Snow in the archives: exploring the big freeze throughout our collections

Hello from a very wintery Canterbury! The SC&A team have been battling up the hill this week as 2018’s infamous ‘Beast From The East’ lands upon Kent.

Inevitably, this cold weather got us thinking about how snow has been represented throughout history, and it’s almost no surprise that the British fascination with bad weather spreads its icy tendrils through our collections (not literally, though!)…

Special Collections & Archives is known for our extensive archives of windmill photos from the 20th century, particularly the collections of the Muggeridges and C.P. Davies. Here, Muggeridge finds the ideal winter shot: a model of a post mill in Sussex that’s mostly buried by the white stuff…

UKC-MIL-MUG-BW.540246, ‘Black and white negative and print made from it of a model of a post mill with roundhouse in Outwood, Surrey, in Camelsdale, Sussex, taken on 22nd December 1938, showing a side view covered with snow’, Muggeridge Collections

Our Modern Firsts collection of poetry contains verses in almost every format and theme imaginable, and it’s there that some of the most interesting ideas about weather come to light. In his 1997 work ‘Snow has settled (…) bury me here’, Peter Riley explores memories of place from a starting point of cold weather. The way that snow changes landscapes so completely is simulataneously refreshing, exciting and alien. Snow is also (in Britain at least) a hugely memorable event: we can all recall snow days, which are increasingly rare, particularly when we were young.

MOR.I526 POETRY (057119600), Peter Riley: ‘Snow has settled (…) bury me here’, 1997, Shearsman Books

MOR.I526 POETRY (057119600), Peter Riley: 'Snow has settled (...) bury me here', 1997, Shearsman Books

MOR.I526 POETRY (057119600), Peter Riley: ‘Snow has settled (…) bury me here’, 1997, Shearsman Books

The dramatic elements of cold are frequently used in fiction to express mood, so it’s no surprise that the shock of the snow is also popular for playwrights. In 1862, Bristol’s Theatre Royal put on a multi-show performance that included an entertainment called ‘The Angel of Midnight, or, the Duel in the Snow’ set in Munich in 1750:

UKC-POS-BRSROY.0592650: Playbill advertising PEEP O’DAY and THE ANGEL OF MIDNIGHT at the Theatre Royal, Bristol, 21 April 1862

Our Pettingell collection is full of popular entertainments and melodramas from the Victorian era – you can see from the scripts why winter weather was a popular theme for audiences. Through the magic of scenery, audiences could be transported to far-off places like Russia or the Alps, where the characters were less familiar but the villains remained the same:

PETT B.53 SPEC COLL (059016100), 'The snow storm; or, Lowina of Tobolskow : a melodramatick romance', W. Barrymore, 1818

PETT B.53 SPEC COLL (059016100), ‘The snow storm; or, Lowina of Tobolskow : a melodramatick romance’, W. Barrymore, 1818

The Victorians were well known for developing stage effects. The lure of seeing spectacles frequently drew crowds to theatres long before movies, TV and the internet. What could be more exciting than seeing an avalanche live on stage?

PETT MSS.U.10 SPEC COLL (059872400), ‘Under the snow: in three acts’, J.C. Griffiths, 1877

PETT MSS.U.10 SPEC COLL (059872400), 'Under the snow: in three acts', J.C. Griffiths, 1877

PETT MSS.U.10 SPEC COLL (059872400), ‘Under the snow: in three acts’, J.C. Griffiths, 1877

PETT MSS.U.10 SPEC COLL (059872400), ‘Under the snow: in three acts’, J.C. Griffiths, 1877

Cartoonists, too, can use the weather to reflect goings-on in society. In 2016, Brian Adcock imagined what a certain blonde Republican presidential candidate would have to say…

BAD0244, ‘”If I was president I would have a total and compete shutdown of snow entering the United States”‘, 25 Jan 2016, The Independent

Because we all need a laugh more than ever when struggling with leaving the house, the job of a cartoonist becomes vital during the winter months. In the digital age, it’s probably easier for artists to email scans of their work in, but before that – spare a thought for Carl Giles:

GAPH00137, Black and white photo of Giles in the snow at Hillbrow Farm handing packaged artwork to helicopter pilot [Rob Flexman of Aeromega Helicopters], 17 Jan 1987, Express Newspapers

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we leave the job of summing up our feelings towards snow to the early 20th century cartoonist W.K. Haselden: it’s mighty pretty to look at but perhaps slightly less fun when we get stuck in it – literally…

WH2559: ‘Snow in poetry and reality’, 18 Jan 1926, Daily Mirror

All snow-related material described here can be found through either LibrarySearch, the Special Collections & Archives website or the British Cartoon Archive catalogue; all are welcome to come and explore weather-related adventures in our snow-free Reading Room.

You’re invited to the launch of ‘Sex, Death and Panto’!

The end of the Spring Term is finally upon us (farewell deadlines; hello chocolate) and with that brings the annual launch of the DR575: Victorian and Edwardian Theatre exhibition, which is being held tomorrow (5th April) at 4.30pm.

This is the second year in a row that our second-year Drama and Theatre Undergraduates have had the challenge of designing an exhibition to fit in the new Templeman Library Gallery space as part of their final assignments. This year, the students have split into two groups looking at very different topics:

Group one: Crime, Scandal and Theatre

The Victorian fascination with the gothic and macabre was a key feature of 19th century society. But when scandalous crimes – like the Jack the Ripper murders – became all too real on the streets of London, how did playwrights reflect the concerns of their audiences? This exhibition will focus on several sensations of the period and explore how the theatrical world reacted. This topic has never been explored as part of this module before, and we can’t wait to see what our students come up with.

Group two: Drury Lane Pantomime of the Late Nineteenth Century

The Theatre Royal at Drury Lane stands on the oldest site of a theatre in London. The 1812 building that stands today is the fourth theatre erected there, and it has a rich history. This exhibition will explore how Augustus Harris’ management in the late 19th century changed the fortunes of the Theatre for the better – and, in particular, how Harris’ role in establishing the Pantomime tradition. It will explore the roles of actors and actresses working at the theatre through analysing material held in Special Collections & Archives.

The Victorian and Edwardian theatre module is always a highlight of the Special Collections & Archives team’s year; this time you’ll also be able to take a look back at past exhibitions to see how far the course has developed. Come along, have a drink and discover how fantastic an insight into Victorian Britain (and beyond) our wonderful theatre collections can provide!

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!

Putting Faces to Names : Haselden’s Theatrical Cartoons

Recently I’ve been working on a collection of Punch cartoons by W.K. Haselden. The British Cartoon Archive has hundreds of cartoons by Haselden, and he is one of the most recognizable cartoonists of the early 20th century. His theatrical cartoons appeared in the ‘At the Play’ (or occasionally ‘At the Movies’ and ‘At the Revue’) section of Punch, and span a good twenty five years from the early 1910s. They feature many recognizable names and here I bring you a selection of my favourites.

Some hefty tomes

Some hefty tomes

This work has required a lot of research on my part, as I try to identify and create records for the people portrayed in the cartoons. I have met hundreds of actors and actresses along the way, often with the help of the books you can see on the right. Some of my favourite names include Beppie de Vries, Norman V. Norman and Beatrice Appleyard. Here I present to you some more familiar names I came across as I catalogued the collection.

Dame Sybil Thorndike

Sybil Thorndike was born in the late 19th century, and she’s a local girl. Whilst she was born in Lincolnshire, her brother (also an actor, although perhaps more well known as an author) Russell was born down the road in Rochester, where their father was a canon at the cathedral. Sybil attended Rochester Grammar School for Girls, and is probably their most well-known pupil. She was most famous as a theatre actress, and was so well known in her day that she was in the ‘Black Book’ of people to be arrested if the Nazis ever invaded Britain!

Sybil Thorndike in "St. Joan" - a role created for her by George Bernard Shaw

Sybil Thorndike in “St. Joan” – a role created for her by George Bernard Shaw

 

The Medea

The Medea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Laurie

John Laurie is perhaps most remembered for his part in Dad’s Army, as my favourite character Frazer, but this was by no means his most significant role. He was also a part of hit Sixties shows The Avengers and The Ken Dodd Show, and appeared often on stage, particularly in Shakespeare, including Hamlet, Richard III and Macbeth. According to IMDB, he appeared in 161 acting roles on film and TV in his long career. He even appeared in a Disney movie, their 1950 rendition of Treasure Island.

Old King Cole

Old King Cole

Dion Boucicault

It was particularly pleasing to come across cartoons of Dion Boucicault as I catalogued, as we hold a Boucicault Collection here at Kent. These are two different Dion Boucicaults, our collection being about the father of the man in the cartoons. This is quite confusing, and completely unnecessary, as in reality the two of them had completely different names! Whilst he was known as an actor, he was also a theatre manager, and had particular success with the premiere of a little known play, one Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. It was Dion’s sister, Nina Boucicault, who was the first actress to ever play Peter Pan.

Nina Boucicault (Sister of Dion Jr.)

Nina Boucicault (Sister of Dion Jr.)

Dion Boucicault Jr. (centre)

Dion Boucicault Jr. (centre)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donald Calthrop

Number two of three I’ve found related to collections we hold. It was the first Dion Boucicault’s great-grandson, another Calthrop, who donated some of our Boucicault material. Donald Calthrop was Boucicault’s nephew, and a significant actor in his own right. He appeared in no less than five early films directed by the great Alfred Hitchcock. Sadly, he died of a heart attack before he finished filming Major Barbara in 1941.

Donald Calthrop

Donald Calthrop

Frank Pettingell

And here’s the third. Frank Pettingell was the owner of our largest collection of playscript, both printed and manuscript, and he in his turn acquired them from the son of well-known comedy Arthur Williams, whose stamp can be seen on most of the items in the collection. Frank was a Lancashire man who served in the First World War. His film credits include the original version of Gaslight, and played the Bishop of York in the film Becket, which featured Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole and John Gielgud.

Frank Pettingell, taking a trip

Frank Pettingell, taking a trip

Princess Lilian, Duchess of Halland

Grace Kelly may be well known for marrying European Royalty, but she was not only one! Lilian Davies, an actress more known for her modelling, from Swansea, married into the Swedish royal family in 1976 at the age of 61. They’d been living together for almost 30 years after she and her first husband divorced, but did not marry as it was thought Prince Bertil may have to become Regent after the heir to throne died, leaving a son only a few months old. However, Carl XVI came of age before he came to the throne, and he approved Prince Bertil’s marriage to Lilian. She lived to be 97, and continued to attend official engagements well into her 90s.

A most impressive hat

A most impressive hat

Rachel.

Women on Stage and in Society : 1850 – 1915

part of the British Theatre History exhibition

part of the British Theatre History exhibition

On Wednesday 6th April the yearly exhibition by second year students of 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 is only the second exhibition to be held in the new space, and asking first time exhibition makers to fill it was initially concerning, but the students rose to the challenge admirably.

Playbill for Society at the Prince of Wales

Playbill for Society at the Prince of Wales, currently on display

This module offers students the opportunity to learn about a hugely varied period of theatre history in Britain, ranging from Victorian pantomime through to suffragette plays. What’s unique about this module in particular, is that the student use Special Collections and Archives material to really come to terms with the time period, utilising Kent’s extensive Victorian and Edwardian theatre collections. The students look at a range of original material, such as playbills, play-scripts and theatre documentation, to learn about this exciting time.

The British Theatre History student exhibition

A section about living as an actress

This year was different than previously in other ways too. Firstly, the students usually work in groups to produce sections of a general exhibition on British theatre history. This time,

The exhibition launch

The exhibition launch

however, the students were challenged to work individually, and they did not disappoint! The other difference is that this time the students worked on a very specific theme: women. Within this theme the students looked at gender roles in pantomime, the representation of women in melodrama, influential female playwrights, theatre managers and actresses, and theatrical women as a political force. The result is a very well rounded, coherent exhibition, which catches the eye and the interest of passers-by.

Dick Whittington from the Melville Collection

Dick Whittington from the Melville Collection

 

The module draws heavily from theatre collections housed here at Kent. Firstly, the Melville Collection, which tells the story of a theatrical dynasty of actors and theatre managers. The Melville’s owned many theatres around the country, but particularly the Lyceum in London, from which we hold music, takings books, and administrative documentation concerning productions put on there, as well as publicity material and scripts.

A lithograph showing a scene from the Octoroon

A lithograph showing a scene from the Octoroon

 

 

Secondly, the students use the Boucicault Collections. Dion Boucicault was a playwright and actor who worked both here and in America in the 19th century. He was particularly well known for his melodramas, most famously the Octoroon, a controversial play concerning race and slavery. One student has produced a detailed section concerning this play.

Photograph of Nellie Farren, from the Milbourne scrapbook

Photograph of Nellie Farren, from the Milbourne scrapbook

 

 

Many of the students use sections from the Milbourne scrapbook. This scrapbook contains photographs (and some signatures) of famous actors and actresses of the time period, and also accurate depictions of costumes worn in theatrical productions. The costume images were originally black and white, but the scrapbook’s owner attended the productions featured in it, and faithfully coloured in the images to represent what was being worn on the stage.

 

Pettingell scrapbook, currently on display

Pettingell scrapbook, currently on display

Finally the students used our Pettingell Collection. Frank Pettingell was an English actor in the 20th century. He obtained the collection from Arthur Williams, who was an actor and playwright in the 19th century. The collection is made up of a huge selection of printed and handwritten play scripts, many of which were used as performance prompt copies. There are also a handful of theatrical scrapbooks in the collection, one of which is on display.

 

The exhibition is up until the 25th April.