Literature

Eliza Leslie: A Publishing Powerhouse
25 September 2020

This month we’ve been celebrating the release of two resources: Children’s Literature and Culture, and the second module of Food & Drink in History. I was lucky enough to work on commissioning documents for both titles, and one of the best parts of my job is making connections between our resources – connections across history.

It's September – Roll On Christmas!
09 September 2020

Even if you’ve never heard the term “Christmas creep”, chances are you’ll be familiar with the concept. September has only just begun and already you’re noticing Christmas-themed merchandise in the mall and on the outer fringes of the high street.

Excerpts of a young Baron’s travelogue: Byron and Hobhouse in Mediterranean Europe
28 August 2020

As the post-Covid news cycle regularly reminds us of travel corridors, quarantine requirements and localised lockdowns, I have begun to wonder if holidays have ever been so stressful. A browse of the travel manuscripts collected in Nineteenth Century Literary Society reminds me otherwise.

“In Serious Verse”: the politics and poetics of Caroline Norton’s A Voice from the Factories
26 August 2020

In a time when women could not govern democratically, Caroline Norton mobilised the power of poetry to mount political campaigns – and successfully reformed the legal rights of women in the process.

The Bard and the Badger: the story of a grain hoarder
21 August 2020

This Sunday, 23 August, marks five months since lockdown began here in the UK and, as restrictions slowly but steadily begin to ease, I’ve been reflecting on my lockdown experience.

Spenser's Brienne of Tarth
14 August 2020

The release date for Winds of Winter is still unknown, and Game of Thrones finally went down in (literal) flames last summer, but if you’re missing your annual dose of fierce queens, morose knights and fiery dragons, look no further than Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.

“A Solitary Discourse”?: The manuscript of Hester Pulter
02 July 2020

For my blog this week I decided to revisit one of my all-time favourite documents, MS Lt q 32 or Poems breathed forth by the nobel Hadassas, and The Unfortunate Florinda, by Lady Hesther Pulter, digitised in Adam Matthew's resource Literary Manuscripts Leeds. Probably written and compiled between 1645-1665, the manuscript appears to have laid largely unread until 1996, when it was discovered by Mark Robson during a digital cataloguing project at the Brotherton Library.

“Save the Amazing Scribbler!” Using primary sources in a library escape room game
01 July 2020

This special librarian guest blog was written by John Cosgrove and Johanna MacKay of Lucy Scribner Library at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.

What does a stuffed squirrel, an escape room and Adam Matthew’s Victorian Popular Culture have in common? At Skidmore College’s Lucy Scribner Library, we combined all three – and a scavenger hunt to boot – to provide a fun, interactive library orientation for First Year Experience students.

Early Reading Trends of the Second World War: An Industry Perspective
19 June 2020

Book Reading in War Time offers insights into the impact the first few months of the Second World War had on the book publishing industry, our libraries, and the books we were scrambling to read.

Fashioning the frontispiece: The role of clothing in the travel narratives of Isabella Bird
03 June 2020

This special guest blog was written by Edward Armston-Sheret and Innes M. Keighren of Royal Holloway, University of London, to celebrate the launch of Nineteenth Century Literary Society.

At first glance, Isabella Bird (1831–1904) was an unlikely candidate for the role of intrepid explorer. She stood just four feet eleven inches tall and, from a young age, suffered from a debilitating spinal condition that necessitated frequent periods of rest. Nevertheless, Bird travelled the globe, visiting - among other destinations - Hawaii, Japan, Korea and Tibet. In spanning the globe, and in challenging the physical limits of her body and societal expectations of her gender, Bird became one of the most celebrated 19th century women travellers and published numerous travel narratives with John Murray. While much has been written about Bird’s remarkable achievements as a traveller, comparatively less attention has been given to the role that dress played in how Bird chose to represent herself in her published accounts.

Unfamiliar Letters: Annotations in an Early Modern ‘Epistolary Novel’
20 May 2020

As an enthusiast of all things medieval and early modern, working on Adam Matthew’s newly-published resource, Early Modern England: Society, Culture and Everyday Life, 1500-1700, has been a wonderful experience. Among many personal highlights was the opportunity to visit the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and assess their collection of early modern printed books, thirty of which have been digitised for the resource. Many of these books are annotated, revealing much about how their readers engaged and interacted with their books.

Publishing history, or On the Origin of Pigeons
09 April 2020

Every day we live history, yet only very occasionally does it become apparent we are living through times that will one day be written into the history books. 

When hard-drinking former marine John McMurray invested his wife's fortune in a bookselling business in 1768, he could hardly have known he would be kickstarting a publishing dynasty that would span more than 200 years, countless bestsellers and seven generations - all named John. How could he possibly comprehend, then, the mark his fledgling business would leave on literary history?

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.

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.

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