Sonorities Festival Belfast

headerOur new display celebrates the history of Sonorities Festival Belfast the city’s longest running festival of contemporary music.

Programmes from 1981 to 2018. Sonorities Festival material is held in the University Archive at QUB/E/2/56 - Music.

Programmes from 1981 to 2018. Sonorities Festival material is held in the University Archive at QUB/E/2/56 – Music.

First billed as Northern Ireland’s festival of twentieth century music, Sonorities began in 1981 as a venture by the Music Department of Queen’s University Belfast – now part of the School of Arts, English and Languages.

In the Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland, Hilary Bracefield explains that the early festivals aimed to introduce music by major composers of the twentieth century then rarely heard in Northern Ireland. Electro-acoustic music was first heard at the Festival in 1985 and became a particular feature from 2004 , the year that the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) was opened by Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Today Sonorities plays host to “all things weird and wonderful”, including concerts, club nights, installations, visuals and workshops.

Assorted instruments and electronics, property of SARC.

Assorted instruments and electronics, property of SARC

Our current display also features material from our Hamilton Harty Collection (MS44), including the scrapbooks of Olive and Nell Baguely which offer fascinating insights into the history of music at Queen’s.

MS14/6/15 (Harty collection). From scrapbook related to QUB Music Department. Radio Times article, 1977. Professor David Greer and Adrian Thomas of QUB Music Department illustrate the wide range of their work from medieval to electronic music.

MS14/6/15 (Harty collection). From scrapbook related to QUB Music Department. Radio Times article, 1977. Professor David Greer and Adrian Thomas of QUB Music Department illustrate the wide range of their work from medieval to electronic music.


Olive Baguely (4th from the left) receives an honorary degree from QUB in 1960.

Olive Baguely (4th from the left) receives an honorary degree from QUB in 1960.

The Harty Collection was donated to the library by Harty’s personal secretary and friend Olive Baguely in 1946. She was the executor of his possessions after his death.

In 1960 Baguely received an honorary degree from Queen’s in recognition of her commitment to Harty, his legacy, and her assignment of his belongings to the university.

The programme of public music events at Queen’s (including Sonorities) is made possible today through the bequest of Olive Baguely and other benefactors.

For more information on Sonorities and to view the full programme visit the website. Most events are absolutely FREE, but tickets must be pre-booked.

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The Memory of the Russian Revolution


Coat of arms of pre-1917 Russian Empire (above), Coat of Arms of Soviet Union, adopted in 1923

Coat of Arms of pre-1917 Russian Empire (above), Coat of Arms of Soviet Union, adopted in 1923 (below)

An Empire in Transition

The week beginning the 6th of November 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the  beginning of the 1917 Russian revolution, a major turning point in Russian, European and World History, that saw the last great bastions of Ancien Régime-style imperial monarchism begin its transformation into a 20th century communist global superpower. As Imperial Russia transformed itself first into the Soviet Union, and then the Russian Federation, it reinvented its political and economic structures, its mythology, and its place in the world.



October 1917-November 2017

Tsar Nicholas II, Ilya Repin, Oil on canvas, 1896. Depicts the Tsar as a young man in the throne room of the Winter Palace.

The October Revolution (so-called because it took place in October according to the now-abandoned Russian Orthodox Julian calendar) that saw Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks take power followed the February Revolution that occurred earlier in 1917, bookending months of civil and political unrest and uncertainty that had gripped St Petersburg, the Imperial Russian Capital. This first revolution was motivated by a variety of factors, notably frustration over the glacial rate of political change among Russia’s growing middle-class and the radicalization of a disenfranchised intelligentsia. Other major factors include the long term economic and social tensions brought on by rapid demographic growth  at the end of the 19th century among the peasants leading to calls for more just redistribution of land, and the poor working conditions of the still small but rapidly growing working class. Another contributor was the more immediate frustration with Russia’s performance in the ongoing First World War and the hardships that the conflict had brought including high inflation, food shortages, mass conscription and high war losses. The February revolution saw the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II – the last autocratic Emperor of the Romanov dynasty that had ruled Russia for three centuries – and the installation of a moderate Provisional Government tasked with overseeing Russia’s transition from nigh-feudal autocracy to democracy.

Lenin, photographed here in 1920
Lenin, photographed here in 1920

The instability of this government – and Russia’s continued involvement in WWI – led to popular demonstrations and further strife throughout the summer and autumn of 1917. This in turn gave way to the rise of the Marxist Bolshevik party that, emboldened by the return from exile of their charismatic leader Vladimir Lenin, led an armed insurrection in St Petersburg that culminated with the storming of the Winter Palace (the historic seat of Romanov power and the temporary home of the Provisional Government) on the 7th of November 1917. After months of instability and uncertainty Russia finally had a new strong man at the head of a new and radical government.

100 years of the Russian Revolution at QUB

To mark the anniversary of the 1917 revolution, QUB Special Collections will be displaying photos, texts, and other artefacts that chart the transition that Russia underwent a century ago and continued to undergo into the 20th century. These include photos of iconic St Petersburg buildings as they were in the 19th century, when the Russian Empire was at its largest extent, and that later served as the backdrop against which the 1917 revolution was to play out. On a more human level, the exhibition also includes examples of both pre- and post-revolution bank notes and coins, examples of the way in which the Russian national myth changed and developed from the 19th to the 20th century. Grouped with these are original examples of the kind of communist memorabilia that could be found adorning homes, workplaces and labels throughout the Soviet Union – commemorative badges, sashes, medals, and a miniature bust of Lenin. Finally, the exhibition also includes some texts from Special Collections archives, notably a sample of Lenin’s handwriting and early editions of both Marx and Lenin’s printed works in Russian and English.

In addition to this display hosted by Special Collections and curated by members of staff from the School of History, Anthropology, Politics and Philosophy, there are a number of other events taking place on campus in November 2017 to mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution.

-          At 1pm on Thursday 16th November QFT will host a free screening of Sergei and Georgi Vasiliev’s 1934 film Chapaev, a fictionalised biography of Vasily Chapaev, a Russian Revolutionary who died in the civil war that would later engulf the country, only to later be immortalised in Soviet propaganda of the 20s and 30s. The screening will be preceded by an introduction by Dr Aleksandr Titov of HAPP, and followed by a discussion.

-          Friday 17th of November will see QUB’s Senate Room (Lanyon building) host a day of talks on the memory of the Russian Revolution. Panels start at 9.30 and will include papers from researchers from England, Switzerland, Scotland and Germany, as well as academics from QUB’s School of History, Anthropology, Politics and Philosophy.

The exhibition is curated by Dr Aleksandr Titov, lecturer in Russian History and Politics in QUB’s School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics.

Special Collections

In addition to the materials presented in this display QUB Special Collections houses an archive of particular interest to researchers interested in looking at the history of the relationship between the Soviet Union and the Irish Labour Movement, known as the Comintern (Irish labour movement) Collection. This collection comprises copies of files held in the Russian Archive for Social and Political History (RGASPI), Moscow. The files pertain to the Irish labour movement and the history of Communism in Ireland, comprising documents from the departments and standing committees of the Executive Committee Communist International (ECCI) including speeches, reports, letters, agendas, fliers, handwritten notes, lists, telegrams, minutes and posters. The papers provide considerable insight into the personalities, organisation and policy development of Irish Communism during the 1920s/1930s. Included in the collection are ten microfilms (representing approximately 4,000 pages) detailing contacts between the Communist International and Irish groups between 1919 and 1943.

Special Collections reading room

Special Collections reading room

Our thanks to Modern Languages PhD student and Special Collections and Archives Intern Tom Murray for this guest blog post on “The Memory of the Russian Revolution”


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New Materials on Irish Victims of Stalinist Terror donated to Special Collections

We are delighted to announce that Dr Barry McLoughlin (University of Vienna) has generously donated further materials relating to our Comintern Papers (MS 57).
The focus of this second tranche of material is on Irish victims of Stalinist terror in the USSR, particularly, Patrick Breslin, Brian Gould Verschoyle and Sean McAteer.

Propoganda poster of Joseph Stalin

Propaganda portrait of “Marshal Stalin” by Tim Date
Image courtesy of The National Archives UK @ Flickr Commons

The materials, sourced by Dr McLoughlin during the course of his research for his monograph Left to the Wolves: Irish Victims of Stalinist Terror , include private family papers previously unknown to researchers.

Image of front cover of Barry McLoughlin's book, "Left to the Wolves"

Irish Academic Press, 2007

The materials comprise approximately four archive boxes of mixed media materials. A draft listing of this addition to our collections is in preparation: readers interested in accessing these materials should email

Archive Box with folders and documents

One of the boxes of new material for  MS 57

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Victorian Children’s Illustrators

The late C19 – early C20 period is commonly regarded as “The Golden Age” of children’s illustrated books and our new display showcases some representative works from five renowned illustrators of the period.

Victorian Children's Illustrators Display

Victorian Children’s Illustrators Display

Randolph Caldecot (1846-1886)

Randolph Caldecott

Randolph Caldecott

Born and educated in Chester, where his prodigious artist talent was evident even as a child, Caldecot gave up his job in banking at the age of 26 to pursue a career as an artist. He soon attained both critical and commerical success as an illustrator and artist, not least through the 16 volumes of picture books produced in collaboration with printer Edmund Evans.

The Caldecot Medal is named in his honour and awarded annually by the  American Library Association to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.


Daddy Darwin's Dovecot

Daddy Darwin’s Dovecot. London: E & J. B. Young & Co. 188?. “Daddy Darwin Faces the Board” pg. 24


Walter Crane
Detail of photo by Frederick Hollyer (1837-1933). Public Domain

Walter Crane (1845-1915)

Born in Liverpool and raised in Torquay, the young Crane served a three-year apprenticeship with wood engraver W. J. Linton. Aged 20, Crane was commissioned to illustrate a series of books to be printed by Edmund Evans, eventually producing 37 of these ‘toy’ books over the next decade. With Randloph Caledcott and Kate Greenaway, Crane is considered one of the most influential children’s book illustators of his generation.

Floras Feast

Flora’s Feast: a masque of flowers, presented by Walter Crane. London ; New York (etc.) : Cassell & company limited, 1889. ‘When lilies turned to tigers blaze’

Edmund Dulac (1882-1953)

French by birth, although he would later become a naturalised Briton, one of Dulac’s first commissions was a series of 60 illustrations for the Brontë novels. A regular contributer to the Pall Mall magazine, his next major commission came from Hodder and Stroughton who asked him to provide the illustrations for their new (1907) edition of The Arabian Nights.

Dulac supported the war effort by turning his artistic talents to the design of posters, stamps and charity gift books. Whilst book illustration remained a keen interest, Dulac’s post-war creativity found outlets as varied as theatre design, currency design and stamp design.

Arabian Nights

Princess Badoura : a tale from the Arabian nights retold by Laurence Housman ; illustrated by Edmund Dulac. [London] : Hodder and Stoughton, [1913]
“The Fisherman and the Genie”

Kate Greenaway

Kate Greenaway
Image CC0

Kate Greenaway (1846-1901)

Catherine (“Kate”) Greenaway enrolled at the Finsbury School of Art at the age of 12, and from there went on to study at the National Art Training School at Kensington (now the Royal College of Art). Her first book illustration was published in 1867 and this was soon followed by a significant commission to produce six watercolour images to illustrate the children’s book Diamonds and Toads, published by Frederick Warne. Her work was regularly commissioned in the years that followed and in 1878, Greenaway published the first of her own books, Under the Window: Pictures and Rhymes for Children, to widespread critical acclaim. Other books written and illustrated by Greenaway include The Language of Flowers, Kate Greenaway’s Alphabet and Kate Greenaway’s Book of Games.

Established in 1955, the Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded annually by CILIP in recognition of “distinguished illustration in a book for children”.


Mother Goose : or, The old nursery rhymes Illus. by Kate Greenaway.
London and New York : Frederick Warne, (1881?)
“Willy Boy”

Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)


Arthur Rackham Self Portrait, 1934

Born in London, Rackham attended evening classes at the Lambeth School of Art before taking up a position as news and features illustrator on the Pall Mall Budget, followed by the Westminster Buget and the Westminster Gazette. His first major illustrations for children’s books included  Gulliver Travels (1900) and Grimm’s Fairy Tales (1900).

Rackham’s changing styles over the course of his career reflected improvements in printing technology and the varied influences of his extensive European travels as well as demonstrating his extraordinary versatility as an artist.



A midsummer night’s dream by William Shakespeare ; with illustrations by Arthur Rackham. London ; New York : Heinemann : Doubleday, Page & Co, 1908. “Puck”

Books displayed:

Daddy Darwin’s dovecot : a country tale  by Juliana Horatia Ewing … illustrated by Randolph Caldecott

An elegy on the death of a mad dog  Written by Dr. Goldsmith, pictured by R. Caldecott, sung by Master Bill Primrose.

A masque of days : from the last essays of Elia newly dressed & decorated by Walter Crane.

Flora’s feast : a masqve of flowers, penned & pictured  by Walter Crane.

Princess Badoura : a tale from the Arabian nights retold by Laurence Housman ; illustrated by Edmund Dulac.

Dulac’s Fairy Tale Illustrations in Full Colour by Edmund Dulac. Dover: New York, 2004 [Private Collection]

Kate Greenaway pictures from originals presented by her to John Ruskin and other personal friends (hitherto unpublished) With an appreciation by H. M. Cundall

The pied piper of Hamelin  by Robert Browning ; with 35 illustrations by Kate Greenaway ; engraved and printed in colours by Edmund Evans.

Mother Goose : or, The old nursery rhymes  Illus. by Kate Greenaway.

A midsummer night’s dream  by William Shakespeare ; with illustrations by Arthur Rackham.

The Ingoldsby legends : or, Mirth and marvels  By Thomas Ingoldsby, esq. (the Rev. Richard Harris Barham). With illustrations by Arthur Rackham.


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“Read all about it!” Notes on an Annotated Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Collection at Armagh Public Library

Dr Michael O’Connor of QUB Special Collections reflects on an idiosyncratic Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Collection

Recently, I had the good fortune to be invited by Armagh Public Library to visit and consult their eighteenth-century Irish newspaper collection. I had the pleasure of meeting the Dean of Armagh, the very Reverend Gregory Dunstan and staff at the Library, including Carol Conlin, and I’m very grateful for the hospitality and assistance I received during an extremely memorable visit. My thanks are also due to Dr. Sally Montgomery for arranging this in the first instance. Aside from their unfailing graciousness, the visit proved especially significant since I had the opportunity to peruse a seldom consulted, but rather considerable, treasure of Irish printed newspapers.

The Library is blessed in its holdings of an appealing assortment of newspapers spanning the eighteenth century. Many of the titles are Dublin titles; this is hardly surprising owing to the importance of Dublin as a print centre – dynamic and fertile in terms of its published output throughout the early modern period particularly. As a result the Library holds titles such as The Dublin Evening Post, The Dublin Journal, The Dublin Gazette and The Dublin Mercury. These newspapers will be of obvious interest to scholars of the eighteenth-century period and those investigating Dublin as a print and news hub.

Dublin MercuryMost notable, however, among the eighteenth-century newspaper holdings is the Henry Irwin collection. Substantial – both in terms of significance and volume – it is an impressive scrapbook collection that is both thrilling and captivating; it has the potential to enthral all who examine its hefty tomes. It is in remarkably good condition also and cannot fail but astonish, amuse, and interest by its beguiling singularity and the sheer breath of newspaper topics included.

Henry Irwin Collection at Armagh Public Library

Henry Irwin Collection at Armagh Public Library

It is evident that the eponymous collector, Irwin (b. 1717) had a fascination with events and newspapers of that period since he amassed, collected and arranged eighteenth-century newspapers in his own personal collection. The collection comprises 6 volumes, 16 newspaper titles and approximately 2200 issues. Irwin’s 6 volume scrapbooks include the following newspaper titles:

Composite Headers 2






  •  Dublin Evening Post
  • The Morning Post: or Dublin Courant
  •  Magee’s Weekly Packet
  • Evening Herald
  • The Public Register, or Freeman’s Journal
  • Pue’s Occurrences * [Not available NLI. Available TCD]
  • Saunder’s News-letter and Daily Advertiser * [Not available NLI. Available TCD]
  • The Times (London)
  •  The Town: Dublin Evening Packet
  •  Lloyd’s Evening Post
  • The Evening Herald; or, General Advertiser * [Not available NLI. Available TCD]
  •  Dublin: The Universal Advertiser
  • The Rights of Irishmen: or National Evening Star * [Not available NLI. Available TCD]
  • The Public Register, or Freeman’s Journal
  • Dublin News-letter
  • Dublin Gazette

Composite Headers 1





While some of the above titles are not recorded in English Short Title Catalogue, all these newspapers are available in National Library of Ireland or Trinity College Dublin.

Scrapbook covers composite

Henry Irwin Collection. Vol. 2 Front Cover (l); Vol. 1 Inside Cover (r)

Each volume is covered with a rudimentary and inelegant but perfectly functioning leather binding. Each volume is prefaced with autographed notes from Irwin. This includes date information, the number of newspapers contained within each volume, the topics foregrounded at the outset of each volumes and additional notes, including notes to the reader. I have captured this information and include in the grid below:

Table Final


Who was Henry Irwin?

Unfortunately, very little is known about Henry Irwin. As the compiler of the scrapbooks, his name, initials, handwriting and signature feature in the volumes; his age is also provided at the outset of each volume. He is recorded as 77 years old in volumes 1-3, 83 years old in volumes 4 & 5, and 85 years old in volume 6. This means that Irwin would have been born in 1717 and was still alive in 1802, the date of the last volume. Some of the handwritten notes on the inside cover of Vol. 1 (dated 1790) confirm that the compilation of the scrapbook was contemporaneous with the publication dates of the newspapers contained therein. For example, Irwin makes reference to John Fitzgibbon as “now Chancellor of Ireland.” This was a position Fitzgibbon held 1789-1802.

Our best source of information about Henry Irwin is the collection itself. Without question, he was a newsprint aficionado. The heavily annotated scrapbook collection attests to his evident passion for compiling and commenting on news, and his annotations reveal a man of strong emotions and imposing personality.

Newgate annotation

His annotations could be humorous, mordant or, indeed, excessively censorious. For example, he denounces the loss of an estate in Meath by an individual, the result, Irwin posits, of “youthful Extravagance” and he comments on the fate of a man who is sentenced to hang at Newgate, a fate he regards as befitting – he “deserve[s] it well.” He notes that “Billy Pitt [is] audacious [.] I wish I had hold of him [.] I’d cure his ambition if I cou’d.”

He was also however capable of delivering praise and admiration. In November 1788, he cites “Doctor Robinson” as

[T]he best Primate Ireland ever had Except Usher [.] He leaves more Improvement in & about Armagh & laid out more money for the good of the country than all the clergy in the kingdom did for a century past [.] They are generally greedy [,] proud and overbearing [,] but he is a real good man of meekness [,] humanity and charity – where can you find such another& not amongst them.

Dr Robinson annotation

The unrestricted nature of his annotation is part of the fascination of this collection. These annotations – some are very forthright and peremptory – may suggest that they were possibly circulated to a ‘private’ circle of family and very close friends, those who shared Irwin’s views, or, at the very least, understood Irwin’s indomitable character. Beyond that circle of friends and well-wishers, one imagines that his comments could have jarred and provoked ire. One could argue, however, that perhaps his comments were expressly designed to challenge and that the sometimes excoriating nature of his annotations do not preclude circulation to a readership beyond family, confidants and close friends.

While there is further work needed to establish the finer detail concerning the circulation and readers of the collection, a number of core facts can be established. The presence of a note addressed to the reader in each volume evidences that the volumes were circulated to his contemporaries, and that they were designed to amuse. Irwin asks of his readers that they “do not abuse or be careless of this Book, (the best History of the times) for I have taken pains and trouble in preparing and fitting it up with my own hands, for my own, for others, and your amusement.” The absence, moreover of pecuniary information in relation to circulation suggests strongly that this was not a commercial enterprise.

Appeal of Irwin’s Newspapers:

Irwin’s collection is compelling for two main reasons. Firstly, Irwin organised the material into volumes which are arranged chronologically. Issues are arranged by date and not grouped together by newspaper title. This permits the reader to compare and contrast news items across a specific time period from different newspapers. Secondly, Irwin’s annotations provide a unique insight into one contemporary reader’s response to significant national and international events. For example, he comments on the mental health of King George III, the French Revolution, the Fall of the Bastille and other pertinent news items of the late eighteenth century. It is thus the intersection of his comments with the printed news items which provide the real charm of the collection since it betrays Irwin’s biases and interpretation, and reveals much about him as ‘newsman’ and collector.

The collection is ultimately a valuable resource of untapped intertextuality, waiting to be explored by potential researchers. The sheer volume of the printed collection (approximately 8000 pages of newspaper content), coupled with the intriguing handwritten annotations, provides wonderful material for prospective researchers across a range of disciplines and for those more generally interested in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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Best case scenario!

Screen shots of @qubsc twitter feed


As you may have noticed from our Twitter feed (or, indeed if you’ve been working on Floor One of the McClay Library) it’s been all change for us this week, as we have been upgrading the Special Collections’ display cases.

Picture of old and new display cases

Our display space, before and after the installation of the new cases

Like all Special Collections, we operate from a closed store, meaning our collections can’t be browsed openly in the same way as most of the rest of the library’s holdings, but are instead kept in a secure, climate-controlled environment accessible only to Special Collections’ staff. (That’s where we scurry off to fetch books or manuscripts whenever you order material at our enquiry desk!)

Behind the scenes in the Special Collections' store

Behind the scenes in the Special Collections’ store

Our display space is important therefore, as it gives us a chance to showcase our holdings to a wider audience, including anyone using the library. Exhibitions are changed regularly and include themed seasonal displays (e.g. Hallowe’en or Christmas), displays in support of conferences or events being held in Queen’s, and general interest displays curated by members of the Special Collections and Archives team.

Composite image of variosu Special Collection displays

Our three new display cases have a high level of both security and environmental control, enabling library users and visitors to get a close-up view of a much wider range of our materials than we could display previously.  Unlike retail showcases (which tend to be cheap, cheerful and not too concerned about their contents’ long-term exposure to volatile vapours and chemicals!) museum-quality display cases need to be constructed from conservation-quality materials.

Schematic of display cases, courtesy of Clicknetherfield:

Schematic of Display cases

In our case, this means 11.5mm low iron anti-bandit laminated glass (which provides UV filtration and minimises colour distortion) and an aluminium alloy and steel base frame. The display cases have an air exchange rate of c. 0.5 air changes per day (which helps to buffer external environmental conditions and maintain a stable temperature and humidity level in the interior) and gas spring assisters enable easy access to the hinged cases, which are opened using glazing suckers. The new display cases are slightly lower than our previous display case, giving a much greater level of accessibility to our exhibits.

Display objects composite

The inaugural exhibition in the new display cases highlights some interesting treasures from our collections, including a bill spike which belonged to Irish novelist and literary critic Forrest Reid, a stunning facsimile edition of The Book of Kells, composer and conductor Hamilton Harty’s collapsible Opera Hat, and a palm leaf manuscript containing a copy of Guṇṇantarac  nisya by Shin Sāravaṃsa, written in Pali (Burmese round script) and Burmese.

Palm Leaf Manuscript

Palm Leaf Manuscript


Why not come in and check it out?!

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“Hillier called…”: A Glimpse at Sir Robert Hart’s Papers in the Special Collections, Queen’s University, Belfast

About the author:

Andrew Hillier is a mature student at the University of Bristol, having spent most of his career as a practising barrister. He hopes that his Ph.D. is nearing completion.

We’re very grateful to our guest blogger, Andrew, for his generosity in writing this post about his research project and wish him every success in his upcoming viva

Robert Hart QUB MS 15.6.1.B7

Robert Hart
QUB MS 15.6.1.B7

Much has been written about Sir Robert Hart, who held the position of Inspector-General (IG) of the Chinese Maritime Customs (CMC) from 1863 until his death in 1911, at the age of 76, but no attempt has been made to write a comprehensive biography. Whilst this may seem surprising, given that he was without doubt the most influential Westerner in nineteenth century China, it is understandable when the enormity of the task is considered, both for the biographer and for those who would have to read the resulting work. It is also, I think fortunate, because it would be extremely difficult to convey the character of the IG in the way it emerges from reading his papers. For long, the best source for this has been his correspondence, most especially, the two volumes of letters written to his London agent, James Duncan Campbell.

However, as the painstaking process of deciphering his spidery writing continues at QUB, a further accessible source is beginning to emerge. Saved from the fire which destroyed most of his papers during the Boxer Uprising (1900), the diaries comprise seventy-seven volumes, covering the years, 1854 to 1908. Of these, two composite volumes (1 to 4 and 5 to 8) take it up to 1866 and, together with volume 31 (1885), are available on-line, volumes 13 to 18 have been transcribed and volume 19 is in progress. For the remainder, however, there is no alternative but to sit in the comfort and calm of the Special Collections Reading Room and work through the manuscripts. I recently spent several days carrying out this, at times exasperating but ultimately rewarding, exercise and, whilst alcohol was essential at the end of the day, it paid dividends for my research.

My PhD (which I am undertaking at Bristol University under Professor Robert Bickers) is concerned with the relationship between family and empire, which I am exploring through the lens of various forbears who lived and worked in China and Southeast Asia in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Of these, three brothers – Walter, Harry and Guy Hillier – knew Hart well and worked closely with him over some forty years, in, respectively, the consular and diplomatic service, the CMC and the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank (as it was then called).

By chance, as mentioned above, Jennifer Regan has transcribed Hart’s diary for 1885. This had already whetted my appetite as there were descriptions of his meetings with Walter Hillier, who had just been appointed Chinese Secretary at the Legation, and with Guy Hillier, who had been despatched by the Bank to explore the possibility of opening an agency in Peking. However, whilst there were plenty of entries covering their work, the real interest for me in this volume lay in the social side of Hart’s life. A keen ‘ladies man’, he took a shine to Walter Hillier’s wife, Clare, whom he found ‘very pretty’ and whose  extrovert personality lit up the routine life of Peking’s Western society and, in particular, his dinner parties. Having already despatched his wife and children to England, Hart attached great importance to these occasions, which normally consisted of his entertaining anything between eight and sixteen guests. His diary, complete with table plan, would record the success or otherwise of the evening as we see in the entry for 12 September 1885, from which the transcriber’s task is also self-evident. For present purposes, the following is sufficient:

Tuesday, 20 Oct. [Chinese characters:] “12th September” Russell [Everard?] Daae Rockhill Mrs Palm Mrs Hillier [?] R.H. Mrs [?] Miss Honsard Lawrence Hippisley Hillier Mrs Russell Mrs Rockhill Fitzgibbon Palm

Last night’s dinner party was gay enough, but not so gay as I had looked for. After dinner we had some dancing: a polka with Mrs Hillier, another with Mrs Russell, and the Lancers with Mrs Russell, were my share. All away at 11.20, and in bed after twelve. Dreamt about Li arranging for Ironclads in English and the Yamen open to and frequented by foreign ladies: also that instead of arriving at 8 I arrived at 9 ½, on which I woke with a start and found it was 6 ½ : so got up and was with Li at 8 to the minute. (T’ing Chen not at hand for the start from my gate).

Diary Entry, 12 September 1885 QUB MS

Diary Entry, 12 September 1885

What we glean from this and subsequent entries is how much Hart enjoyed his music and dancing. Here he danced the Polka with Clare – on another occasion, he records her giving him ‘a waltz lesson which went fairly well for a first lesson – she said’[1]and a few weeks later, he is calling on her and making friends with her two children –‘the little boy is a fine wee man’ and lending her his horse, Ben Hur.[2]

Walter & Clare Hillier (LHS), Harry and his first wife, Annie Hillier (London, 1882) Hillier Collection

Walter & Clare Hillier (LHS), Harry and his first wife, Annie Hillier (London, 1882)
Hillier Collection

Hart’s relationship with Clare was exactly what he relished, mildly flirtatious without any risk of it going further and here, and in many similar entries, we can see the very human side of someone often perceived to be a dry and austere Ulsterman. These entries thus provide an invaluable source for understanding the intimate life of Peking and the important role a consular wife could fulfil in that constrained milieu. It was fortunate, indeed, that this particular volume had already been transcribed and this encouraged me to undertake the formidable task of trying to read the diaries for myself in order to understand Hart’s working relationship with the Hillier brothers.

For my visit, I had limited myself principally to three years – 1897 to 1899 – , during which Guy and his elder brother, Harry, worked closely with Hart in connection with two significant events affecting Sino-British relations. The first concerned the negotiation of the third tranche of the Loan which China required in order to fund the Sino-Japanese Indemnity, following her defeat in the War (1894-1895), and the second related to Britain’s acquisition of the New Territories and its impact on the CMC.

As the Peking Agent of the Hongkong Bank, Guy Hillier had conducted the Indemnity loan negotiations on behalf of the Bank from the outset. In the event, the first tranche had been won by a Franco- Russian Consortium and the second by the Bank (along with the Deutsch Asiatische Bank, DAB) but only with Hart’s assistance. In respect of the third tranche, therefore, there was all to play for.

Beginning in September 1897, numerous diary entries, prefaced with the phrase, ‘Hillier called’, describe the tortuous negotiations and the way in which Hart and Guy Hillier, working in tandem, dealt with both the Legation and Chinese officialdom.  The entry for 25 December 1897 (QUB MS 15/1/51/121) reads ‘Hillier says Bank can’t float loans without help of Germany, France & Belgium!  .. I must [?] try what [Y – possibly a name?] can do’. By February, 1898, the DAB had agreed draft terms. The entry for 19 February 1898 reads ‘Hillier came round & co-signed the preparatory agreement for sixteen million sterling loan. I wrote to Lian (for Chang) …likin will not do & this must be found’ (QUB MS 15/1/51/181).

Guy Hillier, c. 1886 Hillier Collection

Guy Hillier, c. 1886
Hillier Collection

But along with these entries, we have this touching personal reflection for Sunday 20 February 1898 (QUB MS 15/1/52/1):

….today I begin my 64th year. I am old but in my ways young and it is wonderful how clear my mind is and how free from pain my body … but my memory is not what it was and my strength & activity are disappearing. Birthday gifts & cards from various people and places.

Finally, on 1 March, “the 2 loans agreements are arranged this am ((8 @ 10 ½ ): [? ?] English version for Hillier & [R?] & arranged that if French [? appear /approve] we’ll say their desire for [?] [?] be [?revised] [?Loan] & supported, but agreement must be signed.’ (QUB MS 15/1/52/13)

These events are described in Stanley Wright’s Hart and the Chinese Customs pp. 663 -666, but, even with the difficulties of transcription, it is only through the diaries that we are able to capture their immediacy and the brinkmanship involved. They are also invaluable for highlighting Guy Hillier’s role and the way he and Hart were working together in their dealings with other officials, European and Chinese.

At the same time, the Western powers saw China’s defeat in the War as an opportunity for seizing control of territory beyond the treaty ports. As part of this scramble, pressure mounted on the British government to secure sufficient of the mainland immediately north of Hong Kong to provide better security for the Crown Colony. This necessarily entailed removal of the Customs stations positioned along the coastline and, against Hart’s wishes, the CMC were moved unceremoniously ‘bag and baggage’ out of the area. Incensed at the way this was handled, which included significant loss of life, when the local people resisted, the Chinese officials complained that Harry Hillier had not done enough as the Kowloon Commissioner to protect their interests.  Whilst there was plenty of evidence that Harry could not have done more to resist British aggression – in particular, he had argued that the Customs Station could have been re-positioned in Kowloon City – I was interested to see what the diary said about his involvement.

Kowloon c. 1900

Kowloon c. 1900

It was clear from his entries that Hart had supported Harry but, as he wrote on 22 April 1899, ‘if Viceroy will not see Hillier, what are we to do?’(15/1/54/129). On 4 May, he decided there was no alternative and wrote, ‘I am immediately transferring Hillier to Shanghai after 2 leaves & moving King to Kowloon’. By chance, the following day Guy Hillier called and introduced Tom Jackson, the esteemed manager of the Hongkong Bank, and on 7 May, the Jacksons and Guy were amongst Hart’s dinner guests, and, as he afterwards noted, ‘dinner and dance went off exceeding well’ (15/1/54/144).

Whilst these events could have been ominous for Harry Hillier’s career, it is clear that Guy was able to tell Hart that his brother was keen to have a break and thus through this family network, what could have been a difficult situation was smoothed over, with Harry being appointed to the prestigious role of Chief-Secretary to the IG in Shanghai on his return. However, this only took place after the Boxer Uprising, during which Harry was out of the country. Amongst Hart’s papers in the Special Collections is a clutch of letters from well-wishers following the Uprising (in which Hart was at one point reputed to have been killed) and I wondered whether there might be any from Harry. To my delight, there was a letter dated 28 September 1900, sent from Lausanne, where he and the family were spending his leave. Addressed to ‘Sir Robert’, it also captures their relationship and, responding to the news that his leave had been extended by a couple of months, he writes, ‘I should have preferred to have returned to China at the expiry of my original leave. An idle life at home is not so easy to endure when such sterling events are taking place in China’ (15/2/1/4).

It was no easy task to get on well with Hart and secure his confidence and, through these sources, I had been able to measure his relationship with each of the brothers, Walter, Guy and Harry, in terms of both their work and their more intimate lives, and the important part this played in furthering their careers. I had achieved my goal but, before leaving, there was just time to glance briefly at the marvellous photographs in the Collection, many of which reflect Hart’s busy social life. Again, I was lucky.

Garden Party of Sir Robert Hart, ?1906. QUB MS 15.6 Part 9

Garden Party of Sir Robert Hart, ?1906.
QUB MS 15.6 Part 9

Here was a typical photograph of one of Hart’s garden parties. As usual, he is wearing his bowler hat and, further to his left, Guy Hillier is sitting in a cane chair, looking somewhat stern and older than his fifty years. But, by this time, he had completely lost his sight and, an austere man at the best of times, garden parties may not have been his favourite past-time. By this stage, he and Hart had been working together for some twenty years and this shot captures the mix of public and private life in Peking’s small Western milieu.

The Hart papers therefore are a rich source for understanding the day to day dynamics of Sino-British relations during this period, how nuanced that relationship was and how much British officials, such as the Hillier brothers, relied on Hart for advice in their dealings with the Chinese. They also convey the relish with which Hart responded and performed that role.  Painstaking though it is, the task of deciphering the diaries is ultimately rewarding. As the transcripts emerge and they become more accessible, they will provide an invaluable picture of the complexity and sensitivity of the IG and the way in which he was able to exercise such a dominant position in Sino-British relations. Perhaps, when that task is complete, someone will be tempted to embark on the formidable task of writing a comprehensive biography.

Andrew Hillier

May 2016


[2] 9 February 1886. (MS 15/1/31/192)

[1] 25 November 1885. (MS 15/1/31/95)

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‘Shakespeare Lives through Kenneth Branagh on Stage and Screen’ Exhibition

1.Kenneth Branagh in Henry V (1984). Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Kenneth Branagh in Henry V (1984). Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

‘Shakespeare Lives through Kenneth Branagh on Stage and Screen’ is on display in the Queen’s Film Theatre (QFT) Foyer until 31 May 2016.

The exhibition features rarely seen artefacts from the Sir Kenneth Branagh Archive (MS 41) in Special Collections, the McClay Library at Queen’s University Belfast, which illustrate the actor-director’s remarkable Shakespearean career.




Few have done more to celebrate and popularise the work of Shakespeare than actor and director Kenneth Branagh, born in Belfast in December 1960. From his early days at RADA Drama School to his present theatrical work, Branagh’s name has been closely intertwined with that of the Bard. His remarkable – and prolific – career has seen Branagh breathe new life into Shakespeare on stage and screen, and open up the work of the Bard to a global audience.

Henry V                   

Remarkably, Branagh made his debut with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1984 as the leading man in Henry V, directed by Adrian Noble. Aged just 23, he was the youngest Henry V in the company’s history. Branagh undertook extensive research to help his development of the character, even securing a meeting with Prince Charles to better understand the responsibilities and isolation associated with royal life.  Branagh won critical acclaim for his depiction of Henry V as a complex, doubting character and for his clarity in speaking the Shakespearean verse.

3.Kenneth Branagh in Henry V (1984). Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Kenneth Branagh in Henry V (1984). Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

2.Kenneth Branagh in Henry V (1984). Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Kenneth Branagh in Henry V (1984). Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Following his depiction of the young king on stage, Branagh turned his sights to portraying Henry V on the big screen. Confident that Shakespeare’s historical play could be a truly popular film, Branagh determined to not only reprise his role but make his film directorial debut with Henry V. He wrote a script in early 1988, assembled a fine cast including Judi Dench and Derek Jacobi, secured £4.5 million and began filming in October 1988. Contrary to expectation, shooting of the film was finished in seven weeks and under budget. Henry V was released in autumn 1989.

Kenneth Branagh in Henry V (1989). ©Exclusive Media and Park Circus

Kenneth Branagh in Henry V (1989). ©Exclusive Media and Park Circus

A desire to make the play accessible to a wide audience meant that importance was placed on naturalistic acting, clear delivery of the Shakespearean verse, a short running time and strong visual imagery. Box office figures were testimony to the film’s wide popularity. Henry V also won critical acclaim, particularly in the U.S. In fact, Branagh was nominated for both Best Actor and Best Director at the 1990 Academy Awards. Importantly, in earning success with Henry V, Branagh reinvigorated Shakespeare on screen and proved that the Bard’s work could be genuinely popular with a mass audience.

Shakespeare on Stage    

In his opening season with the Royal Shakespeare Company, from 1984 to 1985, Branaghnot only notched up 139 public performances as the leading man in Henry V but had supporting roles in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Hamlet. He therefore showed his versatility in acting in a Shakespearean comedy, tragedy and history play. Branagh did not return to the company until 1992 when he performed as Hamlet, a part he revisited many times during his career. The production utilised a fuller version of the play – giving it a running time of over four hours – and transported the action to an Edwardian setting. The director was Adrian Noble who had also directed Branagh in Henry V. Amazingly, the entire six month run of the play was sold out before the first performance. Box office success was mirrored by the critical reception of the play; in particular, Branagh impressed with his clarity and naturalistic performance.

Joanne Pearce and Kenneth Branagh in Hamlet (1992). ©

Joanne Pearce and Kenneth Branagh in Hamlet (1992). © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

In April 1987, Branagh and fellow actor David Parfitt launched the Renaissance Theatre Company. The title reflected Branagh’s belief that the company represented a rebirth of sorts in British theatre. A fundamental principle underpinning Renaissance was that actors would be directed by fellow actors, promoting a sense of camaraderie and lack of hierarchy within the company. A further aim was to improve the reach and accessibility of Shakespeare. Alongside two contemporary plays, Twelfth Night opened the inaugural season of the company. The Shakespearean comedy, directed by Branagh, played over December 1987 at the Riverside Studios, London. The production – featuring a fine cast including Anton Lesser, Frances Barber and Richard Briers – earned rave reviews and established the credentials of the Renaissance Theatre Company.

9.Kenneth Branagh in Much Ado About Nothing (1993). ©MGM and Park Circus

Kenneth Branagh in Much Ado About Nothing (1993). ©MGM and Park Circus

Branagh cemented the company’s relationship with Shakespeare – and his own association with the Bard – by following Twelfth Night with a touring Shakespeare season, beginning in March 1988, titled Renaissance Shakespeare on the Road. The season featured three Shakespeare plays, each directed by an esteemed actor making his or her directorial debut. Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Judi Dench, featured Branagh as Benedick. As You Like It was directed by Geraldine McEwan, with Branagh as the comedic Touchstone. Finally, Derek Jacobi directed Hamlet with Branagh in the leading role. The national reach of the touring season and the use of actors as directors fulfilled two of the key principles of the company. After a three month run at Birmingham Repertory Studio, the touring season travelled to venues across the U.K. and Ireland, beginning with the Grand Opera House in Branagh’s home town of Belfast. The tour also included a two week run in Denmark, at Kronborg Castle at Elsinore, the famous setting of Hamlet. By the time the tour reached London for a three month run at the Phoenix Theatre, hype about the Shakespeare season was at a peak. Branagh built upon this wave of popularity for Shakespeare by beginning filming Henry V just two days after the end of the nine month touring season.

8.Production photograph, Coriolanus (1992) at Chichester Festival Theatre, Kenneth Branagh as Caius Martius and Iain Glen as Tullus Aufidius. Photographer: Richard Smith. CFT archive held at West Sussex Records Office.

Production photograph, Coriolanus (1992) at Chichester Festival Theatre, Kenneth Branagh as Caius Martius and Iain Glen as Tullus Aufidius. Photographer: Richard Smith. CFT archive held at West Sussex Records Office.

In 1990 Branagh further expanded the reach of Shakespeare when the Renaissance Theatre Company brought King Lear and A Midsummer Night’s Dream on a world tour, starting in Los Angeles. In 1992, to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Renaissance, the company performed Coriolanus at the Chichester Festival. The play, directed by Tim Supple, featured Renaissance stalwarts including Judi Dench and Richard Briers, with Branagh in the title role. Significantly, Coriolanus was to be the company’s final theatre production.

Shakespeare on Screen        

Working both in front of the camera and behind, Branagh has brought a wide range of Shakespeare’s plays to life on the big screen. Branagh followed up his film debut of Henry V with Shakespeare’s classic comedy Much Ado About Nothing.

With a budget of £5.6 million, Much Ado was shot over seven weeks in 1992 on location in Tuscany. Branagh not only directed and acted in the film but also adapted Shakespeare’s text into a screenplay, editing and re-ordering the play to reduce the running time and make the story as accessible as possible. He also assembled an international cast including Keanu Reeves and Denzel Washington that helped make Shakespeare globally marketable. As ever, the emphasis was on a naturalistic style of acting, with the American actors speaking in their own accents. Astonishingly, the film earned over $22.5 million at the American box office when it opened in 1993 and made over $30 million worldwide.

The 1995 screen version of Othello, directed by Oliver Parker, starred Laurence Fishburne as Othello, Irène Jacob as Desdemona, and Kenneth Branagh playing against type as Iago, a villainous character who plants seeds of jealousy in the mind of the title character. Branagh’s portrayal of Iago, which saw him speaking directly to the camera, earned rave reviews.

10.Laurence Fishburne and Kenneth Branagh in Othello (1995). ©Warner and Park Circus

Laurence Fishburne and Kenneth Branagh in Othello (1995). ©Warner and Park Circus

11.Kenneth Branagh in Hamlet (1996). © Warner and Park Circus

Kenneth Branagh in Hamlet (1996). © Warner and Park Circus

Branagh’s 1996 film of Hamlet was truly epic in scale. With a budget of $18 million, it featured large sumptuous sets, the use of Blenheim Palace for exterior shots and a starry cast from both sides of the Atlantic including Derek Jacobi, Julie Christie, Charlton Heston and Billy Crystal. Significantly, Branagh’s Hamlet was also the first film of the Shakespearean tragedy to utilise a full version of the play. With a running time of over four hours, the film was radical for both Shakespeare on screen and cinema in general. Branagh wrote the screenplay, directed and starred in the film, drawing on his previous theatrical performances of Hamlet to bring the title character to life on screen.  The film won critical acclaim and earned Branagh a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 1997 Academy Awards.

For his fourth Shakespeare film as actor-director, Branagh brought one of Shakespeare’s comedic plays – Love’s Labour’s Lost – to life on the big screen in 2000. Branagh converted the play into a musical, incorporating classic songs into the screenplay, and set the action in the late 1930s. Cutting the original text down significantly and assembling a young, international cast including Alicia Silverstone, Branagh made one of Shakespeare’s more obscure plays accessible to a modern audience.

In a fundamental way, Branagh’s films led the charge in the revival of Shakespeare on screen. In fact, Henry V initiated a surge of Shakespeare films in the 1990s including Baz Luhrmann’s exuberantly filmed Romeo and Juliet of 1996.

Kenneth Branagh and Julie Christie in Hamlet (1996). © Warner and Park Circus

Kenneth Branagh and Julie Christie in Hamlet (1996). © Warner and Park Circus


Alongside a wide range of film and television credits – from Harry Potter to Thor – Branagh continues to breathe new life into the work of the Bard.  In 2006 Branagh brought Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It to the big screen. And after an absence of almost a decade Branagh returned to the stage in 2002 to play the title role in Shakespeare’s historical play, Richard III. Directed by Michael Grandage, the play utilised a stripped down set within Sheffield Crucible Theatre. Harking back to the values of the Renaissance Theatre Company, emphasis was placed on lucid speaking of verse and the accessibility of the play. The production was a critical and commercial success, becoming the fastest selling show in the Crucible’s history. Today, Branagh’s rejuvenation of Shakespeare on stage continues apace. In fact, the four hundredth year after Shakespeare’s death aligns with the first season of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, which features two Shakespeare plays. Knighted in 2012 for his services to drama and to the community in Northern Ireland, Kenneth Branagh continues to bring Shakespeare’s plays to life on stage and screen, breaking down perceived barriers to the Bard and making the work of Shakespeare accessible to a bigger audience than ever before.

Text by Rosaleen Hickey, curator of the exhibition ‘Shakespeare Lives through Kenneth Branagh on Stage and Screen’.


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The Art of French Crime Fiction


The Art of French Crime Fiction Display

The Art of French Crime Fiction Display

Our new display, curated by Dr Dominique Jeannerod (School of Modern Languages), features an exhibition devoted to classic French Crime Fiction and Suspense Literature series.

Store Books 2The exhibition showcases some of the 1,500 Crime Fiction books in the French language which have been added to the collections, having recently been donated to the Library by the Paris-based Bibliothèque des Littératures policières (BILIPO) and other partners in the project Visualising European Crime Fiction.


This project,  led by Dr Dominique Jeannerod, together with colleagues in the ICRH Research Group, International Crime Fiction was awarded a grant by the AHRC, as part of the Big Data in the Arts and Humanities Framework (2014-15).

The chief task of the Visualising European Crime Fiction project was, as Dr Jeannerod explains,

Le Mauvals Cap“To develop innovative digital methods with which to bibliographically record (database) and visually present (Graphs, Maps, Dataviz) the innumerable volumes of Crime Fiction published across Europe since the early 20th Century. The aim in developing such new digital instruments was to rethink the significance of popular culture and its dissemination in a globalised world. It was also to reconsider the role of crime fiction in a transnational, cultural and literary context.”

“The present exhibition, based on a small sample of French Store books 3publishers’ series from the 1950’s and 1960’s devoted to Crime Fiction and Spy thrillers gives an idea of the variety and attraction of these mass market publications, and reflects on their iconic cover art”


bookjackets2“Graphic artists such as Aslan, Brantonne, Michel Gourdon and Jef de Wulf are associated with the series to which they contributed thousands of original drawings and to whom they lent a distinctive, immediately recognisable identity. Their work was celebrated by artists such as Jean Cocteau and their popularity usually surpassed that of the authors of the books they illustrated. The endlessly repeated themes and archetypes seen on these covers reveal to us to  what extent these books were active agents in the book coversdissemination of post-war mythologies. This should remind us that these, or very similar images were absorbed and appropriated, by whole populations across Europe, both as commonly available (and disposable) commodities, and as magical objects”


Acknowledgements:                                                                                                            (Dominique Jeannerod)

Many thanks are due to the BILIPO and its director, Catherine Chauchard, as well as to Senior Librarian Samuel Schwiegelhofer, for their unique and indispensable collections and their enthusiasm and knowledge in sharing them. Many thanks also to Stéphane Ménard, for the generous donation of hundreds of vintage volumes from his rich private collection, and to Isabel O’Kelly of the McClay Libraryfor her unfailing support. I am also grateful to Philippe Aurousseau, Didier Poiret, Thierry Gautier, Jacques Chesnais, Federico Pagello, John Thompson, Daniel Magennis, Daniel Finlay, Annika Breining, Markus Schleich, Deirdre Wildy, David Gordon, Bronagh McCrudden and to all the colleagues and partners in the International Crime Fiction Research Group.

The Art of French Crime Fiction

Fuller details of the Crime Fiction books featured in the display can be found below:

Agapit, Marc Le Pays des Mutants (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1971).

Agapit, Marc Phantasmes (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1962).

Agapit, Marc Les Ciseau d’Atropos (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1973).

Agapit, Marc L’Antichambre de l’Au-Delà (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1970).

Barner, Alex Vendu au FBI (Paris: Éditions Galic, 1962).

Becker, Benoît  Dernier Contact (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1955).

Béraud, Mario La Maison Rouge (Paris: Éditions Galic, 1963).

Braun, Maurice-Georges Qu’un Sang Impur (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1957).

Braun, Maurice-Georges La Belle et Satan (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1953).

Bruce, Jean O.S.S. 117 Contre X (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1952).

Certön, Erik J. Un Drame de l’Au-Delà (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1960).

Conty, Jean-Pierre Canal Street (Paris: Presses de la Cité, 1953).

Cousin, Michel L’Enlèvement de Sabine (Paris: Presses de la Cité, 1963).

Dazergues, Max-André Le Chemin des Idoles (Paris: Éditions Galics, 1964).

Didelot, Francis Bignon et les Nuits Blanches (Paris: A. Fayard, 1964).

Duquesne, André Faux Poids et Demi Mesure (Paris: Presses de la Cité, 1961).

Ferny, Claude Sept Coups Au Cœur (Paris: Nouvelles Presses Mondiales, [1950]).

Ferrière, Jean-Pierre Un Diable Sur Mesure (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1965).

Kenny, Paul Coplan Contre-Attaque (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1957).

Léaud, Pierre Taxi Pour L’Échafaud (Givors: A. Martel, n.d.).

Limat, Maurice Crucifie le Hibou (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1961).

Meroy, Martin Un Couteau Dans la Plaie (Paris: Presses internationales, n.d.).

Piguet, Roland L’Épervier Attaque (Paris: Presses noires, 1965.).

Piljean, André Corridor E (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1956).

Piljean, André Péril Sur l’Ouest (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1954).

Quint, Jimmy La Route Infernale (Paris: Presses noires, 1966).

Randa, Peter La Belle Amour (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1967).

Ropp, Mario Plus Facile de Mourir (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1959).

Ropp, Mario Jeu Sans Joie (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1957).

Saint-Moore, Adam Section de Recherches (Paris: Éditions Fleuve noir, 1956).

Sauvage, Guy Concile aux Balkans (Paris: Éditions de l’Arabesque, 1964).

Vlatimo, Roger Le Temps des Rapaces (Paris: Éditions de l’Arabesque, 1965).


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Internship at Special Collections

For our latest blog post, we’re handing over the reins to QUB Medieval History MA Student Mark Brink, who spent two months of last Semester working with the team in Special Collections as part of his Public History Internship Module. A native of New Orleans, Mark gained his BA in History from Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama. As part of his undergraduate course, Mark opted to study for a brief period of time at Queen’s University Belfast.He clearly enjoyed himself during his study abroad stint, opting to return to Queen’s to take his Masters.

Here, he reflects on his time as an intern in Special Collections:

Photograph of MA Medieval and Early Modern History Student Mark Brink

MA Medieval and Early Modern History Student
Mark Brink

“As a part of my coursework for an MA in Medieval History, I was given the option of taking on an internship for seven weeks in which I would learn from experienced professionals working in a pertinent field. After looking at the different options available, I made the choice to spend my seven weeks with the McClay Special Collections and Archives.

On the first day I was given a tour of the facilities. I was shown to my desk where I would be stationed. Then I was given a key card on a lanyard that would allow me to seamlessly pass through any of the more restricted areas. One of these was the book store, which, as the name implies, is where the special collections houses its books. It’s not a massive room, but it is well kept. The room is carefully monitored for temperature to protect its precious contents. Why is everything kept under lock and key in such contained environment? According to the Special Collections library guide:

The books, pamphlets, manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, and maps held in Special Collections are considered to be of lasting research value and include examples of the earliest printed works (incunabula), and books and pamphlets published between the 16th and early 19th centuries (STC and Wing items). In order to preserve the material for future readers these collections are housed in a secure and environmentally controlled setting.

So, while the special collections can seem to be a sequestered, little visited quadrant on the first floor, there is a good reason for it.

Photograph of Special Collections' Store

Special Collections: Store

I became fairly well acquainted with the book store and came to enjoy the wealth of awfully interesting things through which I could browse whenever I had a bit of free time. Of course, there were also occasions when I needed to fetch books for those waiting eagerly to read them. This was a bit tricky at first due to the slightly more complicated sorting system compared to the stacks in the McClay, but it became easier with a bit of practice. Looking through the old books was quite enjoyable and I would have liked to spend more time roving the cool, temperature controlled volumes at my leisure. However, most of my time was spent outside of the book store working on different projects.

Photograph of Special Collections' Reading Room

Special Collections: Reading Room

While one of the McClay Special Collections’ main purposes is safeguarding rare, old, and valuable books, manuscripts, etc., there is a great amount of work involved beyond simply keeping the books in order on the shelves and making it marginally more difficult to access research materials. When new items are acquired, it is often up to the staff to write descriptions, catalogue, transcribe, and translate the items more properly so they can be easily accessed and used by students, professors, and the general public.

Photograph of Scrap Books

Cataloguing Project: French Scapbooks

I spent much of my time working on a set of news clippings which were recently donated by a retired professor. As I was the first person from Special Collections to really delve into these, I was excited by what I could potentially find. All told, there were six main volumes of clippings. Giving them a cursory glance, it wasn’t altogether difficult to figure out their original use. They were clearly marked as “French Literary I-V” and “French Political I” and all of them were already very handily indexed from A to Z with proper corresponding page numbers (for the most part). Based on what I found within the clippings (and with a bit of information from the original donor), it is likely these news clipping collections were meant as class aids or research aids for those studying French at QUB. In order to make these more readily available to those looking for them online, I set out to type out a catalogue for each volume using the already intact indexes as a guide. As of now these catalogues are mostly complete, but I am continuing to work on them a bit more during the coming weeks. In the same vein, I am also working on a RASCAL description for this small collection which would allow researchers to find them via online search.

Pen and Ink sketch of Somerville and Ross

Somerville and Ross

During the course of the day I would also work on various other projects as others asked for my help or as I wanted a change of pace. I especially enjoyed working on a set of letters of correspondence from the Irish author, Edith Somerville, to the English composer, Ethel Smyth. I was lucky enough to read through and work on letters written during the Irish Civil War while Edith Somerville was living near Cork. Because of this, I was able to read about the events from a very spirited (in more ways than one) first-hand account. While Somerville was a straightforward and unabashedly independent person, she also claimed to convene with the dead throughout the letters I examined. She was especially keen on having séances with Violet Ross, her cousin and co-author on numerous books. It seemed as if she was still using these spiritual meetings to ask for Ross’s advice in the writing of current projects. I was able to help a fellow staff member transcribe a number of these letters and then went on to write descriptions of each letter to aid in any future searches for specific topics in the letters.

Photograph of Robert Hart

Robert Hart

On occasion, I would help with the collection of Robert Hart’s diaries and various papers. Hart was a Belfast native and also a key player in trade agreements with China during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As an exciting aside, his house in Peking (Beijing) was destroyed during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, but some of the only things saved from the house before its destruction were his personal diaries. They were indeed important to him, but also of great interest to researchers today due to his descriptions of trade agreements, politics at play, social interactions, etc. Unfortunately, Robert Hart also has some of the very worst handwriting I have ever seen, especially in his later volumes, so it was difficult work. I was able to look through a few folders of his loose papers with another student assistant who discovered quite a sizeable collection of Hart’s poems which is a remarkable and valuable find. I was also able to roughly transcribe and translate one of his diary entries which was written in French which incredibly challenging, but still a fun little project.

Phtograph of St Patrick's Day display

St Patrick’s Day Display

Photograph showing detail from St Patrick's Day Display

St Patrick’s Day Display: Patricii Opuscula

On another note, Special Collections is in charge of the display cabinet on the first floor. Shortly before St. Patrick’s Day, I had the pleasure of taking a turn to put up a display on St. Patrick which was suited to my academic interests as a medievalist. All in all, I was able to gather up around 20 different books and various items which I thought made a fairly passable and attractive collection. I included some of the more important literature on St. Patrick from John Bury, Mario Esposito, etc., but I did have a hand from a staff member who showed me a few older items such as one printed book from 1659 on  the   seven champions of Christendom (Patrick being one of them).

Phtotgraph of Menu from St Patrick's Day Ball

St Patrick’s Day Display: Hart Menu

I was also shown a book from Somerville & Ross, A Patrick’s Day Hunt, and Robert Hart’s invitation to a St. Patrick’s Day Ball in 1901 which included a 20 course menu. Being so topical and in line with some of the more current interests in the special collections, I was very happy to include these as well.

All in all, I am absolutely interested in a future working with history and my time with the McClay Special Collections has been an excellent and rewarding experience on that path. Truly, Special Collections is a safe repository for the old, rare, and valuable, but it takes a lot more work than it may seem to keep up with the collections, acquire new ones, properly catalogue the acquisitions, and make everything manageable and accessible to those wanting to take a curious look or those who need some of these items for their research. But, in any case, I would not have enjoyed this internship nearly as much if not for the staff. They have been able to help guide me in the projects and answer my constant questions for clarification. Across the board, everyone has been incredibly friendly, welcoming, and helpful and I must thank them for creating such an excellent atmosphere amidst the musty manuscripts and rolling shelves of the McClay Special Collections.”

We’d like to thank Mark for writing this account of his internship at Special Collections. It was a real pleasure to have him working alongside us last semester. All on the team at Special Collections and Archives send him their best wishes as he puts the finishing touches on his MA Dissertation ahead of his graduation at Christmas.

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