Such an odd business: speculative fiction in the Mottram Collection, Part 1

This post is written by Jack Gleeson, Special Collections Assistant in the Foyle Special Collections Library at King’s. 

‘What kind of people go up in roller coasters?’

Ralph Banghart rolled his cigar a full thirty seconds. ‘People wanna die. That rollie coaster’s the handiest thing to dying there is.’

(From: Ray Bradbury, ‘The dwarf’ in The October country, 1955).

Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
© 1963, HP Lovecraft.

Nestled amongst the Norman Mailer and the Elmore Leonard in the Mottram collection is a neat run of science-fiction and horror paperbacks, predominantly published in the 1950s and 60s. Professor Eric Mottram (1924-95), Professor of English and American Literature at King’s from 1982 to 1990, was far from picky when amassing his library collection, leaving some gems of mid-20th century speculative fiction as part of our holdings in the Foyle Special Collections Library.

This blogpost marks the first of a two-part look at these items and further information about Mottram’s collection is available here.

Cover of Fahrenheit 451Ray Bradbury, science-fiction pioneer, is represented with a number of items in the Mottram collection, not least of which is a first paperback edition of his most widely-known work: Fahrenheit 451. Damaged, but thankfully not burnt, this edition was published by Ballantine Books in 1953 (simultaneous with the book’s first hardback edition, and only a year after the company’s founding), and is appended by two short stories.

The novel, famed for its decrying of censorship, was Bradbury’s second, following The Martian chronicles, and was Ballantine’s 41st original paperback publication, priced at 35₵ and intended for drugstore racks. Fahrenheit 451 marked the publisher’s swift adoption of science-fiction into their repertoire – having started out with crime and Western novels, they branched out early on by publishing Star science fiction stories in 1953, and, that same year, Frederik Pohl’s and CM Kornbluth’s The space merchants.

Cover of The October countryJoseph Mugnaini’s striking cover illustration for Fahrenheit 451 bears a secret, however: hidden amongst the folds of the central figure’s newspaper attire is the phrase ‘gothic ages.’ Bradbury, Illinois-born conjurer of autumnal fictions, has his love of the macabre intimated even here, and this dark heart is embellished in another Mottram collection item: a rare 1955 reprint of Bradbury’s The October country, also published by Ballantine.

This (not to be biased) perfect short story collection contains haunted tales ripe for Hallowe’en digestion: ‘The lake’ (inspired by a tragic incident Bradbury witnessed in his youth), ‘Homecoming’ (which somewhat evokes The Addams family or The Munsters), and the touching, creepy story ‘The emissary’ (which tells the tale of a young bedridden boy who sends his dog to bring things back from the outside world) are all designed to be read to the sound of dead leaves being blown past the window. The majority had been featured in earlier forms in Dark carnival (published by August Derleth and his company Arkham House in 1947), and retain their sense of morbidity, merging ruminations on death with ruminations on mid-20th century life.

Happily, Bradbury is one of the most heavily represented authors in the Mottram collection: the Foyle Special Collections Library holds not just the above, but also rare editions and reprints of The Martian chronicles, The illustrated man, The golden apples of the Sun, A medicine for melancholy, and The wonderful ice cream suit and other plays – all published by Bantam Books.

Detail from the October country

The year before Bradbury’s very first short story was published in Imagination in 1938, one of speculative fiction’s greatest benefactors had passed away. Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Rhode Island-born conjurer of indescribable tentacular fictions, is behind a small, eclectic set of paperbacks found in the Mottram collection. Not having achieved widespread fame in the 1920s and 30s, Lovecraft’s stories found homes at the same imprints responsible for numerous crime, Western, horror, and science-fiction works in the following decades.

Included in our special collections are rare editions of The case of Charles Dexter Ward (prominently featuring an asylum – Gotham City’s own Arkham Asylum is in fact named after Lovecraft’s fictional town), and The haunter of the dark, which collects some of the author’s best-known stories, including ‘The call of Cthulhu,’ ‘The rats in the walls,’ and ‘The Dunwich horror.’ Panther Books followed up these 1963 reprints with Tales of the Cthulhu mythos in 1975, a multi-volume set which consisted chiefly of stories set in Lovecraft’s universe but written by other authors, such as August Derleth (Lovecraft’s early publisher), Clark Ashton Smith, and Robert E Howard. The cover of the first volume, held in the Foyle Special Collections Library, features a nicely moustachioed Cthulhu.

Cover of The case of Charles Dexter Ward

Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
© 1963, HP Lovecraft.

1975 also saw Panther’s reprint of Lovecraft: a look behind the Cthulhu mythos by Lin Carter, first published three years earlier, and accompanying all of the above is a rare edition of Lovecraft: a biography, written by L Sprague de Camp and published by Ballantine in 1976 (first published a year prior). This abridged edition contains much fascinating discussion on the author’s early life, its influence on his weird and fantastical visions, and includes significant conversation pertaining to Lovecraft’s disparaging views on race.

To head, finally, back farther still: most are unlikely to think immediately of The lady of the shroud or The jewel of seven stars when asked to name works by Bram Stoker, yet rare paperback reprints of these appear in place of Dracula, in the Mottram collection. These Arrow Books were published in 1962 – The lady of the shroud takes a non-supernatural twist, while The jewel of seven stars was very loosely adapted into the 2017 Tom Cruise/Russell Crowe bonanza The mummy, and elements of the television series Penny dreadful. The latter book, originally published in 1903, features the text of a 1912 edition, in which the ending was rewritten by Stoker, and a chapter on religion was removed. The final paragraph of the revised 1912 edition, and this Arrow Book, reads:

‘Do not grieve for her! […] She dreamed her dream, and that is all any of us can ask!’

While the original 1903 edition ends rather more damningly:

It was merciful that I was spared the pain of hoping.

All of these Mottram collection items are making their way through our cataloguers and onto our shelves – we are naturally happy to answer any and all enquiries pertaining to our Special Collections.

Please stay tuned for part 2, in which we turn to robots and rocketships…

The cover illustrations shown here are reproduced courtesy of Penguin Random House; and HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

MA History internship 2018

The post below is made on behalf of Charlotte Chambers, who is undertaking the Early Modern History MA course at King’s. From January to April 2018, Charlotte was an intern in the Foyle Special Collections Library, working with our early printed books.

By Charlotte Chambers.

As part of my Early Modern MA History course at King’s College London, I had the opportunity to become an intern in the Foyle Special Collections Library, working with their incunabula collection. Incunabula is the term used to refer to books printed before 1501.

My interest in studying incunabula revolved closely around the invention of the printing press, and the recurring argument that it was the development from manuscript to print which sparked the transition from the medieval period into early modernity. This argument was always in the back of my mind throughout the experience and helped my engagement with the source material.

Studying the early origins of the printing press led me into new territory and provided a new means of answering the all-encompassing early modernist question of where the progression towards modernity began. My historical period of interest is usually the 16th century. Thus, it was enlightening to have access to both late medieval and early modern sources to evaluate and determine this change for myself.

The core task of the internship was to study the provenance of the incunabula books in the collection, and to update the information on the CERL (Consortium of European Research Libraries) Material Evidence in Incunabula database. The purpose of MEI is to create a map tracing how incunabula have travelled across Europe throughout the centuries. The history of each book begins from the place of printing and ends with how they became housed in their current institutions.

I was invited to a training day at the British Library where I spent the day learning how to use the database and discussing my findings with the curators also present. I found the experience to be rewarding as I acquired new skills and had the opportunity to discuss my research and ideas.

The purpose of the internship was to work closely with the incunabula collection by analysing and researching the provenance of the books. When studying incunabula, the provenance of a book is of great interest. From hand-written notes to illustrations, what may first appear as a book lover’s nightmare, becomes an absolute dream when studying the ownership history of incunabula. The marks can lead one down a variety of historical pathways and provide as many new questions as answers. The printing press revolutionised the early modern world but the blemishes left behind on these works from past owners can also often hold evidence and history themselves.

For example, on the 63rd leaf of Special Collections copy of the 1497 Hortus sanitatis is a wax seal, which is unusual in nature and placement. The mystery of the seal was further interrogated when two letters, dated 12 and 15 January 1948, were discovered at the back of the book. The letters show correspondence between a former owner, Dr Fleming and Howard Nixon of the British Museum, discussing the provenance of the seal.

Nixon’s original theory was that the seal was a printer’s mark, added to the batch of paper before printing took place. However, in his following letter, the red residue of wax found above the seal disproves his theory. The wax is covering the printed text, suggesting it would have had to have been made after printing had taken place.

This red residue of wax asks questions regarding the provenance of the book and the purpose of the seal. Though these letters may not be part of the book itself, they contribute to the rich tapestry of its history. After these letters there is no evidence of a further correspondence, and 80 years have passed since Nixon’s responses and the seal remains a mystery, with numerous questions having yet to be solved. Is the seal a printer’s mark after all, and the spilled wax above was made on a later date, or was a previous owner practising their own seal?

From the research I accumulated on the provenance of incunabula, I was asked to contribute towards the curation of the exhibition: The printed page: the work of the printer over the past 500 years, alongside members of Special Collections staff. The purpose of my contribution was to introduce the incunabula collection and the first age of printing with moveable type, to fellow students, staff and visitors to the exhibition.

This experience allowed me to showcase my research and share my new found understanding, whilst learning the skills needed to curate exhibitions. It also allowed for me to work closely with the Special Collections staff, and gain insight into their specific areas of study. The exhibition is currently on display in the Maughan Library, Weston Room.

Poster for Printed page exhibition, 2018Overall, the Foyle Special Collections Library internship allowed for me to work closely with a variety of sources, covering a variety of topics, across my period of interest. This allowed for me to further develop my practical and theoretical approach to print culture and analyse how it became a central factor within early modern society.

Through taking part in the internship programme, I have gained valuable skills in how to use the source material and how to communicate these findings successfully – skills that are transferrable to my academic career.

The project was challenging, demanding and above all an achievement in completing. The main concepts I will take away from studying incunabula is that these items are not just a product of the invention of print, but they elucidate the beginnings of a centralised print culture, show how print has preserved our history, and indicate how printed material will continue to contribute to future historical research.

The pages of the incunabula books I studied may have been printed in the late 15th century; but the items and their associated provenances will remain to tell a story in the centuries to come.

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)

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

Provenance and the historical medical collections

st-thoms-booksThe medical books, pamphlets and periodicals held in the Foyle Special Collections Library reflect the rich tradition of medical teaching and research across King’s Health Partners. Many of these items have significant provenances relating to medical figures who have worked for, or been connected with King’s.

In this article, Brandon High, Special Collections Officer discusses some of these that he has noted in his recent cataloguing.

A 1716 treatise on the eye, written in Latin and entitled Tractatus de circulari humorum motum in oculis, is part of the St. Thomas’s Historical Collection and bears the inscription of the physician and popular versifier Nathaniel Cotton (1705-88). His principal claim to fame is that he looked after the poet William Cowper (1731-1800) for two years in his private asylum during one of Cowper’s bouts of mental illness. Cotton’s treatment was apparently successful, as the regime in his asylum was humane, unlike the practices of some of the more notorious privately-owned ‘madhouses’ of that era. There are four other books in the historical medical collections with Cotton’s bookplate or inscription.

Other provenances in the historical medical collections with literary connections include the collection of books with the inscription of the St. Thomas’s surgeon and King’s professor of surgery Joseph Henry Green (1791-1863). Green was a close friend of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and was his amanuensis for several of his prose works. Joseph Henry Green’s ideas on the role of medical practitioners in society paralleled those of Coleridge on intellectuals, and both agreed on the importance for social and political order of higher education institutions (like King’s) with strong connections to the Anglican Church.

GH Savage bookplateA number of books which bear the bookplate of the psychiatrist George Henry Savage (1842-1921) are now in the Institute of Psychiatry Historical Collection at the Foyle Special Collections Library. Savage was one of Virginia Woolf’s doctors during her frequent periods of mental distress, and was very unfavourably portrayed as the psychiatrist Sir William Bradshaw in her landmark modernist novel Mrs. Dalloway (1925), who lamentably fails in his duty of care for Septimus Warren Smith, a veteran of the First World War.

The St. Thomas’s Historical Collection also includes a limited edition copy of W. Somerset Maugham’s first novel, Liza of Lambeth (1897), published to mark the fiftieth anniversary of its first publication. This novel is heavily based on Maugham’s experiences as a St. Thomas’s medical student, caring for pregnant women. He qualified as a medical practitioner, but never practised.

All these provenances can be searched on the King’s Library catalogue using the drop down menu and selecting the ‘Former owners, Provenance’ search option, and typing the name of the relevant person

You can also read detailed guides to the medical collections and other Special Collections on the ‘About our collections‘ webpage.

Sri Lanka: Empire, coffee and tea

Introduction

This article was written by Veera Mo and is posted on her behalf. Veera recently graduated from King’s with a First Class degree in International Relations and has been undertaking an undergraduate fellowship in Archives and Special Collections, researching material related to South Asia in preparation for a new Research Guide.

The new printed and illustrated guide will cover Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. It will span the early modern and modern periods and will cover political, military and social history, topography, natural history and culture.

ci_pl022This article relates to her research into the former British colony of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. The images shown in this article are from the Official Catalogue of the Ceylon Court (1886). Please see the Bibliography for full details of this and other works mentioned in the article.

Veera writes:

It it is safe to say that the introduction of the camellia sinesis plant in 1824 changed the course of Sri Lankan history. Following a failed attempt at coffee production by British planters, tea plantations had incredible success, and eventually superseded the formerly predominant trade in cinnamon, coconut and pearls.

British involvement in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, began many years earlier. Indeed, in the late 1700s, Britain was engaged in imperial trade competition with the Dutch and the Portuguese. By 1815 they had captured the island from the Dutch East India Company, and proceeded to expand commercial activities in the non-settler colony.

The Foyle Special Collections Library holds copies of several rare items on the expansion of imperial trade and related works exploring what was termed the ‘Wonderland of the East’ and its potential.

The debate as to the suitability of the island for coffee production is evident in the works held in the Library. Tytler’s 1879 work entitled: The position and prospects of coffee production as affecting the value of Ceylon coffee estates, explains the potential competitiveness of Ceylonese coffee, despite the ravages of Coffee Leaf Disease. Six years later, Ferguson’s work, Ceylon & her planting enterprize in tea, cacao, cardamoms, cinchona, coconut, and areca palms critiques the zeal of the continued, but failing, coffee enterprise:

Theoretically it was shown many years ago that the climate and much of the soil of Ceylon were better suited for tea than coffee; but still the felling and clearing of the most beautiful and tropical forests in the world went on until from 400 to 500 squaremiles of country were covered with the one shrub, Coffea Arabica.

Title page of Officila catalogue of the Ceylon Court, 1886By 1886, faith in the tea plant was evidently growing among British planters. Produced for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London, 1886, the Official handbook and catalogue of the Ceylon Court introduces Ceylon through its many resources, particularly emphasising the potential of the tea trade.

Later successes in tea production ensured that Ceylon tea became the glory of the island. The more touristically minded work, A handbook on Ceylon: the Wonderland of the East, even appears to contain a marketing attempt, where other teas are described as ‘rubbishy’ in comparison to those produced in Ceylon.

The introduction of the tea plant to Sri Lanka played a role not only in the island’s own historical development, but also in shaping British beverage habits. In fact, tea was partially popularised in the United Kingdom through Thomas Lipton’s entrepeneurship in Ceylon. He bought himself some Ceylon tea gardens in order to cut out the middle-man and produce ‘an inexpensive blend for the public’ (Wickramasinghe & Cameron 2005:127).

ci_tpfr2The expansion of tea production had several consequences beyond production and consumption, and its success was not only determined by favourable soil and coincidence.

The British planters saw the proximity to India as a source of cheap labour as the key advantage in Ceylonese tea production. Hence, imperial trade expansion of plantations began to influence local hierarchies and structures. In many ways, these developments were to shape the foundations of the Sri Lanka we see today.

Select Bibliography

John Ferguson. Ceylon and her planting enterprise in tea, cacao, cardamoms, cinchona, coconut, and areca palms: a field for the investment of British capital and energy: giving opinions of a number of planters of diversified experience in the colony : also, estimates of the outlay on, and return from, a variety of products. Colombo: AM & J Ferguson, 1885  [Foreign and Commonwealth Office Historical Collection SB108.S72  CEY]

Samuel Nicholas. A handbook on Ceylon “The Wonderland of the East”. H.W. Cave & Co: Colombo, 1939 [Foreign and Commonwealth Office Historical Collection DS489 NIC]

Official handbook and catalogue of the Ceylon Court. London: William Clowes & Sons Ltd., 1886  [Foreign and Commonwealth Office Historical Collection T696.G1 COL]

RB Tytler. The position and prospects of coffee production as affecting the value of Ceylon coffee estates. Aberdeen: Free Press Printing Company, 1879 [Foreign and Commonwealth Office Historical Collection HD9199.S722 TYT]

DW Wickramasinghe & CD Cameron. ‘British capital, Ceylonese land, Indian labour: The imperialism and colonialism of evolution of tea plantations in Sri Lanka’. Critical Management Studies Conference (Management and Organizational History), Cambridge. Vol. 4, 2005

 

Chapbooks: Fleet Street time travellers

lane-at-back-of-Fleet-StI would love to have wandered around Fleet Street and this area of London’s alleyways and lanes before the banking corporations supplanted the newspaper offices and severed the unbroken link to the area’s printing history that had stretched back so many years.

In the back streets of this historic centre of the British book trade, at addresses like Shoe Lane, Bow Church Yard and Red Lion Court, all a stone’s throw from the Maughan Library, small volumes of stories and fables and tales known as chapbooks were once printed – their geographical provenance enduringly visible through imprints like: Printed and sold at the London and Middlesex Printing Office, no. 81, Shoe Lane, Holborn.

ac_tpIn my current cataloguing project I have been adding these little, well-thumbed volumes to the Special Collections catalogue.

The chapbooks I have been working on were printed and produced in the later 18th century, though versions of chapbooks existed from the 17th to the 19th century. These were usually produced on hand operated printing presses in small industrial units, with family members sometimes employed at the stages of production. Chapbooks were normally printed on one single sheet of paper and then folded into 8, 12, 16 or 24 pages. They would usually have been sold unbound and held together by a simple sewing.

When you walk through the narrow, high-walled alleyways around Fleet Street, Holborn Circus and St Paul’s (as I do often on my lunch breaks) it is not difficult to imagine the printers, workshop assistants, agents and delivery boys scurrying through the streets in pursuit of their occupation and living.

As easy as it is to imagine these scenes of production, it is also no stretch of the imagination to imagine the itinerant ‘chapmen’, from whom the books take their name, bargaining with printers and agents, buying chapbooks wholesale, and then heading out of town with them tucked inside their bags, ready to sell to country folk at fairs and festivals. The soubriquet ‘chapmen’ derives from an Old English word meaning ‘dealer’ or ‘seller’.

rh_tpAs literacy levels grew in the 18th and 19th centuries, the desire for these affordable, pithy tales also grew, and the stories that I have been working on include recognisable derivatives of the literary canon:

The travels and adventures of Capt. Lemuel Gulliver (abridged to a concise 24 pages)
A true tale of Robin Hood (true being an oft used word in titles, not always reflecting the veracity of the content)
The sleeping beauty in the wood

The tales are usually adorned with charming (and sometimes suggestive) woodcut illustrations. This was a cheap and durable method of illustration: woodcuts can be used for long periods and passed from one printer to another and, as Ruth Richardson says in her excellent British Library article on chapbooks, in the more expensive editions, children were sometimes employed to colour these woodcut illustrations.

penny-histories-spineThe chapbooks I have been working on were bound together in the 20th century by an independent firm on behalf of the Library. Each bound volume contains perhaps 10 or 15 of these wonderful tales on cheaply produced paper, that has evidently been thumbed through by readers of London or the country, and perhaps read aloud around a homestead fire as a bedtime treat for the family.

I like these books because I can sense the mechanics of their production in the streets where I work. In the Foyle Special Collections Library we hold examples of works from the infancy of printing (known as incunabula) to the present day, with grand editions, illustrations and provenance marking many out as significant, unique and of immense value to researchers and historians. These chapbooks have their special place in the collection, and there is something wonderful about the mass appeal that they offered, with their eclectic subject content covering heroic tales, ghost stories, battle and adventure and news and politics.

Their popularity is attested to by the well-thumbed pages, and also by the sparsity of detail on some of the imprints. This lack of detail in an imprint like ‘Printed and sold in London’ suggests that some printers may have been none-too-keen to display that they themselves had also ‘cashed in’ on the popularity of a certain tale, with their anonymity ensuring the pirated edition would not be traced back to them.

I have been reporting these editions to the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) to ensure they are accessible to researchers worldwide; and of course if anyone would like to have a look at these wonderful little volumes, they are welcome to consult them in the Foyle Special Collections Library.

Select Bibliography

The Bibliographical Society. Chapbooks Working Group.[http://www.bibsoc.org.uk/about/committees/chapbooks] Accessed 20 July 2016

EDPOP. ‘The European dimensions of popular print culture’. [http://edpop.wp.hum.uu.nl/] Accessed 20 July 2016

The National Art Library Chapbooks Collection [http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/n/national-art-library-chapbooks-collection/] Accessed 20 July 2016

Victor E Neuburg. Chapbooks: a guide to reference material on English, Scottish and American chapbook literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. London:  Woburn Press, [1972]. Foyle Special Collections [Special Collections Ref.]  Z6514.P7 NEU

Ruth Richardson. ‘Chapbooks’. [http://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/chapbooks], accessed 15 July 2016

Andrew White Tuer. Pages and pictures from forgotten children’s books. London: The Leadenhall Press, 1898-1899. Foyle Special Collections  [Miscellaneous] PR91 TUE

Medical collections news

The Foyle Special Collections Library holds King’s College London’s and its affiliated institutions’ historical medical collections and we wanted to let Library customers, researchers and colleagues know about recent work we have been doing with them. Promotion and access to the collections is important, as they reflect King’s long and continuing history of medical teaching and research.

UK Medical Heritage Library project

Over the past year we have been participating in the UK Medical Heritage Library project. This Jisc funded project, administered by the Wellcome Trust, has seen 15 million pages from UK institutions’ 19th and early 20th century medical collections digitised for research purposes.

iopfirstcrateOur work has involved identifying, packing and sending 2,000 items to the Wellcome Trust to be digitised and made freely available online, as part of the project.

The logistics of the project have involved the employment of a Project Officer; ensuring the safe return and handling of rare items; and liaison with the Internet Archive who have undertaken the scanning of the books.

Read more about the project here in a recently published COPAC feature

IMG_0904Now all the books have been safely checked back in, (we’ve checked very carefully!) we have just made the records accessible through the Library catalogue. If you see a catalogue record like this one to the Household medical adviser it should provide a link directly to the digitised record…if it doesn’t, please let me know!

With special thanks to Victoria Parkinson (Metadata Coordinator) and Liz Serebriakoff (Service Development Coordinator) for their help with the technical aspects of this project.

Recently acquired material from the Weston Education Centre Library store

As well as putting the finishing touches to the UKMHL project, we have also been identifying Special Collections material that is currently in other Library Services locations. Generally, we are especially interested in pre-1900 books, items with significant provenances, those that are fragile, or those connected with the history of King’s.

While the image of librarians rooting around in stores for rare books has long been a staple in the library world, we do use the library management system and spreadsheet lists to identify material which needs to go into Special Collections. We are also happy to hear from colleagues who spot books that they think should be in Special Collections, or who receive information from a library customer to such effect, as has recently happened.

Following consultation of aforementioned lists and liaison with Pablo Paganotto (Senior Library Assistant at the Weston Education Centre) – thanks, Pablo! – we visited and rooted around in the store with a refined purpose. My colleague Brandon High, Special Collections Officer, describes one of the transferred items, below:

Among the material which the Foyle Special Collections Library has recently acquired from the WEC Store are several items with very interesting provenances. One of the most distinguished owners of these books is the surgeon Joseph Lister (1827-1912). Lister established the scientific basis of antiseptic surgery, and for clinical medicine in general.

The book which stands out is a copy of the 1898 edition of Sir Patrick Manson’s Tropical diseases, which bears the author’s inscription as well as Lister’s bookplate.  Sir Patrick Manson (1844-1922) was responsible for discovering the causation of malaria, and for founding the London School of Tropical Medicine.

Another book, Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton’s Pharmacology and therapeutics (1880) bears the author’s inscription. Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton (1844-1916) was a distinguished physiologist and pharmacologist who undertook pioneering research on the action of enzymes in the digestive system. He was also the first medical scientist to establish the connection between high blood pressure and heart disease.

Another item with an interesting provenance is Annales mèdico-psychologiques, which has the bookplate of the psychiatrist George Henry Savage (1842-1921), one of Virginia Woolf’s psychiatrists. The psychiatrist in her novel, Mrs Dalloway was modelled on him.

Purchase of a new acquisition

From our acquisitions budget we are also able to enrich the (medical and other) collections by purchase, and Brandon describes a recent acquisition below:

John Wesley. Primitive physic: or an easy and natural method of curing most diseases. Birmingham: printed by J Russell, 1823. Rare Books Collection RC81 WES

IMG_0906This is a very rare edition of a very popular work, which was first published in 1747, and which ran to many editions. This book was written at a time when many families self-medicated from choice or necessity. Its prescriptions avoid complicated pharmacology. Cold water bathing (a favourite of the 18th century), food (a diet of turnips for a month as a cure for scurvy, the application of toasted cheese to cuts) and exercises (rubbing the head for quarter of an hour as a cure for headache) feature heavily.

The book is informed throughout by a strong scepticism about orthodox medicine and medicines, but its underlying theoretical basis is humoural and Hippocratic.

Gifts gratefully received

We also recently received some items which were the gift of Rachel Paton, daughter of Dr Alex Paton, formerly of St Thomas’s Medical School, who died in 2015. With many thanks to Alan Fricker (Head of NHS Partnership and Liaison) for facilitating these acquisitions. Dr Paton evidently led an interesting life, being one of the first doctors to enter Belsen concentration camp in 1945.

The items formerly owned by Dr Paton are significant 19th century works on the liver, on which Dr Paton was an expert. These include:

A treatise on the structure, economy, and diseases of the liver by William Saunders. 

A practical treatise on the diseases of the liver and biliary passages by William Thomson 

If you have any questions about our medical or other collections, please feel free to contact us, or have a look at the guides to our collections 

Visualising Medical History

I have recently been helping to co-ordinate academic input to a relatively new project supported by Jisc that is building innovative tools to help with searching and presenting data from the UK Medical Heritage Library (UKMHL) project. The UKMHL, which is supported  by the Wellcome Library and Internet Archive, is an ambitious initiative to digitise and provide online access to thousands of books on the themes of medicine and healthcare published during the ‘long’ 19th century (until 1914). The books are being made available to the public in a rolling programme from the Wellcome and Internet Archive websites.

mhl blog

Prof. Williams’ Complete Hypnotism

The books are drawn from ten UK research libraries, including King’s College London, and cover a huge variety of subjects including public health and sanitation, infection and epidemiology, nutrition and cookery, the history of disease and its treatment and psychiatry and psychology. Up to 40% of the books were published abroad, notably in the US, Germany and France, and this international dimension provides a fascinating opportunity for comparative study.

Ultimately, the UKMHL will provide access to some 15 million pages of OCR text and millions of embedded terms including the names of people, organisations, geographical locations, diseases, treatments and associated data such as medical equipment, and references to contemporary culture and society which will mean the resource is useful not only to medical historians but a much broader range of interested scholars including biographers, geographers and literary experts.

The visualisation project, which is led by the Knowledge Integration company in association with Gooii, is developing a range of new data visualisation tools such as graphs, timelines and maps. These will enable established scholars, students and other users such as journalists find what they need quickly from a huge corpus of material, whilst also supporting serendipitous browsing and providing the space in which the user can discover completely unexpected facts and relationships, not least between people, places and ideas.

My work involves the design and review of data sets that will help with the selection of presentation of the data, and its contextualisation, and to co-ordinate the contributions of a number of King’s and other medical historians, who are ensuring that the resulting visualisations are both accurate and useful.

The new visualisations will be available to use in summer 2016.

Geoff Browell