London History Festival 16 to 26 November

Welcome to the 7th London History Festival hosted by Kensington Central Library and Waterstones. It is a literary festival that aims to bring the work of the finest historians to the widest possible audience. The festival consists of a series of talks and discussions followed by book signings.

London History Festival 2015
London History Festival 2015

Part of us is amazed that we’ve got this far, but another part says it should be no surprise with the quality of speakers we’ve been able to present. This year’s programme has the same combination of eminent historians covering a wide range of subjects. Some veterans of the festival return – Max Hastings, Tom Holland, Jessie Childs, Helen Castor, Marc Morris and Dan Jones. But also some new names – Thomas Asbridge, Sinclair McKay and David Boyle. The subjects range from ancient Rome to World War 2 with much that is relevant to the world as it is today. A big thanks to the other Festival Director Richard Foreman. None of it would be possible without him.

If you’re interested in the history of Kensington and Chelsea, the most fascinating Borough in London, Local Studies Librarian Dave Walker writes a weekly blog, The Library Time Machine exploring aspects of the history of the Royal Borough through photographs, artworks and maps from the Local Studies Collection. Recently he has written about book illustrators and advertising, as well as adding some guest bloggers. There always seems to be something new to discover.

Please collect a programme from any of our libraries.

As well as hosting part of the London History Festival, we also have a fringe taster event.

Hoards (Greek & Roman coin hoards and Viking hoards) author talk by Eleanor Ghey

Ghey - book cover image
Ghey – book cover image

This was held on Monday 9th November, at Kensington Central Library

Hackney hoard - coins in a jar
Hackney hoard – coins in a jar

The talk focused on the hoards discovered in London including the Cheapside Hoard of exquisite Elizabethan jewellery, and the Hackney Hoard buried during the Second World War by a family fearing a German invasion. Eleanor Ghey is Project Curator in the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum.

Hackney hoard coins
Hackney hoard coins
Hackney Hoard Double Eagles
Hackney Hoard Double Eagles

Kensington and Chelsea’s Great War: Online Guided Tour

Lucy Yates, WW1 Centenary Project Support Officer, writes….

Do you know where shrapnel fell on Kensington during the First World War? That the Suffragettes started a nursery for WWI orphans near Notting Hill, or why Rodin gave eighteen of his sculptures to the V&A during the war?

You can find out all this and more by downloading the interactive scavenger hunt/ tour guide app ‘Huntzz’ on your smart device.

Designed in conjunction with local cadets, this interactive online walk (with ten clues for you to solve along the way) showcases the World War One history of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Picture of local cadets visiting the sites they researched for mapping
Local cadets mapping the sites they researched

The 236 cadets, pictured above with their leader, braved the late evening darkness to help map the World War One sites they’d researched so as to turn this information into a guided online walk of World War One heritage around the borough.

A screen shot from the app, describing the tour, duration and distance.
A screenshot from the Huntzz App

The walk starts at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Huntzz App can be downloaded for free via the Apple Store/ Google Play store on your smartphone. Look for K&C WW1.

The first clue from the K&C WWI Huntzz App
A sneak peek at the first clue…

http://www.huntzz.com/

Happy hunting!

Happy National Libraries Day!

Today, 7 February is National Libraries Day – are you coming to the library today? We’d love to see you.

National Libraries DayIf you haven’t been to the library for a while, pick your nearest one and come and find out what we have to offer.

Just come in and have a look at our wide range of books for both adults and children, use the library computers, ask a question, borrow a DVD or CD, find out about local history at the Local Studies Collection, or use the study space we offer.

On Saturdays in Kensington and Chelsea Libraries you can find a range of story times for children and IT help sessions. There are regular events every day that we’re open, with a brilliant programme of special events throughout the year.

If you can’t get to the library today, have a look at our brilliant online resources – you can download e-books and e-audiobooks for free, and use the Times newspaper archives and Berg Fashion Library (and more) from home too.

There are loads of reasons to love libraries this National Libraries Day. Come and find out why!

Hot Off the Press – from the Titanic to Picasso

This is the final blog post in a series of four from Nina Risoli, one of our Tri-Borough Reference Librarians about two of our online reference databases:

You can catch up with last three posts, an introduction to both databases, more about  UK Newsstand and the Times Digital Archive.

This week Nina demonstrates how two very different subjects – the Titanic and Pablo Picasso –  can be researched on the Times Digital Archive and UK Newsstand.

Sinking the Unsinkable

Titanic
The Titanic

You can experience the drama of events such as the sinking of the Titanic, for example, and follow the awful event as it was reported as the news trickled in.

Boarding Pass for the Titanic
Boarding Pass for the Titanic

This is a string of some of the results you get when you search the database inserting a single search term: Titanic.

  • Launch Of The Titanic. Vessel Successfully Takes The Water. (News) from our special correspondent
    The Times Thursday, Jun 01, 1911
  • The Largest Vessel Afloat. Maiden Voyage Of The Titanic. (News)
    The Times Thursday, Apr 11, 1912
  • The Titanic Disaster. (Editorials/Leaders)
    The Times Tuesday, Apr 16, 1912
  • Titanic Sunk. Terrible Loss Of Life Feared., Collision With An Iceberg., Official Messages. (News) (FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT.).The Times Tuesday, Apr 16, 1912
  • Position Of The Titanic At The Time Of The Disaster. (Picture Gallery)
    The Times Tuesday, Apr 16, 1912
  • The Marine Insurance Market. The Disaster To The Titanic. (Shipping News)
    The Times Tuesday, Apr 16, 1912
  • The Titanic Disaster. A Death Roll Of 1,328., List Of Survivors., World-Wide Expressions Of Sympathy. (News)
    The Times Wednesday, Apr 17, 1912
  • New York Stock Exchange. Dull On The Loss Of The Titanic. (Stock Exchange Tables)
    The Times Wednesday, Apr 17, 1912
  • Help For Titanic Victims. A Mansion House Fund., Donations From The King And Queen. (Letters to the Editor) THOS. BOOR CROSBY, Lord Mayor
    The Times Thursday, Apr 18, 1912
  • The Titanic. Number Of Survivors Still Doubtful., The Supply Of Boats., Relief Fund Opened In London. (News) (FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)
    The Times Thursday, Apr 18, 1912
Dinner Menu on the Titanic
Dinner Menu on the Titanic

The string of newspapers headlines eloquently illustrates how the ‘unsinkable’ ship went from this:

Titanic at Night
Titanic at Night

To this in one short week:

Sunken Titanic
Sunken Titanic

 

Fall and Rise of Picasso

Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso

In another example, the first article published in The Times about the artist, Pablo Picasso is dated 12 April1912 following the exhibition of his drawings in Stafford Gallery in Duke Street in London. It defends the artist from the accusations of being the ‘incompetent charlatan’ and discusses how the advent of photography ‘spooked’ artists like Picasso into exploring the abstract and moving away from representing form in the conventional way.

  

Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso

268 further results reveal the bewilderment of the established critics at the developments of this new way of artistic expression. They chart the artist’s rise through countless exhibitions, record-breaking sales, stolen works, attempts at forgery of his paintings, right through to the platitudes piled on him on the occasion of his 75th birthday, on 25th October 1956, in the article which declares him ‘among the greatest draughtsman to have appeared in the history of European art.’

…and finally his death at 91 on Monday, 9th April 1973, with The Times depicting him as the ‘greatest painter of modern times’ and a national treasure of several countries. Henry Moore calls him ‘probably the most naturally gifted artist since Raphael’ and the director of Tate hails him as ‘beyond comparison and the most original genius of the century.’

 “When I was a child, my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk you’ll end up as the Pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”

It is interesting to note how the emphasis of the whole body of writing on the subject of Picasso on the Times Digital Archive is overwhelmingly his art, despite the fact that he had a very colourful private life. Out of 268 articles only a handful refer to his private life, briefly and respectfully.

The true fall-out of his manner of life and the fact that he left no will to help the family manage his gigantic legacy can be much better traced using UK Newsstand, reflecting our modern obsession with salacious detail and Picasso himself. Search for “Picasso women” yields staggering 9222 articles in UK Newsstand.

All this is interesting on its own merit, but if you are a student or a researcher or have a special interest in anything that happened or was talked about in this country in the last 200 years – Times Digital Archive can enrich your understanding and widen you research through its particular take on people and events captured in news articles as they unfolded.

If you wish to have a demonstration of the Times Digital Archive or UK Newsstand please contact Kensington Central Reference Library on information@rbkc.gov.uk.  A reference librarian will be delighted to help you get familiar with the databases and set you off on your own journey of discovery. Kensington Central Reference Library has 5 dedicated computers available for researching our online databases.

Nina Risoli
Nina Risoli

Nina Risoli, Tri- Borough Reference Librarian

Kensington Central Reference Library

The Library at Portobello Road Market

We were very kindly given a pitch on Portobello Road Market on Friday 30 November to promote the library. Me and a colleague, Amanda Southern valiantly volunteered to staff the stall for the day! We thought we’d have something eye- catching for busy shoppers to have a look at so we had lots of photos of the market through the ages, from the 18th  to the 20th centuries. These were very kindly supplied by our Local Studies Library.

Here’s some pictures of our market stall.

Our market stall from the front
Our market stall from the front
And from the back
And from the back

We were given an excellent pitch, right in the middle of the market.

Portobello Market
Portobello Market

And thankfully although it was a cold day it didn’t rain!

The sun shines at Portobello Market!
The sun shines at Portobello Road Market!

Lots of people stopped to look at the photos and talked about them.

Copy of DSC_2004
Looking at the old photos
Amanda Southern talking to an interested passer-by
Amanda Southern talking to an interested passer-by

We also took a short video of our stall. Apologies- it’s a little shaky!

Many of the current market traders knew of the families and market stalls in the photos such as Mr Brooks and Mrs Rudd.

Mr Brooks' vegetable stall, 1958
Mr Brooks’ vegetable stall, 1958
Mrs Rudd's salad stall, 1958
Mrs Rudd’s salad stall, 1958

And here’s a photo of the market in 1951.

Portobello Market, 1951
Portobello Road Market, 1951

If you’d like to see more photos like this please do pop into or contact our Local Studies Library (it’s at Kensington Central Library, W8).

It was a great day as so many people stopped to have a look and chat with us. Me and Amanda would like to say thanks to the following people as it couldn’t have happened without their help:

Mark Atkinson, Markets Development Officer- who very kindly gave us the pitch.

Eddie Philips, Building Supports Assistant- who drove us to and from the market and helped us with the gazebo.

Gaynor Lynch and Ishwari Prince from North Kensington Library- who covered for us so we could have lunch in the warm!

Dave Walker, Local Studies Librarian- he took the pictures for this post and got the photos together for the stall.

Jodie Green, Lending Librarian

Amanda Southern, Customer Services Manager

Kensington Central Library

Words in the Reference Store

The Reference Library store at Kensington Central Library is full of treasures kept for students, researchers, and anyone interested in history. But you don’t have to be interested in old battles to dig this history. What about words?

Dictionary of the English Language - 1788
Dictionary of the English Language – 1788

There are shelves of books about the history of language. From 1788 we have A Dictionary of the English Language to which are added An Alphabetical Account of the Heathen Deities; and a list of the Cities, Towns, Boroughs, and remarkable Villages, in England and Wales. All this in one tiny volume that would fit in your jacket pocket, published in 1788 for W. Peacock on “Fleet-Street.”

Samuel Johnson's dictionary
Samuel Johnson’s dictionary

For the purists we have a copy of Samuel Johnson’s dictionary, one of the most famous dictionaries ever published.  It took eight years and six helpers to compile and was hoped to stabilise the rules of the English language.  Ours is from 1814 so it isn’t a first edition but it still contains all the words he allegedly made up, and other words he says are “low” such as gambler and traipse.

Dictionary of Derivations - 1872
Dictionary of Derivations – 1872

In A Dictionary of the Derivations of the English Language in which each word is traced to its primary root forming a Text Book Of Etymology with definitions and the pronunciation of each word, we learn that the word browse used to refer to the act of nibbling on the twigs of shrubs.  What we’d really like to know is when titles stopped being an entire page long. This book was published in 1872.

In a Word - Cheater
In a Word – Cheater

There’s a 1939 copy of In A Word by Margaret S. Ernst and illustrated by celebrated New Yorker cartoonist James Thurber. This one seems to argue that a picture—or at least a drawing—really is worth 1000 words.

In a Word - Pardon
In a Word – Pardon
In a Word - Gospel
In a Word – Gospel

To keep them in usable condition for a long as possible these and many more books are only available on request and we’re thrilled when they’re requested. Search the Kensington and Chelsea library catalogue for what interests you and come in to visit some of our treasures.

Jennifer Brubacher, Senior Customer Services Assistant

Kensington Central Reference Library

The London History Festival 2012

London History Festival Cover 2012
London History Festival 2012

 November at the Central Library means the London History Festival now in its fourth year.

We started the Festival in partnership with the literary agency Chalke Authors with the intention of improving our programme of author events. By concentrating on one subject (one of the most popular non-fiction topics) for two weeks we could get more authors and present them not only on their own but talking to each other in panel events. In the first year we covered Women in history (with Alison Weir, Sarah Gristwood and Claire Mulley), Greatest battles and war reporting but also had the time to devote a whole event to a serious academic history of the English Civil War by John Adamson, interviewed by the editor of History Today Paul Lay. History Today magazine has supported the Festival since it started and became a sponsor from the second year.

The success of the first festival enabled us to attract bigger authors to the event. In the second year Anthony Beevor made his first appearance discussing his blockbuster books about the Second World War with Roger Moorhouse another historian familiar with doing research into the war years. They spoke about how the opening up of East German and Russian archives after the fall of the Soviet Union has changed our view of the period.

That year we also had panel events on the always popular subjects of the Tudors and the Victorians.

Sometimes of course things don’t go according to plan. I was particularly keen to have an event on ancient history and we arranged for Tom Holland and Richard Miles to discuss their specialist subjects in Rome and Carthage. Richard Miles was unable to make it so Tom Holland had to carry the whole event supported by Paul Lay. Tom was surprisingly adept at covering both sides of the argument and the event was a success. The one disappointment for me was that I had been told that because Tom started his literary career writing vampire novels (pretty good ones too) he always got a couple of Goths at his events. But no Goths appeared so I was denied the chance to get a quirky photo.

In the third year we collaborated with Waterstone’s Kensington High Street branch and split the individual events between us. The Library presented the big authors. We had local resident Simon Sebag Montefiore talking about his books on Jerusalem and Russia. Max Hastings delivered a completely solo talk on his history of World War Two through the experiences of ordinary soldiers and civilians. Sir Max worked standing up and without an interlocutor, taking over the lecture theatre with his customary confidence. Our final night featured award winning biographer Claire Tomalin talking about her new biography of Charles Dickens. This was probably the most popular event the Festival has seen so far.

We think of the Festival as a way of giving something extra to our regular readers and as a way of bringing new users to the library. At a time when the publishing industry is changing due to the introduction of e-reading, and when many people get their books from online retailers, events like the Festival bring readers and writers together in an actual rather than virtual place. People can see, hear and talk to authors, which is good for writers, readers, publishers and librarians.

LHF2011
London History Festival cover 2011

Next week I’ll tell you what I’m looking forward to in this year’s London History Festival.

Tickets for this year’s Festival are available from all our Libraries and by phone from LibrariesLine (020 7361 3010). For further details see also the What’s on page on the Council website and the Libraries Facebook page.

Dave Walker
Dave Walker

by Dave Walker

John Christie: Serial killer of Rillington Place

Rillington Place
john Christie of Rillington Place book cover

Crime historian Jonathan Oates talks about his new book, a definitive account of one of the most infamous series of murders in the 20th century.

John Christie murdered at least eight females – including his wife Ethel – by strangling them in his flat at 10 Rillington Place, Notting Hill, London. Shortly after Christie moved out of Rillington Place the bodies of three of his victims were discovered hidden in an alcove in his kitchen. His wife’s body was found beneath the floorboards of the front room. Christie was arrested and convicted of his wife’s murder, for which he was hanged.

Jonathan will be joined by John Curnow of the 10 Rillington Place website and retired Metropolitan Police Superintendent Terry Johnson.

Details:
Thursday 8 November, 6.30 to 8pm
Kensington Central Library
Price: £5 (£3 concessions)

Ticket and booking information:
Tickets are on sale at all Kensington and Chelsea libraries. 
Payments in person or by post should be made in cash or by cheque only. Please make cheques payable to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Payments by credit or debit card can be made via Librariesline on 020 7361 3010.
For more information please call Librariesline on 020 7361 3010 or email libraries@rbkc.gov.uk

Ruston Close
Ruston Close

Sport and fashion

As a celebration of all things sporty, we at RBKC libraries have cast an eye over Chelsea’s fashion collection and found a few sportswear gems from the past that we thought we would share…

Long before the days of lycra and spandex, ladies wore the height of fashion to cycle: this keen 1820’s cyclist (on a Pilentium, or early tricycle), wore a long-skirted white dress and tall bonnet trimmed with flowers (difficult to imagine Victoria Pendleton’s Olympic record of 200m in 10.724 seconds  in this get up):

"A Pilentum" or "Lady's accelerator", 1820
“A Pilentum” or “Lady’s accelerator”, 1820, from “English Costume for Sports and Outdoor Recreation” by Phillis Cunnington and Alan Mansfield

Judging by a 1978 illustration, men’s  and women’s cycling fashion was a little uncomfortable: a tight, military-style jacket for men with a little pillbox hat, and “the really smart wearer of this outfit carried a bugle to warn pedestrians of his approach” (from “Costumes & Fashion” by James Laver). Bradley Wiggins, take note!

Male and female cycling costume, 1878-80
Male and female cycling costume, 1878-80, from “Costumes and Fashion” by James Laver

Swimming next, and a poster of strapping young Agnes Beckwith (note the illustrations on the poster which show her many feats, including swimming with hands and feet tied, walking the water, and rescuing drowning men).

Agnes Beckwith
Agnes Beckwith, from “The Swimsuit” by Sarah Kennedy

While not an Olympian, Agnes Beckwith fought with British authorities to allow women to wear less cumbersome and restrictive garments in the water, although the 1870’s outfit she wears above still looks uncomfortable and heavy to our eyes. Below is a picture of three winners from the 1912 Women’s 100-metre freestyle Olympic swimming championship – their outfits, now knitted by new swimsuit company Speedo, look very different from those sported some forty years before. But strangely, not that dissimilar to those worn now? (Have a look at this blog post picture).

1912 Women's 100-metre freestyle Olympic swimming championship
1912 Women’s 100-metre freestyle Olympic swimming championship, from “The Swimsuit” by Sarah Kennedy

A great little booklet from Chelsea’s store called “The Story of Women’s Tennis Fashion”, by Ted Tinling, is an intimate 27-page look at women’s tennis attire from the 1870s to the 1970s. Women players wore corsets, painful and restricting (blood stains were regularly seen on women players’ “stays” in the dressing rooms), until 1925 when Suzanne Leglan wore a  simple (and daring) one-piece cotton frock, without a petticoat or coset in sight:

Suzanne Lenglen Wimbledon 1925
Suzanne Lenglen Wimbledon 1925, from “The story of Women’s Tennis Fashion”, by Ted Tinling

Stockings were discarded in 1929, and by 1939 tennis fashion became recognisably sportier and maybe a little more masculine:

Alice Marble and Kay Stammers, 1939
Alice Marble and Kay Stammers, 1939, from “The story of Women’s Tennis Fashion” by Ted Tinling

In 1949, it was decreed that tennis-wear must be all-white, but an edge of coloured lace around Gussie Moran’s panties was a nifty way around this rule:

Gussie Moran, 1949
Gussie Moran, 1949, from “The story of Women’s Tennis Fashion” by Ted Tinling

As was Lea Pericoli’s little petticoat and frilly panties…

Lea Pericoli, 1955
Lea Pericoli, 1955, from “The story of Women’s Tennis Fashion” by Ted Tinling

Of course, sportswear now is created with all the advantages of new fabrics and technologies, with celebrity designers lining up to dress our athletes from swimmers to basketball players to triple jumpers.  After this weekend’s triumphs, we can’t say it’s done them any harm!

The books from which these pictures and facts were drawn are all available in Chelsea’s costume collection:

  • Cunnington, Phillis, and Alan Mansfield, English Costune for Sports and Outdoor Recreation, London, (A. and C. Black Limited) 1969
  • Kennedy, Sarah, The Swimsuit, London, (Carlton Books Limited) 2007
  • Laver, James, Costume and Fashion, London, (Thames and Hudson Ltd) 1969
  • Tinling, Ted, The Story of Women’s Tennis Fashion, The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, (Wimbledon) 1977