Historic #gymspiration from the newspaper archive!

Posted on January 11th, 2016 by Violet

So you’re all set for your morning jog when suddenly you realise that it’s raining. It’s getting cold. You can’t find your trainers and you forgot to charge your iPod. Thinking of giving up and crawling back under the sheets for a few extra minutes in dreamland?

Well stop right there!

We’ve had a look in the newspapers for our favourite pictures of gymnasiums through the ages, guaranteed to get you back up and running!

Western Morning News - Friday 18 November 1938  © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Western Morning News – Friday 18 November 1938 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Wednesday 21 September 1938 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette – Wednesday 21 September 1938 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Manchester Evening News - Thursday 23 May 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Manchester Evening News – Thursday 23 May 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Monday 31 August 1953 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail – Monday 31 August 1953 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Dundee Evening Telegraph - Saturday 07 January 1950 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Dundee Evening Telegraph – Saturday 07 January 1950 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

Sketched at the Girls' Gymnasium of the People's Palace, Mile End, drawn from life by Paul Renguard - The Graphic - Saturday 28 December 1895 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Sketched at the Girls’ Gymnasium of the People’s Palace, Mile End, drawn from life by Paul Renguard – The Graphic – Saturday 28 December 1895 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

Evening Despatch - Thursday 07 December 1939 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Evening Despatch – Thursday 07 December 1939 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Graphic - Saturday 18 January 1908 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Graphic – Saturday 18 January 1908 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Dundee Evening Telegraph - Monday 19 March 1928 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Dundee Evening Telegraph – Monday 19 March 1928 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

But, as always, someone had to go and ruin it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this pleasure goes to The Illustrated Police News, which here features an image depicting the dramatic death of a “bright and promising girl” in a Victorian gymnasium.

Maybe it would be a better idea to go back to bed after all.

Illustrated Police News - Saturday 15 April 1899 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Illustrated Police News – Saturday 15 April 1899 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Coupon Monday: Rationing is introduced in Britain on this day in 1940

Posted on January 8th, 2016 by Violet

On the 8th of January 1940 rationing was introduced in Britain. With over 70% of the food supply imported before WWII, the government decided to safeguard against any plots to starve Britain into submission by introducing the rationing scheme.

The Ministry of Food’s explanation for the scheme was published in a number of newspapers:

Daily Record - Monday 08 January 1940

Daily Record – Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The new scheme was well documented across the newspapers…

Manchester Evening News - Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Manchester Evening News – Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Daily Mirror - Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Daily Mirror – Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Lancashire Evening Post - Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Lancashire Evening Post – Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

But there was reassurance that even the royal family was doing their bit for the war effort:

Daily Mirror - Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Daily Mirror – Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

How to live to 100 : History’s centenarians reveal their secrets

Posted on January 4th, 2016 by Violet

And so, as with every New Year, we welcome the quinoa-packed saucepans, virtuous jars of coconut oil and the herbal remedies which, we hope, will push out the carbs and caffeine binges of last year. The supermarket queue displays a thousand promises of health, wealth and well-being from slim, smiling models.

But in a world where a simple glass of red wine can have a thousand conflicting effects from self-declared health experts, what’s the real secret to longevity? Well, why not take a look at the evidence? Here are sage words of advice from some of history’s centenarians…

 

Mrs Caroline Trickey

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Saturday 15 March 1930

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette – Saturday 15 March 1930 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“If you want to live to be a hundred be happy and satisfied. I have always tried to keep in the best of spirits. I’ve been contended with my lot, and never eat more than I want.”

And there’s one more thing we can all take away from Caroline Trickey’s schedule:

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Saturday 15 March 1930 a

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette – Saturday 15 March 1930 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 

Miss Fanny Daniel

North Devon Journal - Thursday 28 October 1926

North Devon Journal – Thursday 28 October 1926 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The North Devon Journal reported that:

‘In answer to a question as to her views on modern inventions, Miss Daniel laughingly remarked that they were “all very wonderful,” and informed us that the first ride she had in a motorcar was last March, and she heard the wireless for the first time a few weeks ago. “This wireless,” she added, “is a funny thing, but I reckon it’s all wonderful.”’

She advised that “Early rising, plenty of hard work, and plenty of good food, are the things that make you live to a good old age… I have always had substantial food- my people used to kill a bullock for the house, so you see I lived well.”

 

 

Mrs Sophia Ellis

Cornishman - Wednesday 14 September 1927

Cornishman – Wednesday 14 September 1927 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“My breakfast consists of two pieces of bread and butter, with a cup of tea; for dinner I have meat and vegetables, sometimes a pasty; bread and butter for tea, and a cup of tea after I am in bed. We hear a lot about the injurious effect of tea, but I have been a tea-drinker all my life.”

When asked to what she attributed her long life, Sophia Ellis said: “Hard work and plain living”.

“I was left with seven children after my husband died, and it was a battle to get along. It meant hard work. This is the secret to health and long life. You can take it from me”

 

 

Mrs Elizabeth Ferris

Bristol Evening Post - Wednesday 08 March 1939

Bristol Evening Post – Wednesday 08 March 1939 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“I don’t mind smoking,” said 104 year old Elizabeth Ferris, “although I have never smoked myself. I often make fun of girls who use lipstick and powder, though I don’t suppose they do any real harm.” Though her eyes weren’t good enough for reading, she did have the Evening Post read to her every day.

 

 

Mr Zaro Agha

Perhaps the most unusual of our list, Zara Agha was allegedly one of the world’s longest living humans. Born in Turkey, Agha claimed to have fought in six wars, including the Battle of Plevna when he was 100. He spent his post- centennial years touring Britain and the US.

Dundee Evening Telegraph - Friday 29 June 1934

Dundee Evening Telegraph – Friday 29 June 1934 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

According to the Dundee Evening Telegraph, Agha didn’t smoke or drink and ate a largely vegetarian diet. Dr Serge Voronoff asked him to take part in his controversial monkey gland treatment, which claimed to rejuvenate the patient by injecting tissue from a primate’s testicles, but Agha refused, stating that he “never felt younger”.

Agha died at the alleged age of 160. Doctors suggested he was at least 40 years younger, but the truth is still unknown.

 

 

Mrs Bridget Henley

Perhaps the soundest piece of advice comes from 102 year old Bridget Henley…

 

Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian - Saturday 07 October 1933

Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian – Saturday 07 October 1933 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 

The Spirit of Christmas Fake

Posted on December 18th, 2015 by Abigail Rieley

The Vice Chancellor’s court in Westminster must have been chilly indeed on Thursday January 11th 1844. We don’t know if the court room was busy, if the crowds had gathered to get a peek of one of England literary darlings. They might well have been. When A Christmas Carol was published on December 19th the previous year it had been to near universal acclaim. The first edition had sold out by Christmas Eve. But for author Charles Dickens there was no resting on his laurels. When a pirated version of the story appeared in Peter Parley’s Illuminated Magazine in early January Dickens immediately sought an injunction against the publication.

Despite the rapturous reception it had received, A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story for Christmas was a huge gamble for its author. Dickens had been unhappy with his earnings from Martin Chuzzlewit so instead of agreeing to a lump sum for the publication of his festive novella he decided to opt for a percentage of the profits after financing the publication himself. However high production costs meant that he only received a fraction of what he had been expecting.

When Parley’s pirated his story he saw red. They had changed only one of the names but the story of a miser being visited by three ghosts and learning the meaning of Christmas had remained intact, as had Dickens’ words. So that cold January day Dickens went to the courts he had covered so often as a journalist.

The Examiner covered the first day of proceedings the following Saturday.

The Examiner January 13 1844 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Examiner January 13 1844 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Dickens won his suit but the publishers of Peter Parley’s Illustrated Magazine simply declared themselves bankrupt. Dickens was left with £700 in costs, a bill equivalent to roughly £63,000 today. He was most disappointed by the financial failure of the book as it was one he held particularly dear. The message of love and generosity overcoming selfishness and greed was one that he returned to again and again in the years that followed. He sanctioned a stage adaptation of A Christmas Carol which opened in February 1844 and ran for 40 nights.

Morning Post Febuary 6 1844 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

He also published further Christmas stories in 1844, 1845, 1846, 1847 and 1848, which all followed the same pattern as that followed by Scrooge with a strong theme of social justice.

Bells Weekly Messenger 1 December 1845 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Bells Weekly Messenger 1 December 1845 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A Christmas Carol has never fallen out of print and Dickens tale really did help to create Christmas as we know it today. The phrase “Merry Christmas” became popular after it appeared in the story and Scrooge and his impatient exclamation “Bah Humbug” have entered into the language in their own right. All despite the rather rocky start its publication had for Dickens.

Just a traditional Christmas

Posted on December 17th, 2015 by Abigail Rieley

Tradition is inescapable at this time of year. Whether you are retreading the paths of your childhood on a visit home with nostalgia and memory driving your actions or you are building new traditions with your children while they are young, Christmas is a time of familiarity. These days what we think of as a traditional Christmas is steeped in Victorian imagery. We’ve been looking through the newspapers to see how people celebrated the season of good will in days gone by.

In 1785, the Christmas Eve edition of the Norfolk Chronicle recommended the present every parent was looking for that year. Modern children might be happy with the idea of a gift of money but one wonders how they would feel about being given a lottery ticket. Granted the prizes were enough to set you up for life by the standards of the time.

Norfolk Chronicle - Saturday 24 December 1785 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Norfolk Chronicle – Saturday 24 December 1785 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

If you weren’t spending your Christmas Eve queuing for your subscription to the Friendly Beneficial Society’s entry into the English State Lottery, then perhaps some festive entertainment would be the thing. If you happened to be near the Rampant Horse pub you could go to one of the three daily performances of the Scientific Pig – whose abilities apparently amazed his friends and astonished his enemies.

Norfolk Chronicle  24 December 1785 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Norfolk Chronicle 24 December 1785 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

By 1857 the more recognisable Christmas mould was in place with a fully modern expectation of frolicking in the snow and curling up by a roaring fire as the frost glistened outside. Except as the Leeds Intelligencer pointed out on December 26th that year, British weather didn’t often play ball with the best festive traditions, a fact they put down to Christmas being 2 weeks earlier than it had been under the Julian calendar.

Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 26 December 1857 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Leeds Intelligencer – Saturday 26 December 1857 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Lemington Spa Courier was concerned about where Christmas had come from and in its Midwinter editorial on December 21 1895, looked back at how the Yule log got its name.

Leamington Spa Courier - Saturday 21 December 1895 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Leamington Spa Courier – Saturday 21 December 1895 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

One thing that’s clear, looking back through the archive, is that Christmas present is never quite as good as Christmas past. Everyone looked back, except of course the Scientific Pig.

When the wind blows

Posted on December 9th, 2015 by Abigail Rieley

As Britain and Ireland count the cost of Storm Desmond and with further storms on the way we’ve been taking a look at horrible winter weather over the years. The carols might talk of how the “north wind doth blow” but British weather can be an altogether wetter experience. Winter storms often take their toll in the darkest months of the year and newspaper have always covered them in some way, shape or form.

In 1729, weather news was in its infancy. The Ipswich Journal of Sunday 6 December simply noted that extensive flooding had delayed the mail coach from the north by eleven or twelve hours.

Ipswich Journal 06 December 1729 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Ipswich Journal 06 December 1729 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Great Storm of 1839 went down in history, especially in Ireland. When old age pensions were introduced in 1909 applicants wishing to prove their age were sometimes asked if they remembered the ferocious weather. Saunders Newsletter on January 8 described widespread damage in Dublin that had claimed the life of a Mrs Whitestone of Clare Street.

Saunders's News-Letter - 08 January 1839 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Saunders’s News-Letter – 08 January 1839 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Reading Mercury on Saturday 30 December 1876 tried to make sense of the unusually changeable, wild weather the country had been experiencing.  You’ll find similar explanations in the news today.

Reading Mercury - 30 December 1876 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Reading Mercury – 30 December 1876 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Sussex Farmers felt the brunt of December floods in 1927. The Sussex Agricultural Express showed pictures of the cricket ground at Robertsbridge with it’s stranded pavilion.

Sussex Agricultural Express, December 2 1927 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Sussex Express, December 2 1927 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Hartlepool Northern Evening Mail had a catalogue of festive elemental woes in 1951. A dead dog had caused an underground blockage that resulted in widespread flooding and Christmas evacuations for some home owners while a short circuit in the basement wiring in the Greyhound hotel in the town had caused a fire. Luckily no-one was hurt.

Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail – 27 December 1951 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

So we hope you’ve somewhere warm and dry to hole up while the winter storms rage. Let’s hope the only weather woes you experience this year are the ones you find in the archive.

 

Now we are 4…

Posted on November 30th, 2015 by Abigail Rieley

We are 4!

There have been celebrations a-plenty in Newspaper Towers this weekend. We’ve been cracking open the bubbley (far away from any delicate newspapers of course) to toast the journey to get here. When we launched on November 29th 2011 we had 4 million pages. Now we have more than 12,370,000 across 545 individual titles. That first day we had 1.2 million searches from the public and today we’re so proud of you, our users, who’ve found family, researched books, told stories.

Of course, many of you have been researching newspapers at the British Library for years. Who has fond – and not so fond – memories of microfilm?

Digitisation has revolutionised the way we can access historic newspapers – but some things haven’t changed that much in 60 years. The bound newspapers are the same as ever and the cart in that Pathé clip seems to have still been around in 2011.

But now we’re in lovely old Colindale no longer. We moved to our state of the art new home in Boston Spa in West Yorkshire in 2013 and earlier this year the British Library opened the National Newspaper Building there. But while space will always be an ongoing issue there are other factors to consider these days. As this BBC report, exploring our new home, explains the journalism industry itself is changing.

Here at the BNA we’re delighted to celebrate 4 years. We hope you’ll all be with us for many more.

Author Interview: Richard Tomlinson

Posted on November 21st, 2015 by Abigail Rieley

Richard Tomlinson, author of Amazing Grace: The Man who was W.G.

Richard Tomlinson, author of Amazing Grace: The Man who was W.G.

In the first of a new occasional series we’re talking to author Richard Tomlinson, whose latest book Amazing Grace: The Man who was W.G, was partly researched using the Archive. We talked about his research techniques and how digital searches can uncover extraordinary detail about famous lives.

In Amazing Grace, Tomlinson has painted a picture of a sporting celebrity and a complex man with fresh insights into some of the contradictions that made up the cricketing hero. He told us that the ability to search collections digitally had made a huge difference to his research.

“A lot of what you want to find out about W.G. Grace, this incredibly famous late Victorian celebrity, was physically inaccessible before because you would have to go to the library at Colindale and wade through endless copies of the Western Daily Press, the Bristol newspapers generally, the London papers, and you still wouldn’t get beyond the match reports.”

He explained that these days you can use a mix of digitised archives and original records to build a far more complete picture.

For example, Grace attended Ridgway House School in the Gloucestershire village of Stapleton, not Rudgway House school, as was previously assumed. The misunderstanding arose from a contemporary biographer, a friend of Grace’s, who misheard the detail, creating a myth that Grace was educated in a village school, a bit of a “duffer”. But a search on the BNA for the Rev. Henry Malpas, headmaster of Ridgway House School in Stapleton reveals something else entirely – Malpas advertised each year.

“If you look at the curriculum that the Reverend Malpas, (M.A. Oxon) was offering, it certainly wasn’t for duffers – it was a proper academic curriculum. It’s a small example but quite an important one, because you can use search terms with this wonderful search engine that the British Library has got, to find things like that and establish what the facts are. A whole window is opened on a side of Grace’s life that you didn’t know about before.”

Tomlinson gave another example from later in Grace’s life when he was working as a Poor Law doctor in Bristol. It could be difficult to find anything in the original records, if they were accessible at all, but full reports of the Barton Regis Board of Guardians meetings were published in the Western Daily Press and the other Bristol newspapers.

“So you have this wonderful record going right the way through Grace’s time as a doctor in Bristol in the 1880s and 1890s, and from there you can discover all sorts of interesting things about Grace as a doctor. The fact that he was constantly getting into trouble for hiring locums during the cricket season to look after the surgery while he was playing cricket.  The Board of Guardians were very, very exercised about this. He put in for pay rises, and we know how much he actually wanted to be paid.”

Tomlinson stressed that, to get the best results, it was important to know what you were looking for. With the explosion in the number of newspapers after the abolition of stamp duty and a celebrity of Grace’s stature you would get tens of thousands of results for a simple name search. However, filtering the results using non sporting terms could throw up fascinating insights. Match reports, as well, were far more reliable that sporting memoirs – if you could find the good ones. It was these match reports that gave a blow by blow account of one of the most notorious games Grace ever played in.

“This was a game in 1870 between the MCC and Nottinghamshire, where a Nottinghamshire batsman was killed by a ball bowled by an MCC bowler. There is a very, very long detailed report of this game in the Nottinghamshire Guardian and it goes on for thousands of words. I had never, ever seen it in any other cricket book and it may be lurking somewhere but I certainly hadn’t come across it in any of the mainstream literature but there it is and again you can find it very easily on the British Library database.”

Without these pieces of information, Tomlinson told us, his book simply would not be the same.  Coming from a history background though, he cautioned that newspapers had to be approached in the same spirit as any other source.

“You have to know where the writer is coming from. I mentioned the Nottinghamshire Guardian but the writer was obviously biased in favour of the Nottinghamshire team and we take that on board but that’s no different from going into an archive and reading correspondence. It’s just basic common sense really but it certainly uncovered large areas of Grace’s life that people have not written about before in any of this depth or detail.”

“It operates on two levels, you can get fantastic bits of information like how much he was paid as a poor law doctor. It also opens vistas on other aspects of his life that nobody knew about or if they did they didn’t know them in detail.”

Amazing Grace: The Man who was W.G. by Richard Tomlinson

Amazing Grace: The Man who was W.G. by Richard Tomlinson

Amazing Grace: The Man who was W.G. is published by Little, Brown and available from all good book shops. You can also win a copy in our Facebook giveaway.

 

 

 

A Nudge from the Pulpit to Get the Festive Cooking On

Posted on November 20th, 2015 by Abigail Rieley

This Sunday is known in some parts of England as Stir-up Sunday. It’s an old Anglican nickname for the last Sunday before Advent and it’s not actually about baking, or cooking of any kind. The day has been known that way at least since the 19th century although probably a lot longer as the name comes from a reading, or Collect, found in The Book of Common Prayer first published in 1549.

The designated text for that particular Sunday, “Stir up, we beseech thee”, seemed to have a certain effect on the more culinary inclined parishioners. As they sat in church, trying to ignore the drafts and looking forward to lunch, what could be more natural than to start running through all the things that needed to be done in the run up to the festive season. There was mincemeat to be made, Christmas cakes to be soused in spirits, suet puddings to stir up. It wasn’t long then, before the kitchen was filled with the smell of spices and Christmas was in the air. Things haven’t changed much today. If you look in your weekend newspaper this week you may very well see a recipe for plum pudding. Old habits die hard.

We’ve taken a look through the newspapers to watch how the anticipation grew over the years. A hundred years of early Christmas preparations to amuse and delight. In 1852, for example. The Oxford University and City Herald mentions, the nickname.

Oxford University and City Herald - Saturday 20 November 1852 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Oxford University and City Herald – Saturday 20 November 1852 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

But not in as much detail as the Berkshire Chronicle, quoting the periodical Once a Week, on Saturday November 28 1868. “To a holiday-craving lad, Stir-up Sunday is a species of scholastic Hegira, containing a suggestion of flight, and providing him with a definite period from which he can arrange the simple chronological details that attend upon an eventual circumstance in his life.” Whoever wrote the original piece was warming to their theme – Christmas was coming! “To fagged school masters, wearied private tutors and jaded ushers, it tells a speedy release from their horse-in-the-mill round of work, when they can recruit their energies in freedom and frisk out of harness.”

Berkshire Chronicle November 25 1868 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Berkshire Chronicle November 25 1868 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

In 1871 the festivities were creeping. Bell’s Weekly Messenger noted the consternation of some of their readers in finding mince pies in the earlier half of the month.

Bell's Weekly Messenger - Saturday 04 November 1871 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Bell’s Weekly Messenger – Saturday 04 November 1871 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Finally the end of the war meant that a writer in Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press was looking to the future. In 1945 the spring was close at hand and the tone was optimistic.

Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press - Saturday 24 November 1945 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press – Saturday 24 November 1945 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Christmas starts much earlier these days but some things never change. If you’re stirring your pudding this weekend, or if you find other Stir up examples in your own research, do let us know. It’s just that time of year.

Voices of Dissent

Posted on November 13th, 2015 by Abigail Rieley

This week we’ve added two campaigning publications to the collection – the Anti Slavery Advocate and the Nation. The former was concerned with sharing the arguments of the American abolitionist movement while the later fought for Irish independence. From a modern viewpoint it is easy to assume that both papers were niche publications, aimed at a very narrow market and not commercially viable – historic oddities in other words. While this may be somewhat true of the Anti-Slavery Advocate started, as it was, with a single aim in mind, the Nation at one point, was the highest selling newspaper in Ireland. The views it put forward might have been contrary to the view of the Establishment but they were shared, at least in part, by an increasing portion of the newspaper buying public.

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Nation was not in the habit of pulling any punches, as you can see in this example from 1851.

Dublin Weekly Nation July 14 1851 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Dublin Weekly Nation July 14 1851 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Such bluntness was to be expected. The paper was run was those who wanted Ireland to be a republic. At one point in 1848 the editor Charles Gavan Duffy was arrested for his part in the failed Young Ireland revolution of that summer. Jane Francis Elgee, who, a few years later, would become Lady Wilde, Oscar’s mother, stepped in and edited the paper from July. At the moment the editions she worked on aren’t on the site but should be fairly soon.

Reflecting a different stand of Irish nationalism is the Flag of Ireland known more usually as United Ireland. Started by Irish politician, Charles Stuart Parnell in 1881 the paper promised from the first to be “a national monster meeting which cannot be dispersed by buckshot”.

United Ireland 1st issue August 13 1881© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

United Ireland 1st issue August 13 1881© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

But revolutionary political views were not limited to the American abolition movement or the Irish nationalists. In the 1830s it was the Chartists who were shaping a new type of press. They wanted to produce newspapers for working men that would reflect their interests and their concerns. One of the earliest Chartist newspapers was the Working Men’s Guardian, started by founding member of the London Working Men’s Society Henry Hetherington. The paper refused to pay the stamp duty that kept the price of newspapers artificially high so that it could remain affordable for its target audience. Unfortunately this also mean that Hetherington was breaking the law and he was repeatedly charged and sent to gaol.

Masthead of The Poor Man's Guardian 1st edition July 9 1831 United Ireland 1st issue August 13 1881

Masthead of The Poor Man’s Guardian 1st edition July 9 1831 United Ireland 1st issue August 13 1881

The best known of the Chartist papers was the Northern Star. Started by former Irish MP Feargus O’Connor in Yorkshire it campaigned tirelessly for an extension of the Factories Acts and against the controversial 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act.  It was also by far the most successful Chartist publication. While the Star did not ignore stamp duty, pushing the price up to four and a half pence, it had a circulation of 48,000 at its peak in 1839.

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Northern Star gave its readers a blend of international stories about wars and revolutions together with more local stories that also served to inform workers of their rights. They covered stories that many other papers ignored, inquests of those who had died destitute, trials of those who had stolen food.

Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser - Saturday 31 March 1838 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser – Saturday 31 March 1838 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser February 17 1838 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser February 17 1838 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

There were many other chartist titles, although few as popular or long lived as the Northern Star. You’ll find many of them in our collection along with other examples of radical or campaigning papers. This is just a taste of the titles that existed in the 19th Century. More exhaustive accounts have been published elsewhere but why not see what you can discover in the collection yourself?