Delightful and Useful Verities: Rider’s British Merlin

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

The Rider’s British Merlin is a charming almanac featuring a variety of ‘delightful and useful’ information.  Important calendar dates; notes on the weather, phases of the moon and advice on farming and health are noted by month, while historical timelines and lists of members of the house of peers and house of commons feature as additional reference material.

UMASCS have a collection of Rider’s almanacs dating back to the early eighteenth century:

Shelf of copies of Rider's British Merlin

Rider’s British Merlin

The 1790 edition is depicted below; it has a beautiful red binding with metal clasps:

Rider's British Merlin, 1790. A red book with metal clasps.

Rider’s British Merlin, 1790

In early November 225 years ago, people were anticipating ‘Cold and frosty mornings and evenings’ and a bit of apple pruning on the farms…

Calendar page for November 1790

Calendar page for November 1790

…meanwhile the monthly health advice suggests partaking in ‘Good exercise, warm clothes and a wholesome diet,’ alternatively, you could just get some rest until March.

Calendar page for November 1790

Calendar page for November 1790

Interestingly, the blank pages between monthly dates and advice were meant for use as diary pages.  Although this copy is note free, the University of Glasgow’s Special Collections copy has been annotated by its owner, George Langton (1647-1727), a Lincolnshire landowner and businessman.

If you would like to know more about almanacs take a look at the exhibition UMASCS held earlier this year.

UMASCS also have a catalogue and handlist of almanacs held at the University of Reading that was produced as part of the UROP project.  It is held in our open access reference collections at call number 528.2-LIN.  There are several books on the topic, also available in the open access book reference collections:

  • Perkins, M. (1996) Visions of the future : almanacs, time, and cultural change, 1775-1870.  Oxford : Clarendon Press. [Call Number: 032.02-PER]
  • Capp, B.S. (1979) English almanacs, 1500-1800 : astrology and the popular press. London : Faber & Faber.  [Call Number: MARK LONGMAN LIBRARY–133.50941-CAP ]