Andrew Wilson’s An Essay on the Autumnal Dysentery, 1777

For many of us, autumn is synonymous with falling leaves, darker nights, and wrapping up in warmer clothes. It’s a time when the clocks go back, and we can enjoy the last of the sunny days before winter sets in. However, in the Eighteenth Century, autumn was also synonymous with something altogether less pleasant: ‘autumnal dysentery’.

Dysentery was common in Newcastle and wider Tyneside during the Eighteenth Century, but reached epidemic levels during the autumns of 1758 and 1759. There were also significant outbreaks in 1783 and 1785.

Andrew Wilson (1718-1792) was a Scottish physician and medical writer, who studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and graduated in 1749. He set up a practice in Newcastle a short time after and stayed in the city until 1775 or 1776, when he moved to London.

Wilson was in Newcastle during the 1758 outbreak, and ‘the conceptions that I then formed of the nature and genius of the Autumnal Bloody Flux, and of the true indications of cure to be adhered to in it’ (pp.1-2), he put into his Essay. The Essay was first published in 1760. The second edition that we have in Special Collections was published in 1777. Considering Wilson’s Edinburgh connections, it is unsurprising that he dedicated the tract to Dr John Rutherford, Professor of Medicine at Edinburgh, ‘my respected Master, my Patron, and my Friend’.

Title page from ‘An Essay on the Autumnal Dysentery’ (Medical Collection, Med Coll 616.935 WIL)

Wilson went into considerable detail discussing the causes, symptoms, and treatment of patients with dysentery. He offered a fairly gory description of the symptoms, which may not be suitable for those of squeamish dispositions…:

‘This disease is called the Bloody Flux, because more or less blood is generally, tho’ not always, mixed with the slimy fetid stools which are discharged during the course of it. The bloody discharge may be attributed to different causes, according to the degree, malignancy and continuance of the disease; such as, the vehemence of the inflammation, stretching the vessels opening into the cavity of the intestines, and straining red blood thro’ them, which does not naturally pass that length undissolved; the acrimony of the humours which are discharged into these guts during the inflammation, fretting and corroding the blood vessels…’ (pp2.3)

Page 2 from ‘An Essay on the Autumnal Dysentery’ describing the symptoms of the disease

Page 4 from ‘An Essay on the Autumnal Dysentry’ describing the time of year that dysentery spread

Wilson also mentioned how ‘This disease, like all epidemics, is… more frequent in cities and towns than in the country; among the feeble than among the strong…’ He also claimed that dysentery was ‘more frequent among the poor and labourers, than among the wealthy, and those who live better and pay more attention to their health’. As for the reason for this, he suggested that ‘indigence, but much more especially negligence in the article of cooling after heats by labour, exercise etc., exposes the lower class of people prodigiously to this and many other diseases’. (p.28)

Page 31 from ‘An Essay on the Autumnal Dysentry’ describing the signs of danger when treating patients

The second edition of the Essay, there is also the hint of medical controversy. In the ‘Introductory Discourse’ (which was new to the second edition), Wilson mentioned some of the recent publications on dysentery since his work was first published. Of particular interest to Wilson was a study by the Swiss physician Johann Georg Ritter von Zimmermann, titled A Treatise on the Dysentery. Zimmerman had been made Physician in Ordinary in Hanover to George III in 1768.

First iii of the ‘Introductory Discourse’

Zimmermann’s book was of such interest to Wilson because, in the course of reading it, he ‘discovered that he had made use of my Essay, and totally supressed his knowledge of it, while he was very profuse in his references to every other latter English writer on the subject’. Wilson argued that he ‘would be sorry to mention this circumstance upon presumptive evidence only, but he has extracted a pretty long case verbatim from my Essay, which was to be found nowhere else…’ Wilson found this ‘a very strange way… of extracting from a writer upon the very subject he was treating of, while he was, almost in every page, citing other authors who had written in English as I had done…’ However, drawing back from a full accusation of plagiarism (perhaps because of Zimmerman’s relationship with George III), Wilson left the question open, and stated: ‘I make no remarks upon it’. (p.V)

Title page from Zimmerman’s ‘A Treatise on the Dysentery’ (Medical Collection, Med Coll 616.935 ZIM)

Newcastle University’s Special Collections have both Wilson’s and Zimmerman’s books here in Special Collections. Reading them and deciding whether there has been any wrongdoing might be a nice way to spend a dark autumn day, but only if you’ve got the stomach for it.

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Item references

Andrew Wilson, An Essay on the Autumnal Dysentery (1777) (Medical Collection, Med Coll 616.935 WIL)

Johann Georg Ritter von Zimmermann, A Treatise on the Dysentery: with a description of the epidemic dysentery that happened in Switzerland in the year 1765 (1771) (Medical Collection, Med Coll 616.935 ZIM).

Page Turners – Generations

A further three Trevelyan family albums have become available to browse and search on Page Turners. They fill the gaps between those already available, and bring the family to a great turning point in their lives.

George Lowthian, Kitty and Pauline Trevelyan in 1909

Volume Six is an album of two parts – the earlier pages having been compiled prior to Charles and Molly’s marriage. It includes photographs of Charles at Harrow in the 1880s, and early photographs of the family’s homes at Wallington and Welcombe. These early pages include the marriage of Charles’ brother Robert Calverley to Elizabeth des Amorie van der Hoeven from Holland as well as photographs of Philips Park in Prestwich.

The second half of this album is compiled by Molly, and spans 1908 to 1911. There are many pictures of their three eldest children; Pauline, George and Kitty, as well as their extended family, including Robert and Elizabeth’s only son the artist Julian Trevelyan. There are photographs of the family enjoying the countryside on the Wallington estate, and visiting family at Stocks, Sidmouth and Welcombe. There are more wedding photographs, although this time from the wedding of the family’s former nurse – Florence Lister.

Charles and other cabinet members at Downing Street at the end of the first Labour Government, November 1924

The next album in this instalment is Volume 11, which is laden with cuttings and photographs relating to the first Labour Government in 1924, in which Charles became President of the Board of Education. By the time this album was begun in 1924, Charles and Molly’s family of six children was complete, and photographs of their youngest, Geoffrey, playing with his young Richmond and Bell cousins. Further ephemera in the album relates to Molly’s work with the Women’s Institute, and local events at Cambo.

One event which features across these albums and others is the famous ‘Trevelyan Man Hunt’. This annual event saw one or more participants designated as ‘hares’, whose would spend the day evading capture by the others – the ‘hounds’. From 1898 this event took place annually, based at Seatoller – a family holiday home in the Lake District. Charles was ‘Master of the Hunt’ from 1901 to 1934. These three albums include photographs from the hunt in 1909, 1910, 1924 and 1926-28.

Group photograph of participants in the 1926 ‘Man Hunt’

The latest album of the three, Volume 13, shows a great deal of change taking place within the family between 1926 and 1928. Much of the album reflects the children’s ongoing education, including the younger children at Sidcot School, Kitty as the title role in a school performance of ‘St Joan’, and a visit to Schule Schloss Salem – an elite reformist school in Germany. There are images of two eldest children in their new homes – Pauline at Wessex College, University College Reading and George in his rooms at Trinity College, Cambridge.

The Trevelyan cousins at Cambo in September 1926

As well as their eldest children starting their life as adults, the end of this album features cuttings and photographs relating to the deaths of Charles’ parents – George Otto and Lady Caroline Trevelyan. This marks the point in the family’s life where they left Cambo House – the home they had known since their marriage 25 years before, moving into Wallington Hall, and taking on the management of a large and neglected estate.

Inakanotsuki Animal Prints

One of my favourite books on my own bookshelves is a contemporary reprint of part of the Hokusai Manga. The Manga comprises sketches by the artist Katsushika Hokusai, reproduced in three colour woodblock prints. Woodblock printing was a popular art form in Japan from the seventeenth century onwards. Having arrived in Japan from China centuries before, it gained popularity during the Genroku period (between 1688 and 1703), in part due to the increased wealth and disposable income of the merchant classes. The art form was known as Ukiyo-e, or ‘pictures of the floating world’, in reference to the urban culture of Edo (modern day Tokyo). The ‘floating world’ was the term used to describe the city’s red light district, with its kabuki theatres, brothels and tea houses.

Ukiyo-e’s original subjects were the people and places found within that world. In later years however, the genre moved away from these roots. The Meiji restoration and opening of the Suez Canal in 1868 caused a rapid influx of Westernization. All of Japanese culture felt the impact of these changes, and within the art world there was a shift towards works with a more Western focus including images of the natural world, muted colour palettes and techniques such as shading.

While searching our catalogue, I came across a listing within our 19th Century Collection of rare books for a publication titled Inakanotsuki, which had been tagged with ‘Ukiyo-e’. Intrigued, I decided to seek it out from our stores to see what it contained.

Front cover of ‘Inakanotsuki‘ by Kōno Bairei, 1889 (19th Century Collection, 741 KON)

Inakanotsuki is a small book with a stitched binding, known as fukuru-toji. What appears at first to be a plain, beige cover is itself a very subtle print showing flocks of birds. Inside the volume are multi-colour woodblock prints of various animals. It was published in 1889 – the year the Meiji Constitution was adopted in Japan. The artist is Kōno Bairei.

Kōno Bairei was born in 1844 in Kyoto. As a young man he trained in classical Japanese painting under the tutelage of respected and established artists. He founded the Kyoto Art Association, and was a co-founder of the Kyoto Prefectural Painting School. His involvement with Ukiyo-e consisted of designing prints for illustrated books, often depicting birds. While this example of Kōno’s work does feature birds, my personal favourites are his depictions of animals.

Ukiyo-e depictions of the natural world are also known as kacho-e, and an array of wildlife appear on the books’ pages, including bats, foxes and turtles. Japanese art is renowned for the symbolism vested in its images – not just in the animal subjects, but a whole range of aspects including the scenery, colours and composition.

One of my favourite prints in the volume is a double page spread of cats fighting on a branch. It provides a nice excuse to share this treasure on International Cat Day (#internationalcatday).

Written by Alex Healey, Project Archivist

Three Weddings and an Election – new Trevelyan albums on Page Turners

Another instalment of digitized Trevelyan family albums is now available to view on Page Turners. A further three albums are now live, each including contextual information allowing you to learn more about the people, places and events shown in the images.

The three newly launched albums are Volume 2 (1903-04), Volume 7 (1912-16) and Volume 10 (1921-23).

In the earliest of these volumes we see the announcement of Charles Philips Trevelyan and Mary Katharine [Molly] Trevelyan’s engagement, and their first year spent as man and wife. The photographs and newspaper cuttings contained in the album give an insight into the Trevelyan wedding, while also showing other society weddings from the period. This notably includes Charles’ brother, the renowned historian George Macaulay Trevelyan’s marriage to Molly’s friend Janet Penrose Ward, daughter of author Mrs Humphry Ward; and Molly’s cousin Florence Lascelles’ engagement and marriage to British Diplomat Cecil Spring Rice. We also see Charles’ growing political career, with the Land Values Bill and the 1904 election also appearing.

The volumes from the early 1910s through to the 1920s allow us to see the Trevelyan children grow from infants through all stages of childhood, into adults. The earlier stages of Volume 7 focus on Pauline (later Dower), George Lowthian and Katharine [Kitty] Trevelyan. We see the children enjoying dressing up, playing outdoors and arts and crafts. We are later introduced to Marjorie Trevelyan (later Lady Weaver) born in 1913, whose first steps are documented, as well as the arrival of twins Florence Patricia and Hugh Patrick Trevelyan born in 1915. This is a very brief glimpse into Hugh’s short life as he passed away a month after his first birthday.

Combined with the newspaper cuttings which appear, Volume 7 shows us two sides of Charles: the politician who conscientiously objected to the First World War, and the family man who led his son’s Boy Scouts group. We also see Molly’s political and community involvement through the inclusion of invitations and cuttings.

In the final volume of the instalment, we see the close ties between the Trevelyan’s, their extended family and their community. There are photographs and prizes from the Cambo Exhibition along with various plays and concerts. Pictures of Molly’s needlework are also including – the work is still exhibited at Wallington today.

This volume also tracks the 1922 election campaign, during which Charles successfully stood as the Labour candidate for Newcastle Central, a seat he would hold until 1931. We see Ramsay MacDonald become Prime Minister and follow the early stages of the new Labour government.

By Megan Wilson

‘A Lilliputian Miscellany’ an exhibition by Brian Alderson

‘A Lilliputian Miscellany’ now open to the public June – August 2017.
Level 1, Philip Robinson Library, Newcastle University

Curated by Brian Alderson, ‘A Lilliputian Miscellany’ celebrates the gift of the Alderson Collection to Newcastle University and Seven Stories. Read more about the children’s book collection in the Vital North Partnership blog. It shows some of the less usual children’s books and manuscripts in his Collection and relate many of them to Brian’s career as writer, translator, and editor.  What a commingling will be seen as the Brothers Grimm rub shoulders with Charles Kingsley, or a tribute is paid to those Northumbrian figures of Thomas Bewick illustrating Mother Goose’s Melody and Joseph Ritson with his Gammer Gurton’s Garland.

Brian Alderson is one of the pioneers of children’s literature studies in Britain and a distinguished author, reviewer, translator and collector. In 2016, Brian Alderson was awarded an honorary degree by Newcastle University, recognising his work on the history of children’s books. Find out more about Brian and his work on the Brian Alderson website, or view the items from Brian’s collection that have already been catalogued on Newcastle University’s Library Search.

Brian Alderson at home in front of his book collection


Brian Alderson has written the text himself and some of the highlights from the exhibition are shown below, but there are many more wonders to see in the exhibition in the Philip Robinson Library. An accompanying exhibition catalogue is also available, which provides more detail about the items.

Boreman and Newbery

For well over a hundred years the eighteenth century bookseller John Newbery in St Paul’s Church-Yard has been the cynosure of the collecting fraternity. It was he who established a steady output of children’s books sufficient to prove to the trade that this could be a new and profitable line of business.

While Newbery’s most famous books are rare they are probably less so than his important predecessor, Thomas Boreman, who’s Gigantick Histories began to come out a year or two before any of Newbery’s books. I had never thought to own one of these tiny volumes which stand at the true beginnings of the regular children’s book trade, but Thomas Boreman’s Curiosities of the Tower of London, came to me through an extraordinarily lucky purchase from a bookseller’s catalogue at a price whose modesty I found unbelievable.

THOMAS BOREMAN
Curiosities of the Tower of London
1741

The prelims include Boreman’s celebrated rhymed puff on the theme that ‘Tom Thumb shall now be thrown away’ in favour of ‘something to please and form the mind’ which is followed by a 14-page list of ‘Subscribers to this Work’, reprinted from the first edition of the same year. The illustrations, barring one of the defeat of the Spanish Armada, are extremely attractive cuts of some of the animals housed in the Tower of London’s menagerie.

Title page from ‘Curiosities in the Tower of London

Anon
The Story of Goody Two Shoes
1940

One of the many series of miniature coloured booklets that were issued early in the Second World War for reading in air-raid shelters etc.

Front cover of ‘The Story of Goody Two Shoes


Nursery Rhymes

I first met Peter Opie round about 1967 when we were forming what was to become the Children’s Books History Society. Subsequently we went several times as a family to Westerfield House (now Mells House) when book treasures were revealed to me while the children enjoyed the historic toys that were demonstrated in the room that Peter and Iona Opie called ‘the Museum’.

With an Opie-inspired interest in the history of nursery-rhyme publishing, it led me to the following interesting editions appearing in the collection.

Tom Thumb’s Play-Thing, being a new and pleasant method to allure little ones into the first principles of learning; with cuts well adapted to each letter in the alphabet. As brought into easy verse for the instruction and amusement of children.
No date [ca. 1810]

The prodigious title belies the extreme simplicity of the two chapbooks, the first consisting simply of the two alphabets ‘A was an Archer’ and ‘A was an Ape’, the second a series of six couplets (‘The Sun shines bright, / The Moon gives light.’ etc.) followed, alas, by a 5-page catechism and a story on the rewards of learning to read which commends: ‘Robinson Crusoe and Goody Two Shoes which are sold, with many others, as well instructive as entertaining, in gold covers, embellished with a variety of pictures, at the same place as this…’ Although not including any rhymes from Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song-Book Volume II these chapbooks may well draw upon the contents of the lost first volume.

Pages 8 and 9 from ‘Tom Thumbs Play Thing

Mother Goose’s Melody; or, sonnets for the cradle. Containing the most celebrated songs and lullabies of the old British nurses. Embellished with many beautiful pictures.
No date (Watermarks 1809 and 1810)

It has been suggested that this important collection of 51 rhymes was first planned by John Newbery just before his death in 1767 but the first edition, perhaps from his papers, did not appear until 1780, published by his successor, Thomas Carnan, who added sixteen poems by ‘that sweet Songster… Master William Shakespeare’. The earliest surviving copy, a facsimile of which is exhibited alongside this book, was published soon after Carnan’s death in 1788 by his brief successor, Francis Power. He revised the production process, dropping Shakespeare and aligning the book to the new fashion for hand-coloured picture books in a square format.

Title page from ‘Mother Goose’s Melody


Folk Tales

It was an interest in ballads, dating back to undergraduate days that encouraged my attention to the oral qualities in children’s literature and especially in the transmission of folk tales, which have no definitive text but are rooted in the told story. It seemed to me of primary importance to judge the printed forms of these old familiar narratives, either those native to an English, Scottish or Irish tradition or, especially, those translated from their original sources by the degree of their adherence to natural speech.

A fundamental influence on both theory and practice came when, in 1968, I was sent The English Fairy Tales edited by Joseph Jacobs.

ANDREW LANG, Brian Alderson illustrated by John Lawrence
The Blue Fairy Book

Joseph Jacobs was the inspiration for the editorial work that I undertook in ‘refurbishing’ this famous collection; I think too that he would have shared my misgivings as to its first editing which was largely the work of Mrs Lang and assorted friendly ladies. With Patrick Hardy’s (editor at Kestrel Books) encouragement, I attempted a wholesale revision (fully explained in my Preface and notes) in an attempt to bring the volume more closely towards the folk tradition at the root of ‘fairy tales’. At the same time, a decision was made to replace the (often very strong) illustrations by H. J. Ford with a contemporary illustrator and John Lawrence, who undertook the task, was asked to look at Ford’s work and attempt to replicate its notable position in ‘the black-and-white’ tradition (this occurred very successfully with later illustrators too).

Front cover from ‘Blue Fairy Book


Hans Christian Anderson

Where Hans Christian Andersen is concerned an entirely different critical regime is required for the (often unrecognised) reason that his canon of 156 stories is that of an independent author whose texts do not share the multivalency of those from folk tales. They are crafted works of literature (which all too often suffer from abridgment or adaptation) and – importantly – many of them draw directly upon Andersen’s own voice as storyteller.

The items give merely a glimpse of the challenge and enjoyment of the chase of collecting Hans Christian Andersen’s stories.

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSON [SIC]
Wonderful Stories for Children
1846

Published for Christmas 1845, this first English translation of the Eventir advertises ten stories on the contents page. Thus, right at the beginning, we find liberties taken with poor old Andersen’s texts. Leaving aside the misspelling of his name on the title-page, we also find a story called ‘A Night in the Kitchen’, which proves to be a passage excerpted from ‘The Flying Trunk’, one of Andersen’s funniest stories. At least it is taken from the Danish, unlike most of its immediate successors and it is perhaps understandable that, being the first to attempt the job, Howitt has not the ear to catch the fluency of the author’s unusual conversational lightness.

Title page from ‘Wonderful Stories for Children

(18) G[EORGE] N[ICOL]
The Ugly Duck of Hans Christian Andersen
1851

A little book with a complex parentage. Its author was the brother of its publisher (who was Bookseller to the Queen) and in 1837 he published a versification of Southey’s The Three Bears. In 1840 that was jokingly joined by a versification of the Grimms’ Wolf and the Seven Little Kids (probably based direct on the German version) and in 1841 the two stories were joined with a third on ‘The Vizier and the Woodman’. We do not know why it took George so long to catch up with Hans Christian Anderson, for The Ugly Duckling was among the favourites of the 1846 tranche of translations.

Pages 6 and 17 from ‘The Ugly Duckk of Hans Christian Anderson


Verses

It could be argued that if nobody had ever written poetry to be read primarily by children the children would not be very much the poorer. The mass of anonymous popular versifying enjoyed by everyone, which would include nursery rhymes, makes a foundation for the child’s love of rhythmic speech and, as many an anthology will prove, there is a mass of poetry written primarily for adults which can be equally enjoyed by the young. A Blake, a Lear, a Stevenson, and others can justify the genre and this section points up some of its rarer or less usual manifestations.

The Butterfly’s Birth-Day, St. Valentine’s Day. And Madam Whale’s Ball, poems to amuse and instruct the rising generation.
1808

Three sets of verses, the first signed ‘A. D. M.’, preoccupied, as with the founding party-poem, with crews of animals attending first the butterfly’s birth, bursting out of its chrysalis, second pairs of creatures on a Valentine’s parade and third various sea creatures aiming to emulate the (earlier published) ‘elephant’s rout’. Mechanical stuff, although it is good to know that some little fellows got to the birthday:

From Chester and Stilton, by waggons and stages,
Trav’ling snug in old cheeses, by land and by sea,
Congregations of Jumpers and Mites of all ages,
Fast arrived at the spot the new marvel to see.

Title page from ‘The Butterfly’s Birth-Day, St. Valentine’s Day. And Madam Whale’s Ball, poems to amuse and instruct the rising generation’

EDWARD LEAR
A Book of Nonsense
1862

I have loved Lear from childhood on (as who could not?). This third edition seems to be rarer than one might expect (the collector William B. Osgood Field only knew it through owning Lear’s proof copy!) and it is important as including 46 hitherto unpublished limericks and being illustrated with wood engravings rather than the previously hand-drawn lithographs.

The collection holds most of the later nineteenth century editions and many twentieth-century ones whose re-illustration, with the exception of the work of Edward Gorey and John Vernon Lord, are deplorable.

Front cover from ‘A Book of Nonsense


Humphrey Milford, OUP and The Water Babies

On the day that I bought H.R.Millar’s The Dreamland Express it was borne in upon me that more was going on at the London office of Oxford University Press (OUP) than I had bargained for. I began to look out more regularly for books with the Henry Frowde or Humphrey Milford imprints, conjoined usually with Oxford University Press, in catalogues and at book fairs.

The Little Old Woman of X
No date [?1916]

Humphrey Milford (later Sir Humphrey) took over from Henry Frowde at the London office of Oxford University Press in 1916 and I suspect that string-bound volumes, sometimes in little slip-cases, may have been in production before that time.

Front cover from ‘The Little Old Woman of X’

Another interest of mine is in Charles Kingsley’s famous but barmy story, which led me to collect variant editions of The Water Babies which now number about sixty. My mother read it to me as a child and I held in my memory recollections of Samber’s illustrations from the most frequently reprinted edition of the story and my aim in forming the collection was (and still is) a desire to compile a critical account of the failure of almost every illustrator to cope with the demands of Kingsley’s text.

CHARLES KINGSLEY
The Water-Babies; a fairy tale for a land-baby
1863
 

Front cover from ‘The Water-Babies; a fairy tale for a land-baby’

Below are 2 holograph fine line drawings by Harold Jones for pages 33 and 107 of the edition edited by Kathleen Lines (1961). The first drawing coloured by Harold Jones for a selling exhibition, where I bought them. The quality of Jones’s drawing is ruined by both the printing and the paper of the published edition.

2 holograph line drawings by Harold Jones for pages 33 and 107

WALT DISNEY
The Water Babies [2-colour vignette]
No date [ca. 1936]

An (expensive) catastrophe, being not only one of the ugliest books in my collection but one which has nothing to do with Charles Kingsley and his story. Still – it looks nowadays to be quite a scarce volume.

Front cover from ‘The Water Babies

Special Guest Blog: Courier 1969-72, Problems, Prebble and porn

This is the fourth installment in our Courier Special Collections Guest blog series. You can see the other two installments here; ‘1948-55 the early years‘, ‘Changing Directions 1955-62‘ and ‘1962-69 The Golden Years‘.


1969-72 Problems, Prebble and Porn

'Prebble Resigns as Editor', 1st March 1972

‘Prebble Resigns as Editor’, 1st March 1972

Rising printing costs forced the Courier to revert to eight pages in 1969, and for several years the paper suffered from staffing shortages. While it had always been difficult to find enough volunteers to maintain a high quality paper, the problem worsened in the early 70s, with the paper left without an editor at the start of the 1971-72 academic year. Stuart Prebble, who had recently joined as a news editor, was eventually promoted to the top job, but the paper remained generally understaffed for much of this period.

The Union itself was also facing difficulties, with a proposed merger between the SRC and Union falling through and an increase in violence and vandalism. The Courier was frequently attacked at Council meetings, with accusations of bias and a fall in standards commonplace. Both Grey’s Column and Geordie’s Marra were phased out in 1971, and the paper’s criticisms of SRC staff became more frequent and less subtle.

Under Stuart Prebble’s editorship pin-up pictures of female students remained a regular feature, and in November 1971, to “celebrate” the Courier‘s twenty-third birthday, the paper published a topless picture of a female student; this was, coincidentally, also the first anniversary of The Sun’s first topless page three picture. Several other topless pictures followed over the next few years, with the climax being the “Courier porn page” in May 1972 – part of an issue that also included features denouncing feminism and joked about rape.

Bumper Edition of the Courier which featured the Couier porn page, 5th May 1972

Bumper Edition of the Courier which featured the Courier porn page, 5th May 1972

Prebble himself had resigned by this point, in order to run for President of the Union free from accusations of using the paper to publicise his campaign. His noble intentions were undermined, however, when his resignation appeared as the front page story of his final issue in charge, prompting ridicule even in the Courier letters page. His successor, Dianne Nelmes, was openly critical of Prebble in the Courier during his time as President, until she herself resigned due to work pressures in November 1972. She also went on to become President, while several other members of the Courier team rose to prominent positions within the SRC and Union. Despite, or perhaps because of, this close connection between paper and politics, attacks on the SRC in the Courier became more frequent and more personal, while the Courier was increasingly criticised at Council meetings.

Courier letter page, 6th December 1972

Courier letter page, 6th December 1972

During her short time in charge of the paper Nelmes arranged for students of the new Newcastle Polytechnic to join the Courier‘s editorial team. The inclusion of the Polytechnic trident next to the University’s shield did little to mask the sidelining of Polytechnic news, however, and the scheme attracted criticism from both sides. After just four months the partnership collapsed and the Polytechnic students withdrew from the Courier to form their own newspaper in collaboration with local colleges.

Courier with the Polytecnic trident and Polytecnic news, 1st November 1972

Courier with the Polytecnic trident and Polytecnic news, 11th October 1972

This was the least of the Courier‘s problems. Financial difficulties necessitated an almost doubling of the cover price between 1970 to 1972. Staff shortages remained a problem, and on several occasions pages in the Courier were filled with articles reprinted from other student papers or Times Higher Education. Meanwhile the letters page became a battleground between members of the Courier team, the SRC executive and the Socialist Society. The Courier‘s relationship with “Soc Soc” had progressively declined since the late 1960s, with the society forming a rival publication – called, naturally, Pravda – in 1971. “Soc Soc” and the Courier fought for control of the SRC executive, with personal feuds and petty rivalries also thrown into the mix to create a tense and tumultuous atmosphere.

'Call to resign from Soc-Soc', 6th December 1972

‘Call to resign from Soc-Soc’, 6th December 1972


The above content is taken from Courier alumni, Mark Sleightholm’s Courier History site and is interspersed with images from the Courier Archive online website. Mark has begun documenting the history of Newcastle University’s Courier student newspaper, which gives a fascinating insight into reporting trends, recurrent stories and issues, and profiles of the different sections through the ages.

Mary Trevelyan: From Child to Mother on Page Turners

The second instalment of digitized Trevelyan family albums is now available on Page Turners. A brief introduction to this resource and the Trevelyan albums was given in our launch post last month. We’re happy to say that a further three albums have now gone live, along with contextual information which allows you to search for individuals, places, or learn more about the images.

This group includes the first (although not the earliest) volume in the collection – Volume One. Begun in 1894, when Mary Katharine Trevelyan [Molly] was 13 or 14 years old, it gives a valuable insight into her life before her marriage to Charles Philips Trevelyan. Born into the Bell family, wealthy industrialists in Middlesbrough, Molly’s father Sir Hugh Bell had joined the family firm, becoming director of the Bell Brothers’ steelworks in the town. Her mother, Florence Bell nee Olliffe was an author and playwright. Her family’s is perhaps most famously known for her half-sister Gertrude Bell, the archaeologist and diplomat.

Picture of Molly by Lilian Bell, 1894 (CPT/PA/1)

Picture of Molly by Lilian Bell, 1894 (CPT/PA/1)

In the seven years covered by the album we see Molly and her extended family relaxing at properties in Red Car, Mount Grace and Sloane Street, London. There are also souvenirs from time spent in Germany in 1900, including concert programmes from Weimar and Berlin. The final few pages give an inkling of the following volumes’ content, as pictures from a visit to Wallington feature, with photographs of the impressive great hall and the exterior, as well as picnics with her future husband Charles on the estate which they would eventually manage together.

Great Hall at Wallington, 1903 (CPT/PA/1)

Great Hall at Wallington, 1903 (CPT/PA/1)

Volume three, which also appears in this group, shows the early years of Molly and Charles’ married life together (1904-1906). At this point, their lives were split between Cambo House on the Wallington Estate, and Great College Street, Westminster, this album begins with many photographs of the couples’ friends, visits to family at Stocks House (the childhood home of Charles’ sister in law Janet Trevelyan nee Ward), Welcombe (a second home of Charles’ parents George Otto and Lady Caroline Trevelyan) and Rounton Grange (the Bell family home, recently inherited by Molly’s parents). Their love of animals is evident in the frequent photographs of cats and dogs, which appear alongside newspaper cuttings discussing Charles’ career as Liberal Member of Parliament for the Elland constituency in Yorkshire. The album ends with the birth of their eldest child (and first of seven), Pauline Trevelyan (later, Pauline Dower).

Sir Hugh Bell and Pauline Trevelyan, 1905, CPT/PA/3

Volume five continues on from volume three (handwritten notes added later by Pauline state that ‘there never was a vol. 4 a mistake in the binding!’). This album includes the arrival of their next two children, George Lowthian [Geordie] and Katharine [Kitty]. This album includes many photographs of their three eldest children playing together when young, as well as photographs and souvenirs of Charles and Molly’s trip to Italy. Marriage is very much a key feature of this album, and many invitations to weddings of their friends and family are included, as well as photographs and souvenirs from the wedding of Molly’s sister Elsa to Admiral Sir Herbert William Richmond (the parents of Lady Bridget Plowden].

Molly with Pauline and George Trevelyan, 1907, CPT/PA/4

The content of these albums shows the shifting focus of Molly’s world as she transitions from a teenager in an industrialist family to being the wife of a politician and heir to a landed estate and the mother of three young children. Consistent to all the albums though, is the importance of family. The scrapbook style combination of private photographs, souvenirs and publications, gives an intriguing insight into both the private and public worlds of the Trevelyan and Bell families. One which will hopefully be further understood once the ongoing cataloguing of the family correspondence is complete.

Universities at War Guest Blog #4

Over the next few weeks Jake Wall, one of our Universities at War project volunteers, will be blogging about his experience of researching the stories of the WWI fallen using the university archives available in the Philip Robinson University Library.


Hello and welcome to another instalment of the Universities at War Blog. In the last few entries school magazines were used to try and recreate the life history of some of our 12 soldiers, specifically their time at Armstrong college. However now the focus will move to a more broad snapshot of their lives.  This week I have looked at the North East War Memorials Project website.

William Stanley Wylie

William Wylie - Image from the Shields Gazette, 1st July 1915

William Wylie – Image from the Shields Gazette, 1st July 1915

William was born in 1891 in South Shields. He was the only son of marine engineer, Edward Wylie, and his wife, Amy. He was educated at Westoe Secondary School, Harton, South Shields from the age of 12, and left in December, 1906, only to return the following September for a further two years, leaving in 1909 at the age of 18 to attend Armstrong College. He went back to Westoe Secondary School to work as a teacher, as well as Dean Road Boys’ School, again in South Shields.

William was gazetted as Second Lieutenant to the York and Lancaster Regiment, 3rd Battalion on 27th October 1914. He was promoted to Lieutenant in March 1915. While attached to the 1st Battalion in Belgium in May 1915, William went missing near the town of Hooge. He was later reported as killed, having died of his wounds on 10th May 1915 aged 24.

The North East War Memorial Project aims to record every War Memorial located between the River Tweed and the River Tees.  As they say on their site, “Our local War Memorials remind us of what happened and the consequences of these conflicts for many people in the region.  They tell the story of those who fought, those who died, and those left behind to cope with the confusion which followed”

The site records four local memorials to Wylie:

  • A stained glass window on St Mark’s church in South Shields
  • A Plaque in Dean Road Boy’s School
  • A plaque in South Shields Boy’s High school
  • A plaque from Westoe Secondary School (now installed in Harton Technology College)

Of these only the plaque now installed in Harton Technology College remains.

Wylie’s full details, including some pictures of local memorials bearing his name, can be seen on his NEWMP profile page.

Universities at War Guest Blog #3

Over the next few weeks Jake Wall, one of our Universities at War project volunteers, will be blogging about his experience of researching the stories of the WWI fallen using the university archives available in the Philip Robinson University Library.


Picking up from where things were left last week here are some new stories as reported by school magazines.

Joseph Benjamin Wright

Sadly, details of Joseph’s college exploits seem to be limited, he was a member of the Officer Training Core and achieved the first of two qualification certificates, certificate A in March 1911. He was tragically killed in 1916.

It is a strange coincidence that Joseph and William Stanley Wylie were both awarded the same certificate at the same presentation ceremony. Thus, it is probable that two of our soldiers knew one another and were possibly even friends.

Taken from Newcastle University Library Archive: nua-3-2-northerner-dec1917-pg5

Taken from Newcastle University Library Archive: nua-3-2-northerner-dec1917-pg5

Samuel Walton White

Samuel studied in the Arts Department in Newcastle in 1915 where he met Lieutenant J.H Feggetter, a very close friend. He joined the he 26th N.F Irish and went to serve in France in July 1916. Following this he joined the 13th N.F as a second lieutenant and died shortly after.

Feggetter later went on to write an obituary for White when he was killed on June 16th 1917. The end of any life is an occasion for sadness but the sense of melancholy was made far more profound in this case upon the realisation that White died close to his birthday and lived to be just 20. It is reported that he met this sad fate with a company of six other men who were machine gunned down while penetrating German barbed wire.

William Gladstone Wylie

Wylie was awarded a bar to the military cross in 1918 for his bravery on the battlefield when he transported ammunition to the frontline in a 27 and ½ hour operation while under heavy artillery fire which killed many of the other men in his company. Wylie’s courage was noted in two separate dispatches. However, he sadly died in 1918 and is described as giving his life for his country.


More information on the Universities at War project, as well as the stories uncovered by our researchers so far, can be seen at www.universitiesatwar.org.uk.