Library Special Collections

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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 […]

A story to … awaken thrilling horror

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).

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 […]

Scrapbook exhibition

Scrapbook exhibition

The latest exhibition in the Special Collections programme is on the theme of scrapbooks. We hold a number of different types of scrapbook and it’s been quite a challenge to decide which ones to select for the exhibition. In the end we (that’s my colleague Ian Swirles and I) have opted for a selection which […]

The Dreadful Burning of the City of London

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 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 […]

The destruction of Old St Paul’s

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).

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 […]

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