Breaking News from the Guardian Archive


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Jane Speller, Project Archivist for the Guardian Archive foreign correspondence cataloguing project, writes:

Following our visit earlier this year to the Guardian News and Media (GNM) Archive, we were happy to host a return visit by Acting Head of the GNM Archive, Philippa Mole, and Archive Trainee, Helen Swainger.

Philippa and Helen are based at the GNM HQ in London’s King’s Cross. Material in the GNM archive dates largely from 1971, the year that the Guardian newspaper moved the bulk of its operations from Manchester to London. It was also the year that the archive of the newspaper, dating from its inception in 1821 up until 1971, was acquired by John Rylands Library as a gift from the Guardian.

Yesterday’s visit was designed to facilitate knowledge sharing about the two Guardian archive collections and to open up discussions around partnership working. We were interested to hear that plans are already being made for the celebration of the bi-centenary of the Guardian in 2021; and that the Guardian archive in London had recently acquired owner/editor C.P. Scott’s desk which was originally located in the Manchester office.

l to r: Fran Baker, Philippa Mole and Helen Swainger examine the Peterloo relief fund account book. Photograph by Jane Speller.

l to r: Fran Baker, Philippa Mole and Helen Swainger examine the Peterloo relief fund account book. Photograph by Jane Speller.

After taking our visitors on a tour of the Library, we went behind the scenes to show them some treasures from the John Rylands’ collections. These included Elizabeth Gaskell’s original manuscript for her biography of Charlotte Brontë, William Caxton’s English-French dictionary (an aid for merchants travelling abroad) dating from the late fifteenth century, and Queen Victoria’s glove. The glove is one of the curios from the Isabella and Linnaeus Banks Collection (part of the E.L. Burney Collection). Philippa and Helen were fascinated to see the Peterloo relief fund account book which records payments made to the injured and the families of the dead, resulting from the Peterloo Massacre on 16 August 1819. Peterloo was one of the catalysts for the launching of the Manchester Guardian. The paper was intended as a mouthpiece for liberal voices in Manchester.

Treasures from the Manchester Guardian Archive included the 1821 Prospectus which set out the ideals of the newspaper and the 1821 Agreement signed by John Edward Taylor (1791-1844) and the other founders of the paper. The agreement promised that the founders’ investments would be returned should the paper fail.

Agreement between J.E. Taylor and a group of Manchester merchants and gentlemen for financing the launch of the newspaper in 1821. Guardian Archive, GDN/260/4. Reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd.

Agreement between J.E. Taylor and a group of Manchester merchants and gentlemen for financing the launch of the newspaper in 1821. Guardian Archive, GDN/260/4. Reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd.

We also looked at the wonderful Manchester Guardian centenary album which was presented to owner/editor C.P. Scott (1844-1932) in 1921. The photographs in the album were taken by staff photographer Walter Doughty (1876-1958) and each page features a different department of the paper, from editors and sub-editors, to secretaries, porters, stable boys, cooks, and cleaners. Every member of staff is named, and anyone who was absent on the day of the shoot was photographed later and pasted in. The album is a complete record of the 500-odd people who worked for the newspaper at that time.

Manchester Guardian cleaners and porters dressed in their Sunday best, 1921. Guardian Archive, GDN/140/2. Reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd.

Manchester Guardian cleaners and porters dressed in their Sunday best, 1921. Guardian Archive, GDN/140/2. Reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd.

Manchester Guardian dining-room staff and cooks, 1921. Guardian Archive, GDN/140/2. Reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd.

Manchester Guardian dining-room staff and cooks, 1921. Guardian Archive, GDN/140/2. Reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd.

We look forward to forging closer links with our Guardian archive colleagues in the future.



Representations of Jews and Judaism in the Works of the Methodist theologian Adam Clarke (1762-1832)


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In another fruitful collaboration between the University’s Centre for Jewish Studies and the John Rylands Research Institute, Dr Simon Mayers has been working for two months on the Methodist Collections at the John Rylands Library. The subject of the project has been Adam Clarke’s discourse about Jews and Judaism. The study was conducted with the help of the rare books librarian and curator, Dr Peter Nockles, and was funded by a John Rylands Research Institute Seed Corn Fellowship. “This is the first of what is hoped will be a series of Jewish Studies related research proposals using the unique Methodist Collections,” said Daniel Langton, Professor of the History of Jewish-Christian Relations and co-director of the CJS.


Adam Clarke (1762-1832) was a prominent Methodist theologian, preacher, and biblical scholar in England during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He was elected three times to the Presidency of the Methodist Church’s main governing body, the Methodist Conference, and is probably best known for his eight-volume commentary, the ever so succinctly named: The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments. The text carefully printed from the most correct copies of the present authorized translation, including the marginal readings and parallel texts. With a commentary and critical notes, designed as a help to a better understanding of the sacred writings (1825).

Adam Clarke

Portrait of Dr Adam Clarke, 1806, ref. Meth.Arch./PLP 26/11/24

Adam Clarke’s early nineteenth-century bible commentaries and sermons provide an illustration of how theological representations of Jews and Judaism continued into nineteenth-century English discourse. Whilst some of Clarke’s stereotypes of Jews and Pharisees were reasonably traditional, some were quite unexpected and even peculiar. For example, in his ambivalent construction of Judas Iscariot in his commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew and the Acts of the Apostles, Clarke stated that Judas was one of the most “infamous” and “vile” of men, and “a thorough Jew”, but he also argued that Judas could have been far worse, and that “much of the wisdom and goodness of God” was to be found in his subsequent repentance and remorse. Another example was his anachronistic projections of contemporary deism and atheism onto the Sadducees. Clarke was in line with the writings of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, the New Testament, and even some rabbinic texts, when he asserted that the Sadducees rejected the idea of the resurrection of the dead, and an afterlife with rewards and punishments. However, in his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, and in a couple of his sermons, he made a leap from that reasonably firm ground to the assertion that they were thus “materialists”, “deists” and “atheists”. According to Clarke in his commentary on Matthew, “from every account we have of this sect, it plainly appears they were a kind of mongrel deists, and professed materialists.”

One of the more traditional theological ideas in his discourse was that following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70CE, the Jews of subsequent generations have become an eternal witness people to the truth of Christianity (he asserted that the Jews were “preserved as continued monuments of the truth of our Lord’s prediction, and of the truth of the Christian religion”), and their role in bringing the “light for the illumination of the nations” has been transferred to “the Gentiles”. However, Clarke went further, stating in a sermon outline that God’s new representative people were even closer to home. He stated that it was “probable that the British nation is now the representative people, by and from whom all the nations of the earth are to receive the knowledge of the true God.”

The findings from this study have already been presented as a paper at the recent British Association for Jewish Studies Conference (July 2015), and are currently been written up as an article.

The Great Escape: as told by the reporters of the Guardian newspaper


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Jane Speller, Project Archivist for the Guardian newspaper foreign correspondence cataloguing project, writes:

The archive of the Manchester Guardian contains countless reports of refugees desperately fleeing Germany to escape persecution and often murder at the hands of the Nazis. From early 1933 onwards much of the foreign correspondence is dominated by these accounts.

Many refugees had no real plan of escape beyond getting across the German frontier. Reading their stories brings to mind the classic World War II film, The Great Escape (1963). Based on a true story, The Great Escape follows escapees from the infamous German POW (Prisoner of War) camp Stalag Luft III, as they desperately attempt to reach neutral Switzerland, Sweden, and Spain. Of fifty men, only three succeed in escaping; the rest are returned to prison or shot. Two men row to freedom, eventually stowing away on a Swedish merchant ship. The third man bicycles through the countryside to France, where he is guided by the Resistance to Spain.

Allied propoganda image, ‘French resistance partisans fight alongside Allied troops to retake their cities’ (around 1944) © Wikimedia Commons

Allied propoganda image, ‘French resistance partisans fight alongside Allied troops to retake their cities’ (around 1944) © Wikimedia Commons


Berlin correspondent Frederick Voigt writes to his editor W.P. Crozier about the plight of the Socialist workmen who have had to leave Germany because of their political views. On 29 August 1933, he comments, that they fought against the ‘Brown Shirts’ and are now destitute and starving. There are hundreds of refugees in camps or barracks round Paris. Some quarters are alright others are squalid. More refugees are arriving all the time. Robert Dell reports from Geneva on 6 April 1933 that several thousand refugees, Jews and others have arrived at Basle and Zurich. No official measures have been taken so far to accommodate them.

As the Nazi regime progressed, it became harder to get out of the country. The majority of refugees fled illegally which meant that they arrived with few possessions, no identity papers and no money (it was forbidden to take or send money out of the country). On 27 May 1933 Alexander Werth reports from Paris that the Reuters news agency account of 25,000 Jewish refugees in Paris is incorrect. There are in fact 25,000 German refugees, of whom 5,000-10,000 are Jewish. On 27 Jul 1933 Voigt draws Crozier’s attention to a Daily Telegraph article about the 1,500 penniless refugees currently in Britain.

On 30 May 1933 Voigt writes to Crozier about the relief efforts for German refugees. He says the Hospitality Committee in England is doing good work, but its scope is limited. On 19 June 1933 he reports that in Paris suicide, venereal disease and crime are beginning to spread amongst the refugees.


On 30 May 1933, Voigt says he believes that less than 5% of the refugees are coming to England, due to the restrictions. Dell, Werth, Voigt and Marcel Fodor, the Vienna correspondent, all report on relief efforts for the refugees and the problems surrounding the issue of Nansen passports (refugee travel documents).

On 7 July 1933, Werth tells Crozier that Valerian Dovgalevsky, the Soviet Ambassador, has said that the Soviets might employ some of the doctors and engineers who are refugees; they might also give refugees land for settlement. Dovgalevsky was however a little sceptical in view of the ‘bourgeois’ mentality of most of the refugees, commenting ‘if they were workmen, we would take them like a shot’.

Voigt writes a letter on 23 October 1933 regarding the treatment of German fugitives who are landing in England. On arriving, several have been shocked to have been asked if they are Jewish. He suspects one particular workman who he knows personally was turned away because he is poor, even though he his papers were in order.

…and Deaths

Dell reports on 10 April 1933, that Rudolf Breitscheid (1874-1944) a leading member of the Social Democratic Party and member of parliament, has come out of Germany legally. Voigt reports on 8 April that Breitscheid would like to work, but he is too noticeable (very tall and thin, with striking features) and would be arrested immediately. Breitscheid says he is thinking of going to London to start life afresh. He is an old friend of the Manchester Guardian, and former editor C.P. Scott used to refer to him as ‘the only German Liberal’.

Rudolph Breitscheid, German Stamp, 1974 © Wikimedia Commons

Rudolph Breitscheid, East German stamp, 1974 © Wikimedia Commons

Breitscheid and his close colleague Rudolf Hilferding (1877-1941), a Marxist economist and Socialist theorist, flee Germany to the South of France. Efforts were undertaken by the Refugee Committee to get them to Spain, but they both refused to leave illegally. In 1941, they were arrested by the Gestapo.

The situation for many refugees seemed hopeless. On 30 May 1933 Voigt reports on two suicides last week in France. The situation for refugees in the Saar and in Czechoslovakia is just as bad.

On 4 April 1935 Voigt telegrams Crozier a breaking story. Dr Dora Fabian (1901-1935) and fellow political émigré Mathilde Wurm (1874-1935) have been found dead in their Bloomsbury flat, ‘a bottle which is believed to have contained poison was lying near the bodies and a mass of correspondence in foreign languages was strewn across the floor’ (The Age newspaper, 6 April 1935). Fabian was an anti-Nazi activist, writer and journalist, described by Ellen Wilkinson as ‘one of the most brilliant brains exiled from Germany by the Nazi revolt’. Wurm was a socialist, feminist and passionate anti-Fascist. She had been a close friend of the Marxist theorist and revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919).

Mathilde Wurm, Lore Agnes and Clara Zetkin

Mathilde Wurm (right) with political activists Lore Agnes (left) and Clara Zetkin (middle), in front of the Reichstag, Berlin (1919) © Wikimedia Commons

Wurm and Fabian were connected with Socialists all around the world and actively helped refugees escape from Nazi Germany.

The women became friendly with Dr Hans Wesemann (1895-1971), a German refugee in London, who unbeknown to them was a Gestapo agent. It is believed that the information gathered by Wesemann led to the arrests of a number of the women’s friends and colleagues in Germany.  Writing on 7 April 1935, Voigt suggests that the knowledge of this inadvertent betrayal drove the women to a suicide. There was however a suspicion that they were murdered by Gestapo agents, as their apartment had been burgled on two previous occasions and papers removed. This and other refugee stories are examined in The strange case of Dora Fabian and Mathilde Wurm: a study of German political exiles in London during the 1930’s by Dr Charmian Brinson.

The Syriac Galen Palimpsest: Recruitment of Research Associates



Professor Peter Pormann, Director of the John Rylands Research Institute, has recently received funding for a large-scale (£1m) project entitled ‘The Syriac Galen Palimpsest: Galen’s On Simple Drugs and the Recovery of Lost Texts through Sophisticated Imaging Techniques’.

We are seeking to recruit two Research Associates who will be part of a team comprising the principal investigator (Professor Peter E. Pormann) and two co-investigators (Dr Bill Sellers and Dr Siam Bhayro). You will be supervised by Professor Pormann and Dr Siam Bhayro. As Research Associate to this project you will identify and transcribe under text of the SGP, analyse the text with reference to British Library manuscripts and Greek versions, disseminate your findings by means of presentation and publication and assist the Principal Investigators in organising workshops and conferences. You will also be expected to play an active role in the Institute, such as attending and contributing to seminars and lectures.

You will have a strong command of Syriac and Greek, a doctorate and proven track record of research in the field of Syria Studies and previous experience of reading Syriac manuscripts. You will also need excellent interpersonal and communication skills, be able to prioritise and manage your own workload meeting deadlines where applicable, be able to work independently and as part of a collaborative team.

The closing date is 6 August 2015. For further information and details of how to apply, please see the jobs page on the University website.

Marcantonio’s Day Out


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On Monday 22nd June 2015 The Visual Collections Team were delighted to take the Spencer Album of Marcantoni Raimondi prints to The Whitworth Art Gallery for one of their first study days since reopening in February. The session was led by Dr Edward Wouk, Lecturer in Art History (1450-1800), and the day was entitled Investigating Marcantonio Raimondi.

The highlight for the Visual Collection Team was the discussion that the Spencer Album provoked, which was led by Visiting Research Fellow at the John Rylands Research Institute, Lisa Pon. Lisa had spent her month-long fellowship analyzing the Spencer album of prints by Marcantonio Raimondi, which had been discovered here in the library, by Ed Wouk. She hoped to develop a hands-on understanding of the album as a physical object and had been keen to understand the volume on three levels: as a material book, a compilation of prints, and an invaluable tool for understanding Raphael’s and Marcantonio’s reputation towards the end of the early modern period.

Lisa Pon and The Marconatonio Album

Lisa Pon and The Marconatonio Album, Ref. 8050

Lisa Pon said:

“I am so grateful I’ve had the luxury of really devoting myself to studying it during my time as a visiting fellow at the JRRI. It was exciting to spend a day with other scholars looking at the album, exchanging ideas about what was in the album, what Marcantonio Raymond’s prints might mean and how they were made. It was great fun and I think that together we have advanced our understanding of the album and Italian Renaissance prints.”

Liberté, égalité, fraternité: a French Revolutionary calendar


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Today is Bastille Day, and we celebrate by announcing the recent acquisition of a fascinating manuscript French Revolutionary calendar, or calendrier universel.

French Revolutionary calendar, 1804, French MS 147

French Revolutionary calendar, 1804, French MS 147

The revolutionary system was instituted in 1792, in order to eradicate all religious and royalist influences from the calendar. It was part of a larger endeavour to systematize units of measurement, including metrication and decimalization.

The Convention decreed that Year 1 of the Republic began on 22 September 1792, the day of the autumn equinox in Paris. Thereafter each year would contain twelve months of thirty days each (with provision for leap years).

Months were given new names based on the cycle of nature. Thus Brumaire, starting in late October, derived from the French brume (fog), while Messidor, starting on 19 or 20 June, took its name from the Latin word messis, (harvest).

Each month was divided into three décades or ‘weeks’ of ten days each. Décades proved unpopular, as workers had only one full day’s rest in ten, and were abandoned in April 1802 (Floréal an X). The entire calendar system was abolished by an act dated 22 Fructidor an XIII (9 September 1805), with effect from 1 January 1806, although it was briefly reinstated during the Paris Commune of 1871.

Our calendar (now French MS 147) measures 48 x 34 cms (metrication proved more successful than the Revolutionary calendar). It was evidently prepared in 1804 and was projected for use between 1804 and 1821. It may have been intended as a teaching aid in the classroom, or as a practical tool for converting dates between the French calendar and the Gregorian calendar used everywhere else in Europe.

For more information on the Revolutionary calendar, see the detailed Wikipedia entry.

Conference: ‘The University Reimagined: Past and Present’


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This symposium on the changing role of universities through history takes place at The University of Manchester on Wednesday, 16 September.

University of Manchester degree day, 1950s


The idea of the university has been evolving since medieval Europe and the process of change continues today through innovation and reimagining of purpose.

This symposium will focus on how, when and where universities have been remodelled or repurposed and how their history informs their present. It will consider, for example: why new forms of the university were introduced; how new institutions challenged the university’s established functions, or their relationship with church and state; the process through which these institutions became a primary mechanism for knowledge production and dissemination; and how they came to serve a greater proportion of citizens.

It will also consider the context, motivations and expression of these changes across time and space and how they continue to inform and shape the universities of today.

The symposium will be opened with a keynote address by Professor William Whyte of St Johns College, Oxford, who recently published Redbrick: A Social and Architectural History of Britain’s Civic Universities.

Prof. Michael Polyani (centre), Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Manchester from 1933 to 1948, with Dr A.G. Evans (right), also of the Chemistry Department, observing an experiment on the formation of plastics. Ref: UPC/1/145(2).


Call for papers

Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers on topics that consider developments in the form and function of universities or which offer comparative analysis between types of universities or universities in different global settings.

Abstracts of a maximum of 200 words should be submitted to The deadline for abstracts is Friday, 17 July 2015.


There is no charge for the event and lunch will be provided.

Undiscovered collections: John Heath-Stubbs (1918 – 2006)

A team from Collection Management has recently completed restoring and cataloguing the John Heath-Stubbs Printed Book Collection which, along with his papers, were acquired by the Library in 2007 from Golbourne Antiques, London, with financial assistance from the Robert Gavron Charitable Trust.  He died of cancer on 26 December 2006, aged 88.

John Heath-Stubbs was born in London on 9th July 1918. Partially-sighted from birth, by his late teens his sight had deteriorated so rapidly that he was sent to Worcester College for the Blind.  His failing eyesight allowed him to apply for the Barker Exhibition in English at Queen’s College, Oxford, and so, despite having originally wanted to study biology, he became a student of literature[i]. Whilst at Oxford he was part of the generation which included Keith Douglas, Sidney Keyes, Philip Larkin (with whom he had an ongoing quarrel!), Kingsley Amis and Iris Murdoch, and was also heavily influenced by the teachings of C.S. Lewis.


‘By permission of the estate of Sidney Keyes’

Throughout his literary career, John Heath-Stubbs was a prominent figure in British poetry, winning many poetry prizes, including the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and the Commonwealth Poetry Prize. He was appointed OBE in 1989. His prolific literary output included 30 volumes of poetry, as well as translations, criticism, drama and an autobiographical work. His most famous poems were The Divided Ways and Artorius.


Enitharmon Press

His near blindness did not impede his literary career (he was completely blind by age of 60; having had his right eye was removed in 1956, while his left eye had become too weak for reading by 1961) as he felt deafness must be a far worse disability, saying, “As a poet, I have found that blindness actually tends to stimulate the imagination.”[ii] He also scolded his friend Dannie Abse for describing him as “Heath-Stubbs, the blind poet” – which made him sound, he said, like “Porkie the learned pig”.[iii] Interestingly, he was known to have a close friendship with the deaf poet David Wright, editing many anthologies together.  His deteriorating eyesight can be seen in this collection by the declining accuracy of his signature on most items.

‘By permission of the Estate of John Heath-Stubbs’

‘By permission of the Estate of John Heath-Stubbs’


‘By permission of the Estate of John Heath-Stubbs’

It is clear from the amount of personal dedications, signed copies and limited editions within the collection that he was held in high esteem by contemporaries.  TS Eliot saw him as among the foremost critics and poets of his generation, and Herbert Read said, “It is as though a modern architect had suddenly produced a perfect baroque temple”.[iv] Kathleen Taylor said that “Conversation with him was like having jewels scattered in profusion into your hands and lap”.[v]

Despite having been described as a “towering solitary”, he was also a very sociable man who liked (most) people and welcomed their company.[vi] He was known to frequent many of Soho’s notorious drinking-holes in the 1950s and 1960s, and his own little basement flat in west London was a model of bohemian squalor.[vii]  Despite his fading eyesight, he remained fiercely independent and insisted on attending literary events, living alone, entertaining and even cooking for his many friends.

View the John Heath-Stubbs Printed Book Collection records via the University of Manchester Library website.

[i] Taylor, Kathleen. (2006). Appreciation: John Heath-Stubbs. Available at:, (Accessed: 23 April 2015)

[ii] Meyer, Michael. (2006). John Heath-Stubbs. Available at:, (Accessed: 23 April 2015).

[iii] Ezard, John. (2006). Poet John Heath-Stubbs dies, aged 88. Available at:, (Accessed: 23 April 2015)

[iv] Taylor, Kathleen. (2006). Appreciation: John Heath-Stubbs. Available at:, (Accessed: 23 April 2015)

[v] Meyer, Michael. (2006). John Heath-Stubbs. Available at:, (Accessed: 23 April 2015).

[vi] Powell, Neil. (2006). John Heath-Stubbs : Poet of outstanding technical mastery, wry wisdom and deceptive lightness with a timeless lyric gift. Available at:, (Accessed: 23 April 2015).

[vii] Powell, Neil. (2006). John Heath-Stubbs : Poet of outstanding technical mastery, wry wisdom and deceptive lightness with a timeless lyric gift. Available at:, (Accessed: 23 April 2015).


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