Inaugural Lecture of the John Rylands Research Institute: Professor Ann Blair

Originally posted on John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog:

Professor Ann Blair

Professor Ann Blair

Ann Blair, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at Harvard University, delivered the inaugural John Rylands Research Institute Lecture, Script, Type, and Byte – Manuscripts after Gutenberg (reflections on technological continuities), on 31 March. The lecture, in the magnificent setting of the Historic Reading Room, was attended by over one hundred guests, including leading academics from across the country.

Professor Blair, who specialises in the cultural and intellectual history of early modern Europe, explored the continuities between manuscripts and printed books, from the fifteenth century to the eighteenth, drawing upon many examples from our own collections, which she had studied in the preceding few days.

Professor Blair describes her visit to Manchester:

“My first visit to Manchester on March 27-31 was wonderful, complete with some sun and only a little rain (and, as one of my hosts predicted, the rain was quite dry). I spent most of the…

View original 600 more words

March 24 1814: Shakespeare is Overated

Originally posted on pastnow:


On March 24 1814, Lord Byron writes to James Hogg about Shakespeare, Milton, Southey, Wordsworth and Coleridge. He likes Milton but thinks: “Shakespeare’s name, you may depend on it, stands absurdly too high and will go down.”  He also thinks Southey, Coleridge and Wordsworth are

… mere old wives. Look at their beastly vulgarity, when they wish to be homely; and their exquisite stuff, when they clap on sail, and aim at fancy. Coleridge is the best of the trio – but bad is the best. Southey should have been a parish-clerk, and Wordsworth a man-midwife – both in darkness. I doubt if either of them ever got drunk, and I am of the old creed of Homer the wine-bibber.

The complete letter reads:

View original 1,085 more words

TREASURES OF THE LIBRARY PODCAST: Dr Margaret Connolly describes the Roll of Kings

Originally posted on Echoes from the Vault:

treasures logo

In the summer of 2013, the University Library set out to capture the reactions of academic and library staff when encountering their favourite items from the Special Collections Division. For this project, authors for articles for Treasures of St Andrews University Library (London, 2010) were asked to speak about the item or collection they highlighted in this publication.

In this podcast, Dr Margaret Connolly, of the St Andrews Institute for Medieval Studies, describes the Roll of Kings, a 15th century genealogical roll of the English monarchy, with a brief vernacular chronicle. A gift to the University by an anonymous donor in 2003, this is a good example of this type of royal propaganda, produced during the reign (and probably the minority) of Henry VI. Visually representing the line of royal succession from William the Conqueror to Richard II (the final portion is now missing) through its graphic…

View original 107 more words

Did women in Greece and Rome speak?

Originally posted on British Museum blog:

Mary Beard, Professor of Classics, Cambridge University
Did women in Greece and Rome speak? Stupid question; of course they did. They must have chattered and joked together, laughed at the silliness of their menfolk, advised (or chatted up) their husbands, given lessons to their children… and much, much more.

But nowhere in the ancient world did they ever have a recognised voice in public – beyond, occasionally, complaining about the abuse they must often have suffered. Those who did speak out got ridiculed as being androgynes (‘men-women’). The basic motto (as for Victorian children) was that women should be seen and not heard, and best of all not seen either.

This streak of misogyny made a big impression on me when I first started learning ancient Greek about 45 years ago. One of the first things I read in Greek back then was part of Homer’s Odyssey – one of…

View original 766 more words

Medicine’s Dark Secrets – Update


The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice does good work.

Originally posted on The Chirurgeon's Apprentice:

My Dear Readers, 

A lot of you have been asking about Medicine’s Dark Secrets since I finished filming the project 8 months ago. Here’s a short video update for you. 

Should you want to contact Big Baby Productions directly about your donation, you can do so via their website. In the meantime, I will continue trying to get answers to your questions. 

Lots of love,

Dr Lindsey 

View original

The high and low adventures of Robert Knox, sailer, prisoner and discoverer of cannabis

Originally posted on Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR) Casgliadau Arbennig ac Archifau:

Captain Robert Knox (1642-1720)

Among the many books on voyages and exploration in the Cardiff Rare Books Collection is a copy of Robert Knox’s An historical relation of the island Ceylon, in the East Indies. First published in 1681, the work was one of the earliest European accounts of the inhabitants, customs and history of Sri Lanka. How Knox came to write the book is a remarkable tale of adventure, misfortune and daring escapes.

Rajahsinge II, King of the Kandyan Provinces of Ceylon

Rajahsinge II, King of the Kandyan Provinces of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Knox’s jailer

Robert Knox was just 14 years old in 1655 when he first joined his sea captain father on the ship Anne for a voyage to India. Three years later, the Knoxes set sail again for Persia in the service of the East India Company but had the ill luck to run into a storm which destroyed the ship’s mast and…

View original 416 more words

Vikings in Russia

Originally posted on British Museum blog:

Eastern style axe-head Tom Williams, Project Curator: Vikings, British Museum

Scandinavians traditionally do rather well at the winter Olympics – for perhaps obvious reasons – but their Viking ancestors would have been no stranger to some of the delights of Sochi. Skis were used and valued in the North. Earl Rognvald I of Orkney boasted that (among several other skills) he could ‘glide on skis’, and the god Ullr was also associated with skiing. In fact, he has been taken as a sort of unofficial patron of the winter ski community, whose members often wear medallions depicting the god – there would no doubt have been a good number of Ullr talismans among the skiers in Sochi.

And, while the bob-sleigh may have been unknown, sledges of various kinds are certainly known from Viking burials, including a particularly beautiful example that was found in the famous boat burial from Oseberg in Norway.

View original 552 more words


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,507 other followers

%d bloggers like this: