Women who Shaped Manchester: The Magical Annie Horniman


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As we are approaching Halloween, it is appropriate to concentrate a blog on one of our most flamboyant Manchester women, who certainly had a love of all things mysterious and mystical.

Annie Horniman (1860-1937) was born into a wealthy London family of tea merchants. As a child she was greatly inspired by the theatre, which despite the disapproval of her parents developed into a life-long love. Rebellious in nature, Annie shunned restrictive Victorian values: she supported women’s suffrage, smoked heavily, was fond of dressing eccentrically, and cultivated an interest in astrology and the occult.

Annie Horniman

Annie Horniman in her Order of the Golden Dawn robes

Annie joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the 1890s, along with friends George Bernard Shaw, W B Yeats and Florence Farr [1]. Other notable members included Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dracula author, Bram Stoker. The Order of the Golden Dawn was devoted to the study and practice of the occult, metaphysics, and paranormal activities, actively engaging with magical rituals and tarot readings. Horniman took the name ‘Fortier et Recte’ (Bravely and Justly) and Yeats the motto ‘Demon est Deus Inversus’ (The devil is the converse of God) [2]. Writing to each other over the years they would sign themselves simply ‘Demon’ and ‘Fortier’. Horniman’s connection to Yeats was very strong; for years she behaved almost as an unpaid personal assistant to him and in the early 1900s she financed the Abbey Theatre in Dublin primarily as a showcase for Yeats’ plays.


W B Yeats, courtesy of the NPG

The partnership in Dublin was not entirely successful (documented in part by the aptly named Samhain, the in-house journal of the Irish National Theatre Society) and by 1906 Horniman was on the search for new a city, a new project and a new theatre. Turning her attentions to Manchester, by September 1908 Miss Horniman’s Company was moving into the reopened and refurbished Gaiety Theatre in the city centre; establishing one of the first regional repertory theatres.

Annie gave her new company a mystical symbol that appeared on all programmes and posters. It comprised of a six pointed star (symbolising fame and success) within which was the sign of Venus, the planet that governs the arts in the house of Libra (Annie’s birth sign). To one side of the star was the sign of Mercury, governing eloquence and writing and on the other the crescent moon to represent change and growth [2].


Company programme with mystical symbols

The symbols also adorned her personal writing paper and were essentially lucky charms for the new theatrical venture. Despite her best efforts to harness good fortune the theatre itself lasted less than ten years, finally being dissolved in 1917. However, Horniman’s impact on the theatre during that ten years and on Manchester itself cannot be underestimated. Her encouragement and support of local writers who formed what was became known as the Manchester School of dramatists, brought plays such as Harold Brighouse’s Hobson’s Choice to life. The Gaiety Theatre model was also adapted and capitalised upon by other cities, shaping regional modern theatre as we know it.

Anyone who is interested in Annie Horniman and the Manchester School of playwrights will be likely fascinated by a new publication by John Harding on the subject, Staging Life: The Story of the Manchester Playwrights which is available from Greenwich Exchange Publishing. John will also be in Manchester on Saturday November 10th giving a talk about Annie Horniman and The Gaiety Theatre at the Mary Quaile Club.

All images unless otherwise stated are copyright of the University of Manchester and can be used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike Licence. With thanks to the Rylands Imaging Services.

[1] Horniman Museum

[2] Goode, Sheila, (1990) Annie Horniman a Pioneer in the Theatre.

Touching the Past: Using Letters and Printed Works to Reconstruct Literary Communities and Study the Spread of Ideas


In 1545, Ludovico Domenichi published with Gabriel Giolito in Venice an anthology of Italian poems under the title of Rime diverse di molti eccellentissimi autori [Assorted Poems by Many Most Excellent Authors]. This work marked a new tendency in which individual pieces of writing by particular poets or canzoniere were replaced, for the first time, by an anthology of sonnets and canzoni by multiple authors. This shift in editorial and publishing practices was quickly picked up by competing editors like Lodovico Dolce, who created similar anthologies based on genre, the authors’ origin, gender, etc. [1]

Image 1_Rime Diverse_Walter L Bullock 1697In the particular case of the Rime diverse, the purpose of Domenichi was to guide its readers towards an institutional Petrarchism exemplified by the (strict) style and manner of the Venetian humanist Pietro Bembo. This literary phenomenon should not be studied as a list of names, according to scholars like Stefano Jossa, but rather as…

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What are Little Poetry Magazines?


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Bruce Wilkinson, John Rylands Research Institute researcher, writes:

New Departures

New Departures magazine, nos 2/3 (1960). University of Manchester Library.

The Dave Cunliffe Archive contains a superb collection of hundreds of British and American poetry journals stretching back to the 1950s. These are often described as ‘little poetry magazines’ but what are they and where do they fit within the broader history of modern verse?

The definition of the ‘little’ magazine refers to the size of its subscription list or the numbers produced, or is held by some to indicate that they are created by one person or a group of people rather than manufactured by a big company or organisation. Best described as cheaply made, they mostly contain experimental poetry and, although some are beautifully crafted, most appear similar to the ‘zines’ of the 1980s and ’90s (typed pages between hand-printed card covers) and are independently produced because editors choose to escape the limitations of the commercial publishers in terms of language, style and content.


Outburst magazine, no. 1 (1961). Courtesy of The University of Manchester Library.

Often their smaller circulations are largely made up of other editors, writers and poets, potentially creating a virtuous loop of literary influence far greater than a periodical with such a tiny readership would normally have. Created without the burden of trying to turn a profit, editors have the chance to be far more innovative in selecting poets and poems and, although restricted by budget, there is greater scope to push artistic boundaries both in terms of style and content.

Historically linked to art movements, early examples include The Germ from the Pre-Raphaelites and Wyndham Lewis’s Vorticist Blast, while the work of the Imagist poets was produced in several small magazines such as The Glebe. There are also similarities between the magazines and an early form of cheaply produced, popular manuscript available from around the sixteenth century which later became known as a ‘chapbook’.

They are important because in the late-1950s new forms of avant-garde poetry were emerging in both the US (via the Black Mountain College, New York, and the West Coast) and in Britain (particularly influenced by Dada and Surrealism) but which were largely ignored by a mainstream UK literary press controlled by traditionalists. So, at a point when new forms of cheaper printing technology were just becoming available, dozens of small presses and hundreds of little poetry magazines sprang up around the UK publishing this new experimental verse. A network formed linking poets, presses, editors and retailers alongside live readings which were often in unconventional venues (pubs, clubs and halls) attracting a very different audience and inspiring many new people to take up reading and writing verse. This ‘British Poetry Revival’ of the 1960s and ’70s is largely then the story of how working-class people were stirred to pick up a pen by reading and hearing verse untrammelled by its previous traditional restrictions, excited that poetic language could be their own.

Poet and publisher Jim Burns (who also has a collection of material held at the John Rylands Library) here describes the importance of little magazines in CUSP (Shearsman, 2012):

“In 1957… [I] began to pick up on the new writing that was starting to filter through from the United States, with the Beats obviously to the fore. I think it’s essential to say that the little magazines were of key importance and without them it would have been much harder to find out what was happening and who the most interesting poets were. Publications like Evergreen Review, Big Table, Yugen and The Outsider in America and Migrant, Satis, Outburst, and New Departures in Britain, had an important role to play…”


Yūgen magazine, no. 2 (1958). Courtesy of The University of Manchester.

BAME and British: A pop up exhibition at Brilliant and BAME, BHM 2018 Celebrations

The theme for the 2018 Black History Month University of Manchester Celebrations was BAME and British. This excellent celebratory display of the contribution BAME peoples have made to Britain was executed through hard work and creativity by the Manchester University BAME Staff Network.

Hannah Niblett and I had the pleasure of curating a hands-on pop-up exhibition as part of the Black History Month Celebrations.  The focus of the stall was to display BAME accomplishments from the John Rylands and Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Archives.

We spoke to over 100 people from all different backgrounds who enjoyed the exhibition and told us of their own experience of being BAME and British. The celebration of what the community has given to the UK was an excellent backdrop to the galvanising talk, BAME contribution to Britain by SuAndi and the University Showcase, Working Towards Race Equality. 

We had seven topics of contribution; Arts and Literature, Education, Community, Healthcare, Politics and the Second World War.

Arts and Literature

Karen McCarthy Woolf, ‘A Matter of Gravity’, 2013. 

Born in London to English and Jamaican parents Karen McCarthy Woolf writes poetry and drama. ‘A Matter of Gravity’ is from her book An Aviary of Small Birds (Carcanet Press, 2013), which explores the emotions of mourning and loss.

Sujata Bhatt, ‘Search for my tongue’, 1988

Journeying between Guajarati and English, Bhatt beautifully exemplifies the fear of forgetting your mother tongue. The challenges around language is one area in which BAME individuals may struggle with dual identities.

Phillis Wheatley, Untitled Poem, The Bow in the Cloud, 1858. 

Wheatley published her first poem at the age of 13, becoming the first published African American female poet. Although she was not British, it was in Britain that she published her first anthology of work in 1773, Poems on various subjects, religious and moral, as American publishing houses would not accept her work.

Bow in the cloud.jpeg


Big Fat Asian Wedding, video, 2018

British-born Pakistani community worker Nusrat Ahmed is committed to reducing isolation amongst south-east Asian women. Her Big Fat Asian Wedding project is about keeping alive women’s traditions and stories, and sharing these with the wider community.


Bernard Coard, Gus John and the Black Parents Movement, booklets, 1971 and 1986

Coard’s 1971 pamphlet How the West Indian Child Is Made Educationally Subnormal in the British School System highlighted institutional and scientific racism in our education system. These ideas were the basis of the Black Parents Movement in the 1970s and 80s.The Manchester branch was led by well-known educational campaigner Gus John.

aii. How the West Indian Child Jacket


Louise DaCocodia, photo, c.1958, oral history excerpt, c.1990

The experience of Louise DaCocodia, a Windrush generation nurse, demonstrates the vital contribution of this generation to the newly established NHS, while also highlighting the struggles for equality and respect in the workplace.


There were times when I went home and cried, you know, I went to my room and really cried because I felt so humiliated. But there was always something in me that said ‘Well look, I’m here for a purpose, and by golly I shall show you, and I’m going to get a senior role’. Not that I would’ve been vindictive but I felt I had to sustain myself with that thought.


Afzal Khan, commemorative photo and brochure, 2005, oral history excerpt, 2003

Mohammed Afzal Khan bacame Manchester’s first Asian Lord Mayor in 2005. Promoting diversity and multiculturalism is the focus of his political career. These values that were put to the test just weeks into his term as Lord Mayor, with the July 2005 bombings in London. As he said in the Guardian:

We organised for all the mosque imams to come and sign the book of condolence at the Town Hall. That was an important message. I spoke to a packed Albert Square before the two minutes silence when many faith leaders stood together. With our experience of the IRA bomb, we know that terrorists, wherever they are, do not belong to any faith or community.


Sir Claude Auchinleck: Papers on the Army of India, 1948

Auchinleck discusses the importance of the Indian Army in the Second World War. He speaks highly of their skill exclaiming that ‘we, the people of Britain, owe them a great debt.’


Contact us to join the Special Collections to explore more of these themes.

Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Archive: http://www.racearchive.manchester.ac.uk/

John Rylands Special Collections: http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/special-collections/

Archives and Inclusivity: Exhibitions for All

This blog post is the third, and last, in a series of blog posts where I discuss the importance of diversifying archives in collaboration with underserved groups, which I will refer to as empowered collaboration.

This blog post will start by analysing the efforts to diversify audiences by The Museum of High Art in Atlanta, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and The Fizwilliam Museum in Cambridge, it will conclude with practical steps to achieve inclusivity within cultural institutions.

The Museum Of High Art, Atlanta: 

The Museum of High Art, like many Museums, had a low percentage of BAME, LQBTGIA+, Neuro divergent and disabled visitors. In 2016 they decided to create exhibitions catering to their diverse communities, starting with ethnic minority groups. In just two years, their ethnic minority visitors tripled from 15% to 45%. That’s close to the percentage of people living in the whole metropolitan area of Atlanta. (1)

How did they do this?

Reimagining content and changing marketing styles:

The Museum of High Art drastically changed their content, by focusing more on exhibitions from marginalised groups. By ‘allowing curators to tailor projects to their own audience,’ (2) the Museum of High Art allowed their surrounding communities to see themselves represented as artists and in art. They also changed the marketing strategies to target under-represented groups. They started a ‘here for you’ campaign, creating t-shirts and translated the slogan into the four most spoken languages in Atlanta.  The budget focused 60% on promoting a cross section of exhibitions as opposed only the large ones. (3)

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

In 2015 the MFA conducted an audience survey and discovered that 79 percent of visitors identified as Caucasian. In 2017, under Director Matthew Teitelnaum, the MFA began a three year project to diversify their audience. This aim was to ensure their audiences feel they belong and are empowered through representation.

During these changes it is important to continue to ask, ‘how are they represented? How do they feel empowered by their visit?…because it is a subset of a feeling: ‘I belong here because when I come here I feel comfortable.'(4)

How will they achieve this?

Reimagining content, empowered collaboration and diversifying staff:

According to the Teitelbaum the Museum is intent on finding content that is representative of their surrounding communities whilst diversifying their staff. They plan to highlight works linked to underserved groups through empowered collaboration. They will begin by collaborating with a paid college intern with Native American Heritage to re-imagine the Native American Collection. (5) This results in fair representation of underserved groups and creates pathways for diversifying museum professionals.

Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge.

The Fitzwilliam Museum has created a Change Makers Action Group to challenge the lack of diversity in its museum audiences and staff. In June 2018 I attended ‘Museum Remix,’ a workshop organised by the Change Makers Group and facilitated by Museum Detox. We were challenged with decolonising an exhibition space. My group and I were assigned the permanent European and Japanese Gallery.

How did we do this?

Re-imagining content and Empowered Collaboration:

The gallery held a series of ceramic objects and was the least visited gallery in the Museum. We noticed it had racially insensitive labelling and accessibility issues with no clear narrative and context. We decided to decolonise this space and improve the issues above it was imperative to collaborate with a diverse intersection of the museums current and possible audiences.

We created a time line and concluded that over a year we could achieve the following:

  • Advertise for co-curators in the form of an inter-sectional volunteer group from underserved communities. (e.g. First peoples, LGBTQIA+, Neuro-divergent, Differently Abled, People of Colour, Working class)
  • Set up regular meetings and deadlines with co-curators to discuss changes to the problematic labelling, disability issues, collection narrative, interpretation, and any public programmes linked to the exhibition.
  • Work towards implementing these changes within the exhibition space.

Following my experience at the Fitzwilliam Museum and other research I have conducted I created an outline of ways to increase visitor diversity through content creation and empowered collaboration.

Month 0 – 6

  • Empowered Collaboration: Advertise for the creation of an intersectional volunteer group from underserved communities, who are under or misrepresented in exhibitions. (e.g. First peoples, LGBTQIA+, Neuro-divergent, Differently Abled, People of Colour, Working class)
  • Plan scheduled discussions with the co-creators to discuss narratives, exhibition items, text panels, and potential public programmes and assess accessibility.

Month 6 – 12

  • Keep co-curators up to date on the exhibition implementation deadlines.
  • Invite co-creators to the opening of the exhibition.
  • In addition to standard promotional methods ensure targeted promotion to underserved groups and social media and local working groups.
  • Evaluate new exhibition space with the working group
  • Acknowledge feedback from visitors/working group

Collaborating with the groups museums hope to represent will result in a fair and authentic representation, and ensure surrounding communities will feel welcome and visible within the institutions. This will result in an increase of material usage and visitor numbers.

What are the challenges?

There are two main financial challenges when implementing empowered collaboration in exhibitions.

  • Financial support is needed to ensure that museum staff have time to develop trusting relationships with communities to take part in empowered collaboration


  • It is imperative that when collaborating with underserved groups Museums and Galleries compensate them for their time and treat them as equal parties to the project.

These challenges are very real and can only be over come through making underserved groups a priority in cultural institutions.

Thank you for reading,

Here’s some references!

(1) Bazemore, J , (2017) How an Art Museum is reaching a more diverse audience, Available at: http://www.wesa.fm/post/how-art-museum-reaching-more-diverse-audience#stream/0

(2) Ibid.

(3) Ibid.

(4) Shea, A (2017) Museum visitors and employees are mostly white, the MFA are trying to change that. Available at: http://www.wbur.org/artery/2017/06/06/mfa-strategic-plan-diversity

(5) Ibid

(6) Ibid.

A Beautiful Happening: The Dave Cunliffe Archive


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Photograph of author, poet and activist Tina Morris (the pen name of Tina Cryer).

The Dave Cunliffe archive contains material from his BB Books small press and it’s important to note that from 1963 until 1969 it was co-edited by author, poet and activist Tina Morris (the pen name of Tina Cryer). This is significant because women were generally under-represented even within the largely progressive ‘British Poetry Revival’ and consequently there are very few archives showing the female contribution to this movement. I strongly recommend Geraldine Monk’s Cusp: Recollections of Poetry in Transition (Shearsman, 2012) which, alongside illuminating essays about the experimental poetry scene, also gives some perspective on this gender in-balance.


Press cutting from Lancashire Evening Telegraph, c.1969.  The University of Manchester Library

Morris moved to Manchester in her late-teens where she worked with and befriended the poet and artist Adrian Henri, volunteering in the CND offices at weekends and, from 1962, contributing verse and prose to a variety of publications including Freedom, Tribune and Peace News.

Noticing that Cunliffe produced Poetmeat from nearby Blackburn, she began submitting her work and, after a brief courtship “over a few bottles of cheap red wine” they quickly married. It’s no coincidence that both the magazine and the broader press output change markedly from this point, Poetmeat developing away from its Beat origins into a much more substantial publication (both in terms of volume and scope).

A good example of her influence is Victims of Our Fear (edited solely by Morris); a collection of poetry dealing with the issue of racism, including verse from a then imprisoned Nelson Mandela.


Cover of Victims of our Fear (1964). The University of Manchester Library

A Vegan and environmentalist before she met Cunliffe, Morris encouraged the use of BB Books to produce political flyers and posters alongside PN News, initially a literary information sheet sent to subscribers, later used to connect activists, groups and communes around the country. They made a good team because whereas Morris is naturally introverted, Cunliffe is a gregarious provocateur and prankster who organised naked town centre bike rides, wallpapered bus shelters by night and planted cannabis seeds in Corporation Park. They formed the Global Tapestry animal rights group, picketing butchers and abattoirs, smashing-up Bowland shooting lodges and giving out meat-free lifestyle information to an unsuspecting Lancashire public then largely subsisting on a diet of hot pot and pie, chips and gravy. Although Cunliffe often stole the show, making a grab for the microphone at any opportunity, it was Morris who organised regular readings in Blackburn pubs, attracting a good deal of publicity and introducing a whole new audience to poetry. They eventually split in 1969, Tina later using her verse to take her ecological message into schools, organising various environmental campaigns and she is now the author of several books for teenage children.

I will be talking with Tina Morris and the author Mike Waite about how poetics influenced Lancashire’s counterculture at the Burnley Literary Festival on Saturday 29th September. It’s free entry by ticket and the question and answer session takes place at the Central Library from 11.00am.


Collection Encounter: Oppression to Expression

The John Rylands Library and the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre collaborated to create a very successful collection encounter celebrating the diversity of Manchester, by highlighting stories from ethnic minority groups within the Library’s collection. Over two days 139 visitors engaged with the team as we showcased stories which begin with the work of missionaries and commonwealth statesmen, and continued with poets, activists, and the journey towards inclusion.

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Below is a sample of the items on show:

Christian Brethren Archive: The Echoes of Service Lantern Slide Collection in the, Zambia.

The Christian Brethren Archive is a series of printed and archive collections relating to the Christian brethren movement, from its inception to the present. Founded in the mid-19th century, Echoes of Service is a service organisation who provides assistance and support to brethren mission workers around the world. The lantern slide collection is of relatively unknown provenance, and depicts the work of mission workers in the early 20th century.


Guardian Archive: Letter from General Jan Christiaan Smuts to C.P. Scott

The letter relates to C.P. Scott’s retirement as editor of the Manchester Guardian, with reference to praise of his handling of the Boer War.

C.P. Scott was the most prominent and distinguished editor of the Manchester Guardian, in post for over 50 years (1872-1929), and made a very unpopular stand in the paper against the Boer War in the Transvaal. General Smuts was a South African and British Commonwealth statesman, and military leader. He served as prime minister of the  Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948. Although Smuts had originally advocated racial segregation and opposed the enfranchisement of black Africans, his views changed and he backed the Fagan Commission’s findings that complete segregation was impossible.

Viraj Mendis Defence Campaign Posters 1987-89

Viraj Mendis is a Sri Lankan national, who fought a high profile anti-deportation case out of Manchester, between 1987 and 89. Mendis was (is) highly political and outspoken, he supported the Tamil Tigers’ insurgency in Sri Lanka and was a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party in Britain. He had come to the UK on a student visa, but had outstayed his visa fearing for his life if he returned to Sri Lanka.

Mendis’ anti-deportation campaign was significant because he fought it on political grounds rather than just personal ones, campaigning for a change in immigration laws that he and many others on the left saw as fundamentally racist. Rather than petitioning his MP to avoid deportation (the usual route) he took sanctuary in the Church of the Ascension in Hulme, as his campaign base. His campaign was national and ideological, with factions of the Viraj Mendis Defence Campaign in cities around the country. His case was discussed in parliament.

In 1989 police broke into the Church of the Ascension and Mendis was deported back to Sri Lanka. He now resides in Europe.

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Find out more at: https://aiucentre.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/viraj-mendis-is-our-friend/

Phillis Wheatley, Untitled Poem, Bow in the Cloud, 1834

Phillis Wheatley contributed to Bow in the Cloud, a collection of original writings by 50 writers against slavery.  Wheatley was the first African-American poet and the first African-American woman ever to publish, all while enslaved. Wheatley’s work met with acclaim and admiration following its publication, but before it was published she was required to defend the authorship of her work before a panel of prominent Boston luminaries, who, eventually convinced that she was the author of the poems, signed an attestation to this effect.

Bow in the cloud.jpeg

Louise Dacocodia, Windrush nurse (1934 – 2008)
Portrait, c.1959

Louise Dacocodia was Jamaican born and came to the UK during the Windrush to staff the newly formed NHS. She went onto become the first black senior nursing officer in Manchester. She retired in 1989 and received an honorary Master’s degree awarded by the University of Manchester, in tribute to her service to nursing. Louise was also very committed to the black community in Manchester. She served on the Race Relations Board committees in the 1960s and 70s and initiated an anti-racism campaign. In 2005 she received an MBE for her services to the people of Manchester.



The African Community in Manchester, 1940s
Photographs of the African community in Moss Side and Cheetham Hill, 1940s

The AIUC received a donation (c.2009) of photographs from Leslie Johnson. He was the adopted son of an African father and English Month, Jide and Renee Johnston. The images depict growing up in 1940’s Moss Side with a majority African community. This collection is coupled with an oral history from Leslie Johnson and Coca Clarke (who is also seen in the images.)

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To find out more visit: http://www.afrosolouk.com/background-thank-you-sharing

The John Rylands Library and AIUC will collaborate again at the University of Manchester Black History Month Celebrations on October 3rd. We will be holding a pop-up exhibition at the entitled ‘BAME and British.’ Information can be found here. This will be followed by an online exhibition, which can be found on this blog, exploring the unsung heroes of the BAME community and Manchester.

Photo credits: Caroline Hall and Gwen Riley Jones.

Peterloo: The Forgotten Massacre?



Dr Janette Martin, curator of a forthcoming Peterloo exhibition at the John Rylands Library, writes:

On 16 August 1819 a peaceful Manchester meeting called to discuss parliamentary reform and attended by around 60,000 people was viciously dispersed by the civil and military powers. That afternoon at least 15 people lost their lives. A further 600 were injured by mounted yeomanry brandishing sabres or battered on the ground by special constables; others were trampled underfoot as the crowd panicked and fled. The shocking drama of St Peter’s Field soon became known as ‘Peterloo’ in mocking reference to the heroic battle of Waterloo some 4 years earlier.

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The political repercussions were immense and yet many people living in Manchester today are unaware of this tragic event and its significance for the democratic freedoms we continue to enjoy. Thanks to a newly released film by Mike Leigh, this is beginning to change and people are re-examining the evidence and learning more about this pivotal moment in Manchester’s history.  Although the massacre happened in central Manchester, large numbers of those present were from the surrounding townships and villages – some walked many, many miles from places as far away as Saddleworth and Delph. This geography is reflected in how, as the bicentenary approaches, groups across the Greater Manchester area are involved in remembering Peterloo.  Anyone wishing to find out more should look at the programme of events and activities coordinated by the Manchester Histories festival for 2019.

map of site MO Observer 23 Oct 1819

Map showing the site of St Peter’s Field printed in the Manchester Observer, 23 October 1819, p. 786.  University of Manchester Library

Here at the University of Manchester Library we are busy digitising our Peterloo collections and making them freely available for public use.  As the anniversary gets nearer more material will be added.  Do keep checking back. In addition to books, newspapers and pamphlets we have significant material from family estate papers – these give the perspective of those loyal to the government and the crown.  As we might expect, they are staunchly conservative and fiercely opposed to parliamentary reform. Magistrates, like the notorious Rev William Hay, assiduously collected the handbills and newspapers circulated by reformers as evidence of the seditious intent of the reform movement. These are a wonderful resource. Printed propaganda circulated by the loyalists are also represented in collection.

As the two handbills below demonstrate, both sides offered arguments and counter arguments, each claiming they were the true patriots who knew what was best for the British people. It is hard to avoid drawing parallels with today’s political climate where politics is again riven into two antagonistic camps. Brexit, like Peterloo, is causing a generation to think carefully about the meaning of democracy and political participation.

Spot the difference:

Eng Ms 1197-15

Handbill, ‘To the Inhabitants of Manchester …  A Reformer’, Ref. Eng Ms 1197/14.   University of Manchester Library

Eng Ms 1197-14

Handbill, ‘To the Inhabitants of Manchester …  No Reformer’, Ref. Eng Ms 1197/15.   University of Manchester Library

This is a first of a series of Peterloo blogs.  As research and preparation for the Peterloo exhibition continues I will be sharing more archival finds and stories from our collections.


Delving into ‘a Catalogue of Historical Maps’


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In January 1923, there was an exhibition held at the Whitworth Hall which displayed an intriguing collection of maps. This proved fruitful for stimulating interest in the area of Geography, and contributed to the establishment of the Department of Geography here at the University of Manchester. The maps on display were loaned to the University by two gentlemen: Robert P. L. Booker and Colonel Dudley Mills. The exhibition was so successful that Mr Booker’s collection was loaned to the University by his widow, in order to support the teaching of Geography. Colonel Dudley Mills gifted his collection to the University, and furthermore compiled a paper catalogue which combined both collections, titled ‘a Catalogue of Historical Maps’ and printed in April 1937.

Mills was especially enthusiastic about teaching the History of Cartography, and he touches on this in his introduction to the printed catalogue:

“Historical Cartography, or the study of the evolution of maps, is a branch of history involving wide geographical knowledge. It is distinct from pure geography, which is a study of the surface of the earth, distinct also from historical maps, which are drawn by modern geographers to show the names and political divisions of the past in accordance with the researches of modern historians. Old maps and their facsimile reproductions show the geographical ideas of the past, the rise of geography in the ancient world, its eclipse during the Dark Ages, its renaissance during the later Middle Ages, and its sudden expansion in the 16th century. In studying the evolution of geographical ideas we are in effect studying the history of the world by a method not only picturesque and fascinating, but probably as accurate and comprehensive as if art or war or religion or politics or economics or any other special base line were chosen, from which to start a survey of historic time. The interest is more human than technical.” 

During my time working on this collection, I have been privileged to see the vast array of maps that are included within it. Mills organised ‘a Catalogue of Historical Maps’ into several thematic sections, and so I thought I would share with you five maps from various sections, complete with quotes from Colonel Mills that were featured in an ‘Exhibition of Old Maps‘. However, narrowing it down to five maps has taken a lot of thought as there are so many fascinating items within the collection – I would love to feature them all.

Ptolemy – “the first great scientific cartographer”

You may have heard the name of the Greco-Roman polymath, Claudius Ptolemy. He lived in Alexandria in the 2nd century AD, and his work – titled the Geographia – has been extremely influential within the fields of Cartography and Geography. Mills includes Ptolemy’s maps in his initial section, ‘World Maps’. No original maps have been discovered that are attributed to Ptolemy, and so the present form was reconstructed using the lists of latitudes and longitudes featured in his Geographia. This particular map shown below hails from A. E. Nordenskiöld’s Facsimile-atlas, which was published in 1889. Mills states that “it is the reproduction of a map printed in Rome in A.D. 1478 from a MS. [manuscript] drawn a few years previously”.


This additional item below clearly illustrates the teaching of Cartography, with information and a facsimile of Ptolemy’s world map, as well as including a timeline of significant maps throughout time.


Waldseemüller – “the cartographer who christened America”

Mills enters the ‘Age of Discovery’ for the second section of this catalogue, which explores maps and globes from 1492 until the end of the sixteenth century. Many of the facsimiles within the Booker-Mills collection are of original size, and Martin Waldseemüller’s Universalis Cosmographia is no exception. This facsimile was based on proof sheets found in Würtemburg of the original map and published by Wagner’sche Universitats-Buchhandlung (Innsbruck) and Henry Stevens, Son & Stiles (London) in 1904.


Waldseemüller labelled the “fourth part of the world” as ‘America’, in honour of his friend Amerigo Vespucci. He also included an illustration of Amerigo, which is seen below. Waldseemüller published Cosmographiae Introductio, an introduction to Cosmology, to accompany his printed globe and wall-map in 1507. Waldseemüller’s introduction includes the reason why he decided to name the new continent after Vespucci, as well as including a Latin translation of the four journeys of Vespucci, who was an Italian explorer.


Blaeu – “until the 18th century many maps even of the British Isles bear the names of foreigners”

Willem Blaeu was born in the Netherlands in 1571. He was trained in astronomy and the sciences, but then went on to found a business creating globes which later expanded into maps and atlases. In the British Library ‘Treasures’ exhibition, a fabulous globe by Blaeu is on display.


Mills states that “the Italians, then the Dutch, then the French, were ahead of the British” in terms of cartography. There are many prints of works from Dutch cartographers featured in the Booker-Mills collection, such as Visscher, de Witt, Janssonius, Allard and Blaeu among others. This map of the British Isles by Blaeu from 1630, complete with a sea monster breaking the waves in the top right-hand corner, was most likely based on the copperplates of Jodocus Hondius, which Blaeu acquired in 1629.


Hollar – “the finest representation of London before the fire”

Wenceslaus Hollar was born in Prague in 1607, and was an etcher famous for his cityscapes and beautiful panoramic maps. The original creation, entitled ‘The long view of London from Bankside’, was published in 1647 and depicts London from a single viewpoint – the tower of St Saviour in Southwark. The date of publication is significant, as the map illustrates London before the damage of the Great Fire in 1666.


 This facsimile was published by The London Topographical Society in 1906. The John Rylands Library has also acquired one of Hollar’s sketchbooks, with a preliminary sketch; View of the Thames featuring Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The similarities can be seen when comparing this sketch with the same spot on the left side of the map. This is not just a map of London, but also an aesthetically pleasing piece of art.

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Philip and Son: Authentic map of China c. 1870

George Philip opened a booksellers in Liverpool in 1834, which expanded into producing educational textbooks, atlases, wall-maps, stationary and much more. His son joined the business in 1848 and it was renamed George Philip & Son Ltd.


I have encountered many wall-maps and atlases by Philip and Son within the University of Manchester Library’s map collections, especially these pocket-sized folded maps that are bound in-between boards. This particular map of China is priced on the front cover at ‘one dollar’. Many of these maps were ideal for educational use and perfect as a compact travel map for tourists. These maps give an interesting insight into contemporary culture as they feature advertisements of the day – such as this advert from a Philip and Son map which is part of the Manchester Geographical Society collection.


The cover of this map is marked with Dudley Mills’ bookplate. This displays that these items did indeed come from his personal collection. Throughout his introduction to ‘a Catalogue of Historical Maps’, his passion for the teaching of Cartography and Geography shines through, and by the accession of the Booker-Mills collection to the University of Manchester Library in 1937, this collection will continue to influence and inspire students of all disciplines in the importance of historical maps.

We will be tweeting about the University of Manchester Library’s map collections under the hashtag #UoMMaps. Thank you to the fabulous Maps Librarian, Donna Sherman, for her continued support – and to the Heritage Imaging Team for agreeing to tackle such large items!

Call for Papers – Carcanet at 50: Poetry Publishers, Archives and the Digital Revolution

Posted on behalf of Dr Lise Jaillant:

Call for Papers at the forthcoming workshop ‘Carcanet at 50: Poetry Publishers, Archives and the Digital Revolution’, Thursday 17 January 2019, John Rylands Library, Manchester, #Carcanet50 #PoetrySurvival

How do small poetry publishers survive in a global marketplace dominated by large, multinational publishing firms? What can be done to actively preserve their archives and make them available? And how can scholars produce new knowledge, using these paper and born-digital archives? What does it mean to publish poetry at the time when ‘users’ read poems on their tablets or phones, listen to podcasts and watch videos of poetry performances?

This one-day workshop will examine poetry publishers, focusing particularly on Carcanet Press. Founded in 1969 by Michael Schmidt and Peter Jones, Carcanet moved from Oxford to Manchester in 1972. The press went on to build a diverse list, including poetry in translation and by neglected women poets. Among the distinguished writers associated with Carcanet are Elizabeth Jennings, Ted Hughes and many others.

This workshop at the John Rylands Library is the first of two ‘Survival of the Weakest’ events funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellowship awarded to Dr Lise Jaillant. It will bring together 30 participants, including writers associated with the early days of Carcanet in the late 1960s and 1970s.

Contributions are invited from scholars, archivists, publishing industry professionals, biographers, and creative writers. Each participant will be asked to prepare a 15-minute paper addressing the theme of the workshop. Participants are encouraged to look towards the past, but also the future of poetry publishing in the digital age.


  • Internationally-recognised participants – including Michael Schmidt OBE, FRSL, founder of Carcanet Press
  • Roundtable with well-known writers
  • Networking opportunities in the sumptuous John Rylands Library

For more information visit http://www.poetrysurvival.com

This workshop will lead to the publication of a special issue on poetry publishers and their archives in a changing digital landscape.

If you would like to participate, please send a CV and 300-word description of your planned contribution to: l.jaillant [at] lboro.ac.uk by 12 October 2018.

Dr Lise Jaillant, Lecturer (Assistant Professor), School of the Arts, English and Drama, Loughborough University, UK