Anatomie descriptive et comparative du chat by Hercule Straus-Durckheim, 1845. [Cole Large 09]

Anatomie descriptive et comparative du chat by Hercule Straus-Durckheim, 1845. [Cole Large 09]

All items are available upon request, find out more about using our Library and Archives here.

Memoir on the Dodo

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

One of the interesting finds from our cataloguing and reclassification of the Cole Library Collection is ‘Memoir on the Dodo’ by Sir Richard Owen, an eminent English biologist and palaeontologist.

The initial discovery of Dodo remains in the mid nineteenth century led to some controversy in the scientific community.  Owen, who was somewhat notorious for his ruthless behaviour, is said to have intercepted material intended for another researcher, Alfred Newton.  Owen then argued that, “possession of the best material was a prerequisite for publication priority, which provided him with a complete monopoly,” (Hume, Cheke & McOran-Campbell, 2009).  With the success of his application as a Professor in danger of being side-tracked by Owen, Newton was unable to complain and was forced not only to, “relinquish access to the best Dodo bones promised to him, but he also had to withdraw the Dodo manuscript that had already been submitted,” (Hume, Cheke & McOran-Campbell, 2009).

Despite the circumstances surrounding its author, Owen’s work remains a significant contribution to the Zoological sciences.

Author dedication to the Bishop of Mauritius

Author dedication to the Bishop of Mauritius

The book consists of a historical introduction by naturalist William John Broderip; an explanation from Owen on how he came to be in possession of the collection of bones discovered on Mauritius by George Clark in 1865, and finally a description of these bones alongside several illustrative lithographic plates.  According to Hume, Cheke & McOran-Campbell (2009), the book had a limited run of only 100 copies with 20 intended for presentation to Owen’s supporters.  Our volume is dedicated by the author to the Bishop of Mauritius; the friendship between the two having played a key role in Owen’s receipt of the Dodo remains.

Broderip’s introductory history focuses on both written and pictorial evidence for the existence of the Dodo.  He examines first-hand accounts from travellers to Mauritius from as early as 1598, quoting their descriptions of the bird.  The following is from  Jacob van Neck and Wybrand van Warwijk’s

Drawing of a Dodo by Jacob van Neck and Wybrand van Warwijk

voyage in 1598:

As large as our swans, with large heads, and a kind of hood thereon; no wings, but, in place of them, three or four black little pens (penekens), and their tails consisting of four of five curled plumelets (Pluymkens) of a greyish colour.

 

Broderip also makes mention of the Dodo remains held in Oxford and the remains of a leg that had been held by the British Museum.  Following Broderip’s death, Owen took up the narrative, describing other museum artefacts as well as art works featuring the Dodo.  All three Dodos depicted in this beautifully coloured plate (below), taken from the front of the book, are from paintings by Roelandt Savery, a Flemish-born Dutch Painter.  Owen combined the figures to create an ‘Ideal scene in the island of Mauritius before its discovery in 1598.’

Composite picture of Roelandt Savery's Dodos

Composite picture of Roelandt Savery’s Dodos

However, Owen’s belief that Savery’s paintings were drawn from a living bird, caused him to make a serious mistake in his reconstruction of the creature.  Owen recreated the bird’s image by fitting the skeleton into an outline traced around Savery’s Dodo image but, “this produced an unnatural, squat and overly obese Dodo,” (Hume, Cheke & McOran-Campbell, 2009).  While Owen rectified his error in a later publication, the original image stuck and remains a common misconception.

 

Outline of a Dodo skeleton using a tracing from Roelandt Savery's Dodo paintings

Outline of a Dodo skeleton using a tracing from Roelandt Savery’s Dodo paintings

 

Sources:

 Owen, R. (1866) Memoir of the Dodo. London: Taylor and Francis [COLE 196F/103 – available on request]

  • A scan of ‘Memoir of the Dodo’ is available here.
  • P. Hume, A.S. Cheke & A. McOran-Campbell (2009) How Owen ‘stole’ the Dodo: academic rivalry and disputed rights to a newly-discovered subfossil deposit in nineteenth century Mauritius, Historical Biology, 21:1-2, 33-49

College Song No. 1, “The Song of the Shield”

Written by Guy Baxter, Archivist

The Song of the Shield

The Song of the Shield

Since the University celebrated the 90th anniversary of the granting of its Royal Charter last Thursday, many people have been asking for the words of College Song No. 1, “The Song of the Shield”, which was performed with gusto by the University Chamber Choir that evening under the direction of Samuel Evans. It was discovered in the University Archive just a few months ago.

The music was written by J.C.B. Tirbutt (1857-1908), who lectured at Reading and who was the organist at All Saints church. The words are by the then

Sheet music for 'The Song of the Shield'

Sheet music for ‘The Song of the Shield’

Principal (and later Vice-Chancellor) W.M. Childs (1869-1939). More about the

inspiration for the song, the Coat of Arms, may be found here, and it is fitting that the original Grant of Arms from 1896 was on display last Thursday as well.  As for the style: well, it’s unlikely to be covered by will.i.am any time soon, but it’s very jolly and evokes a strong sense of the College in its early days when everyone would have known each other. Rumours of compulsory singing of the song before every lecture next term are thought to be unfounded.

Lyrics for 'The Song of the Shield'

Lyrics for ‘The Song of the Shield’

Congratulations to all involved in bringing this hidden piece of our past to light. The other music performed at the meeting of the University Court on 17 March included Prelude and fugue in C minor BWV 549 by J.S. Bach, which was also performed at the inaugural organ recital in the Great hall in 1911; I Vow to Thee, My Country by Gustav Holst (words by Cecil Spring-Rice) – Holst taught at the College from 1920-1923; and My Spirit Sang All Day, No.3 from Seven Part Songs op.17 by Gerald Finzi, whose literary collection is held here

Special Collections will continue to support the 90th Anniversary events with a series of displays during the Summer and Autumn.

Mary Shelley and Gideon Mantell

Written by David Thomas, UMASCS Graduate Trainee Library Assistant

smTitle page of Animalcules

Gideon Mantell’s Thoughts on Animalcules

We recently made quite a discovery in Special Collections – a book that had once belonged to Mary Shelley. Shelley’s gothic masterpiece Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus is arguably more popular than ever and is still inspiring films such as the latest Victor Frankenstein which was released last year starring James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe.

However, the book in question is based on much firmer scientific principles. It is the geologist Gideon Mantell’s Thoughts on Animalcules: or, A glimpse of the invisible world revealed by the microscope (1846), Reserve–593-MAN. Special Collections actually has two copies of this book, one in Reserve and one in the Cole Library and the discovery was made during a duplicate check. Mantell was a Sussex doctor but became famous as a pioneering palaeontologist and one of the first people in the world to study dinosaur fossils. At first Mantell and Shelley may seem an unlikely couple but through shared interests, ill-health and ultimately location they became well acquainted.

The link that first brought them into contact was Mantell’s interest in poetry including that of Percy

Percey Shelley portrait

Percey Shelley

Shelley, Mary’s husband who had died tragically in 1822. Mantell was good friends with Horace Smith who was among the group that bought Mantell an Iguanadon fossil in Maidstone in 1834 which is still on display at the Natural History Museum. Smith had been a friend of Percy, and had given Mantell one of Percy’s letters for his autograph collection. Mary’s first correspondence with Mantell began in 1839 as she was compiling an edition of Percy’s letters and asked Mantell if she could see the one in his collection. Strangely Mantell lied and said that the letter had gone with his son, who had emigrated to New Zealand. Despite this he did give Mary copies of some of his recent works with Mary replying that “The books are delightful”.

 

No further correspondence took place but eventually the two were brought together once again, this time geographically. Mantell had moved to London at No. 19 Chester Square, Pimlico in 1844, coincidentally Mary bought 24 Chester Square in 1846. It was in this year that their friendship developed which culminated in the gift of Thoughts on Animalcules. Their first documented meeting was in March 1846, Mantell “being sent for to Mrs Shelley” who was “very ill from neuralgia of the heart”. In January, Mantell had been suffering from “severe pain from neuralgia of the right leg”, and on top of this, a spinal injury following a carriage accident in 1841 was made worse by a fall in July. There are further diary entries relating to meetings with Mary in June, October and December.

smInscription to Mary

Mantell’s inscription to Mary Shelley

The book was sent on 4th January 1847 as a New Year present, Mantell’s inscription to Mary is as follows “To Mrs. Shelley with the highest regards of the author, January 1. 1847.” The most likely reason for Mantell’s gift was that the book has a section from Percy’s Queen Mab opposite the preface. This was one of Shelley’s most controversial poems and when it was published by Edward Moxon in his Poetical Works (1839) edited by Mary (a copy of which is in our Matthews/Shelley Collection) the references to atheism were removed.

smExtract from Queen Mab opp. Preface

Percy’s Queen Mab

Sadly it seems that Mantell saw Mary much less after she had received the book. Notably, when Mantell records news of Mary’s death in 1851 she is “Mrs Shelley the relic of Percy Bysshe Shelley the poet”. Instead of writing “relict”, an archaic word meaning widow, Mantell’s use of “relic” and his constant references to her husband have led scholars such as Dennis Dean to conclude that “Mary meant more to him as memorabilia than as a person.” Their only other meeting recorded in his diary after 1846 was in July 1848 when, “Mrs Shelley (widow of Percy Bysshe Shelley) called & gossiped with me” as they had on Halloween in 1846. It is true that Mantell’s diary entries show him becoming increasingly tired, frustrated, and in pain throughout 1846, yet his visits to Mary must have been something of a light relief.

 

References:

Dennis R. Dean, ‘Mary Shelley and Gideon Mantell’, Keats-Shelley Journal, Vol. 30 (1981), pp. 21-29 accessed at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/30212893.pdf?acceptTC=true

The journal of Gideon Mantell, surgeon and geologist: covering the years 1818-1852, edited with an introduction and notes by E. Cecil Curwen (1940)

The Unpublished Journal of Gideon Mantell: 1819 – 1852, edited with an introduction by John A. Cooper (2010) accessed at http://brightonmuseums.co.uk/discover/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2014/11/mantell_journal.pdf

Travel Thursday: Farthest North

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

In honour of Christmas and the annual travels of Santa Claus, this week’s Travel Thursday features an expedition to the North Pole!

maps

The explorer in question is Fridtjof Nansen; scientist, adventurer and humanitarian who was awarded

Fridtjof Nansen

Fridtjof Nansen

the Noble Peace Prize in 1922.  Having previously survived a dangerous trek across the uncharted interior of Greenland in 1888, Nansen was keen to further explore the arctic regions and set out in 1893

with his strong and cleverly designed ship the ‘Fram’.  Sailing into the ice pack off Siberia, the Fram re-emerged 35 months later without its lead explorer.

Intending to reach the North Pole, Nansen and one companion had departed from the crew with, “thirty days’ rations for twenty-eight dogs, three sledges, two kayaks, and a hundred days’ rations for themselves,” (The Nobel Foundation, 1922).   Although they covered only 140 of the 400 miles to the Pole, they reached closer than anyone had previous achieved.

The two volume, “Farthest North : being the record of a voyage of exploration of

Arctic Landscape Painting by Nansen

Arctic Landscape Painting by Nansen

the ship “Fram” 1893-96 and of a fifteen months’ sleigh journey”, published in 1897 features Nansen’s personal diary of the journey, alongside his beautiful sketches of the landscapes and events along the way.

 

Nansen’s journal provides a fascinating insight to life in the far north, including descriptions of the beautiful aurora borealis, dangerous encounters with polar bears and a slightly more humorous first attempt at driving a dog sledge:

 

Having harnessed the dogs to the Samoyede sledge, the animals promptly took off at lightning speed and ran dizzying rings around the ship.

 

Nansen's sketch of his first sledge ride.

Nansen’s sketch of his first sledge ride.

I got out and tried to hold the sledge back, but was pulled off my feet and dragged merrily over the ice in my smooth sealskin breeches, on back, stomach, side, just as it happened.

In the end, Nansen loses the sledge seat, his whip, gloves, cap and his temper…not to mention his dignity…

I inwardly congratulated myself that my feats had been unobserved.

 

 

 

On Christmas Day, Monday 25th December, Nansen records a chilly temperature of -36 °F (-38 °C) and recounts how he took a beautiful moonlit walk – only to have his leg go straight through a crack in the ice -completely soaking him.  However, his Christmas dinner more than made up for the accident:

Christmas Dinner Menu

He ended his Christmas, with some card-playing, reading books and…

then a good sound sleep-what more could one wish?

 

Sources:

Nansen, F (1897) Farthest North. Westminster : Archibald Constable

[Available on request from Special Collections – RESERVE–919.8-NAN Vol.1 & Vol.2]

The Nobel Foundation 1922

Travel Thursday: John Arrowsmith

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Born in 1790 in County Durham, John Arrowsmith moved to London at the age of 20 to work under the tutelage of his uncle, Aaron Arrowsmith, a cartographer known for his outstanding accuracy.  Having learned the arts of map making, engraving, and printing, Arrowsmith set up his own business in 1824 and ten years later established his reputation with the ‘London Atlas of Universal Geography’.

A beautiful tome, hand-coloured and created with original materials, ‘The London Atlas’ was considered to be the best large scale atlas available at that time.  Below is a 1842 edition, which was designed with useful tabbed pages:

 

London Atlas Photo 25-11-2015, 16 42 18 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The original atlas consisted of 50 plates of maps but Arrowsmith regularly added to the collection and as such there is no firm collation for any edition.  However, this does mean that the later editions are especially important as they include a greater number of maps, particularly of countries such as Australia.

Map of Australia (1835 edition)

Map of Australia (1835 edition)

Map of Australia (1842 edition)

Map of Australia (1842 edition)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In ‘The London Atlas’ Arrowsmith states that in the creation of the atlas he examined more than ‘ten thousand sheets of printed maps’, gained insights from surveys and also drew on the knowledge of travellers who ‘were particularly acquainted with the districts.’  Indeed, Arrowsmith was friend to a number of explorers and was often responsible for converting their sketched out drawings and surveys into more accurate maps.  This example from Livingstone’s ‘Narrative of the Expedition to the Zambesi’ shows a map created by Arrowsmith in 1865 that was based n the ‘Astronomical observations and skecthes’ of the explorer:

Photo 07-12-2015, 14 37 17

The explorers showed their appreciation of his work by naming after him mountains, plains, and lakes in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

(Baigent, 2004)

In 1830, Arrowsmith helped found the Royal Geographical Society and was awarded the society’s Patron Medal in 1862 for his outstanding contributions to the field.

 

 

 Sources

Elizabeth Baigent, ‘Arrowsmith, John (1790–1873)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/701, accessed 7 Dec 2015]

Elizabeth Baigent, ‘Arrowsmith, Aaron, the elder (1750–1823)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/698, accessed 7 Dec 2015]

Arrowsmith’s Australian Maps

Crouch Rare Books

Christmas Cards – The John Lewis Printing Collection

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Our lovely John Lewis Printing Collection comes complete with a fabulous and fun range of Christmas cards dating to their origin in the Victorian period.

xmascardsAccording to Lewis (1976), Charles Dickens had a heavy influence on the initial themes of Christmas cards. Published seven years before the first card in 1836, ‘Pickwick Papers’ encouraged, ‘pictures of stage coaches, snowclad landscapes, robin red-breasts and rosy-cheeked children sliding on the ice.’ (Lewis, 1976)

Lewis describes many of the Victorian cards he discusses as having come from the collection of a Miss Cissie Crane, whose album included nearly 200 cards (Lewis, 1976). Our favourite kittens with moveable heads came from this collection too:

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Chromo-lithography was commonly used to create early Christmas cards, but there was a boom in ‘do-it-yourself’ creations after the Second World War (Lewis, 1976). For example, this card by Richard Chopping and Denis Wirth-Miller from roughly 1955 uses an old postcard from the early 1900s:Photo 19-11-2015, 15 11 57 - Copya

Lewis (1976) recounts another amusing way to reuse Christmas cards that he discovered in the 31 December 1948 issue of The Spectator: simply add your name to the bottom of the card you receive, send it on to your friends and let them ponder the mystery of the original sender’s inscription!

You’ll find more of our John Lewis Christmas cards featured in the # calendar on Twitter and in our #12DaysOfChristmas count down on Instagram.

Merry Christmas!

TreeCard3

Sources:

Lewis, J (1976) Collecting Printed Ephemera. London: Cassell and Collier Macmillan