Aliens return to Liverpool

Aside

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).

FACTexhib1

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

FACTexhib2

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. http://www.exploreyourarchive.org/

Lorna Goudie

Graduate Library Assistant

Liverpool Heritage Open Month

Who? Find out more about Joseph Mayer, Josephine Butler, John Sampson, Robert Andrew Scott Macfie, Edgar Allison Peers, Janet Gnosspelius, Olaf Stapledon, Eric Frank Russell, Ramsey Campbell, the Liverpool Science Fiction Group, and the University of Liverpool itself.

Where? Find out where they lived and worked in Liverpool.

When? Find out when they arrived in Liverpool and how long they stayed.

What? From Josephine Butler’s jet mourning jewellery to a Dental Students’ Society tie, via an Occupy Senate poster and Eric Frank Russell’s Hugo Award, see the University’s Special Collections and Archives from a new angle.

Happy Birthday to H. G. Wells.

September 21st 2013 marks the 147th anniversary of H. G. Wells’ birth. Often referred to as the “Father of Science Fiction”, his most notable science fiction works include The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The Island of Doctor Moreau.

SCANFILE0001

Wells’ first non-fiction bestseller was Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress Upon Human Life and Thought (1901) (PR5774.A57 1999)and is considered his most explicitly futuristic work. Anticipating what the world would be like in the year 2000, the book is interesting both for its hits (trains and cars resulting in the dispersion of population from cities to suburbs; moral restrictions declining as men and women seek greater sexual freedom; the defeat of German militarism, and the existence of a European Union) and its misses (he did not expect successful aircraft before 1950, and averred that “my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocate its crew and founder at sea”).

Time machine

The War of the Worlds, perhaps his most famous novel, before becoming a Hollywood blockbuster in 2005 was initially adapted for radio. On Halloween night of 1938, Orson Welles went on the air with his version of The War of the Worlds, claiming that aliens had landed in New Jersey. It caused mass panic as listeners believed the world was actually being taken over by aliens!

The University of Liverpool Special Collections houses the largest European collection of Science Fiction materials, holding 35,000 books. H. G. Wells is well-featured among other Sci-Fi greats such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Jules Verne, to name just a few!

*References: The Invisible Man (PR5774.I64 1959), War of the Worlds (PR5774.W253 1983), The Time Machine (PR5774.T58 1925), First Men in the Moon (PR5774.F52 1960).

A Midwich Day Out

Andy Sawyer of Special Collections and Archives gave a talk on John Wyndham and his unfinished sequel to The Midwich Cuckoos (1957) at the “Midwich Day Out” on Sunday May 19, held in Letchmore Heath, the village where many of the exterior shots for the 1960 film Village of the Damned, based on Wyndham’s novel, were filmed. Special guests at the event were Barbara Shelley, who played Anthea Zellaby in the film, and Martin Stephens, Teri Scoble, Lesley Scoble, and Peter Preidel, who were among the blond, staring-eyed “cuckoo” children.

Journalist Darrel Buxton (far left) interviewing (l-r) Lesley Scoble, Barbara Shelley, and Peter Preidel

Four of the Midwich "Cuckoos": l-r Martin Stephens, Teri Scoble, Lesley Scoble, Peter Preidel

A highlight of the day was a guided tour around Letchmore Heath, seeing buildings and locations which featured in the film.

Star Maker Discussed on BBC Radio 4

Moshsin Hamid, author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, chose Wirral-born Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker to talk about on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row on Wednesday 24th April as part of its “Cultural Exchange series” . Front Row‘s website illustrates the discussion with a photograph of Stapledon and this image of Stapledon’s “Timeline” showing the billions of  years covered by the book. Images were supplied by Special Collections and Archives from the Olaf Stapledon Archive.

Images for Mohsin Hamid's Cultural Exchange