‘This Single Song of Two’: Centenary of the Marriage of Edwin and Willa Muir

7 June 2019 marks the centenary of the marriage of Edwin and Willa Muir, one of Scottish literature’s great creative partnerships. Acclaimed in their own right as poet and novelist respectively, they worked together as a translating team to bring the novels and stories of Franz Kafka to an English-speaking audience.

Edinburgh University holds a number of remarkable documents, bearing witness to their long and exceptionally close union.
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Fifty Years of ‘An Orkney Tapestry’

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of two of George Mackay Brown’s landmark publications, An Orkney Tapestry and A Time to Keep. While Brown was already well established as a poet, these works made his reputation as a master of prose.

Unusually, An Orkney Tapestry was a commissioned publication. In late 1967, literary agent Giles Gordon approached Brown on behalf of Victor Gollancz publishers to inquire whether he might be interested in writing a general guide to his native Orkney. Although it was not the kind of work that appealed to Brown, Gollancz were offering a generous advance, and it presented an opportunity of visiting parts of the Orkney archipelago that he had not previously seen. The manuscript that Brown eventually submitted, however, was very far from a conventional guidebook. Instead, in An Orkney Tapestry, Brown wove prose, poetry, and drama together to commemorate the stories and traditions that had forged the character of the islands and their inhabitants.

The book consists of six sections: a polemical sketch of contemporary Orcadian life; a history of the ‘ghost village’ of Rackwick; a retelling of crucial episodes from the Orkneyinga Saga; an essayistic account of Orkney folklore; a short story-like evocation of a ballad singer’s performance at the Renaissance court of Earl Patrick Stuart; and a play ‘The Watcher’ concerning the apparition of an angel in an everyday Orkney setting.

Brown’s intention was to stress the importance of stories in creating a community and holding it together. A community cuts itself off from these formative stories at its own peril (p. 23), and Brown feared that the life of contemporary Orkney was increasingly meaningless (p. 19). An Orkney Tapestry is as much a jeremiad as a celebration. Time and again, Brown rails against progress–or rather a dogmatic, utilitarian ‘religion’ of Progress–as a ‘cancer’ that ‘drains the life’ out of ‘an elemental community’ (p. 53). He laments the loss of the old Orcadian speech and the uniformity created by compulsory education and the omnipresent new media of radio and television. With An Orkney Tapestry, he hopes to reawaken Orcadians to their history and traditions, and to inspire them to return to their life-giving roots.

Edinburgh University Library hold a much-corrected MS draft of An Orkney Tapestry (Gen 1868/5) together with a fair copy with instructions for a typist (Gen 1868/4).

We also hold George Mackay Brown’s letters to fellow poet Charles Senior (E2000.11), in which he traces the genesis of An Orkney Tapestry. In a letter of 28 December 1967, Brown tells Senior that he has been commissioned to write ‘a book about Orkney’. It is not ‘the kind of thing I like doing’ but should ‘bring in a couple of hundred quid or so’. On 8 January 1968, he reports that his usual publisher Chatto & Windus have reluctantly granted him permission to write for Gollancz, but Brown is unsure ‘whether I’ll be good at that sort of thing or no’. By 13 January, his doubts have grown: ‘I’m not good at patient research and reappraisal and I have no idea where the drift of history is taking the Orcadians’. He hopes to hit upon some ‘valid & original way’ to tackle the commission. On 20 January, he declares that he is determined, at least, not to write ‘some kind of a glorified guide book’. By Candlemas Day (2 February), the book is clearly beginning to take shape. It will be ‘highly impressionistic’ and entirely free of statistics: ‘I shun figures and tables as I would the devil’. He is planning a chapter on Rackwick, and a section contrasting a medieval or renaissance bard with the contemporary Orkney poet Robert Rendall. By 9 February, he reveals that he has been working on the ‘Orkney book’ all week, and has finished the first draft of the chapter on Rackwick (‘interlarded with poems’). This has left him ‘with a flush of achievement’, though he suspects that closer scrutiny may discover ‘a hundred flaws’. On 16 February, he laments the difficult of translating (‘or, rather, freely adapting’) Norse heroic verses for the third chapter of An Orkney Tapestry. These ‘stretched all my faculties to the utmost’ but ‘it’s good for writers to tackle something hard now and again’. Unfortunately, the correspondence with Senior is suspended at this point, as Senior was now, in fact, living close by in Orkney. These few letters, however, give a vivid impression of how An Orkney Tapestry swiftly evolved from impersonal commission to personal vision.

Within a fortnight of publication, An Orkney Tapestry had sold over 3,000 copies. One of its first readers, composer Peter Maxwell-Davies was so transfixed by Brown’s prose, that he was inspired to move to Orkney and make it his base for the rest of his life. Edinburgh University holds manuscript librettos for three works that Brown wrote for Maxwell-Davies: Apples and Carrots (MS 2846/4/2), Lullaby for Lucy (MS 2843/8/1), and Solstice of Light (Gen. 2134/2/4).

Another enthusiastic reader was veteran poet Helen B. Cruickshank. We hold Cruickshank’s well-thumbed copy of An Orkney Tapestry (JA3388), inscribed on the title-page by Brown and by artist Sylvia Wishart (whose illustrations for An Orkney Tapestry first brought her to prominence). There is also a brief letter from Brown on the half-title page, congratulating Cruickshank on the receipt of an honorary M.A. from Edinburgh University. A further letter from Brown in our Helen Cruickshank Papers (Coll-81) grants Cruickshank permission to quote a line from An Orkney Tapestry in her memoir Octobiography (Montrose: Standard, 1976): ‘Decay of language is always the symptom of a more serious sickness’. What Brown says of the decay of Orcadian speech (An Orkney Tapestry, 30), Cruickshank applies to the decline of her native Scots (Octobiography, p. 77).

The commercial success of An Orkney Tapestry was largely matched by critical approval. Seamus Heaney praised it as ‘a spectrum of lore, legend and literature, a highly coloured reaction as Orkney breaks open in the prisms of a poet’s mind and memory’ (Listener, 21 August 1969). For J. K. Annand, it was ‘one of those rare books which capture and convey the essential character of a place’ (Akros, January 1970). Not everyone, however, was entirely convinced. Robin Fulton, in the New Edinburgh Review (November 1969), felt that the problems raised by Brown ‘deserve more serious treatment than can be afforded by polemics and jeremiads’ and wondered ‘how closely in touch’ Brown was ‘with the way of life he professes to reject’. Brown rails against progress as a ‘new religion’ but ‘in fact who does in 1969 naively accept such a belief?’ (p. 6). Similarly, Janet Adam Smith felt that ‘Mr Brown is a far better poet than preacher and some of his diatribes on the present run too glibly’ (Times, 12 July 1969).

No such doubts were expressed about Brown’s second major publication of 1969, A Time to Keep, his second short-story collection after A Calendar of Love (1967). Alexander Scott wrote that Brown ‘gives more fundamental insights into our common humanity in even the shortest of his stories than will be found in a hundred full-length fictions of the conventional kind’ (Lines Review, 28 March 1969). Janice Elliot described him as a ‘precise, poetic, and dazzling writer’ (Guardian, 7 February 1969). Paul Bailey wrote the stories ‘often brought me close to tears’ and that there ‘are few writers alive today with the courage to be so simple and direct, or with the talent—the sheer, unforced talent—to lighten up the most humdrum detail’ (Observer, 2 March 1969). Even Robin Fulton, despite some reservations about the volume as a whole, declared that its strongest tales were ‘among the finest stories written by any Scottish writer’.

We do not hold any manuscripts or working papers relating to A Time to Keep. We do, however, have Norman MacCaig’s personal copy of the volume, signed by MacCaig on the half-title page.

For further information on our Papers of George Mackay Brown, see:

Scottish Literary Papers

Sources (other than previously cited)

    Timothy Baker, George Mackay Brown and the Philosophy of Community (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009)
    Maggie Fergusson, George Mackay Brown: The Life (London: John Murray, 2007)
    Berthold Schoene-Harwood, The Making of Orcadia: Narrative Identity in the Prose Work of George Mackay Brown (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1995)
    Hilda D. Spear, George Mackay Brown: A Survey of his Work and a Full Bibliography (Lewiston: E. Mellen Press, 2000)

Salvesen Archive – 50 years at Edinburgh University Library – 1969-2019

50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARRIVAL OF THE CHRISTIAN SALVESEN & CO. ARCHIVE AT CRC – MARITIME TRADING AND WHALING MATERIAL

50 years ago in May 1969 former colleagues of the Centre for Research Collections had been busy collecting a large maritime trading and whaling archive from the offices of Christian Salvesen & Co. in Leith. The collection of company records was deposited on ‘permanent loan’, and would be joined by a second tranche in 1990, and a third in 2008. A gift of the entire archive to Edinburgh University Library was negotiated and signed in May 2012. That year, a small additional collection of material relating to the firm and its activities was received from Sir Gerald Elliot (1923-2018), a great-grandson of Christian Salvesen (1827-1911), the founder of the company.

Christian Salvesen and his wife Amelie, with their family, and photographed on holiday in Norway, in about 1860. The children may be (from left to right) Johan Thomas (b. 1854?), Edward Theodore (b.1857), and Frederick (b. 1855).

From Mandal, Norway, Salve Christian Fredrik Salvesen, son of a Norwegian merchant ship owner, first arrived in Scotland in the 1840s working at the Grangemouth shipbroking business owned by his brother, Johann Theodor Salvesen (1820-1865). Later on, after gaining experience on the continent, at Szczecin (then Stettin), he returned to Scotland and joined his brother again at Salvesen & Turnbull, now in Leith. On Johann’s retirement, the name changed to Turnbull, Salvesen & Co. The firm imported grain and timber, exported coal and iron, and also handled cargoes of salt and Norwegian herring. The carrying of migrants and gold prospectors to Australia was also an important trade.

Letter addressed to Christian Salvesen at the offices of Messrs Turnbull and Salvesen & Co., Leith, May 1861.

Following his brother’s early death in 1865, and after arguments with Turnbull, Salvesen went into business on his own, and his new firm, Chr. Salvesen & Co. began life on Bernard Street, Leith, in 1872. This change coincided with the advent of the steamship, and the expansion of maritime commerce with German and Baltic ports. In the 1880s, Salvesen was joined in the business by three of his sons.

For the Salvesen whaling enterprise in the South Atlantic, a subsidiary company was formed – the South Georgia Company of Leith (1909-1966), based at Leith Harbour, Stromness Bay, South Georgia.

By 1911, the year of Salvesen’s death, the firm’s vessels were trading with ports on the Baltic, in Norway and Sweden, and were servicing whaling stations in the Arctic, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Cargo lines were also opened up between Leith, Malta, and Alexandria, and then into the Black Sea.

The Salvesen Archive contains ledgers and cash and account books in various forms, both from the firm Christian Salvesen & Co., and the important subsidiary, the South Georgia Co.

During that first decade of the 20th century, the shipping industry was in a depressed state and, globally, shipping companies made heavy losses. While the Salvesen fleet fared no better, the company’s whaling interests – now expanding as far as the Falkland Islands and South Georgia – helped it to show occasional profit. The Salvesen whaling enterprise in the waters of the South Atlantic was operated by a subsidiary company, the South Georgia Company of Leith (1909-1966), based at Leith Harbour, Stromness Bay, South Georgia.

Whale on the ‘slip’ prior to be being ‘worked’, South Georgia. From a large photograph collection in the Salvesen Archive.

Into the 20th century, whaling began to dominate Salvesen business and the firm became an industry leader just at the time when food oils and other products from the Antarctic were considered a boundless resource.

Conservation of species… far from the concern of our own time… Report on whale stock and conservation in The Times, 9 September 1918, from a correspondent in Oslo. However, the concern about conservation at that time was not so much about the various whale species themselves, but rather more about continuing access to whale oils. Conservation of whale oils, rather than conservation of whales. From a collection of newspaper cuttings albums in the Salvesen Archive.

A third Salvesen generation entered the business in the troubled economic period of the inter-war years. The firm managed to ride out these troubled times, and whaling was expanded and modernised. As stocks began to diminish however, the firm of Salvesen – whalers for nearly 70 years – was prominent in urging conservation. In 1963, they gave up whaling.

Distinctive funnel colours of the Chr. Salvesen & Co. shipping line shaded-in on the plans for the whale catchers ‘Southern Lily’ and ‘Southern Laurel’. From a collection of plans in the Salvesen Archive.

By the 1960s and 1970s, a fourth generation was still playing an important role in the firm, and over that period the company had begun to diversify its interests: home construction; canning, and cold-storage facilities; food processing; frozen and chilled food logistics; generator rental; off-shore oil support; and, road transport logistics.One of Salvesen’s acquisitions was the Buttercup Dairy cold storage business, taken over in 1964… though the company was unable to save the well-known and popular Buttercup Dairy stores.

Day Books of the Aberdeen-based Glen Line, a shipping firm owned by John Cook and Son which had been an acquired by Christian Salvesen & Co. in 1928.

In 1985, Salvesen went public on the London Stock Exchange – Christian Salvesen PLC. In 1990 the firm left shipping, and in 1997 it moved to Northampton, England. In October 2007, the Christian Salvesen board recommended a takeover of the firm by Norbert Dentressangle, the large French-based European logistics firm (the unmissable red trucks of Groupe Norbert Dentressangle are almost on a par with Eddie Stobart among the lorry-spotting community!). 

The Salvesen Archive includes many years of the ‘Norwegian Whaling Gazette’, or’ Norsk Hvalfangst Tidende’, which is rich in articles concerning the whaling industry (in Norwegian and English), and rich in contemporary whaling industry advertisements.

It was with Christian Salvesen Investments Ltd., a Groupe Norbert Dentressangle subsidiary, that the Centre for Research Collections would finally agree acquisition of the Salvesen Archive in 2012, so ending much involved contact and conversation between CRC staff and the firm in Northampton over access to the deposited collection.

Advertisement for BP bunker fuel placed in the ‘Norwegian Whaling Gazette’.

Taking up just short of 70 metres of storage space, the archive is composed of a wide mix of material representing the firm’s early shipping interests, its whaling interests, and the firm’s later diversification. The archive includes: office ledgers; cash, accounts and invoice books; letter and day books; order and stock books; whale catch records; log books; correspondence; newspaper cuttings; photographs; and, copies of the ‘Norwegian Whaling Gazette’ and the company magazine of latter years ‘Salvesen News’.

Advertisement placed in the ‘Norwegian Whaling Gazette’ by the Tønsberg ‘ropewalk’ (or reperbane), a covered pathway, where long strands of material are laid before being twisted into rope.

When the first tranche of the archive arrived at the Library in 1969, Christian Salvesen & Co. had been preparing to make a move from their offices at 29-33 Bernard Street, Leith, to larger and recently constructed premises at Citadel House, East Fettes Avenue, in Edinburgh. Doubtless the impending move had spurred the firm into disposing of unneeded company records, and the National Register of Archives for Scotland (NRAS) had surveyed and drawn up a list of material in July 1968.

Whales being ‘worked’ on a whale factory ship. From a photograph in the Salvesen Archive photograph collection.

The NRAS list shows that the material now in the care of CRC had been located at several places: Inveralmond House, Cramond, the home of Captain Harold Keith Salvesen (1897-1970), grandson of Christian Salvesen; Attic No.1 at the firm’s offices, 29 Bernard Street, Leith; Metal cupboards at the top of the stairs at the same location; Captain H. K. Salvesen’s room in the offices at the time of the survey; and, the Operations Store Room, at the Bernard Street offices (it is worthwhile noting here too that some material in the second tranche, 1990, had been drawn from not only the headquarters in Edinburgh, but also from the abandoned whaling stations on South Georgia).

The interior of the cinema at Leith Harbour. Many of the films (in Norwegian and English) were brought out to South Georgia from Norway and the UK.

In 1968, the Library had moved into its new premises on George Square in closer proximity to the academic community and departmental offices, and from an exchange of correspondence between the Company and the Library, and between the Library and Professor Samuel Berrick Saul (1924-2016), Economic History, it can be speculated that Professor Saul may have been a prime mover in having the Salvesen Archive brought to the Library. As an economic historian, he may have been helping us to build up a business archive. Professor Saul had facilitated the commissioning of Mr Wray Vamplew, a postgraduate Economic History student, to write a history of the Company.

Painting of a whale factory ship, the ‘Southern Venturer’, by George McVey, which illustrates the cover of Wray Vamplew’s book, ‘Salvesen of Leith’.

The book, entitled Salvesen of Leith, was eventually published by the Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh and London, 1975.

Copies of the Salvesen in-house magazine. From a run of the magazine in the Salvesen Archive.

Graeme D. Eddie, Honorary Fellow, CRC… Engaging with the Salvesen Archive of maritime trading and whaling

If you have enjoyed reading this post, check out previous ones about the Salvesen Archive…:

Cinema at the whaling stations, South Georgia August 2016

Maritime difficulties during the First World War – Christian Salvesen & Co. October 2015

Talk on the Salvesen Archive to members of the South Georgia Association November 2015

‘Empire Kinsley’ – 70th anniversary of sinking on 23 March 1945 March 2015

Pipe bombs, hurt sternframes, peas, penguins, stoways and cookery books: the Salevesen Archive July 2014

Whale hunting: New documentary for broadcast on BBC Four June 2014

 

 

 

 

Cataloguing the correspondence of Thomas Nelson & Sons (cont.)

Our intern Isabella has now finished her 10-week placement at the CRC, during which she was box-listing part of the records of Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd. Her thoroughness and fine attention to details made her perfect for the job. Luckily for us, Isabella enjoyed her placement so much that she decided to keep working on the collection as a volunteer! We are delighted that she is going to keep doing excellent work on this great collection. Here are a few more of her great finds.

Isabella working in the CRC reading room.

1. Jane Borthwick Letter: While every other letter in this bundle is written in black or dark blue ink, with edits often made with red ink, Jane Borthwick writes a letter here in an aesthetically appealing purple ink. The letter concerns a manuscript which she was enlisted to read, review, and recommend for either publication or rejection. Unfortunately for the author, Ms. Borthwick found the piece too dull to be printed. On the back of the letter there is slight evidence of handling where several ink stained fingers held the letter. While the marks are slight and it cannot be determined if these are the product of Jane herself, an employee of Nelson & Sons or of a later cataloguer or archivist, it stands as evidence of this letters connection to the people that have interacted with it, carrying its handling history on its surface.1. Jane Borthwick’s letter

2. R. Anderson Letter: A letter from R. Anderson displaying discoloration of paper, dust and dirt – Some of the correspondence we are working to catalogue requires light conservation methods before we can return them to storage. In this letter from an R. Anderson, one side shows how protected and covered paper ages as that side has been stored firmly pressed against another letter, while the other side reveals how long-term exposure to the elements of stacks can fade, damaged and color the paper. In order to attempt to combat this issue a small dry sponge is used to wipe away what dirt or dust can be wiped away, however, due to the age of the ink on the paper we must be careful not to take any of the ink off the page itself. This then becomes a conundrum of whether to maintain the precision of the ink or to treat the residue before it becomes a larger and more expensive issue.

2. R. Anderson’s letter

3. French Postcard: Here we have a postcard from Vienna written entirely in French. Unfortunately, our cataloguer does not read French and so help was requested from a fellow student from the Book History and Material Culture course, Eleanor Cambridge, as well as the cataloguer’s supervisor and resident Archivist with the Center for Research and Collections, Aline Brodin. The emersion of this postcard from the collection allowed for cooperation between postgraduates as well as Archivists to engage in a multi-national approach to decipher another element of the archive. This opportunity not only demonstrates the way archivists and cataloguers often work in tandem in order to contextualize information and collections, but it further speaks to the multi-national nature and reputation of Nelson & Sons.

3. French postcard

 4. J. A. Bains Letter: Pictured here is part of a collection of nine letters sent from one J. A. Bains on highly personalized stationery decorated with fastidiously carved print images on one side. Despite the intricacy of the prints on the stationary, their appearance is not entirely a surprise as if you look to the right-hand side of the image you will see that Mr. Bains was a bookseller as well as a Stationer. Mr. Bains interactions with Nelson & Sons was such that he had been writing a biography on the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen and was very determined to see his piece published with their company alone. This sentiment was made plain to Mr. Brown, a manager at the company, in the final line of Mr. Bains letter from May 12th, 1896 writing, ‘I am determined that Messrs. T. Nelson & Sons shall publish it – even if I have to wait for months or years! I have spent too much labor (even if amateur) too much money and wandered too many miles to gather information to let it fall through.’ Bains was a jovial correspondent, often using exclamation points in his letters, reasserting that he would have no one else publish his work but Nelson and Sons, and on two occasions joking that if Nansen, who was on expedition at the time of these letters, did not return then his book would be the first biography published and probably a roaring success. Unfortunately, Mr. Brown did not return his enthusiasm as he rejected the opportunity to publish the work, multiple times, and so Mr. Bains took his biography to Walter Scott Publishing Co. Ltd. and the book was published in 1897.

4. J. A. Bains’s letter

 5. Sophia Caulfield and Audrey Curtis Letters: Many of the manuscripts sent to Nelson & Sons were full of differing content and came from a variety of people throughout a number of countries. Audrey Curtis and Sophia Caulfield were two of those authors. Ms. Curtis submitted her manuscript of ‘a tale of the Huguenot persecution in France about the date 1685’ while Ms. Caulfield wrote about ‘little-known curiosities in the department of Natural History’ of London. Each woman worked on historical and amateur scientific novels. Curtis herself had previously been published by the National Society for her short story entitled “The Artist of Crooked Alley” as well as for her story for children titled “Little Miss Curlylocks”. Each woman was a fairly accomplished author by the time they came across Nelson & Sons for their publications with Ms. Caulfield identifying herself as one of the original writers for a popular magazine aimed at young women interested in science and politics. As well Ms. Caulfield included a written resume with her manuscript to Nelson & Sons of all that she had worked on which included compiling a dictionary of needlework, textiles, and lace, as well as editing magazine articles, and her latest book which had been shown at the Chicago “World’s Fair” as well as the ‘Great Paris Exposition’.

5. Audrey Curtis’s Letter

6. Rev. F. Docker Letter: The Reverend F. Docker, pictured here, was a religious short story author who sent several stories for potential publication to Nelson & Sons in 1896.  Along with his letter and his manuscripts he included a newspaper clipping from The Christian Age newspaper bearing one of the stories which he had written as well as his picture. If you peer at the heading of the paper, you will see that it is identified as No. 1,268. -Vol. XLVIII.-26. and was published in ‘London, Wednesday, December 25, 1895’ meaning that the story Reverend Docker submitted to the publishers was in fact a Christmas installment.

6. Rev. F. Docker’s Letter 

7. Miss M. Douglas Letter: Here we see another example of Nelson & Sons enlisting the help of an expert for practical scientific publications. M. Douglas was a woman who worked with Nelson & Sons when producing a new book about Arctic Exploration. She was the designated reader and critic for the configuration and aesthetic design of the maps illustrated in the book. Unfortunately, this letter does not give the reader any more background as to her work but rather it does prove she showed a high proficiency for spatial relations, math, and geography in order to conceptualize and stylize maps for the Arctic which in 1896 was still a relatively unknown climate. In her letter here she shows a high understanding of Polar currents as well as a strong familiarity with the literary histories of Arctic Exploration.

7. Miss M. Douglas’s letter 

8. Ernest Ingersoll Book Submission: In 1896 Ernest Ingersoll submitted to Nelson & Sons his story entitled “A Railway Stowaway” which had previously been published in the United States by the well-known publishers of Harper & Brothers. In his letter Mr. Ingersoll offers Nelson & Sons ‘all rights outside the United States’ to the publication. While many authors include a full manuscript along with their letters, which they either request to be returned if they are rejected for publication, a gamble if the author has not written out or commissioned printed copies, Mr. Ingersoll included a small pocket copy of his story which was printed in the style of the Harper Collins 1882 edition. This particular copy was hand bound as you can see from the string threaded through the center pages and came complete with illustrations. The size of the copy enabled it to stay with the letter in this case, instead of the manuscript being returned or archived in a different location within the collection. This inclusion allowed us to not only understand the background of this submitted manuscript but also to collect the priority piece of knowledge that Nelson & Sons were offered sole rights to this piece for every publication outside of the United States. Unfortunately, Nelson & Sons decided to reject the offer. However, Mr. Ingersoll did not give up entirely and instead sent them a copy of one of his other stories entitled “The Ice Queen” which had been well received in the United States and which Harper & Brothers were willing to negotiate on copyright purchasing and illustrations expenses. While the last photo in the below series is not included in any copy of Ingersoll’s printed work, it is a wonderfully interesting example of marginalia which mimics medieval style. Referred to as a manicula, the hand design which was used to draw attention to specific passages, is used by Ingersoll here to identify the final paragraph of his letter.

8a. Ernest Ingersoll

8b. Ernest Ingersoll

8c. Ernest Ingersoll

8d. Ernest Ingersoll – manicula

 

Anniversary of Andrew Lang

March 31 marks the 175th anniversary of the birth of one of Scotland’s most prolific and versatile writers, Andrew Lang (1844-1912). The author or co-author of 249 volumes, Lang worked in fields as varied as anthropology, folklore, classical scholarship, Scottish history, poetry, drama, and children’s writing. As a perennially in-demand journalist, he also penned articles and reviews on an almost daily basis.

At the Centre for Research Collections, we hold a suitably diverse collection of 35 letters (Coll-732) from Andrew Lang to a number of literary and professional colleagues. The publications mentioned in these letters convey the full breadth of Lang’s interests: controversially pro-Jacobite studies of Mary Queen of Scots and Charles Edward Stuart, translations from Homer, an epic poem on Helen of Troy, a history of Oxford University, a study of three French Romantic poets, and anthologies of ballads and folktales.

Although many of the letters are brief and business-like, they provide a vivid glimpse into the daily labour of a Late Victorian professional writer. There are letters asking magazine editors what they pay contributors; thanking his literary agent Hughes Massie for a cheque; requesting transcripts of historical manuscripts held by the British Museum; offering advice to young authors; submitting work on behalf of protégés; accepting or declining invitations to address clubs and societies; and turning down commissions when over-committed or short of inspiration.
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Cataloguing the correspondence of Thomas Nelson & Sons

Last January, our intern Isabella started a 10-week placement at the CRC, as part of her MSc in Book History and Material Culture. Using our online system ArchivesSpace, she is cataloguing part of the records of Thomas Nelsons & Sons Ltd., a British publishing firm founded in Edinburgh in 1798. So far, she has been dealing with correspondence, advertising material, and printed material relating to publishing, all dating from the end of the 19th century. Here are some of her most interesting finds:

1. W. H. Allen & Co. Copy

1. W. H. Allen & Co.: Pictured above is a beautiful embossing from the stationary of W. H. Allen & Co. Ltd., a London based bookseller and publisher. The company were ‘publishers to the India office’ as can be noted on the seal. The coordination of a lion and a unicorn most likely represents the company’s work across Scotland and England.

2. There are three letters from one Mrs. Allan enquiring about the potential for her 15 year old son to take up an apprenticeship with Nelson & Sons. She describes her son as being a naturally gifted illustrator and when the company takes a bit long to reply she sends further letters describing how she and her son are ‘wearing of waiting’ for a response. Though the company eventually accepted samples of the young Mr. Allan’s work, he was not offered an apprentice position.

3. Lady Aberdeen Insignia

3. Lady Aberdeen Insignia: Pictured above is the signet of Lady Ishbel Aberdeen who wrote to the offices of Nelson & Sons on September 14th 1896, sending several copies of Canadian literary reports and magazines as well as personal letters inquiring as to whether the company would wish to send any penny or bargain literature they may have the copyrights for to Canada as she believes the country is in desperate need of ‘good, cheap literature.’ She speaks about her children’s magazine “Wee Willie Winkie” named after the Scottish fairy tale as well as the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC). Lady Aberdeen was the founder of the NCWC, an advocate for the creation of the Victorian Order of Nurses as well as a well-known supporter of the Canadian suffrage movement. The signet is a blue embossed crown containing her initials wrapped together with a vine-esque tie (information on Lady Aberdeen acquired via the Canadian Encyclopaedia).

4. Frank Mahony (1)

4. Frank Mahony (2)

4. Frank Mahony (3)

4. Frank Mahony (4)

4. Frank Mahony (5)

4. Frank Mahony (6)

4. Frank Mahony: Pictured above are six printed illustrations from illustrator Frank P. Mahony. Mahony was an artist from Melbourne Australia whose work was used in the construction of the ‘New South Wales Reader’ a larger and heavily documented project undertaken by Nelson & Sons transcontinentally in congress with several agencies in Australia including leather workers, booksellers, and authors. As can be seen, the copies of the illustrations have been warped from years of being curled into a scroll-esque form at the centre of a group of letters and cost projections for the ‘New South Wales Reader.’ In order to examine each paper with minimal damage, two glass weights are placed at the edges of the copy pictures to examine them as a whole without compromising the form the paper has taken over years of storage.

5. Oxford University Press

5. Oxford University Press: This letter addressed to Nelson & Sons is a copy of a letter from the University Press of Oxford requesting manuscript materials for the Presbyterian Hymnal with Tunes, a project which was spearheaded by Reverend James Anderson of Toronto. The initial correspondence regarding the publication of the Presbyterian Hymnal between Reverend Anderson and George Brown of Nelson & Sons deals mostly in obtaining or paying license for the use of tunes from other previously published hymnals. The various letters sent between the two men gives a glimpse into the nature of musical copyright laws and penalties in 1896 both in Canada, where the Reverend Anderson was based and in Scotland where Nelson & Sons offices were. The publication of the hymnal went on to be so successful that the University Press of Oxford requested to take up the publication of the piece as well.

6. Schwebius signature

6. Schwebius letter: Much of the cataloguing done for this archive requires some previous exposure to palaeography, or the study of dated handwriting. However, sometimes in deciphering particularly unclear script a second opinion or cross referencing is required to confirm the context of a letter in order to properly interpret the piece. For this letter, the name Schwebius, though written twice, was not entirely apparent in its spelling. The content of the letter referred to the sale of a foundry and various machines from a leatherworker in New York. The cataloguer referred to a digitized directory from the library of Hoboken, New York which not only lists the recipient of this letter, a George Schwebius, but mentions details of his business which were substantiated by the letter from the Nelson Archive. Corroborating information across archives and databases allowed not only for the correct spelling of the sender’s name to be identified but gave further insight into the transactions between the sender and Nelson & Sons.

7. George Brown’s signature

7. George Brown’s Signature: In 1896 Nelson & Sons decided to invest several substantial sums which were guaranteed by an American investment firm. Their correspondence with the American firm was directed to a Mr. Stewart Tods and concerned the investment of two separate sums of more than 10,000 dollars each. The letter, though entirely concerned with business, reflects the genial nature of professional signatures from the time. Here George Brown, a manager at Nelson & Sons, signs ‘Believe me, Yours Faithfully’. Though the letter concerns references to significant sums of money and is a reflection of a transaction, the signature is incredibly genial and far more affectionate than would be used in the same manner of business today.

8. Nelson & Sons employed a vast number of employees who all were integral to discovering, creating, and marketing literature. From travel writers to leather testers, Nelson & Sons often employed numerous professionals to vet their literature including Jane Macgregor and Jane Borthwick. Though each women worked with the company under other supervisions at various periods, Jane Borthwick was a translator of German hymns as well as a writer of English hymns, a collection of letters in this archive reveals that these two women were also engaged as test readers for the manuscripts sent to the company. Many of the letters sent by Borthwick and Macgregor reference literature they have been sent which contains female protagonists, from which it could be inferred that Nelson & Sons were recruiting female employees for female driven literature.

The Thomas Nelson collection (Coll-25) on our online catalogue: https://archives.collections.ed.ac.uk/repositories/2/resources/85801

Link

Re-discovering a forgotten songwriter: the archive of Louisa Matilda Crawford.

Daisy Stafford, CRC intern who catalogued the papers of Louisa Matilda Crawford, talks about her experience.

This summer I was offered the opportunity to undertake an archiving internship in the Centre for Research Collections, cataloguing the personal papers of Louisa Matilda Crawford, a nineteenth century songwriter. Other than her name and occupation, little information about Louisa was known. Through two months of close examination of her archive, I was able to stitch together a narrative of Louisa’s life. Here’s what I found…

Louisa Matilda Jane Crawford was born on the 27th September 1789 at Lackham House in Wiltshire. She was the daughter of Ann Courtenay (d. 1816) and George Montagu (1753-1815), an English army officer and naturalist. Louisa was related to nobility on both sides of the family; her maternal grandmother, Lady Jane Stuart, was the sister of Scottish nobleman John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute and Prime Minister to George III. Her father, meanwhile, was a descendent of Sir Henry Montagu, the first Earl of Manchester and also the great-grandson of Sir Charles Hedges, Queen Anne’s Secretary.

Papers of Louisa Matilda Crawford. Coll-1839 (picture from the seller’s catalogue)

Louisa had three older siblings; George Conway Courtenay (b. 1776), Eleanora Anne (b. 1780) and Frederick Augustus (b. 1783). Little direct information is known about Louisa’s childhood, but it must have been turbulent; in 1798 Montagu left his wife and family and moved to Kingsbridge in Devon to live with his mistress Elizabeth Dorville, with whom he had four more children. It is here that he wrote his two pioneering works, the Ornithological Dictionary; or Alphabetical Synopsis of Birds (1802) and Testacea Britannica, a History of British Marine, Land and Freshwater Shells, which saw several bird and marine species named after him, most notably Montagu’s harrier. The family’s disapproval of his relationship with Dorville ultimately cost him his ancestral home. On the death of his unmarried brother, James, the will stipulated that he would not inherit Lackham House, but had only “a rent charge of £800 a year subject to which the estates were left to his eldest son, George, for life.” The ensuing lawsuit between the pair resulted in huge debts which cost the family the estate; as Louisa wrote in The Metropolitan Magazine in 1835; “The thoughtless extravagance of youth, and the unwise conduct of mature age, caused the estates to be thrown into chancery” (vol. 14, pp. 308-309). Louisa reflected on seeing the native woods of her family home cut down upon its sale in a later poem (Coll-1839/7 pp.415-416):

Those brave old woods, when I saw them fall,

                Where they stood in their pride so long,

The giant guards of our ancient hall,

                And the theme of our household song;

I wept, that one of my Father’s race

                Could forget the name he bore,

And turn the land to a desert place,

                Where an Eden bloom’d before.

Louisa began courting Matthew Crawford, a barrister of Middle Temple, in 1817. Many of the papers consist of love letters and poems exchanged between the pair during this early period of their relationship, including three locks of hair, presumably Louisa’s. In 1822 the couple were married and Louisa moved to London, although their continued correspondence evidences that Matthew spent much of their marriage away working in the North of the country. It is then that Louisa began to earn an income through song writing and poetry, although the couple always struggled financially and frequently appealed to their wealthier relatives for aid.

Much of Louisa’s work appeared, often anonymously, in magazines and journals, was sold to publishers, and was set to music by composers Samuel Wesley, Sidney Nelson, Edward Clare and others. She frequently contributed both poems and prose, including several “autobiographical sketches”, to London literary journal The Metropolitan Magazine (which has subsequently been digitised by the HathiTrust and can be fully searched here). Many of her songs and poems related to historical events and persons; songs titled “Anne Boleyn’s Lamentation” (Coll-1839/7 p. 285) or “Chatelar to Mary Queen of Scots” (Coll-1839/7 pp. 381-382) are written from the point of view of famous queens. One poem (Coll-1839/3/1/9) tells the story of Frederick the Great (1712-1786), King of Prussia, who, in order to deceive his enemies as to his position during the Seven Years’ War, commanded that no light should be kindled throughout his encampment. However, a young soldier lit a taper to write a letter to his new bride. The second stanza reads:

His head was bent in act to write,

                The memories gusting o’er him –

When through the gloom of gathering night,

                Stood Frederick’s self before him!

Oh sternly spoke the Monarch then

                His doom of bitter sorrow

“Resume the seat – Resume the pen

                And add “I die tomorrow.”

Other poems in the collection are more personal, including reflections on her childhood and family, such as “The Home of Our Childhood” (Coll-1839/7 pp. 17-18) and “On the Death of a Sister” (Coll-1839/7 p. 394). Many verses are addressed to her husband Matthew; one poem (Coll-1839/1/2/5) dated 23rd July 1817 and titled “To Him I Love”, begins:

Oh! Doubt not the faith of a heart which is thine

Nor cast on its feelings a thought thats unkind

For believe me thine image whilest life shall be mine

Cannot fail to be cherish’d and dear to my mind

Like a miser I hoard in my hearts hidden core

Every look every word that from thee I receive

And never ah! never till lifes dream is o’er

Will the love which I bear thee be alter’d believe

Coll-1839/1/2/5. Poem addressed to Matthew Crawford titled “To Him I Love” in the hand of Louisa Matilda Crawford, 23 July 1817.

Matthew often responded with poems of his own, and seems to have played a collaborative role in Louisa’s writing. She frequently included stanzas of her work in letters to him, asking him to look over and edit them.

Louisa’s most successful song, “Kathleen Mavourneen,” was set to music by composer Frederick Crouch and enjoyed wide success in America where it was popularised by Irish Soprano Catherine Hayes on her international tours. Recordings of it still exist, and a version by Irish tenor John McCormack (1884-1945) can be found on youtube here. No original version of the song is amongst her papers, although there is a poem titled “On hearing Miss Catherine Hays [sic] sing “Kathleen Mavourneen!”” (Coll-1839/3/1/17). However, the song was frequently attributed solely to Crouch, or erroneously to Annie, Julia, or Marion Crawford.

Coll-1839/3/1/17. Poem titled “On hearing Miss Catherine Hays, sing “Kathleen Mavourneen!” by Crofton Gray” in the hand of Louisa Matilda Crawford, 1837-1857.

Louisa arranged her poems into small series, and the collection includes ten stitched booklets with titles such as “Irish ballads” and “Scotch songs”. Attempts to track down her work can be seen in correspondence with her publishers. In an undated later to magazine editor Mr Emery (Coll-1839/1/1/22) she requests copies of her published songs, writing; “I am not wanting them to give away, but to have them bound up in a volume since I find it impossible to keep single songs…I am going to beat up for recruits in all quarters where my bagatelles have been published, in order that I may have a little memorial to leave to those that will value the gift when I am gone.” A notebook containing 165 poems and songs neatly written in Louisa’s hand seems to be the result of these efforts.

Some outlying items in the collection initially seemed not to relate to Louisa at all, including a 17th century indenture on vellum, recording the sale of a messuage or house between waterman Thomas W Watson and master mariner Josiah Ripley of Stockton-on-Tees. However, a bit of biographical research revealed the answer. Many of these miscellaneous items reference Bayley and Newby, a firm of solicitors operating out of Stockton-on-Tees in the 19th century, which may explain the presence of the indenture. Matthew Crawford’s first cousin, William Crawford Newby (1807-1884) worked at the firm, and it seems that, since the couple were childless, their papers passed to him upon their deaths and thence on to his heirs. The latest item in the collection (Coll-1839/1/3/16) is a 1930 letter by William’s son, who writes:

I enclose a manuscript book written by Mrs Crawford including many well-known songs…Mrs Crawford was a Montagu of the Duke of Manchester family and died in 1857. She was married to Matthew Crawford a barrister. They had independent means which however they frittered away. My late father who was a 1st cousin of Matthew Crawford’s assisted them from time to time and their M.S.S. came to him on their death and through him to me. I am not anxious to part with them, but I am an old man and my family may not attach the same importance to their possession.

This would seem to account for how the papers came to be in the possession of the bookseller and for the few items relating to the Newby’s present in the collection.

Louisa died in 1857, the cause unknown, although Matthew refers to a long affliction of heart disease supplemented by attacks of Bronchitis in an 1846 letter (Coll-1839/2/6). Despite her obvious talent, and the clear enjoyment she derived from her work, she received little notoriety for her song writing during her lifetime and even less so after her death. Alongside gaining invaluable archival skills during this project it has been a pleasure to think that I have been able to increase the visibility of Louisa’s work and make her collection available to interested researchers. Although separated by over two centuries, I have come to know more about Louisa than any person living, and that is a great privilege.

You can see the catalogue of the papers on ArchivesSpace: https://archives.collections.ed.ac.uk/repositories/2/resources/86789

References:

Cleevely, R. J. “Montagu, George.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online, 23 Sep. 2004, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/19017. Accessed 19 Jul. 2018.

Crawford, Louisa Matilda Jane. The Metropolitan Magazine. Accessed 19 Jul. 2018.

  • “An Auto-Biographical Sketch. Lacock Abbey.” Vol. 12, Jan-Apr. 1835, pp. 400-402, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433081737904;view=1up;seq=412.
  • “Autobiographical Sketches Connected with Laycock Abbey.” 14, Sept-Dec. 1835, pp. 306-318, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433081737888;view=1up;seq=322.
  • “Autobiographical Sketches.” Vol. 22, 1838, pp. 310-317, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=umn.319510007530342;view=1up;seq=325.
  • “Autobiographical Sketches.” Vol. 23, Sept-Dec. 1838, pp. 189-194, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433081737839;view=1up;seq=203.

Cummings, Bruce F. “A biographical sketch of Col. George Montagu (1755-1815).” Zoologisches Annalen Würzburg, vol. 5, 1913, pp. 307–325, http://www.zobodat.at/pdf/Zoologische-Annalen_5_0307-0325.pdf. Accessed 19 Jul. 2018.

“Kathleen Mavourneen.” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathleen_Mavourneen. Accessed 19 Jul. 2018.

Pratt, Tony. Two Georgian Montagus: the manor of Lackham. Wiltshire College, second edition, 2015, https://tinyurl.com/y7tpp39h. Accessed 19 Jul. 2018.

Urban, Sylvanus. “Obituary – Rev. George Newby.” The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 26, 1846, pp. 100-101, https://tinyurl.com/yatonw6n. Accessed 19 Jul. 2018.

Written by Daisy Stafford, July 2018.

Plaque Unveiled to Edinburgh University’s First Nobel Prize Winner

Today, at the Hermitage of Braid, Principal Peter Mathieson will unveil a plaque commemorating Edinburgh University’s first Nobel Prize winner, physicist Charles Glover Barkla (1877–1944). Barkla is one of a dozen figures being honoured in this year’s round of Historic Environment Scotland’s Commemorative Plaque Scheme. The plaque will be mounted at Barkla’s former home of Braidwood, which is currently the Visitors Centre for the Hermitage of Braid Nature Reserve.

Born in Widnes, Lancashire, Barkla studied at University College Liverpool, and occupied a number of academic posts in Cambridge, London, and Liverpool, before being appointed to Edinburgh University’s Chair of Natural Philosophy (Physics) in 1913. He held the chair until his death in 1944, playing a prominent role in instituting honours degrees in pure science and developing the honours school of physics.

Barkla was awarded the 1917 Nobel Prize for Physics for his ground-breaking work with X-rays. Barkla conducted experiments that demonstrated that X-rays could be partially polarized, thereby proving that they were a form of transverse electromagnetic radiation with properties similar to light. With the First World War still raging, the announcement of the 1917 Nobel Prize was delayed until 12 November 1918. Barkla’s Nobel Banquet was held on 1 June 1920, and he gave his Nobel Lecture on 3 June 1920.

Edinburgh University Archives hold Barkla’s Nobel Prize citation (E96.23; see images below), together with a collection of congratulatory letters and telegrams from fellow scientists (E96.10). Our Barkla Papers (Coll-296) also contain lectures and lecture notes (E91.105).

Barkla’s Nobel citation

Barkla is also commemorated by a plaque on the University of Edinburgh’s Institute of Geography building (formerly occupied by Natural Philosophy). See here for more information:

https://www.ed.ac.uk/about/people/plaques/barkla

Link

A more personal take on our archives…

As any archivist knows, you can sometimes stumble upon archives with an unexpected and personal connection: this was the case for me when I found out that in the Special Collections of the Library was an album containing 175 photographs and postcards showing my home city, Caen, before and during the Second World War (Coll-164)… It immediately reminded me of my own grandparents, who had lived through the occupation, the bombing and finally the liberation of this medium-sized Norman city. They would always tell me stories about life during the war, and describe the way Caen looked before it: indeed, about 80 percent of the city was destroyed, in particular during the controversial bombing raid that preceded the ‘Operation Charnwood’ in July 1944. 

Aerial view of Caen after the bombings in July 1944 (Coll-164/4)

As you can see in the picture, the city was ravaged. The central area around the castle, St Pierre Church, and the neighbourhood called îlot St Jean were particularly affected. Post-war Caen looks like a field of ruins, and I was moved when I browsed the album for the first time and saw the full extent of the devastation.  When it happened my grandmother, who was around 15 at the time, had taken shelter in a town a few kilometres away; but my grandfather was there and took part in the rescue effort to help searching the rubbles for survivors. He was only 18.

Looking through the album, I was able to recognise a few familiar buildings amid the destruction: churches, streets, houses, the castle… I knew exactly where these were and what they looked like now. I found the comparison really interesting, and this is why I decided to do a little before/after photo shoot when I went home for the Christmas holidays.

St Pierre Church and surrounding area (Coll-164/58)

I started my little project on a sunny winter afternoon. Walking past my old university, I remembered that one of the nearby avenues was called ‘Avenue d’Edimbourg‘; and I finally understood why! Edinburgh was one of the cities that sent help and supplies to Caen after the bombing raid. The album is testimony to this connection: it was donated by John Orr, Professor of French at the University of Edinburgh and founder of the Caen-Edinburgh Fellowship. The latter was set up after the war to help the inhabitants of Caen by sending food, clothes, and supplies to the devastated city. John Orr himself organised for books to be sent to the library of the University, which was completely destroyed and had to be rebuilt from scratch, and for this he’s also had a street named after him.   

Street signs named after John Orr.

Call for donations to Caen from the papers of Professor John Orr held in the Special Collections (Coll-77).

I soon arrived in the city centre. The most noticeable building in Caen is its massive castle, founded in 1060 by William the Conqueror. It was used as barracks between 1789 and 1945, and occupied by German troops during the War, which explains why it was targeted by bombings. Some buildings and parts of walls were damaged, but most of it survived in decent condition. The same cannot be said for the houses build alongside its walls…And so, after the clearing of the ruins, the castle reappeared, and it was decided to restore and showcase this millennium-old building that overlooks the city. The words of my grandmother came back to me: ‘We didn’t even know we had a castle because there were so many houses around it! After the war it came a bit as a surprise…’  

Castle of Caen seen from St Pierre Church. The surrounding buildings which were hiding it for centuries were not rebuilt after the war. (Coll-164/61)

Maison des Quatrans. The buildings which were in-between the house and the castle have been destroyed. (Coll-164/71)

But not everything was completely destroyed in Caen! Our old town centre, the Quartier St-Pierre (‘St Pierre neighbourhood’), still has many original features. The Church, for starter – the tower was destroyed and then rebuilt, and is now being cleaned to restore its original white-yellowish colour, darkened by pollution. The buildings around it, however, went up in smoke. La Rue Montoire Poissonerie (Montoire Poissonerie Street), for example, has vanished.  

St Pierre Church from Rue Montoire Poissonerie (now an apartment building). (Coll-164/11)

On the other hand, the main street of the neighbourhood, la rue St Pierre, has been more or less spared, and the old stands alongside the new. In the picture below you can see the busy Place St Pierre, full of shoppers and tourists, with the church Notre-Dame-de-Froide-Rue in the background and a beautiful half-timbered house from the 15th century. They miraculously survived, and are now being restored to get their lively colours back!  

Place St Pierre and its 15th century half-timbered houses. (Coll-164/18)

Place St Pierre and Notre-Dame-de-Froide-Rue Church. (Coll-164/38)

As a medievalist, I still regret the loss of the Rue St Jean, a once beautiful street full of hôtels particuliers and ancient half-timbered houses just like the one in the picture above. One of the only original buildings still standing is the very curious Eglise Saint-Jean – which has the particularity of being completely wonky! Our very own modest Pisa Tower, which is leaning because Caen was built on unstable grounds. Everybody thought this fragile building would never last – little did they know it would be the only monument to survive the raid of St-Jean street.  

Eglise Saint-Jean, which is much sturdier than it looks…(Coll-164/72)

Sometimes, there was nothing to save but a section of wall, a half-collapsed doorway, the base of a pillar…left as a memory, a reminder of what the city had gone through: 

Saint-Gilles Church, now a small park. The only recognisable feature is an archway. (Coll-164/36)

Saint-Julien Church before, during and after the bombings. (Coll-164/45 and Coll-164/48)

Like many French towns and cities, old Caen was full of narrow, dark medieval streets that would add a lot of charm to a city nowadays. I remember lamenting about the destruction of these quaint quarters – some of the largest boulevards in Caen have actually been shaped by American bulldozers –, and my grandfather replying: ‘it was dark and dirty before, very cold and inconvenient. It’s nicer now. They did a good job rebuilding everything’. The inhabitants rebuilt their home with the very typical Caen stone, which has a light and warm yellow colour, and the new blends in with the old. The city may not be as beautiful as other French towns spared by the war, but it is a nice place to live, where history has left its mark.  

Our archivist doing some fieldwork…

Description of the album on ArchivesSpace: https://archives.collections.ed.ac.uk/repositories/2/resources/312

Aline Brodin, cataloguing archivist, 6 June 2018.

Special thanks to Clément Guézais and Inès Prat for their help in taking and editing the photographs.

Earlier this year, our two interns Sarah and Devon spent a few months re-housing and listing the papers of the Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim (1831-1907), recently donated to the CRC. They share their experiences with us.

Sarah Hendriks:

When I was about eight years old my violin teacher gave me a new piece of music and said, ‘now you get to play a real piece’. It was Joachim’s Hungarian Dance No. 4 and I loved it. It’s remained one of my favourite pieces to play and its folksy, vibrant style inspired my later love of other composers like Bloch and Kreisler.

Despite loving his music, I knew relatively little about Joachim the man until I took on this internship at Special Collections. By going through the collection I discovered so much about Joachim, his family, his music, and his life. I also got to meet his relatives and talk about the collection and hear their recollections of the items. Matching the stories to the items I’d been reading and examining for the last two months reinforced the human aspect of the material I’d been working with: such a rare experience!

Over the last three months I’ve catalogued what feels like hundreds of newspaper clippings, notes, concert programmes, photographs, and music. I’ve had the chance to brush up my German whilst reading the mountain of obituaries and anecdotes about him, his violins and his performances. There were also notes about his life in Hungarian and a poem in French on the occasion of his death. Buried amongst the newspaper clippings was a handwritten account of a family holiday: I’d never read a more touching portrait of the man.

Postcard of Joseph Joachim in a fake car with the Mendelssohn brothers, 1890-1907 (Coll-1711/5/5)

The highlights for me, however, were the photographs. Joachim apparently loved a joke and you can see this in the picture of him in a fake car. The images also captured his pensive side, reading his letters in front of a fire or concentrating on some German verse. A particularly special picture for me is the one of Joachim with Nellie Melba, a fellow Australian whose alma mater I also attended. Apparently they were great friends with an equally adventurous sense of fun that often perplexed those around them. I like to think you can see a touch of this camaraderie in their portrait.

Working with archives is, for me, always exciting. You never quite know what you’re going to come across or discover and so often the material hasn’t been examined in a long time. The Joachim archive was so full of delights and surprises and it exceeded all my expectations. This internship has been a wonderful experience and one I would highly recommend. It would not have been possible without the generosity of the Joachim family and the support of the Special Collections Team and I’d like to thank them both for the opportunity. I’ve learnt so much about the practical side to archive management and processing, but also had an awful lot of fun learning about a hero in the process. I can’t wait for the next one!

Signed image mounted on card of Joseph Joachim and Nellie Melba, taken by Guigoni & Bossi, Milan, late 19th/early 20th c. (Coll-1711/5/7)

Devon Barnett: 

I wanted to be an Archive Intern so that I could learn first-hand the processes behind turning a collection of items into an organised and usable resource. As a Music graduate, it was an added benefit that the archive I would be working on centred around an important figure in classical music – Joseph Joachim. While working on the Joseph Joachim collection I have learned how to box list items, how to identify anything that may need to be sent to conservation, how to think about what items may be useful and beneficial to be digitised, and how to best categorise, arrange, and reference the items as well as a collection of books.

Image of Joseph Joachim playing cards outside a coffee shop, 1890-1907 (Coll-1711/5/12/5)

I have also learned a lot about Joseph Joachim, both his musical output and his personal life. Shockingly, I had never heard his name even once in my entire four years of studying a music degree and I did not know that he is owed at least in part for helping Johannes Brahms to find success and for helping Clara Schumann to care for Robert Schumann in his final years of critical mental illness. My favourite item of the collection by far was a letter written in 1907 by Donald Francis Tovey. It was written to an unspecified ‘Mrs Joachim’ and concerned the recent passing of Joseph Joachim. The letter is beautifully and poetically written, and really shows the loss felt by the music world. The letter is also important for its personal connection to Edinburgh. Tovey was a composer, musician, musicologist, and close friend of Joseph Joachim. Tovey became the Reid Professor of Music at the University of Edinburgh’s Reid School of Music (from which I have just graduated), and at which there now exists the position of Tovey Professor and the award of the Sir Tovey Memorial Prize for outstanding promise shown in composition or performance. As the university is home to not only the Joseph Joachim collection but also a collection of Tovey’s large collection of books and music scores, this letter is significant and relevant to both, tying them nicely together to both each other and the university.

Letter to ‘Mrs Joachim’ from Donald Francis Tovey on the subject of Joseph Joachim’s death, 1907, p.1 (Coll-1711/1/2/5) (click here for a higher resolution image)

Letter to ‘Mrs Joachim’ from Donald Francis Tovey on the subject of Joseph Joachim’s death, 1907, p.2 (Coll-1711/1/2/5) (click here for a higher resolution image)

Their fantastic work has enabled us to create a great resource on our online discovery platform, ArchivesSpace. Click here to see the catalogue.