By Vicky A Price, on 19 February 2020
The Outreach team at UCL Special Collections have spent a great six weeks delivering an after school club to Year 7, 8 and 9 pupils at William Ellis School. Pupils attended in their free time to explore how written texts have been produced through the ages and to learn about some of the ways printing has influenced western society.
Each session involved a hands on art or craft activity, producing manuscripts complete with calligraphy and gold leaf, block prints of historiated initials and lino cut illustrations. We are proud to share the end results of this final task with you – pupils were asked to choose a poem from a selection and to create an image they felt represented the poem in a lino print.
By Marilyn Singer
Hugging you takes some practice.
So I’ll start out with a cactus.
(Poem taken from the Poetry Foundation)
By Joyce Kilmer
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
(Poem taken from the Poetry Foundation)
Extract from The Cloud
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.
(Poem taken from The Poetry Foundation)
To Catch a Fish
By Eloise Greenfield
It takes more than a wish
to catch a fish
you take the hook
you add the bait
and then you wait
you wait you wait
but not a bite
the fish don’t have
so tell them what
good bait you’ve got
and how your bait
can hit the spot
this works a whole
lot better than
if you really
want to catch
(Poem taken from The Poetry Foundation)
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
(Poem taken from The Poetry Foundation)
By Kurt Jameson, on 11 December 2019
One of my first tasks as a project archivist at UCL has been to catalogue the papers of the philosopher and educator Louis Arnaud Reid. Reid became the first Professor of Philosophy at the Institute of Education, and was a strong advocate of the importance of art in education. He retired in 1962, but continued writing and teaching as an emeritus professor right up until his death in 1986 at the age of 90. These papers were donated by his widow Molly.
The first thing that strikes you about the papers of Louis Arnaud Reid is the sheer volume of work. We have his drafts of 48 articles, papers, and books that he wrote. Draft after draft is typed, annotated with notes, and immaculately Tippexed. Here is someone who must have sat at his typewriter for hours on end, day after day. And this went on for decades – Reid published his first article in 1922, and his final book was published in 1986.
This photo of Reid was probably taken around 1940 or 1950. Despite looking very serious here, his correspondence hints at someone who was warm and affectionate. Below is an extract of a letter he wrote to a friend to ask for help in editing one of his books. He finished the letter by signing off:
“I know you’re enormously busy, and am really sorry to make it worse. I do wish we could meet sometimes. If it would save your time I could come to Cambridge; but I think it would probably have to be by train.
‘Thanking you in anticipation’ (as they say)
and very much love (as I say!)
As for Reid’s contribution to the fields of philosophy, education and art – his colleague Tony Dyson summarised his work in an article shortly before Reid’s death:
“What is perhaps most remarkable about Louis Arnaud Reid’s life’s work is its consistency: he was writing about feeling and knowledge in the 1920s – and this is still his major preoccupation. The fact that his ideas have been assimilated and frequently employed – consciously or otherwise – by other apologists for the arts is clear evidence of the effectiveness of his mission. He has provided us with a formidable armoury in defence of the arts in education and, in so doing, he has ‘made philosophy live’ for very, very many, far beyond the immediate circle of his students and colleagues.”
Article in ‘Alumnis, The Review of the Institute of Education Society’ (1985)
Reid’s friend and peer Harold Osborne has also written that Reid was “clear that the central purpose of education should be the enrichment and development of the personality as a whole, and this must include the enhancement and honing of that power of direct apprehension which can never be wholly accommodated within verbal propositions” (quoted in Reid’s obituary in The Journal of Art & Design Education, written by Sheila Paine).
Amongst his papers, Reid has also retained material from his seminars at the IOE. Reid’s teaching methods with students are demonstrated here in his typed seminar questions for his students, and students’ written reports from each seminar group discussion have also been kept. His love of art is also clear from two sketchbooks which include Reid’s sketches in watercolour, crayon, and pencil, including the picture below:
However, his self-written bio for the department at the IOE includes the note:
“Nearly killed myself in the past trying to paint. Have vague dreams of returning to it; but apprehensive of effects!”
Overall, between the many typed drafts of articles and book chapters, the notes from his taught seminars at the IOE, and Reid’s own handwritten notes, there is likely to be much of interest here to a researcher of the philosophy of art and education, and how the two should be combined.
After writing this blog, I later catalogued a small, additional amount of ‘oversize’ material that had been included in Reid’s papers and stored separately, and its content was a little unexpected. It consisted mainly of photographs and pupils’ schoolwork from the Romford County High School for Girls, dating from 1907 to about 1946. Louis Arnaud Reid was never a teacher or a pupil at this school, and would have been only 12 years old in 1907. How, then, did he come to possess this material?
Romford County High School for Girls was founded in 1906 by Frances Bardsley. The school today is known as The Frances Bardsley Academy for Girls, and its website provides some background on her, along with some photographs:
Frances Bardsley graduated from London University in 1895 and then trained to be a teacher at the Cambridge Training College. At this time, when women had very limited opportunities, it would have been quite rare for a woman to achieve this level of academic education, and to pursue this career path.
Looking through these papers, you get a sense of the activities carried out at the school, under Bardsley’s time there. Decorated ‘Form Book’ folders contain colourful drawings and paintings, poems, and short stories which are often annotated with sketches, all created by the pupils. Programmes of school events reveal festival days at the school, which included activities such as drama, tableaux, choir singing, ‘moving pictures’, recitations, written articles, band performances, cooking, drawing, flower pressing, and dress making. Prizes were given in each category, and guests were sometimes invited, for example Elizabeth Hughes (Bardsley’s former mentor at the Cambridge Training College) and Sophia Bryant (the first woman in Britain to earn a science doctorate).
It seems fairly clear that these papers once belonged to Frances Bardsley. It is not at all clear how they came to be in Louis Arnaud Reid’s possession, however he may have acquired and kept them due to the way they vividly demonstrate how art, poetry, drama, music, and fun can be used in education. Frances Bardlsey lived until 1952 (aged 80), at which point Reid had already been teaching at the IOE for five years, so it is possible that the two met at some point to discuss their ideas and experiences regarding education and the arts.
The catalogue for Louis Arnaud Reid’s papers (including the material from the Romford County High School for Girls) can be viewed online here.
By Helen F Biggs, on 28 November 2019
How do you make a library? In our current exhibition in UCL’s Main Library, we suggest that all it takes is three basic ingredients: books; somewhere to keep the books; and people to read and look after the books. Nice and easy… right?
Of course, From Small Library Beginnings: A brief history of UCL Library Services very quickly shows us that it’s not that simple. Tracing UCL’s libraries back to the start of UCL itself, we find that a lack of funding meant that the planned Great Library was never built, and the very first library was named instead the Small Library – a diminutive start for a university library service that today supports over 40,000 students.
Buildings need to be built: it shouldn’t be surprising that they’re occasionally difficult to come by. But even at a university, people can be in short supply, too. Certainly, the library doesn’t seem to have ever lacked for users, and one never has to look far to see traces of past borrowers in the form of notes scribbled in the margins of textbooks*. However, staffing a library can be a different matter, and for some 40 years, until 1871, UCL dispensed with the role of Librarian entirely, employing only an assistant – sometimes. A lack of funding was once more to blame.That only leaves books. Here, it seems, UCL has been more fortunate. From the beginning a large number of books were donated, bequeathed, gifted and even bought, so while they may not have had a home or been well looked after, they were at least available to be read…
…Until the London Blitz, anyway. The Second World War saw the most precious books and manuscripts in the library’s collections sent to the National Library of Wales for safekeeping. Of those left behind, an estimated 100,000 were lost or damaged when the university was hit during a 1940 air raid.
We’ve been careful to label the exhibition as a ‘brief’ history, and it would certainly be difficult to present a full narrative of the service’s 17 sites and almost 200 years of existence in just one display. But you’ll still find plenty of fascinating stories here: a library bell made from 17th Century parts; the student life of famed librarian S. R. Ranganathan; the rise and fall of school libraries, and the impact of this on information literacy at universities.
For more on these stories and the items that tell them, download the exhibition catalogue, which includes an introduction by Anne Welsh from UCL’s own Department of Information Studies.
From Small Library Beginnings runs until Friday, 13 December in UCL Main Library, and is open to the public on weekdays, 9.30am-5pm.
*Marginalia can be fascinating and tell us a great deal about a book’s use and its previous owners. That being said, please don’t write in your library books.
By Tabitha Tuckett, on 22 November 2019
Our first UCL Special Collections Visiting Fellow, Adrian Chapman (Florida State University London Centre), writes below about the research that arose from his fellowship with us during the summer of 2019, working on our Small Press Collections.
Consider the following elements. R. D. Laing, a radical Scottish psychiatrist who lived from 1927 to 1989. A Neolithic stone circle. A flying saucer. And The Rolling Stones.
What could they possibly have in common? There doesn’t seem much, or indeed anything at all, that links them.
But they’re all brought together on a front cover of International Times, a London-based underground press publication. The 59th issue of IT (as the paper was known), is from July 4th, 1969.
Let’s try to make sense of these apparently unrelated elements. Here they are on the cover:
The photo of hippies and gowned pagans at Stonehenge referred readers back to the Summer Solstice, a couple of weeks before the issue’s publication. The image reveals an abiding underground interest in the ancient and esoteric. In IT this preoccupation is represented by the writing of John Michel (someone who in his later years wrote a column for The Oldie in which he raged against decimalized currency and other supposed horrors of the contemporary world).
R. D. Laing’s name is on the lower level of the UFO but is difficult to read. A close-up of the saucer will be easier on your eyes:
You can also read the following words, looping out of the saucer to the right of the craft: ‘Coming to the park? Saturday 5th July. See page 23. See you there.’ No further details are given (or required). IT could safely assume its readership needed nothing more. The reference is to a free concert (in Hyde Park) headlined by The Rolling Stones. At the gig, Mick Jagger read an extract of Shelley’s poem ‘Adonais’ (his elegy for Keats) in remembrance of the recently deceased Stones’ founding member Brian Jones. Inside IT 59 is an interview with Jagger. Music, of course, was central to the underground scene.
I came across this issue of IT when poring over UCL’s excellent collection of underground publications from the 1960s and 1970s. As the college’s 2019 Special Collections Research Fellow, I began work in the Special Collections room by searching for evidence of R. D. Laing’s place in the underground or ‘counter-culture.’ That meant carefully sorting through box after box of old newspapers and magazines: painstaking work. When I delicately removed a yellowing and flaky newspaper and saw a flying saucer with Laing’s name on it, I was intrigued.
You may not be familiar with Laing. In the 1960s and 70s, he was a public intellectual and celebrity, the most well-known therapist in the world: the Mick Jagger of psychiatry. His books were on the shelves of students, hippies and radicals on both sides of the Atlantic. Born in Glasgow, where he studied Medicine, he moved to London in 1956 to train in psychoanalysis. He went on to become a widely selling Penguin author. His The Divided Self (1960) impressed Jean-Paul Sartre so much that the French philosopher remarked that existentialism had found its Freud. Laing’s later books, The Politics of Experience (1967) and Knots (1970), sold particularly well.
His work critiqued psychiatry for treating patients, especially schizophrenics, as objects or bundles of symptoms rather than people in need of companionship. He called for greater acceptance of one’s own and others’ eccentricities. Society had become dull and unadventurous, he believed, requiring increasing conformity. He promoted experimental lifestyles, alternative education and consciousness expansion.
These views placed him at the heart of the counter-culture, which rejected much of what passed for convention and sought (in the words of Jim Morrison) to ‘Break on through to the other side.’ Laing’s celebrity extended across Europe and over to the United States. In Autumn 1972, he toured the US college lecture circuit and addressed packed-out auditoriums on a gruelling coast-to-coast tour.
As I delved deeper into UCL’s underground press holdings, I found more about Laing in the 1960s and 70s papers and magazines. There were features, interviews and advertisements for books and events. Laing and his colleagues can be found quite frequently in the main UK underground publications: IT, Oz, Friends (later Frendz) and Ink.
These publications reflected, and helped form, a youth culture opposed to mainstream values. I found a remarkably wide range of topics—drugs, police corruption, housing, sex and sexuality, racism, ecology, food and music. Politics and international affairs, too. Plus material on flying saucers, the occult, ancient archaeology and mental health. It’s difficult to conceive of a periodical today having such a surprisingly broad range. Laing was part of the curious mish-mash of ideas, groups and interests that constituted the UK underground in the 1960s and at the start of the 70s.
Long before Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, underground publications brought people together and spread news beyond the mainstream. International Times was the UK underground’s first, and longest lasting, regular publication, beginning in 1966 and running up until 1974 (and on and off since then all the way up to the present). To people working on the paper, it was known as IT, and the IT logo was enough on issue 59 to identify the publication for readers. Along with the logo on the cover, there’s the IT girl (as she was known). She was intended as a playful reference to the paper’s title. Who better to use as an emblem than Clara Bow, the silent movie actress and original ‘It Girl’ who starred in a 1927 movie entitled It? Either through accident or design, though, the woman who ended up on the cover was not Bow but Theda Bara, another silent movie queen, renowned for her vampish roles.
In 1966, on the paper’s very first front cover, three questions appeared beneath the IT logo and the IT girl: ‘Who us? What us? Why us?’ The questions opened a mood of self-examination, not only about the nature of the paper but also about the nature of the UK underground, that would preoccupy the paper throughout its often-fractious history.
But the magazine’s 59th issue gave an answer to quite what IT was. If you look again at the image of the flying saucer, you’ll see a cigar-shaped form out of which come zig-zags looking like radio signals. What, we might ask, is the saucer broadcasting? Two words emerge: ‘INSANITY TIMES.’ We can also find ‘Midsummer Madness Issue’ written on the side of the saucer’s upper level. The issue is principally concerned with mental illness.
What could that possibly have to do with a UFO? And why would underground magazines be interested at all in flying saucers? In the age of Apollo and the USA-USSR space race, underground publications cared little for the superpowers’ rocket missions. But there was a sustained preoccupation—albeit one not shared by everyone identifying with the underground—with flying saucers.
At Oz magazine, alongside IT the leading organ of the London underground, interest in UFOs came from the Australian psychedelic artist, Martin Sharp. He edited Oz 9 (February 1968) and put a saucer on the cover:
In the magazine, Sharp also included a six-page UFO supplement. One page before it comes a full-page, very psychedelic Sharp illustration. And there is a Laing connection here. The illustration is based on a sentence of Laing’s (from his prose poem The Bird of Paradise): ‘If I could turn you on, if I could drive you out of your wretched mind, if I could tell you I would let you know.’
This artwork takes the reader deep into inner space. Writing in his 1967 text, The Politics of Experience, a book that became a campus bestseller, Laing maintained that voyaging into inner space, even to the extent of psychosis (which, he believed, could be a natural healing process) could for some people be a route out of mental ill-being and into lives of greater freedom and authenticity.
For sure, there were people in the underground who believed in aliens (and government cover ups). But we can also read ‘underground UFOs’ as metaphors for the exploration of inner space. Hallucinogenic drugs provided a way of voyaging through this terrain. But so too did Laing’s idea of a ‘mad voyage’, an exploration of one’s self to the point of madness, ending (hopefully) in a ‘re-birth.’ It makes sense, then, that Laing’s name is on the IT 59 saucer.
But although the issue gives us Laing ‘on the same page’ or the same ‘wavelength’ as flying saucers, Stonehenge and The Rolling Stones, we should not assume that Laing himself shared such fascinations. While he was a source of inspiration to rock musicians (as I’ve explored in an article for the Wellcome Collection), as a classically trained pianist, he probably preferred Bach to The Stones. I have no idea what he thought of stone circles, but to my knowledge he had no interest whatsoever in UFOs.
Inside IT 59 there is an interview with him, and seven photographs of the doctor along with one of him and his interviewer, Felix Scorpio. Deemed worthy of eight photos, we can assume that Laing was someone IT readers very much wanted to see. I found myself most curious about the photo introducing the interview.
Elegant in a white shirt and black tie, and with his hair carefully combed, Laing looks back over his left shoulder at Scorpio, long-haired and wearing a casual jacket. Laing has two fingers of one hand on a sheet of paper while he writes with his other hand. You can see that he is very much the ‘straight’ doctor in his consulting room with a patient.
We can assume that the photo was ‘staged.’ But it’s interesting to think of what the image ‘says.’ Let’s imagine what Laing might be writing, then. While he avoided diagnostic categories and tended not to write prescriptions, the picture makes me think that here the doctor is scribbling diagnostic notes or perhaps scratching out a prescription. In the context of IT and its preoccupation with its own nature, plus its reflexive concern with the underground’s character, perhaps the good doctor is making notes to help him diagnose the underground. Or perhaps he’s writing a prescription to improve its health.
The interview itself is one that could never have appeared in a mainstream publication. It contains too much swearing, for one thing. And Scorpio moves between the stance of a conventional interviewer and the position of a former patient reflecting upon his breakdown and hospitalisation. He smoked pot in the hospital toilets and this greatly improved his condition, he tells Laing, who avers that cannabis and that psychedelics have their place in mental illness treatment.
‘Insanity Times’ contains more about mental illness. The longest article is about Georg Groddeck (1896-1934), a Swiss-German doctor who wrote The Book of the It and strongly influenced Sigmund Freud. Groddeck argued that a mysterious force, ‘It’, forges our mental and physical condition. Given IT’s self-reflexive stance, it was very much in the paper’s character to devote significant space to an examination of someone who wrote a text entitled The Book of the It. The long article makes use of quotations from Laing (and others including Nietzsche, Kahlil Gibran and Jimi Hendrix) to help IT readers make sense of Groddeck’s work.
Two more pieces in the issue show the influence of Laing. An article about a new mutual support group, People Not Psychiatry, presents mentally disturbed people in a very Laingian fashion as members of the resistance against conformity. There’s also a first-person account of breakdown by someone writing under the name of ‘Alan.’ An introduction to the article tells us that although he’s now able to ‘cope’, Alan had not been able to fully carry out his ‘trip.’ Madness as a trip: very countercultural and very Laingian.
That Laing was the counterculture’s favourite psychiatrist is not news. But my close examination of the underground press has allowed me to investigate key historical sources and start addressing Laing’s place in the underground in detail. Sorting through dusty and fragile copies of IT in the UCL Special Collections room, how fortunate I was to come across number 59 from June 1969. The issue provides strong graphic and verbal evidence of how Laing was taken up by the UK underground.
This article comes out of a research fellowship at UCL Special Collections. Thanks to the staff at UCL Special Collections for their aid in finding materials in the Small Press collection.
Thanks also to the Martin Sharp Trust for permission to use images from Oz magazine.
By Ibolya Jurinka, on 21 November 2019
My name is Ibolya Jurinka. I am spending 3 months in UCL Special Collections as an Erasmus+ intern. Erasmus+ is not only a student exchange programme; it also provides overseas opportunities for all employees wishing to gain practical learning experiences from partner organisations in higher education.
I come from Hungary. I have been working as a librarian at the University Library and Archives of the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE).
I catalogue journals, especially retrospective cataloguing. I mostly work with materials from 19-20th century, but I have also catalogued periodicals from 17-18th century and also from the 21st century. This summer I catalogued the oldest journals of our library with one of my specialist rare-book colleagues. These are from the 16th century:
I like this work and find it interesting, so wanted to gain more experience in this area abroad. This autumn I am cataloguing Little Magazines here at UCL Special Collections, and I have organized an exhibition about the most interesting magazines.
Little Magazines Collection
Basic information about Little Magazines
(source: SOAR, Geoffrey: Little Magazines at University College London)
‘Little Magazines are those that publish creative, often innovative work, with little or no regard for commercial gain. They sometimes have very small print runs and may last for relatively few issues. Most of them are from 1960s-1970s. The library of University College London started to collect Little Magazines from 1964’. It is a subsection of Small Press Collection.
Most of the Little Magazines are literary journals; they focus especially on modern, 20th century poetry and prose.
We can find colourful art magazines too in the Little Magazines Collection:
Cataloguing of Little Magazines
Cataloguing of little magazines is hard, because:
- volume numbers and dates are often absent;
- it is often hard to tell if a magazine is current or not;
- many are published irregularly and often at widely spaced intervals;
- many do not appear in official current bibliographies;
- they are often visual and it is hard to identify the title.
Visual Poetry in the Little Magazines exhibition, Main Library Donaldson stairs
Some of the Little Magazines contain visual and concrete poetry. This type of poetry appeared in the 20th century and became very popular. The exhibition focuses on little magazines containing visual poetry, whose title begins with the letter ‘A’. If you are interested in this exhibition, you can visit it from 24th October 2019 to 11th of December 2019 in the Main Library, either side of the stairs to the Donaldson Library. For more information, see the leaflets next to the exhibition cases.