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 […]

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.

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

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 […]

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

Frank, the Double Duchesse

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 […]

University of Leicester Special Collections.  Frontispiece to the first illustrated edition of Frankenstein, drawn by Theodor von Holst and engraved by W. Chevalier.  From: SCS 01395, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein, (London, 1831).

A story to … awaken thrilling horror

In the fabulously Gothic frontispiece of the first illustrated edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: or The Modern Prometheus, published in 1831, the monster, dramatically lit by the moon, lies in a medieval chamber, complete with grinning skeleton.  The artist, Theodor von Holst, has chosen to show the moment, when Victor, overcome with horror at the […]

University of Leicester Special Collections.  Front cover of the pamphlet, A True and Faithful Account of the Several Informations Exhibited to the Honourable Committee Appointed by the Parliament to Inquire into the Late Dreadful Burning of the City of London, (London, 1667), SCM 05525.

The Dreadful Burning of the City of London

The atmosphere of London in 1666, before, as well as after, the outbreak of the Great Fire, was febrile – anti-Catholic feeling was potent and rife, portents and prophecies of terrible events abounded, the city had been ravaged by Plague the year before and England was at war with the Dutch, with whom the French […]

University of Leicester Special Collections.  A view of Old St Paul’s, before the fire of 1561 from: SCT 00908, William Dugdale, The History of St. Pauls Cathedral in London : From its Foundation Untill these Times …, (London, 1818).

The destruction of Old St Paul’s

350 years ago this month, during the early hours of Sunday 2 September 1666, the Great Fire of London, which had broken out in the Pudding Lane bakery of Thomas Farynor, began to spread with terrifying speed through the city’s crooked, narrow streets, lined with wooden buildings. One consequence of the Fire, irreparable damage to […]

SCM 12640, Annie Besant, Annie Besant: an Autobiography, (London, 1908).

Desert ‘magick’ and astral bodies – what could they have to do with Special Collections?

Our current exhibition, exploring the experiences and attitudes of the British in India from the early 17th century to the turn of the 20th, features a selection of material from the Union Club Library, purchased by the University in 1964, about which I wrote previously.  But it also draws on the collection of Victor Neuburg.  […]

Sherry in the filing-cabinet – and as for the milk-jug …

Sherry in the filing-cabinet – and as for the milk-jug …

Our current exhibition from the Special Collections, ‘”Strangers in the Land”? Impressions of India’, explores the attitudes and reactions of the British in India, from the early 17th century to the turn of the 20th, and the repercussions of a complex and fascinating relationship on the cultures of both countries.  Many of the items displayed […]

My internship with Academic Liaison and Special Collections

My internship with Academic Liaison and Special Collections

By James Wilkinson After one of my friend’s mentioned a potential career path in librarianship, and that she was in the middle of undertaking a librarianship internship here at the University of Leicester, my ideas for potential career options was expanded massively. It seemed obvious once I had thought about it; I’ve just completed a […]

‘Strangers in the land’?

‘Strangers in the land’?

Our current exhibition, ‘”Strangers in the land”? Impressions of India’ traces the history of the British in India from the early 17th century to the turn of the 20th.  Some always remained, in the words of the Governor of Madras in 1807, ‘strangers in the land’; others, like the free-thinker and theosophist Annie Besant, who […]

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