Science Fiction on Tour

Quite a number of books and other items from the Science Fiction Foundation Collection are on migration this year.

Some have only just nipped across the campus – comic books and novels illustrated by Liverpool artist John Higgins are now part of Beyond Dredd, the exhibition at our own Victoria Gallery and Museum until October 2017.

Others have gone further afield. A collection of books and magazines are being prepared for Guernsey Library’s “Engage Warp Drive: Science Fiction from the 1950s to the Present Day” which is planned for on 22nd September 2017  –  31st December  2017.  Currently Compton Verney Art Gallery in Warwickshire is celebrating the sleepy village of Midwich – disrupted by alien infiltration in John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos – as part of their Creating the Countryside  exhibition (until 18th June). Material on display includes a typescript of the novel and the typewriter on which Wyndham wrote it:

More books, by Isaac Asimov, Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein, Marge Piercy (and more) back up Durham University Library’s Time Machines exhibition (until 3rd September).

The jewel in the crown however, is probably the 100+ books that make up part of the massive Into the Unknown exhibition at London’s Barbican Centre (3rd June – 1st September). Each section of the exhibition – which also features films and installations by acclaimed artists – is introduced by a display of books from the Science Fiction Foundation Collection, as well as manuscript material from the Brian Aldiss, John Brunner, and Olaf Stapledon archives.  Following its stint at the Barbican, the exhibition will embark upon an international tour, including Denmark and Greece.

The exhibition’s catalogue contains a chapter from Science Fiction Collections Librarian Andy Sawyer, who was one of the exhibition’s advisory team. Andy’s introduction to science fiction on the exhibition’s blog can be found at  .

Books from the Science Fiction Foundation Collection on display at the Barbican Centre’s “Into the Unknown” exhibition.

Books from the Science Fiction Foundation Collection on display at the Barbican Centre’s “Into the Unknown” exhibition.

Typescript from Olaf Stapledon#s LAST MEN IN LONDON on display at the Barbican Centre’s “Into the Unknown” exhibition.

Typescript from John Brunner’s STAND ON ZANZIBAR on display at the Barbican Centre’s “Into the Unknown” exhibition.

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The Week’s War: 150


“President Wilson wrote in reply to Russian provisional Govt, published today. Most disappointing. He adopts the jargon of the allies and has evidently forsworn his former vague ideas.”

Entry dated Friday 15th June 1917, Diary of John Glasier [GP/2/1/24].

The General Election 2017

As the U.K. prepares itself to vote in the snap General Election, we thought it fitting to show some of the printed and archival material held here in Special Collections and Archives from the elections of the past.

Within our printed collection holdings, many pamphlets of the nineteenth century highlight the popular political topics of the day. Sydney Charles Buxton became an MP for the Liberal Party in the late nineteenth century, shortly after his publication of Electoral Purity and Economy (London: The London and Counties Liberal Union, 1882). The paper is written to suggest reforms in the electoral process to counteract bribery and expenses, which the reader is encouraged to undertake and promote themselves. The below referenced “crushed” Corrupt Practices Act finally came into fruition in 1883, formally known as the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act. This was the first act which required the expenses of candidates to be publicly published.

SPEC Y84.3.269 (9)

SPEC Y84.3.269 (9)

We also hold archival material relating to individuals who held both local and national political positions. Eleanor Rathbone sat as an Independent MP for the Combined English Universities, and as a local councilor for the Granby Ward from 1909 -1935. Eleanor was instrumental in the passing of a number of bills, including those with a focus upon benefiting the socio-economic position of women and children.

RP XIV.3.3

RP XIV.3.3

The Glasier papers provide us with an insight to the political movements of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) through politician John Bruce Glasier and his wife, Katharine Glasier. In 1900 John Bruce Glasier became the chair of the ILP, which he held for three years. In the campaign pamphlet shown below, Glasier was standing in Bordesley, Birmingham – a campaign which was unsuccessful.

GP/5/2/2 (6)

GP/5/2/2 (6)

Lastly, the David Owen Archive is abundant with material relating to his time as a member of both the Labour party and the Social Democrats. Below is campaign material from the 1974 parliamentary election, when Owen was successfully elected as MP for Plymouth Devonport, holding the seat for the Labour Party.

D709 2/2/4/3

D709 2/2/4/3

D709 2/2/4/3

D709 2/2/4/3

All of the items included within this post are available to view in our reading room. Please see our website for more information on booking an appointment.

You can read the Manuscripts and More post for the General Election in 2015 here.

This Week’s War: 149


In June we had a very hairy time with with Convoys & just as things were becoming too thick I got a […]. Immediately got the job preparing a position in St Jean.

June. Diary of Professor Charles Wells, Emeritus Professor at Liverpool University [D81/1].



This Week’s War: 148


“This morning our boy returned…he went with a steamer carrying provisions to German Prisoners in the Isle of Man as Captain’s boy. He has signed on to go with the same steamer… to Cherbourg France…”

John Glasier discussing the plans of his son Malcolm, Thursday 31st May 1917. Diary of John Glasier [GP/2/1/24].

Thomas Rickman (1776-1841) Architect and Antiquary

The first staging post of the travelling Thomas Rickman exhibition to commemorate the bicentenary of the 1817 printing in Liverpool of Thomas Rickman’s epoch-making book An Attempt to Discriminate the Styles of Architecture.

 Special Collections and Archives, Sydney Jones Library and Harold Cohen Library. 

In 1817 Rickman, a Quaker accountant in a Liverpool insurance firm, wrote An Attempt to Discriminate the Styles of Architecture, the first accurate history of English gothic architecture, which became a nineteenth-century bestseller. Rickman’s Attempt was a scholarly milestone which resulted in greater understanding and appreciation for medieval architecture; its clear schematic illustrations of the varied styles of Norman and gothic architecture enabled architects to employ the styles more knowledgeably in their executed buildings. In 1818 the second Church Building Act was passed by Parliament, creating demand for his services as a recognised expert in gothic architecture with a strong financial background. Thanks to the Church Commissioners, Rickman went on to have a large and varied architectural practice.

 Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • An original first edition of Rickman’s An Attempt to Discriminate the Styles of Architecture (1817) and copies of every subsequent edition
  • The handwritten text of Rickman’s lecture on modern church architecture delivered to the Liverpool Literary and Philosophical Institute
  • A manuscript letter from Thomas Rickman to Matthew Gregson
  • The copy of Rickman’s book owned an annotated by his friend William Whewell, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge
  • William Roscoe’s proprietor’s ticket for the Liverpool Royal Institution
  • Etchings of churches by John Sell Cotman (1782-1842).


Discover more about Thomas Rickman 


This Week’s War: 147


May. Reasonably quiet. Got to know the line very well. Towards the end of the month they began to get lively…. the Huns put 15,000 gas shell… & stuff in the Ypres that night but with care & careful dodging, we got away with only two mules lost…

May. Diary of Professor Charles Wells, Emeritus Professor at Liverpool University [D81/1].


This Week’s War: 146


Went by 10.50 to Victoria. Had to wait about ten min for a taxi. After lunch went with Helen to Harrods & bought a lot of things for soldiers. Returned to tea + did not go out again.

Thursday May 17th 1917. Diary of Alfred Osten Walker [LUL MS 9].

This Week’s War: 145


Liverpool Port Trade Committee 

Notice to Dock Labourers of Military Age

The Board of Trade have given instructions to the Port Labour Committee to the effect that after May 18, 1917, men of Military Age working at the Docks in the undermentioned capacities can only hold Board of Trade Certificates of Exemption from Military Service on condition that they are employed as regular Weekly Servants:-

Dock Labourers                                  TimeKeepers

Receivers                                            Crane Drivers

Weight Takers                                     Checkers

Coal Heavers                                     Foremen Stevedores

Wharfingers                                       Foremen Dock Labourers 

Cunard Archive [D42/C1/1/18]