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!

The Bidston Lighthouse and Signals

Nicola Scott, Assistant Curator Decorative Art at National Museums Liverpool, discovers a fascinating aspect of Liverpool’s maritime history in the Special Collections Library.

I recently chose a jug in our decorative art collections to put on display at the Walker Art Gallery. One side of the jug features a view of the Bidston Lighthouse and Signals, with a key showing the different flags of the signalling system in colour. This subject was a popular design on cream-coloured earthenware in late 18th century England and its representation on ceramics has been a source of interest to writers ever since.

April2016 jugfullNML

©National Museums Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery

The Bidston Lighthouse and Signals

I decided to do some research on the jug and aim to publish this. I wanted to establish when and where the jug was made.  I thought that identifying the print on the jug would help and began by finding out more about the Bidston Signals themselves.

The Bidston Signals was a fairly simple system designed to give advance warning to merchants that their ship was in Liverpool Bay. Vessels were allocated a flag, which was hoisted from a particular flagpole when the ship was seen in the bay. The ship owners were able to see the signals on Bidston Hill from the town of Liverpool. This became a famous tourist attraction and people came to marvel at this well-known landmark.

I discovered that over the years the number of flags and ship owners represented grew from 14 in 1778 to 195 in 1820. The version on the jug lists 75 ship owners, shown here:

April2016 jugNML

©National Museums Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery

April2016 1820frontI thought that if I could identify the date of the print on the jug, this would give a clue as to the date of manufacture. My search took me to the wonderful Special Collections Library, a valuable resource for original archival research.

A rare book containing 19th century pamphlets [SPEC G35.19(11)] proved to be an important piece of evidence showing the Bidston Signals in 1820. It was a real privilege to be able to view this, particularly as it was on display at the time at the Victoria Gallery and Museum.


This print with 195 flags flying in 1820 showed that the jug with 75 flags was much earlier.


My quest to find the exact print on the jug proved elusive and the search goes on! Taking other factors into account, I concluded that the jug was probably made between 1800 and 1805 at the Herculaneum Pottery in Liverpool.  You can see the jug in Room 13 at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.  It is on display with other ceramics made in the city until Sunday 15 May.

Moira Lindsay, Curator, Art Collections, Victoria Gallery and Museum added to the quest this picture of a mug from the ceramics collection, with another version of the signals.

Farewell to February

As February finishes, we can hope to say Goodbye to the worst of the winter weather, and winter illnesses. But if February viruses linger, our new collection of former Pharmacology Library books might provide some remedies. The collection is being catalogued at present and is the first to make use of new search features for provenance in the Library catalogue, allowing users to follow the story of individual books as they passed from owner to owner.

Two notable figures have appeared in the story of the Pharmacological Library to date, both eminent figures in their field: Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton, 1st Baronet, FRS (1844-1916) and Walter James Dilling (1886-1950).

The evidence for Brunton’s ownership takes the form of an ink name stamp:

Y88.3.324 Lauder Brunton's name stampBrunton was knighted in 1900 for his work in pharmacology, following more than three decades as a physician and teacher in Edinburgh and London. A pioneer in the field of experimental pharmacology, he became the acknowledged leader of the emerging pharmacological profession, particularly associated with the use of amyl nitrate to treat angina pectoris.  A Fellow of the Royal Society, it was said of him that,

his aim was to leave therapeutics, if possible, as a science instead of merely an art, as he found it.

(Source: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography).


A few books with Brunton’s name stamp also have the name stamp and initials (WJD) of Walter James Dilling:

Y87.3.263 Walter J. Dilling Name StampDilling, a fellow Scot,  worked and taught at Aberdeen, Glasgow and London and, like Brunton, also spent time studying in Germany. In 1920, four years after Brunton’s death, Dilling became a lecturer in Pharmacology at the University of Liverpool, where he remained until retirement, having been appointed to the newly created Chair of Pharmacology in 1930, and nominated to the General Medical Council in 1938, becoming Chairman of its Pharmocopoeia Committee.

Unlike Brunton’s books, which were all published in his lifetime, Dilling clearly had an interest in the history of his subject, which he may have wished to foster by donating his books to the Pharmacology Library, including John Lindley’s Flora Medica (1838).

As the cataloguing progresses, more stories may emerge, for example the connection between the Pharmacology Library at Liverpool and books from the Sheffield Royal Infirmary and the Sheffield Medico-Chirugical [i.e. Surgical] Society Library:

Y88.3.326 Sheffield Medico-Chirurgical Society Library Bookplate