Are you smarter than a 19th century 10 year old?

“My first is to ramble, my next to retreat; my whole oft enrages in summer’s fierce heat”. Any suggestions? This word puzzle sounds like a cryptic crossword clue but it’s actually a fun puzzle for children.  The answer is at the bottom of the post, but if you didn’t solve that one, try this: “Without …

Birds of America: Flights of Fancy

There are only 120 copies of Audubon’s ‘Birds of America’ known to survive, the vast majority in university or other public libraries. Different editions occupy multiple places in top 10 lists of the most expensive books ever sold. The 4th Duke of Portland, whose archive we hold, owned a complete copy of the first edition, …

World Book Day 2021

Happy World Book Day! None of the staff here fancied dressing up (we can’t all wear a dressing gown and pretend to be Arthur Dent) so instead we’ve picked out a few of our favourite books from our collections. Abigail (Document Production Assistant) chose what we refer to as the Poisons Scrapbooks: a set of …

Simple Medicine

Post by Library Assistant Safiya Williams. There is a great pleasure, and sometimes amusement, in reading through old texts that cover topics of the human body and cures for its many ailments. Books on herbalism and herbal remedies give us an idea of those who came before us – without the support of modern medicine, …

Microscopy

Post by Ursula Ackrill, Special Collections Librarian. “It seemed to me,” said Swammer, coming close to Peregrine, “it seemed to me, my dear Mr. Tyss, as if a flea were on your collar.” Peregrine Tyss, the protagonist of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s humorous fantasy novel ‘Master Flea’ (1822), does keep the company of a friendly …

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

In the 17th and 18th centuries, a time before Instagram, National Geographic, or even David Attenborough, there was great interest amongst Europeans in the animals which roamed distant realms. These fantastic beasts were eagerly read about in publications written by explorers brave enough to adventure to far-off lands, with detailed engravings made from eye-witness accounts …

The Cold War in the Cold Store

In the week before Christmas Manuscripts and Special Collections’ staff carried out an internal relocation of material and repackaging exercise that involved the entire section. To make this happen we decided to close the library to the public, freeing all staff to work in the library’s archival store. That week we donned warm layers and …

Meet our German manuscripts and Special Collections

Have you ever wondered what DIY books were available to borrow from an East German public library? Is the distribution of pigs in 1930s Germany a persistent niggling gap in your knowledge? Do you worry that when the 18th century dispute between the Houses of Hesse-Homburg and Hesse-Darmstadt comes up in casual conversation, you won’t …

The Canterbury Tales

Geoffrey Chaucer (1340s – 25 October 1400) is widely considered the greatest English poet and author of the Middle Ages. He played a significant role in legitimising the use of the Middle English vernacular in literary works in an age when many authors in England wrote in French and Latin. He died in 1400 and …

Mapping Modules

This is a guest post by Sasha Gardner, undergraduate student undertaking a placement to identify rare books and archives useful for students taking modules in Classics and English. As a first-year English student, discovering the vast array of books and journals available at Hallward and other libraries on campus was an exciting moment. But many …