While we are all familiar with vaccination, its predecessor variolation is less well known. The goal is the same – to use a medical procedure to induce immunity to a disease. Before the invention of vaccination, variolation was the only preventative against smallpox available. This pamphlet, from our Medical Tracts Collection, is one of many English publications on the subject from 300 years ago in 1721. A translation of a Portuguese pamphlet by Jacob de Castro Sarmento, it outlines the variolation process ‘as it is practised in Thessaly, Constantinople and Venice’. The process is relatively simple – warm pus from someone suffering with smallpox is applied to a freshly made incision on the variolation patient. This triggers an immune response in the patient, which renders them less susceptible to future infection.
1721 was a key year in the history of variolation in England. While the practice had been taking place in Asia and Africa for some time, in the early 18th Century its adoption in England was cause of much debate. Since the 1710s the Royal Society of London had explored and discussed its use, but the high level of risk involved had prevented it from being introduced to English society. Arguments for and against the process continued to be published. Then in 1721, several events took place which contributed to its greater acceptance in England.
In April of that year, a smallpox epidemic led Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, an aristocrat and writer, to have her daughter Mary “engrafted”. Montagu had first encountered the procedure while in Turkey some years earlier. She had written about it to friends and had her son undergo the process whilst there. Back in England, Mary’s inoculation was observed by three members of the Royal College of Physicians, becoming the first documented inoculation in England. After the successful inoculation of her daughter, interest in variolation rose sharply amongst her aristocratic friends (which Montagu strongly encouraged. It came to the attention of Caroline of Ansbach, then Princess of Wales, who wished to inoculate her three children.
It was felt that more evidence of the safety and effectiveness of the procedure was required before risking the health of the heirs to the British throne, and so in July, the royal physicians finalised arrangements to conduct variolation trials on inmates at Newgate prison in London. Seven inmates were offered the choice of participating in exchange for their sentence of transportation to the Americas being remitted. Those who accepted (which was all of them) underwent “engrafting” on the 9th of August 1721. The initial procedure was heavily attended by observers and the participants’ progress was discussed in newspapers and pamphlets.
The Newgate trial was deemed a success, with all the participants recovering well and displaying immunity. One of the participants, Elizabeth Harrison (originally sentenced to death for the theft of 62 guineas), was taken to a school which was suffering a smallpox outbreak to demonstrate her immunity. The royal children were eventually inoculated, but not until April 1722 after further trials on orphan children had taken place. While debate continued around the safety and effectiveness of variolation, these events contributed to its increased acceptance and by the 1740s, charitable inoculation hospitals were being established. It became common practice to use variolation to reduce the impact of smallpox outbreaks in rural areas. Variolation continued to be used in England until the invention and introduction of the safer vaccination process eventually led to the Vaccination Act of 1840. This entitled everyone in England to smallpox vaccination free of charge and banned the use of its riskier predecessor.
Of course, this year has been a bit different, and while we hope to welcome you all back to our reading room soon, in the meantime you might be interested to know you can still access our content using our Virtual Reading Room service.
However we appreciate that you might find it easier just now to work from resources which are remotely accessible, and so we wanted to highlight the following content from our collections, all of which is available online.
If you have any questions about these resources, or using Special Collections and Archives more generally, you can get in touch with us using Library Help.
Remotely Accessible Dissertation ideas #1: Gertrude Bell Archive
Gertrude Bell was an archaeologist, explorer and diplomat in the early 20th Century. Bell initially travelled in the Middle East to support her interest in archaeology, and gained substantial knowledge of languages and Arab cultures. This led to British Intelligence asking her to support their work with her knowledge of the region and the people who lived there during the First World War. After the war, Bell continued to work in a diplomatic position, and was extremely influential in the establishment of Modern day Iraq.
Bell frequently wrote to her family at home, as well as keeping extensive diaries and taking many photographs. Copies of the photographs and transcripts of the diaries and letters are freely available on a dedicated website.
‘Broadside’ is a term applied to cheaply printed, single sided sheets of paper. Often used to convey news or political opinions, they are a valuable insight into popular culture. Special Collections and Archives has a substantial collection of mostly 19th Century Broadsides, most of which are digitized and available to view and search online. The majority of them were produced here in the North East, and provide a fascinating insight into contemporary concerns and local events, but also how information was communicated. As well as electioneering ephemera and propaganda, the broadsides include reward notices for the capture of criminals, announcements of events, and entertainment in the form of comic and tragic songs, known as ‘Broadside Ballads’.
Remotely Accessible Dissertation ideas #3: Jane Loraine’s Recipe Book
Dating from the 1680s this manuscript (handwritten) recipe book includes recipes for food and medicinal products. The handwriting suggests multiple authors, but the majority has been attributed to Jane Loraine, a member of the Loraine family from Kirkharle, in Northumberland. The value of recipe books as sources for subjects beyond food history is still being explored, but it provides opportunities to explore subjects as diverse as gender issues (as examples of women’s writing) and empire (exploring ingredient availability).
Jane Loraine’s Recipe Book is available in full on CollectionsCaptured, but has also been adapted into a searchable digital edition which provides transcripts, contextual information and signposts wider reading.
Remotely Accessible Dissertation ideas #4: Local Illustrations
Our Local Illustration Collection brings together engravings and other illustrations from the 18th and 19th Century which depict landmarks and landscapes from the North East. They offer the opportunity to explore changes in the region during a period of vast technological change, but also how urban and rural landscapes were depicted. Insights into contemporary society can also be taken from the figures which appear in the images.
Remotely Accessible Dissertation ideas #5: Trevelyan Family Albums
The Trevelyan family were based at Wallington Hall Northumberland, now a National Trust property. The property was donated to the Trust by Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan, a Member of Parliament, Education Secretary and campaigner against Britain’s involvement in World War I. Trevelyan’s wife Mary Trevelyan (nee Bell – half-sister of Gertrude Bell), kept family photograph albums and scrapbooks from the late 19th Century until her death in 1965. They provide an insight into the life of a politically active landed family in the North East in the early 20th Century. The albums offer the opportunity to explore gender roles and childhood in the aristocracy, travel and empire (through albums depicting Charles’ ‘Grand Tour’ to North America, the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand) and the activity of collecting and memorialising family life.
Many of the photograph albums can be browsed and text searched on our Page Turners platform, and cover nearly 70 years of family life.
Newcastle University acquired the archive of Bloodaxe Books in 2013, an archive dating back to 1978 and the beginnings of this internationally important poetry publisher. The Poetics of the Archive offers innovative ways to explore digitised content from this archive. Through BOOKS, you can browse a library of Bloodaxe’s titles and a wealth of digitised poetry in process towards its final published form. WORDS uses the text of the digitized items to suggest links, whilst SHAPES allows you to view or interact with the shape poems make on the page. DATA takes you beyond this archive to discover where else Bloodaxe authors have been published. In the GALLERY and RESEARCH sections you will be able to link to new works that animate and respond creatively to the archive (interviews, films, photos, artwork, texts).
The Courier Archive is a website containing over 70 years of back issues of Newcastle University’s student paper, The Courier. All the issues are text searchable and downloadable as PDFs. They provide the opportunity to explore campus life at the University, but also to track wider social change.
The book Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin was one of the first English-language children’s book to discuss male homosexuality and inadvertently played a significant role in one of the most difficult and controversial episodes in the history of the struggle for equality for LGBT people in the UK.
Written by Danish author Susanne Bösche and first published in Danish in 1981, the book was published in English in 1983 by Gay Men’s Press, intended to help reduce anti-gay prejudice and to be a resource to facilitate discussion with children about homosexuality.
Special Collections’ copy of Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin is held in the Alderson (Brian) Collection of children’s books, and demonstrates how a book may become politicised owing to its content and the context in which it is viewed, in this particular book’s case, having become a weapon in a war over the teaching of sexuality in schools.
The story describes a few days in the life of five-year-old Jenny, her father, Martin, and his partner Eric who lives with them. Jenny’s mother Karen lives nearby and often visits. It covers their various day-to-day activities, including going to the laundrette together; playing a game of lotto; preparing a surprise birthday party for Eric; and Eric and Martin having a minor argument and making up. There is also a conversation with a passer-by who expresses homophobic disgust when meeting the family in the street, the subject of a later discussion between Eric and Jenny.
That the 1980s was a time of rising negative sentiments towards homosexuality in the UK is well-documented. In 1986 a copy of Jenny Lives With Eric and Martin was made available by the Inner London Education Authority in a teachers’ centre specifically for the use of teachers who wanted to know more about gay or lesbian parents. In response to this, various national newspapers inaccurately reported that the book was being made available in school libraries.
The ensuing controversy, including the condemnation of the book’s availability by the Secretary of State for Education, resulted in fear that the book was being used as “homosexual propaganda”, and made a major contribution towards the Conservative Government’s subsequent passing of the controversial Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, which forbade the promotion of homosexuality by local government and in schools in England, Wales and Scotland.
Attitudes towards sexuality and sexual minorities have shifted a great deal over the decades since the passing of Section 28, which was reviled by many far beyond the gay community itself. Now largely held to have been an unnecessary and unjust assault on civil rights, the legislation was repealed in 2003, and in 2009 the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron apologised publicly for it.
Bösche, Susanne. Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin (Gay Men’s Press, 1983)
This blog was inspired by the simple question of ‘who was the first woman to gain a medical degree from the College of Medicine at Newcastle?’ In fact not so simple a question! The history of women’s medical education in Britain is a complex, fraught, and litigious one as women were forced to fight separately for access to medical education; for access to the medical profession; and for access to various closed branches of medicine. Rather than one ‘first woman’ there are therefore a group of several ‘first women’, as the College of Medicine at Newcastle expanded the award of its medical degrees firstly to women who had already received a medical education at non-degree awarding women’s medical colleges; then opening it’s medical programme to women, and finally admitting women to the various higher medical degrees and specialisms.
Thank you to research volunteer (and retired member of Library staff!) Alan Callender for this blog piece and for all of the hours of painstaking research behind it. Information was gathered using our collection of student registers and medical college class lists (Newcastle University Archive) together with information kindly given through family research.
Women’s access to the medical profession in the Nineteenth Century
By the mid-19th Century there were two significant barriers to British women becoming doctors – firstly access to a medical education, and secondly access to the registration process that enabled them to practice.
In 1834 when the ‘School of Medicine and Surgery at Newcastle’ was established, women were barred from a British medical education. However, until the middle of the century it was possible to gain a medical education abroad and return to practice in Britain without registration. The gradual opening of medical education to women in both Europe and the USA during this period increasingly made this route viable (for those with money to travel).
1858 Medical Act – The Creation of the Medical Register and a new barrier for women. This Act sought to professionalise medicine by formalising the educational requirements to practice medicine in Britain. However, by placing registration in the hands of those institutions who already prohibited women’s medical education, it acted as an insurmountable barrier to British women wishing to practice medicine. In 1865 Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917) used a loophole to force the Society of Apothecaries to grant her registration. The society promptly closed this route and with it any options for women to legally practice medicine in Britain.
1869 the ‘Edinburgh Seven’ attempt to gain a medical education at a British University. In 1869 a group of seven women led by Sophia Jex-Blake (1840-1913) gained admittance to Edinburgh University and were allowed to attend some medical classes and take some medical examinations. As they progressed controversy grew as various sympathetic supporters (including much of the public press) pitted against opponents to the idea of women doctors. The fight was long and complex as Sophia Jex-Blake fought to access various routes, whilst the University responded each time by trying to close these routes. Eventually in 1873 the women lost their campaign. Despite having completed their medical degree courses the High Court ruled that Edinburgh University could not be forced to award medical degrees to women.
1874 The first British Medical College for Women is established. In 1874 Sophia Jex-Blake and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson founded the London School of Medicine for Women. Finally women had access to a medical education. However the College could not award degrees, and for students of the college the bar on medical registration still remained.
1877 A route to the registration of female doctors is established. In 1876, the ‘Enabling Act’ was passed which stated that the nineteen British medical examining bodies were permitted to accept women candidates but were not compelled to do so. In 1877, the King and Queen’s College of Physicians in Ireland became the first British medical qualification body to admit women for examination. In the same year, an agreement was reached with the Royal Free Hospital that allowed students at the London School of Medicine for Women to complete their clinical studies there.
The 1870s and 1880s and the growth of women’s medical schools. Once a route for both the education and registration of women had been established, three further colleges of medicine for women were established: 1886 Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women; 1888 Medical College for Women Edinburgh; 1890 Glasgow School of Medicine for Women (Queen Margaret College).
1880s and 1890s Women begin to access University education. Meanwhile, in 1867 the establishment of the North of England Council for Promoting Higher Education for Women had started the movement for opening university lectures to women, and by the 1880s and 1890s women were increasingly allowed to study at British universities. However, despite gaining admittance, and even passing university examinations, women were not allowed to be awarded degrees. This was significant for women wishing to study to medicine, as the refusal to award a degree meant an effective bar to the profession. In 1878 the University of London finally granted a supplementary charter to enable the admission of women to degree programmes, followed in 1895 by Durham University (the College of Medicine at Newcastle having by this time become a college of Durham University).
1890s and 1900s The growth of regional co-educational medical education. The opening of degrees to women in British universities did not necessarily mean that these women were allowed access to medical courses. In fact the University of London, the first University to grant women access to its degrees, did not admit women to its Medical Faculty for a further 39 years. Interestingly however, Durham started to accept women onto their medical degrees immediately. And in line with Durham various other northern universities also began to open their medical schools to women in the early 1900s. Equally significantly, most did not create a separate medical school for women as the early Scottish colleges had done. For women this was the start of a trend towards both co-educational medical training for men and women, and the growth of the role of regional universities in providing women with medical training.
Many other barriers were to present themselves over the next century, but we’ll stop there for now! And celebrate our pioneering medical graduates:
Our first female medical student 1892
The first female student – Edith Blanche Joel – appears on the student register at the College of Medicine. She appears again during the academic years of 1893/4 and 1894/5. However, at this time she would not have been permitted to graduate.
Our first women MBBS’s (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery), 1898 and 1902
In 1896 three students from the London School of Medicine for Women, unable to graduate from this institution, registered at the College of Medicine at Newcastle to complete their medical degrees: Grace Harwood Stewart, Margaret Joyce, and Claudia Anita Prout. All three take their medical examinations and graduate in 1898. In 1896 Mary Evelyn De Russett also appears on the student register as a first year. In April 1902 she became the first female medical student to graduate who had undertaken all of her medical training at Newcastle.
Grace Harwood Stewart (Billings) (1873 – 1957) was born at Portishead in Somerset, one of nine children to James and Louisa Stewart. Following her graduation from the Newcastle, she registered as a medical practitioner on 11 November 1898. Grace married Frederick Walter Billings, a builder, in 1899 and the same year established her medical practice at 3 Pittville Parade Cheltenham – the first woman to set up a medical practice in Gloucestershire. She went on to have a remarkable career and in addition to running her own practice was also a medical officer of the Cheltenham Infant Welfare Association and, a pioneer in family planning, she eventually set up the Cheltenham Municipal Women’s Welfare Clinic. During the First World War she was in charge of the St Martin’s V.A.D Hospital and was a locum anaesthetist at the Cheltenham General Hospital. Grace retired in 1936. Her daughter, Brenda, became a GP in Cheltenham and then School Medical Officer for Gloucestershire County Council. Her son, Stewart, had a distinguished naval career, becoming a Rear Admiral. He was awarded the CBE in 1953. She died on the 13 June 1957 at the Douro Nursing Home in Cheltenham aged 84. A great biography of Grace with some fabulous details about her amazing life can be seen here.
Margaret Joyce was born in Blackfordby, Burton-on-Trent in 1873. Following her graduation from Newcastle she registered as a Medical Practitioner on 18 November 1898. Margaret was in practice in Burton-on-Trent, and then became House Surgeon at the New Hospital for Women in London. She was subsequently in practice for many years in Liverpool and then Ashby-de-la-Zouch. Margaret died on 28 August 1966 at Syston in Leicestershire.
Claudia Anita Prout Rowse (Bell) was born in Hackney, London in 1873, one of five children. Following her graduation from Newcastle she registered as a medical practitioner on 15 November 1898. Claudia married Hubert Bell, a shipping agent in Chinkiang, China in 1910. The marriage register states that Claudia had been resident in China for 12 years at this point. Claudia died on 30 October 1950 at Reigate, Surrey.
Mary Evelyn De Russett (Howie) was born in Blackheath c.1872, although the family later moved the Tynemouth. Following her graduation from Newcastle, she registered as a medical practitioner on 9 May 1902. Mary married a doctor in 1902, John Coulson Howie, and together they ran a practice in Glasgow. After John’s death in 1912 the family moved to Newport. In 1920 she was appointed Maternity and Child Welfare Medical Officer for Durham County, a post which she held until her retirement. It should be noted that this post was open to her only because she was a widow, the Civil Service Marriage Bar prohibiting the employment of married women until it was abolished in 1946. Mary died in the Leazes Hospital in Newcastle on 7 September 1946.
Our first Women MDs (Doctor of Medicine), 1903and 1906
An MD is a higher doctorate or research doctorate. In 1903 Selina Fitzherbert Fox, became the first woman to graduate with an MD from Newcastle. Selina had undertaken her initial training at the London School of Medicine for Women before transferring to Newcastle to complete her MBBS in 1899 and then proceeding to her MD. In 1906 Sophia Bangham Jackson became the first woman to gain her MD who had undertaken all of her medical training at the Newcastle College.
Selina Fitzherbert Fox was born in 1871. After her graduation from Newcastle she registered as a medical practitioner on 10 May 1899. Selina worked as an Assistant Medical Officer for the Zanana Bible and Medical Mission between 1900 and 1901 but returned to Britain because of ill health. She settled in Bermondsey and worked at the Church Missionary Society’s medical centre until it closed. As there was still the need for medical care for women and children in the area, Selina founded the Bermondsey Medical Mission in 1904 and was awarded an M.B.E for her work as its founder and director on 1 January 1938. Selina died at Bermondsey Medical Mission Hospital on 27 December 1958. A family blog about Selina and the campaign for a Blue Plaque to honour her can be seen here and here.
Sophia Bangham Jackson (Smith) was born in Finsbury Park in 1877. Following her graduation from Newcastle she registered as a medical practitioner on 12 November 1904. Sophie practiced in Thornton Heath, Chingford and then Selsden. She married Frederick B Smith in 1939 and died on 18 January 1952 at Selsden.
Our first women to be awarded a Bachelor of Hygiene, 1902 and 1909
In September 1902 Emeline Da Cunha, who had gained her Licence in Medical Surgery from Bombay University in 1894, became one of two ‘first women’ to be awarded a Bachelor of Hygiene from the College of Medicine at Newcastle. Joining her was Esther Molyneux Stuart who had undertaken her initial medical training at Edinburgh University. The first woman to be awarded a Bachelor of Hygiene who had completed all of her undergraduate training in Newcastle was Gertrude Ethel O’Brien who gained her MB in 1908 and subsequently her Bachelor of Hygiene and Diploma in Public Health in 1909.
Emeline Da Cunha was born in Panjim, India in 1873 and was awarded her initial Licence in Medicine and Surgery at Bombay University in 1894, funded by the Medical Women for India Fund. She later graduated from Newcastle with a B.Hy in 1902 and registered as a medical practitioner in England on 30 September 1901. From entries in the Medical Register it would appear that Emeline then returned to India to continue her career.
Esther Molyneux Stuart (Parkinson) was born in Liverpool on 19 January 1877. Esther registered as a medical practitioner on 4 August 1899 following her graduation from Edinburgh University, and in 1902 graduated from Newcastle with her B.Hy. She married Thomas Parkinson in 1903 and died on 19 September 1912 at Benton in Northumberland.
Following her graduation from Newcastle Gertrude Ethel O’Brien (Bartlett) registered as a medical practitioner on 15 August 1908. She married Robert Bartlett, and died on 19 February 1953 in Barnet.
Our first women to be awarded a Diploma in Public Health, 1908and 1909
In April 1908 Lilian Mary Chesney (M.B. Ch.B. Edinburgh University 1899) became the first Newcastle female graduate to be awarded a Diploma in Public Health. One year later in 1909 Gertrude Ethel O’Brien became the first woman who had undertaken all of her medical training at Newcastle to receive this award.
Lillian Mary Chesney was born in Harrow in 1869. Following her graduation from Newcastle she registered as a medical practitioner on 31 July 1899 and subsequently set up a practice in Harley Street. Later in life Lillian moved her practice to Sheffield and then to Palma de Majorca in Spain. During the First World War Lillian served as a doctor in the Kragujevac (Serbia) Unit 1914-1915 and the London (Russia and Serbia) Unit from 1916-1917. Thanks to the research of John Lines whose great aunt, Margaret Box, also served with the SWH, we have evidence that by October 1918 Dr Chesney appears to be running the hospital in Skopje (Serbia) for the SWH. Margaret refers to Dr Chesney in several of her wartime letters and calls her “our chief”. Lillian died on 20 December in Mallorca, Spain.
Our first women to be awarded a Master of Surgery, 1911and 1923
In 1911 Charlotte Purnell was awarded a Master of Surgery, having undertaken her initial training at the London School of Medicine for Women before transferring to Newcastle. In 1904 Ruth Nicholson started her medical course at the College of Medicine at Newcastle, gaining her MBBS 1909, and BHy., D.P.H. in 1911. In 1923 she became the first woman to gain a Master of Surgery who had undertaken all of her initial medical training at Newcastle.
Charlotte Purnell was born in Dursley, Gloucestershire c1869. Following her graduation from Newcastle she registered as a medical practitioner on 13 April 1908. For most of her medical career Charlotte worked in Church Mission Society hospitals in Palestine and Transjordan. Her work was recognised by the award of the O.B.E in 1933. Charlotte died on 20 June 1944 in Amman in Transjordan.
Ruth Nicholson was born in Newcastle in 1885, one of six children. Following her graduation from Newcastle she registered as a medical practitioner on 16 September 1909. Before the First World War she practiced in Palestine, but returned to England at the start of the War, subsequently serving as Surgeon and Second in Command of the Royaumont Military Hospital in France. For this work she was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille d’Honneur des Épidémies by the French government. After the war she specialised in obstetrics and gynaecology as Clinical Lecturer and Gynaecological Surgeon at the University of Liverpool with consultant appointments at Liverpool hospitals. She was a founder member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1929, being elevated to fellow of the College in 1931. Ruth died on 16 July 1963 in Exeter. A blog about Ruth’s fascinating life story can be seen here.
You may also be interested in an accompanying blog piece by Alan discussing the largely un-credited role of our female graduates in WWI: They also served…
Newcastle University Library’s Special Collections and Archives include several collections which contain materials with relevance to race equality issues. These are highlighted below, together with contextual resources such as blogposts and online exhibitions.
Jack Mapanje was born in Malawi in 1944, growing up in Kadango village in the Mangochi district.
He first started to write poetry from despair at the political situation in Malawi; his first collection, Of Chameleons and Gods, was published in the UK in 1981 by Heinemann. The collection was critically acclaimed around the world, but withdrawn from circulation in Malawi in June 1985 by the government of dictator Hastings Banda. In September 1987, Jack was arrested and detained without charge or trial in Mikuyu Prison in Malawi. During his imprisonment, Of Chameleons and Gods won the Rotterdam Poetry International Award in 1988, and Jack was subsequently also awarded the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award in 1990, recognising his fight for freedom of expression. Despite an international campaign by numerous writers, linguists, and human rights activists, including Harold Pinter, Wole Soyinka, Susan Sontag, and Noam Chomsky amongst others, Jack was not released until May 1991, and was given no explanation of his detention. During his time in prison, he wrote his second collection of poetry, The Chattering Wagtails of Mikuyu Prison (1993), and much of his third, Skipping without Ropes (1998).
After leaving Malawi with his wife and children, Jack settled in Britain, where he has lived ever since, and has held numerous prestigious posts in universities, the first of these being a fellowship at the University of York in 1992. He was later an Honorary Visiting Professional Fellow in the School of English at the University of Leeds, where he taught a degree course between 1993 and 1996, and edited the collection Gathering Seaweed: African Prison Writing (2002) based on this course. Jack held a Royal Literary Fund Fellowship at Leeds Trinity University from 1999–2001, and has since held a post as Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing and Literatures of Incarceration at Newcastle University. Most recently, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Bedfordshire in 2015 and has held a Visiting Professorship post in the Faculty of Arts at York St John University.
In the Mapanje (Jack) Archive we hold material relating to his poetic works, items relating to his academic career in both Malawi and the UK, and perhaps most interestingly, correspondence written during and after his time held as prisoner of conscience.
A specialist in Caribbean art and literature, Anne Walmsley is a British editor, scholar, critic and author. Anne started her career in the late 1950s when she worked as a secretary for Faber and Faber.
Anne Walmsley participated in the Caribbean Artists Movement (CAM), founded in 1966 by Kamau Braithwaite, John La Rose and Andrew Salkey. In 1985 she was awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship to research CAM and in 1992 she was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Kent for her thesis on this, which was also published as a book entitled The Caribbean Artists Movement: A Literary and Cultural History, 1966-1971.
Anne Walmsley has contributed to a range of journals, literary magazines, exhibition catalogues and anthologies. The Walmsley (Anne) Archive holds a range of material including letters and reports from her time at Longman’s, her scrapbook from teaching at Westwood, research on CAM, and research on a range of Caribbean artists.
The Bloodaxe Books archive is considered one of the most exciting archives for contemporary poetry that exists. The material in the collection includes 592 boxes of original typescripts, editorial work, correspondence and examples of marketing, business and financial records dating from the 1970’s to the present day. These records represent authors and books that have won virtually every major literary award given to poetry, including the T.S. Eliot Prize, Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize. Bloodaxe is also known for its work with translated collections and American poetry, and have published responsively to cultural change in Britain, publishing some of the finest writers in the British-Caribbean and South-Asian diaspora. Another significant achievement is that Bloodaxe publish more female writers than any other British poetry publisher, at a 50:50 male:female ratio. The company has opened up poetry to thousands of new readers and the material held in the archive demonstrates how Bloodaxe Books has been able to achieve this.
The Cowen (Joseph) Tracts are almost two thousand pamphlets which were formerly owned by local (radical) M.P., Joseph Cowen (1829-1900). The tracts date mostly from the mid- to late-Nineteenth Century and reflect Cowen’s interest in the social, educational, political and economic issues of the day.
Included in the pamphlets are subjects on abolition and the slave trade, including material relating to Frederick Douglass. Douglass was born into slavery c. 1818 on a plantation in Talbot County, Maryland, USA. He becameone of the most famous intellectuals of his time. He advised Presidents and lectured to thousands on a range of causes, including women’s rights and Irish Home Rule. On 3 September 1838, Douglass escaped from slavery in Baltimore. He disguised himself as a sailor and headed north, travelling by train and boat, first to Philadelphia, then on to New York. Find out more about Frederick Douglass and Newcastle on the University’s website. You can find material from the Cowen Tracts, relating to Douglass on the library catalogue.
The Grey (2nd Earl) Tracts reflect the interests of their former owner, the 2nd Earl Grey (1764-1845) whose Whig government was responsible for the 1832 Reform Act, 1833 Factory Act and the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act.
The pamphlets cover a broad range of historical, social and economic subjects including colonial policy, public finance and banking, the Corn Laws and agriculture, poor relief, slavery, Catholicism, Ireland and the Greek Revolution.
A digital exhibition tells the story of the civil rights campaigner Dr Martin Luther King Jr., receiving an honorary degree at Newcastle University in November 1967 using original photographs and documents from the University Archives.
Dr Martin Luther was assassinated shortly after 6pm on 4th April 1968, King was short dead in Memphis, Tennessee. He was just 39 years old. This is a blog post on the memorial service for Dr Martin Luther King, held at St. Thomas’ Church, Haymarket in Newcastle, 1968.
A blog post from Newcastle University students about the radical tradition in British children’s literature of the early twentieth century. This includes the includes the book, Blue Peter, which was written to tell a tale of marginalised minorities at the time of its production during the World War II.
Hugh Lee Pattinson (1796-1858) was born on 25th December 1796 at Alston, Cumberland, son of Thomas Pattinson, a retail trader, and Margaret Lee. Hugh Lee Pattinson gained some knowledge of electricity and at the age of seventeen constructed some electrical devices. He also studied chemistry especially in connection with metallurgy.
He took among the first-known photographic images of Niagara Falls and the Clifton Hotel. These early photographs were known as daguerreotypes. Daguerreotypes were produced using an early photographic process involving an iodine-sensitised silvered plate and mercury vapour. This photographic method does not permit reproduction so the images are unique.
Written by Dalia Aizi, a MA Museum, Gallery and Heritage studies student, whilst on placement in Summer 2019.
Early on in our placements at Special Collections, whilst doing research for a new exhibition, we came across a beautifully illustrated book titled European Butterflies and Moths. Upon seeing the plates and reading the texts, we were inspired to create ‘The Beauty of Science: Seeing Art in the Entomological World’. We decided to create an exhibition which celebrates the artistic aspects of science books, which are often overlooked.
life of W.F. Kirby
Leicester in 1844, Kirby found a deep interest for butterflies at a very young
age, which continued into his adult life. After his father’s death and the
family’s move to Brighton, he became more involved in the entomological world,
joining the Brighton and Sussex Entomological Society before he moved to Dublin
in 1867. While there, he became an established and famous entomologist after
his book, A Synonymic Catalogue of diurnal
Lepidoptera was published.
European Butterflies and Moths
In 1882, Kirby finished and published European Butterflies and Moths (19th Century Collection, 19th C. Coll. 595.78 KIR), which gives a comprehensive guide into the world of the Lepidoptera. 137 years later, the book is still easily read even for novice readers such as us, which he writes about in his preface, stating that the book is ’designed to provide entomologists and tourists with a comprehensive illustrated guide to the study of European Macro-Lepidoptera’.
The note written in Spanish underneath describes the above image, where Vincente Lunardi is riding in a colourful balloon ascending (going upwards) from the Jardin del Buen Retiro (the public garden) in Madrid on 12th August 1792.
Vincente Lunardi was born in Lucca in Italy in 1759. He was an Italian aeronaut, which is someone who travels in an airship or balloon. He gained fame for the first 24 mile hot air balloon flight in England.
In the late 18th century (1700’s) there was a flying craze. There was the first manned free floating balloon flight in France (November 1783) and the first manned, free floating ascent in Scotland by James Tytler (August 1784).
Lunardi’s flight took off from the Honourable Artillery Company ground (an area that contained large weapons) at Moorfields in London. The flight occurred in September 1784 and many gathered at the grounds to watch it. It is claimed that he had to leave his friend, George Biggin behind, due to the crowd’s growing impatience or due to the balloon not inflating enough. Sources state that he had a cat, a dog and a pigeon with him for company. His balloon was very brightly decorated and was inflated by hydrogen gas to make it light enough to fly. He travelled for a total of 24 miles across London and overshadowed James Tytler’s balloon ascent, where he only went upwards from the ground.
Lunardi was nicknamed the ‘Daredevil Aeronaut’ and inspired ladies’ skirts and hats. The ‘Lunardi bonnet’ (a bonnet is a type of hat) is mentioned in a poem by the famous poet Robert Burns called ‘To a Louse’.
He carried out several more balloon flights, including one at the Jardin del Buen Retiro in Madrid in 1792. This was his first air balloon attempt in Spain. Prince Ferdinand of Spain was amongst the people watching and wasn’t very impressed as the balloon rose 300 metres from the ground before falling in the town of Daganzo de Arriba.
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.
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.
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.