Eclipses and astrological predictions

This article is written by Heather Anderson, Special Collections Assistant.

Charles Leadbetter. A treatise of eclipses of the sun and moon: for thirty-five years, commencing anno 1715, ending 1749. London: printed for John Wilcox, at the Green-Dragon, in Little-Britain, MDCCXXXI [1731]
Foyle Special Collections Rare books collection QB542.L3 LEA

Title page of featured itemEarlier this year, the Foyle Special Collections Library acquired a copy of A treatise of eclipses of the sun and moon, by Charles Leadbetter (1681–1744), a work which records and predicts solar and lunar eclipses and includes accompanying astrological predictions.

As well as being a work of great interest relating to astronomy, mathematics and astrology, this publication also contains attractive woodcut illustrations throughout. I had the opportunity to catalogue this publication, which gave me the chance to learn a bit about the work and its author, and allowed me to gain experience of cataloguing a rare book.

Charles Leadbetter

Charles Leadbetter was an English astronomer and mathematician. Originally from Lancashire, Leadbetter worked for the local Excise Office until 1713, before moving to London in 1715, where he wrote and edited works on positional astronomy and on forms of measurement, such as gauging.

From his establishment at the Hand and Pen in Cock Lane, Shoreditch, he also taught a number of subjects and offered measuring services, as we can see in an advertisement for his business printed in our copy of A treatise of eclipses, which reads:

Arts and Sciences, Mathematical; proffered and taught by the author hereof, at the Hand and Pen, in Cock-Lane, near Shore-Ditch, London: viz. vulgar and decimal arithmetick, trigonometry, astronomy, surveying, gauging, dialling and navigating: Who also performs all sorts of measuring, either for master or workman, with care and expedition, at reasonable rates.

Leadbetter was described in his obituary in the Penny London post as ‘greatly esteem’d for his comprehensive knowledge in the Mathematical Sciences’.

A treatise of eclipses of the sun and moon

te009In this work Leadbetter records and predicts eclipses occurring from 1715 to 1749, and also includes forecasts for the transits of Venus and Mercury over the sun and the conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn up to 1821. The copy held in the Foyle Special Collections Library is an enlarged edition of the 1717 first edition.

In his introduction, addressed ‘To the sons of Urania’ (Urania being the muse of astronomy in Greek mythology), Leadbetter indicates that his text is aimed at the general reader with an interest in astronomy: ‘my only aim in this treatise is to instruct the ignorant who either loves or desires to be taught the knowledge of these things”.

The majority of the work is then dedicated to comprehensively recording and predicting all solar and lunar eclipses that will occur from 1715 to 1749. Leadbetter forecasts the number of eclipses that will occur each year, specifying the type of eclipse and the date and time of its occurrence. He also notes if and how it will appear to observers in London and includes calculations, showing the reader how he came to his conclusions.

Many of the eclipses described are accompanied by a woodcut illustration. These illustrations show the degree to which the sun or moon will be eclipsed, along with visible stars and planets. Each woodcut, rather charmingly, has facial features, with facial expressions often varying for different lunar and solar representations.

The author also accompanies the most significant eclipses with astrological predictions. He outlines the consequences of certain eclipses and accompanies these prophecies with diagrams displaying the twelve astrological houses.

te013Catastrophic predictions

The majority of the astrological predictions in the book are catastrophic in nature. For example, the lunar eclipse of 9 September 1717:

This eclipse… falls in the 12th House of Heaven; this signifies sedition, cruel and inhumane actions of soldiers, sea-fights and death of fish, great floods of water, death of vulgar people; and being in the 12th House, it foreshews sorrow and imprisonment to the common sort of people….

The solar eclipse of 13 July 1721 is forecast to have similarly cataclysmic consequences:

It falls in the beginning of the regal sign Leo, and in the 11th House of Heaven, signifies the death of a mighty prince, violent mischiefs, cruelty and toil, a scarcity of corn and fruit; murders, thefts, abortions to women with child.

The eclipses, however, are occasionally an augury of more favourable circumstances, such as the partial lunar eclipse of 23 January 1730, which should bring ‘peace and plenty upon mankind in general, both by land and sea’.

Provenance

This copy of Leadbetter’s work page is stamped ‘v. Zach’ on the title page and has corrections throughout by a former owner. It is probable that the owner was German Hungarian astronomer Franz Xaver von Zach (1754-1832), a central figure in the discipline who lived in London from 1783 to 1786.

te004This owner has corrected some calculations and misprints throughout the text and has also amended the dates of forecasts for Venus and Mercury passing over the sun from 1786-1799, which implies that he may have observed these planetary transits. Each of the dates added are only a few days following Leadbetter’s predictions.

The cataloguing process

Having recently been on a CILIP training day at Lambeth Palace that covered the use of DCRM(B) (Descriptive cataloguing of rare materials (books)), I was delighted to have the opportunity to put my learning into practice by cataloguing this newly acquired publication.

When cataloguing a rare book, creating a full description of the specific copy is important, as individual copies often have unique features. In the case of this book, recording evidence of the item’s provenance, which includes the owner’s book stamp and corrections throughout, is essential, as researchers may have an interest in the history of the book’s ownership.

Recording further details on the physical nature of the item, such as the woodcuts and the binding, was also important, as these details may be relevant to researchers interested in the book as a physical object. Ensuring significant printed elements of the book are transcribed as they appear on the page, such as the title page and imprint, and noting additional printed features such as advertisements and pagination was also necessary as these details can vary in other copies of an early printed work (even those of the same edition).

Cataloguing this publication was a great opportunity to look at a fascinating 18th century printed work in detail. The cataloguing process gave me the chance to consider how various aspects of a rare publication may be of interest to researchers, from the book’s subject matter to its physical and printed elements. Researchers are welcome to consult this work in the Foyle Special Collections Library.

Bibliography

DJ Bryden, ‘Leadbetter, Charles (1681–1744)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/16233, accessed 22 Sept 2017]

BS Capp. Astrology and the popular press: English almanacs 1500-1800. London: Faber, 1979

Encyclopaedia Britannica, ‘Franz Xaver von Zach’, [https://www.britannica.com/biography/Franz-Xaver-von-Zach, accessed 22 Sept 2017]

A sheaf of verses

By Katie Sambrook, Head of Special Collections

Radclyffe Hall. A sheaf of verses. London: John and Edward Bumpus Ltd., 1908

Foyle Special Collections Library, Rare Books Collection PR6015.A33S54

A sheaf of verses with association items The Foyle Special Collections Library is delighted to acquire an important association copy of this collection of poems by the novelist Marguerite Radclyffe Hall (1880-1943).

Hall is best known today for her novel The well of loneliness (1928), a work whose open treatment of lesbianism caused a furore upon publication and resulted in its being banned for obscenity, with all copies ordered to be withdrawn and destroyed. However, she was also a talented lyric poet, as this volume, now of considerable rarity, reveals.

This copy of A sheaf of verses is of particular interest for its association with the leading educationalist, Lilian Faithfull (1865-1952), vice-principal of the Ladies’ Department at King’s College, London from 1894 to 1906 and subsequently principal of Cheltenham Ladies’ College.

Radclyffe Hall was briefly a student at King’s during Faithfull’s tenure and, although she did not complete a degree, she clearly developed a lasting respect for Faithfull, to whom she sent this copy of her book, inscribing the fly-leaf ‘To Miss Faithfull from Marguerite Radclyffe Hall’. That Faithfull likewise retained an interest in her erstwhile student is apparent from the fact that she inserted a cutting from The Times, dated 11 October 1943 and containing Hall’s obituary, in the volume.

A heaf ov versesFaithfull’s time at the helm of the Ladies’ Department at King’s saw a considerable rise in academic standards, as she sought to transform the department from a place where women students merely came to hear lectures to a fully functioning university, whose students could and did work systematically towards University of London degrees.  An interesting and informative account of her time at King’s can be found in her memoirs, In the house of my pilgrimage (London, 1924), a copy of which is also held in the Foyle Special Collections Library.

Junk and Justice

This post is written by Jack Gleeson, Special Collections Assistant, who is currently working on the Eric Mottram collection.

Presented to King’s College by his siblings in 1996, and now held in the Foyle Special Collections Library, the library of Professor Eric Mottram (1924-95) is a wide-ranging and varied collection, reflective of an academic with diverse tastes and scholarly interests.

Professor Mottram spent much of his life teaching both English Literature and American Studies, lecturing in numerous places throughout the United States and the world, and holding the position of Professor of English and American Literature at King’s from 1982 to 1990. As a result, a significant portion of his extensive collection is devoted to American novels and poetry, and, in particular, poetry from the Beat scene.

junkieIn the 1960s, Mottram met and corresponded with a number of figures in underground literary movements, and at the close of the decade he befriended and spoke with key Beat personage William S Burroughs (1914-97), who was living in London at the time.

Burroughs was of particular interest to Mottram, who around this time wrote The algebra of need, one of the first critical works to look at Burroughs’s output up to that point. This piece was initially published in Intrepid magazine’s special Burroughs issue of 1969-70, which was edited by Mottram, and then later as a monograph in 1971.

With this background and context in mind, Mottram naturally amassed a large number of books by Burroughs, and in cataloguing the collection we have so far come across signed copies of his later works Cities of the red night (1981) and The western lands (1987). Most captivating as a piece of literary and social history, however, is a first edition of Burroughs’s first published novel, Junkie (1953).

narcoticLater retitled Junky by Penguin in 1977, though even today never published under Burroughs’s intended title, Junk, the first edition of Junkie was put onto drugstore shelves under the pseudonym ‘William Lee,’ and was published as an Ace Double Book, bound together with the previous decade’s Narcotic agent by Maurice Helbrant, the ‘gripping true adventures of a T-man’s war against the dope menace’.

Chiefly autobiographical in nature, a work entitled Junkie was unsurprisingly full of references to opiate use and drug dealing, not to mention ‘alcohol depression,’ ‘crustacean horror’ and ‘junk sickness’; and additionally delved into pickpocketing, and homosexual relationships between Burroughs and others.

Tethered by the much stricter social mores of the 1950s, Ace Books set to work editing and censoring Burroughs’s manuscript, going so far as to insert a number of editorial notes, intended to protect themselves from legal liability for, or moral association with, the writer’s statements that they did not cut out.

These notes are inset throughout the text to rescue the reader from the world of drugs, asserting that Burroughs’s declarations that ‘Sex is more enjoyable under the influence of weed’ and that ‘Weed is positively not habit-forming’ (p. 33) are ‘contradicted by recognized medical authority’ (p. 34). Solomon and Ace Books likewise distance themselves from Burroughs’s disparaging comments about the United States justice system later in the book.

While a number of Burroughs’s remarks about junk and justice were included but accompanied by disclaimers, references to the author’s homosexuality were removed entirely from this first edition, and entire paragraphs and pages detailing relationships between Burroughs and other men were not seen until Penguin restored the complete manuscript in 1977. Further text, taken from letters written to Allen Ginsberg, was reinstated by scholar Oliver Harris for Penguin’s 2003 edition of Junky.

Carl Solomon, a friend of Allen Ginsberg, and nephew of AA Wyn, the founder of Ace Books, assured the readers in his publisher’s note that the text was published purely with noble intent: to ‘forearm the public’ against the ‘drug menace’ and to ‘discourage imitation.’

This seemingly honourable resolve and the social mores of the period did not however stop the publisher from unleashing the book with a lurid, attention-grabbing image on the cover, along with a vivid subtitle: Confessions of an unredeemed drug addict, both of which seem to capitalise on the plight of individuals suffering from drug addiction, and appear unambiguously aimed at a thrill-seeking reader base. It is worth noting that nothing quite as melodramatic as the scene depicted in the cover illustration actually happens in the novel.

The Junkie of this double books edition is a revealing item: we are now able to look back at the Ace Books censored novel, featured in this article, with the 2003 edition of Junkie in hand, and know exactly what was removed. We can witness the trajectory of Burroughs from the author of a throwaway subway paperback, advertised with the slogan, ‘TWO BOOKS IN ONE – 35c,’ to heavily-studied, hugely influential novelist and writer, whose personal life, far from having entire components cut out of texts by publishers, has been thoroughly exposed and explored through countless biographies and collections of letters.

Both of the eye-catching covers of this double book edition are shown here, courtesy of Penguin Random House.

Special Collections staff continue to sort and catalogue the Eric Mottram collection and are happy to answer enquiries on this or other areas of the collection.

Bibliography and references:

Jed Birmingham, ‘Eric Mottram and The Algebra of Need,’ RealityStudio, [http://realitystudio.org/bibliographic-bunker/my-own-mag/the-my-own-mag-community/eric-mottram-and-the-algebra-of-need/, accessed June 21, 2017]

William S Burroughs, Junkie (New York: Ace Books, 1953)

William S Burroughs, Junky: the definitive text of ‘Junk’ (London: Penguin Books, 2003)

William S Burroughs. Rub out the words: the letters of William S Burroughs, 1959-1974 (London: Penguin Books, 2012)

Maurice Helbrant, Narcotic Agent (New York: Ace Books, 1953)

Barry Miles, William S Burroughs: a life (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015), 491

Peace, Love and World War: the Denmans, Empire and Australia, 1910-1917

This blog post is posted on behalf of Shane Breynard, Director, Canberra Museum and Gallery.

Peace, Love and World War: The Denmans, Empire and Australia, 1910-1917 was a travelling exhibition from Canberra Museum and Gallery shown in the Weston Room at the Maughan Library, King’s College London, from Monday 3 July until Monday 25 September 2017.

Governor General's group, 1911

Shane Breynard writes:

In June 1911, a British family of four commenced the long sea journey from England to Australia. The two children, six-year-old Thomas and four-year-old Judith, travelled with their chaperones via the Cape of Good Hope. Their parents Lord (Thomas) Denman and Lady (Gertrude) Denman took a different and more direct route. Accompanied by their own sizeable retinue, they embarked from Marseille and took the searingly hot journey through the Suez Canal and Red Sea.

Tom and Trudie landed in Melbourne in late July 1911 and were driven in an open-topped carriage from St Kilda Pier to Parliament House. The children were still at sea.

One can only imagine the trepidation and excitement that this family felt during their ‘split-in-two’ journey across the world. After a spectacularly productive two years, an exhausted Trudie would return to Britain in 1913. Tom was back home, prior to completing his post, a year later in 1914.

Australia’s fifth Governor-General and his wife had arrived at a critical time for the recently-federated Australia. National projects were underway in transport, industry, defence and trade and the country was also starting to develop its own cultural identity. Now emerging from its role as a British colony, it was looking outward to gain more independence on the world stage. But, alongside this growing wealth and optimism, looking back, we also see the irony of the country’s crushing discrimination against Aboriginal Australians in this period. Recognition of this sad story, in the same frame as the happier one of the Denmans’ contributions, was to come much later in the history of Australia and its capital.

The Denmans were far from being an aloof couple. They enjoyed great popular support while in Australia. Trudie contributed substantially to the success of Australian bush nursing and significantly to the National Council of Women. Lord Denman strongly supported the development of Australia’s defence forces and would become a lifelong advocate for Australia on his return to Britain.

Canberra Museum and Gallery’s fascinating exhibition, Peace, Love and World War: The Denmans, 1910-1917, Empire and Australia, explores both the Denmans’ time in Australia and the period of their immediate return to Britain as it faced the prospect of world war.

But it is for their role in the official naming of Canberra that the Denmans have come to particular prominence in the Australian story. The official ceremony took place on Capital Hill on 12 March 1913 at the laying of the foundation stones of Canberra’s commencement column.

One hundred years later, in 2013, a highlight of Canberra’s centenary year was a toast to this earlier ceremony. It was preceded by reflections from cherished Aboriginal Elder Aunty Agnes Shea, from Prime Minister Julia Gillard, from ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and from Governor-General Quentin Bryce. This conjunction of four of the nation’s most influential women as they reflected on our centenary, contributed of course to a highly resonant event.

It not only celebrated the progress of Australian women over one hundred years, a story which Trudie herself would have greatly relished, but it also recognised the importance of Aboriginal Australians in our nation. On our centenary occasion, Aunty Agnes Shea asked those present to imagine the difference if, one hundred years ago, we had possessed the understanding we now have of the traditional owners of Australia, and of their connection to this ancient land.

Importantly the event also presented a powerful echo-through-time. As a part of that distant ceremony in 1913 Trudie had the role of reading aloud, for the first time and to great applause, the official name of the new capital. Her strong and elegant articulation of ‘Canberra’ was henceforth adopted as the official pronunciation. Governor General Bryce, on repeating the word ‘Canberra’ with equal resonance 100 years later, explained her understanding of the word as ‘…a hybrid… which connects both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal sources’. She claimed it as ‘a name rooted in traditions – of the land and of local communities’.

I encourage you to reflect on the idea of the ‘hybrid’ as you explore this wonderful exhibition, whether you visit it on site or online. We may come to share an important modern insight as we ask ourselves whether both national identity and personal identity are not both fundamentally hybrid at their core.

Though the Denmans’ stay in Australia was but a short slice of a lifetime, their individual contribution shaped Australia’s national identity as much as their individual experiences of Australia must have shaped them personally. Their influence contributed to the way in which the British people would view Australia in the following period.

Shane Breynard Director, Canberra Museum and Gallery

Canberra Museum and Gallery is grateful to the many contributors to the exhibition: curator, Dr David Headon; the passionate and professional staff of King’s College London, particularly Katie Sambrook of The Maughan Library; the many institutional and private lenders; His Excellency the Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Alexander Downer AC for opening the exhibition in London; Her Excellency the British High Commissioner to Australia, Ms Menna Rawlings CMG for opening the exhibition in Canberra; and sponsors King O’Malley’s, and Denman Prospect – a part of Capital Estate Developments.

The image shown in this article is entitled the: ‘Governor-General’s Group’ and was
photographed at Government House (Melbourne) on the day of arrival, 31 July 1911. Lord and Lady Denman are seated front / middle; Lady Gladys Barttelot, Lady Denman’s Lady-in-Waiting, seated left; and Major Arnold Quilter, Lord Denman’s Military Secretary, standing left.

(The Lady Barttelot album, courtesy Lady Margot Burrell)

“All in the End is Harvest.” A Researcher’s Encounter with the Dame Cicely Saunders Collection

Joyce-Elena Ní Ghiobúin graduated from Trinity College, University of Dublin, with an MPhil in Reconciliation Studies in 2012. Since then she has been researching denominational aspects of British-Irish nursing history in the late 19th and 20th centuries and may be contacted at nighiobj@tcd.ie.

Writing to a friend in 1960, Dr Cicely Saunders commented on the increased crisscross of letters, “We’re going to need an archivist someday to make sense of this!” [1]

That anticipation crossed my mind when first confronted with a selection of files at the King’s College London Archives. I was amazed by Dr Saunders’ eye for detail and her foresight in creating records of so many encounters – she must have had future generations in mind!

The documents I consulted were filed thematically, thereby often dating back to a specific period in her life. Yet two core interests spanned the years from her first involvement in hospice care in the late 1940s up until her death in 2005: her restless initiative in expanding her own medical awareness, and a preoccupation with the spiritual aspect in care provision.

These are encapsulated in the words of a patient who served as the founding narrative of the hospice: “I only want what is in your mind and in your heart”. [2] Saunders invested herself in caring for patients in the 1940s, saying “we had so often nothing to offer but ourselves”. [3] Because of this, her mentor Dr Barrett urged her to read medicine if she wanted to change end-of-life care because, in his words, “It’s the doctors who desert the dying”. [4]

p 14 vol 72 no 4 1974 FINAL

Figure 1. Cartoon, St Thomas’s Gazette, vol. 72 no.4 (1974), 14.

The material at King’s College London Archives provides a trail of primary documents beginning from the point at which Cicely Saunders decided to follow that advice. Among the papers placed in my hands as a researcher were the drafts of her M.D. thesis examining pain control among terminal cancer patients, which was a novel direction for research in the mid-1950’s as most doctors focused on curative care problems. The material includes her handwritten calculations and brainstorming exercises, interspersed with letters from her supervisor on how she might rearrange her thesis chapters to best effect. Two of Saunders’ letters are addressed to a professor of veterinary science who had developed tranquilizers for rhinoceros in Uganda using a mixture of morphine derivatives: she wrote to him in 1964 for further insight into analgesics and their tested effects. Still more files contain cuttings from medical journals on the most up-to-date pain control debates [Fig. 1]. Such early investigative thrusts – St Christopher’s would not open until 1967 – attest to Saunders’ resolve to base future hospice work on the best medical and ethical practice. She later affirmed that St Christopher’s was neither the first nor “the model” hospice, but an example of how up-to-date research might be conducted alongside intuitive patient attention in the same care-giving space.

Figure 2. Sketched on reverse of “St. Christopher’s Hospice: First Newsletter” (June 1964), draft. Saunders collected and encouraged the use of poetry for articulating the complex experience of giving and recieving palliative care. In this sketch, the handwritten text reads, “Sudden and Sweet/ Come the expected feel/ All life is new and new all art/ And He too Whom we love by heart” [K/PP149/2/3]

The collection also offers a chance to read through the layers of her accumulative insight into “total pain”, as she had called it by 1964, an understanding gained through hours of listening closely to hundreds of patients she interviewed while working at St Joseph’s Hospice. Through them she came to comprehend fully the patient’s place in a larger community and the need for a social and emotional aspect of care, such as in extending bereavement support to patients’ families. This not only symbolically tied the mind with the heart, but drew further on her available knowledge of “creative sensitivity” to the needs of everyone in the hospice community. Among Saunders’ papers are her collected poems, quotations and articles which substantiate this intuitive, artistic direction [Fig. 2, above]. They include lines written by patients in Britain and the U.S., some quotations translated “from the Chinese” and a few English poems from the 8th century A.D., including one dated c 780 called No Man is in the Fields. This latter poem found its way into her 1983 anthology for the bereaved and suffering, Beyond all Pain.

Beyond All Pain FINAL

Figure 3. Saunders’ own copy of “Beyond All Pain” is held as part of the library of Dame Cicely Saunders, King’s College London Archives

What is especially interesting in Saunders’ 1960s poetry collections is her preference for Christian poetry – including, for example, an amusing song from 5-year-old “Lucy” beginning with the line, “When the Baby was borned, Joseph said to Mary …” Her 1983 publication replaces most of these poems with choices that are more wide-ranging both denominationally and geographically, in itself reflective of Saunders’ personal journey in later years to reach beyond her “home” in the Anglican Evangelical tradition. Nevertheless, the thematic framework of Beyond all Pains chapters (e.g. ‘Suffering’, ‘Dying’ and lastly ‘Resurrection’) preserves a Judeo-Christian framework of meaning. For Saunders, “spirituality” was “much wider than religious practice. It is the search for meaning, the look at one’s own most important values, the feeling of looking beyond yourself and of somehow belonging to something more than you are”. [5] All researchers looking back on Saunders’ collections, regardless of their individual evaluation of the importance of the spiritual, face the fact that nearly a third of her publications, if not more, were concerned with the dynamics of “spirituality” in end-of-life care.

Bookcase 1 FINAL

Figure 4. The library of Dame Cicely Saunders, King’s Building. Access is available upon request through King’s College London Archives.

2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of St Christopher’s Hospice. This commemorative year, together with the research it promotes, is itself a season of transition, appreciation and learning, like that of Saunders’ in the years leading up to the establishment of St Christopher’s in 1967. As she herself remarked on Desert Island Discs in 1994, the modern hospice is not about “bricks and mortar” but rather about the attitudes, skills and ideas that are “spreading widely” because of St Christopher’s Hospice, enabling many patients to count their last days as their fullest. Her dedication in promoting pain control and personal concern helped to forge a comprehensive approach to medical care, a lifetime’s actualisation that is thankfully well-documented and well-looked-after. For the researcher of Hospice History as much as for the patient in its care, it might well be said, to quote a favourite anthology of Saunders’, “All in the end is harvest”.[6]

References:

[1] David Clark, “Making Sense of Cicely Saunders”. International Symposium on Cicely Saunders, Hospital San Juan de Dios, Pamplona, October 17th 2015.

[2] David Tasma, quoted in Shirley du Boulay, Cicely Saunders: The Founder of the Modern Hospice Movement (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1987), 56.

[3] Saunders, Watch with Me (Sheffield: Mortal Press, 2003), 41.

[4] Norman Barrett, quoted in du Boulay, Cicely Saunders, 63.

[5] Saunders in conversation. “Elements and Models of Palliative Care: A Conversation with Dr Cicely Saunders’’, Youtube. [Accessed 15 May 2017].

[6] This line is from Edith Sitwell’s poem Eurydice and was adopted as the title of an anthology by the same name edited by Agnes Whitaker. All in the End is Harvest: An Anthology for those who Grieve (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1984) was a valued volume in Dr Saunders’ personal collection.

“Honest, Sober and Industrious”. Academic Job Hunting, Twentieth Century Style.

The Manageress
Imperial Hotel
Russell Square, W.C.1

5th September of 1947

Dear Madam

I understand that your letter of yesterday’s date applies to Miss P–, who was a student here in the Department of Botany from 1932-1935 and did some part-time teaching work in the same Department from 1938-1939. I have not seen much of her since then, but I believe she has had some business experience, and when I last saw her (January 1945) she told me she was working for an insurance company. During the time she was at the College there was no doubt about her honesty, sobriety and industry and I shall be glad if she is able to take up employment with you.

Yours faithfully,
Registrar.

For those dependent on paid employment, trying to find one’s way in the world can be a long, arduous process, affected by such variables as previous work experience, education, demonstrable skills and the caprices of our interpersonal networks and referees. In today’s world, the academic job hunt can be especially fraught, but perhaps some comfort might be drawn from the knowledge that whatever our anxieties or disadvantages, someone, somewhere has been through it all before.

King’s College London’s personnel files, which include correspondence relating to job applications from the last century, tell us as much. Miss P. had a decent start in life, attending an independent school and Cheltenham Ladies’ College before attaining a second class degree from King’s. Her academic career, however, was limited to two terms as a part time Demonstrator in the Department of Botany, salaried at £35, before drifting into secretarial work and ending up, we presume, at the Imperial Hotel [KA/FPA/1939 P-W].

KAFPA1939 P-W Miss Pease BLANKED NAME

Imperial Hotel letter requesting a reference for Miss P, 1947 [KA/FPA/1939 P-W]

In today’s tough job-hunting climate, part-time sessional teaching staff commonly bemoan the insecurity of their positions and the brevity of their contracts in a world where permanent, full-time academic tenure becomes rarer each year. Competition for academic posts was arguably less aggressive in the interwar period prior to the mass conversion of colleges to independent universities after 1945, but teaching could still be precarious. Dr C, for example, was hired as a part time Lecturer in Anatomy every year for seven consecutive years between 1930 and 1937, submitting to the circular process of applying and waiting for the formal offer of employment for his own job each time [KA/FPA/1939 A-M]. For successful candidates the turnaround of job offers was nonetheless speedy, even in the pre-Internet age. Acceptances were expedited by telegram when twice-daily snail mail just wasn’t fast enough.

KA FPA 1939 Telegram

Accepting a post by telegram Telegram, 1935 [KA/FPA/1939 P-W]

At King’s, standardised application forms were introduced in the late 1920s and have changed very little over the years, except for a brief period from the 1970s when marital status appeared as a category. Today’s forms also allow considerably more space for applicants to write their details.

King’s Application Form, 1929 [KA/FPA 1929]

Prior to the introduction of the form, applicants were expected to supply written references along with covering letters and a CV up front. It would appear that the physical presentation of written references at this early stage in the application process was closely tied to the stature of vacancy. In 1900, applicant Reverend H. C. Beeching went to the considerable trouble of having testimonials type-set and printed in letterpress. Beeching’s five references were presented in the form of an eight page booklet, a one-off prospectus for the applicant designed expressly for the position including Beeching’s covering letter. “My Lords and Gentlemen,” Beeching wrote, “I beg leave to offer myself for the post of Pastoral Theology of King’s College…I could promise that the work of the Professorship, if I were entrusted with it, should have my best care.” Beeching’s supporters concurred, testifying to his “uncommon power of exposition, and his reasonable attitude to matters of controversy in religion.” It was said that Beeching was possessed of “…a strong sympathy with young men, and with their difficulties, and enthusiasms, and aspirations” [KA/ FPA 1900].

KA FPA 1900

Letterpress booklet containing testimonials for Reverend H. C. Beeching in respect of the position of Professor of Pastoral Theology, King’s College London, 1900 [KA/FPA 1900]

Of course, even in less competitive times the interview panel still faced the age-old problem of putting names to faces after meeting applicants in person. King’s applications from the 1960s show that one such interviewer overcame this hurdle by sketching the faces of interviewees onto their forms for reference. Indeed, the pencil-sketch aide memoir seems to have become habitual for this interviewer as miniature portraits appear regularly on application forms from the early 1960s.

Grouped Portraits Cropped

Faces of hopefuls sketched onto application forms during interviews, early 1960s [KA/FPA 1960-1962]

Glasses

Glasses! [KA/FPA 1960-1962]

Very Brown Eyes

“Very brown eyes…green shirt and pullover” [KA/FPA 1960-1962]

For data protection reasons, only older personnel files are available for readers to view in the Archives Reading Room. Scholars researching Organisational History or the History of Human Resources Management will find them a potentially fruitful pathway into understanding the practicalities of the 20thC academic job hunt. For the rest of us, I would venture to say that there is something reassuring about continuities with applying for jobs, academic or otherwise, in the present day.

 

MA internship in Special Collections

This post is made on behalf of James Hatherill. James is undertaking an MA in Modern History at King’s and as part of his course is taking the optional internship module. For this element of the course he is based in the Foyle Special Collections Library where the research project designed for him involved:

  • Transcribing a 19th century manuscript report by William Young (1749-1815), Governor of Tobago and MP. The report was a plea to the British government to bring stability and prosperity to the island of Tobago and consolidate British possession of the island. A link to the catalogue record for the item James has been working on is available here: An essay on the commercial and political importance of ye island of Tabago, 1810
  • Assisting in the digitisation of the item for display in an online exhibition; and assisting with the online curatorial process
  • Researching the context of the report by using the holdings of the Foyle Special Collections Library, (including the historical library collection of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office); and undertaking a trip to the National Archives to discover any evidence of an official response to the report
  • Writing an introductory essay and a blog post on the work

The internship runs from January to April 2017 and involves 100 hours of primary research. James writes:

James Read RoomI have found my time in the Foyle Special Collections a rewarding and intellectually stimulating experience. The subject of my research has given me a new perspective on a part of the world I did not previously know much about, and also an insight into the workings of the British Empire and its presence on the world stage.

I was able to consult contemporary documents and maps of the area, and even follow up some research at the National Archives. I found the digitisation process interesting and rewarding in the knowledge that the document I was working on would be preserved in a digital format.

Academia, like much of the world, has been completely changed by new technology and the information age. The benefits are quite immediately apparent in the discipline of history: access to primary sources previously made difficult through geographical circumstances can be more easily obtained. Similarly for secondary sources, websites like JSTOR can allow you to search countless articles from any journal relating to any subject which you may be researching. As a result, my studying of history has involved quite a lot of digital interface.

This has perhaps led to my experience at the Foyle Special Collections Library being quite a novel one as I have never worked quite so intimately with 18th and 19th century documents before. There is a larger debate surrounding digital vs. analogue in the background here, but that is for another day.

I am by no means a Luddite and completely enjoy the benefits of this age, but coming here and working in the collections has reminded me of the reason why history can be so encapsulating. To be connected to a person from the past through the paper with which they put their pen to and made a mark. That, along with the pleasure of working with the staff at the collections, has been the most enjoyable aspect of the internship.

An extract of my research into the work is reproduced below.

The development of Tobago

tob002The island of Tobago has a history of political instability unlike that of any other Caribbean island during the 17th and 18th centuries. Tobago was in a ‘State of Betweenity’ as stated by Eric Williams. This is in reference to the relentless claims of various European powers to their colonial rights to the island, namely France, Britain and the Netherlands. In addition to this, buccaneers and marauders made sailing through this part of the Caribbean at the time a dangerous affair.

Young’s Report

By the beginning of the 19th century, we have an island which is wrestling with its history and legacy. Sir William Young, 2nd Baronet (1749-1815) became Governor of the island of Tobago in 1807. He began to comprehensively assess the island’s viability as a suitable focus for expansion, an assessment which eventually culminated in this manuscript.

In the transcription I undertook I have not edited the text in any way. I have included any misspellings, punctuation or grammar mistakes which Young may have made. In some cases, these may just have been conventions of the 19th century such as the frequency of Tobago being written ‘Tabago.’

Young’s report to the British colonial government was in essence a plea to try and bring stability and prosperity to the island. He quite rightly points out in his report that instability does not encourage investment. The reputation Tobago had found itself with ultimately meant few merchants were willing to station themselves on the island. Young heavily plays up the mercantile spirit of the British and in a fairly typical attitude of the time, champions these as virtues of the British Empire which would benefit all.

International rivalry

There is also the unavoidable, and repeatedly referenced war with Napoleon’s France in the background during the period – France being at this time, of course, a rival colonial power as well as a frequent belligerent. Young constantly reminds the reader of the importance of securing against French interests in the area as a matter of national interest. Young’s ultimate conclusion to his report was that the French were planning to increase their presence on the island before it was handed back to British hands, and that this intention was something that Britain should also take an interest in.

tob004To Young, Tobago was an island of unrealised potential – there were various reasons why it should have been one of the British Empire’s most significant colonial possessions.

Many of his arguments are compelling. However, either the island’s unstable reputation, or pure misfortune, would never see it become a true mercantile capital. While the Colonial Office decided his report worth keeping for preservation, there is no record of a reply from the government concerning this report.

Update – August 2017. The online exhibition of James’s work is now available to view in full: Young’s Essay on Tobago

Bibliography.

EI Carlyle, ‘Young, Sir William, second baronet (1749–1815)’, rev. Richard B. Sheridan, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/30284, accessed 7 March 2017]

Bryan Edwards, The history, civil and commercial, of the British colonies in the West Indies, London, John Stockdale, 1807

Tabago, or, A geographical description, natural and civil history. London: printed for W Reeves, 1759

Eric Williams. History of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Port of Spain, PNM Publishing, 1962

Sir William Young. The West-India common-place book. London, Richard Phillips, 1807

Open source archive software

I co-organised a workshop in early December at The National Archives (TNA) on ATOM and Archivematica software, along with TNA’s Higher Education Archive Programme  and Artefactual Systems, the Canadian development company which supports both these applications.

The workshop was attended by around 40 archivists and records managers from around the UK, including existing or prospective users of the systems and those simply interested in learning more.

ATOM’s development was supported by the ICA and it is used across the world to manage and publish descriptions of archives. Archivematica manages digital preservation workflows for digitised and born digital content.

Key questions/points that inspired the day included:

  • Examples of the real application of Archivematica – how difficult is it to customise and how easy is it to use?
  • Do regional consortia offer the best opportunity for the application of digital preservation?
  • How can data on other systems such as CALM be imported into ATOM?
  • How is training best delivered?
  • How will these open source systems be best supported given the limitations of institutional IT?

 

The day began with an introduction and overview of both systems from Artefactual’s Justin Simpson and Dan Gillean. Their slides are available here.

There were then a series of five/ten minute presentations from invited speakers. Gary Tuson, County Archivist at Norfolk Record Office (NRO), spoke eloquently about the Eastern Region Archivematica trial that saw a number of archives in that Region, led by NRO, use Archivematica for digital preservation. He offered real encouragement that a regional model might help, although it was only a small-scale trial. Archivematica, unlike ATOM, is not available with multi-tenanted functionality. This places some limitations on the creation of a genuinely collaborative initiative and more work needs to be done to assess the viability of consortia – perhaps involving trials in other regions such as London.

Lindsay Ould, Borough Archivist at Croydon, described her experience of migrating elderly CALM data into a new instance of ATOM. Their existing CALM system was used by Archives, Museums and Local Studies, meaning that the style and structure of data was very diverse and often unclean and out of date. More than 1000 collection and accession records were migrated to a new hosted version of ATOM. Lindsay described working with an external developer to cleanse the data and she pointed out that this took up a disproportionate amount of time. Lastly, she spoke about developing a simple search interface and future plans to also make museum descriptions visible.

David Cordery, of Max Communications, was next up and spoke about the challenges of migrating data into ATOM, similar to those which Lindsay had experienced. He stressed the usability and intuitive controls provided by ATOM, but also the ability for users to customise the front end delivery of archive data and that the system is especially useful when managing images. Max provides a service to extract, clean and re-publish data in new ATOM instances and offers ongoing support.

Jenny Mitcham of York spoke next on the use of Archivematica to manage research data – a proof of concept joint venture between the Universities of Hull and York, The National Archives and JISC. Research data management is a big challenge for universities, as it is a requirement of the Research Councils that such data, for example generated by scientific research, be preserved and managed for a time. Jenny highlighted the concept of ‘parsimonious preservation’ coined by Tim Gollins of The National Archives – essentially doing ‘just enough’ to capture the right information in digital preservation, and avoiding unnecessary processes. Jenny listed a number of pros and cons of using Archivematica, including its versatility, flexibility and ability to integrate with other systems, versus its fiddly processes, unsophisticated user interface and the need to train staff to use it. This impressive project is now hoping to move to a production phase and bring on board the Borthwick Institute and integrate Archivematica more fully with ATOM. Much more information can be found on the project website and digital archiving blog.

Ed Pinsent of the Digital Preservation Training Programme at ULCC, is working with Artefactual to develop more mature training in the use of the two systems. He revealed the results of a survey of the digital preservation community in 2015, which highlighted the need for practical (and less theoretical) hands-on training, especially using real tools. ULCC will be working closely with Artefactual on UK Archivematica training in 2017. Learn more about the work of ULCC’s DP training here.

The second half of the workshop focused on hands-on sessions using the two systems and work-sheets provided by Artefactual. This gave the opportunity for attendees, working in groups, to import, manage and manipulate test data and gain a better understanding of what the systems have to offer. Test instances were set up, enabling attendees and those not present to explore the systems from their workplaces.

More information about Archivematica can be found here; and on ATOM, a series of YouTube tutorials here.

Overall, this was a very useful workshop, not least in bringing together a diverse collection of archivists and records managers from higher education, local authorities and other sectors, and others such as representatives of Arkivum, the DP specialists. It is hoped that an ATOM user group will be founded as a consequence of the workshop, to complement a thriving Archivematica group.

I would like to thank The National Archives for hosting and helping to organise the day, and Artefactual for their assistance throughout the day and since.

 

 

‘Bone’ up on your history

A ‘tail’ of a house and the emergence of a new breed of dog: the ‘Golden Retriever’, by Barbara Cornford.

In my role as a metadata assistant I have the joy of reading the personal diaries of many a well-known historical figure, the day to day joys, misery, shenanigans; in most cases written by persons from a very privileged strata of British society. I am currently working on the diaries of Lady Jean Hamilton. Through her wonderful writings I can share her day to day thoughts, actions and friendships – she is deliciously explanatory and self- aware, which engenders empathy from the reader.

I have a natural curiosity, it is not enough for me just to know that the object of my work stayed or visited with friends in this house or that house, I like to research to see if I can find out what the house looked like and if it still exists so that I can share a little of what has been described; the approach to such houses, their thoughts and opinions of the exterior and interior and the appreciation of the landscape surrounding them. One such house Lady Hamilton was invited to was Guisachan in Scotland as the guest of Lady Tweedmouth. In 1854 the Guisachan Estate was bought by Edward Dudley Coutts Marjoribank, who later in 1881 became Lord Tweedmouth.

 

Guisachan House

Another view of Guisachan House

Lord Tweedmouth had built lodges for visitors, kennels for his dogs, farm steads and importantly a new village which was called Tomich. He then began to move tenants from their crofts because they were too near the main house: they had no choice but to be relocated. The village was provided with a school, brewery and laundry.

Lord Tweedmouth was very interested in dogs of the hunting and sporting kind and at Guisachan he established a new breed. ‘Nous’, a wavy coated retriever, was bred with ‘Belle’ a Tweed Water spaniel: this created three yellow wavy-coated puppies which were named Primrose, Crocus [a male dog] and Cowslip – the first ‘Golden retrievers’ were born.

‘Nous’ photographed in old age

Nous in old age

Those Golden Retriever owners who are aware of the importance of Guisachan and Lord Tweedmouth go on an annual pilgrimage to what is left of the house and grounds in celebration of the breed. In July 2013, the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland hosted more than 350 people from 15 countries and 222 golden retrievers at a gathering on the Guisachan grounds. Not long afterwards, an organisation called the Friends of Guisachan [www.friendsofguisachan.org] raised money for a statue of a Golden Retriever at Guisachan to commemorate the achievement of Lord Tweedmouth.

Statue commemorating the establishment of the Golden Retriever breed

The GRCS will be hosting a ‘Guisachan Gathering’ in July 2018. The gathering will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Golden Retriever breed at Guisachan House by Lord Tweedmouth. The event will begin on Monday 16th July 2018 and end with a Breed Championship Show at Cannich on Friday 20th July 2018.

guisachan-photo-shoot

To return to the house, it now lies as a ruinous shell, purchased and denuded of its contents, roof and anything of value. Open to the elements and almost totally destroyed, it shines like a beacon to those who know and love the breed called the Golden Retriever.

Ruins

MEMORIAL

 

Bibliography

Clan Marjoribanks Society website http://www.marjoribanks.net/lord-tweedmouths-golden-retrievers/

https://friendsofguisachan.org

Barbara Cornford

 

Mathematical Shakespeare

On 27 June 1854 when seventeen year old Alfred Ainger (1837-1904) picked up his prize for ‘proficiency in Mathematics’ from King’s College London, was he surprised to discover that it was a handsomely bound volume of the complete works of William Shakespeare edited by Charles Knight, complete with the college arms stamped in gold on its cover?  [tape was required eventually]

AA01bookplateAA00To me a connection between a mathematics prize and the complete works of Shakespeare is not obvious.

Was this prize selected with Ainger in mind or is it the default prize for any number of achievements, so that the prize reflects the enormous esteem in which the Victorians held Shakespeare?

And did this prize have a career-altering effect?  The following year, when he was 18, the Dictionary of National Biography reports of Alfred: ‘Devotion to Shakespeare manifested itself early and in 1855 he became the first president of the college’s Shakepeare Society’.

In fact, in later life it is his literary skills, not his mathematical ones, for which Ainger would be recognised. He went to King’s school with the sons of Charles Dickens and was taken up by the novelist for his skill in amateur dramatics.  He knew Tennyson, became a published authority on Charles Lamb, and, along with producing books, articles and lectures, became an Anglican preacher and chaplain both to Queen Victoria and subsequently to King Edward VII.

His prize Shakespeare volume is quite new to our collection (2016), but already the engravings by William Harvey have provided illustrations for an exhibition I was assembling in January from King’s College London Archives to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

King’s has not been around yet quite 200 years, so the Archive might not expect to have much relevant to Shakespeare (1564-1616). Fortunately just over a century ago Fredrick Furnivall (1825-1910)  the prolific Victorian scholar, literary editor, lexicographer and rowing enthusiast donated to King’s, along with his impressive library, a collection of papers from the many societies he founded. The New Shakspere Society papers (Furnivall insisted on the variant spelling) proved a good source for Shakespeare in the archives at King’s, the frontispiece from Ainger’s Shakespeare providing the opening illustration.

AA_shrewEach play has a full-page illustration in the volume and it is intriguing to see how an entire play is squeezed into a single frame for such pieces as the Taming of the Shrew where the Sly framework literally frames an inner scene from the shrew taming when Kate and Petruchio encounter the tailor and haberdasher meant to provide her wardrobe.  The insanity of the comedy is conveyed visually by setting the inner frame at a dangerous angle.

AA_dreamThe four interwoven layers of A Midsummer Night’s Dream are stacked on top of each other with the young lovers at the bottom being awakened by hunters Theseus and Hippolyta in the middle of the image while Oberon and Titania and their flight of fairies crowd the upper region with Puck flying in from the left carrying the ass’s head taken from Bottom the Weaver.  The tone is as romantic as anyone could wish.