Medieval Caxton leaf: on display from 10 May

University of Reading Special Collections Librarian, Erika Delbecque, with new Caxton discovery

Our discovery of a unique example of 15th century printed text by English printer William Caxton has led to considerable media interest. The item will be on display in the University of Reading’s Special Collections department, within The Museum of English Rural Life, between 10 – 31 May. This is a unique opportunity to see this incredibly rare page. The exhibition tells the story of how this page survived, and how it resurfaced in the collections at the University of Reading .

Exhibition opening hours: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm (Thu 25th May 9am-9pm), Sat-Sun 10am-4pm.

 

The ‘New Women’: women writers of the 1890s

Written by Fiona Melhuish, UMASCS Librarian

Cover design for Leonard Smithers’ ‘Fifth Catalogue of Rare Books’ – from ‘A second book of fifty drawings’ by Aubrey Beardsley (1899). (RESERVE FOLIO–741.942-BEA)

The art and literature of the 1890s is one of the strengths of the University’s Special Collections. However, although these holdings, along with the popular perception of the 1890s, tend to focus on male figures of the fin-de-siècle period, such as Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley and the publisher Charles Elkin Mathews, we also hold a number of early or first editions of publications by women writers of the 1890s. These works appeared in book form and also in short stories in avant-garde periodicals such as The Yellow Book and The Savoy (copies of both titles are held in our Reserve Collection).

Volume II (July 1894) of ‘The Yellow Book’ (RESERVE–820.5)

This new writing was often daring, experimental and innovative, dealing with themes such as marital discontent, female sexuality and the literary and artistic aspirations of women. Their work shocked many contemporary critics, who labelled these ‘New Women’ writers as perverse and unnatural and ‘literary degenerates’, and part of the perceived cultural decline of the decadent period. These women writers were often mocked in the press, particularly in the pages of the satirical magazine, Punch, as shown in the cartoon below.

Cartoon from ‘Punch’, 2 June 1894, p. 255. (University Library: STACK PER FOLIO–052)

One of the key figures among the ‘New Women’ writers was George Egerton, pen name of Mary Chavelita Dunne (1859-1945) . A writer of short stories and plays, she was born in Australia, but was much travelled, living in Ireland, America and Norway before settling in London. Her subject was the lives of working-class women, and her writing was very popular when first published in the 1890s. Egerton’s volume of short stories, entitled Keynotes (1893) [see title-page below of the 1894 edition] was significant for its focus on female sexuality. A second volume, Discords, was published the following year (held in RESERVE–823.89-EGE). We also hold archive material relating to Egerton in the collection of papers of her friend, the poet, bibliographer and bibliophile John Gawsworth (MS 3547).

 

Title-page of ‘Keynotes’ by George Egerton (1894) with design by Aubrey Beardsley (ELKIN MATHEWS COLLECTION–EGE)

Sarah Grand (Frances Elizabeth Bellenden (Clarke) McFall) (1854-1943) was one of the most successful of the ‘New Women’ writers and left her husband in 1890 to pursue a career as an author. She is also thought to have coined the term ‘New Woman’ in 1894. Her first book to attract particular attention was The heavenly twins, published in 1893, which attacked double standards between the sexes ( we hold an 1894 edition). We also hold a first edition of her later work, Babs the impossible of 1901. (both at RESERVE–823.89-GRA)

We also hold the papers of Pearl Craigie (1867-1906) (MS 2133). Craigie was the author of a number of plays and novels under the pseudonym John Oliver Hobbes. She was President of the Society of Women Journalists in 1895, and also a member of the Anti-Suffrage League.

Women writers of the period were often overlooked as they often preferred to write short stories rather than full-length novels. The short story format offered move flexibility and freedom from traditional Victorian plots, which as the critic Elaine Showalter notes “invariably ended in the heroine’s marriage or her death. In contrast to the sprawling three-decker, the short story emphasised psychological intensity and formal innovation”.

The short story was seen by women writers as an opportunity to explore the psychology of women. As Egerton wrote: “I realised that in literature, everything had been better done by man than woman could hope to emulate. There was only one small plot left for her to tell: the terra incognita of herself, as she knew herself to be, not as man liked to imagine her – in a word, to give herself away, as man had given himself in his writings”.

Titles mentioned in this post are available to view on request in the Special Collections Service reading room.

References and further reading

Gawsworth, John. Ten contemporaries : notes toward their definitive bibliography. (London : Ernest Benn Ltd., [1932]). Reference copy held at Special Collections Service: MARK LONGMAN LIBRARY–016.82-GAW and copy held at the University Library: STORE–28802 (Includes ‘A keynote to “Keynotes” by George Egerton).

Heilmann, Ann. New woman strategies : Sarah Grand, Olive Schreiner, Mona Caird. (Manchester : Manchester University Press, 2004). Copy held at the University Library: 823.8-HEI/3rd Floor.

Krishnamurti, G. Women writers of the 1890’s. (London : Henry Sotheran Limited, 1991). Reference copy held at Special Collections Service: 820.99287-WOM and copy held at the University Library: 820.908-KRI/3rd Floor.

Showalter, Elaine (ed.) Daughters of decadence : women writers of the fin de siècle. (London : Virago, 1993). Copy held at the University Library: 808.8-DAU/3rd Floor.

‘Carnivals on the water’ : the Thames Frost Fairs

Written by Fiona Melhuish, UMASCS Librarian

Frost_Fair_of_1683

Print of the Frost Fair of 1683 (This image is in the public domain via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AFrost_Fair_of_1683.JPG)

Behold the wonder of this present age,

A famous river now becomes a stage.

Question not what I now declare to you,

The Thames is now both fair and market too.

(Printed by M. Haly and J. Miller, 1684)

One of the memorable scenes from the film adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s novel, Orlando by the director Sally Potter, shows King James I and his courtiers looking down at an apple seller woman, frozen in a macabre yet beautiful tableau beneath the ice of the River Thames, her frozen apples appearing to float around her. I was reminded of this, and other evocative scenes from the film of the frozen Thames and a ‘frost fair’, when looking at a printed keepsake from the Thames frost fair of 1684 [see image below], one of the exhibits in our current Wintertide exhibition. For all the hardship caused by a severe winter, the idea of a frost fair, described by Woolf as “a carnival of the utmost brilliancy”, conjures up a romantic, magical image of a temporary (and precarious) world set upon the frozen river, a mini city which should not be there, and I was inspired to find out more.

Frost_fair_2

A keepsake printed for a Mr John Warter at the frost fair on the Thames, 28 January 1684. From the collections of the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication (TYP CES MR/ Frost-fair/ 2 )

Over the centuries, a number of severe winters have resulted in the River Thames freezing solid, particularly in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries which became known as the Little Ice Age. This phenomenon attracted many visitors, and fairs and pageants were held on the ice, including what were to become known as frost fairs. The two most famous fairs took place during the winters of 1683/84, when the Thames froze for ten weeks and the ice reached a thickness of 11 inches, and 1739/40.The last large frost fair in the City of London took place in the winter of 1813/14.

Evelyn frost fair reference

Pages from John Evelyn’s ‘Memoirs’ with several references to the severe frost and frost fair of 1683/4 (London, 1818. OVERSTONE–SHELF 36E/11 Vol. 1)

A number of contemporary accounts and prints, such as the one shown at the top of this post, were produced which describe or depict the fairs and their variety of stalls and entertainments in detail. In his description in his Memoirs of the fair of 1683/4 [see image above], the seventeenth century writer John Evelyn lists “sliding with skeetes, a bull-baiting, horse and coach races, puppet plays and interludes, cookes, tipling, and other lewd places” among the entertainments on offer – even a fox hunt took place on the ice. Stalls and booths were set up selling toys and books, fruit, beer and wine, and gingerbread, and oxen and sheep were roasted. Goods were often more expensive and exceeded their ‘dry land price’.

The fair of 1814 is recorded as being a lively and picturesque sight, the stalls a mass of fluttering, colourful flags, streamers and signs. Evelyn described the 1683/84 fair as a “a bacchanalian triumph, or carnival on the water”. However, as Woolf describes “it was at night that the carnival was at its merriest … the moon and stars blazed with the hard fixity of diamonds, and to the fine music of flute and trumpet the courtiers danced”. The stalls at night, teeming with noise, light and activity and the whirling and gliding of passing skaters, all illuminated by the moonlight on the sparkling ice, must have been an enchanting sight.

One of the most popular entertainments on the ice was to visit one of the many printing presses on the frozen river. According to Evelyn, “ye people and ladyes tooke a fancy to have their names printed and the day and yeare set down”, perhaps with a piece of verse, to create a ‘keepsake’ to commemorate the occasion of their visit:

To the Print-house go,

Where men the art of Printing soon do know,

Where for a Teaster, you may have your name

Printed, hereafter for to show the same:

And sure, in former Ages, ne’er ‘was found

A Press to print where men so oft were droun’d!

As well as the 1684 fair keepsake held in the Typography collections, we have also recently discovered a keepsake from the other famous Thames frost fair which took place in 1739/40 [see image below] in the John and Griselda Lewis Collection which we hold in Special Collections, and are in the process of cataloguing at present.

Frostfair

A keepsake printed for a Mr John Alderson, printed on 21 January 1740 at the frost fair on the Thames in 1739/40 (JOHN/GRISELDA LEWIS COLL–MS 5317/3/8)

Unsurprisingly, although the fairs were a source of much enjoyment, the severe winters caused a great deal of hardship, particularly for the watermen who depended on the river for their livelihoods, famine due to ruined harvests, damage to property and loss of life to many, and, as Evelyn reported, “the fowles, fish and birds, and all our exotiq plants and greenes [are] universally perishing”. Trees were split apart “as if lightning-struck”. The apple seller described by Virginia Woolf may have been inspired by Doll the Pippin woman who fell through the ice and died at the frost fair of 1715/16 and was the subject of a rhyme in Gay’s ‘Trivia’:

‘Pippins,’ she cries, but Death her voice confounds;
And pip, pip, pip, along the ice resounds.

The absence of a frozen Thames sufficient to hold a frost fair in the twentieth and twenty first centuries has not been due to a lack of severe winters, but other factors such as the growing size and heat of London and replacements for the London Bridge which have allowed freer flow of the river, changes which may have consigned the magical “carnivals on the water” to history.

The 1684 keepsake is available to view in our current staircase hall exhibition or by arrangement with the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication. The other two items are available to view by request in our Special Collections reading room.

The Wintertide exhibition, a celebration of winter traditions, customs and experiences, and the effects of the season on the natural world, is on display at the Special Collections Service from 8 December 2016 until 10 February 2017.

References and further reading

Ian Currie. Frosts, freezes and fairs : chronicles of the frozen Thames and harsh winters in Britain since 1000 AD. (Coulsdon : Frosted Earth, 1996). MERL LIBRARY–9639 CUR.

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:

Travel Thursday: John Todhunter Journal

Todhunter journal

Todhunter journal

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

John Todhunter (1839-1916) is best known as a poet and literary critic, but was also a doctor of medicine, painter, composer and traveller.

The University of Reading’s Special Collections Archive contains a fascinating Todhunter collection consisting of roughly 350 items including: personal and literary correspondence, (such as letters from John Butler Yeats, John Trivett Nettleship and William Michael Rossetti); typescripts and manuscripts of various literary works, and three travel journals.

One of these journals, titled ‘Journal of a Tour in Italy with D.L.T. 1880.’ details Todhunter’s travels in Italy with his new wife Dora Louisa.  In December 1879 the newlyweds had been recalled from an earlier trip in Florence as Todhunter’s father, Thomas, was taken ill.  After a rather “dismal winter” the couple were keen to escape back to Italy in the spring and their journey continued from March 1880 into the early autumn.  As might be expected, Todhunter’s journal contains notes on a plethora of typical tourist activities, such as his morning spent at Capitoline Hill in Rome,

Sat on steps, looked at wolves and Marcus Aurelius and then went into gallery.

He lists his favourite pieces from the gallery as including the Capitoline Venus and a “very beautiful Penelope and Telemachus.”  There are moreover, several interesting pieces of travel ephemera, including tickets for visits to archaeological sites of interest, such as this entrance pass for a tour of the catacombs of Rome and the Appian Way:

Photo 11-05-2016, 14 49 19

and a small collection of pressed plants.  One of these specimens was pressed between pages which mention a serendipitous walk through a garden in Rome.  Perhaps Todhunter kept the flower as a souvenir and reminder of the day:Photo 11-05-2016, 15 03 55

We went through a pleasant little garden full of flowers from which we had a splendid view of the Palatine, the best we had yet seen.  A very sweet place.

The travelogue also contains a number of fun anecdotes such as this note from Friday April 2nd:

We had found the caffe latte so bad that we resolved to take a foreign breakfast, and so had wine and an omelet.  Then to the Piazza del Durmo.

The entry for Wednesday May 12th is more celebratory as Todhunter notes it is his and Dora’s six month anniversary, an occassion they celebrated by going to a horse race ‘corsa dei cavalla’ in Rome.

Despite all of the interesting sights, pleasent gardens and new foods to experience, it is good to know that Todhunter did not forget his friends while travelling, on Monday April 26th he notes that he spent the morning “writing letters to Rossetti.”

You can find out more about the Todhunter Collection here, and how to access our archives here.

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.

Cataloguing Cole: Fishes, Photographs and the Forces

Written by Sharon Maxwell, Archivist (Cataloguing & Projects)

Some of the original packaging used by Cole to house his archive

Some of the original packaging used by Cole to house his archive

I have recently been cataloguing the personal papers of Professor Francis J Cole, (1872-1959), the first Professor of Zoology at the University of Reading. The fascinating papers in the Cole collection include research for his academic writings and publications, bibliographies and indexes relating to his library and his bibliographic studies and photographic material including thousands of glass negatives and lantern slides used by Cole in his teaching.  Cataloguing this material has given me an insight into Cole’s research methods and his interests.

Cole was born in London, England on 3 February 1872. On leaving school Cole’s aim was to go to Oxford and read zoology. He learnt zoology at the Royal College of Science, and he also attended lectures at the Royal Institution and studied at Christ Church, Oxford and the University of Edinburgh.  In 1894 he was appointed lecturer in zoology at Liverpool University College, later the University of Liverpool.  He stayed there for twelve years and combined work during term time at Liverpool with research during vacation at Jesus College, Oxford.  In this way he obtained a B.Sc.

In later years Cole re-used many of his old College notebooks to record his research notes, examples of which can be seen here, alongside a photograph of Professor Cole taken in 1939 (MS 5315/2/2)

In later years Cole re-used many of his old College notebooks to record his research notes, examples of which can be seen here, alongside a photograph of Professor Cole taken in 1939 (MS 5315/2/2)degree at Oxford by research in 1905.

degree at Oxford by research in 1905. In 1906 Cole took up an appointment as lecturer in zoology at University College, Reading, and in the following year became the first occupant of the chair of zoology, which he held until his retirement in 1939.  In these thirty-two years he built up a flourishing department, founded a Museum of Comparative Anatomy which is now called by his name, and collected a magnificent library of early works on medicine and comparative anatomy.

 

He was awarded the Rolleston Prize at Oxford in 1902 for his researches on the cranial nerves of fishes, Chimaera.  Later he published a series of papers on the myxinoid fishes and received the Neill Gold Medal and Prize of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1908.  His D. Sc., Oxford, followed in 1910. During World War I he was commissioned in the 4th Territorial Battalion

A small image of Professor Cole in his uniform and a notebook he used to record notes for his work with his Battalion on the east coast during WWI, you can see his diagram detailing positions and trenches

A small image of Professor Cole in his uniform and a notebook he used to record notes for his work with his Battalion on the east coast during WWI, you can see his diagram detailing positions and trenches

of the Essex Regiment and was stationed on the east coast in charge of a coastal gun emplacement.

 

Cole’s detailed notes and transcriptions of each letter written by Leeuwenhoek

Cole’s detailed notes and transcriptions of each letter written by Leeuwenhoek

Returning to Reading after the war Cole turned more and more to the history of biology. His collection includes research for many of his major publications on this subject, including the zoological researches of Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723), and his history of comparative anatomy.

The material that has survived in Cole’s archive gives you an insight into his style of research, he liked to produce detailed indexes to sources that he used, which refer you to material within his own library and to sources he found in other libraries and museums, so that you can closely follow his research path.  He also took great care with the illustrations produced to accompany his published writings, drawing many of the original images himself and annotating proofs until they were perfect for publication.

Proofs and original drawings by Cole for his study on the nerves and sense organs of fishes, (MS 5315/1/2)

Proofs and original drawings by Cole for his study on the nerves and sense organs of fishes, (MS 5315/1/2)

 

Cole clearly liked to enliven his lectures and talks, and his collection includes thousands of glass

Index cards created by Cole to keep track of his vast collection of glass negatives, (MS 5315/3/14)

Index cards created by Cole to keep track of his vast collection of glass negatives, (MS 5315/3/14)

negatives and lantern slides.  Ceri, our Reading Room Assistant is currently cataloguing these images and each negative will soon be digitised so that an image of the negative will appear alongside its catalogue description. Our volunteers Ron and Jan are carefully re-packaging these items into acid-free covers and boxes to preserve them for the future.

Professor Cole’s papers are available for research in the reading room, reference MS 5315 and the glass negatives will be available to view on our online catalogue in the near future.

 

Sources and further reading:

Much of the biographical information above was taken from an article written by N.B. Eales in the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 1959, Vol. XIV, No. 1

See also the Cole Library and the Cole Museum for further insight into Professor Cole’s collections

Travel Thursday – Great Western Railway

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Title page of 'The History and Description of the Great Western Railway' by J. C. Bourne - 1846

‘The History and Description of the Great Western Railway’ by J. C. Bourne – 1846

The Great Western Railway (GWR) was founded in 1833 and received an enabling Act of Parliament in August 1835 that allowed the company to provide a double tracked line from Bristol to London (Daniel, 2013).

Five years ago, no man had ever travelled from London to Bristol, even by the mail in much less than twelve hours; upon the opening of the railway the distance was performed in four hours 

(Bourne, 1846)

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was appointed as the project’s engineer, determining the route, sections and estimates (Bailey, 2006).  He also designed a controversial broad gauge track in an effort to increase speeds and passenger comfort (Daniels, 2013).

Construction of the line finally began in 1836; initial stages saw work being completed between Bristol and Bath in the West, and Reading and London in the East with connecting lines and stations quickly following. (Daniels, 2013).  Upon completion in 1841, the GWR was considered such an outstanding achievement that it was dubbed ‘God’s Wonderful Railway’ by many (Trueman, 2016) and in 1846 John C. Bourne published “The History and Description of the Great Western Railway” with the express purpose of highlighting, the “constructive skill and general grandeur of appearance,” of the project.

Bourne’s work is a fascinating insight into an exciting period in the history of transport and travel; it gives a brief history of the political and economical challenges faced by the GWR, an overview of the scientific and engineering principles involved in the construction of railways and locomotives, and then presents an array of beautiful lithographs highlighting the remarkable construction and architectural work found along the tracks.

but the straightness of a railway, and the rapidity of the motion upon it, entirely shut out its far greater and more numerous works, and thus some of the most magnificent structures in the kingdom, though crossed daily by thousands, are actually seen by few.

(Bourne, 1846)

Highlights from among the lithographs include:

Paddington Station, London (Bourne, 1846)

Paddington Station, London (Bourne, 1846)

An early Paddington Station, the London terminus of the railway designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

The railway leaves Paddington in cutting, but the Kensal-Green Cemetery, with its glittering temple, is seen on the right, and on the left an occasional view of the Vale of the Thames.

(Bourne, 1846)

 

 

The Wharncliffe Viaduct (Bourne, 1846)

The Wharncliffe Viaduct (Bourne, 1846)

The Wharncliffe Viaduct, the largest piece of brickwork along the railway and one of the first pieces of work to be complete.

The arches are elliptical, eight in number: the span of each is seventy feet, and the rise seventeen feet six inches.  The piers are composed each of two square massive pillars of brick, slightly pyramidal, and of a character somewhat Egyptian.

(Bourne, 1846)

 

The Engine House, Swindon (Bourne, 1846)

The Engine House, Swindon (Bourne, 1846)

The engine house at Swindon, which gives an interesting behind the scenes look into the operations of the GWR:

[It is]capable of accommodating about a hundred engines: these consist of the engines in actual use, of the stock of spare engines, and of those undergoing repair.  At this station every train changes its engine, so that from this circumstance alone, at least twice as many engines are kept here as at any other part of the line.

(Bourne, 1846)

 

By 1842, GWR and two other railways owned by the company had over 170 miles of line and in that year, conveyed 869, 444 passengers without a single casualty.

 

Great Western Railway Map

Great Western Railway Map

This fantastic map from our Eynsham Park Estate archive shows the

Detail of the Great Western Railway Map showing lines near Reading

Detail of the Great Western Railway Map showing lines near Reading

success of GWR roughly sixty-eight years later.  Lithographed by the well-respected W. & A.K. Johnston Ltd, and designed to be hung on the wall, the map highlights the reach of the GWR across the South of England with the red lines indicating GWR’s main lines, branch lines and running powers.

 

Great Western Railway Ticket designed by De la Rue.

Great Western Railway Ticket designed by De la Rue.

Our archives hold a number of other fascinating pieces of GWR ephemera including some beautiful photographs of Reading Station (c.1880 – 1930s), portraits of Railway Workers, and this lovely blank specimen of a season ticket printed by De la Rue c.1930.

 

 

 

 

  a work of mechanical art represents the united efforts of many generations

(Bourne, 1846)

Bridge Over the River Avon (Bourne, 1846)

Bridge Over the River Avon (Bourne, 1846)

You can find more on the Great Western Railway from our collections here  and information on accessing our archives here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources and further reading:

Bailey, M. R. (2006) Briefing: I. K. Brunel: Engineer of the Great Western Railway. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers – Transport 2006 159:2, 57-61

Bourne, J. C. (1846) The History and Description of the Great Western Railway. London: David Bogue [Reserve Large Folio 47 – Available upon request]

Daniel, John (2013) Great Western history, 1835 – 1892.

Trueman, C.N. (2016) Trains 1830 To 1900.

An A-Z of the University’s Museums and Collections

@52Museums Instaphabet

@52Museums Instaphabet

Earlier this month the University of Reading’s Museums and Collections collaborated on an exciting project for @52Museums on Instagram.  The 52 Museums programme, which began in January 2016, sees a new museum taking over the running of the 52 Museums Instagram and Twitter page each week in order to share their collections, exhibitions, achievements and more with the world.

To best showcase our fantastic range of collections we produced an A-Z guide or ‘instaphabet’ featuring lettering from our Typography collection and Special Collections Library alongside art, artefacts and anecdotes from the Museum of English Rural Life, Cole Museum of Zoology, URE Museum of Greek Archaeology, our Herbarium, Art collection and Volunteers.

Some of the highlights from the Special Collections Library and Archive include:

Di - De la RueD is for De la Rue
The De la Rue printing firm was founded in Bunhill Row, London in 1837. It manufactured Christmas and other social stationery, playing cards, stamps and railway tickets, and undertook security printing.
Our collection consists of correspondence, financial papers, designs and specimens from the period 1837-1965; including designs for Reading’s famous Huntley and Palmers Biscuit Company.

 

Ri - Ruralia commoda - Ptrus de CrescentiusR is for Ruralia Commoda
The Ruralia commoda is the oldest printed book in our rare book collections. Written by Petrus de Crescentius in 1471, it is an early agricultural manual, and is said by some to have been the most important original medieval work on agriculture, husbandry and horticulture.

 

 

Yi - Yellow Brick RoadY is for Yellow Brick Road
This beautiful illustration of the Yellow Brick Road by W.W. Denslow is from our 1st edition copy of ‘The wonderful wizard of Oz’ by L. Frank Baum (1900). Our Special Collections Library is home to a fantastic Wizard of Oz collection, comprising around 800 volumes, including many editions and translations of The Wizard of Oz, and other associated items.

 

See our full #instaphabet in all its glory on Instagram!

William Wordsworth: A letter to Longman, 1820

Written by Adam Lines, Reading Room Supervisor.

William Wordsworth to Longman, 11 April 1820 - MS 1393 2/67/2

William Wordsworth to Longman, 11 April 1820 (MS 1393 2/67/2).

Before I started working at the University of Reading Special Collections, I spent a year in Grasmere working with the collections at the Wordsworth Trust. Before that I studied for a BA and an MA in English Literature and centred both of my dissertations on William Wordsworth. So by the time I left Grasmere at the start of 2015 it’s fair to say that I had the poet, his work and legacy firmly etched in my mind. My first search on the University of Reading Special Collection’s online catalogue was, not surprisingly, for ‘William Wordsworth’. To my delight there was a result: a single letter written by Wordsworth from 1820. The majority of original Wordsworth manuscripts are housed by the Wordsworth Trust but a few can be found scattered in archives across the world. The reason an example can be found in Reading is because it is part of the Longman Group Collection, the firm responsible for publishing much of Wordsworth’s work during his lifetime.

R. G. Longman's volume of letters.

R. G. Longman’s volume of letters (MS 1393 2/67).

The letter doesn’t stand alone. It is housed in a small volume with other letters to Longman by Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy as well as his friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It belonged to R. G. Longman and these letters were clearly treasured by the Longman family as the volume was created especially to house them. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the volume contained only letters written by Coleridge as his name is the only one to grace the spine. A note inside the cover states: ‘4 ST Coleridge letters left to me by my uncle, T. N. Longman’. A further note underneath this was added many years later recording the addition of the letters by William and Dorothy. Given the strong bond of love and friendship between the three of them, it seems only fitting that the letters should reside together.

The inside cover of R. G. Longman's volume of letters, with the inscription '4 ST Coleridge letters left to me by my uncle, T. N. Longman’.

The inside cover of R. G. Longman’s volume of letters, with the inscription ‘4 ST Coleridge letters left to me by my uncle, T. N. Longman’.

The year 1820 saw Wordsworth at a mid-point in his life as a writer. His ‘golden decade’ (1799-1808), during which he wrote the majority of his greatest works, was behind him and widespread fame and notoriety was still a few years ahead.  On the 11 April 1820 he wrote to Longman asking them ‘to transmit the following additional corrections and Errata to the Printer without delay.’ The alterations were for The River Duddon, a series of sonnets about the river in his native Lake District following it from its source to the sea. He was also concerned about the reprint of another of his volumes, Miscellaneous Poems, and gave precise instructions as to how he wished it to be printed. After initially favouring three volumes, he wrote ‘I prefer a smaller size in 4 vols. and likewise a Paper more of a cream colour than has recently been used.’  The exchange of manuscripts, proofs and corrections between writer and publisher would take a lot longer than it would today, especially in the case of Wordsworth who is famous for his constant desire to revise his work, and that he lived far from the publishing centre of London. This letter came late in the preparation process as the Longman divide ledger shows that The River Duddon was published by the end of April.

Divide ledger entry for 'Wordsworth's River Duddon' MS 1393 1/A3

Divide ledger entry for ‘Wordsworth’s River Duddon’ MS 1393 1/A3

What’s wonderful about the context of this letter is that the publication history can be traced beyond the letter itself using the same archive. Much of Wordsworth’s poetry is celebrated for its quality, but did it sell?

The River Duddon was printed in an edition of 500 copies and 14 years after it was first published there were 30 copies left unsold. These figures are roughly in line with Wordsworth’s previous volumes demonstrating a consistent but fairly low circulation among the reading public of the time. This changed as his popularity grew, and it’s interesting that the postscript of this letter (‘Announce in the Ad [for The River Duddon]: the Topographical description of the lakes’) refers to a work that would go on to outsell anything Wordsworth had written before. In 1810 he supplied a description of the Lake District to accompany a set of etchings by the Revd Joseph Wilkinson, however his name was not attributed to it. The River Duddon volume, therefore, was the first proper outing of the work fully credited to Wordsworth, but here it was still an addition to something else.  When it was published separately for the first time in 1822 in an edition of 500 copies, it quickly sold out within the year and a second edition was published in 1823 amounting to 1000 copies which went on to sell out as well. This makes sense because the guidebook market in the early nineteenth century was saturated by guides to the Lake District which was fast becoming one of the places to travel to. Although Wordsworth seemingly added to a large market of literature on the subject, his Guide to the Lakes (as it became known) stands out above the rest in its unique approach to landscape. The majority of picturesque guidebooks at the time directed tourists to designated ‘stations’ where they could find a suitable viewpoint. Wordsworth’s Guide, written with an insider’s perceptive, considers the landscape as a whole and how people can be emotionally affected by nature.

Having researched and written about Wordsworth’s Guide whilst I was at university, it’s fascinating to see an early mention of it in such a peripheral manner. In fact, it’s rather nice to know that his handwriting, so familiar to me after my time in Grasmere, is just down the corridor.

You can find out more about the Longman Group Collection here, and how to access our archives here.