New Exhibition: Accessions Old and New

Published and archival material from the University and Science Fiction collections is currently on display outside the Special Collections and Archives (SCA) reading room, as part of our current exhibition highlighting ‘Accessions Old and New.’

Recently acquired archives relating to science fiction authors Harry Harrison and John Brosnan complement SCA’s extant collection of published works by these writers, and several of their books and manuscripts are now on display. Items from the Harrison archive on view include story ideas for the comic Flash Gordon (Harrison wrote the daily and weekly scripts for this comic from 1958 to 1968), and an early outline of his book The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World (1972). Outlines and drafts produced by Brosnan also feature in the exhibition, including material relating to an unpublished sequel to his novel Mothership (2004), produced shortly before his untimely death in 2005.

One of SCA’s most recent acquisitions is the collection of Joel Lane, a noted writer and critic of horror, dark fantasy and occasional science fiction. As well as a selection of his books, other more peculiar-looking items lurk amongst the display cabinets…

British Fantasy Award for best collection, awarded to Joel Lane's 'The Earth Wire' (1994). The award represents Cthulhu, the fictional entity created by H. P. Lovecraft.

British Fantasy Award for best collection, awarded to Joel Lane’s ‘The Earth Wire’ (1994). The award represents Cthulhu, the fictional entity created by H. P. Lovecraft.

British Fantasy Award for best short story of the year, awarded to Joel Lane's 'My Stone Desire' (2008).

British Fantasy Award for best short story of the year, awarded to Joel Lane’s ‘My Stone Desire’ (2008).

These awards are amongst a number won by Lane for his poetry and stories. Their presence in SCA’s exhibition certainly makes people look twice!

One of the display cases is also dedicated to the Allotts: Miriam and Kenneth, former English professors at the University of Liverpool, writers and literary scholars. As well as material relating to their poetry and plays, the exhibition features a small selection of letters to the Allotts from the likes of Graham Greene, Philip Larkin and Sylvia Plath.

Our ‘Accessions Old and New’ exhibition, which also includes items relating to Charles Sydney Jones, will be up until the end of 2015.

Neil Gaiman Visit


Neil Gaiman explores the SF collection

On Thursday 5th March, the Department of English’s new Centre for New and International Writing was officially launched by acclaimed writer (and Honorary Visiting Professor) Neil Gaiman before an audience of over 1000 at the Guild Building (Mountford Hall). Neil read stories from his new collection Trigger Warning and answered questions from the audience.The next morning Neil gave a masterclass for creative writing students in the Sydney Jones Library, preceded by a tour of the Science Fiction Foundation Collection in Special Collections & Archives.

Images: (below left) Discussing the typescript of John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids. (below right) The display in SCA included a copy of Neil Gaiman’s first professionally published short story.


Neil Gaiman and Andy Sawyer discussing the typescript of John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids







Andy Sawyer, Science Fiction Collections Librarian

#LivUniSCA Dec. 22


Lloyd Williams’s The Great Raid (1909), like several other coming-war propaganda stories, was originally serialised in the magazine Black and White. It featured graphic illustrations by Christopher Clarke showing the devastation of London by an un-named invader. One character breathlessly reports: “I saw Buckingham Palace attacked – Scots Guards did their best – short of ammunition – shot down like pigs.” (Photograph from I. F. Clarke Archive).

h1412Dec22 sfWilliamsGreatRaid

Over by Christmas. December 22. See the Advent calendar on the SC&A website.

#LivUniSCA Dec. 21


The “Great War” of 1914-18 was hardly unexpected.

Since George Tomkyns Chesney’s  “The Battle of Dorking” (1871), scores of writers in Britain, France, Germany and elsewhere had written scare-stories about the conflict to come. I. F. Clarke’s The Tale of the Next Great War includes many of these fictions (including “The Battle of Dorking”) and was part of his life-long research into the “future-war” story.

h1412Dec21 sfClarkeNextGreatWar

Professor Clarke was an alumnus of Liverpool university, and his research archive has recently been donated to the Library’s Special Collections and Archives.

Over by Christmas. December 21. See the Advent calendar on the SC&A website.

#LivUniSCA Dec.13


Tolkien and the Great War.This award-winning biography explores J.R.R. Tolkien’s wartime experiences and their impact on his life and his writing of The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings.

J.R.R. Tolkien responded to critics who described the Lord of the Rings as a reaction to World War 2 by saying, “To be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than in 1939 … by 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead.” This biography explain the horrors and heroism he witnessed during his time as a signals officer at the Battle of the Somme.

Over by Christmas. December 13. See the 2014 Advent calendar on the SC&A website.

PX400.A2A.T64.G37 2003  - Tolkien and the Great War

Over by Christmas. December 13. See the 2014 Advent calendar on the SC&A website.

Aliens return to Liverpool


Science fiction books and magazines loaned to the Lightbox Arts Centre in Woking, Surrey have just returned to Liverpool, from the Alien Invasion exhibition, celebrating the work of H. G. Wells whose Martian invaders in THE WAR OF THE WORLDS landed in the outskirts of Woking.

The exhibition was a great success, with visitor figures of 14,600.

It’s a FACT

The seed of Science Fiction: New Death is a wide-ranging exhibition which opened at FACT on 27 March and includes the Personal Archive, curated by John Denning, using the University of Liverpool Library’s Science Fiction collection. It shows how science fiction has been viewed in many different ways over the years, from lurid trash to modern classics. On 7 April, Andy Sawyer, Science Fiction Librarian, gave a well-received Special Guest introduction to Duncan Jones’ Moon (2009).


Part of the selection of science fiction texts from which Personal Archive was drawn


Part of the selection of texts from which Personal Archive was drawn


Advent and After: 17. an sf sleigh-ride

Galaxy December 1954

Galaxy December 1954

“A miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer “

But in space-suits?

This Galaxy cover, from December 1954, is yet another seasonal illustration by Ed Emshwhiller featuring his four-armed Santa.

It’s good to know that, in the future, Santa will still be delivering gifts throughout the solar system. These moon-colonists are obviously looking forward to his visit, putting up a Christmas tree and handing a wreath outside.  What’s puzzling about this  space-age Santa, though, is why he needs the traditional eight reindeer, carefully protected against the hazards of space, to pull a rocket-propelled sleigh!

Advent and After: 7.“Oh Christmas Tree . . . “

Galaxy magazine was founded in 1951 by H. L. Gold, who was its editor until 1961. For a number of years, Gold celebrated the Christmas season by commissioning covers from Galaxy’s regular artist Ed Emshwhiller.  This cover, from December 1960, shows a most unusual Santa (count the arms!) upstaged by a robot assistant decorating a Christmas “tree”.

Cover of Galaxy December 1960

Cover of Galaxy December 1960

In this imagined future, trees are obviously artificial, decorated with nuts and bolts and valves. Some people think that science fiction is about predicting the future: if so how would they explain the box of reel-to-reel tape underneath the tree? Perhaps it’s a present for someone who is fascinated by relics of that long-ago age, the twentieth century?

Explore Your Archive! – Part Two


The 16th November saw the launch of the Explore Your Archive campaign. Our participation in this campaign began with a look at our University Archive and now continues, showcasing additional archival collections of a diverse and interesting nature. These collections encompass a range of personal, political and literary papers of notable individuals, an extensive Science Fiction collection, and material relating to the shipping trade.

The Rathbones of Liverpool are renowned for having occupied many important roles within society. A merchant family, the Rathbones were also philanthropists, social reformers, and patrons of the arts. The family and business papers of this accomplished family are widespread in their content and span many generations. Particular treasures include the puzzle letter from the papers of May Rathbone, and a photographic postcard featuring Eleanor Rathbone and her involvement with the suffragette movement.

Lord David Owen as Hamlet: D709/3/21/2/19 © Nicholas Garland

We also hold the political papers of Lord David Owen, Chancellor of the University of Liverpool from 1996-2009. These papers span his political career, covering his time as Chancellor and his position as the co-founder and subsequent leader of the Social Democratic Party. Although this material naturally includes correspondence, reports and campaign literature, there are also some quirky items within his papers. The puppet show ‘Spitting Image’ parodied Lord Owen in the 1980s; posters of which can be found within the archive alongside satirical cartoons by Nicholas Garland. In addition to the David Owen papers we hold the political papers of John Bruce Glasier and his wife Katharine St John Conway, founder members of the Independent Labour Party.

The papers of the Liverpool poets; Roger McGough, Brian Patten and Adrian Henri are also held within our archives. The three individuals worked closely together throughout their literary careers, publishing an anthology together entitled The Mersey Sound. Special Collections and Archives also holds other literary collections spanning the 15th-21st centuries, including some poems by Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney and D. H. Lawrence.

McGough with Adrian Henri and Brian Patten in a bar: McGough/12/2 © Marc Marnie








We also have ‘Europe’s largest catalogued collection of SF material.’ This is comprised of the manuscripts and personal papers of writers such as Olaf Stapleton, John Brunner and John Wyndham, making it a popular archive for researchers and fans alike. Wyndham, famous for the novel The Day of the Triffids, valued his privacy and instructed that his personal papers be destroyed. However, some 350 war-time letters to his partner Grace Wilson have survived, making them a particularly special asset to our collection.

Fox-hound: D42/PR2/1/46/F1

The Cunard Steam Ship Co. Ltd Archive contains administrative papers including minute books, registers, letter books and public relations material. Although much of this material is business related, there are surprising and heart-warming discoveries to be made within this archive. One photograph tells the story of a fox-hound who escaped from a motor-bus conveying his pack to the Cunard liner ‘Caronia’ for shipment to America. The image shows him following his capture, safely installed on board.

In addition to the Cunard archive, further material relating to the shipping trade can be found in the Eric Hardwicke Rideout papers that are also held within our archives. These papers include Rideout’s research notes on the port of Liverpool and items relating to the customs houses and tobacco trade. Both archival collections acknowledge Liverpool’s heritage as a thriving port, famous for its docks and shipping trade.

We hope that some of the items in our collection will inspire you to visit your local archives to discover the many stories and treasures it holds. Our current displays are situated within Special Collections and Archives on the ground floor of the Sydney Jones Library.

Lorna Goudie

Graduate Library Assistant