The Fascinating World of the Pageant Master

David Clarke was a Pageant Master. Not only did he organise pageants, but he also studied and documented the history of these truly remarkable events. As such, his collection, recently acquired by King’s, takes a journey through pageant history within the UK, and exposes not just the highs, but also the lows, of a Pageant Master’s career.

David Clarke, Pageant Master – photograph from David Clarke’s collection

As one of the newest members of the archives team here at King’s, I was so happy to take on the task of listing and repackaging this collection. What an interesting way to start a new job! As a northerner whose previous job was in Yorkshire, I was delighted to discover some familiar locations in David’s pageant programme collection:

The Official Programme of the York Pageant (1909) – from David Clarke’s collection

I also found programmes for pageants in Salford, Bradford and Chester. There were colourful pageant publications for cities, towns and villages across the UK, from Newcastle, Birmingham and London to Old Chiddingford and Shamley Green. These pageant programmes, souvenirs and books of words are works of art in their own right. Carefully illustrated and designed, they often documented the pageant script in detail, and sometimes included photographs, musical scores, and long lists naming everyone who contributed. I particularly liked the cover design for Chelsea Pageant’s ‘Book of Words’.

Chelsea Historical Pageant: Book of Words (1908) – from David Clarke’s collection

Before working with this collection, I only had a very basic idea of what a pageant is/was, but I had no idea of the scale at which such events once took place. Many took months, even years of planning, scripting, designing and organising. Whole communities would be involved as participants and audiences, as can be seen below, in a scene from Warwick Pageant (1906).

Performers at Warwick Pageant in 1906, pictured in the book ‘Pageants’ by Anthony Parker – from David Clarke’s collection

Costumes and props were often elaborate, and people bought tickets to see the performances.

‘The Phoenicians – Episode 2’ from Mary Kelly’s book ‘How To Make A Pageant (1936) – from David Clarke’s collection

I was really impressed with the costumes – even the horses wore fancy attire.

Above and below: Undated photograph from David Clarke’s pageants – from David Clarke’s collection

You can tell that a lot of work and imagination had been invested in these costumes.

Undated photographs from one of David Clarke’s pageants (above and below) – from David Clarke’s collection

Clarke’s collection dates back to events that took place before he was even born. In 1905, Louis Napoleon Parker organised a spectacular pageant at Sherborne. Following this, villages, towns and cities across the UK seemed to go pageant-mad. Clarke’s collection represents an impressive array of these, via programmes, words, musical scores, photographs and research.

Louis. N. Parker in an undated photograph from David Clarke’s folder of pageant research. Pictured with one of the main tools of the trade – a huge megaphone.

The lives and careers of other pageant masters are also documented in Clarke’s collection, including Louis Parker’s son Anthony, actor-turned-pageant master Frank Lascelles, and even a couple of female pageant masters, Mary Kelly and Gwendoline Lally.

Gwen Lally in an undated press cutting from David Clarke’s collection

I absolutely love this image. It’s inspiring to see a woman take on this key role in the pageanting world.

Certainly, there’s plenty here for pageant history enthusiasts and anyone interested in the history of performance and public participation more broadly. However, for me, the most thought provoking and moving part of the collection documents Clarke’s own career.

When Kings Rode to Corfe Programme (1991) – from David Clarke’s collection

His personal papers document the highs and the lows of this unusual line of work. There are programmes signed for him by participants, albums of photographs and letters of thanks (and general support) from people who were enthused by this world of costume, drama and public display.

A Pageant of England: Programme (pages signed by participants) – from David Clarke’s collection

However, the collection also reveals the challenges David faced in keeping the spirit of the pageant alive. Correspondence reveals uncertainty about the terminology (it appears that the word ‘pageant’ had become off-putting to some) and struggles to get participants and supporters on board. Indeed, Clark’s collection documents all the preparation invested in cancelled events as well as those that went ahead.

Undated photograph of a scene from one of David Clarke’s pageants – from David Clarke’s collection

Although the terminology has gone out of fashion, the concept of a pageant never truly disappeared. How about the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony? Wasn’t that just a gigantic pageant? Or what about the work of contemporary artist Jeremy Deller? Local history re-enactors? Cosplay?

Here at King’s the History Department is doing an amazing job of ensuring that pageant history lives on – check out their work here. I’d also like to thank all of those who made it possible to acquire this collection including David Clarke’s family and Professor Paul Readman, who is also in charge of the pageants database linked to above.

In the meantime, I look forward to cataloguing David Clarke’s collection in more detail, and to sharing it with visitors. Please contact us to find out more, and to come and see it!

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 playsall 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.

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

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