Christmas in SCA

If you have visited Special Collections and Archives since the start of December, and have seen our Christmas tree adorned with 2B pencils, latex glove baubles, and tinsel made from paper clips and unbleached cotton tape, then you will know that SCA is fully into the swing of Christmas.

Our latest Christmas-themed treasures event will take place Thursday 5th December 5pm – 6pm, and will look back at how Christmas has developed into the holiday that we know it as today.

As we approach the Christmas break here at the University of Liverpool, we wanted to share some of our festive favourites that will be shown at the event.


Newton, A. Edwards, The Christmas spirit, privately printed (1930) – SPEC K11.9(30)

This facsimile of the first ever Christmas card produced in 1843, shows a family celebrating together in the center, surrounded by images of charitable giving. This is a theme that became ever more popular in the Victorian-era, and other Christmas souvenirs were quick to follow in promoting concepts of charity and togetherness.

The idea for the card came from Henry Cole (1808 – 1882), in response to the growing number of unanswered letters he had received containing Christmas well-wishes. Looking for a way to reply to these letters quickly, Cole commissioned the artist John Callcott Horsley (1817 – 1903) to design a Christmas card.

Cole had more of these cards printed, and sold them at a shilling a piece. This was considered a lot of money for the period, and initially the idea didn’t cotton on. It wasn’t until a few years later that the idea of the Christmas card grew in popularity.

Dickens, C., A Christmas Carol: In Prose: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, (London: Chapman & Hall, 1843) – SPEC Y84.3.65  

This second edition of Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, from 1843, includes beautiful illustrations by John Leech.

In the century before its publication, as a result of industrialisation and social changes, Christmas traditions had fallen into decline. However the Victorian era marked the revival of old traditions such as Christmas carols, as well as the introduction of new ones, such as the Christmas card and the decorating of Christmas trees, which was popularised by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria.

‘A Christmas Carol’ was fundamental in re-popularising Christmas. Dickens (1812 – 1870) wrote the text in response to the growing problem of child poverty he had witnessed during his lifetime. He had hoped that the text would remind readers of the need to address wealth inequalities between the poor and rich, and that by encouraging Christmas traditions he would be able to promote ‘carol philosophy’, a term coined by Dickens to mean charity, generosity, and merriment.

The first print of six thousand copies had sold out by Christmas Eve, and since then the book has never fallen out of print.


Christmas Book (1930-1938) – RP XVB.4.7

This notebook from the papers of Sybil and Reynolds Rathbone shows just how much the concept of gift-giving and sending Christmas cards has grown since the Victorian era. The notebook includes pages of names of intended recipients for cards, calendars and presents.

The book records giving gifts such as chocolates and bath salts- not too different to today it would seem.

Also at the event there will be a selection of books from the Sci-Fi collection, which show the extent to which these modern concepts of Christmas have fed into popular culture since Dickens.

Tolkien, J. R. R., Letters from Father Christmas, (London: Harper Collins, 1999) – PR6039.O32.L47 1999 O/S  

This book contains letters written by J. R. R. Tolkien (1892 – 1973) to his children, pretending to be Father Christmas, sharing stories of life in the North Pole and discussing the gifts they have asked for from Santa.

If you would like to see all these treasures and more then come along to tonight’s event, held in Special Collections and Archives from 5pm to 6pm.

Don’t forget to keep an eye out on our social media for details of the next Treasures event in the new year!

Written by Eleanor Mckenzie, Graduate Trainee.

Summer memories: postcards and photographs

In honor of the new SC&A summer exhibition ‘Travels in Europe’, we are showcasing some of the wonderful photographs and postcards in the collections which related to summer holidays and travel, whether that be within the UK or abroad.

We do all enjoy taking photographs during our trips to remember them by, even 119 years ago. Below are some shots from the photograph album owned by Mildred Stimson, the daughter of Frederic Jesup Stimson, the American writer, lawyer, and friend of William Gair Rathbone and his family. It includes many shots towns and natural beauty spots from across England and Scotland.

RPXXV.7.666 – Shakespeare’s House
RP XXV.7.666 – The Thames at Oxford
RP XXV.7.666 – ‘Two lazy dogs and a grinning imp’, being Frederic J. Stimson, William Gair Rathbone and Lorna Stimson (Mildred’s sister).

Students have always made good use of the freedom that summer provides! From the papers of Professor Wilberforce, below is a group photograph of members of the University Physics Society sitting on the grass by the River Dee by rowing boats, dated either June 1925 or 1926.

D349/3 – Front row from left to right (first five persons): J. Castle, Elizabeth Taylor, Professor Wilberforce, N. C. Porter, and Connie Richards. At the end of the third row on the right is Mr. Welch, Chief Laboratory Steward.

Collecting postcards (or, Deltiology) is another popular way of gathering memories of a holiday. Within the papers of Professor Charles Reilly (School of Architecture), there is a large volume containing the all the postcards he collected during his travels in the UK and abroad between 1927 – 1930.

D207/45  – Christchurch Priory, visited Summer 1929
D207/45 – Brussels, visited Summer 1927

The Cunard Archive held here at Special Collections and Archives is an excellent place to find ephemera from travel and holidays been and gone. However, it is important to also remember the staff who worked hard so that others could travel to their destinations. The below postcards are from the papers of Mr John Teather Piper (1874-1915), Chief Officer of the Lusitania on the ship’s final voyage. The collection contains prints and postcards, some of which detail the dates of service Mr Piper undertook on each vessel.

D1126/1 – R.M.S Ultonia
D1126/4 – R.M.S Campania

The below postcard features within the ‘Travels in Europe’ exhibition. It is a postcard featuring comic views of the Swiss Alps, dated Thursday 27th August 1898, from Josephine Butler (1828 -1906) to her grandchildren.

JB 1/1/1898/08/27/2(II) – ‘Sweet Hetha [Lady Hetha Butler]. Here are some funny men & a funny lady for you. Grannie’.

‘Travels in Europe’ is available to view in the Special Collections and Archives exhibition area, Ground Floor Grove Wing, Sydney Jones Library (Monday to Friday, 9:30am until 4:45pm). The exhibition runs until September 2019.

Revealing the Rathbones: William IV and Hannah Mary

Following on from our work reconstructing the Rathbone library, we’re now turning our attention to the Rathbone archive, a large collection of personal and business records relating to this Liverpool family of philanthropists, merchants, politicians and reformers. The collection is one of our most well-used so we’re giving it some TLC, stock-checking and repackaging items where needed.

We’re also taking this opportunity to highlight some of the lesser-known family members covered in the archive. Much attention is quite rightly given to politician and suffragist Eleanor Rathbone (who is the subject of the current wonderful VGM exhibition). But there are many other fascinating family members and lots of other stories to tell. So we hope to tell some of them! We’re beginning with William Rathbone IV (1757-1809) and his wife, Hannah Mary (1761-1839).

RP.XXV.7.4-5: William IV and Hannah Mary Rathbone

According to his great-granddaughter Eleanor Rathbone, William IV was ‘born to belong to minorities and to champion lost causes’. One of his, thankfully more successful, causes was anti-slavery. A committed abolitionist from an early age, he was a founder member of the Liverpool Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, a group which also included other local notables such as historian and philanthropist, William Roscoe. Battling poor health during the final years of his life, William fortunately lived long enough to see the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act pass in 1807.

Although William was initially a dedicated Quaker, he was subsequently disowned by the Friends after his inflammatory pamphlet, ‘A narrative of events that have lately taken place in Ireland among the Society called Quakers’ (1804), highlighted religious intolerance amongst authoritarian members of the Society.

RPII.3.9: A pamphlet by William IV regarding proceedings against him by the Society of Friends after his 1804 pamphlet, ‘A narrative of events that have lately taken place in Ireland among the Society called Quakers’

As well as including a wealth of material relating to the various political causes undertaken by William, the archive also contains numerous insights into his personal life, especially his devoted relationship with his wife, Hannah. They married on 17th August 1786. In a letter to her written on the very day of their wedding, William asks that:

‘My dearest friend will not blame me for wishing at least that she may share the impressions of this auspicious day to which I wake with a heart that alternately pours to Heaven and to thee the effusions of thankfulness with a glow which no language can express.’

RP111.1.132: One of many letters from William to his soon-to-be wife, Hannah

William, Hannah and their growing family (they had eight children, five of whom survived infancy) were the first Rathbones to live at Greenbank; William leased the house and estate in 1788. After his death the Rathbone family bought the freehold and Hannah had much of the house rebuilt in the Gothic Revival style.  

RPXX.1.1: Plan of Greenbank from around 1788, when William leased the house and estate

Hannah gave Greenbank to her eldest son (William Rathbone V) after his marriage, and moved to a little house she had built for herself nearby, Woodcroft Cottage. She died there 30 years after her husband, in 1839. According to Eleanor Rathbone:

‘She was adored in turn by her father, husband, sons and grandsons, and many of their friends, young and old, joined in the cult.’

We’ll be showcasing more members of this fascinating family throughout the year – watch this space!

The Rathbone family library

Our current exhibition – “A gift from Greenbank”: reconstructing the Rathbone library – is the result of a project to trace and record books donated to the University of Liverpool by the Rathbones: a Liverpool family of non-conformist merchants and ship-owners, philanthropists, politicians and social reformers, artists and patrons of the arts. Today, the family name is perhaps best known in association with the remarkable suffragist, politician and social reformer, Eleanor Rathbone; who currently has an exhibition dedicated to her at the Victoria Gallery and Museum.

The exhibition space in Special Collections and Archives focuses on two significant donations of books to the University from Greenbank: which was the Rathbone family home from 1787 until 1944. These donations were made towards the end of the Rathbones’ time at Greenbank, and include books that belonged to several generations of the family. Each book has a story to tell, offering a glimpse into the lives of its owners, revealing a family with wide intellectual and artistic interests and varied reading habits, and with strong connections to the wider Liverpool literary and intellectual scene.

An image from the Rathbone family copy of “Cornelis de Bruins Reizen over Moskovie, door Persie en Indie” (1714), which contains c.260 engravings.

Currently on display in the Harold Cohen Library, this image is from “Les liliacées”, a magnificent work by Pierre Joseph Redouté, who was the most celebrated botanical illustrators of his day. The copy contains the ownership inscription of Benson Rathbone (1826-1892).

Highlights of the exhibition include a family Bible containing a list of family births, deaths, marriages and christenings; a copy of Tennyson’s In Memoriam with hand-drawn illustrations added on every page – which is accompanied by a pressed leaf taken from Tennyson’s garden; and a self-published book of Verses for Valentines written anonymously by Richard Rathbone for his wife, Hannah, who herself is responsible for another anonymous work on display: a compilation of poems about birds, with corresponding hand-painted, coloured illustrations:

The exhibition runs until late January 2019, in the Grove Wing of the Sydney Jones Library. We welcome any comments and enquiries to scastaff@liverpool.ac.uk.

This Week’s War: 220

Aside

“Letter from R.R.R. that he had been awarded bar and the M. C.” [Military Cross].

Entry from the diary of Emily Evelyn and Hugh Reynolds Rathbone dated 20th October, 1918 [RP XVA.3.172].

Eleanor Rathbone – An Independent Woman

This past weekend welcomed the launch of the exhibition ‘Eleanor Rathbone – An Independent Woman: Suffragist, Politician & Social Reformer at the Victoria Gallery and Museum, University of Liverpool. This exhibition is drawn from the extensive Rathbone Papers held here in Special Collections and Archives.  

RPXIV.3.96. Eleanor Rathbone in 1910.

Eleanor Rathbone (1872 – 1946) was one of the most remarkable British women of the 20th century. Born into a prominent Liverpool family, she spent her career fighting against injustices and trying to make life better for those in need. This new exhibition uses documents from Eleanor’s own archive to tell the story of her life as a Suffragist, politician and ground-breaking social reformer. Her portrait by Sir James Gunn, which usually hangs in Portcullis House, Westminster, is on display in Liverpool for the first time as part of the exhibition.

Eleanor joined the Liverpool Women’s Suffrage Society in 1896 and was at the forefront of the national suffrage movement.

Her research on the working conditions at Liverpool Docks and its impact on families started a life-long campaign for a family allowance. Eleanor was elected Councillor for Liverpool’s Granby Ward in 1909, standing as an Independent rather than aligning with a political party. She held her seat for twenty-six years.

In 1929 Eleanor was elected MP for the Combined English Universities, again standing as an Independent. During the Spanish Civil War and Second World War she worked passionately on behalf of refugees. Just months before her death in 1946, after decades of campaigning, the Family Allowances Act was passed.

The exhibition is open to view Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Victoria Gallery & Museum, Ashton Street, Liverpool L69 3DR. For general enquiries on visiting the Victoria Gallery and Museum, telephone 0151 794 2348 or email vgmrecep@liv.ac.uk. For further information about the exhibition contact Dr Amanda Draper, Curator of Art & Exhibitions at amanda.draper@liverpool.ac.uk.

For enquiries regarding the Rathbone papers or to book an appointment, please contact scastaff@liverpool.ac.uk.

This Week’s War: 194

Aside

‘April 21. R. R. R. arrived at midnight for final leave. Very well.’

Entry from the diary of Hugh Reynolds and Emily Evelyn Rathbone [RP XVA.3.172].

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.

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.