American Collections blog

What's on the mind of Team America?


Find out more about our Americas Studies collections on the Americas blog, written by our curatorial team and guest posts from the Eccles Centre writers in residence. Our collections cover both North and South America, as well as the Caribbean. Read more about this blog

02 February 2021

Curry goat to political rallying

Riaz Phillips on Caribbean takeaways, foodways and politics

When people ask me for intel on the best jerk chicken or Trini roti in London or where to visit for some Caribbean goodness when they are in a number of other cities across the country, while I do of course have some small personal favourites, the question for me always misses the point.  For me the importance of Caribbean food institutions in the UK has never been about the food but rather their importance as a community hub.

An open book, with a page of text on the left about 'Caribbean Food in the UK' and a mural of the Empire Windrush on the right.
Riaz Philips, Belly Full: Caribbean Food in the UK. Second Edition. London: Tezeta Press, 2020. Photo courtesy of Tezeta Press. First edition, London: Tezeta Press, 2017. British Library shelfmark YKL.2017.b.4909..

The particular plight of the post-war Caribbean community in the UK and the treacherousness of everyday life has been wonderfully depicted in all manner of media.  Favourites include Samuel Selvin’s 1956 book The Lonely Londoners to films like Horace Ove’s 1975 film Pressure.  While much of focus of the Caribbean community in the UK, like in other diaspora regions such as the USA and Canada, is placed on the globally renowned subculture of Reggae, I struggled to find much, if anything, about the places and spaces outside one’s home where people congregated to eat.

Book cover of The Lonely Londoners depicting a woman and two men, all smartly dressed. The woman is wearing a white blouse, white jewellery and black skirt; both men are wearing jackets, ties and hats.
Samuel Selvon, The Lonely Londoners. London: Allan Wingate, 1956. British Library shelfmark: RF.2013.a.2

In books and magazine clippings, mostly found researching at the British Library, I rejoiced whenever a restaurant or eatery was mentioned in passing.  Early instances of particularly Caribbean food and drink establishments - cafés, bars and social clubs selling Caribbean food and cooked meals - date back to the late 1920s.  This handful included the likes of the Caribbean Café at 185a Bute Road in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, which was the locale of the 1919 South Wales riots, and 50 Carnaby Street in Central London.1   The latter, founded by Sam Manning and Amy Ashwood, a political activist and first wife of famed Pan-African icon Marcus Garvey, was described as an intellectual hub, “guests were attracted to the rice n peas West Indian Cuisine.”2  The fact that many of these food-related histories are hard to find is why the British Library is a launching a Caribbean foodways project which seeks to amplify food stories and memories.

Black and white photograph of one woman and four men standing next to each other in front of a short wall; all are smartly dressed.
Amy Ashwood Garvey stands on the left Ethiopian Sympathizers at London Meeting, 1935. British Library shelfmark 515019168. © Bettmann / Contributor

From their inception, these institutions went beyond simply being buildings at which to summon a takeaway box of curry goat to being places at which to politically rally, to be merry and more importantly to be free from persecution.  All this - the banter, the arguments over the hottest latest musician, the comedic tiffs between nuances of the different Caribbean islands and, when necessary, the planning of political upheaval - were pleasingly depicted in 2020’s Mangrove feature film directed by Steve McQueen.  However, years before this, I felt that the breadth of these spaces hadn’t truly been given the documentation they deserved in the wider story of this vivid group of people in the UK.

Collage of photographs taken at Mister Patty in Brent.
Photo courtesy of Riaz Phillips.

I like to use the word "vivid" because one thing I feel that outsiders don’t realise about the Caribbean is the great diversity of its people - from African-descendant Rastafari and generational Chinese in the west of the Island group, to Muslim southeast Asians at the other reach of the Caribbean.  Be it the Ital vegan spots, the Guyanese roti shops, Jamaican jerk huts or even home cooking, foodways are the perfect route in convoying stories and memories of the Caribbean and any project encompassing this will always reveal some gems.

Riaz Phillips is a writer, videomaker and photographer.  His book Belly Full: Caribbean Food in the UK was published in 2017 and a second edition was published in 2020.

If you would like to read more about 'Caribbean Foodways at the British Library', please read We're calling for your Caribbean food stories to find out more about the project, including information on how you can participate.  We look forward to hearing from you.


1.  Cardiff Migration Stories. London: Runnymede Trust, 2012. 
2.  C. Grant, Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey and His Dream of Mother Africa. London: Vintage, 2009., p. 437. British Library shelfmark YC.2010.a.1521;  S. Okokon, Black Londoners, 1880-1990. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Pub., 1998. British Library shelfmark YC.1999.b.664


Riaz Phillips, Belly Full: Caribbean Food in the UK. London: Tezeta Press, 2017. British Libary shelfmark YKL.2017.b.4909


25 January 2021

Beyond the Exhibition: Unfinished Business – Curators' Lunchtime Session


Colour photograph of women holding placards
International Women's Day March Los Angeles 2017. Image © Molly Adams CCBY 2.0(1)

From bodily autonomy and the right to education, to self-expression and protest, the British Library’s exhibition, Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights, explores how feminist activism in the UK has its roots in the complex history of women’s rights.  

Although the physical exhibition space is currently closed due to lockdown restrictions, you can discover more about the stories, people and events that have shaped society, as well as the work that remains unfinished, through the exhibition web resource, podcast and fantastic series of online events.  

As part of this events series, on Friday 29 January curators will discuss women’s rights in Europe, the Americas and Oceania through items from their collection areas that they think deserve a spotlight.  

Looking beyond the UK focus of Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women's Rights, the curators will be in conversation about their handpicked choices that speak to the themes of the exhibition and, in many cases, challenge and disrupt pre-conceptions of women’s activism, experiences and struggles for equality. 

This free, online event will take place on Friday 29 January 2021, 12.30 – 1.30pm. To register, please visit the Library’s event page. Bookers will be sent a Zoom link in advance giving access. 

10 January 2021

or, The Whale

This is the third in our series on Moby-Dick, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the New Bedford Whaling Museum's Moby-Dick Marathon.  Today, our contributors will be telling us about their favourite editions (and adaptations) of Melville’s literary classic. We’ll also be finding out about how digital humanities projects shed light on Melville’s working processes and change our readings of familiar passages of text.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Moby-Dick Marathon is a 24-hour, cover-to-cover reading of Herman Melville’s iconic American novel. Editorial Nascimento and the British Library are proud to explore the impact and complex literary meanings of the novel while tuning in to the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Moby-Dick Marathon.


What is your favourite edition of Moby Dick?

Morgane: I quite enjoy the Rockwell Kent edition for the stunning prints! [Editorial note: read more about Rockwell Kent’s illustrations for this edition.]

MD Rockwell Kent

Martina: The Northwestern Newberry edition has a groundbreaking editorial appendix for any readers of Moby-Dick, with some of Melville’s personal notes reprinted from his handwritten manuscripts and memoranda for further contextualization. I have dozens of Moby-Dick editions, works of rewrites for adults and children as well as filmic adaptations. Among the many 20th century rewrites, my favorite one is Orson Welles’ Moby Dick Rehearsed. A Drama in Two Acts (1965), imagining a rehearsal of Moby-Dick as a poorly funded American theatre production at the end of the 19th century.

Moby_Dick_Rehearsed Cover
Orson Welles, Moby Dick Rehearsed. Martina's personal copy. Also at BL shelfmark X.908/3242.


Ed: I’m partial to tracking down translated editions as they usually yield something interesting. They enact, in a miniature way, the history of Moby-Dick more broadly as it gets refracted and changed into new and often bizarre forms as it metabolically interacts with history.

The first “translation,” for instance, was in French in 1853 but ended up being a creative appropriation more than anything else: the translator, who had helped to popularise Poe, turned it, in the course of only 25 pages, into an adventure story without any character by the name of Ishmael. There is, apparently, a missing Russian translation in a magazine from 1854, a journal which only seems to be held in two German libraries, however my attempts to get a hold of it have, so far, come to naught…Who knows, maybe Dostoevsky set eyes on it there!

These sorts of bowdlerisations have beset Moby-Dick as it has crossed borders and languages. Particularly egregious is the German translation of 1927 which managed, somehow, to omit “The Whiteness of the Whale,” which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is a substantive slip…

Copies of a 2012 translation of Moby-Dick in Macedonian by Ognen Čemerski, a copy of which has been acquired by the British Librayr and will be catalogued in due course. Macedonia is a landlocked country and so Čemerski researched origins of Melville's maritime vocabulary and found comparable usages in Macedonian and other Slavic languages related to carpentry and similar crafts that were transferable to a maritime context. For more see

The translations of the 1930s and 1940s are particularly interesting to me, as they all stage, to some degree, a debate about fascism and totalitarianism. Cesare Pavese, a brilliant and tragic writer in his own right, translated it into Italian in the early 1930s at a moment where Mussolini was demanding that all culture tend towards the celebration of the nation-state. In this, the very fact of the translation stands out as a monument to an urge to freedom that otherwise could not be expressed, a celebration of a democratic, liberal culture that was then outlawed by thuggish party stooges.

Yet, it could also go the other way: Paul de Man, who would become a celebrated Deconstructionist literary critic, translated it, anonymously, into Flemish, around the same time that he was writing virulently anti-Semitic articles (which only surfaced after his death) and attempting to become the Minister for Culture under the invading Nazi regime. His is a strangely mute and equivocal one by all accounts, that seems to erase, appropriately enough given his later philosophy, its origins. Yet, revealingly, the etymologies, the first word of which is in Hebrew, are not included.

Speaking of which, the first Hebrew translation of 1952 which was done by a seemingly quite gregarious and eccentric man called Elijah Bortniker, is also interesting, not least as he had to invent a word for “whale,” which Hebrew, strictly, did not possess then. Similarly, he lifted words from Moby-Dick into Hebrew, like “contraband”, so it has left a permanent mark on the language.

MD Hebrew edition
First Hebrew edition of Moby-Dick, translated by Elijah Bortniker.

Scott: The Penguin Clothbound editions by Coralie Bickford-Smith are wonderful, if slightly fragile, but as a hoarder I try and collect them all; I’m not blind to the irony there in that obsessive behaviour while discussing Moby Dick!

Moby Dick Penguin editions
Scott's personal copy of the Penguin Clothbound Classics edition of Moby-Dick, you can find this at shelfmark Nov.2014/1798

Christopher: I have two favourites which are intended for two different aesthetic experiences. The first is for deep reading: the 1967 Norton Critical Edition, which was edited by Harrison Hayford and Hershel Parker. It was the first attempt to create a critical edition that reconciled the first American and British editions. It was the first edition I read cover to cover; it is so old and weathered that I had to use industrial tape to keep the pages and binding together, and almost every page is covered with my notes in red and black ink and pencil going back to my undergraduate days.

Norton edition

Norton edition
Christopher's well-worn and annotated personal copy of the 1967 Norton Critical Edition.

A great autodidact, Melville was an active and eccentric annotator of his books, so I tend to mimic his style of marginalia. (I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in Melville to consult Melville’s Marginalia Online for evidence of his reading of texts ranging from the New Testament to Homer to Shakespeare, Milton, and Emerson.) The Norton Critical edition has helpful contextual notes, in addition to critical essays in the back of the book, including one that I consider to be one of the finest essays on Moby-Dick: Walter Bezanson’s “Moby-Dick: Work of Art” (1953).

My other favourite edition is the Melville Electronic Library digital edition (hereafter MEL), which I use for enriching my reading experience of the book. This edition, which I co-edit with John Bryant and Wyn Kelley with the support of Performant Software Solutions, has pop-up notes in the text that give further context and highlight the differences between the first American and British editions.


Spine and front cover of The Whale, London 1851, the first printing of Moby-Dick. Reproduced with kind permission of the Houghton Library, which hosts the Melville Electronic Library. A British Library copy can be found at shelfmark C.71.d.13.

Melville hired a private printer to set the set type and print proof sheets for the first American edition, published by Harper & Brothers, which represents what Melville wanted to publish at that time. But he also sent those proof sheets to the British publisher and made additional revisions to the text. It is therefore crucial to know that when Moby-Dick was published in 1851, there were two different books for two different audiences, an American audience that read Moby-Dick; or, the Whale, and a British one that read The Whale, a book that was censored and accidentally left out the Epilogue in which Ishmael explains that he was the only member of the Pequod to survive the wreck. Melville had complete control over his book until he handed it over to his British publisher, Richard Bentley. Bentley then changed various aspects of the text, including its coarse language, homoerotic scenes, and blasphemous passages. Therefore the British edition has mixed authority.

Left: Title page for the first American edition of Moby-Dick. Right: title page for the first British edition. Image: Melville Electronic Library.

The MEL edition makes it much easier for readers to examine the differences between these first editions. Take, for example, Ishmael’s famous rhetorical question, “Who ain’t a slave?” The British edition standardised his language to “Who is not a slave?”

Left: the first American edition of Moby-Dick. Right: the first British edition of The Whale which shows evidence of British censorship.

In Chapter 11 (“Nightgown”), after Ishmael compares Queequeg to a wife (“in our hearts’ honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg—a cosy, loving pair”), the British publisher deleted the detail of their sensual moment in bed: “We had lain thus in bed, chatting and napping at short intervals, and Queequeg now and then affectionately throwing his brown tattooed legs over mine, and then drawing them back; so entirely sociable and free and easy were we; when, at last, by reason of our confabulations, what little nappishness remained in us altogether departed, and we felt like getting up again, though day-break was yet some way down the future.”

Left: the first American edition of Moby-Dick. Right: the first British edition of The Whale which shows evidence of British censorship.

Readers of Melville now know his irreverence quite well, but the British edition removed several blasphemous passages, including this one from the end of Chapter 2 (“The Carpet-Bag”) with the bleak phrase starting “The universe is finished…”


The first American edition (top) of Moby-Dick, showing passages at the end of Chapter 2 “The Carpet-Bag” that were deleted from the British edition (marked in red), presumably for being blasphemous.

As the Melville Electronic Library digital edition notes in the text, Ishmael’s commentary on mid-nineteenth century wealth inequality compares the affordances (and our emotional responses) between a tight window that keeps the warmth inside and a sashless or ill-framed window that lets the frost come through. He then likens this difference to the Biblical characters Lazarus and Dives, the one chattering out in the cold and the other enjoying “a fine frosty night” from inside his warm room. Ishmael is calling upon Luke 16:19–23, where the homeless and sore-ridden Lazarus lies at the gates of a scornful rich man (elsewhere called Dives) begging for crumbs. When both die, Lazarus goes to heaven, and Dives burns in hell, begging Lazarus to send him water. But Melville’s British editor expurgated references to this and other Biblical parables throughout the novel.

You see a similar excision in Chapter 93 (“The Castaway”), after Melville’s remarkable Black character Pip goes overboard, and despite being rescued his mind is “drowned the infinite of his soul” by the sea and considered mad: “So man’s insanity is heaven’s sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God” (American edition). The British edition removed the indifference of God, which robs this passage of its weightiness.

In the following instance is an interesting problem where it is unclear whether Melville or his British editor made a change. In Chapter 132 (“The Symphony”), in which Ahab delivers a soliloquy on the nature of his revenge, he asks himself in the first American edition (on the left): “Is Ahab, Ahab? Is it I, God, or who, that lifts this arm? But if the great sun move not of himself; but is as an errand-boy in heaven; nor one single star can revolve, but by some invisible power; how then can this one small heart beat; this one small brain think thoughts; unless God does that beating, does that thinking, does that living, and not I.”


As you can see on the right, the British edition reads “Is it Ahab, Ahab? …” By adding “it”, the British edition matches the syntax of “Is it Ahab, Ahab?” with its subsequent sentence, “Is it I, God…?” And “Is it Ahab, Ahab?” completely changes the meaning of the original “Is Ahab, Ahab?” In the latter, he is doubting his own identity, and his agency, whereas in the former he seems to be questioning to himself a mysterious aspect of himself which may be false.

The standard Northwestern-Newberry edition (1988) printed the reading from the first American edition (“Is Ahab, Ahab?”), which is its authoritative base text, and it is impossible to know whether Melville added “it” in the British version (and this is a reasonable decision). MEL also gives that reading in its “base version.” However, in the spirit of its print prototype, John Bryant and Haskell Springer’s Longman Critical Edition of Moby-Dick, the MEL edition gives immediate access to the textual problems of the American and British versions in its notes.

This is what I love about the potentials of the MEL edition: we can have a direct engagement with Moby-Dick on multiple experiential levels. We are able to encounter what D. F. McKenzie called the bibliographic facts of each edition, the forms of which invite different meanings, as I hope the images above illustrate. We can also encounter the digital, searchable “Reading Text” with various textual and contextual notes in pop-ups and linked data that enrich our understanding of this complicated novel.

Why do you think Moby Dick remains so popular today?

Morgane: I think it must be because it is so open to interpretation, like James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Scott: I think the themes that play out so masterfully are as relevant today as ever, driving, burning obsession, vengeance, revenge, man’s relationship with the natural world, and the perception of Natures vengeance on Man’s exploitation. We can so easily see much of ourselves in these well-rounded characters. It also reminds me that as we become more environmentally conscious, it stands as a easily available, well-known insight to the horrors of whaling, or ‘Scientific research’ still ongoing today, and how far we still have to go.

Ed: I’m not sure that’s an answerable question in a general sense. There are probably answers to be found in particular local ecosystems of reading: in the United States, for instance, the answer is simply that it’s on numerous syllabi and has been accorded the status of “national classic” with all the cultural capital that accrues around such a designation. This would not apply in other communities of reading, of which there are many, around the world.

Martina: Even before Moby-Dick, the myth of the hunt for the white whale circulated as a maritime yarn amongst sailors in the early 19th century. This martime trope, which was taken up in a least four white whaling narratives prior in popular print literature, was intricately connected to masculinity, sexuality and rivalry.

J.N. Reynolds, Mocha Dick or the White Whale of the Pacific. This is the cover of the 1870 British reprint. This story originally appreared in 'The Knickerbocker', a literary magazine, in 1839 and partly inspired Herman Melville. The Knickerbocker can be found at shelfmark P.P.6240.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, British authors and American academics, established Moby-Dick’s reputation culminating in the Melville Revival. America’s motion picture industry quickly followed suit. In fact, Hollywood co-constructed Melville’s popularity in the global popular imagination. Elmer Clifton’s Down to the Sea in Ships (1922), set in New Bedford, references Moby-Dick on intertitles. Just a couple of years afterwards, Warner Bros. successfully spread the myth of the white whale with its international release of The Sea Beast (1926), Moby Dick (1930), and its German sound version Dämon des Meeres, which premiered at the Mozartsaal in Berlin in 1931.

Poster for Dämon des Meeres (Demon of the Sea), dir. Michael Curtiz and William Dieterle, 1931.

Throughout the 20th and early 21st century, numerous editions and versions of Moby-Dick continue to reaffirm its status as high literature, as much they have produced new perspectives on the global cultural trope as part of a vast, commercial Moby-Dick industry. With an increasing interest in white masculinity, America’s shifting position in the world, and the need for a more sustainable relationship with nature, Moby-Dick will continue to attract global readers for what it is: a masterpiece of literature.


That brings to an end our series celebrating the 25th anniversary of the New Bedford Musem of Whaling Moby-Dick Marathon.  We hope you have enjoyed watching the Marathon, and have learnt a few things about Melville's great white whale!

We’d like to thank all of our contributors - Pablo Georg-Nascimento, Morgane Lirette, Martina Pfeiler, Scott Ratiman Nolan, and Edward Sugden for their devotion to our literary blog-marathon.  Special thanks to Christopher Ohge and the Melville Electonic Library for permission to reproduce digitised images of the first British edition of Moby-Dick.  Thanks also to language cataloguers Lora Afric and Zuzanna Krzemien, and collections auditor Edward Horton for their assistance with Slavic language editions, and finding the mis-shelved Poe in the process!


Produced by the New Bedford Whaling Museum and presented by Editorial Nascimento in association with the British Library.

Written and compiled by Katerina Webb-Bourne, and Francisca Fuentes Rettig.

09 January 2021


We’re now on day two of our series devoted to exploring Moby-Dick in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s annual Moby-Dick Marathon.  This will be streamed live from 11.30am EST today (16.30 GMT). You can either watch this below, or by visiting the 2021 Moby-Dick Marathon official page

The New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Moby-Dick Marathon is a 24-hour, cover-to-cover reading of Herman Melville’s iconic American novel. Editorial Nascimento and the British Library are proud to explore the impact and complex literary meanings of the novel while tuning in to the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Moby-Dick Marathon

In the collaborative spirit of the marathon, we’ll be handing over today and tomorrow’s blogs to other people to tell you about their experiences of reading what is now recognised as a literary classic (although this wasn’t always the case, as we will learn…). We hope you enjoy today’s blog and return tomorrow to find out even more about the book that just keeps giving.


Q: Hello! Please introduce yourself.

Kia ora, I’m Scott Ratima Nolan, I’m Māori from Aotearoa New Zealand, and I work here in the British Library as a Conservation Support Assistant, doing my part to protect our collections.





Martina Pfeiler Northwestern_Newberry

Hello, I’m Martina Pfeiler. I am a university scholar, teaching American literature and culture in Germany. I am currently working on the publication of Ahab in Love. The Creative Reception of Moby-Dick Popular Culture and have published articles on teaching Moby-Dick in Leviathan. A Journal of Melville Studies and, forthcoming, in the new Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Herman Melville (2021).

Foto credit: Franziska Peters 


Christopher: I'm Christopher Ohge. I work as Lecturer in Digital Approaches to Literature, University of London School of Advanced Study; also I serve as Associate Director of the Melville Electronic Library.


Hi, I'm Morgane Lirette. I'm a book and paper conservator in the BLCC.  Not only do I love repairing the complex mechanical objects we call books, but I am also an avid reader!  When I'm not reading books about books (you think I'm joking) I still tend to stick to non-fiction, but every now and again I get the urge for a good story.



Sugden Author Photo


I’m Edward Sugden, I am a Senior Lecturer in American Literature at King’s College London. I am currently writing a trade biography of Moby-Dick which tracks its various movements around the world from its birth to the present day. I am also the author of Emergent Worlds which explores how American fiction 'remembers' histories that failed to come into being.



Right, onto the book!  When did you first read Moby-Dick?

Scott: I first read it as a fresher in University, I suspect more to make myself more appealing and literate to girls than any genuine interest. So while posing ostentatiously in a corner of the library, I surprised myself by making some headway on it, though I did struggle with it, probably as I approached it on less than noble intentions. 

Martina: I first read Moby-Dick as an ERASMUS exchange student at Roehampton University in November 1999. I bought the cheap Bantam Books edition by Charles Child Walcutt at the university bookstore, took it home with me and stayed up all night. I was struck by Melville’s poetic language as much as Ishmael and Queequeg’s intimate friendship, the narrator’s humor and universal mind-set. 

Morgane: Like many Americans (I’m from South Louisiana) I first read Moby-Dick in high school. I remember finding the story hard to handle. I think a bit of me was just sick of being assigned reading from the same perspective (male and white, namely... how many Hemingway novels can you fit on a high school syllabus? The answer: about 5 too many!). But I also found the whaling descriptions and the racism upsetting to such an extent that any other merits of the book or writing were lost on me.

Ed: It would have been in the summer of 2006 in the Penguin Classics edition. As an appropriately precocious young lad I decided to read it and Ulysses one after the other. I’m not sure how I managed it, given there was a World Cup that year.  

I struggled, in retrospect, to extract the conceptual elements of it, was stuck at the level of “theme,” but was energised by its beauty and lyricism. The first quote that stuck was “In landlessness alone resides the highest truth, shoreless, indefinite as God”.

Christopher: I have hazy memories of reading the plot-driven sections in high school. I first read it carefully in my second year of university, using the Norton Anthology of American Literature. I have carried that anthology with me as I moved from Boston to the San Francisco Bay Area to London.


Norton edition
Christopher's well-worn Norton Anthology edition of Moby-Dick.  Copyright Christopher Ohge.

At the time I was a philosophy student, and taking early modern philosophy and existentialism courses. I then read Moby-Dick in a survey of American literature and thought, now this is good philosophy! We’ve got Descartian vortices [see the end of Chapter 35], Humean scepticism [Ishmael], Rousseauean noble savages [Queequeg], and Nietzschean supermen [Ahab]! I was young, and I was hooked (and I still read Melville as a philosophical writer). Melville created something unique in American literature––it contains Whitmanian multitudes, multiple genres and worldviews, constraining them all within the crowded space of a ship at sea filled with a global coterie of working class whale hunters. Harrison Hayford was the first to point out the ‘prisoner motif’ in the novel, suggesting that the drama in the narrative parallels how we make compelling narratives when we are trapped both physically and spiritually––what results is great art, but also something troubling about the nature of the mind.

On the basis of my enthusiasm, American literature professor Steven Olsen-Smith invited me to intern for his digital project Melville’s Marginalia Online. I still contribute to that project. Little did I know at the time that that internship would set the stage for my career.

What does Moby-Dick make you think about?

Scott: It makes me think of home. I wear a whalebone pendant made from the tooth of parāoa, the Sperm whale. It is a repository of my travels around the world, journeying afar as the whales do, a misconstrued oversimplification of the phrase ‘Ko ahau te tohorā, te tohorā ko ahau’ (I am the whale, and the whale is me). It also reminds me of the importance of Maori ideals of kaitiakitanga, the sustainable way we live with the natural world and the environment, and how we need to be far more conscious of our own actions and their affects. 

Ed: What I like about Moby-Dick is that, when I read about it, I think about nothing else other than itself: it’s a rare book that is absolutely self-sustaining on its own terms, particularly because its reach is ambitious and generous enough to contain almost everything worth knowing. It feels more real than reality. Perhaps, these days, total immersion in a text is nigh on impossible, but I get close to something like that in the key passages of Moby-Dick, where the sheer density of the prose provides an imaginative ecosystem where I can reside, the words my oxygen, albeit temporarily. 

Martina: Moby-Dick makes me think about the function of literature, its specificity, and about imaginative freedom of expression. The book is a gigantic vessel filled with words from the Bible, Shakespeare, maritime folklore, Thomas Beale’s The Natural History of the Sperm Whale, etc.  It also makes me think of globalization, Native American genocide, U.S. politics, whiteness and masculinity, the irresponsible role of human leadership on this planet. 

Beale Habits Sperm Whale
Thomas Beale, A Few Observations on the Natural History of the Sperm Whale: with an account of the rise and progress of the fishery, etc. General Reference Collection 728.f.19. DRT Digital Store 728.f.19.

Who is your favourite character?

Ed: Pip, after he falls into the water. He’s the most philosophically profound of the lot, a Tom o’ Bedlam of the oceans and I’m not sure anyone has caught up to his insights as of yet (though there is an interesting take on him by the African American artist Ellen Gallagher whose “Bird in Hand” gets closest to capturing his oneiric and historical energy.)

Morgane: I was rooting for Moby the whole way through.

Scott: Can I say Moby Dick? The first time I really liked the character of Starbuck, but the second time round it was all Ahab. Villains always get the best lines don’t they! I’m not the first or last to draw comparisons of Milton’s Lucifer to Melville’s Ahab, and I love (if am also appalled by) his relentlessness, a kind of internal fire that reminded me slightly of Tolkien’s Fëanor. Even the scars on his body fascinate me.

Ahab Rockwell Kent
Ahab as depicted by Rockwell Kent in the 1930 Lakeside Press edition. 3 Vols, British Library shelfmark: L.R.50.b.1.

Oddly, I didn’t connect with Queequeg, despite the real-life connections to Te Pēhi Kupe. In fact I was horrified by his casual selling of Toi Moko, the tattooed heads of Māori, which did happen at that time; nonetheless, his character is superbly written, and comes across as one of the best, most selfless.

Martina: Ishmael. He probes the meaning of life and the meaning of the fictional representation of life. It is only through a collision of both worlds that he survives and is able to pass on his epic narrative. But: Queequeg is much cooler and wiser than Ishmael. 


What is your favourite passage and why?

Morgane: I think the passages I’d most want to go back to would be natural science-y ones, because that sort of “non-fiction in fiction” idea really appeals to the reader I’ve become. I love the history of science and technology, and Moby-Dick is the by-product of a fantastic era in those histories. This is the post-Enlightenment era which gives us Darwin, the Industrial Revolution and, I think, the birth of science communication in real terms. I've been known to link anything and everything to papermaking and printing, and here I see another delicious opportunity to do so. Could Melville have ever written Moby-Dick without access to Darwin and his contemporaries? I doubt so, and those texts were only widely accessible due to mechanised, industrial papermaking and printing.

1979 Arion Press edition of Moby-Dick with illustrations of Melville’s 'folio' of whales in which he arranges them by folio, quarto, octavo, and so on, a playful homage to the 19th century works of natural science that influenced the writing of the book. Illustrations and copyright Barry Moser. Shelfmark C.105.k.4.

The books from that era can be real headaches for us conservators due to cheap materials and manufacture, but their cheapness itself helped disseminate scientific and technological information, literature and news of the day on an unprecedented scale. I'd like to think that Melville had this shift in collective conscious in mind when planning the novel. I can imagine myself enjoying those snapshots back in time from a history of science/technology point of view. As much as it would be interesting to see how far we've come in our understanding of the natural world, I'm sure the passages would equally illuminate how limited our current understanding is still. Which I suppose is one novel's themes, right?

Christopher: “The Whiteness of the Whale,” “The Quarter-Deck,” and “The Doubloon” chapters are still my favourites. “The Whiteness of the Whale” is a work of philosophical wonderment, whereas the other chapters are simply entertaining, with Ahab taking up all the oxygen, like Milton’s Satan. How can you beat the rhapsodic, gnomic brilliance of the conclusion to “The Whiteness of the Whale”? Generations of scholars continue to unpack and debate the significance of these intuitions.

Martina: I particularly enjoy all chapters set in New Bedford, especially Ch. 3 “The Spouter-Inn” and Ch. 10 “A Bosom Friend”. Ishmael and Queequeg’s encounter is great learning lesson against cultural prejudices. Only by confronting these stereotypes and overcoming them with great sense of humor, can human friendship evolve into its most affectionate form, regardless of one’s gender, ethnic, social, and religious context. Ishmael nails it when he says: “What's all this fuss I have been making about, thought I to myself--the man's a human being just as I am: he has just as much reason to fear me, as I have to be afraid of him. Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.”

Scott: It’s a tough one, but I would say chapter 61: “Stubbs Kills a Whale.” This is because it’s the first real action sequence in the book. The vividness of the hunt really places you there, oar in hand, rowing madly towards this giant of the oceans, and the sadness of its death.

Harpooned Whale
Piscium vivæ icones in æs incisæ et editæ ab A. Collardo, General Reference Collection 436.b.24.(3.) DRT Digital Store 436.b.24.(3.)

Ed: I’ve got a long-standing love of the “loom of time” passage from “The Mat-Maker”—rather like when Pip gets submerged in the water, it’s one of those moments where you can see Melville at the very edges, and perhaps beyond, of the expressible. I also love the metaphor of the oyster Ishmael uses: he suggests our perception might be as limited as that of the oyster who little imagines that there can be anything beyond the viscous water it finds itself in.

History of the oyster
T.C. Eyton, (Thomas Campbell, A history of the oyster and the oyster fisheries. General Reference Collection 1256.g.5. DRT Digital Store 1256.g.5.


Obsession: good or bad?  Discuss.

Scott: Oh definitely bad. A captain has a responsibility to his men and his ship. Ahab not only loses his ship, but brings death to not only himself but the entire crew of the Pequod, save for Ishmael, even the morally strong figure of Starbuck does not survive. And furthermore, it’s pointless, as Righteous Vengeance, in the form of taniwha Moby Dick survives. I felt that in the relentless pursuing of Moby Dick, even after the first encounter and the death (and subsequent horrifying visualisation of Fedallah dragged behind the whale) they were clearly outmatched from the start, is symbolic of the worst characteristics in humanity, obsession mixed with arrogance.

Harpooned Whale
Illustration by Stewart Lizars, The Natural History of the ordinary Cetacea or Whales. In The Naturalist's Library. Shelfmark 1150.a.4

Martina: Depends. If it is self-harming or harming others, then it is evidently bad. However, some spark, some drive, some passion, mixed with a healthy mode of obsession can turn out as a game-changer in one’s relationship with oneself and society, if not the universe. We are complex human beings with little access to our own motivations.

Herman Melville. , ca. 1860. Photograph.

Did Moby-Dick change how you think about oceans and the natural world?

Christopher: I did not initially read much into the ecological implications of the book, but over time it has become clearer to me that Melville, like Thoreau, was a forceful critic of rapacious capitalism, particularly in its forms of slavery and environmental degradation. The work of Richard J. King (Ahab's Rolling Sea: A Natural History of Moby-Dick, 2020) in particular offers helpful tools for thinking about the natural world in Melville, which he calls ‘blue ecocriticism’.

Morgane:I think what stood out to me most theme-wise as a teenager and still stays with me today is the idea of human hubris in the face of the awesome natural world. Growing up on the Gulf Coast, the water was never far from my mind. Hurricanes are an annual threat, I was witnessing land loss first-hand due to the man-made strangulation of the Mississippi River and still today if you push a surface-level bit of sand with your toes in Grande Isle, Louisiana you’ll be met with black, oil-stained sand from the BP oil spill in 2010. I feel super protective over our natural heritage no doubt because of my lived and inherited experiences, and perhaps Moby-Dick could have played a role in developing that part of my personality. I’ve never really thought about it, but how could it have not?

Cocodrie dawn
Cocodrie, Louisiana at dawn. Copyright Morgane Lirette.

Scott: It did! I even attempted to join Sea Shepherd, the Anti-Whaling group. Sadly they did not reply to my email. I can’t imagine how helpful I would have been! I always interpreted Moby Dick as a Taniwha, a manifestation of a protective guardian, or Kaitiaki, a punishment for the destructive overexploitation of the children of Tangaroa. The Whale has always been seen as chiefly by my people, and should one beach and pass, it is a gift from Tangaroa, to be respected, and buried with karakia, or prayer. Needless to say I much enjoyed the destruction of the Pequod, and of the crew. But I also enjoyed Melville’s vivid descriptions of both ship-board life and sailing on the oceans. Both Melville and Patrick O’Brian have much to blame for my overly-romanticised notions of the sea.

Martina: Oh, yes! Moby-Dick reads like a 19th century slaughterhouse with a mad captain on top of it! It is deeply philosophical in its outlook on the archaic trope of man against nature, in addition to making the competitive forces of capitalism visible in the character of Starbuck and the various whaling ships that the Pequod encounters on its voyage. The threat of the extinction of whales is looming over the book.

Whaling Apparatus
William Scoresby the Younger. An Account of the Arctic Regions, with a history and description of the Northern Whale-Fishery. Shelfmark: G.2603 vol. II

Ed: On the first reading, I think it opened up a metaphorical language for speaking about oceans and nature for me. As a would-be poet—don’t ask—then I, of course, was no stranger to somewhat tortuous similes about oceans and the like, but Moby-Dick offered me something more substantive.

Since then one reading that has grown in prominence in my mind is that the book is not really an American epic, as such, but rather an epic about the tragic conflict between humans and nature under the regime of extractive capitalism. There’s an argument to be made that it’s the fictional equivalent to Marx’s Capital in this regard. It’s about how humans destroy the very things they depend on for life. That’s the tragic conflict, the irresolvable contradiction at the heart of it.

Finally, have you ever seen a whale?

Scott: Yes! But only for a second. I was walking along the shorefront in Kaikoura, in New Zealand, busily engaged in my own internal dialogue, when I saw out of the corner of my eye, something vast leap out of the sea. It was so quick that by the time I fixed my eye upon the area, I only saw a glimpse of the flukes splashing down. So just a glimpse, but enough to crow about for some time.

Morgane: Only in captivity - which always left me very sad. However, I’ve been fortunate to see plenty of other wild cetaceans like porpoises and dolphins off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ed: I imagine I saw poor old Shamu, or a distant descendent, when I visited SeaWorld as a child…

Christopher: Yes, during a whale watch in Massachusetts Bay while I was studying in Boston. I was so sea-sick I could barely appreciate them; I had to mainline ginger chews for several hours to overcome my nausea. That gave me some perspective on the difficulty of the enterprise Melville described. I would not have lasted as long!

Martina: Yes. Around three years ago, I finally decided to take a whale watching tour off the coast of São Miguel on the Azores. Our crew spotted some whales spouting in the distance. We could barely see them but could hear them breathing air through their lungs. They looked so well adapted to the ocean, intermingling with it, and they seemed to ask us what in the world we were doing there on our ship. When I asked the captain why he named his ship Moby Dick. He said: “Oh, because everyone knows Moby Dick!” And he is right. Moby-Dick is "not only ubiquitous, but immortal", but they are best left alone.

Two whale fins, Boston, MA. Credit Ajay Sureshi, Creative Commons licence.


Join us again tomorrow as we continue exploring Moby-Dick through various editions over the years, from the very first printing to digital iterations that you can explore from home.


Produced by the New Bedford Whaling Museum and presented by Editorial Nascimento in association with the British Library.

Written and compiled by Katerina Webb-Bourne, and Francisca Fuentes Rettig.


08 January 2021

25 Years of the Moby-Dick Marathon

Did you know it's the 25th anniversary of the @whalingmuseum's Moby-Dick Marathon this weekend? Dig out your favourite edition of Herman Melville's sprawling epic and join the New Bedford Whaling Museum for a live-stream of this collaborative reading beginning Saturday at 11.30am EST (16.30 GMT), and partake in the conversation on the @britishlibrary twitter feed using #mobydickmarathon.

2021 MD Marathon
Logo 25th Anniversary Moby Dick Marathon

The New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Moby-Dick Marathon is a 24-hour, cover-to-cover reading of Herman Melville’s iconic American novel. Editorial Nascimento and the British Library are proud to explore the impact and complex literary meanings of the novel while tuning in to the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Moby-Dick Marathon.

To celebrate this anniversary, we will be posting a series of Moby-Dick related blogs over the weekend. Pulling together these posts has proven to be an endeavour that is worthy of the book itself, bringing in a wide assortment of characters, thematic deviations, and book histories: basement staff who went delving through our holdings of Moby-Dick editions (during which a “missing” Poe edition was rediscovered!); language cataloguers who spent time digging into interesting translated editions with their own unique histories; publishers, academics and Moby-Dick aficionados whose lives have been irrevocably influenced by Melville’s words and ideas.

We hope that you enjoy these posts, and revel in the range of stories and resources that they introduce you to. Opening the series is a post from Pablo George-Nascimento, director of Editorial Nascimento. Pablo follows the multiple threads between the publishing company established by his great grandfather, New Bedford, whaling, Moby-Dick, and the British Library.

“What surprised me the most, as I relaunched my old family publishing house more than a century after my great grandfather (Manuel Carlos George-Nascimento - a.k.a. Don Carlos) had opened it in Santiago de Chile, was just how well known the Nascimento name still was, and not only among bibliophiles.

Don Carlos
Don Carlos, founder of Editorial Nascimento

Our presentation in the auditorium of the British Library went amazingly well, lasting nearly eight hours with interest bubbling until the end. Something special engaged the audience's attention. It was hard to know whether that was the famous authors in the Nascimento back catalogue or the story of the publisher himself, whose journey to publishing stardom was both a novel and a poem in itself. Whatever the answer, there is no doubt that having Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral and Nicanor Parra, two Nobel Prize winners and one nominee, on the list of your ‘discoveries' will never be bad for your legacy.

Gabriela Mistral
Gabriela Mistral, Chile's first Nobel Laureate in literature

Don Carlos was born on a small island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, half way between Europe and America, He had dreamed of going to Chile since he was a young boy, to work with an uncle who had emigrated there and opened a famous bookshop in 1873: the Libreria Nascimento. His love for books was fostered by his brother, a parish priest, who had built a substantial library in the house. But the thing that stoked the young man's ambition most was his father's adventures alongside another famous whaler, Herman Melville. Throughout his life, Don Carlos often called this his greatest source of inspiration for his love of books.

CARLOS LOURENÇO JORGE (whaler portrait)
Carlos Lourenço Jorge, Don Carlos’ father, a whaler who was credited by Herman Melville at the time of publishing Moby Dick.

Of eleven siblings, nine left the Portuguese Azores for the USA from the mid-1800s onwards. All of them arrived first in New Bedford. Don Carlos’ priestly brother, Francisco Lourenço,  became the parish priest of the Azorean whalers in the city.

New Bedford & Fairhaven map
Map of New Bedford and Fairhaven. By Robert G. Ingraham. Scale of feet, 3,000[ = 101 mm]. Cartographic Items Maps 73435.(81.)


Don Carlos was the only one to head to South America. After adventures and disappointments, eventually, in 1917, he opened the first publishing house in Latin America, in Santiago de Chile.  He kept the book manufacturing process in house by building a printing factory. Some of the most beautiful and innovative designs worldwide came out of Nascimento.

Crepusculario limited edition
Limited edition Editorial Nascimento 1937 of Pablo Neruda's 'Crepusculario'. The British Library holds the 4th edition at shelfmark X.908/23180.

The greatest artists of the period worked at Nascimento and, during his lifetime, Don Carlos built a catalogue of more than 6,500 titles, which included the first women authors at a time when women were still unable to vote. Gabriela Mistral, Marta Brunet, Maria Luisa Bombal, Teresa Wilms Montt and Maria Monvel are but a few of them.

Montana Adentro - Marta Brunet
Marta Brunet 'Montaña Adentro', 1923 Editorial Nascimento. Shelfmark X.908/85120.

Don Carlos surpassed his wildest ambitions. When he died in 1966, Nascimento had 35 of the 37 National Literature Awards on its catalogue, and had published Neruda's Twenty Love Poems, which has been the best selling poetry book in the history of the Spanish language.

Who would have ever imagined that this young Portuguese immigrant, born of a whaling and navy family going back more than 500 years, could have become such an important figure in world publishing? His vision was such that, every month, he would pack boxes with his latest publications and post them to the world's leading libraries, including the British Museum library. These went on to have a home in the British Library following its formation in 1973.

Poemas y Antipoemas - Nicanor Parra
Nicanor Parra, 'Poemas y Antipoemas', Editorial Nascimento, 1954

Today we are proud to knit this story together again. Nascimento was reborn in Chile and now in the UK with a series of innovative projects encompassing books, art books, performing arts and digital creations. With the imminent centenary celebrations of Neruda's and Mistral's first books, from 2023 we will be hosting a series of events and publishing a number of carefully selected limited artistic editions from our original back catalogue.

We start by bringing you a celebration of the most famous book of that period: the Moby-Dick Marathon. The New Bedford Whaling Museum celebrates the 25th anniversary of this 24-hour-long annual event held in the museum. Editorial Nascimento have previously worked with the Museum to produce a simultaneous Portuguese language version of the marathon.

New Bedford Whaling Museum logo
New Bedford Whaling Museum logo

This year, in these unique circumstances, the Moby-Dick Marathon moves online, giving many thousands the chance to share this intimate occasion. In association with the British Library we bring you this unique opportunity to take part in this non-stop reading.”

Join the Americas blog again tomorrow to hear from more people about how Moby Dick has influenced them, and join in watching the livestream of the Moby-Dick Marathon.

Prodcued by the New Bedford Whaling Museum and presented by Editorial Nascimento in association with the British Library.

18 December 2020

Cooking a Christmas Meal in the Caribbean Collections

Given there is no canteen Christmas lunch on offer this year, I thought I would ‘cook up’ a Caribbean Christmas meal out of the collections.

Colourful painting of a street scene with a man dressed in costume with a feathered headpiece.
Jackie Ranston, Belisario: Sketches of Character: A historical biography of a Jamaican artist. Kingston, Jamaica: The Mill Press, 2008. Shelfmark: LD.31.b.1989

“Koo-Koo, Koo-Koo” an attendant chorus repeated, imitating the ‘rumbling sound of the bowels, when in a hungry state.’1  This was the origin of the ‘Koo-Koo’ chant according to Isaac Medes Belisario, the Jamaican Jewish painter, engraver and lithographer.  The calling of Koo-Koos would sound the streets of Kingston during Junkanoo – the carnivalesque celebration that occurs around Christmas time in parts of the English-Speaking Caribbean.  Rooted in the era of slavery, Junkanoo festivities were performed during the planter-sanctioned Christmas holiday, which overlapped with the main annual break in the plantation cycle.  While the concept of Christmas was a colonial imposition in the Caribbean, the short break that this Christian holiday instigated became an opportunity for the creation of independent, creolized, defiant and delicious traditions.  From the rumbling stomach of Junkanoo to the ceremonial soaking of fruit in rum, Christmas through the mouth of the Caribbean collections is a varied and delectable affair.

The Main Event

Deviating from the oft-dry Turkey, the centrepiece of a Caribbean Christmas meal might be a ‘Christmas Goat’ or a pig.  As contributors to the community-published cookbook, Captain Blackbeard’s Beef Creole explain, Christmas in St. Lucia is a big celebration, where pigs are fattened up to be eaten on Christmas day and there are lots of dances and parties that ‘carry on through Christmas and New Year’.

Text from a book which describes Christmas in St Lucia.
Captain Blackbeard’s Beef Creole and other Caribbean recipes. London: Peckham Publishing Project,  1981. Shelfmark: X.629/17620

Much more efficient to rear than cows and easier to farm on smallholdings, the goat has consistently been one of the most consumed meats in Jamaica since the nineteenth century. Goat was ‘also the most commonly eaten mammal in India, after the sheep,’ which made it appealing to Jamaica’s East Indian community.The curry goat, a classic of Jamaican cuisine, is a product of East Indian and African creolization in Jamaica.

Text from a book which describes the Christmas Goat.
Captain Blackbeard’s Beef Creole and other Caribbean recipes. London: Peckham Publishing Project,  1981. Shelfmark: X.629/17620



As Carly Lewis-Oduntan writes in her article, ‘When Christmas Dinner Comes with a Side of Rice and Peas,’ a British and Caribbean Christmas food fusion might encompass roast turkey accompanied with rice and peas.  Derived from Akan cuisine, variations of rice and bean dishes have been a staple of Caribbean diets for centuries.  During the era of slavery, enslaved peoples in the English-Speaking Caribbean subsisted on their provision ground harvests (small plots of land where anything from yams to beans were grown), which have profoundly shaped the ingredients, processes and tastes that remain central to Caribbean cuisine.  Ripening just in time for Christmas, the perennial Gungo pea is an ‘essential part of the Christmas Day menu’, replacing the often-used kidney bean in rice and peas.

Sketches of different shaped beans.
B. W. Higman, Jamaican Food: History, Biology, Culture. Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press, 2008. Shelfmark YC.2009.b.918.


Front-cover with a palm tree on an island amongst a background of blue.
P. De Brissiere, Caribbean Cooking: A Selection of West-Indian Recipes. London: The New Europe Publishing Co. Ltd, 1946. Shelfmark: YD.2005.a.5048
Recipes for Savoury Carrot Mould, Peas and Rice, Indian Cabbage and Bean Pie.
P. De Brissiere, Caribbean Cooking: A Selection of West-Indian Recipes. London: The New Europe Publishing Co. Ltd, 1946. Shelfmark: YD.2005.a.5048


The Proof is in the Pudding

The Caribbean Christmas cake or pudding is the product of months (or even years) of rum soaking.  Atop of kitchen cupboards you might spot dried fruit soaking in deep amber jars of rum, in preparation for baking the spiced, boozy and dense Christmas cake.  From the sugar grown and harvested on plantations, to the by-product of sugar (rum is made from molasses which is produced when sugarcane is refined) and regionally grown spices like nutmeg, Christmas pudding is an example of the region’s history melding together.

Recipe for Jamaican Christmas pudding
Captain Blackbeard’s Beef Creole and other Caribbean recipes. London: Peckham Publishing Project,  1981. Shelfmark: X.629/17620
Recipe continued with an illustration of a small bottle of liquor and nutmegs.
Captain Blackbeard’s Beef Creole and other Caribbean recipes. London: Peckham Publishing Project,  1981. Shelfmark: X.629/17620


A drink with that?

Colourful illustration of a sorrel flower
Floella Benjamin, Exploring Caribbean Food in Britain. London: Mantra Publishing, 1988. Shelfmark: YK.1989.b.1722
A drink recipe using sorrel and rum.
Teresa E. Cleary, Jamaica Run-dung: Over 100 Recipes. Kingston: Brainbuster Publications, 1973. Shelfmark: YA.1989.a.11640


How about a deep red glass of tart, sweet and cool sorrel drink, made from an infusion of fresh or dried sorrel.  The Jamaican name for hibiscus, B. W. Higman cites sorrel as arriving during in the eighteenth century, from Africa. Planted in August, the sorrel plant is harvested in December and January, hence, its Christmas association.  The refreshing drink is made by steeping sorrel in water for two days with ginger, cloves, orange peel, rum or wine.  These classic Christmas flavours encompass Britain’s colonial history and the far-reaching impact of the Spice Trade.

Drawing of a yellow hibiscus flower.
Marjorie Humphreys, Cerasee & Other Jamaican Flowering Plants. Kingston, Jamaica: The Mill Press, 1999. Shelfmark: YA.2003.a.26672


I hope this has whet your appetite for a Merry Christmas and has maybe even inspired you to test out one of these recipes – please get in touch if you do!

In 2021, we will be launching an exciting project that seeks to re-interpret, locate and co-create more sources on the history of Caribbean food, spanning from colonial materials, to post-independence and contemporary sources. We will need your input and participation … so watch this space and have a relaxing winter break.

Naomi Oppenheim, community engagement and Caribbean Collections intern at the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library and CDP student researching Caribbean publishing and activism.  @naomioppenheim


1. Jackie Ranston, Belisario: Sketches of Character: A historical biography of a Jamaican artist (Kingston: The Mill Press, 2008), p.250.
2. B. W. Higman, Jamaican Food: History, Biology, Culture (Kingston: University of the West Indies Press, 2008), p.387-9.

Works Cited

* B. W. Higman, Jamaican Food: History, Biology, Culture (Kingston: University of the West Indies Press, 2008), BL Shelfmark YC.2009.b.918
* Carly Lewis-Oduntan, ‘When Christmas Dinner Comes with a Side of Rice and Peas’, VICE, 14 December 2018
* Floella Benjamin, Exploring Caribbean Food in Britain (London: Mantra Publishing, 1988) BL Shelfmark YK.1989.b.1722
* Jackie Ranston, Belisario: Sketches of Character: A historical biography of a Jamaican artist (Kingston: The Mill Press, 2008). BL Shelfmark LD.31.b.1989
* Marjorie Humphreys, Cerasee & Other Jamacian Flowering Plants (Kingston: The Mill Press, 1999)
* P. De Brissiere, Caribbean Cooking: A Selection of West-Indian Recipes, BL shelfmark YD.2005.a.5048
* Teresa E. Cleary, Jamaica run-dung: over 100 recipes (Kingston: Brainbuster Publications, 1973) BL Shelfmark YA.1989.a.11640
* ‘14th Day of Christmas – Gungo Peas & Christmas’, Jamaica Information Service

Further Reading

* B. W. Higman, ‘Cookbooks and Caribbean Cultural Identity: An English-Language Hors D’Oeurve’, New West Indian Guide, 72 (1998).
* Catherine Hall, ‘Whose Memories? Edward Long and the Work of Re-Remembering’ in K. Donington, R. Hanley, & J. Moody (Eds.), Britain's History and Memory of Transatlantic Slavery: Local Nuances of a 'National Sin'’ (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2016), pp. 129-149.
* Chanté Joseph, ‘Confronting the Colonial Past of Jamaica’s Hard Dough Bread’, VICE, 25 April 2019
* Colleen Taylor Sen, Curry: A Global History (London: Reaktion, 2009) BL Shelmark YK.2010.a.31951
* Edward Long, A History of Jamaica (London: T. Lowndes, 1774), 981.f.19-21. [Version available online]
* Malini Roy, ‘Reopening and reinterpretation – our Front Hall Busts’, Living Knowledge Blog, 28 August 2020
* Naomi Oppenheim, ‘A Belated Happy Junkanoo: the Caribbean Christmas’, American Collections blog, 7 January 2019
* Riaz Phillips, Belly Full: Caribbean Food in the UK (London: Tezeta Press, 2017) YKL.2017.b.4909


16 December 2020

The American newsroom as seen in cartoons: 1930-1960. By Dr Will Mari

In the mid-century United States, the newsroom was at the heart of journalism’s professional world, the place where reporters and editors produced and published stories that shaped their society, and their own. In their numerous depictions on stage and screen, newsrooms have been romanticized and idealized, but they were very human places, complete with the failures and foibles of the cultures they were embedded in.

They could be macho, sexist and racist places, where white men dominated. They could be places where publishers and owners demurred too much to corporate or political interests.

But they were also spaces where true stories—however imperfect—were told to people in power, and, gradually, were becoming more open to women and people of color by the 1960s.

Cartoonists and other artists, working in newsrooms, captured and caricatured their working lives, including their colleagues, in these places. What follows is a small sample of the images I have gathered in my research for my new book on the history of the American newsroom from the 1920s through the end of the 1950s, to be published with the University of Missouri Press early next summer. I’ll describe what’s happening in each image and provide further context.

Note: several of the images below come from a trade publication, Editor & Publisher (the equivalent in the UK would be the Press Gazette), which can be found in the British Library’s holdings at the following shelfmarks: Document Supply 3661.077000 or the General Reference Collection, PP.1423.lgt.

The British Library holds an extensive collection of historical and current newspapers and magazines published in the United States. All of them can be accessed via the Explore catalogue. An Eccles Centre guide to the Library's printed and microfilm holdings is available here ( The guide lists the newspapers by title and provides an index to available holdings by state and town. In addition to these printed and microfilm materials, the Library subscribes to several online databases containing full text searchable newspapers and magazines. The blog post Americas Digital Newspapers Resources, provides more information on digital newspaper databases, many of which are available remotely once you obtain a British Library reader pass.  


Image of cartoon stripe from the newspaper Editor & Publisher published on April 18, 1936
The other fellow’s job. Cartoon stripe from the newspaper Editor & Publisher published on April 18, 1936. Caption to the cartoon reads: “Specially drawn for Editor & Publisher by Louis A. Paige. Utica (N.Y.) Observer-Dispatch”. Image used with permission from Editor & Publisher, copyright ©Editor & Publisher


In this first image from Editor & Publisher and published on April 18, 1936, Louis Paige, a cartoonist at the Utica, New York, Observer-Dispatch, shows a columnist typing away behind an office partition in a newsroom, with a younger reporter working out in what is implied to be the open newsroom. The older columnist says, “Gosh -- I wish I were in that reporter's shoes -- up and around hustling news, meeting people, seeing things, etc. --.”

The second part of the cartoon shows the unnamed younger reporter looking into the office, on the columnist, and saying, wistfully, “Gee -- That's how I'd like it some-day -- sit in your own office, sway the nation with editorials, etc.”

While more touching than tongue-in-check, this scene gently teases news workers for envying each other’s jobs. For many rank-and-file reporters, working as a columnist seemed like a pretty easy gig. After all, columnists could stay inside and work at a more leisurely pace, but columnists, for their part, missed the carefree semi-independence of their younger days as reporters.


Image of cartoon stripe from the newspaper Editor & Publisher published on March 27, 1948
The Fourth Estate, by Trent. Cartoon stripe from the newspaper Editor & Publisher published on March 27, 1948. Image used with permission from Editor & Publisher, copyright ©Editor & Publisher


In this image, a group of reporters are playing a game of cards in a “press room” located in a city building. A flummoxed functionary is seen opening the door on them, and one reporter turns and says, “Bring the Mayor’s statement down later, neatly typed!

This cartoon, published in Editor & Publisher on March 27, 1948, shows how reporters spent their time between assignments, or even on assignments, and what they thought of local government officials.


Image of cartoon stripe from the newspaper Editor & Publisher published on April 21, 1934
The paths of glory. Cartoon stripe from the newspaper Editor & Publisher published on April 21, 1934. Cartoon by Denys Wortman of the New York World-Telegram. Image used with permission from Editor & Publisher, copyright ©Editor & Publisher


In this image, a cartoon by Denys Wortman, of the New York World-Telegram, a brash young reporter is complaining to a coworker about his editor. He says, leaning casually against a table, “I went and won the Pulitzer Prize, Jack, and the managing editor hasn’t spoken to me for a month because he’s afraid I’ll ask for a raise.” Published on April 21, 1934, in Editor & Publisher, it spoofs the constant clamoring for raises that American editors faced, but also the harsh reality of the Great Depression, where winning a major journalistic award was not enough to guarantee a pay bump.


Image of cartoon stripe from the newspaper Editor & Publisher published on February 18, 1956
The Fourth Estate, by Trent. Cartoon stripe from the newspaper Editor & Publisher published on February 18, 1956. Image used with permission from Editor & Publisher, copyright ©Editor & Publisher


In this cartoon from Feb. 18, 1956, and published in Editor & Publisher, a couple of reporters in a “radio car”—a car equipped with an expensive, two-way radio system for calling stories into the newsroom, or receiving instructions from editors—is shown on a busy city street. Both reporters appear grumpy, and one is saying into a microphone, not visible, but probably on the dashboard, “Calling City Desk, calling City Desk … where are we?.”


Image of cartoon stripe from the newspaper Editor & Publisher published on September 18, 1953
The Fourth Estate, by Trent. Cartoon stripe from the newspaper Editor & Publisher published on September 18, 1953. Image used with permission from Editor & Publisher, copyright ©Editor & Publisher


In this cartoon, a reporter with a radio strapped to his back with a long antennae, is busy cornering interview subjects in a hallway in a city hall building, and is saying into a receiver, “Hi, Betty, this is Al; give me the Desk.” The image, published in Editor & Publisher on Sept. 19, 1953, both pokes fun at the new portable technologies possible in the postwar world, but also takes, perhaps, a subtle pride in how they’re changing journalism.


Image of cartoon stripe from the newspaper The Guild Reporter published on September 26, 1952
Grin and bear it, by Lichty. Cartoon stripe from the newspaper The Guild Reporter published on September 26, 1952. Image used with permission from The Guild Reporter, and the NewsGuild-Communication Workers of America. Copyright ©The Guild Reporter ©NewsGuild-Communication Workers of America


This final image, published on Sept. 26, 1952, in The Guild Reporter, a publication of the American Newspaper Guild (ANG), shows a labor negotiator being tossed forcibility through a glass window, in a door. A receptionist and two male editors look on. One says, “Looks like the union and management have agreed on one thing, at least…they’ve thrown out the mediator…”. The cartoonist, George Lichty, drew the image for the Chicago Sun-Times Syndicate. While it exaggerates, of course, it does show how the unionization efforts of the ANG had helped journalism, at least partially, become a more white-collar occupation.

Guest post by Dr. Will Mari, Assistant Professor of Media Law and Media History, Louisiana State University.




08 December 2020

Art in a pandemic: exploring manifestation of art and design

The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly given us the difficult task of witnessing one of the most unmerciful global challenges since the world wars.

As it happens during times of crises, artists start producing objects, or creating digital content, which reflect part of the daily struggle for life. Their creation can be seen as a process that transforms art in ephemera and ephemera in arts, and the boundaries between what is art and what is not are often impalpable and undefinable. How do we see these objects now, through the lens of time, and while enduring another lockdown? 

The descent of the lockdown on our bodies and souls has forced us into living in a dystopian society, as well as a forced daily exploration of digital content and images or, at least, that is what has happened to me.

Last spring, during one of my virtual exploration sessions at @CovidArtMuseum, I was particularly attracted by artistic responses from the southern hemisphere. I met an inspirational graphic artist on Instagram, and having decided to use a couple of graphic creations, I contacted her to discuss copyright but we ended up talking about books, art inspirations and feelings of deprivation.


Graphic art from Guatemala: the soap dispenser


Soap dispenser embellished with details from Vincent Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night on the lower part. On the upper part a yellow writing in block letters reads: make art not panic
Make art not panic, by Mayte Oliva @mayteoliva –Guatemala City, Guatemala. Photo sourced by Instagram, March 2020 @CovidArtMuseum. Photo courtesy of the artist ©mayteoliva


An embellished soap dispenser represents the dispensation of creativity and thoughts of positivity as a remedy to panic and desperation in a moment of crisis. Behind the dispenser, a sky coloured background and an invisible sub-message that reads: wash your hands.

Art is vital for human kind. Keep creating. El arte es vital para tu humanidad. En cualquier disciplina, forma, con cualquier material, con desafíos físicos o emocionales, sin importar quien lo vea o si es solo para tus ojos. Crear es bueno para ti (Caption to the image. @mayteoliva). [Art is vital to your humanity. In any discipline, shape, with any material, with physical or emotional challenges, no matter who sees it or if it is only for your eyes. Creating is good for you].


Image of one of Vincent Van Gogh's most famous paintings. It depicts the view of a starry night just before the sunrise. In the lower part of the painting, on the left, there is a tree in the foreground, and in the right part of the painting, a village. The sky and the stars are painted with large brushstrokes of colour in multiple shades of blue and yellow
Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night. Saint Rémy, June 1889. Museum of Modern Art. Floor 5, 501. The Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Galleries. Photo sourced by MoMA website ©MoMA


The reference to Van Gogh's Starry Night is brilliant. Entirely painted from memory during the day while in isolation at the sanatorium of Saint-Rémy-de-Provance, Van Gogh reproduced the vision of the stars in the dark from outside his sanatorium room window. It represents the oneiric interpretation of the reality of the asylum experience as he perceived it, apocalyptic, terrifying and yet astonishingly creative.

“Through the iron-barred window I can make out a square of wheat in an enclosure, above which in the morning I see the sunrise in its glory” (from Vincent van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo).


Graphic art from Brazil and Australia: the toilet paper

Another curious object strongly associated with life during the pandemic, is the toilet paper roll. I was particularly attracted by this image with its direct message, and all that goes with it, on the unrolled paper square. This visual reprimand, created on the eve of the first lockdowns, would have resonated with people around the world and at more or less the same time.


Image of a white toilet paper roll on a pink background with a message on the unrolled paper square that reads: Este papel no limpia tu egoísmo / This paper doesn’t clean your selfishness
Este papel no limpia tu egoísmo /This paper doesn’t clean your selfishness, by Mayte Oliva @mayteoliva –Guatemala City, Guatemala. Photo sourced by Instagram, March 2020 @CovidArtMuseum. Photo courtesy of the artist ©mayteoliva


“I made this piece the day that the government in my country announced the curfew, supermarkets were crowded, and people took very selfish attitudes. I think it is important to raise awareness of this type of actions on social networks, so that more people see it as something negative and can take positive attitudes in difficult situations” (In conversation with @mayteoliva).

During the same time, a colleague in the library started a very difficult newspaper-copy hunt for a particular issue of the  Northern Territory News which wryly included an 8-page insert of toilet news-paper. Libraries around the world had started collecting this special issue, and it soon became very difficult to obtain one. It was immediately clear that this item would become a collectable item documenting a certain aspect of  consumer society; one of those objects that you could easily imagine seeing in an exhibition, perhaps entitled “Art Pandemic: incubation 2020”!


Image of Northern Territory newspaper and 8 page toilet paper insert
NT News, Thursday 5th March 2020 with 8 page toilet paper insert. British Library cataloguing and shelf-marking in process


The toilet paper Instagram colloquium with the graphic artist @mayteoliva, evolved into a much freer talk and exchange of ideas. When asked which books have recently inspired her, she promptly sent photos of covers, and her thoughts on the books incriminated.

In conversation with the artist @mayteoliva

“There is beauty in everything, and this is a great guide to find it. I find this book really inspiring, makes me want to create something, draw something, cook something, try something new and appreciate it. The other night I was making cinnamon rolls for the first time, and the process was beautiful, this book has helped me appreciate these things of everyday life and then translate my experiences into visual art” (In conversation with @mayteoliva in reference to Alan Moore, Do / Design: why beauty is key to everything).


Image of a hand holding a book and showing its cover. Book title reads: Do/Design: why beauty is key to everything
Alan Moore, Do / Design: why beauty is key to everything, London, Do Book Co., 2016. Shelfmark: YKL.2017.a.11507


“Madame & Eve, Women portraying women is an amazing compilation of women artworks in contemporary art. Here are some of my favourite artist, like Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger, but I have found many other artists who have impressed me a lot” (In conversation with @mayteoliva).


Image of an open book. It shows portraits of woman on both pages
Liz Rideal, Kathleen, Soriano, Madam & Eve: women portraying women, London: Laurence King Publishing, 2018. Shelfmark YC.2019.b.367.


Embroidered poetry from Brazil

From the collection #museodoisolamento (museum of isolation), I found this incredible piece of concrete poetry. From the visual exploration of it, I immediately had multiple sensorial messages sent to my brain. I needed a few minutes to fully decode them into sensation and emotions, and to have them automatically connected to my personal consciousness which was strongly affected by the circumstances of the moment.

My first sensorial association was the light blue impressions of the fabric to the pale blue of surgical masks. In this case it was transformed in a wide canvas ready to receive a concise and concrete message behind which the essence of art is explained.


Image of a white canvas with light blue impressions and a phrase embroidered on it which reads: A arte existe porque a vida não basta/ Art exists because life is not enough
A arte existe porque a vida não basta/ Art exists because life is not enough, by Mayara Silva @mayara5ilva –Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. Photo sourced by Instagram, June 2020 @CovidArtMuseum. Photo ©mayara5ilva


“Uma das minhas frases preferidas. É de Ferreira Gullar, poeta maranhense, ao falar sobre sua trajetória na arte durante uma entrevista. ‘Arte é uma coisa imprevisível, é descoberta, é uma invenção da vida. E quem diz que fazer poesia é um sofrimento está mentindo: é bom, mesmo quando se escreve sobre uma coisa sofrida. A poesia transfigura as coisas, mesmo quando você está no abismo. A arte existe porque a vida não basta’“(Caption to the image. @mayara5ilva)

[One of my favourite phrases. It is by Ferreira Gullar, a poet from Maranhão, when talking about his career in art during an interview. "Art is an unpredictable thing, it is discovered, it is an invention of life. And whoever says that making poetry is suffering is lying: it is good, even when writing about something suffered. Poetry transfigures things, even when you are in the abyss. Art exists because life is not enough”].


Emerging formats: poetry from the US

And people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.

And listened more deeply …

(From the web, by Kitty O’Meara).


Image of the screenshot of the Instagram page @CovidArtMuseum showing the text of the poem by the title “And the people stayed home”, by Kitty O’Meara.  “And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. "And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. "And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed." Kitty O'Meara
And the people stayed home, by Kitty O’Meara –Photo sourced by Instagram, June 2020 @CovidArtMuseum


Kitty O’Meara, awarded the “poet laureate of the pandemic” by the web arena, is an Irish American teacher who wrote the poem during the days of the pandemic outbreak last March. The poem went immediately viral, and has now become an illustrated book for children. This represents an emerging format type of literary production: those produced, acclaimed, and published in a very short interval of time.

The circulation of ideas, inspirations, and artistic products have been floating around the world, not only via the powerful means of the World Wide Web, but also through the most traditional and time-sensitive channel: the postal service.  


Mail art: mailing hope from New York and Mexico

In May, New York-based artist and researcher Lexie Smith, founded a food-based art project, Bread on Earth, offering to send free active sourdough starters preventively dehydrated via UPS to anyone who would have made requests. Over 700 people responded to the call at the beginning. As she explains on her website: “Stay safe, and let this time remind you that bread is only a threat when in the hands of few, and power when in the hands of many”.

The project also aimed to create a ‘locations of the jars’ map. As the sourdough travelled to people around the world, the map would show the spread of this happy bread-making community, since sourdough starters can be easily shared with friends, family and neighbours. She has sent parcels all over the U.S. and Canada, Singapore, India, Bulgaria, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Paris, London, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Mexico, and Hawaii amongst other places.


Image of heart-shaped bread served on a chopping board
Heart shaped bread. I received this heart shaped bread from my partner who, despite the distance, made my living with the pandemic days an artistic adventure (blog post author's personal image) 


Mail Art has never been so vivid since its glorious time of the 60s, and it has now become so iconic that I have found it portrayed in an oil on canvas, and it looks great.


Image of a brown paper parcel painted on canvas. A read sticker on the parcel reads "FRAGIL" in white characters. The Mobius loop, the sign for recycling paper, is stamped in white on the left part of the parcel. On the right part of the envelope, there is a white label with three bar codes and a text that reads: besos y abrazos urgentes / urgent kisses and hugs
Envios urgentes de cuarantena / Urgent quarantine shipments, by Mariana Lagunas @marianalagunasart -Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico. Photo sourced by Instagram September 2020 @CovidArtMuseum. Photo ©marianalagunasart


“Por medio de mi obra exploro el concepto de optimismo, pues a mi modo de ver es un tema que contiene una dualidad entre conformismo y ambición. El optimismo llega a ser en algunos casos incluso doloroso, pues la presión por ser agradecido, así como la culpa por no serlo, se traducen en frustración. Este último es un sentimiento que se generaliza, crece y que está directamente relacionado con el fortalecimiento de las redes sociales, el microtargeting, la publicidad y los medios de comunicación masiva” (Mariana Lagunas’ website)

[Through my work I explore the concept of optimism, since in my view it is a theme that contains a duality between conformity and ambition. Optimism can be, in some cases, even painful, since the pressure to be grateful, as well as the guilt for not being grateful, translate into frustration. The latter is a sentiment that is generalizing, growing and that is directly related to the strengthening of social networks, micro-targeting, advertising and the mass media].


Banner Art: from Toronto and London

First exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Mark Titchener’s banner "Please believe these days will pass," have been found all around the city during the days of the first lockdown. It made London and many other UK cities the perfect hosts of this gigantic artist’s book. With this banner, Titchener visually confronted the passers-by using his typical language-based graphic statement. In those early days of desperation and fears it came as a revelation, a vector towards the mass common denominator: to believe that these days will pass for us all.


Photographic image of Mark Titchner's banner. The image covers the entire wall of a two-story house. It presents impressions of colour in shades of red, yellow and blue and in the centre a message written in large letters that reads: Please believe these days will pass
London Fields. A shot I took during my one form of exercise per day in the vicinity of my house on the days of the first lockdown. The banner reproduces Mark Titchner’s work "Please believe these days will pass". It was presented at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2012. 


The 2006 Turner Prize-nominee's work particularly fits with studies in typography and typographical characters when they are used to inspire people, communicate to the core of the community and bring art to a street-based-level. The people become part of it, deciding how to read it and which voice to give to it. No captions are provided, just the imagination and personal, or common, feelings and circumstances of passers-by. Here is a piece of art in which each of us is part of it.

[Blog post by Annalisa Ricciardi, Cataloguer, Americas and Oceania Collections]


Bibliography and suggested readings:

Alan Moore, Do / Design: why beauty is key to everything, London: Do Book Co., 2016. Shelfmark: YKL.2017.a.11507

Liz Rideal, Kathleen Soriano, Madam & Eve: women portraying women, London: Laurence King Publishing, 2018. Shelfmark: YC.2019.b.367.

Leo Jansen, Jans Luijten and Nienke Bakker (editors), Vincent Van Gogh. The letters: the complete illustrated and annotated edition, London: Thames & Hudson, in association with the Van Gogh Museum and the Huygens Institute, 2009 (Volume 5: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Letters to his brother Theo). Shelfmark: YC.2010.b.362 vol. 5.

Mark Titchner, Why and why not: vibrations, schizzes and knots, London: Book Works, 2004. Shelfmark: YC.2007.a.6117.

Martin Clark, Mark Beasley, Alun Rowlands, Tom Trevor, (editors), Mark Titchner, Bristol: Arnolfini, 2006. Shelfmark: YC.2011.b.820.

Richard L. Hopkins (editor), The private typecasters: preserving the craft of hot-metal type into the twenty-first century, Newtown, Pennsylvania: Bird & Pull Press, 2008. Shelfmark: RF.2017.b.103).

On the art and poetics of Ferreira Gullar, see the British Library holdings at:

From the web to the publisher. Kitty O’Meara’s "And the people stayed home:


Collect, preserve and cataloguing emerging format at the British Library:


On the definition of Mail Art as an artistic phenomenon:

Mail Art initiatives at the time of the first coronavirus pandemic wave:

On Mail Art publications and items at the British Library: