Stored in the Bloodaxe archive in the Robinson Library there is a note written in the margins of the manuscript of Ken Smith’s poetry collection, ‘The Poet Reclining’ from 1977, one of Bloodaxe Book’s first publications:

‘pity Janet, you’ve done it again!’

References to ‘Janet’ continue to appear frequently in the editorial marginalia, minutes and notes. As part of her practice-based PhD research, Kate Sweeney has decided to build a ‘Janet’ – from traces of administration ephemera found in the archive. An amalgamated, chimerical idea of a ‘Janet’ from paper. From the margins, notes and minutes, but mainly from the post-its – a part of the archive and Apart from the archive – much like Janet herself…

‘Treasure of the Month’

This month’s treasure is Janet. Janet seeps through on post-its pressed upon other people. A part and apart, her stickiness is temporary, her yellow glow fleets over faces. She is deeply disposable unless undetected – then, she slips off her sheet, off her box and into the archive…

Image: Post-it note attached to material in The Bloodaxe Archive, contained in BXB/4/5/1 and stored in Special Collections at The Robinson Library.

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge’s Handwritten Poetry Collection


Note written by Lucy Violet Holdsworth to accompany Mary Coleridge’s handwritten collection of poems, later to be published as ‘Fancy’s Following’. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts 56)














Mary Elizabeth Coleridge was born on 23 September 1861, and she grew up surrounded by literary and artistic talent. She was the great-grand-niece of Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and her family friends included Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Anthony Trollope, John Ruskin, and Robert Browning. During her lifetime, she became best known for her essays, reviews and her five published novels. These included ‘The King with Two Faces’ which she received the substantial sum of £900 for in 1897.

However, posthumously it is her poetry which has taken centre stage. Our first Treasure of the Month for 2017 is a fair copy of Mary Coleridge’s first poetry collection, ‘Fancy’s Following’, which was handwritten by the poet for her friend, Lucy Violet Holdsworth.


Page taken from Mary Coleridge’s handwritten collection of poems, later to be published as ‘Fancy’s Following’. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts. 56)






Page taken from Mary Coleridge’s handwritten collection of poems, later to be published as ‘Fancy’s Following’. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts. 56)

The copy was made before it was later issued privately by Daniel Press in 1896, and in fact, it was this small white book which led to the publication. Holdsworth’s cousin, Monica Bridges (nee. Waterhouse) was married to the Robert Seymour Bridges, Britain’s poet laureate from 1913 – 1930. Holdsworth planned for the book to be left out for Bridges to take notice and when he did, he asked to meet Mary to encourage her to publish her work. Coleridge agreed, but with the stipulation that it was published under the pseudonym ‘Anodos’ in order not to disgrace her family name by acknowledging she was the author. It wasn’t until four months after her death in 1907 that a book of two hundred and thirty-seven of her poems was finally published under her real name, and by that time, it proved so popular that it was reprinted four times in just six months.


The score for ‘The Blue Bird’, a poem by Mary Coleridge set to Music by Charles Villiers Stanford. (Stanford Collection, Op.119.3.)


‘A Blue Bird’, which appeared in ‘Fancy’s Following’, was one of eight of Mary Coleridge’s poems which was set to music by Charles Villiers Stanford. The score can be found in our Stanford (Charles Villiers) Collection, and you can listen to a performance of it below.

Research our Children’s Literature Collections for your PhD

Newcastle University are offering over £1million in PhD funding through the Research Excellence Academy scheme for students to start a full-time PhD in autumn 2016. The University’s Children’s Literature Unit would particularly welcome applications for this funding to study our children’s literature collections.

Newcastle University’s Research Excellence Academy PhD Studentships

Each studentship covers tuition fees and living expenses for the three years of your PhD studies. There are two schemes available:

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences: This scheme covers a number of academic subjects, including English Literature. This funding would particularly suit cross-disciplinary research proposals. The deadline for applications is 30th April 2016. See: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/postgraduate/funding/sources/allstudents/hrea16.html

School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics: There are a number of studentships available and your main supervisor will be based within the School of English. The department are also offering extra support to international applicants. The deadline for applications is 5pm on 16th May 2016. See: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/elll/study/postgraduate/funding/reastudentshipslitandcw.htm

Our Children’s Literature Collections

Our children’s literature collections hold great potential for academic research. As well as the Booktrust collection of contemporary children’s books, we hold a number of Special Collections children’s literature.

Britnell Collection A collection of late 19th and early 20th Century children’s literature, focusing on literacy, language, and moral instruction.

Burnett Collection A collection of children’s books and annuals published in the early to mid-20th century. Includes Timothy’s Quest (1900) and Girl’s Fun Annual (1952).


Butler Collection Includes 18th century pamphlets, books by the likes of Daniel Defoe and J.M. Barrie and titles illustrated by Randolph Caldecott.


Davin Collection Contemporary editions of popular children’s literature largely from the early 20th Century. Also includes catalogues and critical responses to children’s literature.

Chorley Collection Children’s literature chiefly from the 19th century. Includes Kate Greenaway’s Almanack for 1884, R. M. Ballantyne’s The Coral Island and the work of Randolph Caldecott.


Meade Collection Around 180 books by L.T. Meade which were published between 1878 and 2003. Titles include: The Autocrat of the Nursery, Kitty O’Donovan and The Scamp Family.


If you are considering applying for either of Newcastle University’s Research Excellence Academy studentship opportunities in children’s literature, please contact Dr. Lucy Pearson, lucy.pearson@newcastle.ac.uk / +44 (0) 191 208 3894.

To find out more about our holdings please refer to the Collections Guide. To discover how you can consult materials see Using our collections.

150th Anniversary of the birth of Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Lithograph portrait of Rudyard Kipling by William Nicholson, 1899 (Pollard Collection)

Lithograph portrait of Rudyard Kipling by William Nicholson, 1899 (Pollard Collection)

150 years ago, on 30th December 1865, Alice and John Lockwood Kipling welcomed their son, Joseph Rudyard, into the world. Rudyard Kipling would go on to become something of a celebrity, with notoriety as a ’poet of empire’. Despite this reputation and his friendships with the likes of Cecil Rhodes and King George V, Kipling declined a knighthood, the Poet Laureateship and the Order of Merit; although he did accept other awards including the Nobel Prize for Literature (1907) and an honorary degree from the University of Durham (1907). After a perforated ulcer took his life on 18th January 1936, he was given a Westminster Abbey funeral – Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin was among his pallbearers. He lies in Poets’ Corner.

Kipling’s early years were spent in India – first in Bombay (now called Mumbai) and later in Lahore and Allahabad. (An 11-year interlude in England from the age of five was an unhappy period.) He found work as a journalist and editor, first with the Civil and Military Gazette and then with its sister paper, the Pioneer. Throughout this period, however, he was writing and publishing short stories and poems and his writing reflected the culture, language, sights, sounds and smells of India that he had fallen in love with as a child and was experiencing on adolescent insomnia-fuelled nocturnal walks. His writing was critically well-received and was popular in England.

Hoping to leverage some of his fame, Kipling returned to the UK where he met agent and publisher, Wolcott Balestier. This proved to be a life-changing encounter: Kipling married Balestier’s sister, Caroline (Carrie) in 1892, settled in her native America and had three children with her – Josephine, Elsie and John.  Kipling liked to be around children and flourished as a writer of juvenile fiction, enchanting boys and girls with works such as The Jungle Book (1894) and penning parental advice, in verse, to his son in the poem ‘If’ (1895).

‘Rikki Tikki Tavi the mongoose and cobra’ by Charles Maurice Detmold for Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, 1902 (Pollard Collection)

‘Rikki Tikki Tavi the mongoose and cobra’ by Charles Maurice Detmold for Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, 1902 (Pollard Collection)

A publically sensationalised quarrel with brother-in-law, Beatty, and the death from pneumonia of Josephine drove Kipling into retreat in England. Again, he focussed on his writing, publishing Just So Stories (1902) in tribute to Josephine. [Newcastle University Special Collections holds the 1955 reprint]

As Kipling withdrew from public view, Europe prepared for war against Germany. Kipling supported the war, perceiving it to be a battle between civilisation and barbarism. He served as a war correspondent from the trenches in France and was keen for his son, John, to see active service, pulling strings to get him enlisted with the Irish Guards. John was killed at the Battle of Loos (September 1915) – he was 18 years old and his body has never been undisputedly identified. Kipling, distraught, turned his attention away from children’s stories and towards involvement with the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission: he helped to create graveyards, advising on the language to be used for the memorial inscriptions; wrote a regimental history of the Irish Guards; and influenced the wording of the letter which would be sent, on the King’s command, from Lord Derby (Secretary of State for War) to mourning relatives. By this time, Kipling’s literary prominence was waning as the world tried to come to terms with the aftermath of the First World War and Kipling with his own grief.

In 2011 the Friends of University Library purchased a significant collection of Kipling’s work in first and early editions; as well as material relating to Kipling, such as ephemera and cuttings which had been brought together by Mr Eric Pollard. The Pollard Collection is accessible via the Library’s online catalogue and the Special Collections team invite as wide an audience as possible to use it. Kipling’s work has been appraised and reappraised over the years and the Pollard Collection demonstrates the breadth of his work.

A Special Collections exhibition will draw upon the collection to remember Kipling in February 2016 – the year that marks the 80th anniversary of his death.

Kipling’s signature, from a letter to Lord Derby, 8th December 1917 (Manuscript Album)

Kipling’s signature, from a letter to Lord Derby, 8th December 1917 (Manuscript Album)

15th December – December Calendar from Kate Greenaway’s 1890 Almanack

December - Almanack from 1890 by Kate Greenaway


Beautiful wintry scene illustration taken from December’s calendar from Kate Greenaway’s Almanack for 1890 – Engraved by Edmund Evans – Published by G. Routledge & Sons

Catherine Greenaway (1846 – 1901), known as Kate Greenaway, was an English children’s book illustrator and writer. Her most popular books are Under the Window (1879)Kate Greenaway’s Birthday Book for Children (1880), Mother Goose; or, The Old Nursery Rhymes (1881), and A Painting Book (1884).

Her almanacs ran from 1883 up until 1897, with no 1896 issue being published. Each almanac included a Jan-Dec calendar, beautifully drawn illustrations and short poems. Her almanacs were sold throughout America, England, Germany and France and were produced with different variations and in different languages.

Kate Greenaway’s Almanacks are from the Sarah Chorley Collection. Find her 1890 almanack and others here.