English and Drama blog

On literature and theatre collections from the 16th century to the present day

Introduction

Discover more about the British Library's 6 million sound recordings and the access we provide to thousands of moving images. Comments and feedback are welcomed. Read more

15 June 2021

Charlotte Brontë’s miniature books

By Catherine Angerson, Curator of Modern Archives and Manuscripts. Manuscripts by Charlotte Brontë can be seen in two exhibitions at the British Library in London this summer: Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights (until 1 August) and Miniature Books in our Treasures exhibition (until 10 September).

In Spring 2020, during the first national lockdowns in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the British Library asked children across the UK to make miniature books, inspired by the Library’s tiny treasures. One of these items was an issue of Blackwood’s Young Men’s Magazine, measuring only 5.2 by 3.7 centimetres, created by a young Charlotte Brontë and her brother Branwell in 1829. Like our young participants, the Brontë children made and bound their miniature books by hand. A small exhibition of Miniature Books celebrating this outreach project, is now open in our Treasures gallery in London.

Photograph of hand holding miniature book, Blackwood's Young Mens' Magazine

Charlotte and Branwell Brontë, Blackwood’s Young Men’s Magazine, December 1829. British Library: Ashley MS 157 © Brontë Parsonage Museum

 

Blackwood’s Young Men’s Magazine and Charlotte Brontë’s handwritten tale, The Search After Happiness, are on display alongside other miniature books from the library’s historical collections and books created especially for the project by much-loved children’s authors and illustrators, including Axel Scheffler, Jacqueline Wilson and Joseph Coelho. In addition, the exhibition showcases some of the miniature books submitted by children in response to our lockdown callout, the first time contemporary works by children have been displayed in the Treasures gallery.

Charlotte and Branwell Brontë initially produced their own tiny magazines for the set of toy soldiers given to Branwell as a gift from their father Patrick for his ninth birthday in 1826. Branwell and his sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, assigned personalities to the soldiers and this became the foundation of an imaginary world which would provide the settings and characters for the Brontës’ earliest literary creations. The precursor of Blackwood’s Young Men’s Magazine, which was largely written by Charlotte, was Branwell’s Blackwood’s Magazine, edited and written by Branwell from January to June 1829. The young editors added tables of contents and advertisements to each issue in imitation of contemporary magazines, such as Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine.

 

Scan of folio from Blackwood's Young Men's Magazine showing a hand-drawn flower.

Charlotte and Branwell Brontë, Blackwood’s Young Men’s Magazine, December 1829. British Library: Ashley MS 157, f. 10v © Brontë Parsonage Museum

 

The page on display in Miniature Books is the final page of the 6th issue of Blackwood’s Young Men’s Magazine for December 1829, seen in the image above. The initials 'UT' shown here in the index stand for ‘Us Two’. Only Charlotte wrote her name at the back of the magazine, however, showing that the 13-year-old was the editor and author of most of the poems and stories in this issue.

Scan of frontispiece from 'A Search for Hapiness' by Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Brontë, manuscript of ‘The Search After Hapiness’. 1829. Ashley MS 156, f. 2 © Brontë Parsonage Museum

Charlotte Brontë’s tale, The Search After Happiness (1829), written in the same year as Blackwood’s, is set in the imaginary world of Glass Town. It tells the story of a man called Henry O’Donell who leaves his city to seek happiness and contentment in unfamiliar lands. Here Brontë imitates the title page of a printed book and makes a few mistakes while working by hand, including adding the wrong date (‘Twenty-eight’ instead of ‘Twenty nine’) and spelling ‘Hapiness’ with one ‘p’.

The tale is ‘PRINTED BY HERSELF AND SOLD BY NOBODY’, showing that the 13-year-old did not know how successful she would become as the author of Jane Eyre (1847). The manuscript of Brontë’s famous novel, submitted to the publisher Smith, Elder and Co in August 1847 under her pen name ‘Currer Bell’, is also on display this summer in Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights.

You can view digital versions of Blackwood’s Young Men’s Magazine and The Search After Happiness on our Discovering Literature website and find many resources and activities relating to miniature books in Discovering Children’s Books.

22 April 2021

What makes a beautiful word?

by Elliot Sinclair, Web Editor in the Content and Community Team. 

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Music can give you goosebumps. Scenery can give you goosebumps. But can a word give you goosebumps?

It sure can. And in Georgian, they even have a word for it: ჟრუანტელი / zhruanteli, ‘a beautiful word that gives you goosebumps’.

So with English Language Day on Friday, we thought we’d carry out a mini census of the BL’s favourite words. Here are just a few, along with our reasons:

  • Caesura – [a rhythmical pause] ‘It would make a badass superhero’s name: the sibilance is her rasp, the ae her sensitive side’

  • Flibbertigibbet

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  • Lollipop – ‘It rolls around your mouth like a lollipop and the final 'p' has an almost silent, breathless syllable at the end of it’

  • Lullaby – ‘It sounds really calm and relaxing and, well, lulling. It mimics the act of swaying a baby and also makes me think of libellule in French (dragonfly), which might be my favourite French word.’

  • Meander – ‘the hard 'ee' meanders elegantly into the soft 'a' ’

  • Melancholy – ‘It sounds like a haunting beautiful sadness’

  • Metamorphosis – ‘I like the sound of the word and the idea of transformation, or reaching the final/ideal form’

  • Nibling:

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  • Onomatopoeia - ‘It's appropriately pleasingly musical, almost as though the concept of onomatopoeia itself has a sound’

  • Scandinavia – ‘A place-name that (to me at least) really conjures a sense of the place: mountains, water, snow, clear air’

  • Serendipity – [making a happy discovery by accident] ‘It starts slowly, serenely, before its quick rhythmic up and down of ‘di-pit’, which resolves in the comfort and joy of ‘y’. Its sound reminds me of an amusement arcade machine where you watch the mechanical hand hover over and dip into a pit of prizes.’

  • Sesquipedalian – ‘It's wonderfully autological (describes itself), as it's a word of many syllables’

  • Syzygy – [the alignment of three celestial bodies] ‘The meaning and lack of vowels in this word makes it interesting’

  • Taffeta

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  • Urbane – ‘I love how a single letter can change the word urban in my mind: from images of inner city grit to a suave gentleman holding a gin and tonic’

  • Will-o’-wisp:

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  • Zugzwang – [a Chess term where one player is at a disadvantage because of their obligation to make a move] ‘I love words that concisely express something much more complex’

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So what exactly makes a beautiful word? Here’s an entirely whimsical, and slightly psychedelic musing based on our word choices…

Onomatopoeia

No, we’re not talking crash and bang. Too clichéd. It gets far more interesting when the onomatopoeia level gets cranked down a little with subtly – to the extent that perhaps only your subconscious can detect those real-life sounds hiding in the words. (And as an aside, does anyone else get a secret buzz out of spelling ‘onomatopoeia’ correctly?)

So here are a few examples, and see our reasons above for how each of them can be considered onomatopoeic:

Will-o’-wisp ; Meander ; Lollipop ; Lullaby ; Taffeta; Sesquipedalian ; Onomatopoeia
(Is onomatopoeia really an onomatopoeia? According to our staff, yes it is)

Just reading these gives off a sense of synaesthesia, where you can almost picture the very embodiment of the words: what they look like; their personalities; how they would sound if they spoke to you (or is it just us?) Taffeta would speak in a soft, seductive tone, whispering gently into your ear… before disappearing into thin air before you could make contact.

Symmetry

Symmetry is aesthetically pleasing – whether in art, music – or in words. The formation of syllables with consonant + vowel + consonant + vowel, etc phonemic combinations is particularly pleasant to the ear, and words with this composition tend to roll off the tongue with ease, without those pesky double consonant sounds getting in the way. So for example:  

Caesura – made up of: s-uh | z-oh | r-a      or    /sə | ˈzʊə | rə/ *  
Melancholy – made up of: m-e | l-a-n | k-o | l-i     or    /ˈme | lən | ˌkɒ | li: /
Metamorphasis – made up of: m-e  | t-a  | m-oh |  f-a |  s-i-s       or    /ˌme | t ə | ˈmɔː | fə | sɪs

* (there’s a sneaky double vowel sound (diphthong) in there too but we’ll ignore that)

In fact, when analysing Biblical Hebrew, Scottish linguist George Delgarno (c. 1616–1687) believed that this type of formation was a relic of what was considered a God-given language and was one of the qualities that made the very essence of words truly represent the meaning behind them, before language was ‘corrupted’ at the Tower of Babel.

Asymmetry and the unexpected

Having said that, words that break symmetry can also be satisfying. What is it about flibbertigibbet that makes it sound so inherently amusing? So many things. With its awkward double-consonant start (fl), one is perhaps reminded of a flick. And then you have the rhyme of flibbet and gibbet, with those powerful ‘b’ plosives in the middle to really give the word a kick (or a flick).

Meanwhile, in zugzwang the double consonants (zw) add a sharp touch to the word, on top of the repeated z sound to amplify its aggressive meaning. The zug and the zwang almost sound like a double slap in the face, in this case, the face of your opponent in Chess.

In Scandinavia, the harsh sound of the double-consonant beginning Sc (which sounds like ice) is juxtaposed with the fairly free-flowing consonant + vowel combination in the rest of its syllabic composition, to paint a picture of a region filled with landscapes frozen, dangerous and terrifying, but also beautiful, as emphasised by its soft vowel ending. It’s the lexical incarnation of ‘the sublime’, the point at which beauty and terror collide to create that awe-inspiring feeling you get when you’re standing on top of a mountain or watching the thrashing waves.

Turning to serendipity, although it follows that classic consonant + vowel formation, its rhythm is less symmetrical: the two syllables before the stress (se-ren), followed by the three after the stress (di-pi-ty – with its bouncy cadence) create a kind of oddly pleasing and unexpected disequilibrium and help to bring to life the meaning of unexpectedness in the very word.

Speaking of beauty in the unexpected, we also have syzygy, where its unique no-vowel composition gives it its mysterious allure.

What’s your favourite word?

19 March 2021

Contemporary Poetry at the Library: A Quick Start Guide

A collaborative blog from colleagues across Contemporary British Collections for World Poetry Day.

The British Library is privileged to hold and make available for study manuscripts, archives and publications relating to world-renowned poems and poetry, from Beowulf to Jalal al-Din Rumi, Chaucer, to John Donne, Rabindranath Tagore to T.S Eliot and from Una Marson to Ted Hughes. But for World Poetry Day this year we thought we’d do something a little bit different and shine a light on some of our efforts to collect and promote Britain’s vibrant, diverse and endlessly shifting contemporary poetry scene; bringing together colleagues working with Archives and Manuscripts, Contemporary Published Collections, Sound and Vision and the UK Web Archive.

By working together, and with practicing poets, independent publishers and others, we have been able to capture some of the most interesting work going on in Britain today – but there’s still much more to do. If you’re a poet or if you’ve used any of our poetry collections in your work – or even if you’ve just felt inspired -- please let us know on Twitter @BLEnglish_Drama, we’d love to hear more.

Contemporary British Publications

Debbie Cox, Lead Curator of Contemporary Publications

So, first of all, I’d like to highlight the latest Michael Marks Awards and all the submitted poetry pamphlets which are now part of our collections. You can read about the shortlisted pamphlets here. The winning pamphlet was Paul Muldoon’s Binge (Lifeboat Press) but all of the shortlisted poets read a poem aloud for the Award presentation, available to view in full here. 

Logo for Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets

Overall, it was an incredibly strong year for the prize, but my personal favourite poem at the event was Gail McConnell's reading from ‘Fothermather’, which comes in at 1 hour and 8 minutes. The winner of the Celtic Language pamphlet reading starts things off in the video around the 1 hour mark (with an English translation on-screen for all the non-Welsh speakers who might be interested).

Following on the topical theme of online events recorded to view at your pleasure, the Library also hosted the PEN Pinter Prize, which is available to watch in full here. Linton Kwesi Johnson was awarded the prize, which is awarded annually to a writer of outstanding literary merit resident in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth who, in the words of Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize in Literature speech, casts an ‘unflinching, unswerving’ gaze upon the world and shows a ‘fierce intellectual determination... to define the real truth of our lives and our societies’. Kwesi Johnson read two poems at the event, ‘Sonny’s Letter’ in the video from 15:14 onwards and ‘New Cross Massacre’ from 20:38. (For more context around this, take a look at the blog I wrote over on Social Sciences about the Black People’s Day of Action that followed the New Cross fire, and some of the resources we pulled together to mark the anniversary of the Day of Action).

Another Library event featuring contemporary poets was a Diwan to celebrate the poetry of Scottish poet Edwin Morgan.  Poets Simon Barraclough, Dzifa Benson, Nancy Campbell, João Concha, Kirsten Irving, Ricardo Marques, Peter McCarey and Richard Price read Morgan's poems and each responded with a work of their own.    Building on our events programme in Yorkshire, another of the Library’s online events still available to watch is Spoken Word Showcase with Studio 12 and Sunday Practise. Sunday Practise is a leading grassroots poets, DJs, musicians and vibes night from Leeds that represents a wide cultural perspective of women poets in the UK.

The last – but by no means least – of the poetry events available to watch online this year was the Forward Prize, which the Library also hosted and which is now available to view in full.

Portrait of Linton Kwesi Johnson, seatedThis year at the PEN Pinter Prize, Linton Kwesi Johnson was awarded the prize, gave and address and read two poems.

If I had to highlight a single poetry collection to recommend for English and Drama Blog readers, though, it’d be Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan’s Postcolonial Banter (Verve Poetry Press, 2019). A recording of her poem ‘This is not a humanising poem’ from the collection is featured in the Library’s exhibition, Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights. ‘Ranging from critiquing racism, systemic Islamophobia, the function of the nation-state and rejecting secularist visions of identity’, Verve Poetry Press writes "She interrogates narratives around race/ism, Islamophobia, gender, feminism, state violence and decoloniality in Britain."  Her words made a powerful contribution to Unfinished Business.

Book jacket for Postcolonial Banter by Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan

 

Sound Archive

by Stephen Cleary, Lead Curator of Literary and Creative Sound Recordings

The Library’s Sound Archive holds many hundreds of unique recordings of live poetry readings, which are (or soon will be again, rather) available to listen to in our Reading Rooms. The range is vast: from Sylvia Plath recorded live in London in 1961 – one of the earliest live recordings we made – to 10 years of Poetry Society events in the 1980s, which really are fascinating for anybody interested in contemporary poetry. We should also mention the Library’s live recording arrangement with Poet in the City, which is temporarily on hold – of course – because of the pandemic, but we will be excited to get it up and running again.

5- Poet in the City

For copyright reasons, most of our recordings may only be listened to on British Library premises, but we are working to increase online access, most notably through our Unlocking our Sound Heritage project. An enhanced ‘sounds’ web site will be unveiled later in the year.  For now, the following collections of contemporary poetry are available to listen to online: Between Two Worlds: Poetry and Translation and The Power of Caribbean Poetry: Word and Sound

  A woman controls the sound levels of a recording using an analogue mixing deskThe Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project – part of the Save our Sounds programme – aims to preserve and provide access to thousands of the UK's rare and unique sound recordings: not just those in our collections but also key items from partner collections across the UK.

 

 

UK Web Archive

Carlos Rarugal, Assistant Web Archivist at the UK Web Archive

At the UK Web Archive we collect millions of websites each year, preserving them for future generations. Literary work is of particular interest, especially since so many of these conversations move to be partly or even primarily online. We even produce curated collections of websites, organised by theme, for researchers. For those interested in contemporary poetry, the Poetry Zines and Journals Collection is invaluable.

 

6- Zines and JournalsThe Web Archive's collection of UK-based online poetry journals and magazines is concerned with contemporary responses to the increasing ubiquity of the internet and networked culture as Poetry communities are increasingly emerging out of and operating within digital spaces.

Some especially notable poetry websites which we actively archive, and which are available at home through Open Access, are:

 

Archives and Manuscripts

Callum McKean, Curator of Contemporary Literary and Creative Archives

Collecting contemporary archival or manuscript material presents a number of challenges, the main one being that we usually acquire this material towards the end of a donor’s career – when it represents as much as possible a complete record of a life’s work. This means that our collections have a certain amount of ‘lag’ built in.

Nevertheless, these collections provide a crucial insight into the development of key trends in contemporary British poetry at the level of the poets themselves, their publishers and influential magazines.  As ever, Discovering Literature 20th Century remains an invaluable resource for contemporary literature across all genres, especially whilst our buildings are closed and especially for viewing digitised manuscript material. However, our buildings won’t be closed forever, so see below for what’s available when we’re up and running again.

Some interesting personal collections available in the Manuscripts Reading Room include papers relating to:

  • Al Alvarez, who – among other things -- edited the highly influential anthology The New Poetry: Beyond the Gentility Principle (1962) (Add MS 88482-88611)
  • James Berry, a Jamaican-British poet, childrens’ writer and teacher whose work explores the relationship between language, identity and empire. (Currently being catalogued but delayed due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, material is available to view on request by e-mail (mss@bl.uk) or take a look at an earlier English and Drama Blog for more details.
  • John Betjeman, Poet Laureate from 1972-1984 and writer of wry, humorous accessible verse well loved by poets and the public alike, unless you happen to be from Slough! (Add MS 71935-71937)
  • Bob Cobbing, legendary sound, visual, concrete and performance poet and publisher central to the British Poetry Revival (Add MS 88909
  • Wendy Cope, writer of poignant and comic collections of satirical verse such as the highly lauded Making Cocoa With Kingsley Amis (1986), Serious Concerns (1992) and Family Values (2011)
  • David Gascoyne, poet and translator associated with surrealism and involved in the Mass Observation movement. (Add MS 89011)
  • Lee Harwood, another poet associated with the British Poetry Revival who worked in experimental forms – referencing visual arts techniques such as collage (Add MS 88998)

And some key collections relating to publishers and magazines working within mainstream and independent poetry in the latter half of the twentieth century onwards are:

  • Peter Hodgkiss - Galloping Dog Press, Poetry Information and Not Poetry (Add MS 89404)
  • Macmillan & Co, 19th-20th century Poets and Dramatists (Add MS 54974-55014)
  • Poetry Book Society (Add MS 88984)
  • Wasafiri Magazine of International Contemporary Writing (uncatalogued but available to see on request mss@bl.uk)

 

25 February 2021

Thinking about Alasdair Gray and Lanark, forty years since

a guest blog by Alan Riach, Professor of Scottish Literature, University of Glasgow. 25th February 2021 is the first GRAY DAY, a celebration of the writer and artist ALASDAIR GRAY, on the 40th anniversary of his masterpiece Lanark.

Lanark Day


I’ve been wondering about Lanark as the work of a physical human being, a man, about how it was thought of, imagined and planned, and then how it was made, literally, written with paper and ink and pens, leaning on a desk, and its transformation and creation as a book, published, launched at an event, and bought and taken away and read by other individual human beings, women and men, in the forty years between then and now.

I’ve been thinking about Alasdair’s hands, how he would handle things like pens, brushes, books and easels, how the touch of his fingertips and the hold of his fingers enabled the contact between pages and eyes and minds, between what ink is made of and the phenomena of words, how language works in writing and in speech. How his eyes would move from object to object, or look at you with curiosity and penetration, defensive yet open, curious yet respectful. How his voice worked, how sometimes something would trigger a wild guffaw and paragraph after paragraph of unpredicted verbal extrapolation, exhilaration, exaggeration, arms moving in all sorts of directions. Then also how intense and concentrated he might be, and at the same time, self-reflective, thinking about his own experiences and the words he was using to describe them as he was saying them, as he was talking to you. How brush and paint, the sweep and precision of nib and line and point, full stop, the division between chapters, the spaces between sections, the indent signifying new paragraphs, how all these are deployed. And the way separateness and connection are both represented, and consequently the way inter-dependence and independence are related.

I’ve been thinking about how his voice worked, how and what he valued, and how these things are made evident, both in his writing and his painting and drawing and in his understanding of the archive, the phenomenon of the good labyrinth. Some labyrinths are always good to be lost in. Some you might never wish to come out of. But you must, for the world is the greatest of them all. Then you can go back in.

There is a lasting firmness in his vision, his drawing a line, his sense of how perspective changes, depending on where you stand. His work and life hold a lasting clarity. Above all, he helps you to see. Which is also why he wanted independence for Scotland. Not only for social justice, which is true, but also to keep the lines clear, between what’s valued and what’s hostile to such value.

Like Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s A Scots Quair in the 1930s, and James Robertson’s And the Land Lay Still in 2010, Lanark was a planned work. The Quair takes us from farm to small town to industrial Scotland. It starts in prehistory and ends in Gibbon’s contemporaneous early 1930s. And the Land Lay Still covers half-a-century of Scottish life, from regeneration just after the Second World War to the affirmation of the potential for Scotland’s self-renewal, circa 1999. The historical chronology was determined and planned. The structure in both works was designed. So was that of Lanark. The three works are epic visions of Scotland, past, present and possible.

It’s well known that Lanark was deliberately planned as four ‘books’, two written in realist form, depicting a young artist growing up in Glasgow in the 1950s and 1960s, two in a parallel universe in which Glasgow and its characters are transformed into a dystopian, nightmare vision of an industrial city named Unthank, where all the vicious liabilities of capitalist exploitation are highlighted or exaggerated and portrayed in non-realist, nightmarish, sometimes surrealist forms. And more than this, Lanark was designed to be read in a deliberate sequence, beginning with the non-realist ‘Book Three’ then following that with the realist ‘Book One’ and ‘Book Two’ and then ending with ‘Book Four’. Thus the bewilderment of Lanark (the character) at the beginning (Where is he? Where am I?) is ‘explained’ in the central Books before returning the reader to the strange world of Unthank for the conclusion. The proposition that the novel makes and delivers so powerfully is that life is a constant renewal and renegotiation of imagination and reality, connected by a Moebius strip of twisting, turning consequence. This structure was deliberate and intended.



Signed Lanark - Finals
My signed first edition of Lanark from the launch event at the Third Eye Centre, Glasgow

The word ‘epic’ is one of the woolliest of literary terms. It usually just means a long poem with some fighting in it. It’s often also used to describe a foundational narrative which depicts events leading to the creation of something new, a city, a society, a confirmation of belief and development, a rising from ruins. And it also suggests scale: something big.

Well, Lanark is an epic novel.

Read it in its era, in the aftermath of 1979, when a referendum on Scottish devolution was confirmed by a majority in favour but the result was torpedoed by the Westminster government, and when Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government was elected by a majority of voters in England, not Scotland. In the 1980s, Lanark (1981) in prose fiction, alongside Edwin Morgan’s collection of poems Sonnets from Scotland (1984), and Liz Lochhead’s play Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off (1987) might be taken as one of three literary paradigms of self-determination, each enacting the same principle that reality cannot do without imagination and imagination helps transform reality.

Towards the end of his great play The Last Days of Mankind, Karl Kraus depicts himself, ‘The Grumbler’ or ‘Kraus the Grouse’ at his desk, reading this: ‘The desire to determine the exact amount of time it takes to convert a tree in the forest into a newspaper prompted the owner of a paper mill to conduct an interesting experiment. At 7:35 A.M. he had three trees felled in a nearby forest and, after the bark was removed, had them shipped to his pulp mill. The trunks were converted into pulp so quickly that the first roll of newsprint left the machine at 9:39 A.M. The roll was taken by truck to the printing press of a daily paper, four kilometers away, and at 11 A.M. the newspaper was sold in the streets. Thus it had required only three hours and twenty-five minutes before the public could read the latest news on material made from trees in which the birds had sung that very morning.’

Kraus’s work is a condemnation of the debasement of language, the corruption of information and the deliberate spread of contagious misapprehension at unstoppable velocity in the modern world, through newspapers. His play was first published in 1922. One hundred years later, the cost and purpose of the production of newspapers is an even more urgent question: Is it for this the trees grow tall? But in the 2020s, the production of bad news is much more quickly made and its rates of infection far higher, more widespread. Kraus was talking about consequences like the First World War. We have much more serious consequences to anticipate in the 2020s. And the arts of Alasdair Gray are an antidote, a permanent prescription for what good can be made of languages and paper.

Gray’s voice comes through in the words spoken to Dante in Canto 17 of his version of the Paradiso:

    The light from which my grandsire smiled now blazed
    like golden mirror in the brightest sun.
    He said, ‘Consciences dark with their own sin
    or shame at another’s guilt will indeed
    feel pain, but do not nurse hypocrisy!
    Make the truth plain! Let them scratch where they itch.
    Your verses may taste bad at first; digested
    they will be nourishing. Write like the wind,
    hitting high mountains hardest. What more
    can poet do? That is why you have been shown
    only the famous down below in Hell
    and up Mount Purgatory. Folk ignore
    examples set by those they don’t know well.

That’s the question, and the command: ‘What more can poet do?’ It’s at the heart of the famous line from Lanark about Glasgow being a place where many people live but ‘nobody imagines living’: that leads us to a universal human truth, and poetry – all the arts – is the answer. The closing lines of Gray’s rendition of Dante’s Paradiso deliver the vision of a world we’re always trying to make:

    As my eyes dwelled in it I seemed to see
    a human form. Like the geometer
    battering his brain in vain to find how
    circles are squared, I tried to see or feel
    how such a human form could live in light
    eternally. The wings of my fancy
    could not fly so far, until in a flash
    I saw desire and will: both are a pair
    of finely balanced wheels kept turning by
    love that revolves sun, sky and every star.

When I first met him, at a party given by friends, Italian translators, in a Glasgow flat, we were standing next to the drinks table, saying hello in a hesitant way as you do when you’re in a company you don’t know very well. For some reason our conversation quickly arrived at the prospect of China and we both somehow lit up, speculating on what that country was once long ago, what it was now and what it might yet be, what its ethos might mean, what we knew of it, how we could imagine it. Neither of us had ever been there. We talked of translations, their extent and possibility, their necessity and limitation. Of all writing as translation of some sort. Of Ezra Pound and Hugh MacDiarmid, cabbages and kings. We paused after three hours. Almost everyone else had left. It seemed no time had passed. I knew him over those forty years since then, not as a close friend but as one with whom I could pick up the conversation wherever it had last been left, and he’d remember it as well as I.

Diary from pHd finals

Diary from my days as a PhD student, playing cards, watching cowboy films -- and visiting the Third Eye Centre 

And I remember the launch of Lanark at the Third Eye Centre, in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, on 25 February 1981. The book stays with me, a hard fact, a symbol of its era, always ready to be returned to, and advanced from once again. It’s Yeats’s stone ‘in the midst of all’, Stevens’s Tennessee jar, Frost’s glimpse of white at the bottom of the well: ‘For once, then, something’?

Something, for sure.

 

Third EYe Centre Exhibition Program finals

Program 2 Program 3

 

19 February 2021

Weetabix and beans: a linguistic take

by Elliot Sinclair, Web Editor in the Content and Community Team

Weeta

With the latest phenomenon of baked beans on Weetabix triggering heated debates all over the internet, we thought we’d take a look at combinations of things which definitely do not belong together, or are completely different from one another, in idiomatic expressions from across the globe.

And where better to find such a rich mix of languages than among our own staff? So just ahead of International Mother Language Day, we put the question to them…

A few of our favourites...

Language

Idiom

Translation

Amharic (Ethiopian)

ሆድና ጀርባ
"hodena Ǧäreba"

stomach and back

Arabic (Iraqi)

مثل الحية والبطنج 
"mathal al-ḥayah w'al-baṭnaj"

like a snake and betony [a plant]

British English

like chalk and cheese

like chalk and cheese

Chinese (Mandarin)

风马牛不相及 
"fēng mǎ niú bù xiāng jí"

horses and cattle won't mate with each other

Czech

jako nebe a dudy

like heaven and bagpipes

Danish

Hvad er højest, Rundetårn eller et tordenskrald?

What is highest, the Round Tower or a thunderclap?

Estonian

nagu päkapikk ja maja

like an elf and house

Farsi

مثل فیل و فنجان 
"misle feel va fenjan"

like an elephant and a teacup

German

Äpfel mit Birnen vergleichen

comparing apples and pears

Hebrew

כרחוק מזרח ממערב 
"ki-rehok mizrah mi-ma'arav"

as far as the east from the west

Japanese

月と鼈 
"tsuki to suppon"

moon and a soft-shelled turtle

Polish

piernik do wiatraka

gingerbread for the windmill

Portuguese

comparar alhos com bugalhos

comparing garlic with oak apples

Romanian

ca baba si mitraliera

like a grandmother and a machine gun

Russian

Путать Божий дар с яичницей 
"putat’ Bozhii dar s iaichnitsei"

confusing God's gift with scrambled eggs

Serbian

поредити бабе и жабе 
"porediti babe i žabe"

like grandmothers and toads

Spanish

como un huevo a una castaña

like an egg to a chestnut

Turkish

dağlar kadar farklı

as different as the mountains

Ukrainian

як свиня на коня 
"yak svynya na konya"

like a pig on a horse

Welsh

mor wahanol â mêl a menyn

as different as honey and butter    

Yiddish

ווי בוידעם און ציבעלעס 
"vi boydem un tsibeles"

like a loft and onions

Poles apart

How many of you are familiar with the phrase like chalk and cheese? It’s used primarily in British English to imply that two things are an odd match (e.g. ‘that married couple are like chalk and cheese’). Probably soon to be overtaken by Weetabix and beans.

Variants include like an elephant and teacup (Farsi), an elf and a house (Estonian) (both of which contrast the size of one against the other), and the rather dramatic grandmother and a machine gun (Romanian) or grandmother and a toad (Serbian).

Meanwhile the Marmite reputation of bagpipes is unfortunately confirmed by the Czech expression contrasting heaven and bagpipes.

Speaking of Marmite, food, unsurprisingly features a lot in these idioms. For example the fairly ubiquitous apples and oranges (known in various other forms such as apples and pears), the Welsh honey and butter, the Polish gingerbread for the windmill and the Yiddish loft and onions, where the inference is that the items cannot be compared.

Never the twain shall meet

Other variants point to the fact that the two items will never cross paths with one another, such as oil and water, night and day and heaven and earth, which are widespread across many languages.

An equivalent in Iraqi Arabic is like a snake and betony [the plant]. In folklore snakes are repelled by the plant and it is also said to be a remedy for their bite (however nowadays it is more commonly used to flavour Iraqi dishes).

Meanwhile, it has been suggested that the origin of the Mandarin expression horses and cattle won't mate with each other lies in the traditional belief that cattle normally follow the direction of the wind, while horses go against it, so even if they get lost, they would never meet. It was originally used in Zuo zhuan (The Commentary of Zuo) to describe two States in the Spring and Autumn period (771 to 476/403 BC) that were so far apart geographically that they would never have anything to do with each other.

Perhaps you can compare this to the more surreal pig on a horse in Ukrainian, or earrings on a pig in Yiddish?

Other variants include stomach and back (Amharic) (where the connotation is that despite the two being connected, they will always be facing different directions) and as far as the east from the west (Hebrew).

Same same but different

Many variants have an implication that although the items being compared are completely different from one another, it may be possible to mistake them.

In Portuguese we have comparing garlic with oak apples (similar in texture and size), while a Spanish equivalent is eggs and chestnuts (similar in size and shape).

We can also see this in the Japanese expression moon and soft-shelled turtle: both are round, although if you really are guilty of confusing them, you should probably book yourself an eye test.

With the alliteration in chalk and cheese, you might say that even the British idiom draws our attention to their similarities (even only in pronunciation).

The outliers

Of course there are also exceptions to these three neat categories by other languages which take slightly different approaches. In Turkish for example as different as the mountains speculates that the difference between two items is so great that there might as well be a mountain range between them, while the Danish rhetorical question What is highest, the Round Tower or a thunderclap? contrasts the size of the former against the sound of the latter.

What is the equivalent in your language?

17 February 2021

“Slow” Biography and the Ted Hughes Collection

a guest blog by Heather Clark, Professor of Contemporary Poetry at the University of Huddersfield, whose book, 'Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath' is available now from Penguin Books. If you have recently used the Library's literary collections in your published research, please get in touch at @BLEnglish_Drama on Twitter to be featured in another guest blog.

Plath Red Comet

When I set out to write a biography, Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath, nearly nine years ago, I knew I would need to devote a significant amount of time and space to another great twentieth century poet: Ted Hughes. Plath and Hughes were married for nearly seven years, during which time they produced some of the most important works of the postwar period, including The Hawk in the Rain, The Colossus, Lupercal, The Bell Jar, and Ariel. I have long been fascinated by the creative dynamics of this literary partnership, which I explored in my second book, The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Writing Red Comet gave me the chance to dig even deeper into the British Library’s Ted Hughes archive, which, along with Emory University in Atlanta, holds the world’s most important collection of Hughes’s papers.

The many unpublished sources in this archive enriched my biographical narrative of Plath. Hughes’s 1957-59 letters from America to his sister Olwyn, for example, reveal his disdain for American culture, and, paradoxically, its stimulations. He wrote in detail to Olwyn about his impressions of New York City, Cape Cod, Wellesley, Northampton, and Boston in letters full of cynicism and humor. He described the impact of philosophical and literary ideas by Lorca, Crowe Ransom, Baudelaire, Graves, and Lawrence on some of his most well-known poems, such as “View of a Pig,” “Hawk Roosting,” and “Pike,” as he wrote Lupercal. Hughes’s letters from this period also shed light on some legendary contemporaries. He writes of meeting Robert Lowell, with whom he felt an immediate kinship, and his first impressions of Lowell’s watershed collection Life Studies, which Hughes read before its publication in spring 1959. Hughes made rough journal entries, too, in Boston: I learned that he wept with relief when Plath told him he had won a Guggenheim fellowship. These were important years in Plath and Hughes’s literary lives, made more vivid by the materials in the British Library.

Hughes’s unpublished notebooks were another rich source of detail (that is, if one can decipher his notoriously difficult handwriting). Some of these notebooks contain unpublished poems by Hughes about Plath that are less well-known to the public than those of his bestselling, elegiac collection Birthday Letters. Perhaps the most interesting poems, from my biographical perspective, are in the “Trial” sequence that Hughes wrote in the 1980s when he was involved in a U.S. libel lawsuit over a film adaptation of The Bell Jar. In these poems, Hughes remembers visiting Plath at her new London flat to celebrate the publication of The Bell Jar; conversations about the novel’s heroine, Esther Greenwood; Plath’s anxiety surrounding the book’s reviews; his own decision not to read The Bell Jar until after Plath’s death; and his promise to Plath’s mother never to publish the novel in America. Hughes struggles to understand why Plath wrote The Bell Jar, and to what extent the act of writing and publishing it exacerbated her depression in 1963. The “Trial” sequence, scrawled with changes and excisions, offers a rare glimpse of Sylvia Plath as Ted Hughes remembered her in 1962 and early 1963. It confirmed, for me, the value of “slow” biography—of long weeks spent in the archive, sifting through layers of the writing left behind.

02 February 2021

The Library acquires Theatre Royal Stratford East and Theatre Workshop archive

by Helen Melody, Lead Curator of Contemporary Literary and Creative Archives. You can read more about the Library's existing collections of Joan Littlewood material online at Discovering Literature 20th Century, and more about the new acquisition in our latest press release.

I am delighted to announce that the Library has acquired the archive of Theatre Royal Stratford East and Theatre Workshop for the national collection. Comprising 140 boxes of scripts, correspondence, posters, flyers, audio visual material and props the archive provides a wonderful insight into the work of the award winning theatre and the highly innovative theatre company which was based there from 1953 until 1979.

 Watch this film made by Theatre Royal Stratford East about the archive with Murray Melvin, actor, Theatre Workshop alumnus who for nearly thirty years was the honorary archivist of this collection, and my former colleague, Zoë Wilcox, to find out more.

The archive is an exciting addition the Library’s rich theatrical collections and fits particularly well with Joan Littlewood’s archive which we acquired in 2015. Joan Littlewood (1914-2002) was an internationally-renowned theatre and film director who has been described as ‘the mother of modern theatre’ for her radical vision and her innovative working methods. The archive documents her work at the theatre including a number of significant productions such as A Taste of Honey, The Hostage and Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’be. It also includes some early material relating to the predecessor of Theatre Workshop, Theatre of Action (later known as Theatre Union) which was set up by Littlewood and her then husband, Ewan MacColl (1915-1989).

Theatre Royal Stratford East first opened its doors to the public in 1884 and the archive includes material from those early days, through Theatre Workshop to the tenures of the artistic directors, Ken Hill, Maxwell Shaw, Clare Venables, Philip Hedley and Kerry Michael, taking us right up to 2017. The depth and breadth of the archive mean that its contents will allow research on a wide range of subjects from agit prop theatre of the 1930s and the work of the dance artist and theorist, Rudolf Laban, through to Black and Asian theatre, and ideas of urban geography explored in Joan Littlewood’s Fun Palace project. With such a wide ranging archive it is not possible to describe everything here so I will just highlight some of the interesting items I’ve discovered so far.

Material from the earliest years of the theatre includes flyers for productions and a fragile pencil draft of a ballad entitled ‘Babes in the Wood’ which is believed to have been written by A.E. Abrahams in 1907. The archive also offers a fascinating insight into the workings of Theatre of Action/Theatre Union, the socialist theatre cooperative set up by Joan Littlewood and Ewan MacColl in Manchester in 1934. The company followed the principles of agit prop theatre that were developed in Russia following the Revolution. Agitprop used popular media such as theatre, literature and film to disseminate an explicitly political message and was performed in the street to audiences who might not go to traditional theatres. The archive includes scripts for a ‘Living Newspaper’ production from 1939, a reading list for the company and costume sketches. The company were trailblazers of new techniques such as their use of back projection for

MacColl’s adaptation of Hašek’s Good Soldier Schweik, the first time the effect was used in Britain. Excitingly the archive includes the original gobos used to create the distinctive effect.

 

A selection of notes programmes and other papers relating to theatre unions work in the thirties

Theatre Union montage: selection of notes, programmes and other papers relating to Theatre Union’s work in the 1930s

Correspondence in the archive also points to the experimental nature of Theatre Workshop. Littlewood was very interested in the work of the dance and movement theorist, Rudolf Laban, and his first assistant in England, Jean Newlove, later become a member of the company and taught the them his methods. The archive contains a fascinating collection of letters from Laban to Newlove in which he outlines his theories that have since became an important foundation for dancers and actors alike. Letters also highlight how the socialist outlook of Theatre Workshop affected all aspects of its work as in this letter from Gerry Raffles to a prospective member of the company shows.

 

Letter sent by gerry raffles theatre workshops manager to a prospective member of the company

Gerry Raffles letter: Letter sent by Gerry Raffles, Theatre Workshop’s manager in 1948 to a prospective member of the company © Joan Littlewood Estate

Raffles explained that “all new members are expected to undergo a fairly rigorous training in the Company’s methods of work, and there is little point in applicants attending auditions unless they are prepared to accept the obvious hardships and financial disadvantages which work in a group such as ours involves.”

As you can see the archive is particularly strong for anyone interested in Theatre Workshop and Joan Littlewood. One final thing to flag is the material relating to Oh What a Lovely War! Littlewood and the company devised the groundbreaking musical which was a satire on WW1 and war in general in line with their usual working practice. The archive includes a wide range of material on the subject from annotated scripts, lighting plots and costume lists to recordings of music for the production and photographs. One of the most interesting parts is a series of the cast notes that Littlewood wrote after each performance. These handwritten notes were pinned up on the wall providing detailed feedback for individual cast members as well as the ensemble as a whole –

 

Joan littlewoods detailed notes on a performance of oh what a lovely war

Oh, What A Lovely War! cast notes: Joan Littlewood’s detailed notes on a performance © Joan Littlewood Estate

 

Theatrical innovation continued to be a cornerstone for the Theatre Royal Stratford East long after Littlewood’s departure in the 1970s. In particular the directorships of Philip Hedley and Kerry Michael saw the development of Black and Asian theatre with highly significant productions such as D’yer eat with your fingers (1998), a satirical state-of-the-nation production derived by a company that included Shobna Gulati, Syreti Kumar and Nina Wadia and directed by Indhu Rubasingham, and The Big Life (2005) the highly successful directorial debut of Clint Dyer, which became the first All Black British Musical in the West End. Other recent examples of innovation under Kerry Michael and documented in the archive include Home Theatre (2013 and 2015), which saw bespoke one person performances in the homes of members of the public and the musical, Tommy, which was performed by Deaf and Disabled artists from Ramps on the Moon in 2017.

I would like to use this blog to pay tribute to Murray Melvin, actor and Theatre Workshop alumnus who for nearly thirty years was the honorary archivist of this collection. Murray’s careful organisation, preservation and curation of the archive mean that it is in very good condition. He also played a key role in the development of the archive as a large number of items within it were donated by former members of the theatre company and their families. This means that the archive really is a collaborative record reflecting the myriad of different groups and individuals whose lives were interwoven with the theatre over the years. I think that the archive is a fitting tribute to all of them.

 

16 December 2020

What’s in a Name? The Archival Legacy of Emilia Francis Strong/Pattison/Dilke

By Jessica Gregory, Curatorial Support Officer for Modern Manuscripts, 1601 – 1950. The papers of Emilia Francis Dilke (Née Strong, formerly Pattison) can be found at Add MS 43903-43908. The correspondence of Emilia Francis Dilke and Gertrude Tuckwell are found at Add MS 49610-49612. The British Library’s exhibition, Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights, explores the history of women’s rights activism and is open now.

Portrait of Emilia Dilke

Emila Francis (Née Strong), Lady Dilke by Sir Hubert von Herkomer, 1887.
(NPG 5288, © National Portrait Gallery, London)

For too long, the achievements of women of the past have been lost; many who have made significant contributions to various fields find themselves remembered only in relation to the men in their lives. Tracing their own histories through archival collections can be a difficult task: within their husband’s papers, their legacies are already framed by the names they inherit and the proximity to power which was granted by them. Retelling the achievements of women from the past often requires us to reconstruct and draw together their lives through their disparate archival legacies, so often mapped according to their inherited names.

One such case is that of Emilia Francis Strong. She would become an essayist, author, art historian and women’s rights activist, but despite her varied intellectual output, there is a surprising lack of primary material preserved. The British Library holds some of her papers within her second husband’s archive: The Charles Dilke Papers. There are also a few items of correspondence within the collections of other powerful men too, but she has — to adapt Woolf’s famous phrase — no  Archive of her Own.
 
Strong’s marriage to Dilke and her social class ensured that her name was preserved in history, but her varied intellectual pursuits have been overshadowed by her husband’s sex-scandal, which even now would have tabloid editors licking their lips. (And which, regrettably, I have to go into in order to contextualise her life).  

Photographic portrait of Emilia Dilke and her second husband, Charles

Sir Charles Dilke and Emilia Dilke,1894, By W. & D. Downey, published by Cassel and Company, Ltd. (NPG x8701. © National Portrait Gallery, London)

 

Charles was a Liberal MP with a radical agenda, but the discovery of his extramarital relations with his brother’s mother-in-law, followed by his brother’s sister-in-law, Virginia Crawford, was just scratching the surface of his misdeeds. When Mr. Crawford’s divorce trial made the headlines, the judge found Virginia Crawford guilty of adultery, but — paradoxically — found Charles Dilke innocent of the same crime. On top of this, Dilke found himself pursued by an investigative journalist with a grudge, and was soon forced to enter a case in an effort to clear his name, which catastrophically backfired when his heavily mutilated liaison diaries were paraded in court. The torn and self-censored diaries seemed to prove Charles Dilke’s adultery and he became a figure of ridicule for his desperate attempts to cover up his indiscretions. Emilia had defended Charles at the trial, but the damage was done. His reputation crumbled and his love-life was the talk of the town for many years to come.

Dilke 3 fr

Engagement Book of Sir Charles Dilke, 1888,
Add MS 49402

Emilia’s legacy — like her life — is framed by this relationship.  The situation would not be much improved by remembering her as ‘Emilia Pattison, wife of Mark Pattison’, either; her first marriage was so famously unhappy that she and her husband are said to be the real-life inspiration for the unhappy couple of Mr. Casaubon and Dorothea Brooke in George Eliot’s, Middlemarch.

Dilke 4

A letter to Emilia Pattison from her friend, author George Eliot, 1870. Add MS 43907. British Library.

However, apart from her two marriages, Emilia sought to establish a name for herself through her own actions and writings. She studied at the South Kensington Art School in London. After her studies, she began contributing essays to the periodicals, such as The Saturday Review. She studied and wrote on Art and became arts editor of The Academy journal. Married to Mark Pattison at this point, she signed her articles E. F. S. Pattison, adding the ‘S’ to signify her maiden name: Strong — to reflect an element of her independence from her husband. Emilia published on the subject of French Art and gained a reputation as a respectable historian and critic in her own right.

She was also interested in social reform and particularly in improving working conditions for women. She was a prominent figure in the Women’s Trade Union League, founded in 1874 and became its president in 1886. She wrote on the subject of women’s rights at work. In the book Women’s Work, she explores the idea that women are a feature of the modern workplace and that their low wages are damaging not just to women, but to men — who were having their wages undercut — too. She outlines her argument for a raise of women’s wages to be in line with those of men as follows:

It is only too clear that economic independence of women is very, very far from being accomplished…Even though a woman’s work may be as good and as rapid as a man’s, we have seen that her scale of payment is frequently inferior to his…it would seem, therefore, clearly to be in the interest of workman to promote legislation and such methods of organisation as will afford to women the same vantageground [sic] as men

Emilia examined many aspects of women’s work in her essays and opinion pieces, outlining issues of inequality and advocating for health reforms in various sectors — even speaking at the Trade Unions’ Congress. She advocated for women’s trade unionism and would continue to publish on this subject — as well as Fine Art — for the rest of her life. Emilia was also friends with Richard and Emmeline Pankhurst and supported their campaigns for women’s suffrage.

Header for article titled 'Trades Union for Women'

Header for an Article published in the North American Review, 1891.

Even more than this, Emelia also wrote fiction, publishing two volumes of short stories, called, The Shrine of Death and Other Stories (1886) and The Shrine of Love and Other Stories (1891). The preface to The Shrine of Love seems to reaffirm the importance of working for reform through life:

Nothing has troubled me more than the weight of retribution which often falls on those who revolt against any point of prevailing order.

Image taken from short story collection showing graveyard.

Fly-page image from The Shrine of Death and Other Stories, 1886.

Hers are strange, allegorical tales, sometimes with a supernatural element, and a strong focus on morality and fate. They did not prove popular at the time, but these stories have recently been consolidated and republished for a new audience.

Considering this complex and varied legacy, it is a reductive to think of Emilia Dilke as simply the wife of MP Charles Dilke. Her many writing talents should have ensured her a more pronounced legacy than the one she currently holds. Compared to other women of the era, Emilia Dilke was privileged enough to be published and this has preserved many of her thoughts for the long-term. There is no doubt her work on women’s rights was an influence on other women, including her niece Gertrude Tuckwell, who advocated for women’s rights and women’s suffrage, becoming one of the first female magistrates in the UK. However, the lack of available archival material reflects a system of collecting that was very much centered on prominent men.

Photographic portrait of Gertrude Tuckwell

Gertrude Tuckwell, Emilia Dilke’s niece, women’s rights advocate and suffragist. Wikicommons.

The centuries of male dominance in society are reflected in the contents of historic archive collections. The exclusion of women from professional careers means that essential institutional records are primarily authored by men on the actions of men. Therefore, women of the past with intellectual careers and contributions to various fields, often find themselves excluded from many historical records. Without admittance into the professional sphere their work has often been side-lined as that of personal ‘interests’ or ‘hobbies’, and therefore, historically not deemed worthy of formal preservation. This may help explain the disparity between Charles Dilke’s archival collections and Emilia’s.

As well as this, the ability to trace individuals is also more complex for some than it is for others. Barring titles, ranks and self-administered change, the majority of male names will remain the same throughout life, whereas women’s names often change through marriage. Archivists make efforts to discover women’s maiden names so that they can link individuals’ relative outputs together and to help establish a full biography of a person, but sometimes these names are never found. Emilia went by many names during her life, she had her married names, but also preferred to call herself Francis over Emilia at times. As well as this, she would sometimes include her maiden name in signatures and sometimes prefer to author articles with differing initials. Given this abundance of known names, one might see how articles of her authorship may not be linked together.

A combination of structural bias and incidental loss has inhibited the collection of women’s archives for generations, but there is change in the air. Archival institutions now make efforts to correct imbalances in their archival collections. The efforts to brings the many untold lives of women back into history was a major feature of second-wave feminism. As well as this, the internet has provided a means of connecting and tying women’s narratives together, enabling the writing of fuller biographies and giving more credence to their achievements.

The legacy of Emilia Francis Dilke has certainly benefitted from these changes, and many of her works have even been digitised and so can be accessed by a wider range of scholars. Likewise, contemporary women have made efforts to recover Emilia Dilke’s legacy, with Professor Hilary Fraser writing her Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry, and Dr. Kali Israel writing a  contemporary feminist biography of Emilia Dilke that explores her accomplishments on her own terms. But such work has had to be accomplished without a comprehensive archival legacy for Emilia’s life and work. Given all this, one can see how easily other women have been lost to history, especially without the privilege of access to publishing that Emilia enjoyed. So many legacies have been reduced to a few scraps of paper and given our current advances in the field of archives, it is essential that we make an effort today to ensure that female archival legacies are fuller, broader, and most importantly, present in the future.

Further Reading

  • Women’s Work…With a Preface by Lady Dilke, by A. A. Brooke. (London: Methuen & Co, 1894)
  • The Shrine of Death, and other stories. L.P., By Emilia Francis Strong Dilke. (London: Routledge and sons, 1886)
  • The Shrine of Love, and other stories. L.P., By Emilia Francis Strong Dilke. (London: Routledge and sons, 1891)
  • Names and Stories: Emilia Dilke and Victorian Culture. By Kali Israel. (Oxford: Oxford University Press: 1999).