New exhibition: Binned, banned, bombed: selection and survival in Special Collections & Archives

Have you ever wondered why there is what there is in Special Collections & Archives?

Our collections are a fascinating mixture of what survives physical degradation, individual actions, historical events and official censure. But just because something has survived for a long time doesn’t automatically mean it has a place in Special Collections & Archives.

The survival of printed books and archival collections usually contains an element of serendipity; a modicum of good fortune which means they have been able to transcend neglect, wilful destruction, environmental dangers and the censure of authority. But there is also the hand of the librarian and archivist in evidence, selecting and preserving through careful management to ensure the items are kept secure and made available for years to come in a way that is appropriate to both the resources available and the intellectual content of the broader collections.

Our new exhibition displays a range of items from the collections to provide an insight into some of the issues we deal with whilst working to ensure our collections are cared for and made available to facilitate your research and requests. 

For more information on the exhibition, please see our website here.

Visit us anytime between 9:30am-4:45pm Monday – Friday at the Ground Floor Grove Wing of the Sydney Jones Library to view the display, no appointment is needed. Also, keep an eye on our twitter for information on special events focused around the material used in the exhibition.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Today marks the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Globally, women are still underrepresented in scientific roles, so this is a day to break down barriers and to celebrate science’s heroines, past and present.

SC&A is positively brimming with such heroines across various fields of study and practice, so we’ve picked out a few to shout about.

BOTANY

Dr Margery Knight, a lecturer in botany at the university from 1912 until her retirement in 1954, was a seaweed specialist. She and her students could often be seen scrambling over rocks at the Port Erin marine research station, even after Knight lost her leg in a car accident in 1936.

Dr Knight and her students in August 1942 (A301/2/120)

As well as her scientific contributions, she was known for her generosity and support of students. Dr Burges (Professor of Botany, 1952-1966) wrote her obituary for the University of Liverpool Recorder and noted that:

‘It was I believe completely unappreciated that the “small fund to which she had access,” and from which she helped so many, was in fact her own pocket.’

The high esteem in which she was held is evident from this gift: an album containing messages from staff, former students and members of the scientific community, presented to Knight on her 80th birthday (alongside pressed seaweed).

A page from Knight’s 80th birthday present (D964)

May Rathbone, part of the Liverpool family of politicians, philanthropists and social reformers, initially trained as a doctor at the turn of the 20th century. She went on to become a botanist, an amateur artist and a keen mountaineer. She spent many holidays in Norway and even worked on a glossary of Norwegian botanical terms.  

One of May Rathbone’s botanical drawings (RP XVIII.3.38)

MEDICINE

Knotty Ash-born Phoebe Powell was the first female medical graduate at the University of Liverpool, gaining her MD in 1912. She later married fellow doctor Douglas Bigland.

Over her short life (she died in 1930), she held a variety of medical posts and published widely on venereal disease. She lectured in pathology at the university, was house physician at the Liverpool Stanley Hospital and, on the establishment of the Crofton Recovery Hospital for Women in 1922, became Consulting Physician. In 1926 she set up a Mothers’ Welfare Clinic, dispensing contraceptive advice to women.

Patients enjoying some fresh air convalescence at Crofton Recovery Hospital for Women, where Phoebe Bigland (née Powell) served as physician (RP XVA.3.37)

She was also committed to supporting women in the field of medicine, serving as president of the Liverpool Association of the Federation of Medical Women. In an obituary of Bigland, pioneering surgeon and gynaecologist Frances Ivens-Knowles celebrated her as: ‘a real “live wire” when there was any work for medical women to be done.’  

VETERINARY SCIENCE

Annie Littlejohn graduated as a vet from the University of Liverpool in 1949, and stayed here to lecture on veterinary medicine. After leaving Liverpool, she worked at the Animal Diseases Research Association in Edinburgh and the government’s Central Veterinary Laboratory. 

She mostly focused on farm animals, though clearly she had time for important doggy medicine too.

Annie Littlejohn (right) examines a patient (A31/42)

SCIENCE FICTION

Ahem… not technically a branch of science, we know. But we couldn’t miss this opportunity to shout about some of the fantastic female authors represented in our science fiction collections.

Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006) was a US writer and one of the first Black women to achieve mainstream recognition in the SF genre. Her works include the neo-slave narrative Kindred, the Lilith’s Brood and Patternist series of novels, and Fledgling. (PS3552.U827.K51 1988)
Ursula Le Guin (1929-2018) was a prolific, multiple award-winning US writer whose works bring a feminist, anthropological sensibility to the genre. She is perhaps best-known as the creator of the Earthsea fantasy quartet. Rocannon’s World, first published in 1966, was her debut novel. (PS3562.E42.R66 1972)
Joanna Russ (1937-2011) was a US writer and academic, whose landmark 1975 novel The Female Man also brought a fierce, feminist political sensibility to the genre. (PS3568.U763.F32 1975)

James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Bradley Sheldon, 1915-1987) was a US writer who wrote under a masculine pseudonym until her identity was revealed in 1977. A prolific and complex author, she is notable for her dazzling short stories, the most famous of which is ‘The Women Men Don’t See’ (1973), contained within this volume. (PS3570.I66.A6WA 1979)

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.

Event: Afrofuturism at the International Slavery Museum, Liverpool

How do you imagine yourself, and your community, 10 years in the future? Conversely, looking to the past, how has society changed in ten, twenty, thirty years?

To inspire engagement with these questions, and to commemorate the last day of Black History Month, SCA’s Science Fiction Collections Librarian, Phoenix Alexander, installed a pop-up Afrofuturism library in the International Slavery Museum on October 31st 2019. Collaborating with Adam Duckworth and Mitty Ramachandran, Alexander curated the library to feature Black-authored texts from the SF collections: texts ranging from the Caribbean folklore-based speculative fiction of Nalo Hopkinson to the neo-slave narratives and far-future worlds of Octavia E. Butler. Alongside the books, specially-printed postcards were designed and printed to feature two striking Afrofuturist artworks from items in the SF collections. During the course of the afternoon visitors could write their hopes and aspirations for the future on the back of the postcards, which were displayed on a wall of the museum to create a community archive of sorts.

Display of Afrofuturism books

The term ‘Afrofuturism’ was coined in 1993 by cultural critic Mark Dery and fleshed out in a now-famous 2003 issue of the academic journal, Social Text. In the introduction to this issue, Afrofuturism was defined as any “text and images… [that] reflect African diasporic experience and at the same time attend to the transformations that are the by-product of new media and information technology.” In the preceding decade the term has become short-hand for any speculative ‘text’ – music video, film, novel, or comic – that foregrounds Black characters and communities, from Black Panther to the ‘ArchAndroid’ stylings of musician Janelle Monáe.

The small selection of texts on display at the International Slavery Museum showcased not only the literary works of Black authors but the often-striking artwork that helped to visualize worlds in which historically excluded communities could be seen and considered in narratives of futurity. The library proved particularly popular with younger visitors, who were inspired by the objects to produce their own artwork on an adjacent activity table. On display, too, was an interactive timeline detailing the history of Afrofuturism and Black speculative writing more broadly.

The library was a successful first step in bringing these inspiring texts to a community wider than the University’s walls – but also energized a commitment to giving voice to those communities who have not historically been afforded the kinds of institutional recognition that an academic library provides. Looking ahead, Dr. Alexander hopes to facilitate more events like this in the future and to build on the amazing SF Collections by collecting works by BAME, queer, and disabled authors.

Science Fiction is perhaps the most nakedly political of all fictional genres in that it explicitly renders who has a place in societies in the future – and who is excluded. Afrofuturist texts help make a space both physical – in institutions, in homes, in public spaces – and in the cultural imagination. By reading and enjoying these works, by encountering the physical objects that serve as interventions in new and exciting forms, we shape our own imaginations and, little by little, help to build a better world.

New Accessions: May 2018

 

SPEC 2018.a.004

The following of Christ is an English translation of Imitatio Christi, a work traditionally attributed to the German canon Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380–1471). Written around 1420, it became one of the most widely read and frequently translated of Christian devotional works.

This edition was printed and sold by John Sadler of Harrington Street, Liverpool, in 1755. Sadler was primarily an engraver and printer for the pottery trade, but he also produced a number of Catholic devotional books.

This book marks a landmark for Special Collections, as it was our 10,000th item reported to the English Short-Title Catalogue! According to ESTC it is one of only two known copies of the 1755 edition in Britain, with two more copies reported in the United States.

 

SPEC 2018.a.003

 

Our second new accession is another translation, and another Liverpool publication. Printed in 1802 by William Jones – a bookseller, printer, publisher, stationer and “seller of patent medicines” based on Castle Street – Memoirs of the year two thousand five hundred is an English translation of the French work, L’an 2440: rêve s’il en fut jamais, by French dramatist and writer Louis-Sébastien Mercier. Originally published in 1770, the novel is set in 2440 (or in the English edition, “for the sake of a round number” 2500), presenting a future France based on Enlightenment political theories. It was one of the very first novels to present a utopian vision of the future, and was especially pioneering in choosing a real place in which to set it – namely Paris. The novel was immediately banned in France and condemned as blasphemous in Madrid, where distribution was subject to a fine and six year prison sentence. Despite this, it is thought to have had an important influence on subsequent French and English speculations about the future.

Finally, we have two books containing volumes 1 and volumes 4-6 of William Combe’s The r[oya]l register. Combe was a prolific writer, best known for his Doctor Syntax series. Published between 1778 and 1784, this register contains often lengthy descriptions of the activities of aristocrats and other notables of the period. Written in the distinctive writing style of the author, the tone has been described by one bookseller as “somewhere between ‘Hello’ magazine and ‘Private Eye'”.

Volume one contains the bookplate of the Earl of Morley:

SPEC 2018.a.005

 

Bibliography:

Alkon, Paul K, Origins of futuristic fiction, (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1987)

Liverpool Bibliographical Society, The book trade in Liverpool to 1805: a directory, (Liverpool: Liverpool Bibliographical Society, 1981)

Stableford, Brian M., The plurality of imaginary worlds: the evolution of the French roman scientifique, (Encino, CA: Black Coat Press, 2016)

 

 

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.

Archives at Altitude

Monday 11th December marks International Mountain Day 2017, which this year will highlight as its theme ‘Mountains under pressure: Climate, Hunger, and Migration.’ As humans, our relationship with the dizzying heights of the world’s highest terrains is witnessed through the writings of generations of intrepid explorers, artists, and highlanders. Experiences of the harsh quality of mountain life, as well as the dangers of summiting the highest peaks, can be found in many of the writings found within SC&A. Ultimately though, the following items show that we are still captivated by majestic mountainous regions.

Spanish Mountain Life (1955) by Juliette de Baïracli Levy

Expert veterinary herbalist Juliette de Baïracli Levy writes in her memoir Spanish Mountain Life (SPEC Scott MacFie D.6.7) about her experience of living amongst the gypsy community of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The memoir paints a stark portrait of the primitive nature of mountain life and details how the Lanjarón community was impacted by the shadow of disease. The author’s own battle and eventual triumph over typhus is evoked. De Baïracli Levy exclaims her gratitude to the mountain for its abundant herbs and ideal climate: “later the mountain gave us back our health.”

 

Illustrations of the Passes of the Alps, by which Italy Communicates with France, Switzerland, and Germany (1828 – 1829) by William Brockedon

A traditional ‘rite of passage’ trip for generations of upper class young men was to undertake an educational European adventure known as ‘The Grand Tour.’ From the 17th to mid-19th centuries travellers would be able to experience the cultural highlights that Europe had to offer, including the dramatic Alpine landscapes from Germany to Italy. Brockedon’s volumes containing illustrations and routes of passage through the Alps (SPEC SPENCE 91-92) offered an insight into what these young men were to expect when journeying through the monumental passes that would have been worlds away from the streets of London.

 

Brochures [1927, 1992] (Cunard Archive)

There is little else in the world of travel that is more luxurious than a relaxing cruise. These items found within the Cunard Archive depict just some of the incredible destinations passengers can be treated to on a Cunard cruise. For the more adventurous, destinations include the Norwegian fjords and Alaskan glaciers, where passengers are transported into the wild.

– D42/PR3/10/44

– D42-ADD/28/2

 

Mountaineering Club Papers [1958-1984] (University Archive)

– A161/117

Here at the University of Liverpool, one of the more physically active societies students can join is the Mountaineering Club. The Club recently celebrated its 80th anniversary and through the years has organised sponsored climbs, competitions, and trips both at home and abroad, traditions that are continued today by the modern Club.

 

Everest is Climbed (1954) by Wilfrid Noyce and Richard Taylor

This educational Puffin picture book for young readers details the first successful attempt to summit Mount Everest, relating the experience of English mountaineer Wilfrid Noyce, who was part of the British Expedition in 1953 (OLDHAM 600). The illustrations and diagrams vividly portray the extreme conditions the teams faced, whilst the words of Noyce remind the reader of the perilous nature of the climb and the endurance required to conquer and overall to survive the highest mountain in the world.

 

The Lord of the Rings (1991) by J. R. R. Tolkien, illustrated by Alan Lee

In Tolkien’s epic fantasy world of Middle Earth, ancient folklore and mythology come together to create an intricate narrative bursting with well-rounded characters and complex locations. The central journey that Frodo Baggins embarks upon in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (PR6039.O32.A6LOR 1991) revolves around the quest to destroy the One Ring, the most powerful and dangerous of all Rings. The volatile and mysterious qualities of mountains and volcanos that is commonly reflected in literature is portrayed in the ferocious fires of Mount Doom. The mountain being where the One Ring was forged and in turn where it must be destroyed.

All of the above are available to view in the SC&A reading room between our opening hours of 9:30am – 16:45pm. Please contact us at scastaff@liverpool.ac.uk for an appointment (but don’t worry, we don’t have ‘peak’ hours).

Remember, remember, the 5th of November: Guy Fawkes and gunpowder in the collections, from 1679 to 1990

This weekend sees the British tradition of Bonfire Night (or, Guy Fawkes Night) taking place across the country, marking 407 years since the plot to destroy Parliament and assassinate James I was foiled. Although the plot was concocted by 13 members, the name synonymous with the event is Guy Fawkes (or Guido Fawkes); most likely as he was the individual discovered by authorities guarding the gunpowder. The event holds much traditional cultural interest to this day – for instance, The Houses of Parliament are still ceremoniously searched by the Yeomen of the Guard for before the State Opening. To celebrate, we have selected some of the best BANGing works from the collections here at Liverpool University relating to Fawkes and Fireworks.

The Gunpowder-treason … its discovery; and … the proceedings against those horrid conspirators… (1679)

Parliament declared the 5th of November as a day of commemoration and thanksgiving (this was enforced until 1859). For many years to come pamphlets were published on the anniversary date of the event, to remind readers of the consequences of disloyalty to the king and parliament. This pamphlet (SPEC Knowsley 118), published in 1679, printed the confessions of the conspirators and the speech of James I.

The art of making fireworks… (c. 1810)

Although bonfires were a common sight, fireworks were not a popular mode of celebration on the 5th of November until the 1650s onward. This locally printed pamphlet (SPEC G35.14(3)) from the early nineteenth century demonstrated how to make fireworks using gun powder and various other household objects with detailed instructions and colour diagrams (a health and safety nightmare by modern standards).

Guy Fawkes; or, The fifth of November (c. 1840)

This small Protestant chapbook (SPEC Oldham 157(17)) produced in the mid nineteenth century was aimed at retelling the story of Guy Fawkes for children. Chapbooks became a popular method to disseminate tales with a moral meaning to children. The main characters in this particular publication build a guy for a bonfire, and the narrator uses the opportunity to provide a religiously-driven message – the conspirators of 5th of November are presented as Catholic sinners, who acted against the authority of the King.

V for Vendetta (1990)

Skipping forward around 150 years: although still synonymous with celebration, fireworks displays, and bonfires, the anti-establishment sentiments of the 5th of November hold much cultural weight in modern literature and media. V for Vendetta is a DC Comics series by Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd (also developed into a 2006 movie). The series follows V, an Guy Fawkes mask wearing anarchist, who rebels against the dystopian United Kingdom setting of the fascist dictatorship Norsefire. In the Science Fiction Foundation Collections held here, we have a 1990 copy, the first edition printed in the U.K. (PN6737.M66.V46 1990).

As usual, the items featured in this post are available to consult in the reading room here at Special Collections and Archives. Please email scastaff@liverpool.ac.uk for more information. However, our reading room is silent study; please leave all fireworks at home.

International Cat Day

Today we are feline very good in Special Collections and Archives – August 8th 2017 is International Cat Day. As we are cat-loving librarians and archivists, we have selected a taster of our best cat themed items from the Children’s books, Science Fiction Foundation Collections, Cunard Archive, and University Archive fur you to enjoy.

Children’s Literature

SC&A houses more than 7000 pre-First World War children’s books, of which the tale of mischievous cats throughout is a common feature. In The Tale of Tom Kitten, Tom and his siblings Mittens and Moppet play outside in their best clothes, only for them to be stolen by ducks (Oldham 173). Tit, Tiny, and Tittens: The Three White Kittens are a handful, too – they get themselves in all sorts of predicaments (JUV 308:60).

Oldham 173

JUV.308:60

The History of Whittington and His Cat is the feline rags to riches story we are all familiar with. The copy held here in Special Collections is in the form of a chapbook, a small paperback for children which would sell for a cheap price and provide a story with a moral message. This copy also includes the alphabet, allowing children to practice their reading skills from the most basic stage (Oldham 43).

Oldham 43

Science Fiction Foundation Collections

Continuing the theme of children’s literature, the below novel from the Science Fiction collections is written for the young adults audience in the Bantam Action series. In this short novel, robot cats are created to clean-up the city, but are hijacked and used for evil deeds (PR6061.I39.C99 1996). Cats also crop-up regularly in Science Fiction as representation of earth-like normality and domesticity on space ships (for presumably a similar purpose as a ships cat; see below). A personal favorite is Jonesy, Ripley’s ginger tom, from the Alien franchise.

PR6061.I39.C99 1996

Cunard

Cats were commonplace aboard ships for many reasons – they caught vermin, provided comfort to crew, and even predicted storms through their enhanced sensitivity to low pressure environments. Some ships cats have become famous; ‘Unsinkable Sam’, a German cat, survived the sinking of three ships during World War II! From the Cunard archive here, we see below Captain Rostron’s cat and her adorable kittens aboard the Mauretania, from the Cunard Magazine during the mid 1920s (D42/PR5/12).

D42/PR5/12. Cunard Magazine, Vol. 16.

University Archive 

A prominent deposit within the staff papers of the University Archive are the papers of Professor (and Sir) Charles Reilly. One of the most important figures in the history of twentieth-century architecture in Britain, Sir Reilly dominated architectural education and had a profound influence on architectural practice. The below photograph shows Sir Charles Reilly holding a rather uninterested Timoshenko the cat, in the garden of his home in Twickenham during the the World War II era (D938/2/15).

D938/2/15. Photograph by Louise Sedgwick ©

The Special Collections and Archives Cats

From the top left to the bottom right: Audrey and Lilly (Jo Klett, University Archivist), Clara (Katy Hooper, Special Collections Librarian), Chester (Robyn Orr, Library Assistant), Yan, Barry, and Hamilton (Jenny Higham, Special Collections and Archives Manager), and Reginald Ecclefechan (Lucy Evans, Assistant Librarian – Special Collections).

All of these items are available to view right meow in the Special Collections and Archives reading room (except our pet cats – we wish, though…). Please do see our website for more information on visiting us.