21st Century Book Historian

  • What has 17th-century printing got to do with pie? 21st-Century Book Historian: Printing

    This guest post comes from Suzanne Black, second-year PhD candidate in English literature at the University of Edinburgh, who attended a recent event in our 21st-Century Book Historian series. The series is a collaboration between the Universities of Edinburgh, Stirling and Dundee which provides PhD students with hands-on training in the History of Printing, Publishing and Authorship. Dundee will be hosting the next event, Authorship, on Thursday 26th April – sign up here.In the first in a series of three events organised by Dr Katie Halsey (University of Stirling), Dr Daniel Cook (University of Dundee) and Dr Tom Mole (University of Edinburgh) and funded by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities, graduate students from all over Scotland gathered in Stirling on the 21st of February 2018 to learn about the history of printing and how it can be approached and understood by contemporary book historians. Aimed at those who work with early texts and those who are just curious about the field, the afternoon offered a history of early printing techniques, a talk on the methodological difficulties in assigning provenance to incunabula (really old books from before 1501) and, the part that I was most excited about, hands-on learning.


    As a doctoral researcher who specialises in print and digital fiction from the 21st century, I was keen to learn about book history in order to better understand the situation of 21st-century publishing in a continuum of changing technologies and media, and I was not disappointed.

    After introductions from Dr Halsey, Dr Kelsey Jackson Williams (University of Stirling) and Dr Dawn Hollis (University of St Andrews), who are the two lead printers of the Pathfoot Press, provided an introduction to print culture and methods, augmenting their scholarly knowledge with practical experience gained from trying to recreate letter press publications on the Press’s beautiful 19th-century Columbian press, an elaborately-wrought, hefty piece of apparatus topped with an extravagant bald eagle counterweight.

    Drs Jackson Williams and Hollis talked us through the labour-intensive process of how a printer would create lines of type from individual letters (compositing), compile multiple lines of type into a frame (or chase) and secure them so that the whole (called a forme) could be printed without letters falling out of place, as well as correctly orient multiple pages from different parts of the book on one large sheet of paper (tricky), proofread to identify errors, dry the sheets, fold them (to create the desired orientation, such as folio or quarto) and finally bind them (although this was often done elsewhere).

    I was surprised to find out the origin of some current printing terms, for example, the type for the individual capital and lowercase letters was often located in separate rows of cases, which led to the designation of ‘uppercase’ and ‘lowercase’. If you were wondering, Garamond is the contemporary font or typeface closest to those used by 17th-century printers.

    After walking us through the theory, we were able to get our hands dirty arranging lines of moveable type (single letters) which, being fiddly and with the letters appearing reversed, is not easy and our best efforts led to some unfortunate typos! Working the two-person Columbian press was also a challenge as strength, accuracy and delicacy are needed to align paper, forme and weight to ensure a uniform print. Luckily, with Dawn and Kelsey supervising, we were all able to produce a printed sheet by the end of the afternoon and, as a special bonus, we were also able to use a table-top letter press from the 1920s to print a beautiful souvenir bookmark, designed by Pathfoot Press intern Mhairi Rutherford (pictured at the top of this post).

    While I was feeling flush with my newfound appreciation for printed books, Jamie Cumby (University of St Andrews) gave a talk on older texts (incunabula) and the difficulties of ascertaining their publication and ownership histories. Combined with Daryl Green’s additional comments on provenance research, I came away from the event with a greater understanding of the materiality of books over the last few hundred years and, inspired by the Pathfoot Press, at least a few of us were already plotting to undertake our own letter press printing.

    And where does pie come into it? Well, it’s usually spelled ‘pye’ and refers to jumbled up piles of movable type, perhaps created by dropping them on the floor, something that, under the excellent tutelage of Kelsey and Dawn, we were able to avoid.

    Suzanne Black is a second-year PhD candidate in English literature at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in how digital fictions, such as fanfiction, and representations of the digital in printed contemporary fiction can be understood in the contexts of intertextuality, narratology, digital media, feminist theory and digital humanities techniques. @suzannerblack on Twitter.

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  • The Season of Song: Christmas writing competitions in the People’s Journal

    This festive post comes from Erin Farley, a local PhD student working on “Poetry, song and community in the industrial city: Victorian Dundee”, a collaboration between the University of Strathclyde and Dundee Central Library’s Local History Centre.

    In mid-Victorian Scotland, Christmas was not a major holiday. The Reformation-era ban on celebrating Christmas was no longer enforced, but Hogmanay – which had replaced Christmas in seasonal significance – was still by far the more important date for celebration. Christmas Day would not become a public holiday in Scotland until the mid-twentieth century. However, by the 1860s, the idea of Christmas (if not its practice) was certainly gaining popularity.

    Dundee’s People’s Journal newspaper may have had a considerable hand in this. The People’s Journal was founded in 1858, from the same stable as the left-leaning Dundee Advertiser newspaper, and from its first issue it aimed to “write up to the good sense of the working classes.” Editor W.D. Latto began running Christmas and New Year story and poetry competitions in the early 1860s. These competitions opened in autumn, and successful entries were published in a special supplement in late December. While the glory of publication was often thought to be reward enough, small cash prizes for the best entries also drew in writers.

    Christmas literature was, at the time, incredibly popular in London publishing circles, with Charles Dickens the undisputed star. The material submitted to the People’s Journal competitions could be on any topic – it did not have to be festive. Tara Moore, in Victorian Christmas in Print, has observed a tendency for early entrants in the People’s Journal competition who did use a Christmas theme to use London settings and language, rather than Scottish ones. This was at odds with most of the Journal’s creative contributions: the editors encouraged the use of Scots and centred local perspectives. However, these competitions were undoubtedly important in shaping popular Scottish writing in the nineteenth century. A. C. Lamb, in his Bibliography of Dundee Periodical Literature, 1775-1891, remarks:

    On an occasion marking his twenty-fifth year as editor of the People’s Journal, Mr. W.D. Latto said that he regarded one of the most noteworthy achievements of the Journal to be “the annual Christmas competitions, by which the sons and daughters of toil have been encouraged to devote their leisure hours to mental culture and literary composition…. [These] have brought to light several poets, novelists, and essayists, who might otherwise have ‘blushed unseen, and wasted their sweetness on the desert air’. Of these, let it suffice to mention the names of Mr. Alexander Anderson (‘Surfaceman’), and of Miss Annie S. Swan, both of whom have earned for themselves very high distinction in literature, the former as a poet, the latter as a novelist’. (Scottish Notes & Queries, Vol. III, Dec 1889 – May 1890)

    The People’s Journal Christmas competitions and the volume of contributions they drew ultimately led to the foundation of a new publication entirely dedicated to fiction and poetry, the People’s Friend.

    Poems by the People, published in March 1869, contained the one hundred and thirty best poems and songs (as judged by Latto and Reverend George Gilfillan) from the four hundred and twenty submitted to the previous year’s Christmas competition. Some of the Christmas-themed poems do indeed suggest Dickens’s “fatal presence,” (to borrow William Donaldson’s phrase): carols, orphans and stingy landlords feature heavily, often set in ambiguous locations. However, many of the poems use their seasonal setting to celebrate community or comment on social injustice with great success.

    Among the twelve ‘first prize’ poems, only one is explicitly set at Christmas. “Lost Lilias – A Christmas Legend,” by Glaswegian Alex G. Murdoch, is set in Blantyre and apparently based on a real legend. Lilias, a young nun in Blantyre convent, goes out to deliver Christmas gifts to the poor in stormy weather. The poem concludes with her unfortunate fate:

    Night followed, bringing clouds and storms,
    But brought not sainted Lilias back;
    And lamps are lit, and friends have gone
    Her steps along the snows to track.

    By dawn they found her cold and dead –
    A groove of drifted snows between;
    And on the spot where she had lain,
            The image of a Cross was seen!

    Others use a more general winter setting, onto which readers could project the festivities of their choice. G. W. Donald, Abbey Keeper at Arbroath and a popular poet in Dundee and Angus, won second prize with “‘Mang Our Ain Fouk at Hame”, a Scots poem which is definitely seasonal, and while it mentions neither Christmas nor Hogmanay by name, it reinforces the season as one to focus on home and family connections, and remember those gone before.

    ‘Tis winter, the reaver, he’s goulin’ amain,
    Wi’ a cauld eerie sough an’ a sowf o’ his ain.
    Nae birdie sings now ‘mang the broom on the brae,
    Where robin sits chirpin’, the semblance o’ wae.
    Blythe summer has gane, wi’ the saft mellow hum
    That rose frae the loaning when gloamin’ had come;
    E’en the crune o’ the burnie that danced ‘mang the faem
    Is mute – yet there’s joy ‘mang our ain fouk at hame. […]

    While the idea of Christmas as a time for charity had been established in readers’ minds, again primarily by Dickens, the most emotionally resonant ‘Poems by the People’ against social injustice are those which overlook specifically ‘Christmas’ settings to portray more familiar situations. A dark image of the season is given in James Winthrope’s “Woe,” the story of man and his young family made homeless in winter because of bad trade. Winthrope was a mill worker from Hawick, and this poem may well speak of personal experience:

    Tramp, ever tramp,
    In the snow, the sleet, and the rain,
    In the stinging frost and the chilling damp,
    In poverty and pain,
    O’er the hill, the morass, and the moor,
    With hunger to drive us on,
    With his knotted scourge, to the poor man’s door,
    And the gates of the lofty one –
    To be wetted and chill’d to the bone,
    Exposed to the pitiless blast,
    Till even the light of hope is gone –
    Oh, God, how long can it last? […]

    These early Christmas competition poems suggest that, despite its popularity in a literary sense, Christmas was not yet meaningful enough in Scotland to have a large part in people’s emotional response to events. But the success of these competitions are a marker of the gradual re-adoption of Christmas in Scotland. During the nineteenth century, other Dundee periodicals began to run special Christmas issues, and by the 1890s, there was both a “Dundee Christmas Album” and a “Dundee Christmas Annual,” featuring seasonal stories and pictures.

    I will give the last word to William S. Lindsay of Edinburgh, who in his poem “The Contest,” devotes a tongue-in-cheek ode to the People’s Journal Christmas competition as the spirit of the season:

    All hail to the season – the season of song –
    Mirth, feeling and pleasure come dancing along;
    Care falls from the breast, as the leaf from the tree,
    And withers away in the blast of our glee.
    Then sing with enjoyment the rhymes of the year,
    The breathings of many in contest sincere;
    The intellect warring a beauty displays
    In the quirks of its tales, in the flow of its lays.

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  • CILIP’s Library and Information History Group conference

    On Saturday 1st July the Centre for Scottish Culture hosted CILIP’s Library and Information History Group conference at the University of Dundee. On the theme of The Information Landscape in Scotland 1600-1900, it brought together librarians, academics and researchers for a varied programme of talks, with speakers and delegates from across the UK.

    In advance of the event, delegates were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at some of Dundee’s hidden treasures. Louisa Attaheri, Curator for Dundee Heritage Trust, showed some of the gems from the RSS Discovery and Verdant Works collections, and Caroline Brown, University Archivist, led a tour of the University’s collections. Penguins, plates that had been to space, extensive photographic collections and a complete historic Episcopal church library – Dundee has a lot to offer!

    Delegates were then invited to join members of the public on “A walk with words: a tour of Dundee’s literary streets”, led by Erin Farley, PhD student at the University of Strathclyde based at Dundee Central Library. She guided the group through Dundee’s library and literary history, with some very animated readings of primary material including a vivid description of the “strange and motley crowd” of readers which gathered at the Albert Institute Library (now the McManus collections).


    The conference proper began the next morning with a keynote address entitled “Patriots and Rogues:  Observations on Scottish Lairds and their Libraries, 1700-1900” given by Peter Reid (Robert Gordon University), new editor of CILIP LIHG’s journal, Library and Information History. This was followed by Kelsey Jackson Williams (University of Stirling) and Mhairi Rutherford presenting their joint paper “Rare books in Early Modern Scotland: an unknown quantity”. These two papers made an excellent start to the day, the first providing a thorough overview of the libraries formerly held in some of Scotland’s most remarkable buildings, with the second looking into what made individual ‘rare books’ in such collections desirable to their collector.

    In contrast, the three papers which followed concerned more publicly accessible and working-class libraries. John Crawford (Leadhills) discussed “New Evidence on Library Activity and Mutual Improvement”, while Lara Haggerty (Innerpeffray) made the case for the public use of Library of Innerpeffray in its earliest incarnation. Annette Ramsden (Edge Hill University) rounded off the morning with her paper “The Society of Friends Libraries of Aberdeen and Kinmuck”, representing yet another facet of the historic library and information landscape in Scotland.

    After a successful networking lunch, Erin Farley (Strathclyde), fresh from her walking tour the night before, explained how working-class poetry both disseminated news of and critiqued current events in her paper “The News in Verse in Nineteenth-Century Dundee”. Elizabeth Quarmby-Lawrence delighted delegates with her paper on “Edinburgh University Early Library Records Project”, detailing the work currently being undertaken to make these collections more accessible to researchers, and using them to make sense of how many of the items still in the University collections came to be there.

    The last of the full papers was given by Duncan Chappell (Glasgow School of Art), entitled “State of the Art: Glasgow Government’s School of Design and its Library, 1845-1900”. Full of arresting images and some moving anecdotes about the GSA fire, his paper expanded upon new research into the library’s earliest history, including its early design, networks of exchange, systems of classification and the role of the artist-librarian.

    The day ended by going right back to the earliest period covered in the conference with three lightning presentations from the University of St Andrews, fresh from the USTC conference which had ended just that morning. Graeme Kemp presented “Books at Auction in Scotland Before 1707:  An Analysis of the Catalogue of Andrew Balfour”, followed by Shanti Graheli on “Of Books and Doctors:  the Wedderburn Gift at St. Andrews. PhD student Drew Thomas gave the final paper, “The Reformation and the Digital Humanities:  Overcoming Barriers of Accessibility for the Crawford Collection” on the steps that some researchers have to go through to make the records of one collection speak to another. It resulted in discussion between the researcher (him) and a delegate from the institution which housed the collection, which was a particularly poignant end to a conference which sought not only to elucidate on the chosen theme, but to facilitate interaction between curators and researchers.

    A full write-up of the conference with more detailed description of each paper will be available in CILIP LIHG’s Winter 2017 newsletter.

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  • Historic Perthshire Libraries Compared

    Jill Dye is a second-year PhD Student on a SGSAH-funded Applied Research Collaboration with the Universities of Stirling and Dundee and the Library of Innerpeffray. Though her PhD research focuses on borrowers from the Library of Innerpeffray 1747-1854, Jill has been using the archives at the University of Stirling to research the borrowers from another of Scotland’s early libraries as part of the Scottish Universities Research Collections Associate Scheme (SURCAS) Pilot.

    The Library at Innerpeffray (founded c.1680) and the Leighton Library, Dunblane (founded c.1684) are both open as attractions for any visitor keen to explore historic books in their historic settings, just a 40-minute drive from each other. However, despite their close foundation dates and geographical proximity, the libraries have never yet been studied together. This post considers the links, similarities and differences between these two historic Perthshire libraries.


    The Library at Innerpeffray was founded c.1680 by David Drummond, 3rd Lord Madertie (1611-1692), when he lodged his own collection of books (c.500 titles) in his private chapel during his own lifetime for the benefit of “young students”. The term “young students” was tested throughout the library’s early history and, thanks to the preservation of borrower records from 1747, we can see that people of all occupations could borrow from the collection without a fee. Hence it has become known as Scotland’s earliest free public lending library. The Leighton was similarly founded by one man, Robert Leighton (also born 1611, dies 1684). Leighton had been Bishop of Dunblane and Archbishop of Glasgow before retiring to Horstead Keynes in Sussex. In his will, he left his large collection of books (c.1500) to “Dunblane in Scotland to remaine there for the vse of the Clergie of that Diocess”. While the intended audience for the collection was different, both collections represent the private books of an individual, contemporaries with each other, both in historic Perthshire, being made public to different degrees.


    The libraries’ collections at their foundation reflect both the nature of their founder and their intended user group. Madertie’s books at Innerpeffray are largely in English and are predominantly religious works, such as sermons, histories or works on practical divinity, largely episcopal in nature. While Leighton operated within the Episcopal church, his much larger library covers a wider range of faiths in an amazing 88 different languages. His is a working library for the interrogation of religious texts, compared with Madertie’s accessible texts to aid the living of a better life. Madertie’s collection, therefore, is of a much greater benefit to the wider public, while Leighton’s befits intense clerical scholarship. Thus, it is clear why the two foundations have never been considered together.

    18th Century Management

                           Robert Hay Drummond

    As early as 1734, however, the nature of the Leighton Library begins to change. The governors decided to introduce a subscription fee so that users other than the clergy of Dunblane could benefit from their collections and to raise funds to update the library collection, which they did. These new acquisitions include not only the latest academic texts but works of interest to a broader public. At Innerpeffray, in 1741, the trustees vow to create a new building for the library and to augment its collections, raising the total number of books to rival the Leighton’s at around 1500. The types of books recommended for inclusion are multi-lingual and reflect a more scholarly-gentleman audience (see here). Thus the libraries’ collections become much closer in nature. The work at Innerpeffray was overseen by Robert Hay Drummond, who eventually inherited the estates of Innerpeffray and Cromlix, near Dunblane. It is perhaps no coincidence that he had a presence on the governing bodies of both institutions, which in itself justifies further exploration in future.

    18th Century Use

    Just as their collections become closer in nature, records of use of both libraries use begin to survive. Innerpeffray’s borrower records are well-known to scholars, unparalleled in their length (1747-1968) and depth (including address and occupation). Less known are the Leighton’s own borrower records, similar in depth, complete for the shorter period 1780-1833. While the Innerpeffray records form the basis of my PhD, thanks to the SGSAH SURCAS project, I’ve now had the opportunity to explore the Leighton’s records too. The type of user is broadly similar (Students, Ministers, Schoolmasters, as well as Surgeons, Architects, Bankers), but Innerpeffray includes a wider range of lower-class occupations (labourers, servants) and those working in the textile industry (weavers, dyers, tailors). This reflects not only the more rural location of Innerpeffray but its lack of fee.

    In terms of books borrowed, users are relatively similar in their tastes in genre, but not identical in their choice of titles. Sermons, travel and natural history are very popular genres across both collections. Literature and works of the Scottish Enlightenment are far more present in the Leighton registers, but that reflects their greater presence within the collection. By the nineteenth century, it seems, the Leighton’s subscription model begins to win out, as it supports the purchase of current works, which are popular with the borrowers. At Innerpeffray, however, only a handful of texts enter the collection between 1788 right up to 1854.

    The opportunity to explore borrowers’ records in one library is astounding, but the chance to compare and contrast them with an equally detailed record is incredible. Despite the differences between the two libraries at their foundation, these libraries, in their borrowers’ records at least, are a valid comparison, provided that their innate differences and the changing natures of both collections across their separate histories is first understood.

    The Library of Innerpeffray is open to the public from March-October Wednesday to Sunday.

    The Leighton Library is open to visitors from May-September Monday-Saturday 11am-1pm.

    For more on the SURCAS project and the Leighton Library borrowers see leightonborrowers.com.

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  • Innerpeffray Library and Academic Partnerships at the Association of Independent Libraries

    by Jill Dye

    Next month, I’ll be attending the Annual Meeting of the Association of Independent Libraries to talk about my project at Innerpeffray (described in the post below), and the benefits of academic partnerships for Independent Libraries. The meeting will be held at Bromley House Library in Nottingham from 10-12 June. Papers will explore the theme Sustainability and Relevance: The Independent Library in 2016.

    ‘Independent’ in this context can be defined by the institution itself, but as a general rule they are not funded by nor form any part of any broader institution. While unique and distinctive library collections can be found in a variety of settings (such as public libraries, universities, schools, museums, and professional organisations), Independent Libraries house many such collections due to the circumstances under which many were created. Some began as subscription libraries which sprung up in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, prior to the Public Library Act of 1850, such as the London Library and the Portico Library. The association also includes early public libraries, like Innerpeffray and Chetham’s, as well as parish libraries and all sorts of other foundations – from the Working Class Library founded in the 50s to the residential Gladstone’s library. Members of the association spread right across the country, and the AIL website hosts a full directory of members well worth investigation.

    shsahEach library as a unique story behind its foundation, and collections which reflect their individual histories. This is what makes them so exciting to researchers. But independence can be a curse as well as a charm. Funding, staff levels and the need raise awareness and build visitor numbers are always key priorities. The meeting tackles these issues, with papers exploring charitable donation, the use of volunteers and outreach. My own paper will look at how my project benefits Innerpeffray as an independent institution, and how academic partnerships more generally could benefit other independent libraries. I’m excited to have the opportunity to think and talk about what I can (and do) do for Innerpeffray as part of the SGSAH Applied Research Collaborative Studentship with the Universities of Stirling and Dundee, and hope to give other independent institutions the drive to pursue similar, and to consider an academic outreach on a par with other forms. Along with fellow Stirling PhD Student Erin Farley, who is working on her own collaborative project with Dundee central Library, I hope also to arrange an event in the future to promote opportunities with such partners to both students and academics.

    I can’t wait to meet delegates representing all sorts of independent libraries in the UK. I am particularly looking forward to a talk by Kirsten Loach comparing the current state of UK Independent Libraries to those in the US, since in the coming year I may also be looking across the Atlantic for institutions comparable to Innerpeffray. I’ll report back from the conference in the coming months.


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  • Beginning “Books and their Borrowers” at Innerpeffray Library

    by Jill Dye

    Innerpeffray Field Trip LibraryMy PhD project is jointly supervised by Dr Katie Halsey (University of Stirling) and Dr Daniel Cook (University of Dundee) with an external partner, Innerpeffray Library. Innerpeffray is the oldest free lending library in Scotland. Founded by David Drummond, Lord Maddertie, in 1680, it began in a small upstairs room of Innerpeffray chapel, where Maddertie deposited his own books. His Will details that he has “lately begun a library” and that it is to be “for the benefit of all young students”, leaving a significant sum (and tying up income from the estates) towards ensuring the survival and expansion of that library “in time comeing”. Used, but not well managed, the library was finally given due care and attention by Robert Hay Drummond, who inherited it in the 1740s, and commissioned the Georgian building in which the collection is still housed. He also saw that the collection was augmented, as originally intended. At least three thousand books were added to the original collection of around 450 during Hay Drummond’s lifetime, and their acquisition was informed to some extent by his own suggestion. Here the library stayed, open for borrowing to the general public for free, until as recently as 1968.

    Apart from being a fantastic early example of a public lending library, Innerpeffray is such a rare source at it houses a continuous register of books borrowed from 1747 until 1968. These records provide an insight not only into the popularity of the library and the reading habits of its frequenters, but also the social and economic make-up of the surrounding landscape, often giving the address and occupation of the borrower alongside details of what they borrowed when. This is a resource invaluable to scholars of the history of both libraries and reading. While other scholars, such as Mark Towsey, have had access to the borrowers’ records and collections at Innerpeffray as part of other projects, my doctoral research uniquely allows me extensive, lengthy access to the archives and collections, giving me the opportunity to explore the borrowings in more depth and with more context than ever before.

    Maxine Branagh, in her previous post for the 21st-Century Book Historian blog, has given a great overview of the pros and cons associated with looking at the history of reading from Borrowers’ records. While my project is directly focused on the period of the first volume of the borrowers’ register (1747-1857), my research questions so far are more related to Library History than the History of Reading, though both feed into each other. This has meant looking for the fuller picture of what informs the choice each borrower makes when they pluck an item from the shelf. How did it get there in the first place? Who decided which books were included? What does the individual volume look like? What does it feel like to read? This is almost impossible to know without survivals like Innerpeffray, where the books, the borrowers’ register and the building itself all survive, together, in their original location.

    shsahThe first semester has, therefore, focused primarily on gathering together and understanding all primary sources possible which relate to the library and to the people running it. It has been my intent to leave no stone unturned, since evidence from the period can be quite scant. Innerpeffray has a wealth of archives, as yet not fully catalogued. As a SGSAH Applied Research Collaboration studentship, which aims to combine academic study with relevant work experience through the external partner, I’ll have the opportunity not only to study these additional records, but to catalogue them too, making them far more easily accessible to scholars in future. Though Innerpeffray itself is an amazing resource, there are still other records all over the place which can tell us more about its history. My PhD journey so far has been a literal journey, travelling around Scotland to access archives at Innerpeffray, Perth’s AK Bell Library, the National Records of Scotland and even a private collection, not to mention back and forth between supervisors and libraries in Stirling and Dundee.

    Now, with the beginning of the second semester, my attention turns to writing up the history of the library so far for planned chapter 1, while moving on to looking at the borrowers’ register itself in more depth. My intention is to sample significant decades of borrowing records which intersect with other significant events, such as the reopening of the library building in the 1760s, or the production of the catalogues in 1813 and 1855. During this process, I also hope to identify individual borrowers of interest who may suit individual case studies for future chapters, with context provided by my work from the first semester. More anon.

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  • Textual Editing: Twenty-First Century Practice

    The Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities and the Universities’ Committee for Scottish Literature would like to announce a series of four workshops to provide doctoral students of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature with the knowledge and skills required for the scholarly editing of texts from the period.

    The afternoon workshops will be held at the Universities of Stirling, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow, hosted by staff and students involved in the major scholarly editions of James Hogg, Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter Scott and Robert Burns. The workshops will not only equip students to contribute to these and other editions, but also deepen their understanding of the history of book production and writing as a social practice in ways that will inform their own doctoral research.

    Doctoral students of literary studies from any Scottish university who book a place on any workshop will have second-class rail fare from their home university to the venue reimbursed. Lunch is also included.

    The first workshop will be held 1.00–5.30 pm, Wednesday 17 February, in seminar room C1, Pathfoot Building, University of Stirling. See attached Programme. Please book your place on this workshop by emailing Bob Irvine (r.p.irvine [at] ed.ac.uk).

    Following the workshop, there will be a social / networking event held by the Scottish Literary Studies Graduate Student Network (link to Facebook group). This is a student-led group for postgraduates researching topics in Scottish literature. Email ucslgradnetwork [at] gmail.com to express your interest in coming along, or drop in at the Meadowpark Pub (adjacent the Pathfoot Building) from 6.30pm.

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  • Challenges in History of Reading Research

    by Maxine Branagh, University of Stirling

    Our first “21st-Century Book Historian” workshop, held back in December at the University of Stirling, focused on methodologies in the History of Reading which made me reflect a great deal on my own choice of methodologies.

    I often describe my PhD research to interested family members and friends in a basic, but potentially problematic, way. When asked “so what are you studying?” My answer is often something brief along the lines of: “I’m looking at what Scottish children were actually reading in the eighteenth century.”

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  • Field Trip to Innerpeffray Library

    by Katie Halsey

    On 21st March a small group of doctoral students (“fit audience, though few”, as Milton would have said) visited Innerpeffray Library for the third of “The 21st-Century Book Historian” doctoral training events. It was a beautiful Spring day – so warm in fact, that we were able to have a picnic outside in the Library’s beautiful grounds before commencing the more serious parts of the day. Special thanks to Maxine Branagh, who brought along some delicious dairy- and gluten-free brownies for us all to share.

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  • Hands-On Book History: The Brechin Collection in the University Archives

    shsahFor further information about the contributions of our History of the Book students to The 21st-Century Book Historian workshop held in Dundee on 1 April 2015 please click on the links below:

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