New Accessions: Verse

SC&A was recently able to acquire some 22 items printed or published in Liverpool during the late eighteen or early nineteenth centuries, to add to its already extensive collections of local history, literature and publishing. Several items were displayed in Manuscripts and More on 17 August. Among the rest of the recent acquisitions are several in verse. 150 years before The Mersey Sound, Liverpool already had a busy community of poets such as Sarah Medley, whose book of Original poems: sacred and miscellaneous (1807; SPEC 2017.a.019) was printed here by James Smith; Robert Merdant, author of Country people; or, Pastoral poetry (1810), printed locally by Thomas Kaye (1810; SPEC 2017.a.008), and T. G. Lace, whose Ode on the present state of Europe was printed by M. Galway & Co in 1811, during the Napoleonic wars (SPEC 2016.PF1.14).

The vision for coquettes. An Arabian tale (SPEC 2017.c.006) a poem of unknown authorship, was printed by John M’Creery in 1804 and sold by, among others, the well-known Liverpool poet, abolitionist and bookseller Edward Rushton from his shop in Paradise Street.

An extract from The vision of coquettes

Several of the new items feature William Roscoe (1753-1851), the most prominent member of Liverpool’s intellectual community at this date and its most prolific author. These new items include several political pamphlets and one of his scientific works, A new arrangement of the plants of the monandrian class usually called scitamineae, published in London during Roscoe’s brief career as MP for Liverpool (1807; SPEC 2017.c.008).

SC&A also now hold one of the few copies in the UK of his anti-slavery campaign poem, The wrongs of Africa (in two parts: London 1787-8; SPEC 2017.b.011). Roscoe’s writing career had started with an Ode, printed in a few copies in 1774, which was then added to a meditative verse account of the area he was brought up in: Mount Pleasant: A descriptive poem which was printed at Warrington in 1777 (SPEC G11A(32.5)). The wrongs of Africa was his next poem, and marked a complete change of direction, inaugurating as it did the work of a circle of abolitionist poets living and working in Liverpool. These included Rushton, whose West-Indian eclogues appeared later in 1787 (in London); the Irish émigré engraver Hugh Mulligan, author of Poems chiefly on slavery and oppression (London, 1788), Peter Newby’s The wrongs of Almoona (printed by H. Hodgson in Liverpool, 1788), and Thomas Hall’s Achmet to Selim, or, The dying negro (printed in Liverpool by M’Creery in 1792). Part one of Roscoe’s poem was published in May 1787 and part two in February 1788; it was republished in Philadelphia later that year. More copies of the Liverpool printing survive in America than do in Britain; ours is one of eight copies known in UK libraries. It was formerly in Worcester Public Library.

Roscoe’s poem was published in an era when writing by slaves was, for obvious reasons, hardly known at all. Letters of the late Ignatius Sancho, an African, had appeared in 1782, and The interesting narrative of the life of Olaudah Equiano, one of the earliest formal autobiographies by a former slave, came out in 1789. Meanwhile abolition-minded writers in Liverpool and Bristol supplied the deficiency through the medium of poetic scenes and narratives in which slaves, normally denied a voice, were imagined to state their feelings to a sympathetic readership. The point was to engage public feeling by focusing on realities of life on the plantations and the suffering of the enslaved Africans. Roscoe complemented his verse tale with a soberly-argued prose account, A general view of the African slave-trade, demonstrating its injustice and impolicy: with hints towards a bill for its abolition (1788).

The poem is more psychological and emotive than economic or political in focus. According to the ‘Advertisement’ to the Part Two, it was originally planned in three parts, to focus sequentially on Africa, the passage to America, and the colonies, but only two parts were completed. Part One asks readers to transform the ‘sensibility’ they bring to the reading of sentimental fiction to active human sympathy in a pressingly real situation. It also addresses slave masters and the captains of slaving ships and a local ‘veteran trafficker’, in an attempt to provoke examination of the strange and twisted psychology involved in the enslavement of other human beings. It takes readers on an imaginary journey to Angola, portrays the peaceful life of the inhabitants before traders arrive, and blames the traders for corrupting local customs and covering the continent with fear. An inset story of two brothers, Arebo and Corymbo, caught up in a devastating raid, gives the narrative direct human appeal. Part Two imagines the passage to America from the perspective of the captured Africans. A planned revolt is bloodily thwarted. Its leader, Cymbello, an African prince educated in political principles similar to Roscoe’s own, and partly formed on the model of Aphra Behn’s seventeenth-century ‘royal slave’ Oroonoko, dies courageously with his lover in the carnage.  The last pages of the poem are devoted to a wide-ranging history of the concept of Freedom and a final address from Freedom herself, prophesying her final victory over the tyrants and enslavers of Europe and the world.

A year after Part Two was published, the French Revolution appeared to begin to dismantle the institutions of oppression (as they were perceived by Roscoe and his political allies). It would be another twenty years before the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act finally passed the House of Commons, and decades more before the practice itself was outlawed; but poems like Roscoe’s were an important initial element in the campaign, defiantly continued by Roscoe and his colleagues in Liverpool, Bristol and London, to bring the atrocities of the trade to public view and to stimulate human sympathy for an otherwise largely voiceless and invisible mass of people. It is fitting that this rare printed item should return to the place where it was written.

A guest blog post written by Paul Baines from the Department of English.

Valentine’s Day

For Valentine’s Day this year, we’re highlighting five love-themed items in Special Collections & Archives…

John Wyndham’s poems for Grace Wilson

Science-fiction author John Wyndham is best known for his novels, including The Day of the Triffids (1951) and The Midwich Cuckoos (1957), but he also dabbled in poetry. His archive features several verses, most of which he wrote for Grace Wilson. They married in 1963, though they had been partners for around 30 years by the time they tied the knot.

Wyndham 8/4/1: 1944 Valentine from Wyndham to Grace Wilson

Wyndham 8/4/1: 1944 Valentine from Wyndham to Grace Wilson

Wyndham 8/6/2: 1962 Valentine from Wyndham to Grace Wilson

Wyndham 8/6/2: 1962 Valentine from Wyndham to Grace Wilson

 

Love Letter from George James Boswell to Hannah Chason

Percy Boswell was Professor of Geology at the University of Liverpool, 1917-1930, and his archive collection mostly consists of his academic and professional papers, such as essays, notes and correspondence. However, this letter, from Boswell’s great-grandfather George James Boswell, has also survived. It is addressed to Hannah Chason and is an ardent expression of Boswell’s love. He describes how his sincere friendship has ‘ripened into an affection of a more tender nature,’ and reassures her of his ‘perfectly honourable’ intentions, before proposing marriage. And marry they did, in 1855.

D4/2/2 Love letter from George James Boswell to Hannah Chason

D4/2/2 Love letter from George James Boswell to Hannah Chason

 

The Quiver of Love: A Collection of Valentines Ancient and Modern

Published in 1876, The Quiver of Love comprises verses from the likes of Christina Rossetti, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Sir Philip Sidney, along with a host of others, collected together in a volume which could be given as a gift, ‘either as a token of esteem, or as an indication of deeper regard.’ It also includes beautiful colour illustrations by artists Walter Crane and Kate Greenaway.

JUV.569:9 The Quiver of Love

JUV.509:9 The Quiver of Love

 

Happy Homes and How to Make Them (or Counsels on Love, Courtship, and Marriage)

This volume by J. W. Kirton, published in the 1870s, is packed full of advice in areas such as ‘Courting and Popping the Question,’ ‘The Mutual Duties of Married Life’ and ‘The Public-House the Rival of Home.’ To young men seeking a wife, the author urges them to ‘select the daughter of a good mother,’ ‘see that she is of domestic habits’ and ‘seek one that knows the worth of money,’ but warns them to ‘never trifle with any young woman’s affections, for it is cruel and wicked in the extreme.’ Women are advised to choose a mate who is respectable, careful, honest and healthy and, once married, to dress neatly but not extravagantly, learn to submit, and not talk about their husbands’ failings abroad (‘for if you have married a fool, it is not wisdom to go and tell every one that you have done so’).

JUV.414:2 Frontispiece of Happy Homes, and How to Make Them

JUV.414:2 Frontispiece of Happy Homes, and How to Make Them

 

Emblems of Love, in four languages

Emblem books, which first emerged in Europe in the 16th century, comprised symbolic pictures accompanied by mottoes, verses or prose. This volume, by poet and translator Philip J. Ayres, features beautiful engravings alongside verses in Latin, English, Italian and French; it is thought to date from the late 17th-early 18th century.

H35.26 Emblems of Love

SPEC H35.26 Emblems of Love

New Exhibition: Local Literary Landscapes

This year sees the exciting launch of the inaugural Liverpool Literary Festival, running 2830 October 2016. To celebrate, a new exhibition at Special Collections & Archives is highlighting the work of those literary figures who have sought inspiration from Liverpool and the surrounding area, particularly local poet Matt Simpson. His newly-acquired archive provides the bedrock for the exhibition and reveals just how much his work was influenced by Liverpool; his verses are full of the city and its people.

Matt Simpson returns to his childhood street

Matt Simpson returns to his childhood street

Simpson (1936-2009) grew up in Bulwer Street, Bootle, where he attended the local grammar school.  He went on to study English at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, and returned to Liverpool in the 1960s after his marriage to German actress Monika Weydert. He taught in various schools and colleges, including Christ’s College (now Liverpool Hope University). He published many collections of poetry, including some for children, as well as critical essays and monographs. He also undertook a poetry residence in Tasmania, which inspired his collection, Cutting the Clouds Towards (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1998). But it was the city where he grew up and lived most of his life which would be his most enduring inspiration.

SPEC Merseyside Poets I.S615.M23 : Matt Simpson, Making Arrangements (Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe, 1982)

SPEC Merseyside Poets I.S615.M23 :
Matt Simpson, Making Arrangements (Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe, 1982)

The exhibition also includes impressions of the city recorded in the poems, autobiographies and travel diaries of a host of others, from novelist Daniel Defoe to physicist Oliver Lodge, social reformer Josephine Butler to poet Donald Davie.

The exhibition will run until the end of the year. In 2017 we’ll be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mersey Sound, the anthology of poems produced by the ‘Liverpool Poets’ Brian Patten, Roger McGough and Adrian Henri.

Pilots in the Port of Liverpool

We were very pleased to acquire and catalogue four pamphlets on pilots in the Port of Liverpool, a timely acquisition given the Maritime Museum’s current exhibition In Safe Hands: The story of the Liverpool Pilots.

An Act for the better regulation and encouragement of pilots for the conducting of ships and vessels in and out of the port of Liverpool.

An Act for the better regulation and encouragement of pilots for the conducting of ships and vessels in and out of the Port of Liverpool.

 

The exhibition celebrates 250 years of the Liverpool Pilotage Service and these pamphlets, thought to have been printed in Liverpool, detail the Act which sought to improve piloting in the Port of Liverpool. These four 18th century items were unrecorded by the English Short Title Catalogue and so are an exciting and rare acquisition for the Library.

"A petition signed by sixty-five licensed pilots, praying that, for reasons therein assigned, they might be permitted to form a joint stock of their earnings ..."

“A petition, signed by sixty-five licensed pilots, praying that, for reasons therein assigned, they might be permitted to form a joint stock of their earnings …”

The items also detail the local rules developed specifically for the port of Liverpool and the reaction of the pilots to the new legislation. The exhibition will be at the Maritime Museum until 4th June 2017 and these items are available for consultation in the reading room here at SCA.

Not those kind of aliens, although we have plenty of those in the SCA collections!

Not those kind of aliens, although we have plenty of those in the science fiction collections here at SCA!

Baking in the Archives: puds, pies and towers of sugar

We’re celebrating the welcome return of the Great British Bake Off by showcasing some of the lesser-known, baking-themed items from our collections!

SC&A houses thousands of children’s books, including a few featuring cakes, pies and puddings, such as this gem of a picture book: A Apple Pie (1886), by highly influential  illustrator Kate Greenaway.

The first spread from Kate Greenaway's A Apple Pie

The first spread from Kate Greenaway’s A Apple Pie

Her amazing artistic abilities complement this tale of various children trying to get their hands on a tasty apple pie, with each letter corresponding to a different activity, for example:

Oldham 791 A Apple Pie (F and M)

Beatrix Potter’s The Roly-Poly Pudding (1908) recounts the (rather terrifying) tale of a mischievous kitten who attempts to hide from his mother and ends up in the chimney. Here he bumps into some nefarious rats who roll him up into a pudding. Thankfully he’s saved before things take an even darker turn.

JUV.188.10 The Roly-Poly Pudding

Our collection of children’s books also contains guides for the aspiring cook and baker. The Little Girl’s Cooking Book (1923) exhorts grown-ups to ‘Let the Little Girl try her hand at Cooking, if she wants to do so. Knowledge gained in this direction will be of practical worth to her throughout her life, no matter what her calling or position.’ It’s full of useful information, such as how to lay the table, clear away the breakfast things (‘Do everything with as little noise as possible!’) and make lunch for mother. It also contains numerous recipes, including those shown here, deemed suitable for when friends come round for a birthday tea.

Oldham 495 Little Girl's Cooking Book (Lemon Dream Cake)

Oldham 495 Little Girl's Cooking Book (Cocoanut Buns and Chocolate Cakes)

The Liverpool School of Cookery Recipe Book (1911) compiled by E. E. Mann covers everything from broiling to larding and is packed with recipes, including this intriguingly-named offering.

JUV.1401.1.2 Liverpool School of Cookery Recipe Book

It’s just not cakes the Great British Bake-offers have to create, of course, but savoury pies too. Recipes for a multitude of sweet and savoury dishes can be found in Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1755). Gibblet pie anyone?

Art of CookeryFrom the amateur, aspiring cooks and bakers, to the professionals. The following are just a few examples of the spectacular sugar work created by chefs aboard Cunard liners in the 1950s.

Cunard sugar work: the leaning tower of Pisa and a BBC camera!

Cunard sugar work: the leaning tower of Pisa and a BBC camera!

 

 

 

Are they sitting comfortably? Putting books on display

Special Collections & Archives was a contributor to the recent Knowledge is Power exhibition at the Victoria Gallery & Museum, lending several items from its collections.  Focusing on the development of two of Liverpool’s oldest surviving cultural institutions, the Athenaeum Club and the Liverpool Medical Institution, the exhibition showed how libraries shaped elite culture in the Liverpool, but also how the power of books was opened up to the wider population in the reforming decades of the early Victorian era.  The exhibition items loaned from Special Collections & Archives, chosen to reflect the long history of libraries in Liverpool, included a view of the Lyceum building (1 Bold St) painted onto the fore-edges of a printed catalogue.

A room from the Knowledge is Power Exhibition in the VG&M

A room from the Knowledge is Power Exhibition in the VG&M

What are the main factors which need to be considered when preparing books for display in an exhibition such as this?  Before any loan is agreed, the institution making the request must be able to guarantee appropriate environmental conditions and security.  The relevance of the item for the narrative context of the exhibition is also important.  How will it be displayed?  What is the opening required in the book? Will text, illustrations or bindings need to be shown?  Special Perspex cradles are constructed for each item based on the specific opening required; large, heavy books will need a cradle with a thick lower edge to prevent the text block moving; in the example of the Lyceum catalogue mentioned above, the mount needed to display the book at such an angle and with just the correct amount of light to allow the viewer to see the fore-edge painting without exposing it to damage.

Of course, there would be no question of considering mounts and cradles if the basic condition of an item meant it was too fragile to display at all, and perhaps the major factor influencing exhibition loans is the physical condition of the item itself.  At a basic level, the physical state of a document is influenced by the manner of its production and this, along with knowledge about the impact of environmental factors upon materials, informs how we look after collections and make them accessible.  Special Collections & Archives contains many different types of material: medieval and modern manuscripts; early and finely printed books; modern printed collections including newspapers, posters, photographs and ephemera; audio-visual and digital media.  These all present different preservation challenges.

It can be easy to assume that the older an item, the more at risk it is, but there are some important factors influencing physical condition which are not necessarily related to the age of the item. The technology of printing, binding and paper making remained more or less the same from the beginning of printing in the mid-15th century right up until the early 19th century.  Letters were set by a compositor, inked and pushed against a sheet of paper by a hand press machine operated usually by two men, one to apply the ink and one to operate the levers.  Paper was made of pounded linen rags, mixed with water and sieved, and then stabilised with animal gelatine. Books tended to be sold unbound, and though some remained in paper covers, if money allowed leather bindings were created and the text block was hand sewn with cords well secured to the boards.  These processes, though laborious, used natural materials which stayed strong.  However, in the 19th century the growth of a mass market and the concomitant increase in mechanisation meant linen rags couldn’t meet the demand.  It was replaced by wood pulp (which is chemically and mechanically weaker) and binding also became cheaper and more mechanised.  The effect of these changes can be easily seen when a flaky 19th century newspaper, discoloured by acidification, is compared with the thickness of laid (chain-lined) paper in a 16th century church Bible.

Examples of perspex book rests made for displays.

Examples of Perspex cradles made for displays.

It stands to reason that books couldn’t be exhibited at all if they weren’t cared for properly on a day to day basis.  To preserve material, we need to understand its physical composition.  In Special Collections & Archives our holdings date from the 1st century BC to the present day and include papyri, parchment (prepared animal skin), vellum (specifically calf skin- from the French veau), photographs, and audio-visual material and digital files.  Even in one single printed book there will be different types of paper, glue, ink and binding materials, which will decay at different rates. The chemical stability of parchment and vellum is good, but is very susceptible to the impact of moisture in the atmosphere, and as humidity fluctuates the material will crinkle (known as cockling).

Environmental guidelines are set down in Public Document 5454 – A guide for the storage and exhibition of archival materials. Light is of course the main cause of damage, explaining the low levels of light in exhibitions. Coupled with humidity and temperature, the stability and level of these environmental factors are key considerations the borrowing institution must agree to maintain. Light damage is cumulative and irreversible – cellulose weakens, paper bleaches and darkens, and ink in type and illustrations will fade. UV light is the most damaging, so it is important that no natural light enters storage areas and artificial light is only turned on when needed.  Protection can also be provided via storage in archival quality boxes. Items on long term loan in exhibitions will have the pages turned regularly.

Temperature and humidity are mutually dependent – a high humidity level will hasten chemical reactions and mould growth, whereas a low level dries out paper and parchment, making it brittle.  Fluctuations are the most dangerous as materials will expand and contract as they absorb and release moisture – as well as cockled paper, the finish on photographs may crack.  Photographic media benefits from very cold conditions and benefits from specialist storage, such as that available in the North West Film Archive. The ideal for a mixed media store is that conditions are controlled to achieve a temperature between 13 and 16 degrees Celsius and a Relative Humidity between 45 and 60%.

All this ongoing activity must be complemented by correct handling procedures.  Although white gloves often seem to function as media shorthand for precious material, their use is not general recommended by conservators, archivists and librarians. As there is a higher chance of gloves being dirtier and affording a less sensitive touch than clean, bare hands, their use is more liable to cause damage.  Archival quality plastic gloves are recommended for handling photographs.  Opening books without special supports strains spines, hence the use of book cushions, snakes and weights.  Familiarity with handling guidelines and use of such supports are an intrinsic part of using any special collections and archives reading room.  Rules forbidding use of pens and wearing of coats are not solely based around security – ink can easily be inadvertently transferred and coats bring moisture and dirt into what needs to be a controlled environment.

What is the difference between preservation and conservation? Preservation covers the type of environmental issues we’ve considered and is perhaps best seen as an ongoing management process.  Conservation is generally taken to mean a specific treatment involving intervention, which may be required in order to make an item suitable for display. Modern conservation ethics mean the historical integrity of the item is respected and professional conservators will understand both the history of an item, its production, physical characteristics and the scientific qualities of the materials it is composed of. Conservation work can include surface cleaning of pages, de-acidification, removal of old repairs, sewing, mending tears using Japanese papers, re-backing, rebinding and box making.  Conservation is not about trying to restore something to a perceived original state, or trying to make it look nice – it is primarily undertaken to ensure the unique history and provenance of an item is preserved for research and for posterity.

This blog post is based on a talk given by Jenny Higham, Special Collections & Archives Manager, at the Victoria Gallery & Museum in March 2016, as part of the associated programme of events accompanying the “Knowledge is Power” exhibition.

Knowledge is Power

Knowledge is Power

Knowledge is Power exhibition at the Victoria Gallery & Museum

The current exhibition at the Victoria Art Gallery & Museum – Knowledge is Power -reflects on the Liverpool Athenaeum and Liverpool Medical Library (now Liverpool Medical Institution) as Liverpool’s oldest surviving cultural institutions. Items loaned from Special Collections & Archives, chosen to reflect the long history of libraries in Liverpool, include a view of the Lyceum building (1 Bold St) painted onto the fore-edges of a printed catalogue. A portrait of William Roscoe presides over the exhibition, watching benignly over important books and manuscripts from his own collection.

Knowledge is Power exhibition at the VGM

Knowledge is Power exhibition at the Victoria Gallery & Museum

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

 

Twittering about Burns

Edward Rushton's poem on Robert Burns in SPEC Y78.3.747

Edward Rushton's poem on Robert Burns in SPEC Y78.3.747

For the occasion of Burns Night, celebrated on 25 January, Manuscripts and More has a guest editor: Professor Paul Baines of the School of English has uncovered the author of an anonymous sonnet in memory of Robert Burns copied into one of our 18th century books, as he explains below….

“The Scottish poet Robert Burns died on 21 July 1796, at the age of 37, and his death prompted a widespread outpouring of elegies and other poetic memorials across Britain. In Liverpool, several such elegies were published in The Liverpool Phenix [sic] or Ferguson’s Weekly Gazette, a local newspaper. Of these, four were then collected in a pamphlet called Liverpool Testimonials, to the Departed Genius of Robert Burns, the Scottish Bard, published by a firm of printers, Merritt and Wright, operating from Castle Street.

The book is not dated and so far no advertisements for it have been found, but it must date from within a few months after Burns’s death, as the idea of the publication was in part to help raise money for Burns’s widow and children, left by his death, as the preface indicates, in poverty. Thirty-five subscribers were listed, with the amounts donated to the cause. Dr John Currie, who would edit a large edition of Burns in 1800, heads the list with ten guineas, and there are contributions from William Roscoe, William Rathbone, the Rev. William Shepherd, several members of the Gladstone family, and two bookselling firms.

The publication was also designed as a sort of showcase for the talents of ‘the Gentlemen of Liverpool’ who wrote them, on grounds of their ‘distinguished merit’. By the 1790s, Liverpool could boast a lively coterie of poets, mostly of radical, reformist, and anti-slavery views.

We notice these circumstances with pride and pleasure, as we conceive they are not less characteristic of the taste for letters which has lately distinguished this town, than the liberal subscription raised here for the family of the unfortunate Bard, is characteristic of its benevolence.

The first three poems are by ‘J.B.’, identified in the Liverpool SCA copy as ‘Jno. Bree’; ‘G. P.’ (George Perry), and ‘W. R.’ (William Roscoe). The fourth printed poem is by ‘E. W.’, actually Edward Rushton, the blind poet and anti-slavery campaigner (1756-1814), and identified as such, in pencil, in the British Library and Liverpool copies. Rushton’s poem, a kind of tribute to Burns’s own ‘To a Mountain Daisy’, was reprinted in his volume of Poems (1806). Rushton was also a Liverpool agent for Currie’s 1800 edition of Burns, selling it from his shop in Paradise Street.

The manuscript ‘Sonnet’ about Burns reproduced above was written onto the blank final leaf of Liverpool’s copy of Liverpool Testimonials at some point relatively soon after publication. This has not been previously identified, but it is in fact also by Rushton, and was printed, alongside his longer elegy, in an Edinburgh book called Fugitive Pieces (1797), p. 103. It was also widely known in America, being reprinted in The Time Piece, 25 September 1797, The Medley, 20 October 1797, and New-York Gazette, 2 October 1797. Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 19 April 1803, printed it under the title ‘Helpless Swallow’, and ascribed it to Roscoe, and at least six other American papers to 1813 followed suit in that mistake.

Rushton himself included a revised version of the poem, now called ‘The Swallow’, in his book of Poems of 1806, and the poem gained in recognition and reputation following Rushton’s death in 1814. Another Liverpool paper, The Kaleidoscope of 22 November 1825, reprinted it from Rushton’s posthumous collection of 1824, as it ‘feelingly and beautifully depicted the power of sympathy for the suffering child of genius’; it then turned up in The Preston Chronicle, 13 October 1832, with some approving commentary on Rushton and his son, the political reformer also called Edward; and in The Leicester Chronicle, 26 January 1833. It was also quoted approvingly in an article on social issues in The Liverpool Mercury, 28 August 1846.

The manuscript text we have in our copy of Liverpool Testimonials is a fair copy,
not a working manuscript, and certainly not an autograph, though Rushton did,
after a series of operations, regain some sight in one eye from 1806-7. It was
probably copied in from a printed source to ‘complete’ the volume. The left hand
edge has been cropped in binding, but it is possible to reconstruct the text
fully from printed copies; it follows the ‘early’ text established in Fugitive Pieces (1797), rather than Rushton’s revised version of 1806, though it is likely that both Fugitive Pieces and the manuscript derive from a local newspaper printing, not yet found.

Sonnet.

Go place the swallow on yon turfy bed,

Much will he struggle, but can never rise:

Go raise him even with the daisy’s head,

And the poor twitt’rer like an arrow flies.

So oft thro’ life the man of pow’rs and worth,                            5

Haply the caterer for an infant train,

Like BURNS, must struggle on the bare-worn earth,

While all his efforts to arise are vain.

Yet should the hand of relative or friend

Just from the surface, lift the suff’ring wight,                               10

Soon would the wings of industry extend,

Soon would he rise from anguish to delight.

Go then, ye affluent, go, your hands outstretch,

And from despair’s dark verge, oh! raise the woe-worn
wretch.

22 November 2014 marks the bicentenary of Rushton’s death, and the city of Liverpool will be marking the occasion with an exhibition, a specially-written play, an academic conference, and two books from Liverpool University Press: an edition of the poems by Professor Paul Baines of the School of English and a critical study of his work by Dr Franca Dellarosa of the Università degli Studi di Bari “Aldo Moro”.

Libraries in the Atlantic World

Featured at #3 in Rough Guides’ Top 10 Cities to visit in 2014, Liverpool is being hailed for its “full-blown cultural renaissance”. From the 18th century onwards, libraries have been part of that culture, as shown in a new display in Special Collections & Archives.

Designed to accompany the Liverpool colloquium on ‘Libraries in the Atlantic World’ on January 24-25 – the launch event for a new international research network on community libraries – it showcases some of the books in SC&A’s collections which provide physical evidence of historic libraries around the city, selected by Dr Mark Towsey, from the University of Liverpool’s School of History.

Liverpool Library bookplate

A map of Liverpool shows the libraries’ locations, whether they have long since disappeared, or still form part of Liverpool’s rich architectural heritage. Liverpool firsts include the Liverpool Library, founded in 1758 and one of the first subscription libraries. It moved to the Lyceum building at 1, Bold Street (built 1800-02) which can be seen in the fore-edge painting (c.1813) by William Ball on a copy of the 1801 catalogue.

Nearly one hundred years later, in 1850, the Liverpool Free Public Library was established, followed in 1852 by one of the first major libraries to open under the Public Libraries Act (on Duke St) and in 1860 by the first purpose-built public library. This is Liverpool Central Library, recently splendidly refurbished in its original building on William Brown Street, which was renamed for the Library’s benefactor.

First class Library onboard the CaroniaWe could not resist extending the Libraries in the Atlantic World theme into the 20th century, to show photographs of libraries actually on the Atlantic, onboard the Cunard Line ships documented in the Cunard Archive.