Linda Smith Lecture 2018: Barry Cryer

May is always one of our favourite times of year here in Special Collections & Archives, not least because it heralds the annual Linda Smith Lecture.

Established in 2015, the Linda Smith Lecture is a celebration of comedian Linda Smith’s life and work, and examines the role of stand-up comedy in today’s society. We’ve had some fantastic guest speakers in the past, including Mark Thomas, Andy Hamilton and Susan Calman.

This year, we’re delighted to welcome Barry Cryer to the University to give the Lecture. A personal friend of Linda’s, Barry has contributed to this country’s entertainment industry for over 50 years. He has written for some of our highest rated shows and for many of our most popular comedians. His brilliant wit is still enjoyed by millions – in theatres, on television and radio, notably the iconic I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.

The Linda Smith Lecture takes place next Thursday (31st May) at 7.30pm and is held in the Gulbenkian Theatre on the University of Kent Canterbury Campus. Tickets cost £6, and we’d love to see you there – please book your place now!

If you want to find out more about our incredible Stand-Up Comedy collections, please visit our website, our Stand-Up Comedy Archive blog or listen to the (brilliant, in our entirely unbiased view) ‘A History of Comedy in Several Objects’ podcast.

Eight women in the archives for International Women’s Day 2018

Hello all! March has rolled around again, and now that the snow has melted we can turn our thoughts to the other key event of the month. March is Women’s History Month, and March 8 is International Women’s Day. The theme of this year’s Day is ‘Press for Progress’, which calls on us all to reduce economic, social and political barriers to gender inequality. With this in mind, we thought we’d have a quick look at some of the awesome women whose stories are part of Special Collections & Archives to see how they’ve broken down barriers for their generation and those who came after:

  • Martha A. Hall

MA Medical Humanities seminar using Artists Books, 2017. Martha A. Hall’s work ‘Five Doctors Speak’ is on the lower left.

Martha A. Hall (1949 – 2003) was a poet, teacher, businesswoman and artist based in New England. Hall began making artists’ books in 1996, when she realised that her breast cancer diagnosis could be explored and communicated through creative means. Hall’s work explores lived experiences of illness, and she left her books to public institutions in order to spark dialogue between patients and medical professionals, as well as allowing others to express their feelings around medicine, health and healing.

In 2016, Dr Stella Bolaki and Egidija Čiricaitė curated an exhibition of artists’ books, called Prescriptions, at The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge in Canterbury. The exhibition featured several of Hall’s works, as well as other books by artists exploring lived experiences of health. Many of these books (including two of Hall’s) have been deposited to Special Collections & Archives here at Kent.

Martha A. Hall’s books leave an extraordinary legacy, inspiring us to think about the relationship between our bodies, illness and the wider world. Not only does her art express how it feels to live with cancer, but it challenges notions of how narrative is told. You can find more information about Martha A. Hall here and discover Dr Stella Bolaki’s research project here.

  • Linda Smith

Linda Smith (1958 – 2006) was a comedian, writer and broadcaster best known for her work on radio shows ‘Just a Minute’ and ‘The News Quiz’. Born in Kent, her archive was deposited in Special Collections & Archives by her partner Warren Lakin in 2013 and is the founding collection of our British Stand-Up Comedy Archive. Smith’s archives give a unique insight into how stand-up comedy is created, recorded and promoted – and asks many questions of us in terms of how we collected and preserve material that is by its very nature ephemeral and improvised.

Every year, the University of Kent holds a lecture in memory of Linda Smith where we invite a guest to speak about comedy and its relation to social and political commentary. The event also celebrates Linda Smith’s life and work; previous events have featured Mark Thomas, Andy Hamilton and Susan Calman. Stay tuned for details of this year’s speaker!

  • Nowell Johnson

CH6422: Black and white print of Hewlett and Nowell Johnson at the Peking Dance School, China 1964.

Nowell Mary Edwards Johnson (1906 – 1983) was a Canterbury-based artist. She is most well known as the wife of the ‘Red Dean’ of Canterbury Cathedral, Hewlett Johnson, whom she married in 1938.

Nowell supported Hewlett’s passion for socialism, illustrating books with him (‘The Socialist Sixth of the World’, 1939) and travelling to many communist countries. Her diaries, which are held in Special Collections & Archives as part of the Hewlett Johnson papers, give a fascinating account of her travels to China, Hungary and Russia as she records in great detail her activities, the people she met, and the countries themselves. Nowell’s diaries are also beautifully illustrated – often in colour – as she draws scenes from her travels. You can see her determination to support Hewlett as well as her compassion for others and desire to make a genuine difference in the world.

Read more about Nowell’s life here and find out more information about the Hewlett Johnson papers on our website.

  • Valerie Eliot

Valerie Eliot (1926 – 2012) was hugely influential in editing and publishing her late husband T.S. Eliot’s work after his death in 1965. Valerie had been a huge fan of T.S. Eliot’s writing since she was a teenager (there was an almost 40 year age gap between the couple) and was determined to work with him. After T.S. Eliot died, Valerie inherited his shares in the publisher Faber and Faber and edited the 1974 facsimile edition of ‘The Waste Land’, which includes poet Ezra Pound’s annotations to Eliot’s manuscript.

Our Modern Firsts – Poetry and Prose Collection includes many pamphlets of poetry from small presses which have been purchased thanks to a donation by Valerie Eliot. Eliot College on campus is, of course, named after T.S. Eliot and the University was lucky enough to benefit from Valerie’s philanthropy (including a bust of T.S. Eliot by Jacob Epstein) up until her death in 2012. Valerie Eliot’s work in securing her husband’s legacy is vital, but her generous gifts to the University have made a lifetime impact.

  • Catherine Crowe

F191840 – Cover of ‘The Night-Side of Nature’ by Catherine Crowe

Catherine Crowe (1790 – 1872) was a Kent-based author who spent a portion of her life in Edinburgh. Crowe’s fame was established through the publication of ‘The Adventures of Susan Hopley’ (1841, turned into a play in the same year) but it is her later supernatural work that’s garnered long-term recognition, particularly the novel ‘The Night-Side of Nature’ (1848). Crowe had a breakdown in 1854, and after this her creative output was little; however, she was one of the most popular Victorian writers during her life, and it’s a great shame she’s not been recognised widely since.

The University of Kent holds one of the few archives of material relating to Crowe; our Catherine Crowe Collection consists of material relating to Crowe collected by the researcher Geoffrey Larken. Larken wrote a draft autobiography of Crowe as a result of his research, but couldn’t find a publisher for it. In a typical archive twist, it’s now one of the most frequently asked-for items in our collections, with researchers travelling across the world to see it.

  • Flo (Andy Capp cartoons)

AC3803: ” ‘e’s the sort of bloke you want to bring ‘ome to ‘is mother”, 10 May 1970, Reg Smythe for the Daily Mirror

What would a list of SC&A women be without mentioning Reg Smythe’s eponymous long suffering character Flo, wife of the eternally lazy Andy Capp? Flo and Andy are part of one of the most popular British comic strips of all time; it’s been running in the Daily Mirror since 1957. Even though creator Reg Smythe died in 1998, artist Reg Mahoney has taken over as artist. Living in Hartlepool, Andy and Flo are working-class characters. Although there’s debate over how they represent stereotypes of everyday people (Andy doesn’t work and prefers to spend all his time in the pub), the strip has been hugely popular both in the UK and across the world.

The British Cartoon Archive holds over 4600 Andy Capp artworks, which are requested regularly for exhibition across the UK and world. There was even a musical version of Andy and Flo’s adventures, which was revived in 2016.

  • Lynne Parker (founder of the Funny Women comedy community)

Funny Women Awards 2016 poster

In 2002, Lynne Parker established the Funny Women comedy group, which aimed to support and celebrate women working in comedy. The group runs workshops, networking events, comedy classes/open mic nights, and an awards ceremony every year. If you’ve heard of Bridget Christie, Susan Calman, Katherine Ryan, Andi Osho, Kerry Godliman, Sara Pascoe, Zoe Lyons, Roisin Conaty, Holly Walsh or Sarah Millican then Funny Women has done its work – it has supported all of those comedians, plus many more.

In 2016 Lynne donated material relating to the Funny Women community to the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive; it was catalogued last summer and everyone is welcome to view it. Lynne has also been a guest on our Stand-Up Comedy podcast discussing the work of Funny Women, so give it a listen!

  • Modern poetry and Crater Press writers

Anne Carson, Nox

Crater Press – Borthwick Riot Calendar

Verity Spott: Kate’s Dream Diamond Anti-Fatigue Matting Surface

There are so many fantastic women poets in our Modern Firsts Poetry collections, it’s impossible to pick just one out. We could focus on famous writers such as Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf or more contemporary poets like Denise Riley. We could look at the revolutionary, intersectional verse of Audre Lorde. We could discuss the political-personal work of Grace Lake or the genre-defying literature of Anne Carson. We could also look at the role smaller printing presses, like the Crater Press, have in disseminating women’s writing and the space it creates for new dialogues. Instead, however, how about you come in and explore these wonderful writers?

Other utterly fantastic women in the archives include: Josie Long (stand-up comedian), Grizelda (cartoonist), Nina Boucicault (actress), the many women of the Melville dynasty, Monica Bobinska (involved in the Meccano Club) and, of course, the many many actresses in our theatre collections. As ever, do get in touch if you’d like to know more or visit us. Happy International Women’s Day! 

Martin Stiles Comedy Collection

Jon Shepherd, Assistant Archivist, writes about a new collection to the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive, the Martin Stiles Comedy Collection:

Alternative comedy: a style of comedy that rejects established stereotypes (especially racist or sexist) and often containing a political component.

In the 1970s traditional club comedians of the time often relied on jokes targeting women and minorities. A dislike of this led a group of performers at London’s Comedy Store to begin to pioneer an approach in opposition to the mainstream of British comedy.  It eschewed a reliance on a standardised structure of a sequence of jokes and punchlines, tending instead to be somewhat more free-form.  What resulted was more akin to comedy’s answer to punk.

Martin Stiles was and no doubt still is a keen fan of comedy.  He spent many years as a devoted follower of live stand-up, and both radio and tv comedy shows.  This led him to do two things.  Firstly, he created a detailed comedy index of comedians, producers and writers.  For each he listed the individual’s tv and radio comedy credits, often including the relevant year of transmission for each.  Secondly, he assembled a wonderfully impressive collection of comedy scrapbooks.  Stiles attended as a member of the audience the recording at the Paris Studio in Lower Regent Street, London of a vast array of comedy shows.  This he did several times a month, sometimes several times a week!  Each scrapbook includes newspaper cuttings, many from the Radio and TV Times, tickets for the shows and flyers sent out by the ticket unit to promote the recordings of the shows.  Some of these items are autographed by the performers featured.  The shows involved include many famous programmes such as Red Dwarf, The Mary Whitehouse Experience, Whose Line is it Anyway, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue and Knowing Me Knowing You…With Alan Partridge.  Many were pilots and by necessity includes some shows which didn’t make it beyond the pilot stage.

Martin Stiles comedy scrapbooks

This methodically assembled collection reads like a who’s who not just of British comedy from this delightful period of change but also more generally of British cinema, theatre and public life then and now.  Casual fans and aficionados of the following performers may be interested in the collection; Stephen Fry, Rowan Atkinson, Robbie Coltrane, French and Saunders, Tony Robinson , Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, Hugh Laurie, Lenny Henry, Ben Elton, Harry Enfield, Harry Hill, Paul Merton, Rory Bremner, Adrian Edmonson, Rik Mayle, Nigel Planer, Jonathan Ross, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Bill Oddie, John Cleese, Alexei Sayle, Jack Dee, Victoria Wood, Julie Walters, Mel Smith, Griff Rhys Jones, Ruby Wax, Tracey Ullman, Mark Steel, Jasper Carrott, Floella Benjamin, Humphrey Lyttleton, Clive Anderson, Robert Llewellyn, Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Graeme Garden, Roy Hudd, June Whitfield, Leslie Phillips, Shane Richie, Jim Broadbent, Andrew Sachs, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, Peter Capaldi, Eddie Izzard, Geoffrey Perkins, Rupert Graves, Patricia Routledge, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Frank Skinner, David Jason, Sandi Toksvig, Ronnie Barker, Douglas Adam, Bob Geldof, Kenneth Williams, Wendy Richard, Martin Clunes, Danny Baker, Ulrika Jonsson, Morecambe and Wise, Meera Sya, Frankie Howerd, Les Dawson, Noddy Holder and many, many  more…

Items from the Martin Stiles Comedy Collection

If you fancy delving back into the fascinating world of comedy of the late 80s and early 90s then please contact us on specialcollections@kent.ac.uk or +44 (0)1227 82 3127.

Martin Stiles Comedy Card index

Special Collections & Archives 2016: our highlights

With winter frost beginning to appear around campus, the wonderful end of term carol service just around the corner, festive activities everywhere and our Reading Room winter closure dates announced, it seems the end of 2016 is in sight at last. With this in mind, we thought we’d take a look back over our year as a team and share some of our favourite highlights with you all!

2016 has been a big year for Special Collections & Archives: we’re still amidst the ongoing Templeman Library refurbishment, but we’re settling into our new home in the shiny West extension well. We’ve seen launches of a new website for the British Cartoon Archive, and the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive got its collections out to the world online too. We launched our Instagram account, welcomed hundreds of you into our Reading Rooms and got involved with several exhibitions along the way. It’s no surprise that this year has really flown by for us – but there are many events we’ll remember well into the future:

Opening night of the DR575 Victorian Theatre exhibition, April 2016

Rachel (Special Collections & Metadata Library Assistant): “On Wednesday 6th April the yearly exhibition by Kent second year students on the British Theatre History module launched. Whilst this has been an annual event for several years, this time the students faced a bigger challenge than ever: the size of the Templeman exhibition space. This was only the second exhibition in the new space, and was more than twice the size of spaces used in the past! The students rose to the challenge admirably, and created a very successful and effective exhibition on Women on Stage and in Society : 1850-1915.”

Andy Capp and his wife Flo give as good as they get! AC3414, December 1969, British Cartoon Archive

Mandy (Digital Imaging Assistant): “I’ve been scanning material from the British Cartoon Archive so everyone can view it online. I’ve enjoyed seeing how funny the Andy Capp pictures were, and how things have changed as regards to how women were seen. I also got to catalogue some vinyl records – it was like going back in time! Getting them out of the cardboard sleeves with the A and B sides.”

Andy Hamilton talking at the Gulbenkian Theatre on campus, May 2016

Elspeth (Assistant Curator – Special Collections & Archives): “My highlight of the year would be the 2016 Linda Smith Lecture, the second annual lecture which is intended to celebrate comedy and its use in, and for, political and social comment (as well as to promote the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive).  In May 2016 the lecture was given by Andy Hamilton. Andy is a comedian and comedy writer for radio and TV (and well known for regular appearances on topical and panel shows).

Andy covered a number of topics in his lecture, entitled ‘A Life in Comedy (and the Comedy in Life)’, including his career in comedy and the social importance of comedy. The lecture was audio recorded and can be accessed at the University’s Special Collections & Archives.  Keep tuned for news about the 2017 guest lecturer!”

Clockwise from top left: – Illumination from 15thC Book of Hours. The skull begins The office of the dead [Officium Mortuorum, Officium Defunctorum or Vigiliae mortuorum] – Illuminated manuscript leaf from 15thC Fragment of Psalter and Kalender mss – Decorated letter from 12th century De consensu Evangelistarum by Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo – Josie talking about the collection at a public exhibition at Drill Hall Library in March 2016

Josie (Metadata Assistant and Rochester Cathedral Cataloguer):“Looking back at 2016 my fondest memory has been the opportunity I have had to catalogue the extraordinary collection from Rochester Cathedral Library.  My involvement with the project grew to be more than I imagined it could be, giving me the opportunity to build new relationships and  be part of the legacy of a beautiful, rare and culturally significant collection.”

Outreach posters, learning guides, feedback and groups

Clockwise from top left: Promotional posters, learning resource leaflets, group vists in action, and feedback post-its!

Joanna (Senior Library Assistant – Special Collections & Archives): “I’ve loved getting to know the wonderful collections we have here through running many teaching and outreach sessions. This year, we’ve hosted groups ranging from year 10 school students from Folkestone and Maidstone through to postgraduates at the University. The material we’ve used has spanned a huge variety of themes, including the First World War, Shakespeare and Early Modern playwrights, the history of comic strips, peace treaties, stand up comedy, Victorian theatre, local history and curation. We’ve been trying to integrate more material from the fantastic British Cartoon Archive into our sessions, and it’s always been a huge success! We’ve also been developing lesson guides so students have something to take away with them, and I hope we can develop our outreach even more next year.”

melissas-favourites

Clockwise from top left: Tavener Bible (1549, SC&A); illuminated leaf from Fragments of Psalter and Kalendar (c. 15th Century, Rochester Cathedral Library); A Display of Heraldry (1679, SC&A); Soliloquium de quatuor mentalibus exercitiis (c. 14th Century, Rochester Cathedral Library); Wingham and Chatham Dockyard indentures (c. 14th century, SC&A); A topographical map of the county of Kent (1769, Rochester Cathedral Library)

Melissa (Head of Academic Liaison): “Whilst it would be difficult to single one memory out, it would have to be viewing the collections themselves. Having the opportunity to engage with the wonderful, diverse and rich materials as part of the exhibitions and displays hosted by SC&A is a fabulously rewarding experience.

The collections do truly speak for themselves but this year, probably the stand out moment for me was when we were able to showcase some of the Rochester Cathedral collections alongside some of our own collections as part of the summer Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies Festival . This rare opportunity to engage with some of the highlights from the Rochester Cathedral collections, following our cataloguing project we have undertaken with them, was not to be missed. I am particularly drawn to old maps and rich imagery and I captured some of my favourite materials from the exhibition. I am therefore letting the photographs do the talking!”

Jane in her element – with rare books!

Jane (Humanities Liaison Libarian): “Although I have spent most of this year out of Special Collections, on a secondment as Liaison Librarian for Humanities, I’ve still been lucky enough to be involved. Back in January, I found myself starring (rather unexpectedly) alongside materials and academics in a promotional video for new modules running in the School of History and CompLit – my hands and skill at nodding are now out there on the web! It’s also been great to link up with the Marlowe Society and to be asked to take care of the two volume copy of Holinshed from the 16thC. This chronicle is believed to be the key source for both Shakespeare and Marlowe when they were writing their history plays, so an excellent addition to our Early Modern and theatre expertise.

Over in my new role, I’ve been delighted to help bring the wide range of collections to the notice of researchers and learners, particularly planning ahead for new courses and new interaction in the years to come. With such an array of exciting materials, I’ve no doubt that Special Collections & Archives will be engaging all kinds of researchers next year.”

Building of Rutherford College, October 1966

Building of Rutherford College, October 1966

Ann (University Archivist): “I found 2016 a particularly exciting year, in which we celebrated 50 years since the opening of Rutherford college in 1966 and the second intake of University of Kent students. The history of the University of Kent, and the inspirational tales of some of Kent’s alumni, were celebrated in the BBC South East documentary ‘Living in ’66 – The Education Revolution’. Back to the present day, in 2016, I have been privileged to preserve the history of an institution that is so proud of its place within Europe, and still says very loudly that we are the UK’s European University. Special Collections & Archives serves both local and international communities, and in 2017 I will really look forward to seeing how we can engage new audiences in the fascinating pasts that we hold.”

We can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for us! What are your favourite archival memories of this year?

From all the team in Special Collections & Archives, have a very merry festive season and we look forward to seeing you all in the new year!

Five Fascinating Artefacts

Work placement volunteer, Ellis Spicer, explores the new exhibition in the new library:

It’s already been an action-packed 2016 for the Special Collections and Archives at the University of Kent’s Templeman Library. Their ‘Comedy on Stage and Page’ exhibition is up and ready for perusal displayed in the newly built Templeman West Wing on Level 1 of the library. This exhibition embodies the crossover between the British Cartoon Archive and Stand-Up Comedy Archive, founded forty years apart but very much complementary to each other.

Throughout my time browsing the exhibition, my favourites began to emerge. You may agree, you may disagree. The exhibition features treasures from the collections at Kent, so come along to choose your favourites too!

  1. ‘The Young Ones’ Script, Alexie Sayle Collection

Ellen 1

My first favourite from the exhibition was Alexei Sayle’s script from episode 3 of the second and final series of the Young Ones. For me, this stood out as an item in the collection due to its personalised nature of what seems to be a generic script. This script reveals Sayle’s expressive, cursive handwriting and an absent-minded doodle of a car. It’s nice to know that even the rich and famous still get bored and doodle, whilst referring to themselves as Señor.

2. Bomber Blair, Leon Kuhn Collection

Ellen 4Ellen 2Ellen 3

My second favourite item from the exhibition is an image of Tony Blair that changes depending on the angle you look at it (for photos of different angles see below). I felt the poignant message that the artist, Leon Kuhn, was trying to portray about Blair’s foreign policy, especially once you know how anti-war the artist himself was. The collage style itself is also fascinating and really stood out for me, and the view from different angles resonated with me as the different angles such a complex situation can be looked at.

3. Tory Toff Speak (with subtitles), Chris Riddell (British Cartoon Archive)

Ellen 5,

My third favourite item from the exhibition was the image ‘Tory Toff Speak’ with subtitles, featuring David Cameron and Boris Johnson. Parliamentary talk in debates is notoriously ridden with euphemisms due to MP’s potentially being ejected from debates for ‘unparliamentary language’. This image shows a ‘translation’ of that euphemistic dialogue.

4. Rendezvous, David Low (British Cartoon Archive)

Ellen 6

My fourth favourite item from the exhibition resonated with me due to my background as a History MA student specialising in the Second World War. Here Hitler and Stalin greet each other rather cordially, ‘doffing their caps’ to each other in a sign of deference. The two extreme political leaders greet each other politely yet their words disagree. Overall I feel the suggestion that the artists wonders whether the two polar opposite ideological leaders are that different at all….

5. Votes and violence, W.K Haselden (British Cartoon Archive)

Ellen 7

My last favourite item from the exhibition is a Suffragette cartoon by artist W.K.Haselden from 1909. It suggests that militant suffragette activities was not going to be successful, and that violence could not win the vote. With hindsight, women’s wartime contribution has been argued to be more influential, and I found it interesting how hindsight connected with the past views.

Overall, an intriguing exhibition that I thoroughly recommend you see for yourself on Level 1 of the West Wing of the Templeman Library.

Written by Ellis Spicer, student work placement in Special Collections and Archives.