Provenance, suffrage and female historians: The sixteen books of C.E. Hodge

Beware! A warning – to Suffragists (1908?) by Cicely Hamilton. Stenton Collection.

Bethan Davies is our outgoing Academic Liaison Support Librarian. In this blog, she speaks about sixteen books within the Stenton Collection, and identifying their former owner, C.E. Hodge.

The beginnings of this story start with the various celebrations to mark #Vote100, the centenary of the Representation of the People Act which allowed (some) women the right to vote. My role based in Special Collections includes managing our social media and blog content, and at the time, I was looking through our collections to find items related to women’s suffrage.

In this situation, I was quite spoilt for choice. A key collection within our archives are the Nancy Astor papers, which have been the focal point in Dr. Jacqui Turner’s research, and further explored in this year’s #Astor100 campaign. We hold the archives and collections of several female authors and artists, including the first female professor in Britain and suffragette Edith Morley. On the other side of the debate, we have Pearl Craige, who was a member of the Anti-Suffragette League. Three of the covers from our Spellman Collection of Victorian Music Hall Covers clearly depict the growing anxiety of the feminist movement. But our story is focused not on the archives, or music hall covers, but on the shelves of the Stenton Library.

The Stenton Library is the combined academic collections of Sir Frank and Lady Doris Parsons Stenton. Sir Frank was a Professor of Modern History and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading. His wife, Doris Parsons Stenton also worked at the University as a Reader and then Lecturer in History. Both Frank and Doris were medievalists and the Library reflects this interest. (We also hold their personal Papers and the Stenton Coin Collection which goes all the way back to King Offa of Mercia.)

However, the Library also reflects the Stenton’s broader interests, including women’s history. One of Doris’ works was The English Woman in History (1957), and several of these titles are included in Elizabeth James’ Checklist of Doris Stenton’s books (1988). There are entire shelves dedicated to feminism, women in the workplace, and prominent authors such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Hannah More, and Elizabeth Fry. There are also several titles related to suffrage movement, such as this wonderful illustrated pamphlet satirising anti-suffragette propaganda, written by Cicely Hamilton.

It was whilst looking through these titles that I noticed something. About four books I had looked at were focused on key figures, or the overall history of the fight for women’s right to vote (autobiographies or biographies of Annie Kenney, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Cicely Hamilton and Ray Strachey’s History of the Women’s Movement). All had the name “C.E. Hodge” in the front.

The study of provenance (the origin or early history of a book), is a key aspect of the study of the history of the book, particularly in connection to ownership, marginalia, and how early readers interacted with their books. Special Collections librarians will often try to include any marks of ownership in books in catalogue records, such as bookplates, binding detail or autographs. This can sometimes lead to moments of great excitement – such as when I held a book which had previously been owned by Mary Shelley , or my colleague who recently found a book presented to the University of Reading Library by Thomas Hardy. In this case, however, C.E. Hodge did not ring any bells with me. I put it down to being an interesting quirk and moved on.

A few months later, I was looking up some more works this time related to women’s medical history. Again this is a topic we hold a variety of items on, especially within the Cole Collection. Margaret Sanger’s autobiography came up, also in the Stenton Collection. Our online catalogue mentioned an “Autograph inscription : C. E. Hodge”.  Indeed, it is only because one of my former colleagues had taken notice and catalogued this information, that I was able to take my research any further. Intrigued, I clicked on the author heading for “C.E. Hodge” within our online Catalogue. The catalogue showed that 16 titles, all within the Stenton Collection, all related to women’s history, suffrage or anti-suffrage movements, and women in the workplace, all formerly owned by C.E. Hodge. Only one, Annie Besant’s autobiography, includes the date 9.9.36 next to Hodge’s name (full list of titles below).

This immediately set me off to do further research. Google and Wikipedia, however, let me down. No name sprang up for “C.E. Hodge” except for several businesses and some family history pages. A search “C.E. Hodge AND Medieval” came up with several Google Book references for a PhD thesis from the University of Manchester on ‘The Abbey of St Albans under John of Whethamstede’ by C.E. Hodge, but nothing further. No other variance of search terms seemed to provide any further clues.

Who was C.E. Hodge? Was he/she involved in the suffrage movement in some way? Did they know the Stentons? And how were their books now in our Stenton Collection?

 

 

A few months passed. Christmas came and went.

I had asked a few questions about C.E. Hodge to my colleagues within Special Collections, which had not revealed a huge amount. The Stenton Papers make no reference to anyone by the name of Hodge. The accession papers, which document how the collection came to Special Collections, made no reference to the provenance of any of the titles, beyond their donation by Lady Doris, and discussions regarding furniture. Later additions had been added to the collection by librarian Hazel Mews, but none of the sixteen books were among these items. Elizabeth James’ Checklist only showed that the books were considered part of Doris Stenton’s Library. I even delved into the Card Catalogue, which, apart from making me feel very old-school and fancy, didn’t give me any further clues.

I did not think I would get any further with this search, and as I was going to be starting a new job soon, my chances of doing any further searches were dwindling. I therefore decided to take a different tack.

I decided to try the Library Hub Discover (formerly COPAC) in order to see if there were any more works with the autograph inscription C.E. Hodge. The Library Hub searches across the library catalogues of hundreds of the major UK and Irish libraries, including academic, research and specialist libraries. I wanted to do this in case other collections had Hodge’s work, and whether they had any further information upon who Hodge was. The search came up with the sixteen titles from our collection only. Taking it one step further, I then clicked on the author heading C.E. Hodge, to bring up any further works associated with the name.

This time the search returned the 16 original books, the Manchester PHD thesis, and three new titles. A journal called Women Speaking, an article on the Women’s International Quarterly and a book titled A woman-orientated woman /. All three were under the name C. Esther Hodge.

Esther Hodge (1908-1994) was a history graduate from the University of Manchester, and secondary school teacher. She became editor for Women Speaking, worked for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and chaired the Open Door International for the Economic Emancipation of the Woman Worker. Her autobiography “A woman-orientated woman” documented her experiences as a lesbian, and is often quoted or referred to in works on lesbian history. Her papers are held at LSE and Bristol.

I have contacted both archive collections, and LSE kindly sent me back an image of Hodge’s signature. At first glance, it’s obvious that the signature is hers – especially in relation to the small d. It would make sense for someone with Hodge’s interests to own, or have read the sixteen titles on women’s work and women’s history. The autobiography of Margaret Haig Thomas, 2nd Viscountess Rhondda, is particuarly interesting as she was the founder of the Six Point Group, which Hodge would later work with.  I’ve not been able to visit either collection yet, but I am hoping to do so in the future.

There are still, however, some unanswered questions. How did the books end up with the Stentons? Hodge spent a year in Australia, which might be why she wanted to sell some of her titles – and it is intriguing that the titles are all from the 1890-1930 period and focused on similar topics. The medieval history background seems the most obvious link – could Hodge have known either of the Stentons? Doris Stenton seems the obvious choice, but we cannot rule out that her connection was with Frank instead. Or was it just a fluke that the Stenton’s happened to purchase Hodge’s titles together?

Some of these questions may never be answered. Some may come to light in future discoveries. What I think is key here is that this discovery could not have happened without the dedicated cataloguing by our librarians, the work of JISC and the archival collections of LSE and Bristol. I hope my small find helps and inspires those interested in these topics to look further into the Stentons’ connection to Esther Hodge, or to consider further the role of ownership. The titles that we hold in libraries are not only special because of their authors, but how they inspired and influenced the readers who interacted with them. The study of provenance is not only important within the history of the book, but in the studies of historiography and the discussion of ideas. I have been very lucky to work with the Special Collections, and even now, the collections still surprise me with the wonderful treasures they hold.

If you have any further information on Esther Hodge, or would like to view these items, contact us at specialcollections@reading.ac.uk.  

Full list of the titles owned by Esther Hodge within the Stenton Collection (also available to view in our Library catalogue)

Women and politics (1931) by the Duchess of Atholl. STENTON LIBRARY–BD/04

Annie Besant: an autobiography (1893) STENTON LIBRARY–BB/05

Our mothers : a cavalcade in pictures, quotation and description of late Victorian women, 1870-1900 (1932) edited by Alan Bott ; text by Irene Clephane. STENTON LIBRARY–BB/09

Life errant (1935) by Cicely Hamilton STENTON LIBRARY–BB/24

Memories of a militant (1924) by Annie Kenney. STENTON LIBRARY–BB/11

Margaret Ethel MacDonald (1912) by J. Ramsay MacDonald. STENTON LIBRARY–BB/03

This was my world (1933) by Viscountess Rhondda. STENTON LIBRARY–BB/15

Margaret McMillan: prophet and pioneer (1932)  by Albert Mansbridge. STENTON LIBRARY–BD/03

Women as army surgeons : being the history of the Women’s Hospital Corps in Paris, Wimereux and Endell Street, September 1914 – October 1919 (1920) by Flora Murray. STENTON LIBRARY–BB/10

My fight for birth control (1932) by Margaret Sanger. STENTON LIBRARY–BC/04

Nine women, drawn from the epoch of the French revolution (1932) by Halina Sokolnikova (Serebriakova) ; translated by H. C. Stevens ; with an introduction by Mrs. Sidney Webb. STENTON LIBRARY–BB/04

Unfinished adventure : selected reminiscences from an Englishwoman’s life (1933) by Evelyn Sharp. STENTON LIBRARY–BC/05

Hertha Ayrton, 1854-1923 : a memoir (1926) Evelyn Sharp. STENTON LIBRARY–BC/06

Impressions that remained : memoirs (1919) by Ethel Smyth. STENTON LIBRARY–BB/20 VOL. 1-2

Millicent Garrett Fawcett (1931) by Ray Strachey. STENTON LIBRARY–BC/24

The cause : a short history of the women’s movement in Great Britain (1928) by Ray Strachey. STENTON LIBRARY–BD/05

New Exhibition: Embellish’d with Gold.Treasures from the European Manuscripts Collection

During 2018 the University was fortunate to make an important new acquisition, the European Manuscripts Collection.

The collection consists of 141 folio illuminated manuscripts and 2 volumes: a seventeenth century Italian manuscript prayer book and a fifteenth century French Book of Hours.

The strength of the collection comprises the number of Book of Hours folios from a range of countries and dates.

Items in the collection include: missals, breviaries, graduals, psalters and a papal bull from Perugia, dated 1265. The material in the collection dates from the twelfth to the seventeenth century; the items are predominately of French origin (about half of the collection), with about a quarter originating from Italy and others from England, Spain, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

 

The collection has been generously presented to the University by a private collector with the support of the Art Fund.

There will be a display of the collection in the staircase hall at Special Collections based at The MERL from 5 August 2019-31 October 2019.

The display features a range of items from the collection with a focus on the book of hours folios. Caroline Gould, Principal Archivist had the enviable task of selecting the items for the display from the 143 items in the collection. “The problem I had was each item I looked at was so beautifully decorated it was worthy of being selected for the display. My strategy has been to try to select a range of items from the collection and provide explanations for the different types of documents which will hopefully inform visitors should they not be an expert in illuminated manuscripts.”

The MERL will be featuring an animal theme for programming in the autumn of 2019 so also see if you can spot a peacock, a bird, a dragon and an owl in the display.

For more information about Special Collections location see https://www.reading.ac.uk/special-collections/special-collections-findus.aspx

Publishing and Printing in Milan

In late June, members of the archive and library team at UMASCs travelled to Milan for staff training under the Erasmus+ scheme. The aim of the trip was to visit various institutions in Milan and the surrounding area which hold similar special collections to University of Reading Special Collections. This was in order to provide members of staff with the opportunity to reflect on our procedures and assumptions in order to improve the service at the University of Reading, including both access to collections and collections management.

Collections that we aimed to visit as part of our itinerary were the Fondazione Mondadori and the University of Milan’s APICE archives and library.

Our contact in Milan had been a visiting academic in the Modern Languages and European Studies department for six months and had contributed to both an international conference and teaching sessions using material from the archives here at Special Collections. At this conference we were invited to visit the APICE archives, who later confirmed that they would be happy to host a visit from us.

The first stop on our trip was to the Fondazione Mondadori. Mondadori is, and has been for quite some time, the largest publishing house in Italy. The Mondadori family established the archive in order to preserve their personal history and their work; however, the collections are not solely from the firm. They collect material relating to them from translators, authors, readers and more.

Hearing from staff at the Fondazione Mondadori about their collections

We were introduced to the director, and had in-depth descriptions of their services from the archivist and librarian. As the firm is still very much active we were informed they receive a delivery every week of new material.

A particularly interesting aspect was the use of the collections for teaching. The Fondazione co-run a masters degree in publishing with the University of Milan, classes are held at the archive and modules are taught around the collections. They have the use of a dedicated teaching space/computer lab for this purpose, in addition to a reading room for external researchers.

As part of a larger organisation they have a strong public engagement profile which includes releasing publications about their collections, and books telling the story of authors as seen through the archival material. Additionally, they have a whole institution dedicated to public engagement which is located much more centrally in the city. This is the Laboratori Formentini, which was our next stop.

The Laboratorio was opened in 2015 and is in a building owned by the city council who wanted to highlight Milan’s history of publishing. They host events, exhibitions, meetings/conferences for both the public and corporate groups, an example being Mostro, a graphic design camp. Much like we have in our reading room and open access corridor, they have hung reproductions of posters and archive material in their hallways.

One of the exhibition spaces at the Laboratori Formentini

Like the Fondazione they release publications; these detail the proceedings of events that have taken place.

On the second day our chief stop was at the APICE – the Archivi della Parola dell’Immagine e della Comunicazione Editoriale. It was founded in 2002-2003 by a former chancellor of the University of Milan who had an interest in publishing history. Our contact had arranged for us to meet the librarian and archivist who informed us they have 90,000 volumes in the library and 2.5km of archive collections. 1km of this is the University History Collection containing about 46,000 student files and is not online yet. They are hoping to launch this database to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the university in 2024. Here in Reading we also hold a large University History Collection and have our 100th anniversary approaching in 2026!

Viewing some book cover artwork by John Alcorn, held by the APICE

Many of their library and archive collections are very similar to ours and mainly date from the 20th century. They have a great strength in their futurist collection which attracts a lot of international interest.

Medicine and gynaecology were big areas of research in Milan for many years and so they have a few related collections from former professors, as we do too.

Regular seminars and conferences focusing on the collections are organised, with a publication always following after the latter.

We were shown their new website which had just been launched less than two weeks ago. There has been a push for digitisation of photographs and illustrations, including from those who have deposited their collections.

Staff being shown the new website for the APICE

We were taken to their closed storage and shown some of the library collections, which included some very early printed material.

Staff being shown a storage area for the APICE collections

After this we went to the central campus of the University of Milan and met the director of the APICE who expressed interest in our commonalities and hoped for further contact between the universities.

This marked the end of our formal visits. Staff then chose to visit either the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana or the La Scala museum, and on the final day visited the Museo Nationale Scienza e Tecnologia. These were great opportunities to see a variety of museum displays and methods of interpretation.

We are very grateful to Erasmus+ and our UMASCs colleagues for this rewarding and inspiring trip.

Taking in an audio-visual exhibit about agriculture

Recovering Publishing Histories: the Adam & Charles Black Letterbooks

By Amara Thornton (Research Officer, Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology)

The publishing house Adam and Charles Black was established in 1834 in Edinburgh. Now its archive is held in University of Reading Special Collections, and over the last few weeks I’ve been looking at one part of the collection – the Letterbooks containing delicate copies of “letters out” from the company to prospective and contracted authors and artists.

Much publishing and book history concentrates on fiction – novelists, short story writers and the publishers and editors with whom they worked. But there is also interest in non-fiction publishing history, particularly in relation to popular science and travel.  I’m interested in non-fiction publishing and book history too; my first book, Archaeologists in Print: Publishing for the People (UCL Press, 2018), focuses on works written by archaeologists for a general readership.

It was in researching for Archaeologists in Print that I first came across the A. & C. Black archive at Reading. The company acquired another publishing house, Ernest Benn Ltd, in 1984.  As Benn had published several popular archaeology books – including various archaeological volumes in its “Sixpenny Library” – I came to Reading initially in 2015 to see archives relating to these books.

But I’m currently concentrating on the firm of A. & C. Black and its non-fiction and reference books.  In the early 20th century, the company published various series of illustrated art, history, archaeology, science and travel books.  These ranged from pretty pricey twenty shilling “Colour Books” to smaller volumes for as little as one shilling and sixpence.

Two books, one blue, one red.

Picture of Peeps at Ancient Egypt and Peeps at Ancient Greece. (Photo: Amara Thornton)

During the early 20th century, the firm developed special series aimed particularly at children, “Peeps”.  In the “Peeps” A. & C. Black catered for young readers’ interest in diverse subjects – there were “Peeps at Many Lands and Cities”, “Peeps at History”, “Peeps at Great Railways”, “Peeps at Nature”, “Peeps at Industries” and individual “Peeps” for topics such as “Great Men”, “Postage Stamps”, “Heraldry”, and “Architecture”. The Scotsman considered the “Peeps” to be “as varied as the films in a cinema house and quite as entertaining.”

One of A. & C. Black’s “Peep” authors was a Scottish minister named James Baikie.  When he began writing for the firm he was based at the United Free Church in Ancrum, in the Scottish borders, and a popular lecturer.  He started as a science writer; his first book, Through the Telescope (1906), was a popular introduction to astronomy (his Times obituary noted he had been a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society from the age of 25).  On the strength of Telescope‘s success, Baikie pitched an idea for a new book – this time on Egyptology.

The response from A. & C. Black director W. W. Callender was hesitant at first. He would not accept the proposal outright, but asked for a specimen chapter.[1] On reviewing this and other articles Baikie had written on the subject, Callender offered terms for publication, which Baikie accepted.[2] Story of the Pharaohs was eventually published in A. & C. Black’s Autumn List for 1908.  A review copy was sent to the Egypt Exploration Fund among a few others.[3]  The publication was the start of a new archaeology series for A. & C. Black; Story was marketed alongside two other titles, George Cormack’s Egypt in Asia (about “pre-Biblical Syria and Palestine”), and Ethel Ross Barker’s Buried Herculaneum.

Story of the Pharaohs was an almost immediate success (despite eminent archaeologist Flinders Petrie‘s refusal to provide an introduction).[4]  While much of the correspondence on the book relates to image permissions, two letters sent post-publication relate to the efforts the company made to market the book in Egypt.  A letter from Callender to Baikie on 27 November 1908 noted “You will be pleased to hear that all the Cairo booksellers are stocking your book…” and outlined plans to send special copies to the city’s “six principal hotels” for hotel managers to place – prominently, of course – on Reading Room tables.  Although no list of the six hotels is extant it seems unlikely that Cairo’s famous Shepheard’s Hotel wasn’t one of them.  Only one letter to a manager is included in the Letterbooks; it went to the Ghezirah Palace Hotel.[5]

One of the reasons I’m looking into James Baikie is because I’m interested in his wife, Constance Newman (Smith) Baikie, an artist whose stunning illustrations contribute a definite ‘wow factor’ to accompany Baikie’s texts.  She provided in-text line drawings for Story of the Pharaohs, but it was really Baikie’s first “Peep” that enabled her to stretch her creative wings. This was Peep at the Heavens, another work on astronomy.

On submission of a sample illustration – a watercolour drawing of Saturn – Callender only had minor revisions to make to enable the work, when reproduced, to fit the physical size of the book.  He offered James Baikie terms of 20 shillings per drawing for his wife’s work and equal credit for her work on the book’s title page.[6]  Notably (and unfortunately), there is no correspondence in the Letterbooks directly to Constance Baikie on her work during this period – everything went to her husband.  But I’m hoping that as the Baikies relationship with A. & C. Black strengthened, she began to correspond directly with the firm herself.

When all eight of her illustrations were received in the spring of 1911, Callender was enthusiastic about the skill she demonstrated, declaring “The drawings are excellently done and most interesting…”.[7]  It’s not hard to see why – the frontispiece illustration for Peeps at the Heavens is a striking image of “The Moon in Eclipse” – the sphere is in red-tinted shadow barring a thin crescent, brilliantly illuminated.  She went on to provide colour illustrations to accompany most of her husband’s other books with A. & C. Black.

Beyond my special interest in the Baikies, a number of other interesting details emerge from the Letterbooks.  Each book begins with an Index, listing in roughly alphabet

A list of names, with Corelli's name in the centre.

Corelli’s name listed in the Index of Letterbooks (A/1/26 C)

ical order the names of those to whom letters were sent.  Perusing the Letterbook Indexes revealed the company’s efforts to solicit work from a number of well-known women.

The first woman whose name popped out at me in this way was Marie Corelli, a noted and very popular novelist of the period. In February 1907 the firm wrote to her at her home, Mason Croft, in Stratford-upon-Avon, to ask her to write text for a book on the town.  She must have responded positively. The next letter, sent a week later, sought to pin down firm details on the proposed book, suggesting Corelli could have a great deal of creative freedom:

“Your letter is so kind that we venture to trouble you again.  May we ask if you would write the letterpress were we able to secure an artist of whom you thoroughly approved & to whom you could give instructions as to the choice of subject, etc., & if so, what terms you would suggest.”[8]

This theme of soliciting notable women for text continues in subsequent letterbooks, as two years later the company wrote to Gertrude Jekyll, garden designer, writer and horticulturalist, to ask her to write the text for a “colour book” on gardens.[9] (There is no indication in the Letterbooks of whether or not Jekyll agreed.)

A typed letter in blue ink. Focusing on Marie Corelli's name and address at the top of the page. The address is listed as Mason Croft, Stratford Upon Avon.

A close up of Marie Corelli’s name and address at Mason Croft, Stratford upon Avon.

A. & C. Black’s Art Editor Gordon Home wrote to Countess Elizabeth Von Arnim (author of Elizabeth and Her German Garden) in spring 1911 to ask her to provide text for a “colour book” on Germany. Like Corelli, von Arnim was also offered great creative freedom:

“Should the project attract you we would not wish to restrict you as to the method or style you employed so long as the reader gathered an idea of German life, scenery, historic spots, medieval towns and so on.”

As with Jekyll, there is no evidence in the letterbooks that von Arnim agreed to the proposal.[10]

The letterbooks also provide insights into the diversity of contributors to A. & C. Black series.  I was fascinated to come across two letters to a Japanese artist named Wakana Utagawa.  The firm contracted her to create eight colour and twenty black and white illustrations for its “Peep at the History of Japan”.  The first letter was sent to her at the Baillie Gallery, located on Bruton Street in London, where in Spring 1911 she was exhibiting a series of her paintings to rave reviews.[11]

There is great potential for interesting research and analysis in the A. & C. Black archive in a variety of fields – but particularly the popular publishing of science, archaeology, art, and history, yielding further insights into the artist- and writer-contributors.  The possibilities to recover hidden histories (for lack of a better term) abound, even where the subjects are relatively well known.  I’m looking forward to continuing my own research into the Letterbooks during the course of my time at Reading. I hope that this post encourages others to dive in to the Letterbooks too.

 

The catalogue for the A. & C. Black archive held in University of Reading Special Collections can be found here. For further information, email specialcollections@reading.ac.uk

Dr Amara Thornton is Research Officer for the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology.

 

References/Further Reading

Adam & Charles Black Letterbooks A/1/26, 29, 30, 32, 36, 39.

The Scotsman, 1912. Christmas Gift Books. [British Newspaper Archive], 28 November.

The Sphere. 1911. A Talented Japanese Artist Now in England. [British Newspaper Archive] 18 March.

The Times, 1931. Dr James Baikie. Times Historical Archive. 7 February.

Footnotes

[1] ACB A/1/26/56 and 89, Callender to Baikie 23 and 28 Nov 1908.

[2] ACB A/1/26/598 Callender to Baikie 27 Mar 1907.

[3] ACB A/1/30/123 Callender to Baikie 3 Sep 1908.

[4] ACB A/1/29/835 and 882 Callender to Baikie 13 and 20 Jul 1908.

[5] ACB A/1/30/696 and 731 Callender to Baikie 27 Nov and 5 Dec 1908.

[6] ACB A/1/36/392 Callender to Baikie 21 Jan 1911.

[7] ACB A/1/36/694 Callender to Baikie 4 Mar 1911.

[8] ACB/1/26/427 and 444. A&C Black to Corelli, 15 and 21 Feb 1907.

[9] ACB/1/32/116 A&C Black to Jekyll, 5 Feb 1909.

[10] ACB/1/36/695 A&C Black to von Arnim 6 Mar 1911.

[11] ACB/1/39/774 and 819. Home to Utagawa 3 and 9 Aug 1911.

The Queen’s Resolve: Queen Victoria in the Special Collections

Following the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth, Liaison Librarian Bethan Davies takes a closer look at our Special Collections and the surprising connections with the famous monarch.

Housed in the red brick building designed by Alfred Waterhouse for Alfred Palmer, it is hard not to see the connection between the Victorians and Special Collections. Our Children’s Collection is particularly strong in 19th Century titles, and many of our business archives cover the Victorian period (including Huntley & Palmers, De La Rue, Chatto & Windus). We hold an entire collection focused on The Great Exhibition of 1851, patronised by Prince Albert, and the Spellman Collection focuses entirely on Victorian piano hall music covers. Several of our archives hold documents on Victorian illustrators and authors including Audrey Beardsley, Pearl Craigie, and Violet Fane.

Therefore, it is not surprising that Queen Victoria herself makes appearances throughout our Collections, especially around moments of change and commemoration. The breadth and age of our Collections also allow us to view Victoria throughout history, and chart the various changes throughout her life.

A children's book with a white background, and the text Queen Victoria. An older woman is on the cover, wearing black clothes and a white veil.

Queen Victoria (1976), part of our Ladybird Collection

Changing Faces

When we think of Victoria, we often think of the image we see on the cover of the 1976 Ladybird title Queen Victoria (see above). This depiction is from Victoria’s later years. However, we can see images of Victoria’s youth from the children’s book The Queen’s resolve : “I will be good” and her “doubly royal” reign (1897), written by Charles Bullock. The front cover depicts two oval images of Victoria facing each other, one a child, the other the elder Queen (see below). Bullock notes in his title that whilst the book is intended for younger readers, it might also be of interest to “Old England,” looking back to the beginning of the Queen’s reign and the “boundless enthusiasm” which accompanied her coronation. The title refers to a popular story that upon discovering that she was heir to the throne, Victoria exclaimed, “I will be good!” Written in commemoration of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, Bullock not only celebrates her rule, but her role as a mother and wife, which he calls her “double rule”.

The Spellman Collection, which offers fascinating depictions of Victoria throughout her reign, is equally interested in both Victoria’s personal life. A key example of this can be seen in The Royal Record March (1897), composed by Alfred Lee, and the notorious Marquis de Leuvilles in celebration of Victoria’s Silver Jubilee. Similar to The Queen’s Resolve, two images (one younger, one older) of Victoria face each other, although the younger Victoria is shown just before she took the throne. The cover also depicts her husband, the late Prince Albert, explicitly denoting his continuing importance in her life, even after his death.

 

Coronation and Childhood

The “boundless enthusiasm” noted by Bullock regarding the Queen’s coronation in 1838, can be seen in a rare special edition of The Sun held in our Printing Collection (not connected to the modern newspaper of the same name). Created with the “special exertion of M. De La Rue”, the edition is noted for using gold ink rather than black, and includes a poem to mark the occasion created by the editor Murdo Young. Through both items, the general excitement of a new monarch can be felt, alongside the youth of the new Queen, who was then only 18 years old. Young’s “Sketch” of the new Queen makes note of her childhood, future reforms which needed to be made to the monarchy, and in particular her short stature.

The coronation was also commemorated by composer J.B. Arnold with The Grand state march: composed for the coronation of her most gracious majesty Queen Victoria (1837). Our copy from the Spellman Collection depicts an image of the young Queen on the front cover, enthroned and about to be crowned.

 

Change and Exhibition

The image of the younger Victoria is also present in the Stenton Coin Collection. Although the collection focuses on coins from the Anglo-Saxon and Norman period, it also includes this 1839 copper halfpenny, from the Isle of Man. At the time, the Isle of Man had separate coinage issued compared to the rest of the country. This was overturned in the Act of 1839, which aligned the Isle of Man with the United Kingdom’s currency. The 1839 coinage, updated to include Victoria’s face, was the last update to the Isle of Man’s currency, until the introduction of decimal coinage in 1971.

One of the most well-known examples of Victoria’s legacy was in the creation of the Great Exhibition of 1851, housed in the Crystal Palace. The moment was commemorated by the lithographers the Leighton Brothers, with The Queen’s March (1851). Now part of our Great Exhibition Collection, this stately march shows the Queen, alongside Prince Albert, who was the patron of the Great Exhibition. Our Collection includes the official Catalogue and reports on the Great Exhibition and its influence upon the British Society, alongside ephemera and souvenirs!

 

This is only a glimpse into all our holdings on Queen Victoria. Click the links to find out more about our Collections! Want more information? Contact Special Collections at specialcollections@reading.ac.uk

 

New exhibition: “Colours More Than Sentences”: illustrated editions of ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’

Text by Michael Seeney, abridged and adapted with additional text by Fiona Melhuish, UMASCS Librarian.

“I wish I could draw like you, for I like lines better than words and colours more than sentences”.

–  Oscar Wilde to W Graham Robertson in 1888

In 1895, Oscar Wilde was sentenced to two years of imprisonment with hard labour for “acts of gross indecency with another male person”. He spent most of those two years in Reading Prison. On his release, he entered a self-imposed exile in France. Broken in health, and declared bankrupt, he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol, a love-poem and an impassioned plea for prison reform. It was his last work.

For our new exhibition, we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to show a selection of illustrated editions of the Ballad lent from the collection of Michael Seeney. The editions on show include the first published illustrated edition of the Ballad and recent editions produced by small presses such as Reading’s Two Rivers Press. This exhibition has been organised by the University’s Department of English in collaboration with Michael Seeney, and was on show at the Berkshire Record Office last year.

Image from ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’ by Oscar Wilde ; afterword by Peter Stoneley ; illustrated by Peter Hay. 3rd edn. Two Rivers Press, 2011. Reproduced by kind permission of Two Rivers Press.

 

The following text is an abridged version of an introduction to the exhibition by Michael Seeney examining the history of the writing, publication and illustration of the Ballad. A leaflet which features the full version of the introduction is available free of charge to visitors to the exhibition.

 

“Oscar Wilde was released from prison in May 1897. The same night he and his friend More Adey took the night boat from Newhaven to Dieppe. The British in Dieppe were, with few exceptions, unfriendly and, before the end of the month, Wilde moved a few miles along the coast to Berneval-sur-Mer. There he rented a small house – the Chalet Bourgeat. Here he intended writing three essays, two of which would describe the prison system. They were never written, but in June he began writing his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol. In the words of a later High Court judge, “He owed his inspiration to Her Majesty’s Government”.

 

 

Wilde’s intention was to write a poem which combined propaganda for prison reform with a Romanticism in part drawn from Coleridge. In doing so he claimed to “out-Kipling Henley”. Wilde’s poem accurately reflects the conditions in prison. The central narrative of the poem is the execution by hanging of Charles Thomas Wooldridge at Reading on 7 July 1896.

 

 

Wilde sent an almost complete manuscript to the publisher Leonard Smithers who approached Aubrey Beardsley with a proposal for an illustrated edition. Beardsley expressed great interest and, as Smithers told Wilde, “I showed it to Aubrey and he seemed to be much struck by it. He promised at once to do a frontispiece for it – in a manner which immediately convinced me that he will never do it.” Wilde thought that if Beardsley “will do it, it will be a great thing” but, if he would not give a commitment, Smithers should “try some of the jeunes Belges – Khnoppf for example.” In the same letter Wilde spelled out in detail his ideas for illustrations and decorations:

I want something curious – a design of Death and Sin walking hand in hand, very severe, and mediaeval. Also, for the divisions between the separate parts of each canto of the ballad, I want not asterisks, nor lines, but a little design of three flowers or some decorative motive, simple and severe: then there are five or six initial letters – H: F: I: I: T.

 

 

In December Wilde made clear that for illustrations he was looking for something non-representational; in writing to Smithers about his American agent, Elizabeth Marbury, he said that:

Her suggestion of illustration is of course out of the question. Pray tell her from me that it would entirely spoil any beauty the poem has, and not add anything to its psychological revelations. The horror of prison-life is the contrast between the grotesqueness of one’s aspect and the tragedy in one’s soul. Illustrations would emphasise the former, and conceal the latter. Of course I refer to realistic illustration.

When the book was published on 13 February 1898 there were no illustrations; and instead of Wilde’s “three flowers” there were single standard printers’ fleurons.

Smithers and Wilde had agreed that the author’s name would not appear on the book, and that the title page would say it was by C.3.3. (the number of Wilde’s cell in Reading Gaol). However, the authorship was an open secret; on the day of publication Reynold’s Newspaper carried news of the book under the heading “New Poem by Oscar Wilde” and printed eighteen verses.

 

 

The first edition consisted of 800 copies, with a further 30 printed on Japanese vellum. The entire edition sold out within a few days. A second edition followed and then, at Wilde’s request, a third edition, limited to 99 copies signed by Wilde (thus removing any last doubts about its authorship) was issued in March. Another four editions were issued bringing the total number of copies in circulation to over 5000, meaning it was commercially by far the most successful of his works. Having said to Wilde that he thought it time Wilde “owned” the Ballad, Smithers added Wilde’s name to the title page of the seventh edition following “C.3.3.”. This was the last edition published during Wilde’s lifetime, although Smithers continued to produce what were effectively pirated editions for some years after Wilde’s death in November 1900.

Although the Ballad was issued by a number of publishers abroad, there was no attempt to illustrate the book until 1907. The first fully illustrated edition appeared in New York, illustrated by Latimer J Wilson.

The first European illustrated edition appeared in German in 1916 and was followed by French, Czech and Hungarian editions. Several fully illustrated editions appeared in America in the late twenties and thirties. There was no illustrated edition published in Britain until 1948. Arthur Wragg, the illustrator, was, as far as is known, the only illustrator up to that time who had actually visited Reading Gaol. Britain still lags behind in the number of illustrated editions, although in recent years there have been notable sets of illustrations by Garrick Palmer, Peter Forster and Peter Hay, as well as the abstract illustrations of Jeremy Mason.

In accordance with Wilde’s views expressed to Smithers, each of the illustrated editions examined has been interpretive rather than realistic. We cannot know what Wilde envisaged as an ideal illustration but he would certainly have been delighted to see that so many artists have taken the poem as an inspiration”.

 

The exhibition will be on display in the staircase hall at the Special Collections Service until 31 July 2019, and is available to view during The Museum of English Rural Life opening hours.

We are also delighted to announce that to coincide with the exhibition, Michael Seeney will give a talk about building a collection on Oscar Wilde. In addition to books, Michael’s collection also extends to anything related to Wilde, from letters and autograph material to mugs and t-shirts. As well as talking about his own collection, Michael will also look at important collectors of the past and what has become of their collections, and the role of private collectors in academic research.

The talk, entitled Collecting Oscar Wilde: Public and Private Good, will take place at The Museum of English Rural Life on Thursday 30 May 2019, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm. The event is free but booking is advisable – you can book tickets here.
This event takes place during our monthly Late Opening Night, so the museum, shop, cafe, garden and reading room are all open until 9pm.

 

Baskerville’s marbled papers

by Anna Murdoch, Graduate Trainee Library Assistant.

 

The Department of Typography & Graphic Communications’ teaching sessions always involve a swath of fascinating material from early medical texts to astronomy. One day I was setting up a large volume on some foam rests for students to peruse. Upon opening it up, I saw an endpaper quite unlike anything I had seen before. It had a much softer, lighter appearance than the richer, denser-looking examples found elsewhere within our collections.

The book in which these endpapers reside is Baskerville’s celebrated edition of The Holy Bible. This volume is part of the Overstone Library, a collection which has been held by the university for 99 years, having been bequeathed it by Lady Wantage. She was the daughter of the 1st Baron Overstone, who bought political economist John Ramsay McCulloch’s library after his death in 1864. Being the private library of a gentleman, many of the bindings are very fine. McCulloch, for his part, wrote in his preface to his library’s catalogue that he “acknowledge[d] myself to be an ardent admirer of well-printed handsome volumes […] I also confess to such a folly, if such it be, of being no less an admirer of well-bound than of well-printed books”. It is clear that not all of these bindings were executed during their lifetimes. 

In his introduction to Anne Chambers’ The principal antique patterns of marbled paper, Bernard Middleton relates that marbling began to develop in England in the second half of the eighteenth century, which is the period Baskerville was active in. Diana Patterson relates the tale of his involvement in a competition for a premium offered by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, which is now the Royal Society of Arts.

 

McCulloch describes the volume as being bound in “old red morocco, gilt leaves ; a magnificent book”. Baron Overstone describes it as “Baskerville’s beautiful edition […] old red morocco extra, richly tooled, gilt edges”. In the latter catalogue there is a shelfmark written in pencil in the right hand margin: 11. A, and a note: “Marks. 1930” and additionally “£12 calf”. The shelfmark can be found in the book, but it is crossed out, as the book now sits at Overstone–Shelf 32J/04, and is deemed “Large”.

Both the catalogues and bookplates reveal this was a book Overstone bought from McCulloch. In Contributions towards a dictionary of English book-collectors, James Bonar writes that “the collection is not now traceable”. An inscription on the rear of the endpaper reads: 3/7. 38 453. This could be an acquisition date, or auction lot number. I have not been able to gather any more details on former owners prior to McCulloch.

One has to agree with McCulloch – it is a magnificent book. The binding is unsigned, but not without clues. One, on the exterior, is the leather label with the title on it in gilt. It certainly looks akin to Baskerville’s type. Philip Gaskell, writing of another binding, writes “what links it with Baskerville is the leather label on the spine… apparently with sorts of his own Double Pica roman and italic caps”. Gerry Leonidas, of the Department of Typography and Graphic Communiation, told me that he is not so sure about the lettering seen above as it “looks a bit heavy and with different proportions for the bowls of the B. The E and L have much more curved strokes leading into the serifs.” Another, also on the exterior, is the presence of an acorn tool, which according to Aurelie Martin in “The ‘Baskerville bindings'” is a finishing tool found on some of the 31 volumes she surveyed.

The third clue, when one opens the book, is the endpaper. Gaskell, in his Baskerville bibliography, describes an example of it as “rather striking […] marbled to represent blended washes of water colour”. Intriguingly, if one looks closely, you can see that two pieces of paper have been stuck together before being marbled. Diana Patterson asserts Baskerville did marble at least a ream of paper, which suggests there is more out there to be found.

This certainly is a very exciting discovery for us. Known examples of this marbled paper reside in Birmingham, the British Library, Harvard, and in private collections. 

This is by no means the only example of this marbled paper we hold in our collections, but it is far and away the best. The second is in a rebound copy of Paradise Lost from the Printing Collection which only possesses its front endpaper.

Interestingly, this volume boasts a feature that the Bible doesn’t: marbled edges, revealing how watery Baskerville’s marbling was.

It is much less vibrant than, for example, this volume from the Overstone library:

There are many, many examples of different kinds of endpapers to be found in our rare books collection:

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Sources:

 

A catalogue of books, the property of the author of the commercial dictionary,  MDCCCLVI, London : [privately printed], 1856.

Bonar, James, ‘John Ramsay McCulloch’, Contributions towards a dictionary of English book- collectors, Bernard Quaritch, 1892-1921.

Catalogue of the library, Overstone Park, [s.l. : s.n.], 1867.

Chambers, Ann, The principal antique patterns of marbled paper, The Cygnet Press, 1984.

Martin, Aurelie, “‘The Baskerville bindings'”, John Baskerville : art and industry of the Enlightenment, Liverpool University Press, 2017, pp. 166-184.

Gaskell, Philip, John Baskerville: a bibliography, 1959.

Patterson, Diana, ‘John Baskerville, Marbler’, The Library, Volume 6-12, Issue 3, 1 September 1990, p. 212–221.

Pearson, David, English bookbinding styles, 1450-1800 : a handbook, London : British Library ; New Castle, Del. : Oak Knoll Press, 2005.

Aubrey Beardsley, the author: ‘Under the Hill’

Written by Fiona Melhuish, UMASCS Librarian.

Aubrey Beardsley, who died on this day in 1898, is well known as one of the most talented, and most daring, of the artists of the 1890s, with his exquisite, highly imaginative, and frequently risqué, black and white drawings. However, Beardsley also aspired to be a ‘man of letters’, and for several years worked on a ‘Romantic novel’, a preoccupation of his last years, later known as ‘Under the Hill’. This erotic novel was originally entitled ‘The Story of Venus and Tannhäuser’, and was based on the ancient German legend of Tannhäuser, a poet composer on a quest for spiritual enlightenment.

 

The book cover of ‘Under the Hill’ by Aubrey Beardsley RESERVE–828.912-BEA

 

‘Under the Hill’ encapsulates many of the features of the modern Decadent style of the period with its emphasis on art and artifice over nature, the affected tone and style of the writing, a sensibility of immorality and excess, the intense attention to detail and the lavish setting. As the writer Stephen Calloway observes, “in English literature there is nothing quite like ‘Under the Hill’ “. The absence of plot is also typical: in this 1904 edition the hero of the piece, the Abbé Fanfreluche arrives, Helen (Venus in other editions) is lavishly dressed and assisted in her toilette by her attendants and Helen and Fanfreluche sit together at a banquet. There is much satirical wit and humour in the text, combined with inventive, meticulously detailed descriptions. In this passage, Beardsley seems to take great delight in the description of the flamboyant and exotic attire of the banquet guests with a torrent of sumptuous details:

There were masks of green velvet that make the face look trebly powdered; masks of the heads of birds, of apes, of serpents, of dolphins … There were wigs of black and scarlet wools, of peacocks’ feathers, of gold and silver threads, of swansdown, of the tendrils of the vine, and of human hair; huge collars of stiff muslin rising high above the head; whole dresses of ostrich feathers curling inwards; tunics of panthers’ skins that looked beautiful over pink tights; capotes of crimson satin trimmed with the wings of owls; sleeves cut into the shapes of apocryphal animals; drawers flounced down to the ankles, and flecked with tiny, red roses; stockings clocked with fêtes galantes, and curious designs; and petticoats cut like artificial flowers.

 

‘The Toilet of Helen’, illustration from ‘Under the Hill’ by Aubrey Beardsley RESERVE–828.912-BEA

 

Beardsley’s illustrations for his novel perfectly complement the style of his text with their exuberant intensity of decoration and abundance of different, exquisite textures similar to highly wrought pieces of embroidery or tapestry. The illustrations are similar in style to Beardsley’s illustrations for ‘The Rape of the Lock’, published in 1896, and both sets of illustrations are representative of Beardsley’s later rococo style inspired by his love of the eighteenth century. Beardsley’s illustration of ‘The Abbé’ is a masterpiece of this style. The image shows the opening scene of the story with the Abbé entering the gateway to the Venusberg. Beardsley altered the name of this character several times from the Abbé Aubrey to the Abbé Fanfreluche and finally to the Chevalier Tannhäuser.

 

‘The Abbé’, illustration from ‘Under the Hill’ by Aubrey Beardsley RESERVE–828.912-BEA

 

The work was initially intended to be published by John Lane in 1894 with 24 illustrations, although this publication never materialised. Beardsley later produced some new illustrations which appeared alongside parts of the text under the new title of ‘Under the Hill’ in the first number of ‘The Savoy’ magazine in January 1896. We hold a copy of the 1904 edition of ‘Under the Hill’ (RESERVE–828.912-BEA), an expurgated version which was published by John Lane, alongside “other essays in prose and verse” by Beardsley and some drawings. In 1907, the more adventurous publisher Leonard Smithers produced an unillustrated edition of the ‘complete’ work (which remained unfinished on Beardsley’s death), and more complete versions were privately printed at various dates afterwards. We also hold a 1908 edition of ‘Under the Hill’ in French, and a 1966 edition of a version of the text completed by John Glassco, which was originally published in 1959 by Olympia Press.

 

‘The Fruit Bearers’, illustration from ‘Under the Hill’ by Aubrey Beardsley RESERVE–828.912-BEA

 

All the editions of ‘Under the Hill’ that we hold, including issues of ‘The Savoy’ (no. 1-8) and other works illustrated by Beardsley, are available to view on request in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Further reading and references

Stephen Calloway, Aubrey Beardsley. London : V&A Publications, 1998. Special Collections open access reference: 741.6092-BEA/CAL or available to loan from the University Library at 741.942-BEA/CAL (3rd floor).

Matthew Sturgis, Passionate attitudes : the English decadence of the 1890s. London : Pallas Athene, 2011.

‘High art and low life : ‘The Studio’ and the fin de siècle’ : incorporating the catalogue to the exhibition High art and low life: The Studio and the arts of the 1890s, Victoria and Albert Museum, 23 June – 31 October 1993. [London?] : Studio International, 1993.

 

Detail from ‘The Toilet of Helen’, illustration from ‘Under the Hill’ by Aubrey Beardsley RESERVE–828.912-BEA

 

“Guardian angel” of the Cole Library: Dr Nellie B. Eales

Members of the Library staff came rapidly to recognise her sprightly, bright-eyed figure making its way to the Cole Library for a quiet and productive morning’s work. She had a cheerful greeting for all her friends, acquaintances and colleagues and many came to admire the astonishing vigour with which she laboured day after day to bring the catalogue to completion.

J. A. Edwards describing Dr Nellie B. Eales, A gift and its donor (1984)

Photos showing 90th birthday party held for Dr Nellie B. Eales in April 1979 (MS 5303)

Eales and Cole

Inscription from Eales to Cole in the Cole Library.

Eminent zoologist Professor F. J. Cole (1872-1959) was the foundation Professor of Zoology at the University of Reading from 1907 to 1939.

Cole was a lover of books. He started building up his collections from an early age, amassing a comprehensive and impressive library of between eight and nine thousand volumes of printed books alongside scientific papers. The collection includes very rare works by Hooke, Estienne and Topsell, for example. Cole actively used his collection in his research. His major historical work ‘A history of comparative anatomy’ (1944) was based substantially on his own collection of texts on comparative anatomy and the history of early medicine and zoology, from earliest times to the present day. Cole was also a ‘passionate and creative collector’ of animal specimens, with his collection forming the Cole Museum of Zoology.

Dr Nellie B. Eales (1889-1989) was a Senior Lecturer in Zoology at Reading and Cole’s colleague. Upon his death, Eales arranged for Cole’s library to be transferred to the University of Reading (Rigby, p. 601). Eales painstakingly created a two volume catalogue of the collection, based on Cole’s card index (retained at Special Collections).

While we know quite a lot about Cole, what do we know about Dr Nellie B. Eales? She was a well-respected zoologist. It seems evident she had a significant impact on Cole’s work and his collecting practices. I am currently working on a project to catalogue a selection of printed works from Cole’s library. Eales’ catalogue is an invaluable source of information and finding aid. I wanted to find out more about her.

The career of Dr Nellie B. Eales

Some of Eales’ work on elephants in the Cole Library collection.

Dr Nellie B. Eales (1889-1989) studied at Reading for her BSc which she gained in 1910. Reading gained its University charter in 1926, so at this time it was known as University College, Reading and its degrees were awarded by the University of London. She went on to a become Curator in the Department of Zoology in 1912, helping to keep the department going while her male colleagues were called up to fight in WWI. In 1919, Eales was appointed as a Lecturer in the Zoology department and later became a Senior Lecturer. In 1921 a report to the governors of University College, Reading states “the lecturer, Miss N. B. Eales, has been awarded the Research degree of Ph.D. of London University” (p. 31). A fellow of the Zoological Society of London, Eales researched and published on cheese mites initially, then on marine biology and African elephants. Due to the strength and significance of her research, she was awarded a Doctorate of Science in 1926.

Inscription to Eales from author.

When the University was newly chartered in the late 1920s, it was not unusual for major faculties to be run by one Professor with a Lecturer for support. This was the case with Cole and Eales (supported by a Museum Assistant, W. E. Stoneman), as discussed by Holt in The University of Reading: the first fifty years (p. 16). It is clear that Eales was at the centre of the department during its formative years. It follows that she was so dedicated to the department, and the University, for the rest of her life.

Eales worked closely alongside Professor Cole, as a “student, colleague and friend”, as described in a report on the early history of the Zoology department in the University Archives. From her earliest days at Reading, Eales took an active interest in Cole’s collections of books and specimens. She helped to shape Cole’s collections during his lifetime and after his death in 1939.

All reports of Eales’ time at Reading indicate she took great pleasure in playing an active role in University life and in her field of research. Eales was a member of the University Senate 1928-42, only the second woman to sit on this board of governance (Holt, p. 275). She was involved in the Old Students’ Association at Reading, taught on Marine Biological Association courses at Plymouth, was President of the Malacological Society of London (1948-51) and editor the Journal of Molluscan Studies (1956-1969). The Journal published an obituary of Eales, written by Joyce E. Rigby, where much of this biographical detail is taken from, in 1990.

Cole’s “guardian angel”

In the case of zoology… the formidable figure of Cole still overshadowed the Department from retirement… Dr Nellie B. Eales acted as a kind of guardian angel over all Cole’s work.

Holt, (1977), The University of Reading: the first fifty years, p. 214

Though she retired as Senior Lecturer in Zoology at Reading in 1954, this was far from the end of Eales’ passion for her research and her dedication to the University’s collections. The University of Reading Library had acquired Cole’s vast library collection of many thousands of books upon his death in 1959. From 1964 the collection was housed in a special room on the top floor of the Library. Cole had created a card index for the collection. In order to make it easier for researchers to access the collection and discover what was in it, Eales agreed to produce a chronologically arranged printed catalogue of the extended Cole collection.

Extract from The Cole Library of Early Medicine and Zoology : catalogue of books, monographs and principal papers… / by Nellie B. Eales.

The Cole Library of early medicine and zoology catalogue was published in two parts, in 1969 and 1975 (when Eales was 76). Packed with valuable information about each title, such as about illustrations, provenance and binding, Eales’ catalogue is indispensable to any user of the Cole Library. The catalogues are an incredible piece of research in their own right and have been enormously helpful as I catalogue a selection of titles from the Library collection.

A gift and its donor: Reading’s Book of Hours

Velvet binding of Book of Hours donated by Eales.

In the early 1980s, over 25 years since Eales had retired, she was to offer Reading an item which still stands as one of our most valued treasures.

The surprising and delightful item in question was a Book of Hours produced in Paris in the early 1400s. A Book of Hours is essentially a personalised prayer book of Christian devotion which was popular in the Middle Ages. The gift is described by J. A. Edwards (former Archivist at Reading) in A gift and its donor: some account of MS 2087, presented to the Library by Dr Nellie B. Eales, formerly Senior Lecturer in Zoology in the University (1984).

The stunning Book of Hours donated by Eales consists of 185 leaves of intricately written script, elaborately decorated in blue, red and gold, with borders in an ivy-leaf design, also including other flowers such as columbines, wild strawberries and bluebells. The book itself has a luxurious red velvet binding and red leather slip case, this would have been added later, probably in the 1800s. The early history of the Book of Hours (now given manuscript number 2087) is not known. We know that it at one time belonged to a Henry White and was sold at Sotheby’s with other books from his collection in 1902.

Book of Hours MS 2087

Eales clearly took great pleasure in studying this magnificent item. Her notes (some written inside the cover) reveal how she went to great lengths to identify the wild flowers in the border decoration and to identify and list all the Saint’s depicted in the illustrations.

A “strong personality”

‘Nellie B’ as she was affectionately known… a strong personality: she will be remembered with respect

Joyce E. Rigby describing Eales in an obituary written in 1990.

Sophie Cole (Professor Cole’s sister) wrote many early Mills & Boon titles. Several contain her inscriptions, this is an example of a book gifted to Nellie.

As soon as I started research to discover more about Eales, it became clear how closely her work and that of Cole were tied together. Both Cole and Eales published scientific works and wrote about Cole’s work, his collections and his career. But Eales never seems to have written a great deal about herself. The main sources of information about Eales I found were documents in the accession file for Cole’s archive, an obituary of Eales by Joyce E. Rigby in the Journal of Molluscan Studies in 1990, Holt’s The University of Reading: the first fifty years (1977) and A gift and its donorwritten by one of the University’s first archivists (J. A. Edwards) in 1984.

The more I find out about Eales, the more intrigued I am by her. Surviving records give the impression she was inspired by Cole and contributed greatly to his work. I struggled with how to begin this post – I couldn’t find a way to begin with Eales without placing her in the context of Cole. Yet Eales was clearly strong, respected, intelligent and prominent not only in University life but in the wider research community. It seems likely she was among the first women to study for a Ph.D. at Reading. She kept the Zoology department going during WWI and was active in its formative years. It is clear that her dedication to the University and her work was steadfast throughout her long life.

Claire Clough (Project Librarian: Cole)

More information

Please contact the Reading Room to book an appointment to view items from the University Archives, the Cole Library or the Cole Archive (MS 5315). We also have a small collection of Eales’ notes and papers (MS 5314).

The Cole Library of Zoology and Early Medicine, University of Reading. (1960). Nature, 188, 4757, (1148-1151).

Eales, N. B. (1969-75). The Cole Library of Early Medicine and Zoology: catalogue of books, monographs and principal papers.

Edwards, J. A. (1984). A gift and its donor: some account of MS 2087, presented to the Library by Dr Nellie B. Eales, formerly Senior Lecturer in Zoology in the University.

Holt, J. C. (1977). The University of Reading: the first fifty years.

Rigby, J. E. (1990). Obituary: Nellie B. Eales. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 56, 4, (601).

LGBT History Month: Publishing pacifism, ‘perversity’, and prosecution

Written by Anna Murdoch, Graduate Trainee Library Assistant.

You never quite know what you could find browsing the shelves in the rare book store, and how you could reach into the archives of both Special Collections and the MERL to find connections to a particular work. As a former English Literature student, I particularly enjoy the Reserve, the general rare books collection. Not everything has been catalogued yet so you could find an unknown gem sitting pretty, or plainly, on the shelf. Having done research into publications by lesbian and bisexual women, certain books were going to draw my eye. Last autumn, I discovered one such book.

A hidden gem

The unassuming blue cloth cover of Despised & Rejected

Despised & Rejected is a novel set amongst pacifists during World War I. It was published in 1918 under a pseudonym – A.T. Fitzroy – by Rose Allatini. Allatini was a young female author who had been published by Mills & Boon, and Allen & Unwin. In the case of Despised & Rejected a less high-profile publisher (at least in our contemporary consciousness) appears on the title page and the spine, unassumingly covered in blue cloth: C.W. Daniel.

An exciting moment came upon opening the book. The front endpaper is adorned with nothing less than the bookplate of Lytton Strachey, writer, critic and member of the Bloomsbury set.

The bookplate of Lytton Strachey found in the Special Collections copy of Despised & Rejected.

This in itself is pretty fascinating, proof of his, a gay man’s, ownership of a book with gay and lesbian characters. He has signed the front free endpaper, dating it with what I assume to be the month he read it. In pencil he has added an address: “The Mill House, Tidmarsh, Pangbourne, Berks”. This is famous as the location rented by Strachey and artist Dora Carrington and as place where they were visited by other figures of interest during LGBT history month: Duncan Grant and John Maynard Keynes.

A photograph of Tidmarsh Village taken by Philip Collier in the early 20th century.

‘Ishmaelites’ at Allen & Unwin

The story of how C.W. Daniel came to publish this novel can be traced in the archives of Allen & Unwin here at the University of Reading. Allatini had hoped to publish with them a second time as they had published her well-received Root and Branch in 1917.

The sequence of events began in the August of 1917 when Allatini sent in her manuscript provisionally entitled “Ismaelites”. She expressed to Mr. Reynolds, a solicitor hired by the company to act as secretary, she hopes it will find favour in his sight.

The next date of significance is that of Bernard Miall’s reader’s report, later in August. At five pages, full of comically outrageous expressions, it is quite a read. Miall opines that “music does not stimulate sex – except in Germans” and that “if Russian women can fight Germans surely sexual perverts can”. He feared that the “effect [of her work] will not be pleasant; the average female reader will ever after be filled with hectic jealousy of her fiancé’s or husband’s male friends”.

Publishers at the time were under the shadow of the Defence of the Realm Act (D.O.R.A.) and this is obvious reading Miall’s report. He wonders if the military censor reads novels and condemns Allatini – not for making her central character, Dennis, a pacifist, but an “illogical pacifist”. Additional condemnation is expressed for mixing up two subjects “both unpopular, and both under an official ban”. Dennis bears the brunt of Miall’s critique, but Antoinette, the central female character, is subject to a different angle of aggression. Miall espouses the idea that “once she has been subjected to a certain amount of masculine love-making, [she] becomes normal”. He describes Antoinette as having a “schoolgirl infatuation” and that “nine times out of ten it [same-sex desire] is due simply to immaturity and repression”. This recalls the contemporary concern about the school as a single-sex environment: that they were unhealthy and didn’t adequately enforce what we would now label ‘compulsory heterosexuality’. Yet Miall, towards the end, writes “it is too good to lose if you can publish it. Can you?” No, was the strong and firm message from higher authorities. Edgar L. Skinner, who was out on war service, read the manuscript and wrote in early October that he had

no hesitation in saying that if in a moment of madness you were to publish it, you would most certainly find yourself in Bow St [magistrates’ court]. I have seldom read anything so crudely improper.

He ended by begging them to “pray therefore return it hastily lest worse befall you”.

Stanley Unwin, in The Truth about a Publisher touches very briefly upon this episode. Unwin writes that C.A. Reynolds had indicated to the “authoress” (Allatini is unnamed) that they would be receptive to publishing her manuscript and he would therefore feel sorry having to deny her. Reynolds asked for a publisher to redirect her to. Unwin writes he expressed that, due to the subjects involved, the only name he had to suggest was that of C.W. Daniel. Daniel had already been prosecuted under D.O.R.A. for his own pamphlet which attacked Lloyd-George’s war policy.

In the correspondence found in the archive both Unwin and Reynolds kept their opinions on ‘Ishmaelites’ closely held. Reynolds only expressed that he believed the police would find Marie Stopes’ Married Love more objectionable in comparison. Indeed, the only critique one can find is the “geographical and topographical eccentricities” Unwin wrote to Allatini about in September. Later that month, they arranged to meet in person to discuss coming to a “mutually satisfying arrangement” regarding her manuscript. Nothing is to be seen of these discussions, or of the personal impression of her work that she sought from him in early October. Sadly, they do not wend their way into the letters.

Although it was clear Allen & Unwin would not be publishing her work Allatini continued to write to them until the end of the year. In early December she wrote that Edward Carpenter was coming to town on about the 18th. Carpenter was an activist for the rights of homosexuals, was himself gay, and someone Allatini consulted about her manuscript whilst he was in London.

Despised & rejected at C.W. Daniel

At the end of December, Allatini wrote to Mr Unwin that as a result of a “terrific upheaval” within her family, who she described as “very military + narrow-minded”, she would have to publish under a pseudonym due to her economic dependence upon them. By this point, her contact with C.W. Daniel had been established and she described Mr Daniel as “very much distressed” that he would be unable to use the positive publicity generated from Root and Branch. She mentions Edward Carpenter in this letter and she conveyed to Unwin that he believed it a good enough work to attract attention on its own merits and the unknown element would not make much difference. Allatini did confess to seeing the merits of a pseudonym if the book were a failure, or, she writes with foresight “suppressed by the police”.

C.W. Daniel advertised the new publication as being a “vigorous and original story” dealing well with both conscientious objectors and “so-called Uranians whose domestic attachments are more in the way of friendship than of ordinary marriage”. Subsequent advertisements used quotations from the Times Literary Supplement identifying the author’s sympathy as “plainly with the pacifists” and “her plea for more tolerant recognition of the fact that some people are, not of choice but by nature, abnormal in their affections is open and bold enough to rob the book of unpleasant suggestion”.

The Saturday Review published a brief, punchy review of Despised & Rejected on the 6th of July 1918. The reviewer proclaims that “the author’s standpoint is pitifully repellent. Her defence of homosexual feeling is based on misunderstanding [sic] of Edward Carpenter”, but states she has “power of observation and description” and that with “experience, and more love and respect for ordinary people the author may do well”. The mention of Carpenter is rather hilarious with the knowledge gleaned from the archives that he had already read the work himself and, in a fashion, given it his seal of approval.

As Allatini and Allen & Unwin foresaw, legal trouble did follow the publication of the book. The Times reports the day after a court appearance that C.W. Daniel and a director Charles William Daniel were

summoned for making statements in a book entitled ‘Despised and Rejected’ likely to prejudice the recruiting, training, and discipline of persons in his Majesty’s forces, and for having 234 copies in their possession

It seems the argument offered by the defence was that it was “a novel, not a tract or a pamphlet”. The question of obscenity was not being prosecuted but Alderman Sir Charles Wakefield described the book as “morally unhealthy and most pernicious”. This echoes the words of James Douglas, infamous for his earlier attacks on D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow and later Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness.

The defence did not prevail and Daniel was ordered to pay £460 in fines and court costs. Interestingly, Stanley Unwin contributed to the fund because he felt guilt for having enabled the publication. Daniel published a pamphlet after the legal troubles subsided proclaiming that he had not been aware the book contained such “depravity” and he would rather have a book burnt than “be party to lending support” to homosexuals. This claim may be believable to some but taking into consideration every individual who is documented to have read the manuscript was aware of the content it strains credulity. Taking the pre-publication advertisements into account stresses this even further.

Daniel had only printed 1,012 copies of Despised & Rejected. After the prosecution, in October 2018, 234 copies were seized, leaving 778 in circulation. Fortunately, the copy that now resides in the University of Reading’s Special Collections was formerly owned by Lytton Strachey, a gay conscientious objector and was therefore, one would think, at very little risk. The book found its way to the library at the University of Reading in roughly the late sixties after being donated by Lytton Strachey’s sister-in-law, the psychoanalyst Alix Strachey.

 

References:

‘C.W. DANIEL’, The Times Literary Supplement, (London, England),Thursday, May 09, 1918; pg. 221; Issue 851.

‘Despised & Rejected’, The Times Literary Supplement, (London, England), Thursday, May 23, 1918; pg. 239; Issue 853.

‘Despised and Rejected’, The Times Literary Supplement, (London, England),Thursday, June 20, 1918; pg. 286; Issue 857.

‘Despised And Rejected’, The Times, (London, England), Friday, Oct 11, 1918; pg. 5; Issue 41918.

Fitzroy, A.T., Despised and rejected, London: C.W. Daniel, [1918] – Reserve—821.912-ALL, University of Reading Special Collections.

Parker, Peter, ‘Differently decent’, The Times Literary Supplement, (London, England), Friday, August 19, 1988; pg. 916; Issue 4455.

Rich, Adrienne, ‘Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence’, Signs, Vol. 5, No. 4, Women: Sex and Sexuality (Summer, 1980), 631 – 660.

Simmer, George, ‘C.W. Daniel, radical publisher’, Great War Fiction, (https://greatwarfiction.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/c-w-daniel-radical-publisher/), [accessed 16th January 2019].

‘The Mill at Tidmarsh: bohemian days leave a rich legacy’, The Telegraph, 18th June 2010,
(https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/period-property/7827396/The-Mill-at-Tidmarsh-bohemian-days-leave-a-rich-legacy.html) [accessed 16th January 2019].

‘Tidmarsh Village (2906)’, P DX323 PH1/E191/4, Philip Osborne Collier Photographic Collection, The Museum of English Rural Life.