The Race for Westminster


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Political cartoons are a regular feature in modern-day newspapers and periodicals. Cartoons have long been used to capture, and provide comment upon, significant events as they occur. As the day of the 2015 general election draws closer, we take a step backwards, to look at the Race for Westminster as it was depicted in the run-up to the 1874 general election. This was the first election to use a secret ballot. The Conservatives, under Benjamin Disraeli won the majority of seats. However, the Liberals, under William Ewart Gladstone, actually won a majority of the votes cast.

The Boat Race

Cartoons for parliamentary elections often portray the candidates as contenders in a sporting contest. Here, the Conservative candidates for South East Lancashire, Algernon Egerton (9,187 votes) and Edward Hardcastle (9,015 votes), are seen coasting to victory in a boat race against the Liberal candidates, Peter Rylands (7, 464 votes) and J.E. Taylor (7,453 votes).

jrl15040021The Liberal candidates for Manchester, Thomas Bazley and Jacob Bright, are predicted to triumph in this chariot race against the Conservative candidates Hugh Birley and William Romaine Callender. In fact, although the contest was closely fought, the Conservative candidates went on to win the race.


jrl15040023The printer, J. Murray, seems to be hedging his bets in this pair of cartoons entitled ‘Close of the Poll’. The Conservative candidates for Manchester, Birley and Callender, are depicted as winners of the horse race, but the Liberal candidates, Bazley and Bright, are shown as triumphant in the foot race. The numbers of votes cast (shown on the signposts) are fictitious. The actual results were Hugh Birley – 19, 984 votes; William Romaine Callender – 19, 649 votes; Thomas Bazley – 19, 325 votes and Jacob Bright – 18, 727 votes. The woman shown in these two cartoons is Lydia Becker, a key campaigner for women’s suffrage.

These cartoons are from a collection of over a hundred 19th-century satirical prints relating mainly to Manchester. These, and other cartoons held by The John Rylands Library, can be viewed on the website of the British Cartoon Archive.

Julie Ramwell
Librarian (Rare Books)

Manutius at the Morgan

Originally posted on Manutius in Manchester:

After the Aldine-fest at the Grolier Club, it was a pleasure to return to the Morgan Library almost a year after our first visit when Maria Fredericks and her team hosted the New York leg of the Venetian Vellum and Books and Beasts roadshow. This time we took the opportunity to sample the marvellous two-volume 1483 parchment Aristotle published by Andrea Torresani in Venice with a view to comparing it with the five-volume 1495-98 Aldine edition. The fine decorations by Girolamo da Cremona included this stunning page which presents the text on a printed page figured as a sheet of parchment.IMG_3917

IMG_3914 Assisted by Maria and her team, we were able to sample both volumes and take measurements of the parchment thickness for analysis and comparison with the other Torresani volumes examined at the Houghton and Rylands.P1060476Taking the opportunity to tour the gallery again, it was pleasure to see a…

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The Whitworth Art Gallery Archive: the development of a Manchester cultural institution


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Matthew Schofield has recently catalogued the archives of the Whitworth Art Gallery. He writes:

The Whitworth Art Gallery reopened on 14 February 2015 following a £16.9 million refurbishment and extension. The re-opening has coincided with the completion of a project to catalogue the Gallery’s archive, which is looked after by Special Collections as part of the University’s archives.

The Whitworth Art Gallery in January 2015 showing builders making some finishing touches to the forecourt prior to the official reopening in February 2015. Photograph: M.Schofield

The Whitworth Art Gallery in January 2015 showing builders making some finishing touches to the forecourt prior to the official reopening in February 2015. Photograph: M.Schofield.

The Whitworth Art Gallery was founded as the Manchester Whitworth Institute in 1887. It owed its existence to the wealthy industrialist, Sir Joseph Whitworth (1803-1887). On his death, he left money for the establishment of an Institute, which it was originally envisaged would include a technical school, a technical museum, a school of art and an art gallery.

Sir Joseph Whitworth, image taken from the Owens College Archive.

Sir Joseph Whitworth, image taken from the Owens College Archive.

The archive reveals the complicated birth of the Whitworth Institute. Three legatees administered Whitworth’s estate: his second wife, Mary Louisa Whitworth (1829-1896), Robert Darbishire, a local solicitor, and Richard Copley Christie (1830-1901), a lawyer and former professor at Owens College (predecessor of the University of Manchester). It was Darbishire who played the critical role in steering the Whitworth Institute towards being an art collecting institution (responsibility for the technical and art schools passed to Manchester Corporation in the 1890s).

The Governors of the Institute were leading local figures and responsible for achieving its original objectives, including developing Whitworth Park as a public amenity. It was here that a purpose-built Gallery was opened in 1908. The papers of the Institute’s chairman Sir Joseph Lee, which form part of the archive, include some interesting ephemera, such as Sir Joseph’s invitation to the opening of Whitworth Park on 17 July 1890.

Sir Joseph Lee’s personal invitation to the official opening of Whitworth Park, Whitworth Art Gallery Archive, WAG/1/1/10/9.

Sir Joseph Lee’s personal invitation to the official opening of Whitworth Park, Whitworth Art Gallery Archive, WAG/1/1/10/9.

The Whitworth Art Gallery and Whitworth Park have always had a close relationship. The Park’s physical proximity provided an agreeable setting for the Gallery, and both offered differing, albeit it was hoped mutually supporting, forms of recreation for the Manchester public. Sir Joseph Lee’s papers include a handbill of the rules of entry to the Park issued by the Governors in 1890. This has a clear intention to regulate the behaviour of the mainly working-class visitors to the Park.

 The rules for entry to Whitworth Park, 16 June 1890, Whitworth Art Gallery Archive, WAG/1/1/10/10.

The rules for entry to Whitworth Park, 16 June 1890, Whitworth Art Gallery Archive, WAG/1/1/10/10.

In the 20th century, the Gallery archive reveals two Directors to have been particularly influential in its development. Firstly, Margaret Pilkington (1891-1974), of the Pilkington pottery firm, who began her association with the Whitworth in 1925. From 1936 to 1959 she was the Honorary Director of the Whitworth Institute, refusing a salary to aid its finances. A recognised artist in her own right, Pilkington appears frequently within the archive, a testament to her energy in planning exhibitions and acquiring art. During the Second World War, Pilkington oversaw the removal of the Gallery’s art treasures to safe storage at the National Library of Wales. She then helped establish a rest centre at the Gallery, for those made homeless by air raids.

Secondly, Reginald Dodwell (1922-1994), who was appointed professor of art history at the University and Gallery Director in 1966, posts he held for the next twenty-three years. In 1958, the University of Manchester had assumed responsibility for the Whitworth Institute, which was renamed the Whitworth Art Gallery. Dodwell ensured that the Gallery built up a collection of contemporary art, at a time when it was much less valued than today, and as a result the Gallery holds a number of internationally important artworks, such as Francis Bacon’s portrait of fellow painter, Lucian Freud (1951).

During the 1960s, the University undertook an extensive remodelling of the Gallery’s exhibition spaces to give them a more contemporary look. These changes are discussed in detail in the Director’s files, which are part of the archive. These records are of some importance, as during the latest renovations, some of the 1960s spaces have been altered, with rooms being in part returned to their original Edwardian look.

The Whitworth Art Gallery archive reveals the institution’s long and complex history, developing from a provincial art gallery built from Victorian philanthropy to its current status as a leading cultural institution of the University. Its rich and varied archive demonstrates the enduring contribution it has made to the cultural and social life of Manchester.

A detailed catalogue of the Gallery Archive is available on ELGAR:


My Second Country, France: Robert Dell (1865-1940)


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Project Archivist Jane Speller writes:

The 1930s foreign correspondence of the Manchester Guardian (now the Guardian) reveals journalist Robert Dell as a man of great character with a sharp sense of humour and an enduring love of Europe. In a rare photograph he looks remarkably like the comedian and character actor Terry Thomas – dapper and slightly roguish.

Of the paper’s four principal foreign correspondents (Werth, Voigt, Dell and Fodor), Dell was the oldest and most experienced. In 1933 he was 68 years old, as compared to the other correspondents who were some 25 years his junior.

Robert Edward Dell. Image reproduced by courtesy of the Guardian Media Group

Robert Edward Dell. Image reproduced by courtesy of the Guardian Media Group.

Dell started out working for a small county newspaper in Surrey.  His father, an American minister, bought him the paper after he left Oxford without a degree. The paper closed after a libel suit left Dell bankrupt. He lectured on religion for a while, and converted to Catholicism.

Dell became a member of the Fabian Society, a socialist organisation, where he was mentored in his writing by George Bernard Shaw. In 1901 he became the editor of the art magazine Connoisseur and in 1903 along with the celebrated art critic Roger Fry, he founded the Burlington Magazine, the first scholarly periodical in Britain dedicated to art history. Dell was the first editor of the magazine and during his involvement with it he wrote over 73 articles, many of them on French art.

After a disagreement with Fry, he left the magazine and in 1906 headed for Paris where he worked throughout the First World War as an art dealer and journalist for the Manchester Guardian. In 1918, Dell was expelled from France by the Clemenceau government for his article exposing secret information about France’s attempts to negotiate peace with Austria (1917) – an article which the British Ambassador in France described as ‘most mischievous’.  Two years earlier he had been threatened with a charge of treason for threatening to write a book suggesting that France had caused the war. Dell’s expulsion was rescinded in 1924.

Dell worked as foreign correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, the Nation and other newspapers, from 1920 to 1938, in Geneva, Berlin and Paris. He was involved in the New Europe Group, which was established in 1931 by Dimitrije Mitrinović with the aim of achieving peace in Europe. From 1932 onwards Dell was based in Geneva, where he developed an intimate knowledge of the League of Nations, the fore runner of the United Nations. The correspondence shows Dell’s increasing frustration at the impotence of the League in the face of Germany’s illegal rearmament. Dell was a regular at the Bavaria, a bar in the city frequented by journalists. The Bavaria was described by British journalist Collin Brooks as, ‘…packed with men from the world’s ends, mostly drunk’ (Sept 1932).

The League of Nations, Geneva

The League of Nations, Geneva

Dell’s writings were controversial and varied from Catholic modernist, socialist, militant pacifist and anti-fascist perspectives. In 1933 the Swiss government attempted to expel Dell for his coverage of a disturbance during a Socialist rally in Geneva (November 1932), where the Swiss army shot into the crowd killing 13 people and wounding 100. The Guardian’s editor William Percival Crozier commented on the letters to the paper complaining about Dell’s reporting of the event:

“…not a single one of them seemed to think it mattered that a dozen people, most of them inoffensive spectators, were machine gunned out of existence… it throws a flood of light onto the character of the middle-class Swiss”.

Dell’s dry sense of humour can be seen in this excerpt from his telegram to Crozier on 24 November 1932. Éamon de Valera, Prime Minister of the Irish Free State, met with the Anglo-American press, but because the proceedings were confidential nothing could be published. Dell wrote:

“Mr Robert Dell who presided said he had probably been asked to preside because he was a born rebel and usually in hot water, as was the present case in Switzerland. No doubt the reason was that he was 25 percent Mr De Valera’s fellow countryman. He had been a home ruler since age 12…. Fifty years ago when he was a school boy he had been taken by his grandfather a Tory M.P. to the House of Commons to hear Gladstone’s speech on the second reading of the Irish Land Act.”

Dell wrote a number of books, notably, My Second Country, France (1920); Germany unmasked: on Germany under the National-Socialist regime (1934); and The Geneva Racket, 1920-1939 (1940), which was published after his death. In 1935 he was elected as President of the International Association of Journalists.

In 1938 Dell, now in his 70s, moved to New York to lecture and to work on his autobiography. He took up residence in an apartment at the Hotel Brevoort. Decorated in a typically French style, and serving French food and wine, the hotel attracted an illustrious and bohemian Greenwich Village crowd, including writers Mark Twain, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Eugene O’Neill.  The Brevoort was popular with wealthy Europeans visiting the United States. In the late 1930s, the American Paris Club was formed, using the Brevoort as a meeting place for the increasing numbers of Americans who fled Paris after the German invasion of Poland (1939).

It is easy to see why Dell chose this place, a reminder of his beloved Europe, to be his home. He died here in 1940, the year Paris fell to the Germans.

Many of Dell’s papers, including the notes for his autobiography and his daughter Sylvia’s research for it, are held in the archives of the British Library of Political and Economic Science.

Gold consolidation – assessment of an Armenian MS

Gill Birch observing Armenian MS 3. Note our new microscope, acquired thanks to the Innovation Fund!


Steve Mooney using the old microscope for the consolidation of the Beatus (Latin MS 8)

Collection care is starting a program of gold consolidation, thanks to the acquisition of a state of the art microscope, which wouldn’t have happened without the donations received through the Innovation Fund

Gill Birch, Senior Conservator in the Conservation department, is analyzing and assessing a marvellous Armenian manuscript in parchment, with many pages that look like a glistering ornate carpet.

Steve Mooney, who worked on the pigment consolidation of several treasures of the John Rylands Library, is now in the process of organizing tuition sessions on the gold consolidation for the collection care team.

The first stage of the process includes the assessment of each individual page, in order to check the condition of the gold foil.

Copy of the MS for the assessment, beside the original

Copy of Armenian MS 3, with the original under a spotlight (assessment phase)




From Mss to Mmm: Jurassic Park become reality

Scientists at the universities of Manchester and York are involved in a ground-breaking project to recreate a long-extinct breed of cow. In medieval times the Orwat, native to the Veneto region of northern Italy, was famed for its rich milk, which was used to make the legendary sciocco di aprile cheese.

Cheesy Orwat

Cheesy Orwat

Building on the success of the Books and Beast project, which has isolated collagen from parchment books and manuscripts, the Manchester-York team has managed to isolate DNA from parchment sheets made from the Orwat. Now, using advanced crystallography techniques, they have succeeded in growing cells of the long-extinct beast.

A scientist

A scientist

The project is funded by the Genetic Engineering Development and Investment Trust (GEDIT) of San Seriffe in California. GEDIT’s CEO, E. Sawyer Cumming, said: “Our ambition is to recreate the Orwat breed. In a few years we hope to manufacture sciocco di aprile cheese for the first time in many centuries. It promises to be a taste sensation. So far, the team has managed to grow the tip of one horn, about an inch long. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. In a couple of months we expect to have a complete horn, and next year, if all goes to plan, we hope to have a whole Orwat.”

Sciocco di aprile was famous in medieval times for its pungent aroma. So much so that the Venetian authorities insisted that the spherical cheeses should be wrapped in red wax, to prevent the offensive odours escaping. Marco Polo is said to have taken dozens of the cheeses as a gift for the Chinese Emperor. As is well known, they did not find favour in the Imperial court. They were stored away and forgotten for many centuries, until 1860, when British troops stumbled across them during the sacking of the Summer Palace. The hardened cheeses with their tough red rinds made ideal substitutes for cricket balls and this is why modern cricket balls are dyed red (source: Wikipedia).

The Orwat project is only the first of several planned by GEDIT, which hopes to apply its genetic engineering expertise to other species. Cumming explained: “Soon we hope to recreate the long-lost Alpine Spaniel.” Watch out for further postings on this shaggy-dog story.

Phantoms, Brains and Bodies: Geoffrey Jefferson and Rethinking the Mind, 1917-1939


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Dr Rebecca Wynter (University of Birmingham) is currently a Visiting Research Fellow in the John Rylands Research Institute. She is studying the neurologist and neurosurgeon, Geoffrey Jefferson (1886-1961), whose extensive papers are held at the Library. She writes:

I have been lucky enough to be awarded a three-month Visiting Fellowship at the John Rylands Research Institute to consult the papers of Sir Geoffrey Jefferson (1886-1961). Jefferson, a founder of British neurosurgery, was a familiar figure at the University and hospitals of Manchester. If he is remembered today, it is for an eponymously-named spinal fracture, or for a 1952 BBC debate about artificial intelligence, counterbalancing the position of another Manchester professor, the mathematician, computing pioneer and Second World War code-breaker, Alan Turing.

One aim of my research is to draw Jefferson out of the shadows in much the same way as has been done for Turing, thanks in part to the archives at The University of Manchester Library.  Jefferson’s life does not hold the same haunted quality as Turing’s, but he too was a man of science working in the murk of world war. It is Jefferson’s Great War-era medical work with head injuries and in the aftercare of amputation which provides the focus of my research at the JRRI.

Geoffrey Jefferson's passport, showing him in civilian dress and military uniform, ref. JEF/1/4/2/1.

Geoffrey Jefferson’s passport, showing him in civilian dress and military uniform, ref. JEF/1/4/2/1.

In 1915, Jefferson was among the first staff of the Anglo-Russian Hospital in Petrograd (now St Petersburg). He set about repairing soldiers with gunshot wounds to the head, using the ghostly shapes cast by bullets in x-rays, and later publishing on the subject. Jefferson returned to Manchester, working from June 1917 to April 1918 at the military 2nd Western General Hospital. Whilst the Library has a rich personal archive from the renowned orthopaedic surgeon Harry Platt – Jefferson’s colleague in Manchester and lifelong friend – only traces of the Hospital and its patients at this time remain in the records.

In Jefferson’s papers, in a small notebook, the spirits of some of these patients can be glimpsed. The pages are peopled by men who, through war or accident, had lost arms or legs, fingers or feet, and were experiencing phantom limbs. The notebook therefore occupies an odd space. It survives when the men and their life stories have vanished. It describes limbs that have now been lost twice – once physically from the men, and then from their lived reality. Yet these apparitions continue to linger due to the fragile and often throw-away material of paper. Through the experiences of a phenomenon which has been at the heart of modern attempts to understand the divisions between mind and body, Jefferson sought to record personal descriptions of the frequently painful sensations the men’s limbs had left behind.

Page from Jefferson's Amputation Notebook relating to Harold, ref. JEF/1/1/2/1.

Page from Jefferson’s Amputation Notebook relating to ‘Harold’, ref. JEF/1/1/2/1.

‘Harold’ (aged 22), for example, had needed to have his left leg amputated from the lower thigh after a gunshot wound had resulted in gangrene in July 1917. Harold endured re-amputation in October of that year and had been troubled ever since. There was pain from an ankle no longer there. His left sole tingled. Muscles tensed. His lost toes were straight, but his foot felt clawed and ‘as if it had been put in boiling water’. Like others in the volume, Harold’s description is accompanied by Jefferson’s ink sketches of his stump as it physically appeared, and a rendering of his missing foot and portion of his leg. The drawing of his foot is arched, and its tingling area shaded. The depiction of his leg is reminiscent of a cuts-of-meat chart, with Harold’s toes, foot, ankle, stump, and mid-leg resembling five joints; this time, the shading is used to evoke the absence of any feelings from the thigh-knee-and-shin joint. In describing the presence of something no longer there, Jefferson sought to understand what the sensations of Harold and the other patients meant, and how temperature and touch affected the brain’s mapping of the body.

Beyond his haunting, we know little more of Harold. He barely grazed Jefferson’s long and eventful life in Russia, Manchester and neurosurgery. But each encounter we have leaves a trace. And with the benefit of research at the John Rylands Research Institute, Harold’s experiences can appear alongside Jefferson’s notions of mind and brain and give form to fleeting phantoms past.

Marking Walter Crane’s Centenary


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Today marks the centenary of the death of Walter Crane (1845-1915), one of the most important artists, designers and book illustrators of the Victorian era.

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Crane trained as a wood-engraver and became a freelance illustrator in the 1860s, while also exhibiting at the Royal Academy. During the 1860s and ’70s, his artistic output was prodigious. He designed the immensely popular children’s Toy Books for George Routledge, printed by Edmund Evans, as well as Evans’s own cheap ‘yellow-backs’, forerunners of the modern paperback. He also designed ceramics, nursery tiles and wallpaper. His clarity of line and use of flat areas of colour indicate a strong Japanese influence.


‘The bundle of sticks’, from The Baby’s Own Aesop (London: George Routledge, 1887). R144222.

Walter Crane became a Socialist under the influence of his friend William Morris, whom he met in 1871. The two men were leading figures of the Arts and Crafts Movement, which espoused honesty of design and materials, and sought to give proper recognition to the work of craftsmen. Like Morris, Crane wrestled with the paradox of his own position: he championed Socialism, while his commer­cial work catered for the tastes of a wealthy elite and he himself enjoyed a comfortable middle-class life.

Design for the Ancoats Brotherhood, Manchester. The figure of Hope appears to a workman, his wife and infant. R199330.

Design for the Ancoats Brotherhood, Manchester. The figure of Hope appears to a workman, his wife and infant. R199330

After the death of William Morris, Crane was the best-known decorative artist in Britain. He remained President of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society until 1912. However, Crane was unable to provide energetic leadership or direction. As the twen­tieth century advanced and new artistic trends came out of Europe, the Arts and Crafts Movement was perceived in some quarters as a relic of a bygone age.

On 18 December 1914 his wife Mary was killed by a train. The inquest recorded a verdict of suicide. Walter Crane died three months later in Horsham Cottage Hospital, on 14 March 1915.

In 2002 the Whitworth Art Gallery and the Library jointly purchased the Walter Crane Archive, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other funders. The archive contains over four thousand items from Crane’s studio, and covers all aspects of Crane’s art and design work, including his book illustration, decorative designs, sketches and paintings. The artistic material is now located at the Whitworth, while the Library holds the textual elements of the archive: correspondence, commonplace books and journals, manuscripts, and photographs. A catalogue of the entire archive is available on Elgar.

The Library has recently digitised one of Crane’s hugely popular children’s books, King Luckieboy’s Picture Book, published by George Routledge in 1870. Clicking on the image below will open a browsable ‘bookreader object’ in Luna.

King Luckieboy's Picture Book (London: George Routledge, 1870). R221875

King Luckieboy’s Picture Book (London: George Routledge, 1870). R221875

Mr and Mrs Rylands get Red Noses for Comic Relief


Making their faces funny for Comic Relief: Mr and Mrs Rylands modelling this years red noses. Mrs Rylands does not look amused!


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