Scary Tales

In the words of her own grand-niece Rosalind Constable, Favell Lee Mortimer wrote “one of the most outspokenly sadistic children’s books ever written” [New Yorker, 1950 – subscription required], yet she topped the Victorian best-seller lists and was well-regarded as an educational author. Today is the 139th anniversary of her death, and the book referred …

It’s All Fun and Games

Did you play Snakes and Ladders, hopscotch and draughts as a child? The chances are you did, as did your grandparents, and possibly generations beyond that. These games are simple and fun, and for those reasons have become classic childhood staples. Many more games which have not survived the passage of time, for equally valid reasons. …

The Advantage of Fairy Tales

This is a guest post from Samina Rickards, a second year Classical Civilisation student. These past weeks I have been conducting a placement at Manuscripts and Special Collections, as part of the Nottingham Advantage Award’s ‘Experience Heritage’ module. In writing a blog post on my time here I wanted to highlight something I’d found interesting, …

Dark, Satanic Mills

In late January and throughout February 1828, readers of the radical newspaper The Lion were amongst the first to read excerpts from an astonishing memoir that would help change Victorian Britain’s textile industry, and possibly inspire one of the great works of English literature. A Memoir of Robert Blincoe was published in its entirety four years after …

One Born Every Minute

As William and Kate welcome their baby daughter into the world at the state-of-the-art private maternity ward The Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital, we had a look back through our collections to see what childbirth was like in the 17th and 18th centuries. Traditionally, pregnancy and birth were social and domestic occurrences, which predominantly …

“Macaroni looks like serpents”: A Victorian arm-chair traveller’s guide to Europe

“Superficial, incomplete, trifling! Such is the true character of this book. Inaccurate we hope it is not…the world, old as she is, would not sit still for her picture.” So begins the 1849 book ‘Near Home, or The Countries of Europe Described’ by Favell Lee Mortimer, nee Bevan (1802-1878). Now almost forgotten, Mortimer wrote 16 …

Rhymes and ‘Rithmetic

Earlier this month the Government announced that all children in England will be expected to know up to the 12 times table by the time they leave primary school at age 11. It has been touted as an old fashioned approach and a return to traditional educational values, so we thought we’d share with you some …

The Black Sheep

Whilst helping a visitor with an enquiry recently, I came across a slim pamphlet entitled “Young Delinquents in Nottingham” (Ref: Not 3. H40 NOT). The eye-catching cover features a series of caricatures of juvenile delinquents in a style more often associated with cartoons or parody. If criminals were as distinctive looking as some of these …

All Work and No Play

Students using the Business Library over the summer exam season may, whilst taking a small break from revising, have noticed the display has changed from the subject of electricity to one probably closer to their hearts: the harsh reality of working life (albeit for children in the 18th and 19th centuries).  The concept of childhood we have today is largely a modern …