Library Special Collections

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The schoolboy sketches of John Leech

Portrait of John Leech by John Everett Millais from: William Powell Frith, John Leech: His Life and Work, Vol. I, (London, 1891), 709.42092 LEE/FRI

The artist and illustrator John Leech, who became one of the foremost contributors to Punch and created the artwork for some of Dickens’ most popular works, notably A Christmas Carol, was born in 1817 in London, the son of the assistant proprietor of the London Coffee House.  He was sent to Charterhouse School from the […]

A tulip bulb, the value of which would have fed ‘a whole ship’s crew for a twelvemonth’

A tulip bulb, the value of which would have fed ‘a whole ship’s crew for a twelvemonth’

The tulip, with its bold, eye-catching flowers in a wide variety of gorgeous colours, is in bloom, in many of our spring gardens, making one of their most striking features. In common with many flowers, it has gone in and out of fashion over the centuries – but the tulip’s history has been more dramatic than […]

Women in the World of Work

Photograph of a Scullery Maid, 1870 (Munby)

Over the last few centuries women’s place in the world has changed significantly, and with International Women’s Day today it is great to see how the position of women, especially in the world of work, has changed since the first International Women’s Day in 1908.   The East Midland Oral History Archives hold over 400 […]

Evading a flogging by the Whipping Toms

Evading a flogging by the Whipping Toms

Prior to 1846, Leicester had its own very particular way of celebrating Shrove Tuesday, which precedes the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday and was therefore the occasion for an outburst of eating, drinking and riotous entertainments. A letter written by ‘J.C.B.’ to William Hone, author of the Year Book first published in 1829, explains […]

The Lord of Misrule and his band of ‘lusty guts’

6.	University of Leicester Special Collections.  The Christmas revels at Crystal Palace in 1859 from: Illustrated London News, (London, 8 January 1859), OVERSIZE PER 050 I1195.

Behaving badly at the Christmas festivities and doing something you would really rather not remember is not an exclusively modern phenomenon, as a trawl through our Special Collections reveals – although in the 16th and 17th centuries the scene of your shame, rather than being the office party, might have been one of the many […]

An interview with Nora Waddington

The first group of 9 students with staff. Back row: R. Bennett, W. Bates, M. Nevitt, M. Webb, G. K. Smalley. Middle row: E. Capey, Miss C. E. C. Measham, Dr. R. F. Rattray, W. G. Gibbs, N. Bonser. Front row: D. Ough, D Gilbert.

During the 1980s an oral history project was undertaken by the Leicester Oral history Archive.  These interviews are now held by the East Midlands Oral History Archives at the University of Leicester. I am currently working on a project to increase the number of these interviews that are available online (check out the current collection […]

Frank, the Double Duchesse

University of Leicester Special Collections.  Miniature of Frances Stuart (née Howard), Duchess of Richmond and Lennox, from the Fairclough Collection

Amongst the contents of the Fairclough Collection of engraved portraits, relating to political and social history in 17th century Britain, we have recently discovered this delicately executed miniature of Frances Stuart (née Howard), Duchess of Richmond and Lennox, who died in 1639.  The oval appears to have been cut from a larger composition (in watercolour […]

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