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From matzo balls to Christmas pudding: the Jewish Cookery Book (1895)

By Erika Delbecque, on 22 April 2021

Dishes you would expect to find in a book entitled Jewish Cookery Book probably do not include jam roly-poly, shepherd’s pie and Cornish pasties. Yet, these traditional British recipes are all listed in this curious cookery book, which was recently acquired for UCL Special Collections.

A cookery curriculum for Jewish school children in London

A picture of the cover of the book

M.A.S. Tattersall, Jewish Cookery Book, compiled for use in the cookery centres under the school board for London (London: Wertheimer, Leah & Co, 1895)

The Jewish Cookery Book, published in 1895, was written by Miss M.A.S. Tattersall, about whom little is known other than that she worked as the superintendent of cookery for the School Board for London. It was compiled for use in teaching cookery to Jewish pupils in schools across London. Miss Tattersall, who was presumably not Jewish herself, asked a “Jewish lady” to revise her draft to ensure that it met Jewish dietary requirements.

That lady is likely to have been Rachel Adler, who writes in a foreword to the work that she believes that the included recipes are “are in full accordance with the requirements of our dietary code”. She was the wife of rabbi Hermann Adler, chairman of the Jews’ College, which incidentally had links to what was then University College: at the time of Adler’s chairmanship, Jews’ College was located in Tavistock Square near University College, so that students could combine their religious studies with an academic degree course from the University of London (LSJS).

Kosher British cuisine

The Jewish Cookery Book presents a curriculum consisting of two courses, through which the student progressed by learning to cook increasingly complex dishes. Students move on from boiling eggs and making vegetable soup in the very first lesson to stewed veal with forcemeat balls by the end of the second course. The work includes standard British fare that has been adapted to meet the requirement for kosher food (the introductory section includes instructions on “koshering meat, poultry, etc.”), as well a small number of recipes for Passover dishes such as matzo balls and sassafras, a drink made of liquorice and aniseed.

A picture of two pages with recipes

Recipes including jam roly-poly and pea soup

As such, despite its title, the curriculum set out by this book essentially offered Jewish pupils in London an education in English cooking. It was part of a spate of cookery books in the late nineteenth century aimed at the rapidly increasing Jewish immigrant communities in London. The implicit aim of books such as Jewish Cookery Book was to “anglicise and integrate” these communities into British society, which explains the inclusion of, of all things, a recipe for a Christmas pudding in what purports to be a Jewish cookery book (Gerson, p. 303).

Selected by a student book collector

A picture of the section containing Passover recipes

Recipes for Passover dishes

The work joins several other cookery books in our Jewish and Hebrew collections, including a copy of the Jewish Manual, published in 1846, which is regarded as the first Anglo-Jewish cookery book. This new acquisition for our collections was selected by Alexandra Plane, the winner of last year’s Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize. It struck her as an “interesting as an example of assimilation of British and Jewish cultures”.

As well as the opportunity to work together with UCL Special Collection staff to select an item for the collections, the winner of the Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize receives £600 and the opportunity to give an online talk on his or her collection as part of the UCL Special Collections events programme. We are accepting submissions for this year’s Prize until 30th April 2021. For further details, please visit our page for applicants.

The Jewish Cookery Book can be consulted in our reading room. If this blog post has inspired you to try some of Miss Tattersall’s recipes, a digitised copy from the University of Leeds Library is available here.

Further reading

David, Keren (2019). Miss Tattersall’s guide for the Jewish cooks of 1895, The Jewish Chronicle, https://www.thejc.com/lifestyle/food/a-%EF%AC%82avour-of-haimish-history-from-an-antique-cookery-book-1.493119 (accessed 22 April 2021)

Gerson, Jane (2010) From Bola d’Amour to the Ultimate Cheesecake: 150 Years of Anglo-Jewish Cookery Writing, Jewish Culture and History, 12:1-2, 297-316, DOI: 10.1080/1462169X.2010.10512156

LSJS (2018) About LSJS: A Brief History, https://www.lsjs.ac.uk/about-lsjs.php (accessed 22 April 2021)

Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize: Collecting with Intention

By Sarah S Pipkin, on 12 April 2021

The Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize is an opportunity to celebrate student collectors and the diverse collections they build and nurture. Last year we wrote about how you can be a student book collector without even realising it. But what is the difference between a book collector and someone who just owns a lot of books? For us, and the judges on the Book Collecting Prize panel, the difference is collecting with intention.

What is Collecting with Intention?

Collecting anything is about building a collection of material around a common theme for a specific purpose. You could be collecting because you really love the subject, author or artist. Or it might be about raising awareness or preserving a history you believe is important. But it becomes a ‘collection’ when it forms a cohesive whole. Think of books or items that if you would give away as a unit rather than one item at a time.

The intention behind your collection can be academic or it can just be something that you are passionate about. Some of last year’s finalists collected in areas that overlapped with their studies, while the 2020 winner submitted a collection of books she had since her childhood. You can also submit material such as letters, postcards, and comic books.

It’s all well and good talking about this in the abstract, but what exactly does an intentional collection look like? Let’s look at some examples:

Vicky’s Collection of Music for the French Horn

Potential Collection Title: Milestones for a Music Student

Vicky, our Head of Outreach, has a collection of sheet music for the French horn. Her sheet music cover different milestones of a student’s journey to learning how to play the instrument. The music was primarily bought when she was learning the instrument herself as a child. None of the music in the collection are particularly rare, but some of them are now out of print.

Selected items from Vicky's music collection

Selection of sheet music from Vicky’s French Horn collection.

When Vicky started the collection, it was music that she needed to proceed to the next milestone of learning music. It wasn’t really a collection at the time – it was just the assigned sheet music for learning the French horn. However, over time she filled her books with annotations that documents her journey as a musician. This includes names of music teachers, recitals and more. They now serve as a history of her progress as a music student. Once she finished her studies, she kept the collection as a single unit. They have a certain amount of sentimental value – they represent the journey she took when learning the French Horn and remind her of the teachers and concerts that helped her along that journey. But it also represents what the musical journey of most French horn players – the music pieces that she has are very popular amongst people learning the French Horn and become more technically difficult over time. If she was to give the collection away, she’d give it to a music student at the beginning of their learning journey as, in theory, they then wouldn’t need to buy another piece of music until they finish their studies. But it’s also a collection that’s still in use. Vicky returns to old music to practice her skills and finds that the music she learned years ago is still challenging for different reasons. Why she isn’t actively adding to the collection, it serves as a physical representation of a learning journey.

Notations inside music book

Notations inside of one of Vicky’s music books.

What does this mean for you, a potential applicant to the Anthony Davis Book Prize? Books that you may have purchased over the course of learning something new, but then changed in significance to you overtime, may be a great thing to submit to the Book Prize. When looking at your collection, try asking yourself the following questions:

  • What does this collection represent to you?
  • What about it tells a story that I think is important?
  • What about my relationship to these items has changed that makes me think of them as a cohesive whole?

Sarah’s collection of modern science fiction and fantasy written by women

Potential Collection Title: Imagined Feminist Futures

I collect science fiction and fantasy novels written by women. These are primarily books published in the past five years, but I am also actively seeking earlier works. A few years ago I realised that despite the fact that I love the science fiction and fantasy genre, almost all of the authors I’ve read were men and the authors I had on my shelves were entirely men. So, I decided to change that by intentionally reading and buying science fiction and fantasy books authored by women. It started out as just a reading project – I read primarily library books or ebooks. But as I realised how many authors I had been ignoring, my purchasing patterns started changing as well. The moment I started seeing it as an intentional collection was when I bought a special edition of the collected Binti novellas – a series of novellas that had initially been published online but were re-issued in a physical format.

Selection of books from Sarah's collection

Selection of books from Sarah’s science fiction and fantasy collection.

As my collection has grown, it has become a reference library for suggesting authors to friends who are also looking at expanding the authors they read. It now serves as a reference library for myself and other people in my social circle. I also am more likely to buy a book by an author that I haven’t read if I believe it will fill a gap in my collection. While my collection is also dependant on the books I enjoy – part of it has been regifted to friends when I didn’t enjoy the story – there is a core set of books that I would be very reluctant to part with and serve as a representation of women’s contributions to the genre.

Book cover of Binit Collected Novellas

Binti: The Complete Trilogy. While tracking down this edition, I started to see my books as a collection.

If you, like me, started a collection to fill a knowledge gap or encourage better buying habits, these questions might help you think a bit more deeply about your own collection:

  • Why do you buy the books you buy (beyond them being required reading)?
  • Why do you buy particular editions?
  • What have you learned from building your collection?

Final Thoughts

Even though Vicky and I both collect printed material, your collection doesn’t have to be limited to printed books or sheet music. Instead, it can be a collection of letters or diaries, postcards or greeting cards. The items you collect do not have to be old or historically valuable – modern material is welcome. What we want to see in applications to the Anthony Davis Book Prize is intention and purpose. If you can tell us why these items serve as a cohesive whole and the story they tell, then you’ll be the ideal applicant to the Book Prize.

 

We are now accepting applications for the 2021 Anthony Davis Book Prize! The prize is open to all students at a London based university and applications close on 30 April 2021. For more information, visit our main page for the Anthony Davis Book Prize.

Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize: Books that built a zoo

By Sarah S Pipkin, on 16 March 2021

The 2020 winner of the Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize, Alexandra Plane, has written about her book collection: ‘Books that built a zoo.’

The collection which I entered for the Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize brings together various editions of books by the naturalist Gerald Durrell, printed from the 1950s to the 2000s. Durrell was a pioneer of animal conservation who believed that zoos should prioritise conservation and education rather than entertainment and profits. He needed money to realise his vision, and he raised it by writing. His books proved enormously popular—particularly his humorous accounts of his childhood in Corfu, which you might have seen adapted for TV as The Durrells. However, he did not actually enjoy writing; it was a means to an end. That end was the foundation of Jersey Zoo in the Channel Islands, which continues to be a leading organisation in animal conservation today.

Image of books from the collection 'books that built a zoo'

Selection of books from Plane’s book collection.

You might be thinking that this is an odd choice for a book collection—why collect mass-market books which aren’t particularly old or rare? Why collect books by a reluctant, lowbrow author rather than his brother, the celebrated novelist Lawrence Durrell? In truth, these questions did not trouble me when I first started buying Durrell’s works. This started out as an accidental collection. By the time I discovered Durrell’s writing, many of his books had gone out of print. I began buying them simply because I wanted to read them, not out of any lofty ambitions to be a collector.

It was only later that I began to comprehend the significance and interest books have as physical objects. For example, at the back of my early mass-market paperbacks, Durrell had placed requests for donations from readers to support the work of Jersey Zoo. The evolution of these advertisements over the years reveals how vital the publication of the books was to the foundation and success of the zoo, the first of its kind in the world. In the pre-internet era, these seemingly unimportant paperbacks were able to physically convey Durrell’s appeals for aid into the hands of readers across the globe.

Applying for the prize gave me an opportunity to look anew at my bookshelf. Most of my Durrell books only cost a few pounds, but I realised that this does not mean that they are unworthy of being described as a ‘collection’. Presenting my books to the panel (made up of Anthony Davis himself as well as representatives of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association, the Bibliographical Society, the Senate House Library, and UCL Special Collections) was a wonderful experience which enabled me to further expand my understanding of what it means to be a book collector.

I have since completed an MA dissertation on a nineteenth-century atlas collector, and I have just started a PhD on the library of King James VI and I. The reflective nature of the prize’s application process enabled me to tie together my own experiences of collecting with my academic work. Many of the questions I discussed with the interview panel continue to resonate in my research and book-buying, whether I’m rooting through an Oxfam bookshop or studying sixteenth-century royal libraries. If you are a student at a London university with a collection of books which you are passionate about, I would urge you to apply for this year’s prize. You might not identify with the label of ‘book collector’ now, but you may be surprised to discover that it does in fact apply to you, too!

Applications for the 2021 Anthony Davis Book Prize are open! The prize is open to all students at a London based university and applications close on 30 April 2021. For more information, visit our main page for the Anthony Davis Book Prize.

The Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize is now open for applications

By Erika Delbecque, on 9 February 2021

Calling all budding book collectors studying at London universities! Would you like to win a £600 cash prize to grow your collection, a chance to present your collection to an international online audience and the opportunity to work with library and archive staff to select an item for UCL Special Collections? The 2021 Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize is now open for applications.A student studying an item from UCL Special Collections

To many, the term book collection conjures up the image of shelves groaning under the weight of century-old leather-bound volumes, but that is not what this prize requires. The size, age and the financial value of your collection are irrelevant, because we expect these collections to be embryonic. Queer comics, debut Chinese poetry, books by Black British publishers, post-war architectural books, and Slovakian Beat poetry; this selection of themes from the shortlist for last year’s Prize gives a flavour of the broad spectrum that the Prize covers.

Your collection should consist of at least eight printed and/or manuscript items that reflect a common theme. It’s worth noting that despite its name, the Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize is not only restricted to books – other paper items such as collections of sheet music, manuscripts, magazines, booklets, and other ephemera are all admissible for the Prize. For more inspiration, have a look at our blog post explaining how you can put a collection together.

To apply, you need to submit an essay of not more than 500 words explaining the coherence and interest of your collection and why and how it was assembled, a list of items in the collection, and a list of five items that you would like to add to their collection. You can find full details and an application form here. The deadline for applications is 30th of April 2021. Good luck!

The New Curators Project is Open for Applications!

By Vicky A Price, on 18 January 2021

The New Curators Project is a new programme by UCL Special Collections and Newham Heritage Month. It will offer 10 young people in East London the chance to develop the skills and experience needed to start a career in the cultural heritage sector.

 

UPDATE: The application deadline has been EXTENDED to midnight on 5th March 2021.  If you’d still like to apply, please do!

 

What will the project entail?

Successful applicants will receive training from industry experts in key areas such as carrying out historical research, creating an exhibition and engaging with cultural heritage audiences. Participants will also work together to create an exhibition for Newham Heritage Month. Using historical material from UCL Special Collections and the Archives and Local Studies Library in Stratford, the exhibition will be an opportunity for participants to gain real life curation experience for a public heritage festival audience.

We expect the entire project to take place online, with the possibility of face to face sessions towards the end of the project (this will depend on national and local restrictions.  Any face to face activity that does take place with be compliant with government guidelines).

Who can apply?

Applications are open to people who:

  • Are aged 18 to 24 at the time of making their application.
  • Are living, studying or working in Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.
  • Are not a university graduate.
  • Have less than 6 months paid experience in the cultural heritage sector.

As this project is a part of Newham Heritage Month, there are 5 places available to individuals who live, work or study in the borough of Newham. The remaining 5 places are available to those who live, work or study in Tower Hamlets, Hackney or Waltham Forest.

When is it happening?

Application close midnight on 12th February 2021.  There will be two online sessions per week, the first will be during the week of 1st March 2021 (date and time to be agreed with participants).  The final week of activity will be the week of 24th May 2021.

What’s in it for me?

We will be providing training in essential skills for working in the cultural heritage field, including:

  • How to carry out historical research.
  • How to use an archive.
  • How to create an exhibition.
  • Presentation and public speaking skills.

We are also offering a £200 bursary, paid in instalments, to support participants in attending as many of the workshops as possible.

Do I need to have any specific A Levels or GCSEs?

Absolutely not. We want to recruit participants who have a passion for local history, regardless of their qualifications.

What is Cultural Heritage?

The cultural heritage field is an area of work focused on preserving history and culture and making it available to the general public. Among other things, it includes:

  • Museums.
  • Arts organisations and charities.
  • Libraries and Archives.
  • Historic Buildings and heritage sites.
  • Archaeology.
  • Conservation.

How do I apply?

You can apply online via our online form. If you have difficulty using the form, please send us an email and we can find an alternative way for you to apply.

The due date for the application has been extended to midnight on 5th March 2021.  We aim to reply to applicants by 5pm on 8th March 2021.

A student looks for resources in a library. Shelves laden with colourful books line the edges of the photograph as she reads a book.

Among other skills, The New Curators Project will train participants in carrying out research, creating exhibitions and public speaking.

Questions?

You can send us an email at: library.spec.coll.ed@ucl.ac.uk.
Or, if you’d prefer to give us a call, you can call Vicky Price, Head of Outreach, on 07741671329.

If you think this project is a good fit for you, apply now!

The Foundation for Future London logo The logo for Newham Heritage Month