William Blake and Liverpool

The recently opened exhibition at Tate Britain: William Blake: Artist includes Liverpool’s copy of the Meditaciones poéticas by José Joaquin de Mora (1783-1864), the only copy known in a UK library of this work, designed for the South American market.

This 1826 publication was inspired by one of the most famous poems of the 18th century, Robert Blair’s The Grave, and has plates based on illustrations by William Blake originally designed for a extensively promoted subscription edition (1808). Our loan features in the Independence and Despair section of the Tate exhibition, focused on Blake’s illustrations to ‘The Grave’ which came to define his reputation. The book, in the Tate curator’s words, is “a remarkable and unique demonstration of Blake’s penetration of the non-English world.”

Design by William Blake in José Joaquin de Mora, Meditaciones poéticas, 1826. SPEC H9.13

Liverpool’s copy (SPEC H9.13) has the University College Liverpool 1881 bookplate, with a presentation note: bequeathed by the Rev. John Hamilton Thom. The work is listed in the 1895 catalogue of Thom’s bequest: In memoriam John Hamilton Thom. List of books bequeathed by the late John Hamilton Thom to the Tate Library of University College, Liverpool with separate index of the books once belonging to the late Rev. Joseph Blanco White.

Thom (1808-1894), a prominent Unitarian minister in Liverpool, was also the executor of Joseph Blanco White (1775-1841). White and Mora were fellow Spanish emigrés, and both worked for the publisher Rudolph Ackermann: the connection probably explains the presence of Mora’s work in Special Collections.

Liverpool University Library was collecting works by William Blake (1757-1827) even before Thom’s bequest of the Meditaciones poéeticas: in 1892 the Liverpool solicitor and MP, A. F. Warr, gave his “delightful and almost complete series of reproductions of William Blake’s works” and the Library purchased the 1826 edition of Blake’s Job.

It is no coincidence that 1892 was also the year John Sampson (1862-1931) became the first full-time librarian at University College (later the University of Liverpool). Sampson was a renowned Blake scholar and in 1906 the Liverpool Courier, reviewing his then definitive critical edition of Blake’s Poetical Works, described the “broadening of public taste” in relation to Blake and of “the prominence of the part Liverpool has played in this essentially modern movement”.

Sampson’s scholarship was complemented by a more light-hearted approach to Blake’s poetry; in addition to a popular edition of a selection of Blake’s poems (1906) he also wrote Blake parodies (SP9/4/1/3), such as ‘Songs of Idiocy and Insanity’ and ‘The Girl’.

John Sampson’s parodies of Willimam Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience.
Sampson archive SP9/4/1/3
John Sampson William Blake parody ‘The Girl’. Sampson archive SP9/4/1/3

Liverpool University Press published a posthumous collection of Sampson’s work, In Lighter Moments: a book of occasional verse and prose (1934) and the Sampson archive holds drafts for the volume including unpublished work such as “After William Blake but before the new racing regulations.” (SP9/4/2/22).

The William Blake collections continue to be notable for facsimile editions of Blake’s work, including the important Trianon Press series, contemporary editions of works with engravings by Blake, and works on the critical reception of Blake as poet and artist, dating from Alexander Gilchrist’s Life of William Blake (1863), described in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as, “arguably the most important work ever published on Blake”.

Sampson’s scholarly contribution to William Blake studies is described by Angus Fraser in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography  as, “the restoration of the text of William Blake’s lyrics, long overlaid and ‘improved’ by editors. In the Poetical Works (1905) he established the definitive text, with much critical and bibliographical apparatus, and in the edition of 1913 included ‘The French Revolution’, never before published, and long selections from the ‘prophetic books’. Partly for his work on Blake, but more for his linguistic studies, he was awarded an honorary DLitt at Oxford in 1909”.

John Sampson’s editions of Blake from 1905 (centre), 1913 (right) and 1947 reprint (left)

New Exhibition: Liverpool University Press: ‘Forward-looking for 120 years’

This exhibition celebrates the 120 year anniversary of the conception of the Liverpool University Press (LUP) in 1899. Drawing on archival material held within the Liverpool University Press archive and LUP publications held within Special Collections and Archives and the University Libraries, this exhibition seeks to document and display the key points in the rich history of the Press.

As with the scholarly communities it serves, LUP’s fortunes have waxed and waned over many decades but the unfailing commitment of Press staff, authors and editors, and a wider community of scholars who understood the distinctive and important contribution of university press publishing, have helped to lay the strong foundation on which LUP stands today.

Publishing more than 150 books a year, 34 journals and a number of digital products, and still the only university press to have won both The Bookseller and IPG awards for Academic Publisher of the Year, Liverpool University Press has been widely acclaimed for its willingness to embrace change. To that end, the team at LUP have chosen to celebrate the future as well as the past in 2019 with the strapline ‘Forward-looking for 120 years.’

(reference D80/5/2)

The exhibition is available to view at Special Collections and Archives, Ground Floor Grove Wing, Sydney Jones Library. It will run from September 2019-January 2020. We are open Monday to Friday, 9:30am-4:45pm.

Tweet us at @LivUniSCA & @LivUniPress; alternatively, contact us at scastaff@liverpool.ac.uk for more information.

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: https://library.biblioboard.com/module/usingprimarysources.

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.

LUP: Then and Now 4.

The fourth April post from Special Collections & Archives celebrating Liverpool University Press‘s 10th (115th) birthday by showcasing each of the ‘Ten for £10′ landmark books published by LUP in the last decade, and pairing them up with a book published by the Press one hundred years ago. The ninth and tenth pairings match Chris Bongie’s Friends and Enemies (2008) with  John Rankin, A History of Our Firm: some account of Pollok, Gilmour and Co. and its connections (1908) and S. J. Connolly’s Belfast 400: People, Place and History (2012) with Primitiae: essays in English literature by students of the University of Liverpool (1912). Each new pairing will be added to the Special Collections & Archives display cases as the Ten for £10 list is revealed by LUP during April, and added to the blog with more about LUP: Then and Now.

Read more:

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LUP: Then and Now. 3

Continuing the April celebration of Liverpool University Press‘s 10th (115th) birthday, Special Collections & Archives is showcasing each of the ‘Ten for £10′ landmark books published by LUP in the last decade, and pairing them up with a book published by the Press one hundred years ago. The sixth, seventh and eighth pairings bring together Caoimhe Nic Dháibhéid’s Seán MacBride (2011) with Alexander Mair, Philosophy and reality: an inaugural lecture delivered in the University of Liverpool (1911); Bill Marshall’s The French Atlantic: Travels in culture and history (2009) with Annie Isgrove’s Eledone (or octopuses) from 1909; and The Letters of John Murray to Lord Byron (2007) with University College & The University of Liverpool 1882-1907, printed for the twenty-fifth anniversary. Each new pairing will be added to the Special Collections & Archives display cases as the Ten for £10 list is revealed by LUP during April, and added to the blog with more about LUP: Then and Now.

Read more:

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LUP: Then and Now 2

Continuing the celebration of Liverpool University Press‘s 10th (115th) birthday, Special Collections & Archives is showcasing each of the ‘Ten for £10′ landmark books published by LUP in the last decade, and pairing each one with a book published by the Press one hundred years previously, drawn from the complete collection of the Press’s output back to 1899. The fourth and fifth pairings bring together Tim Grady’s German-Jewish Soldiers of the First World War (2011) with John Glyn Davies, Welsh Metrics (1911) and David Ellis’, Memoirs of a Leavisite with (2013) with A Catalogue of the books collected by the late William Noble (1913). Each new pairing will be added to the Special Collections & Archives display cases as the Ten for £10 list is revealed by LUP during April, and added to the blog with more about LUP: Then and Now.

Read more:

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LUP: Then and Now 1.

Continuing the celebration of Liverpool University Press‘s 10th (115th) birthday, Special Collections & Archives is showcasing each of the ‘Ten for £10′ landmark books published by LUP in the last decade, and pairing each one with a book published by the Press one hundred years previously, drawn from the complete collection of the Press’s output back to 1899. The first three pairings bring together Faye Hammil’s Sophisitication (2010) with the University’s inaugural lecture on Naval Architecture (1910), John Belchem’s Liverpool 800 (2006) with The Liverpool students’ song book (1906) and Peter Bell’s Three Political Voices with Studies in Tuberculosis. Each new pairing will be added to the Special Collections & Archives display cases as the Ten for £10 list is revealed by LUP during April, and added to the blog with more about LUP: Then and Now.

Read more:

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Happy Birthday LUP!

Liverpool University Press is celebrating its 10th birthday since relaunch in April 2004 – and its 115th birthday too. To mark the occasion, Special Collections & Archives is showcasing each of the ‘Ten for £10’ landmark books published by LUP in the last decade, and pairing each one with a book published by the Press one hundred years previously, drawn from the complete collection of the Press’s output back to 1899.

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So alongside the award-winning Liverpool 800 (2006) and Sophistication (2010) are displayed The Liverpool students’ song book (1906) and the inaugural lecture on Naval Architecture (1910). Each new pairing will be added to the display as the Ten for £10 list is revealed by LUP during April, and added to the blog with more about LUP: Then and Now.