World Poetry Day (1): International Women’s Day

This month we are celebrating both International Women’s Day (8th March) and World Poetry Day (21st March). Therefore, we are showcasing material held in the Special Collections and Science Fiction Foundation collections which contains poetry written by women who personally or professionally impacted greatly on their respective field of literature.

Phillis Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773)

Poems on Various Subjects was authored by Phillis Wheatley. Phillis was purchased as a slave by John Wheatley, a Boston Merchant and Tailor, in 1761. She was tutored by John’s children in reading and writing, and wrote her first poem ‘To The University of Cambridge, New England’ at the age of 12. She was relieved of her domestic duties by the Wheatley family, and encouraged  to continue working on her literature. An illustration of Wheatley by Scipio Moorhead, another Boston slave, is provided in the frontispiece; the below extract is taken from a poem within the volume written by Wheatley in return. Our copy belonged to one of the William’s of the Rathbone family (by date most likely IV or V), as signed on the title page. 

SPEC Y77.3.255

To S.M. a young African Painter, on seeing his Works (p. 114).
When first thy pencil did those beauties give,
And breathing figures learnt from thee to live, 
How did those prospects give my soul delight,
A new creation rushing on my sight?

Radclyffe Hall, Rhymes and Rhythms (1948)

Rhymes and Rhythms was published posthumously in an edition of only 500 numbered copies in Milan. Our copy from the Zania collection is numbered as “5”. The text is provided in both the original language of English as well as Italian. Radclyffe Hall (1880-1943) is best known for her work The Well of Lonliness, which when published in 1928 was subject to a trial for obscenity and banned in Great Britain. A self-described “invert”, she lived with two long-term female partners during her lifetime, hence the dedication page inscription “Dedicated to Our Three Selves”.

SPEC ZANIA E68

Those Who Have Eyes… (p.61)
As I took my way down a certain street,
I saw a shop with a corpse of meat,
And a horse that hadn’t enough to eat,
And a cur that limped on neglected feet,
And a cat that rubbed its sores on a wall,
And a lobster that crawled about a stall,
And an organ monkey coughing and small.
But the sight that filled me with deepest rage, 
Was a nightingale in a six inch cage.

Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay (and various others), Five Finger Piglets: Poems (1999)

Carol Ann Duffy and Jackie Kay contributed to this anthology for children, Five Finger Piglets: Poems. Duffy was appointed poet laureate in 2009, and she is the first woman, first Scot, and first openly LGBT person to hold the position; Kay is the third Scottish Poet Laureate, appointed in 2016, and also identifies as LGBT. Our copy of the anthology is held in the SPEC Patten series, as Brian Patten also contributed to this volume. The poetry is understandably centered upon many themes that would be familiar to children (such as friendship disputes at school and losing a ball in the neighbours garden), but, nonetheless, the volume is a excellently fun read for adults, too.

SPEC Patten 108 © 1999 Macmillan Children’s Books, Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay

Excerpt from Dracula (p. 36-7), by and © Jackie Kay
I crawled along the pine floor to my father’s bed.
It was empty. Just a white pillow and a headrest.
My dad gave a large guffaw from the balcony. 

Took off his black cape; threw back his head, 
said, ‘Got you there didn’t I?
Okay. The Joke’s over. Back to your bed.’

Can you believe that? All I am asking is:
who needs imagination, a fear or a dread, 
when what we’ve got is parent’s instead?

Charlotte Brooke, Reliques of Irish Poetry (1816)

Reliques of Irish Poetry was first published in the late eighteenth century. Brooke (c. 1740–1793) was passionate in the preservation of Irish culture and heritage through translating traditional poetry. Our beautiful gilt-tooled calf-bound copy of the 1816 reissue includes an extensive biography of Brooke’s life, as well as poetry and prose in both English and Irish. The text contains poetry of varied types, including quasi-epic style heroics, elegies to loves lost, and odes to wars.

SPEC Y81.3.426

Elergy III, exerpt (p. 260, attributed by Brooke to Edmond Ryan)
For thee all dangers would I brave,
Life with joy, with pride exposing, 
Breast for thee the stormy wave,
Winds and tides in vain opposing.

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination (2004)

As one of the most influential female Science Fiction authors of all time, Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018) is best known for her fiction, including The Left Hand of Darkness (1969; which won both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1970). However, in her 2004 collection of non-fiction essays The Wave in the Mind, she explores themes including the family, on being a woman, Tolkein, and writing. One particular interesting essay is her thoughts on stress rhythms in poetry and prose; she demonstrates, using various texts, the technique and necessity of reading with stress and rhythm in mind.

PX320.L34.W38 2004 © Ursula K. Le Guin

The observation of a pattern, even a arbitrary pattern, can give strength to words that otherwise would be bleating like lost lambs. (p. 78)

All the above can be consulted in the reading room. As usual, please do contact scastaff@liverpool.ac.uk for more information.

Love Your Library

For National Libraries Day on Saturday 7 February, and Valentine’s Day a week later, Special Collections and Archives staff have each chosen a favourite item from the collections to introduce. Their choices can be seen throughout February in the SC&A display cases, and here’s a quick overview:

Jenny Higham, Special Collections and Archives Manager:

A wry look at the “gentle madness” of book collecting, written for the amateur bibliophile by Scots poet, novelist, literary critic and anthropologist Andrew Lang (1844-1912).

Andrew Lang, The Library. Liverpool University Library: SPEC NOBLE D.8.26

Andrew Lang, The Library. Liverpool University Library: SPEC NOBLE D.8.26

 

Andy Sawyer, Science Fiction Librarian:

Skimming through these “World of Tomorrow” cards gives us an interesting glimpse into a science fictional future presented outside the usual channels of science fiction.

Science Fiction Foundation Collection SPEC PX3425.W67 O/S

World of Tomorrow cigarette cards. Science Fiction Foundation Collection SPEC PX3425.W67

 

Jo Klett, University Archivist:

From about 1961, aged 16, Brian Patten began to think of publishing his work and produced several typescript handmade poetry booklets. These, now incredibly fragile, are a precursor to his later published poetry magazine Underdog.

Patten/1/1/59/5 Handmade poetry booklet (fragment)

Patten/1/1/59/5 Handmade poetry booklet (fragment)

 

Katy Hooper, Special Collections Librarian:

Only one copy has been recorded in the world of this 1751 pamphlet.  The Chester bookseller, John Rowley, advertises his other services on the title-page as a sort of 18th-century eBay:

18th century sermon SPEC LGP 800

18th century sermon SPEC LGP 800

 

Siân Wilks, Cunard Archivist:

Taken on board the Cunard Liner R.M.S. Ascania II during embarkation, this photograph shows Princes Landing Stage, Liverpool in 1952. Chosen because it illustrates the proximity of the landing stage to the Three Graces, this bustling port scene captures a moment in time in the ever-evolving Pier Head of Liverpool.

Cunard Archive D42 PR2/9/9/3

Cunard Archive D42 PR2/9/9/3. 1952 Photograph of Princes Landing Stage

 

Josette Reeves, Archives Cataloguer:

Discovered recently amongst the Allott papers (a collection of material belonging to former English Professors Kenneth and Miriam Allott). This item relates to the dramatisation of E. M. Forster’s novel A Room with a View by Kenneth Allott and Stephen Tait.

 

University Archive D1073/1/2/4. Flyer for 1950 production.

University Archive D1073/1/2/4. Flyer for 1950 play of A Room with a View.

 

Clare Foster, Assistant Librarian, Special Collections:

Vernon Lee is the pseudonym of the English writer, Violet Paget (1856-1935), famous for her supernatural fiction and her works on aesthetics, who also wrote a number of essays on travel as she spent the majority of her life in Italy. She forged a lasting friendship with the writer Henry James and SPEC ZAINA E.5 was Henry James’s personal copy of Lee’s The Sentimental Traveller, given to him by Vernon Lee in 1908.

SPEC Zaina E.51. Signature of Henry James.

SPEC Zaina E.51. Signature of the novelist Henry James.

 

Edd Mustill, Graduate Library Assistant:

This is one of a number of zines collected by the music journalist and author Paul Du Noyer, who worked on the New Musical Express between 1978 and 1985.

The zines give an insight into the important of fan-created journalism to the alternative music scene of the 1980s. This issue features interviews with The Jesus and Mary Chain, DJ John Peel, and footballer Pat Nevin.

 

D1106/4/3/2 Cover of Slow Dazzle issue no. 6

D1106/4/3/2 Cover of Slow Dazzle issue no. 6

 

Colin Smith, Graduate Library Assistant:

Within the University archive we hold a collection of photographs and a pilot log book for former Liverpool University student Captain Henry T Forrest of the Royal Canadian Air Force. He flew a Wellington III plane during the Second World War.

Recently there was an enquiry from a relative tracing their grandfather (Sgt FM Crossman) who flew as part of the aircrew as an M.U with Henry T Forrest during 1944 for a single mission. Using the log book we were able to identify the exact location of this mission.

 

Captain Henry T Forrest. Photograph of crew D.993.4.7

Captain Henry T Forrest. Photograph of crew D.993.4.7

 

Advent and After: 10. Christmas Chants and Carols

With only two weeks of advent remaining it comes time for us to warm up our singing voices with some traditional Christmas song. A. H. Bullen’s “A Christmas Garland: Carols and Poems from the Fifteenth Century to the Present Time” was published in 1885 and is a marvellously festive collection.

"Dread ye nought, said the Angel bright, Salvator mundi natus est", Zaina.E9

“Christmas Chants and Carols” records many songs that are familiar to us today; “The First Nowell”, “God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen” and “In The Bleak Midwinter”; as well as some that have rather fallen from the popular conscience, such as “Saint Stephen Was A Clerk” or “Three Damsels in the Queen’s Chamber”.

The second part of the book holds the “Carmina Sacra”, or the sacred songs of Christmas time. It includes hymns and verse such as “On The Morning of Christ’s Nativity” by John Milton, and “For Christmas Day” by Francis Kinwelmersch.

"With footsteps sore, from door to door, we trudge through sleet and snow", Zaina.E9

The third section documents the songs associated with a number of Christmas traditions, such as that of wassailing and the Boar’s Head Feast. It also notes the tradition of the Yule log, in the poem “Ceremonies for Christmas”. The poem was written by Robert Herrick, incidentally the first person to record the tradition in Britain. Writing in the 1620s or 1630s, he portrayed the “Christmas log” as being brought into the house by whooping farmhands, whom the farmer’s wife would then reward with all of the drink they could take. Herrick noted that the log was supposed to bring prosperity, and that when set alight to music with the remnants of the last year’s log, it would protect the house from evil for the next twelve months.

"Come bring with a noise, my merry, merry boys, the Christmas log to the firing," Zaina.E9

 Come, bring with a noise,
My merry, merry boys,
The Christmas log to the firing;
While my good dame, she
Bids ye all be free,
And drink to your heart’s desiring.

 With the last year’s brand
Light the new block, and
For good success in his spending,
On your psalteries play,
That sweet luck may
Come while the log is a tending.

 Drink now the strong beer,
Cut the white loaf here,
The while the meat is a shredding
For the rare mince-pie
And the plums standing by,
To fill the paste that’s a kneeding.