Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Great Herbal

Basilius Besler's 'Great Herbal' is one of the largest books in the Library and certainly the heaviest. The enormous large folio volume is full of beautiful engravings of the flowers, vegetables and garden plants in the garden of Johann Konrad von Gemmingen, Prince Bishop of Eichstatt. Find out more and get a closer look at this wonderful treasure on the 101 Treasures page this week.

A Rochdale Pioneer from Chetham's

A query from a reader this morning revealed that one of the famous Rochdale Pioneers was educated here at Chetham's in the early years of the nineteenth century.

John Bent was born in Ireland but was admitted to Chetham's in 1825, leaving in 1830 to be apprenticed to a glass stainer. He later moved to Rochdale to work as a tailor and became the first tailoring manager of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society. His education at Chetham's obviously served him well, and he taught mathematics to adults at the Pioneers' Sunday School.

The Rochdale Pioneers were the first co-operative society to pay a dividend to members, and were the forerunners of the modern co-operative movement. John Bent was a socialist, and a follower of the social reformer Robert Owen, whose commemorative statue stands outside the Co-operative Building on Corporation Street can almost be seen from Chetham's.

Read more about John Bent, and see a photograph of him on the Rochdale Pioneers website here.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Remembering Peterloo

Manchester is famous for its radical politics and this week's entry in the 101 Treasures series looks at the Library's holdings relating to the Peterloo Massacre, surely one of the most scandalous events in the history of the city.

Read more here.

Friday, 8 March 2013

How the Library got its books

This week on our 101 Treasures Page we take a look at two manuscripts of great significance. These are the Invoices Book and the Accessions Register, kept in the early years of the Library's existence, and recording every book that was purchased by the Library trustees. Apart from being fascinating and absorbing documents in their own right, they provide an important primary source of evidence for scholars of the book trade in the Early Modern period. In recent years they have been studied in some depth by Matthew Yeo for his doctoral thesis, published as The Acquisition of Books by Chetham's Library, 1655-1700. You can find out more about how Matthew's work contributed to our online catalogue here.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Ishe Komborera Africa

Library staff travelled down to Oxford last night for the launch of Terence Ranger's book Writing Revolt: An Engagement with African Nationalism 1957-67. The book is dedicated to the memory of John Reed, whose diaries the Library has recently acquired. Ranger's book makes extensive reference to Reed's diaries - which are an important record of the African Liberation movement in Zimbabwe in the 1950s and 60s - and in his Preface he states: 'it will be obvious to any readers of this book how much I owe to John Reed ... John's generosity in making his daily diary available to me has been an enormous source of strength for this book'.

The Librarian reports that the evening's highlight was a wonderfully rousing rendition of African Liberation songs by a Zimbabwean choir: