The Editor's Choice

Welcome to the blog of the editorial team at Adam Matthew Digital. Here we will bring you snippets from the fascinating collections we have the privilege of handling on a daily basis, as well as posts about our travels to various archives and conferences across the world.

Also featured are special guest blogs by leading academics on their personal collection highlights. Please subscribe to recieve new blog posts direct to your inbox.

Rivals on the Rocks: a scientific saga of the eighteenth-century stage
21 February 2020

Based on the 13th-century Icelandic saga Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu, Sir George Mackenzie's The Rival Minstrels featured two poets competing for the hand of the most beautiful woman in Iceland, otherwise known as Helga the Fair. This drama, however, was about to be overshadowed by the eruption of a scientific debate which would play itself out on the eighteenth-century stage.

Love in a ‘green old age’: the octogenarian romance of Mrs Piozzi
14 February 2020

Writers in the long eighteenth century were not kind to the elderly; in a culture fond of classical learning, age – particularly the age of a woman – was often euphemised with Ciceronian nature metaphors. A young woman was in flower-like bloom, bright and beautiful, while an elderly woman was considered to have wilted and faded away. However, many women resisted this trope, rebelling against it as they aged through a sheer refusal to wilt. One such woman is the remarkable Hester Piozzi, who proves to us all that there’s no such thing as too old for romance.

Changing Nations: The formation of Malaysia, 1963
06 February 2020

On 16th September 1963, Prime Minister of Malaya Tunku Abdul Rahman declared the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, joining Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah. Indonesian leader Sukarno strongly opposed this union, resulting in the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation, or ‘Konfrontasi’.

Brass Orchids: Sex and Relationships in Samuel R. Delany
31 January 2020
This January marked the 45th anniversary of Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany’s science-fiction masterpiece telling the story of ‘the Kid’, an amnesiac author lost in the terrifyingly surreal city of Bellona. Sexuality, relationships and sex are central to the narrative of Dhalgren and Delany’s other fiction; and the recent publication of Sex and Sexuality inspired me to write today about this most intriguing of classic science-fiction authors.
From Vegetarianism to Veganuary: January’s not so recent trend
24 January 2020

Mid-January is often regarded as the most miserable time of the year. The indulgences of Christmas have passed, everyone is skint and Dry January is in full swing. In recent years, the UK has witnessed a growing trend towards ‘Veganuary’ for both ethical and environmental reasons.

A Taste of Chocolate's History
23 January 2020

Guest author Dr Beth Forrest explores the primary sources digitised in Adam Matthew’s Food and Drink in History resource, looking at how cultural attitudes towards chocolate have evolved over time.

Astrology and stickers as weapons of war
17 January 2020

When looking through files concerning the Special Operations Executive's activities in western Europe, digitally re-published this week as part of our Research Source resource World War Two Studies, I was struck by the sheer variety of work in which it engaged. Along with the expected documents concerning sabotage missions, arms shipments to resistance movements, armistice terms, and relations with other intelligence agencies (and also missions named after a surprising array of vegetables) are files on the distribution of a wide range of propaganda materials.

The Transformative Nature of Vampirism: Two Centuries of Gothic Characterisation
10 January 2020

The legacy of the vampire character is a revealing case study, tracing the ways in which tropes and genres are influenced by societal changes and cultural trends throughout history. Adam Matthew’s Victorian Popular Culture resource provides an insight into how the characterisation of vampires has evolved over the last two centuries.

Beyond the Birds and the Bees: A reflection on Adam Matthew’s Sex & Sexuality resource
08 January 2020

In a world where Love Island shenanigans and “celebrity” sex exposés dominate headlines, and where “Netflix and Chill” requires no explanation, it’s difficult to imagine that the “Birds and the Bees” conversation continues to stand the test of time.

Meet Me at the Fair: A Christmas Controversy
20 December 2019

At Adam Matthew headquarters, the annual debate over what constitutes a Christmas film has been raging. Does it have to be Christmas throughout the narrative? Does Christmas have to be integral to the plot? Does Die Hard count? Vincente Minnelli’s 1944 musical Meet Me in St Louis is a personal favourite, but one that I have struggled to convince my Editorial colleagues is a bone fide Christmas classic, taking place as it does throughout a whole year, but featuring Judy Garland’s iconic and undeniable rendition of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'.

Human Rights and the Rights of Women
06 December 2019

December 10 is Human Rights Day; it celebrates the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations. Certain to find a grand celebration of the Declaration I delved into our resources but was instead side-tracked by a page from "Union Jack" in Service Newspapers of World War Two.

Publishing the Archive: a launch celebration at the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive
02 December 2019

As Development Editor for Ethnomusicology: Global Field Recordings, I was fortunate to attend recent events celebrating the launch of our online resource at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

Hope and Empire Building: Prester John and the Mongols
29 November 2019

Prester John, the fictional Asian Christian ruler, dwelt within the western medieval psyche for centuries and features heavily in Medieval Travel Writing. He is the subject of numerous letters and as an artistic subject of the period. How, when there was so little physical evidence for his existence, did his legend persist?

The Queen, The Crown and Mass Observation
21 November 2019

What did the British public think of the Royal Family in 1966? As Olivia Colman takes over the role of Queen Elizabeth II from Claire Foy in the new season of The Crown, documents from Mass Observation Online show how the public viewed their monarch's transition to middle age.

Way out West but still in frame
11 November 2019

With the focus of a new semester, it’s always an exciting time to hit the road and talk to academics across the country about all things humanities and social sciences. The fact that it’s also conference season again means I have the privilege of exposure to fascinating lectures, great conversations with the academic community, and the opportunity to share the latest news from Adam Matthew Digital.

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