Using Primary Sources: new open access e-textbook launched

Special Collections & Archives has been a key contributor in “Using Primary Sources”, a newly launched Open Access teaching and study resource that combines archival and early printed source materials with high quality peer-reviewed chapters by leading academics.

Edited by Dr Jonathan Hogg, Senior Lecturer in Twentieth Century History at the University of Liverpool, with over 30 academics contributing, this project is a collaboration between Liverpool University Press, the University of Liverpool Library and JISC, and is available for free on the BiblioBoard platform.

Special Collections & Archives has provided images for several chapters across the Medieval, Early Modern and Modern anthologies. Dr Martin Heale’s chapter on Popular Religion features high resolution images from some of SC&A’s illuminated medieval manuscript treasures, including the Dance of Death scene in MS.F.2.14, a French Book of Hours from the late 15th century.  Death is represented as a rotting corpse, followed by a procession of a pope, an emperor and a cardinal. The depiction is intended to have a moral message: a reminder the end is the same for all, regardless of their wealth or status. The accompanying chapter provides the context for the interpretation of such primary sources, so as to better understand attitudes to popular religion during this period.

Dance of Death, Book of Hours (Use of Chalons), LUL MS F.2.14 f82r

Both the Cunard archive and the Rathbone papers feature in Dr Graeme Milne’s chapter on Business History, whilst items from our children’s literature collections have been selected for Dr Chris Pearson’s chapter on the Environment. Some of these items are also used in teaching classes, where students have the opportunity to see and interpret the volumes for themselves.

A. Johnston, Animals of the Countryside, 1941. Oldham 485

Title page of A. White, The instructive picture book, 1866 JUV.550.2

From the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament ephemera collected by Science Fiction author John Brunner to a 14th century English Book of Hours, “Using Primary Sources” is both a valuable showcase for SC&A’s collections, and an important open access resource for students.

The textbook can be accessed via the Library catalogue, or directly from:

You can read more about the project on the Liverpool University Press website, as well as an interview with editor Dr Jon Hogg.

Follow “Using Primary Sources” on Twitter @LivUniSources to find out when new themes are added to the e-textbook. Forthcoming chapters for launch in 2017 include Science & Medicine, Gender and Political Culture.

Peers Visiting Writer 2017:

On 17 February, colleagues in Hispanic Studies, Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, celebrated the 2017 Edgar Allison Peers Symposium with a day devoted to Spanish poetry. The Annual Peers Lecture was delivered this year by Luis García Montero, who is not only a Professor in Spanish poetry at the University of Granada but also an award winning poet (winner of the Premio Nacional de Poesía, Premio Nacional de la Crítica, Premio Loewe, and other awards.).

García Montero is a very socially committed and engaged poet (the Spanish Civil War features heavily in his poetry), and he is also deeply influenced by the work of the ‘Generación del 27’, including Damaso Alonso, Jorge Guillen, Pedro Salinas, Peers’s contemporaries. Peers himself invited Luis Cernuda to the University to give talks when Cernuda was in exile in the UK.

Speakers and delegates from the Symposium were invited to view a selection of items from the Edgar Allison Peers collection in Special Collections & Archives, alongside related Spanish Civil War era items from the E. J. Burford and Manuel de Irujo collections. Highlights included the contemporary press cuttings relating the escape of the University of Liverpool Summer School students from Spain, and Burford’s eyewitness account from Barcelona on the outbreak of war in July 1936. Attendees were also delighted to discover a scarce 1936 English translation of Spanish poetry by Rafael Alberti, A Spectre is Haunting Europe – Poems of Revolutionary Spain 

This Week’s War: 134


“On the 24th of February, for the first time since the commencement of trench warfare on the Western front, the enemy began a movement of retreat… the area of ground already yeilded by him [Germany] is already great”.

The British Front in the West: February 1917 [SPEC S/D525 (P.C. 286)].

This Week’s War: 131


Germany in reply to allies statement of terms, declares they will begin a wholesale war upon all shipping – rental vessels included. This created a serious situation with United States: and darkens peace hopes.

Wednesday 31st January 1917. Diary of John Glasier [GP/2/1/24].


The Mersey Sound

Photograph (n.d.) Photograph of Brian Patten, Adrian Henri, and Roger McGough. McGough/12/2/2

Photograph of Roger McGough, Adrian Henri and Brian Patten (n.d) McGough/12/2/2 Copyright: Mark Marnie

Influenced by the success of the Beatles and the resultant media interest in Liverpool, the heady days of the mid-1960s saw Penguin Books take the decision to devote a volume of their prestigious Penguin Modern Poets series to three virtually unknown young writers. The Mersey Sound’s optimistic print run of 20,000 copies was expected to last ten years.  Published in 1967, it sold out in three months, and went on to become the one of the bestselling poetry collections of all time.

As fresh, exciting and irreverent as the decade itself, the anthology “brought poetry down from the dusty shelf and onto the street”. The three voices of Adrian Henri, Brian Patten and Roger McGough, known popularly as the ‘Liverpool Poets’, were key figures in the city’s burgeoning underground culture.  Linked by art schools and cultural happenings rather than academia, each poet has their own individual style, but are united in their influences and the immediacy of their subject matter and language. Their popularisation of poetry, and interest in its connection with art and music, marks an important development in post-war poetics, and lent a peculiarly English (and indeed Liverpudlian) twist to the Beat movement.  As former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion has written, “The Liverpool poets are important because the early appearance of the work marked an unusually dynamic and original movement in British poetry, and because their continuing achievement has been loved by a large public”.

Fifty years since The Mersey Sound was first published, we are celebrating the enduring popularity of Adrian Henri, Brian Pattern, and Roger McGough with a Special Collections and Archives exhibition.  The notebooks, typescripts, artwork, posters and photographs, taken from our archives, and collected by the poets themselves, piece together the story of the three unique poets from Liverpool and their rise to national acclaim.

Adrian Henri, stanza from the poem 'The New Our Times' later published in The Mersey Sound. Henri C/1/4

Adrian Henri, stanza from the poem ‘The New Our Times’ later published in The Mersey Sound. Henri C/1/4

This Week’s War: 128


“The history of Austro-Serbian relations is the record of a prolonged struggle between the forces of autocracy and democracy, oppression and freedom…. The real “Provocation by Serbia” was a praise worthy yearning after the blessings of a free and independant exsistence”.

(In reference to the ‘German Note to Neutral Powers relative to the Entente Reply to the Peace Proposals, January 11, 1917’)
Crawfurd Price, The Dawn of Armageddon, or “The Provocation by Serbia” (vide German Note to Neutrals, Jan 11, 1917), pp. 3, 67 [S/D525 (P.C 13)].

New Acquisitions: November

The Special Collections and Archives department has welcomed three notable accessions written by women to their collections in November.

Mont Blanc, and other poems by Mary Ann Browne, who is the sister of the more well know Liverpool poet Felicia Hemans, has been catalogued and added to the SCA collections. As SCA had acquired a portion of Hemans’ correspondence and archive previously, this new item makes an excellent accompaniment to this collection.

Mont Blanc, and other poems. SPEC 2016.b.024

Mont Blanc, and other poems. SPEC 2016.b.024

As well as containing the poems of fifteen-year-old Mary, the item has an interesting provenance history including a poem tipped into the beginning of the volume which begins “I know, my love, thou art false to me …”, a manuscript copy of the poem which appears on page 119. The book also bears the inscription of Mary Hiles, which has been cut away from the title-page, and a cut-out and handcoloured floral image pasted to the upper paste-down.

SPEC 2016.b.024 paste-down

Paste-down. SPEC 2016.b.024

"I know, my love, thou art false to me ..." SPEC 2016.b.024

“I know, my love, thou art false to me …” SPEC 2016.b.024

Poems by one of the authors of “Poems for youth, by a family circle” is written by Jane Roscoe (later Hornblower), the daughter of Liverpool luminary William Roscoe, who wrote “Butterfly’s Ball” for his family.

SPEC 2016.a.019(2)

SPEC 2016.a.019(2)

This handsome 1821 volume is bound in blind stamped pink calfskin and is one of only four reported copies in the UK. The Liverpool connection makes this edition a fine complement to the collections here which already boasts many items by or related to the Roscoe family.

Blind stamped pink calfskin. SPEC 2016 a.019

Blind stamped pink calfskin. SPEC 2016 a.019

Fabulous histories by the Suffolk author and educationalist Sarah Trimmer (1741-1810) uses stories from the animal kingdom to further children’s moral education and to teach about cruelty to animals. This 1786 copy is bound in 18th century sheepskin and is one of only 8 reported copies in the world. Many other works authored by the prolific Mrs Trimmer can be found in our children’s book collection, making this volume an excellent addition to the collections.

Fabulous histories. SPEC 2016.a.020

Fabulous histories. SPEC 2016.a.020

As ever, these items are available for consultation in the reading room here at SCA.

Spooky Collections and Arrrgh-chives!


Halloween is thought to originate from a Gaelic festival called Samhain that marked the end of the harvest season and the start of a new year. On this day, that stood on the verge between summer and winter,  it was believed that the boundaries between our world and the other-world would blur.

Today, Halloween is a great excuse to eat sweets, douse yourself in fake blood, and indulge in a bit of self-inflicted, adrenaline inducing, fear.

We are, it seems, and always have been, obsessed with the spine chilling and mysterious. We’ve picked some spooky books to wet your Halloween appetite. Prepare for a scare.


We have a plethora of anatomy books (SPEC Anatomy) in Special Collections and Archives that were once part of the Medical School Library and used for teaching.

We couldn’t resist including these chilling images, taken from John Gordon’s Engravings of the Skeleton of the Human Body published in 1818.

‘This Plate exhibits a front and lateral view of the dried Skull of a Man, of a medium stature, aged thirty-one years […] the length of the line a, b, b, a on the Skull, was exactly four inches and three quarters.’

‘This Plate exhibits a front and lateral view of the dried Skull of a Man, of a medium stature, aged thirty-one years […] the length of the line a, b, b, a on the Skull, was exactly four inches and three quarters.’ [SPEC P.2.12 ] John Gordon, Engravings of the Skeleton of the Human Body, (London: T. & G. Underwood, 1870).

p. 8

View an online version here

Vikram and the Vampire is a collection of ancient Indian folk tales that were translated by the accomplished explorer and all-round fascinating Victorian gentleman, Richard Francis Burton. Richard F. Burton was a founding member of the Gypsy Lore Society, started in 1888 by scholars interested in the songs, stories and language of the Romany Gypsies. You can explore the Gypsy Lore Society Collections at Special Collections and Archives.

Published in 1870, Vikram and the Vampire tells the story of a clever and scheming vampire/evil spirit that animates dead bodies.This spooky first edition is complete with Ernest Griset’s grotesque illustrations.

Viram and the Vampire by Richard F. Burton (SPEC Y87.3.1916)

Viram and the Vampire by Richard F. Burton, Illustrated by Ernest Griset (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1870) [SPEC Y87.3.1916]

p. 64

View an online version here 

Halloween isn’t just for the adults – spooky tales for children also surface in our collection of  more than 7000 pre-First World War children’s books. Four Ghost Stories by Mrs Molesworth contains four tales of encounters with ghosts, set in the nineteenth century. Mrs Molesworth, or Mary Louisa Molesworth, was a late Victorian children’s author. Nightmare inducing ghost stories for children…Mrs Molesworth has a lot to answer for. We hold a number of works by Mrs Molesworth at Special Collections.

Mrs Molesworth, Four Ghost Stories, (London: Macmillan and Co., 1888).



You can view any of the items here at Special Collections and Archives, Sydney Jones Library, Liverpool University.


Parker Archive now online

Following our post last month about a new deposit relating to Admiral William Parker, we’re pleased to say that this collection is now catalogued and searchable on the SC&A website.

William Parker (1800-1873)

William Parker (1800-1873)

The archive documents the personal and professional life of Parker, who served in the Imperial Brazilian Navy from 1823 until his retirement in 1867.

Naval records in the archive include notes appointing Parker to various commands, some signed by Thomas Cochrane, the controversial officer who served as the inspiration behind author Patrick O’Brian’s character Captain Jack Aubrey (played by Russell Crowe in Master and Commander).

Cochrane appoints Parker to the rank of Second Lieutenant in the Imperial Brazilian Navy, 3 April 1823

Cochrane appoints Parker to the rank of Second Lieutenant in the Imperial Brazilian Navy, 3 April 1823

There is also a substantial amount of material, including correspondence, photographs, and financial and business records, relating to Parker’s children, Flora, Guillermo, Maria, and Augusto, and other family members.

Flora Parker (1830-1904), eldest daughter of William Parker

Flora Parker (1830-1904), eldest daughter of William Parker


Most of the papers are in Spanish or  Portuguese, though invaluable summaries, transcriptions and translations have been provided by the depositor (William Parker’s great-great-grand-daughter).

Something in the water? Liverpool and the literary fantastic.

Space Diversions back coverThe author Clive Barker’s biographer, Douglas E. Winter, writes: “Some have suggested, jokingly, that there was something in the water in the Liverpool of the 1960s – or, perhaps that Carl Jung was right, and Liverpool is indeed the pool of life.”

We all know that Liverpool is famous for music . . . but the city and surrounding region has always been home to some of the greatest names in science fiction, fantasy and horror.

“Something in the water?” celebrates Merseyside’s connection with writers of the fantastic:

• the pre-war Liverpool sf fan group out of which a host of British science fiction writers came:
• Olaf Stapledon, who whose epic future-history influenced a young Arthur C. Clarke
• Eric Frank Russell, the first British writer to win a Hugo award for science fiction
• Fanzine-publisher Bill Harry who went on to promote his friends the Beatles in Mersey Beat.

• And modern writers of the fantastic such as Clive Barker, Stephen Baxter, and Ramsey Campbell, winner of the World Fantasy Society’s lifetime achievement award.

• Ken Campbell’s Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool and artists such as Dan Dare creator Frank Hampson and Josh Kirby (famed for his covers for Terry Pratchett) are also remembered – as are works by a new generation of sf and fantasy writers such as Priya Sharma and Debbie Johnson, comic book stars such as Leah Moore, John Reppion, Tim Quinn and John Higgins, and film greats such as Alex Cox.

The exhibition is launched as part of the University’s LIGHTNIGHT celebration of culture on May 13th. On Saturday 14th May, Andy Sawyer will be joined by award-winning author Pat Cadigan at Liverpool Central Library to discuss The History of Science Fiction in 10 Objects – carefully selected from the science fiction treasures in Special Collections and Archives!