Tag Archives: Books

International Children’s Book Day

To mark International Children’s Book Day which is celebrated on Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday on April 2nd, we take a look at some of the children’s books in Special Collections.

Although children’s literature is not a focus of the collections at Southampton, examples of children’s books, both educational and recreational can be found amongst the Rare Books. There are schoolbooks belonging to Henry Robinson Hartley, to whom the University owes its existence, books of instruction in farm life in the Perkins Agricultural Library and in the Salisbury Collection, examples of ‘botanical dialogues’, which take the form of a series of questions and answers. In Maria Edgeworth’s Dialogues on Botany for the Use of Young Persons (London, 1819) the children, Fanny, Emma and Cecil “were so much interested in the structure and growth of vegetables that they seldom let a day pass without soliciting some instruction from their Aunt”.  There are also books on history and geography, and in Letters Written from London (London, 1807) the young visitor’s description of the street traders, their wares and their cries gives an insight into daily life in the capital.

Letters Written from London (London, 1807) Rare Books DA 678

Letters Written from London (London, 1807) Rare Books DA 678

As well as the educational books, there are also examples of the picture books or ‘toy books’ printed by Edmund Evans (1826-1905), the leading woodblock colour printer in London. Although early nineteenth-century children’s books often included illustrations, these were usually black and white engravings or woodblock prints, and if coloured, the quality was generally poor. Colourful picture books, recognisable to children of today, appeared only after the mechanization of printing and advances in colour printing techniques. These changes, coinciding with a growing market for well-produced children’s books amongst the middle and upper classes meant that picture books became a profitable line for many publishers.

Evans had perfected the technique of reproducing the colours of original illustrations by using as many as sixteen woodblocks and eight to twelve colours for a single illustration. In his toy books fewer blocks and colours were used, but the results were a vast improvement on existing coloured illustrations. Having printed a series of toy books for Routledge in the mid-1860s, Evans went on to set up his own business, commissioning illustrations from Walter Crane (1845-1915), Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886) and Kate Greenaway (1846-1901), now regarded as amongst the greatest children’s illustrators of the Victorian period.

The Baby’s Opera (London, 1877) Rare Books PZ 8.3 CRA

The Baby’s Opera (London, 1877) Rare Books PZ 8.3 CRA

Crane’s The Baby’s Opera (1877) was something of a deluxe toy book. It included the music as well as the words of nursery songs and demonstrated Crane’s approach to book illustration as a decorative art, encompassing the book as a whole, rather than focussing individual illustrations. A member of the Arts and Crafts Movement, he was influenced by his study of Japanese colour prints, emulating their sharp outlines and flat or very deep perspective in his own work.

The Baby’s Opera (London, 1877) Rare Books PZ 8.3 CRA

The Baby’s Opera (London, 1877) Rare Books PZ 8.3 CRA

Randolph Caldecott had already contributed illustrations to a range of publications, including Punch and the Illustrated London News before he was engaged by Evans in 1878 to illustrate two picture books each Christmas, an arrangement which continued until his early death in 1886. The books featured nursery rhymes or fairy tales and in Sing a Song for Sixpence (1880) Caldecott’s detailed yet vigorous drawings, show the appeal of his work to children. Caldecott also illustrated a number Juliana Horatia Ewing’s books for Evans, these being published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Sing a Song for Sixpence (London, 1880) Rare Books PZ 8.3 CAL

Sing a Song for Sixpence (London, 1880) Rare Books PZ 8.3 CAL

In 1879 Evans engraved and printed Kate Greenaway‘s collection of poetry and drawings Under the Window, after which she rarely entrusted her work to anyone else. In Little Ann and Other Poems (1883) Greenaway illustrated the poems of the early nineteenth-century poet Jane Taylor, the children being dressed in her characteristic interpretation of the fashions of the early nineteenth century. Such was her popularity that Liberty’s of London introduced a line of children’s clothes, based on her drawings.

Little Ann and Other Poems (London, 1883) Rare Books PZ 8.3 TAY

Little Ann and Other Poems (London, 1883) Rare Books PZ 8.3 TAY

The picture books in Special Collections have come from a variety of sources, some having been donated and others having been part of the Library of La Sainte Union College of Education. As well as the original nineteenth-century publications, there are modern facsimiles of early children’s books in a selection of titles acquired for the School of Education from the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books at Toronto Public Library. More recent publications of classic children’s books can be found in the Children’s Fiction Collection on the open shelves of the Hartley Library.

2016: Year in review

In this week’s blog post we take a look back at some of the highlights of 2016.

The bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo meant that 2015 was a big year for Special Collections. While we were not involved in anything quite on the same scale in 2016, it was still a highly productive year for the division.

Items from the exhibition The Book The Object in the Special Collections Gallery

Items from the exhibition The Book The Object in the Special Collections Gallery

As a result of the recent building project taking place in the Hartley Library, the Special Collections Exhibition Gallery was host to only one exhibition during 2016. The Book The Object ran from February to May and celebrated the culture, the manufacture and the artistry of the book, from the 15th to the 21st century. We are now happy to confirm that, after a hiatus of almost a year, the Special Collections Gallery will be reopening this spring with an exciting line up of new exhibitions on the way!

The neighbouring Level 4 Gallery was host to three exhibitions over the course of the past year. Re: Making, which ran from February to March, was a documentary exhibition of three PhD seminars at Winchester School of Art. The following month saw Proof, an exhibition providing a snapshot of work produced within the Publisher Hub since its conception in 2015. Finally, the autumn brought Archive Senses, an exhibition looking at Archives as a part of the wide-ranging conversation around materiality, and emphasising the continuing importance of the archive object — not just as a less accessible alternative to the digital object as sometimes perceived, but as a critical resource that runs alongside and underpins the digital.

Image from Archives Sense in the Level 4 Gallery

Image from Archives Sense in the Level 4 Gallery

Archive Senses is currently on an extended run so be sure to drop by and have a look. You can also view Elastic System, an interactive artwork produced by Richard Wright whilst he was Artist in Residence at the British Library, which is currently on display in the foyer of the Hartley Library.

Special Collections continued its series of Explore Your Archive events in 2016. The first of these took place in April and focused on philanthropic sources among the collections. The event included a talk by David Brown, Professor of Modern History at the University of Southampton, discussing his work on the diaries of the great Victorian social reformer and philanthropist, the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury (which form part of the Broadlands archives). Later in the year, to tie in with the official launch of the 2016 Explore Your Archive campaign, there was a series of three open afternoons from October to December. The first of these took place ahead of the 28th Wellington Lecture, delivered by Bernard Cornwell, and focused on the papers of the first Duke of Wellington. The following month’s event focused on health and welfare sources and included a talk by Dr Brenda Phillips discussing her research on the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley. The final Explore Your Archives event focused on the Arts – specifically music, theatre and the visual arts – and included a talk from Eloise Rose from the John Hansard Gallery.

Visitors at the Exploring the Wellington Archive event

Visitors at the Exploring the Wellington Archive event

2016 was a big year for the Arts in Southampton. Activities taking place at the University and across the city included the launch of Arts at University of Southampton; the coming of British Art Show 8 to the John Hansard Gallery and Southampton City Art Gallery; and the development of Studio 144, Southampton’s new arts complex in Guildhall Square. To mark the occasion, Special Collections also launched an online exhibition looking at some of the key developments in the history the Arts at the University.

As part of our ongoing outreach and student engagement activities Special Collections continued to hold a series of sessions for students eager to learn about our collections and services. In addition, a number of this year’s second year history group projects focused on subjects relating to the collections, including Jewish immigration, Catholic emancipation, the Duke of Wellington, the Mountbattens and the travels of William Mogg. The division was also involved in the Parkes Institute’s 1st International Workshop on Jewish Heritage which ran from 11 to 13 July.

Cataloguing material from the Broadlands archives

Cataloguing material from the Broadlands archives

Cataloguing continues to be a key activity of the Archives with cataloguing projects over the past year focusing on a broad range of material from across the collections. Blog posts highlighting recent cataloguing activities focus on Sir William Temple, Jewish Friendly Societies, Ian Karten, S.G.P. Ward and the Peninsular War, the Cope Handbills, the World Archaeological Congress, and the Programme for Promoting Nuclear Non-Proliferation.

Other blog posts from the past year mark a range of anniversaries which tied in with the collections. These including: the first flight of the Spitfire; the 1916 Easter Rising; the end of the Crimean War; the General Strike of 1926; the Battle of Jutland; the beginning of the Spanish Civil War; the Suez Crisis of 1956; and the Battle of Cable Street. 2016 also saw celebrations taking place across the country for the Queen’s 90th birthday; Shakespeare’s quarter-centenary; and the 300th birthday of Lancelot “Capability” Brown.

Hops and Hopping from the Perkins Agricultural Library

Hops and Hopping from the Perkins Agricultural Library

Material from Special Collections recently digitised by the Library Digitisation Unit include parts of the Perkins Agricultural Library and the Gladstone collection of music. Also digitised were audio recordings from the archive of Revd James Parkes which are now available to access in the Archives and Manuscripts reading room.

Additional activities during the year included the launch of the Special Collections Facebook page; filming material from the Mountbatten Papers for an upcoming documentary on 100 years of the Windsors; and providing photographs of material for Hull’s UK City of Culture 2017 celebrations.

2017 looks set to be another busy year. So keep an eye out for details of all upcoming Special Collections activities and events!

The Book The Object exhibition and private view

The Book The Object

This new exhibition in the Special Collections Gallery celebrates the culture, the manufacture and the artistry of the book, from the 15th to the 21st century.

It runs from 22 February – 18 March and 4 April – 27 May 2016 during which time the gallery is open weekdays 10am to 4pm.

A private view of the exhibition will take place on Thursday 25 February, 5pm – 7pm. All are welcome!

The private view will be held jointly with the exhibition Re: Making which runs from 15 February – 8 March 2016 in the Level 4 Gallery.

Re: Making is a documentary exhibition of three PhD seminars at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton.

For a campus map and information on parking see, please visit the University website.

Please note that visitors may be asked for proof of identity at the Library reception.