A Tribute to Clare Hollingworth


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In a slight departure from my usual era of the Guardian archive, this month’s blog post is a tribute to Clare Hollingworth, journalist and war correspondent, who passed away this month, aged 105.  

Hollingworth is best known as the first journalist to report on the amassed German forces which were preparing to enter Poland, and for breaking the news of the beginning of the Second World War. This was her first big scoop, and the start of Hollingworth’s career, which would last over another four decades. Hollingworth reported on conflict and war from Romania, Egypt, Algeria and Vietnam, and was the first staff correspondent for the Daily Telegraph in China. The extent of her involvement in the assistance of refugees, fleeing from Nazi invasion, has also recently been uncovered. Prior to her work in journalism, she was employed by the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia, and worked in Poland, assisting thousands to obtain visas. She worked as a correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Express, The Economist, The Observer, and for the Guardian. Whilst with the Guardian, Hollingworth would provide the first report that Kim Philby, a double agent, had defected and gone to Russia.

Hollingworth was also employed as the defence correspondent of the Guardian, from 1963-1967, and it is from this role that the correspondence featured below is taken.

Reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

Reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

In the first letter, we see Hollingworth discuss with Alastair Hetherington, editor of the Guardian, an increase in interest in the First World War, owing to the approaching 50th anniversary of its outbreak, and a proposal for a project to take advantage of this interest with articles from France. This is one of the many examples of Hollingworth’s proactive approach to her role. There are multiple suggestions within the correspondence by Hollingworth of potential trips, to Indonesia and Vietnam, and reference to her visits to Gibraltar, Malta, Tripoli, El Adam and Cyprus, Jordan and Egypt. Hollingworth’s letters show that she was one of the few journalists given personal permission, by President Sukarno to visit Indonesia in 1964, during the Indonesian confrontation. The correspondence suggests that this permission was granted because Hollingworth was perceived as honest, and her work in Algeria had met with approval.


Reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

The second piece of correspondence featured is also a report from Hollingworth relating to testing of nuclear missiles in Egypt. The assistance of German scientists in the development of nuclear weapons in Egypt was a subject of international controversy, and Hollingworth would report on its impact throughout 1964, alongside reports on and discussion of the work of NATO. The correspondence features several reports by Hollingworth on attempts to reach agreements with regards to NATO, with reference to negotiations between America, France, Germany and Russia.

The above correspondence are minor examples of the work of an inspirational journalist, who successfully both eluded and challenged the limitations placed upon women as reporters. The correspondence series of the Guardian archive also clearly shows that her work and judgement were valued and sought after. Hollingworth, like all trailblazers, widened the horizons, and demonstrated that there were no restrictions upon the work she could perform in her field.


From Consulate to Classroom: The E. H. Parker Collection and the Development of Chinese Studies in Manchester


The bustling port of Guangzhou, featuring cargo boats of all sizes, and a dragon boat weaving through all the traffic on the river. The photograph was probably taken shortly after 1888 (when the Sacred Heart Cathedral, seen in the background, was completed).

Dr David Woodbridge, postdoctoral researcher funded by the British Inter-University China Centre writes:

On 29 August 1842, the Treaty of Nanjing was signed between China and Great Britain. It transformed the relationship between the two countries, loosening the tight controls on access to China and paving the way for thousands of British people to live and work there during the following century. Knowledge of China – its history, language and culture – had, up to this point, been very limited. Many of those who now took advantage of the new opportunities also had a keen interest in studying the great and ancient civilisation they found themselves in.

One of these people was Edward H. Parker (1849-1926), who went to China in 1869 to work for the British consular service. Parker was part of group of China residents – mostly missionaries and consular officials – who undertook a range of sinological enquiries. Their findings and disputes filled the pages of journals such as the China Review, and represented a first flowering of English-language scholarship on China. In 1901, following his retirement from the consular service, Parker became Professor of Chinese at the University of Manchester. He was the first occupant of this chair, which he held until his death.

Parker’s papers, now in the John Rylands Library, showcase the breadth of his scholarship, and shed light on the ways in which his consular career moulded his academic pursuits. From April to July 2016, with the support of a fellowship from the British Inter-University China Centre, I conducted research into the E. H. Parker Collection, and in the process produced a new handlist. This blog introduces some of the highlights of the collection.

The Parker Collection contains an extensive photograph collection of about five hundred images. This diverse collection includes images of locations across the world, with original photographs, prints, and pictures removed from newspapers and magazines, from the period c.1868-c.1920. Most feature scenes and people from China, but Burma, Japan and Korea are also well represented. Some of the most impressive photographs are  scenes of Fuzhou and Guangzhou, two important ports where Parker worked.


The crew of a ship preparing for the Battle of Fuzhou,. There are several photos featuring scenes from this battle, which was fought on 23 August 1884 between China and France.

Parker worked in Beijing, in several major coastal ports, and in cities inland, including Chongqing. His interests were many and varied, and he authored several books and numerous articles on different aspects of Chinese language, history and culture. But Parker also kept a close eye on the evolving political situation of his day. Following his return to Britain, he continued to receive Chinese newspapers and government bulletins on an array of political, economic, social and military subjects. His  meticulously organised collection is a valuable source for the turbulent events of the late-Qing and early republican periods.

During his consular career, and afterwards as an academic, Parker maintained a strong interest in the different peoples on and around China’s borders. He wrote books and articles on the Manchus, Tibetans and Turkic peoples, as well as preparing an unpublished manuscript on the history of the Mongols. But Parker developed a particular interest in the regions on China’s southwestern border, as a result of a posting there. From 1892-3, he served as Adviser to the Indian Government on Chinese Affairs in Burma. The Parker Collection contains copies of official reports he wrote, summarising contemporary events as well as his own research into the history of Sino-Burmese relations.

Following his return to Britain, Parker became increasingly interested in the politics of the Himalayas, where Britain and China were competing for influence. Parker delved deep into the region’s history, using this to inform his, largely supportive, analysis of British interventions on this contested frontier. He collected a wealth of documents and engaged in correspondence with various actors and observers. His collection not only provides a fascinating source for the history of these regions and peoples during a period of great change and upheaval, but also sheds light on early Western efforts to study and write about these places.

The E. H. Parker Collection is an important resource for studying the British involvement in China during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It contains much to interest those who want to explore the official British presence in the country, as well as in Burma and the Himalayas. Most importantly the collection sheds light on some of the earliest efforts in Britain to promote the study of China, and on the important role Parker played in this process.

A handlist and introduction to the photographs in the collection are now available:



The colourful world of Jeff Nuttall (1933-2004)


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Dr Janette Martin writes:

Since January 2016, when I started work at the John Rylands Library, I have looked after the Jeff Nuttall Papers. It has been an adventure. Nuttall, for those who have not yet met him, was a Lancashire-born artist and poet, jazz musician, critic, social commentator, novelist, actor and influential teacher. A larger than life character who played a key role in a worldwide network of radical, avant-garde artists and writers who challenged mainstream culture in the 1960s and 1970s. As part of my curatorial duties I had the pleasure of working with Douglas Field and Jay Jeff Jones on a major exhibition Off Beat: Jeff Nuttall and the International Underground which can be seen at The John Rylands Library until 5 March 2017.

The Jeff Nuttall papers largely date from the 1960s and 1970s, a period when Nuttall lay at the heart of an international network or writers, thinkers, artists and activists. The papers comprise manuscripts of literary and artistic value many of which were subsequently published in mimeographed magazines and a large sequence of letters. A key component of the underground movement were cheaply produced and easily circulated ephemeral magazines. Nuttall’s My Own Mag (1963-66) being just one example. Such publications deliberately pushed the boundaries of taste and provoked the censors with strong language, drug references and sexual content.


Recently acquired copies of My Own Mag, University of Manchester

But it is the correspondence files in the Nuttall Papers which I find most fascinating. Letters between friends and collaborators reveal charming details and idiosyncrasies. Many have their own literary qualities, with writers self-consciously asserting their intellectual prowess or role in the movement. Other letters reveal tensions, petty rivalries or plain curiosity. I will give two examples. The first is an undated letter from Harold Norse (1916-2009) written to Jeff Nuttall sometime in 1968. Its sets out, rather beautifully, the intellectual and cultural climate:

So I nodded my head, which Lucie-Smith interpreted as agreement with Jeff Nuttall, but actually was beating time to a tune by that great modern poet, Dylan – – Bob Dylan: “Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is” … & my mind went back to the Cabaret Voltaire (1916) where Hugo Ball chanted nonsense syllables, & the Odéon where Tzara, at the end of the world, picked out poems from a hat … and knew where it was at.

[Ref: JNP/138, Jeff Nuttall Papers, The University of Manchester]


Manifesto for the Grey Generation, Dick Wilcock Collection, University of Manchester

The second, a letter from Mary Beach, one of the few female writers to establish a place in the early underground movement, makes me smile. In an undated letter sent from San Francisco around 1967, Beach playfully asks how to pronounce his name, is it “Newtall? Nut-tall? Nuttle? Everybody here has a different way?”[Ref : JNP/1/33 Jeff Nuttall Papers, The University of Manchester]

Since ‘Off Beat’ opened in September 2016 it has acted as a magnet attracting other Nuttall material and strengthening our underground collection. The first addition was the Dick Wilcocks Collection which includes, among other things, further editions of My Own Mag (issues 9-17), A copy of George Son of My Own Mag (April 1971); a copy of Carl Weissner’s Manifesto of the Grey Generation (August 1966) ten letters from Nuttall and two typescript Nuttall poems. I was fascinated to see a small number of photographs documenting the notorious sTigma installation in the basement of the Better Books store in 1965. Secondly we have purchased 4 editions of My Own Mag (pictured above) from Barry Miles (b.1943), author and participant of the sixties London underground scene.

Our ambition is to eventually acquire a full set of My Own Mags. In the slide show below, you can see the covers of the editions we do have. Do get in touch if you can help us plug the gaps! Finally watch this space early next year for details of a modest Jeff Nuttall Sound Archive project.

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Conversations with an Ottoman Gentleman: Nathaniel Bland’s Paris Notebooks


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Dr Nil Palabiyik, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the John Rylands Research Institute, writes:

The British orientalist Nathaniel Bland (1803-1865) is perhaps best known as the scholar who (mis)attributed the origins of the game of chess to Persians. His hypothesis was based on a single manuscript. This is now John Rylands Library, Arabic MS 93. This erroneous assumption aside, Bland was an accomplished orientalist. He contributed to the knowledge of Persian literature through several thought-provoking papers delivered the Royal Asiatic Society, which later appeared in the Journal of the Society. His translation of the Atesh Kedah, or the Fire Temple, a biographic work on Persian poets, and his anthology of Persian ghazels became standard texts in the field. Above all, Bland was a bibliophile. His long-lasting legacy is his vast collection of Arabic, Persian and Turkish books. Many of the oriental manuscripts at the John Rylands Library can indeed be traced back to Bland.

Bland’s biography carries all the hallmarks of a nineteenth-century aristocrat’s life. He was born into an affluent family who divided their time between their townhouse in Marylebone and Randall Park, a lavish estate in Leatherhead, Surrey. The young Bland attended Eton and then studied oriental languages at Christ Church, Oxford. He played cricket for the exclusive MCC, got chummy with other gentlemen orientalists in Paris and Vienna in smoke-filled coffee-houses, and attended salons in Bad Homburg with the rest of the high society. He lost his fortune to his insatiable gambling habit and died a tragic death away from home at the relatively young age of 62.


Turkish MS 57, Bland’s Paris notebook, inside of front cover and p. 1.

John Rylands Turkish MS 57 and MS 58 are a pair of slim notebooks fittingly bound with marbled paper board covers by the Parisian stationer Wallerand who operated at number 11 on the fashionable Rue de la Paix. In them Bland meticulously recorded real and imagined conversations with an Ottoman gentleman resident in Paris. It seems, Bland took down these Turkish conversations with pencil at hand as they happened. At a later stage, he revised them in ink and translated the text into English. The Turkish column is always full, but the English equivalents are sometimes missing. Bland, like any other absent-minded scholar, possibly could not read what he previously scribbled in haste. The conversations begin on general topics such as the weather in London, the ills of the revolution and the poor’s enthausiasm for it, Paris’s wonderful sights and loose women, and pleasant walking routes through Tuileries Gardens. The subject matter shifts increasingly towards personal territory as one pages through the notebook. Pascal’s love of singing is revealed by his offer to perform Turkish and Armenian folk songs at Bland’s next dinner party, and we learn a lot about Bland’s widowed sister Isabella, who was suffering from a terrible cough at the time, as Pascal’s desire to meet her grows deeper and deeper. These intriguing exchanges between the Ottoman gentleman and Bland offer us a window into the intellectual world and multicultural networks of nineteenth-century Paris.


Turkish MS 57, pp. 22-23.

Bland’s companion, an Armenian merchant from Caesarea (modern-day Kayseri in middle Anatolia) by the name of Pascal, was a well-travelled man. Indeed, a section entitled ‘Pascal’s Travels’ follows the Ottoman subject’s progress from his home town to Paris over the course of nearly twenty years. While the accounts of European travellers’ peregrinations in the East are abundant, it is rare to catch a glimpse of how Ottomans travelling to Europe fared. According Bland’s notes, Pascal set out from Caesarea and went to the Armenian towns of Hacne and Sis, then to Adana and Tarsus. Then, he embarked on a ship to Cyprus. From there to Lebanon, Beirut, Sidon and Acre. A detail Pascal gave and recorded by Bland helps us pinpoint the year in which he visited Acre, where he witnessed the local governor Jezzar Ahmed Pasha erecting a mosque. This famous mosque was completed in 1781. From Acre, Pascal travelled to Nazareth and Nablus and finally to Jerusalem. Pascal tells us that he clothed himself as a dervish to be able to move freely in the city of Jerusalem. Being incognito, he was able to visit not only the Muslim monuments but also the earliest Christian churches that were converted to mosques. He resided in an Armenian convent in Jerusalem, where he stayed for the next three and a half years. After this extended stay, he returned to Anatolia. He spent some time as a travelling salesman in Sivas and Tokat. Soon after he settled in Constantinople and joined other Armenian jewellers in the famous Bedesten of the Ottoman capital. Three years of rest and stability in Constantinople was more than enough for our Pascal who apparently contracted the travelling bug. His next destination was Gallipoli, and from thence the bustling port city of Symrna, where he stayed for four years. Pascal’s business flourished in Symrna and furnished him with the funds that allowed him to engage in further adventures, this time to Western Europe, through Alexandria, Livorno and Marseilles. He arrived in Paris for the first time ‘in the seventh year of the Republic’. That would be 1799. After that Pascal lived in Madrid for a decade, details of which he does not grace us with. He had returned to Paris and was permanently resident there when he met Bland.

Maybe it is more important to know why Bland conversed with Pascal rather than when. Bland indicates that he always wanted to improve his Turkish and hired Pascal’s services. On the paste-down on the front cover of Turkish MS 57, we find Bland’s itemised expenses listed as: ‘Porter, Washing, Wine, Coffee, Valet’ and ‘Pascal’. Bland did not disclose how much he paid his Turkish teacher, but it is clear that Pascal charged for his help. Pascal was not at all a bad teacher, it seems: he encouraged Bland to converse on a diverse range of daily topics, but he also challenged him to discuss intricacies of Turkish language, poetry and folk tales. Bland duly praised his teacher remarking that he ‘finally found a good master’ who helped him progress rapidly.

The titles mentioned in the conversations are still extant in the John Rylands Library’s Turkish manuscript collection. Interesting codices include the Sefāretnāme-i Fransa, the Turkish Ambassador Yirmisekiz Mehmed Çelebi’s Paris journals spanning the years 1720–21 (Turkish MS 9), which must have proved a handy guide to Turkish language as well as Paris’s cityscape, and a sixteenth-century copy of the famous Kitāb-ı Ḳırḳ Vezīr, or the Tale of the Forty Viziers accompanied by a French translation by François Petis de la Croix, dragoman to the French Embassy in Constantinople from 1676 to 1680 (Turkish MS 8).


Turkish MS 8, Tale of Forty Viziers.


Turkish MS 9, Yirmisekiz Mehmed Çelebi’s Paris journal.

There’s much work to be done on Bland’s collection of Turkish manuscripts. But thanks to his Paris notebooks we now know that he was no vanity collector when it came to Turkish manuscripts. Bland actually read his Turkish books from cover to cover and perused his bilingual dictionaries. He enjoyed memorising and reciting Turkish poetry. He read traditional folk tales in their original Turkish. In the absence of published work, these notebooks and the conversations recorded in them help us chart Bland’s interest in and knowledge of Turkish language, culture and literature.

Dr Nil Palabiyik
British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow
The John Rylands Research Institute

Thomas Radford and Obstetrical Teaching


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Thomas Radford spent his working life in Manchester and dedicated much of his time to St Mary’s Hospital for Women and Children and to the teaching of midwifery. He taught at the schools of two of the city’s pioneers of medical education, Joseph Jordan and Thomas Turner, as well as privately from his own practice. Over the years he collected an extensive library and numerous medical specimens, mostly related to the field of midwifery and obstetrics, which he later donated to St Mary’s Hospital.



The Radford Library was donated to the University in the early 20th century and many of Radford’s manuscripts, both his own and those he collected, form part of the Manchester Medical Manuscripts Collection which was catalogued earlier this year. The University also owns a number of illustrations that formed part of Radford’s collections and will be catalogued in the coming year as part of a Wellcome Trust funded project. The drawings are nearly all obstetrical and vary in their detail. It is clear that a number of them have been produced to assist teaching and illustrate key points whilst others may have been bought by Radford to add to his extensive collections.

Captions on the reverse of the drawings explain exactly what they were intended to represent and how they may have been used in teaching:

“Represents a case of double uterus, one of which is gravid”

“Represents a gravid uterus at full period in the cavity of which (flooding having occurred during labour) a large coagulum was found. Specimen of internal flooding.”

Whilst much of the material that forms part of the Manchester Medical Manuscripts Collection has a great deal to offer in terms of the study of early medical teaching in Manchester some of Radford’s manuscripts offer a slightly different perspective. Most of the other lecture notes in the collection were written either by students or professional copyists whereas the surviving notes from Radford’s midwifery lectures  are written in his hand with details of the cases he intended to use to illustrate specific points. Combined with the surviving medical illustrations that filled his museum and served as teaching aids, we get a rare insight into early 19th-century medical education in Manchester from the perspective of the teacher.

Rehousing the Greek Papyri


Guest blog by Niki Pantazidou.

As a book and paper conservator I had the great opportunity to work at the University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library since March 2016. The Library has an important collection of more than 3000 papyri covering different periods, languages and origins. Papyrus, which was made from the plant Cyperous Papyrus, was first used as a writing material around 3000 BC in Egypt. The plant used to grow on the banks of the River Nile. Most inks used for writing on papyrus were black (carbon ink) and red (iron oxide-usually from natural minerals) (Danzing, 2010).


Black ink on papyrus, viewed through a microscope.

The Greek Papyrus collection in John Rylands Library provides important insights into early Christianity and important documents referring to medicine, taxation, etc. It also includes some fragments written on parchment – animal skin.


Unnumbered parchment fragment, with drawing of Christian figure.

In August 2016, with funding from the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust, the methodical papyri rehousing project was able to commence. The aim was a storage method which allows researchers to handle them safely and more easily. The idea behind the rehousing project came from our conservator, Tim Higson. Many fragments were very fragile, and at risk from a range of issues, including adhesive tapes, creases, folds, dust and dirt deposits.


Fragment showing tears and creases.


Fragment showing dirt and dust deposits.

The majority of the fragments were kept in polyester “wallets”, which are unsuitable because of the risks caused by static. Some of the fragments need to be stabilized with “bridges” which are Japanese tissue coated with SCMC. This type of glue is activated with deionized water.We decided to remove fragments from polyester wallets, and place them in archival folders.


Taking the papyrus out of the polyester wallet.


Stabilizing a fragment using “bridges”

During the process of the project, we had to leave some of the papyri fragments in their polyester “wallets” due to their fragile condition.


Fragment to fragile to remove from polyester wallet.

“The regimen I adopt shall be for the respect and the benefit of my monuments according to my ability and judgement, and not for their hurt or for any wrong. I will give no deadly treatment to any, though it be asked of me, nor will I counsel such, and especially I will not aid to demolish whatever monument I enter. There I will go for its benefit and the benefit of society, refraining from all wrong doing and corruption, and especially from any act of seduction. And I will document and publish every step that I take.”
(Conservator’s vow, “The Venice Charter”, 1964).


Loose fragments that need a different storage solution!


Tim Higson’s solution for the storage of loose fragments and seals

Conservators work with archaeologists, curators, papyrologists, chemists and other professionals cooperate to unite the past with the future and bring to light valuable knowledge and information about customs, traditions, and history. I would like to thank the University of Manchester and the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust for giving me the opportunity to work on this unique collection of Greek Papyri, and to thank Tim Higson and Dr Roberta Mazza for their support and guidance. Finally, I wish to acknowledge the help and the warm support provided by all my colleagues. It was an exceptional working environment and I feel very grateful about that.

Danzing, R. (2010, September 22). Pigments and Inks Typically used on Papyrus. Retrieved November 29, 2016, from BKM TECH: https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/community/blogosphere/2010/09/22/pigments-and-inks-typically-used-on-papyrus/

Environmental monitors at the Rylands


Dennis Batchelor  and Danny Gibbs after the calibration of our monitors



Today two patient men have calibrated our environmetal monitors all day.

Niki Pantazidou and Gill Birch, two conservators of the collection care team have collected 50 odd monitors distributed across the labyrinthic architecture of the John Rylands library.


Regular recalibration of our wireless environmental monitoring system is essential to maintain accurate and reliable readings and to make sure our collections are contained in the best environment possible.




Radium and Radiotherapy in Neurological Cases


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Working through the many patient case files of leading neurosurgeon Geoffrey Jefferson there are a number of particularly significant topics and themes that stand out as being of interest, which I will explore in various blog posts over the coming months beginning this week with the development of radiotherapy and brachytherapy as a therapeutic treatment in Manchester.



MMC/P/205 Christie Hospital and Holt Radium Institute

Wilhelm Rӧntgen discovered the effect of x-rays in November 1895 and the field of radiography developed very rapidly from this point onwards with investigations into the therapeutic uses of radiation beginning almost immediately. Efforts to treat cancer patients with radiotherapy and radium were experimented with in Manchester very early on, although somewhat tentatively at first, with the Manchester Radium Institute being founded in 1915 within the confines of the Manchester Royal Infirmary. By 1933 the Christie Hospital and the Holt Radium Institute had moved to share new buildings on the outskirts of Manchester. In 1931 James Ralston Kennedy Paterson (1897-1981) had been appointed radium director of both the Holt Radium Institute and the Christie Hospital and was seen to be the driving force behind the uniting of the two facilities and the creation of a centralised and standardised radiotherapy service in Manchester.


In the treatment of his patients Jefferson made liberal use of both radiotherapy and brachytherapy, as either complementary to surgical treatment or as an alternative, and in turn made numerous referrals to Paterson at the Radium Institute. A handful of his early cases demonstrate this, and undoubtedly a greater number and variety of cases will emerge as work to catalogue the later files progresses. Various methods were employed, with gold radon seeds implanted in some patients and casts formed to allow the radium to be placed externally at the site of a lesion in others. The economics of treatment come through in discussions of treatment, where initial wishes to apply radium to the whole vault of patient 1931/98’s head was deemed to be far too expensive and a more localised approach taken instead. More interestingly when discussing the possibility of using radiation to reduce salivary secretion in patient 89/1932 Paterson reveals he has tried this therapy experimentally on himself.

JCN/1/429 Jefferson patient 1932/89

JCN/1/429 Jefferson patient 1932/89


The negative side effects of radiation are evident in different ways in two of Jefferson’s cases. Firstly patient 1928/83, a 53 year old woman originally admitted in 1928 for treatment of a spinal tumour, returned to the MRI several years later in 1942 owing to a malignant basal cell carcinoma on her back that had formed as a result of the radiotherapy she received for the spinal tumour. Her file contains correspondence between Jefferson and Paterson discussing the best form of treatment and the benefits of radiotherapy with Jefferson saying “She has had a great deal of x-ray therapy, probably too much … Although x-ray may be the cause of this I think she has to thank radiotherapy for being alive.” Around a similar time, patient 1933/166 was receiving deep x-ray therapy between 1934 and 1943 for a frontal tumour, but following his death his son wrote to Jefferson and commented in an otherwise complimentary letter that “once when he attended Christies he was put under the x-ray lamp without any shield on his head and eyes at all. After that his eyes troubled him a lot.”


The University Library also holds administrative records and reports from the Christie Hospital and Holt Radium Institute including numerous reports compiled by Paterson and his colleagues. Together with the illustrative case studies found amongst Jefferson’s patient files there exists a considerable resource for the study of the evolution of a modern radiotherapy department in Manchester, the development of treatments in practice, their efficacy, and patient experiences.

The Manchester Guardian and L.S. Lowry


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My find for this month from the Guardian archive is yet another example of the way in which the newspaper intertwines with the history of its location. It comes in the form of a series of drawings by L.S. Lowry, the Manchester born artist whose figure drawings set against the industrial landscape of Salford and Manchester would become both iconic and instantly recognisable.


The drawings were published in the paper in 1929-1930, a time at which Lowry’s work was gaining recognition and growing in popularity, and depict the demolition of buildings in High Street, Manchester, a ‘back street’ in Salford, the Charleston Wakes Ground and St George’s church in Salford, and a Lancashire Street Market.



Two further drawings, which show the Pollard Street and the Every Street Playground in Ancoats, are reproduced to publicise and exhibition of Lowry’s work at the Manchester University Settlement in March 1930.

pollard-street       playground

Lowry is described, underneath the drawings, as ‘the Manchester artist’, and it was perhaps his association with the area which would in part lead to the continued notices, reviews and support of his work from the Manchester Guardian.

Additional research elicited yet more connections. Lowry was a pupil at the Salford School of Art between 1915 and 1925, where he studied under Bernard D. Taylor, an art teacher, and also an art critic for the Manchester Guardian. Taylor would write a positive review of the first exhibition to which Lowry contributed a selection of paintings in 1921, singling out Lowry for praise. One of the interesting areas in which he would influence Lowry’s work would be to suggest that the figures depicted were too indistinct against a dark background, which led to Lowry’s first use of the white, light backgrounds which would accompany so many of his pictures.

The connection between these two Manchester giants is perhaps best illustrated, however, by a drawing by Lowry of the Manchester Guardian office in Cross Street, illustrating the beginning of work on the extension of the premises to include the newly acquired former offices of the Manchester Examiner in 1931. A letter of thanks for the drawing from E.T. Scott, son of C.P. Scott and current editor of the paper, reads:

‘It is most kind of you and the drawing will always be an agreeable reminder of the change over. Perhaps I may add that I do not as yet recognise the members of staff depicted in the foreground.’


Sadly, the drawing is not included in the Guardian archive, but a reproduction was printed in Guardian, Biography of a Newspaper by David Ayerst.

Despite the disparity in their political perspectives, it would seem that Lowry and the Manchester Guardian were united by a shared appreciation of the arts, and a mutual investment in Manchester, and its surrounding area.