Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Philip Larkin’s connections to the City of Culture

Kyra Piperides, a PhD student in the Department of English and Related Literature, looks at Larkin’s connections to Hull including the recent preservation of his flat in the city by Historic England.

Some of Larkin's poetry set up in a printing press.
(Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
As a researcher studying Philip Larkin’s poetry, I am frequently confronted with the comment: “I remember his poem about… you know… what your parents do to you!” In 2015 Professor Edwin Dawes, chair of the Philip Larkin Society, remarked that “[Larkin’s] words are quoted more frequently than those of any of his poetic contemporaries”. While the often allusively rephrased first lines of This Be The Verse roll so easily off the tongues of so many, it is the closing line of An Arundel Tomb that demonstrates the poet’s continuing relevance. A quick Twitter and Instagram search shows that #WhatWillSurviveOfUsIsLove has become associated with such diverse topics as LGBT+ rights, war and random acts of kindness. It is easy to see why Larkin became known as the country’s unofficial laureate.
Philip Larkin photographed in the
newly-completed Brynmor Jones
Library, 1969.  Photograph
by Fay Godwin. 

In 2003 Larkin was named favourite poet by the Poetry Book Society and the Poetry Library and in 2008, he topped The Times’ list of greatest British postwar writers. Despite declining the position of Poet Laureate shortly before his death, Larkin was finally memorialised in Westminster Abbey’s Poet’s Corner in December 2016. Further official recognition has come very recently, with the announcement in July 2017 that Historic England are to preserve the Hull flat in which he lived for eighteen years and wrote much of his poetry, with a Grade II listing.

While it may have taken a little longer for Westminster to officially recognise the poet, Larkin has long been celebrated in Yorkshire. From the windows of the University of Hull’s Larkin Building, you have a perfect view of the Brynmor
Jones Library, the iconic building that the poet-librarian oversaw the development and running of from 1955-1985. In the city immortalised in Here – “Here domes and statues, spires and cranes cluster/ Beside grain-scattered streets, barge-crowded water” – Larkin’s statue greets those arriving by train, his poems engraved below their feet. The Larkin trail guides visitors through significant points in Hull and beyond, and 40 technicolour toads graced the streets to mark 25 years since the poet’s death in 2010.

One of the technicolour toads.
CC-BY 2.0
It was the poet’s poignant words that introduced the promotional video for Hull’s successful campaign for the title of UK City of Culture 2017. The year’s celebrations have provoked all-the-more interest in Larkin, with a biographic exhibition opening in July 2017. Larkin: New Eyes Each Year features an enormous collection of the poet’s possessions, fittingly presented in the Brynmor Jones Library. Shelf after shelf of books are displayed, still in the order that the poet-librarian had them arranged, their breadth of topics highlighting his diverse interests. The words “books are a load of crap” are wittily placed, half-concealed on the shelves, behind his collection. As the complexities of the poet’s character are explored in the exhibition, visitors are given the opportunity to take a seat on a park bench, to immerse themselves in the former librarian’s poetry. Biographical interest and controversy aside, it is ultimately Larkin’s poetry that secured his place in Poet’s Corner and the title of the nation’s favourite poet.

A statue of Philip Larkin 
(Flickr CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)
The University of York library houses a range of Larkin’s work alongside related critical and The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin (2015), edited by Archie Burnett, contains all of Larkin’s published Larkin, Ideology and Critical Violence: A Case of Wrongful Conviction (2008). Andrew Motion’s Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life (1993) and James Booth’s Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love (2015) are engaging biographies. Audio cassettes of Larkin reading his poems are also available.
poems and a selection of unpublished pieces, complete with a comprehensive commentary. The library’s collection includes several introductions to Larkin and his poetry, as well as a selection of excellent critical works including John Osborne’s
biographical texts.

A number of Larkin’s works are held in the Poetry Society Library collection, shelved at the end of the literature section in the JB Morrell Library. This collection has over 10,000 books available to borrow, concentrating mainly on 20th century poetry in English. The Library’s rare book collection also has the Eliot collection, focusing on 20th century literature with a wide range of different authors. All the material held by the Library can be searched using the catalogue YorSearch.

Larkin: New Eyes Each Year is open until Sunday 1 October 2017, and Hull is only an hour away by train!

Monday, 17 July 2017

William Wilberforce, slavery and Whitby

Matthew Wigzell explores items in our collections that tell us more about slavery, and the journey towards its abolition.

We have recently undertaken work to make available and promote some of the more unusual items in our collections, and to record the context and stories behind them (for example, our earlier blog post about a Scarborough siege coin).

As part of this process we discovered that we hold an election ticket or medal, issued by William Wilberforce during the 1807 general election. Wilberforce was a sitting MP for Yorkshire, and was one of three candidates seeking two seats. The other candidates were Charles William Fitzwilliam (Viscount Milton), and the other sitting MP, Henry Lascelles. One of the big issues of the time was slavery, with Wilberforce leading the abolitionist movement in Parliament. Lascelles on the other hand, was a slave-owner from an aristocratic family, and had vast wealth based on plantations in the Caribbean.

The Borthwick Institute here at York holds the Lascelles Slavery Archive, a wonderful resource documenting the business interests of the Lascelles family, and shedding light on slavery in the Caribbean and life on the plantations.

William Wilberforce medal
The election itself was highly significant. Yorkshire was the largest constituency in the country and regarded as a highly valuable seat. The candidates spent the vast sum of £250,000 on campaigning, with Lascelles and Milton accounting for most of the expenditure. Such was the scale of the campaign, it was dubbed the "Austerlitz of electioneering", and was the grandest election in the pre-reform era. The University Library has recently acquired a copy of "The Great Yorkshire Election of 1807" by Ellen Gibson Wilson, and you can also see copies of the original poll book in our collection, containing lists of voters and their chosen candidates.

The medal in our collection has a hole in the top, allowing it to be hung around the neck of Wilberforce supporters. Wilberforce was returned with the most votes, with Milton a close second. Just a few months before the election, the slave trade had been outlawed by the Slave Trade Act of 1807, but it wasn't until 1833, and the Slavery Abolition Act, that slavery itself was finally outlawed in British law.

Sidgwick's Best Virginia
We have several other items in our collection with links to the slave trade. This copper plate was used for printed packaging or advertising material, for Sidgwick's best Virginia tobacco (you can see the letters are are reversed so that they appear correctly on the printed copy). Unfortunately we don't have an awful lot of information about Sidgwick's, but they seem to have been a tobacco dealers based on Briggate, Leeds.

The plate probably dates from the 18th century and is evidence of the lucrative trade in tobacco and other goods from British colonies, built on the exploitation of slave labour. By the mid-1800 they were around 300,000 slaves in Virginia working large, labour intensive tobacco plantations, which were the backbone of Virginia's economy. We have a number of books in our collection where you can find out more information about the slave trade in Virginia.

Civilization of Africa lecture
Finally, our collection has evidence of the links between Britain and the United States abolition movements. This handbill advertised a lecture by Elliott Cresson, an American philanthropist and outspoken critic of slavery. Cresson participated in movement which promoted the idea of moving freed slaves to Africa, where he thought they would have a better life than in the US. The handbill shows he travelled to Britain in 1832, trying to find support for the idea. In 1835, he founded a colony in Liberia with around 120 freed slaves. Unfortunately this venture proved unsuccessful, and the colony was attacked and destroyed by local tribesmen.

The handbill is part of a collection printed in Whitby in the 1820s and 1830s, which provides an insight into the public life of the town at the time. All the items are part of the Raymond Burton Yorkshire collection and can be viewed in the Borthwick Institute for Archives.

All images taken by Paul Shields. Copyright is University of York

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The discovery of a Scarborough siege coin

Ilka Heale, Metadata Specialist, explores the history of siege coins after discovering one from Scarborough in the Raymond Burton Yorkshire collection.

Through my job at the University of York Library, I get to see and catalogue some rare and interesting items in our varied collections.
Coins. Photograph by Albert from Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Recently, I came across a small metal item in the Raymond Burton Yorkshire collection.  With it, there was a handwritten note ‘Scarborough Siege, 1645’ but no further information.  This thin, square shaped piece of metal measuring at 28mm by 25mm was also engraved.

Using this as a starting point, I turned to your old friend and mine, Google* and found more information on an auction website.  From looking at examples on the site and by doing some research, I began to see that what we had might be a siege coin from Scarborough possibly dating from the English Civil War.

Siege or obsidional coins were made by besieged towns during the war in order to pay the troops.  As there was no proper minting equipment available, these coins were made from irregular pieces of
The coin is stamped on one side with a rough representation
of Scarborough Castle. Photograph by Paul Shields.
metal cut from trenchers, plates or cups.  The values, which were punched into the coins, depended on the weight of the piece of metal.

Between 1642 and 1646 England was divided by civil war.  On one side were the supporters of King Charles I (Royalists) and on the other were the supporters for the rights and privileges of Parliament (Parliamentarians).  During the English Civil War, the country was split into a broadly Royalist north and west with the south and east in the Parliamentarian camp. Both sides gained and lost towns during battles and by changing loyalties.

Scarborough was one of the towns that changed hands. In September 1642, Sir Hugh Cholmley, was commissioned to hold Scarborough for Parliament, but he was soon persuaded to change sides. For the next two years Scarborough served as an important Royalist base. In 1645 Parliamentarian forces closed in on Scarborough.  After three weeks Cholmley was forced to retreat from the town to the castle, where for five months he resisted one of the bloodiest sieges of the civil war. The bombardment was so intense that the massive walls of the great tower and half the building collapsed. Eventually Cholmley ran out of gunpowder, water and food and finally surrendered on 25 July 1645.
Scarborough Castle painted by John Constable, 1832.
retreat from the town to the castle, where for five months he resisted one of the

There is an inscription on the reverse of the coin, ‘OBS Scarborough 1645’. Whilst researching the coin, I found this reference in The obsidional money of the Great Rebellion by Phillip Nelson. In it, Nelson wrote the following about the Scarborough siege coins…..

The reverse of these coins is blank, save for the few specimens which bear engraved upon them the words OBS Scarborough 1645 which engraving, however, may possibly not be contemporary with the siege, but may have been added subsequently, as a memorial, about the date of the Restoration.

Reverse of coin showing an inscription. Photograph by
Paul Shields.
The University Library Special Collections have many items from the civil war. Sarah Griffin, the Rare Books Librarian has written about some of these items in this blog post.

All items in Special Collections are on YorSearch, our Library catalogue where you can view images of the Scarborough siege coin. To arrange to view items in our Special Collections, please contact the Borthwick Institute.

* Please note that other search engines are available!


  • For books on the history of coins see the Library shelves at LG 7.4.
  • The obsidional money of the Great Rebellion, 1642-1649 by Philip Nelson.  Morrell LG 7.4942 NEL.  The above quote is on page 18.
  • A little barrel of ducatoons : the civil war coinage of Yorkshire by Craig Barclay and Edward Besly. Morrell LG 7.494274 BAR.
  • The story of British coinage by Peter Seaby. Morrell LG 7.4942 SEA.
  • You can read the account of the siege of Scarborough written by Cholmley himself in The English Historical Review (volume 32, number 128 (Oct. 1917), pp. 568-587).   The article Sir Hugh Cholmley’s narrative of the siege of Scarborough, 1644-5 by C. H. Firth is available as an e-journal via the e-resources guide or search for the journal in YorSearch.
  • The Raymond Burton Yorkshire collection was donated to the University Library and Archives by Dr Burton.  His collection of books and ephemera on Yorkshire range from Edwards of Halifax bindings with fore-edge paintings to early writings about Dick Turpin.  Search for further items in the collection in YorSearch.
  • Dr Burton also donated his collection of historical records on Yorkshire to the Borthwick Institute which can be viewed via Borthcat, the Borthwick catalogue.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Smoking bananas and fake news

Sue Elphinstone, Collection Development Manager in the Library, investigates early fake news articles from the 1960s underground press. This information and more is available in the new Independent Voices database.

"Fake News Figure", 2017. Cropped from a
Library of Congress illustration from the
magazine Puck, by Stuart Rankin.
(CC BY-NC 2.0)
Underground newspapers are a rich source of information, and fake news is nothing new. “One of the most entertaining rumors to which underground papers contributed was 'The Great Banana Hoax of 1967'", as described by historian John McMillan (McMillian, John Campbell. Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America, Oxford University Press, 2011.)

In the Spring of 1967, publishers of underground papers printed a recipe for smoking banana peels.
The belief was that smoking it produced a similar experience to that of smoking marijuana. The recipe involved freezing the peels, blending them into a pulp, baking the residue at 200 degrees, and then smoking it in a cigarette or pipe.

We know about this because the Berkeley Barb is one of the many underground newspapers newly available online through Independent Voices - read the banana hoax article (The Berkeley Barb, March 17, 1967, pg 3) or the blog that this information is contained in.

"Andy Warhol's Bananas", 2014.
Photograph by Mark Seton. (CC BY-NC 2.0)
The periodicals were produced by feminists, dissident GIs, campus radicals, Native Americans, anti-war activists, Black Power advocates, Hispanics, LGBT activists, the extreme right-wing press and alternative literary magazines during the latter half of the 20th century.

Independent Voices is still a work in progress, but currently represents the largest digital collection of alternative press periodicals, with over 1,000 titles and 750,000 pages. It is made available as part of an innovative library crowdfunding model. Content is hosted on the Reveal Digital platform. The University of York has pledged and in the UK half of the amount pledged will go towards the digitisation of UK alternative press content for future inclusion in Independent Voices. Full access to Independent Voices is available exclusively to funding libraries until December 2018. The collection will then become entirely open access from January 2019.

Users may register for an account that will allow them to save links to images and save searches. The link to sign up for an account may be found at the top of the Independent Voices home page. Further information about Independent Voices is also available via your academic liaison librarian.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

“Art indeed is long, but life is short.” 300 years of Hull’s cultural history.

This year Hull is the 2017 UK City of Culture.  This is an award given every four years “to a city that demonstrates the belief in the transformational power of culture”.  In a blog post to accompany an exhibition on Hull's cultural history, Ilka Heale, Metadata Specialist, highlights some books on the subject in the University Library.

Hull City of Culture opening 2016. Photographer Andrew
Reid Wildman. (CC BY-NC 2.0).

One of the enjoyable aspects of my job is working with colleagues to promote the wide and varied collections held at the University Library.  Choosing a theme for an exhibition is always fun and for our latest display, we have decided to focus on Hull, this year’s UK City of Culture.

At York, we have a vast local history collection donated to the Library by Raymond Burton (indeed one of the buildings that makes up the University Library is named after him).  The Raymond Burton Yorkshire collection contains a wonderful selection of books and ephemera on York and the wider county of Yorkshire.  Using this as a starting point, the display focuses on four areas: the history of the city, theatre, poetry and entertainment.

Hull has a long history of celebrated poets from Andrew Marvell to Andrew Motion via Stevie Smith and Roger McGough and the Poetry Society collection, part of the Library collection, was a good place to find works by all the poets we needed.  The collection consists of around 11,000 volumes of both literary and critical works, especially poetry, published between 1709-2006.  In particular there is an emphasis on English writing of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The poet Philip Larkin is probably the greatest connection to Hull.   As well as his volumes of poetry,
Philip Larkin photographed in the
newly-completed Brynmor Jones
Library, 1969.  Photograph
by Fay Godwin. 
he wrote two novels, Jill and A Girl in Winter and two books of collected journalism.  In 1955, Larkin moved to Hull to take up a post as Librarian at the University of Hull until his death in 1985.

Larkin was a contemporary of Harry Fairhurst, the first Librarian at the newly created University of York. No doubt the two would probably have met, as Librarians they both  oversaw the building of their respective libraries.  In the exhibition, you can see a letter from Larkin that contains a short verse. It seems that this letter was in reply to one from Fairhurst but unfortunately, we do not know what the cryptic verse refers to.

The poets Roger McGough, Douglas Dunn and Andrew Motion also crossed paths with Larkin at Hull.

Liverpool poet, Roger McGough studied French and Geography at the University of Hull. He lived in one of University hall’s during his three years where he served as hall librarian, the same halls that Larkin, newly arrived at Hull, moved into whilst looking for accommodation. 

Douglas Dunn is a major Scottish poet, editor and critic who studied English at the University of Hull from 1967-1969 where he also worked in the University library with Larkin.  In 1969 he published his first book of poetry Terry Street with the publisher Faber on Larkin’s recommendation. This
collection of poetry describes the community where he was living in Hull.  
Magnetic fridge poetry. Photographer Steve Johnson.  (CC BY 2.0).

Another Philip Larkin connection is the former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion.  Motion taught English at the University of Hull from 1976-1980 where he met Larkin.  He was later appointed as one of his literary executors where he rescued many of Larkin’s papers following his death.  His 1993 biography of his friend Philip Larkin: a writer’s life won the Whitbread Prize for Biography.

The exhibition is located within four cases on the ground floor of the Fairhurst Building and will be on display until the end June 2017.  The Library is accessible to anyone, although you will need to get a day pass from Library reception if you are not a University of York Library card holder.

To find more information on the material used in the exhibition along with other titles on Hull, search YorSearch, our Library catalogue.  Find further details of the Library’s collections

As for Hull, a packed arts and cultural programme is planned throughout the year featuring dance, theatre, film, art and music.  Further details can be found on the festival website.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Documenting the history of York’s asylums

Sarah Griffin, Rare Books Librarian, summarises the resources about the Retreat hospital available in the Library’s collections and Archives.

On Wednesday 10 May, Dr Jane Hamlett from Royal Holloway will be lecturing on Inside the asylum: Material life in lunatic asylums in Victorian and Edwardian England. The history of lunatic asylums is an important one in York and is widely reflected in the collections of the university.

Perspective view of the North front of the Retreat, York.
Watercolour by Peter Atkinson, Borthwick Institute for Archives.
In 2016, Stories of York was published by the university library looking at the narratives found in the collections of the Rare Books, and Archives at the University, and at York Minster Library. One chapter in the book was dedicated to the York Lunatic Asylum scandal and the creation of the Retreat hospital. The chapter was researched and written by Alexandra Medcalf of the Borthwick who also wrote a blog about it.

The Retreat was founded by and for the Society of Friends and opened in 1796 with 12 patients. It attracted attention for the success of pioneering mild methods of treatment of the insane under superintendent George Jepson (1797-1823). In the 20th century the Retreat was known for its willingness to explore new treatments and in pioneering greater professional training for its nurses. The Retreat collection was transferred to the Borthwick Institute for Archives in 2001.

The Rare Books collection at the university looks after the working library of the Retreat founders and staff including William and Samuel Tuke, George Jepson and other medical superintendents. Its strength comes from being one of only a few intact working specialist libraries on insanity. There are around 300 books dating from the 17th to the early 20th century, mostly dealing with psychiatry and mental illness including:
  • Theories of insanity;
  • Institutions;
  • Care of the insane;
  • The brain;
  • Criminal lunacy;
  • Phrenology;
  • Mental hygiene;
  • Mental deficiency; and
  • The controversies at the York Lunatic Asylum.

William Tuke from Samuel Tuke: his life, work
and thoughts
, Tylor C (1900). London: Headley
Other medical collections of interest in the Rare Books include 3000 books from the library of the York Medical Society, and the Milnes Walker Collection which includes books originally collected by provincial medical societies in Wakefield.

A project to digitise the Retreat archives finished at the beginning of this year. More information about the wealth of material now available can be found in #RetreatTweets and a series of posts on the Borthwick blog.

For further information please email Rare Books Librarian sarah.griffin@york.ac.uk.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

A Discovery in the Archives

Emily Bowles is a PhD student and part-time tutor in the Department of English and Related Literature, writing up her thesis on ‘Changing Representation of Charles Dickens, 1857-1939’. You can find her on Twitter: @EmilyBowles_.

Portrait of British Writer Wilkie Collins (1824-1889).
Picture by Elliott and Fry of 55 Baker Street,
taken possibly in 1871. Library of Congress
In 2015 I was lucky enough to go to the Beinecke Library at Yale University to look at the Richard Gimbel Charles Dickens Collection, thanks in part to a Santander International Connections Award. The collection is vast (described by its cataloguer as “probably the largest accumulation anywhere of Dickensian material”), compiled over forty-five years, and the catalogue produced by John B. Podeschi is the length of a Dickens novel itself1. Incidentally, this catalogue isn’t available online and is only available in its (weighty and substantial) book form. The collection is an amazing collection of letters, images, editions; it even houses a lock of Dickens’ hair, with a certificate of authenticity from his sister-in-law Georgina Hogarth. As I was only there for a limited period of time, I engaged
in a frantic process of trying to see as much of this incredible archive as possible. One of the things I looked at was a short manuscript in blessedly clear handwriting – Dickens’ handwriting has given me a lot of difficulties! – that outlined the life of Victorian novelist Wilkie Collins in his own words2.

Collins was a friend of Dickens and also collaborated with him, writing for Dickens’ journals Household Words and All The Year Round. He is perhaps best known as the father of detective fiction – his novel The Moonstone (1868) is considered the first full-length detective novel. My PhD thesis centres on representations of Dickens, in which I explore how Dickens was written about in a variety of forms including biographies, speeches and journalism. I’d done some previous work with Collins so I mentally filed it away to look up later; I’d never heard of a Collins autobiography, but didn’t know enough to identify what I was looking at.

Several months later, I put out a few feelers with people I knew to try to work out what the manuscript actually was. Thanks to the Wilkie Collins Society, I found out that the manuscript I’d looked at and put to the back of my mind was actually presumed lost for more than a hundred years. By a quirk of cataloguing, it was part of the Dickens collection rather than a Collins one: in trying to work out if other writers knew it was there, I discovered biographers of Collins had visited Yale and worked in the Beinecke Library, but hadn’t ‘discovered’ this manuscript – making it, amazingly, both ‘lost’ but also thoroughly catalogued, hidden in not-quite-plain sight.

Dickens at the Blacking Warehouse by Fred
Barnard. Published in The Leisure Hour in 1904.
This is not all that uncommon for manuscripts and autobiographical material in the Victorian period. Dickens had also written a short autobiographical piece, the contents of which were only made public after his death. This autobiographical fragment was used in the Life of Charles Dickens (1872-74) published by his lifelong friend John Forster, and it revealed for the first time Dickens’ difficult childhood and the time he spent working in a boot blacking factory (he writes of the “secret agony of [his] soul” during this time). The manuscript of this account, too, is lost; Forster, quite old and infirm by that time, is known to have cut and pasted extracts from letters into the biography manuscript, and this may be the fate that befell the autobiographical fragment. Or, then again, perhaps it is waiting in an archive to be discovered – that’s the wonderful thing about visiting libraries.

The Collins manuscript itself, only three pages long, was dictated at the breakfast table and sent to an American journalist to provide context for an article he was writing. The journalist, George Makepeace Towle, had copied verbatim some of Collins’ words for his final piece. The content of the manuscript is therefore not ‘new’ in the sense that it doesn’t tell us much about Collins’ life that we didn’t already know from the Towle article (published in Appleton’s Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art on 3 September 1870). It does, however, give us back Collins’ own words and expressions, and reveal how he conceived of his early years and education; where he laid the stresses in his own life, and what moments he perceived as formative – at least, the kind of narrative of his life that he wanted to give to a journalist.

So while the ‘discovery’ is not the headline-grabbing revelation that it might have been, it does show how important it is to make thorough use of library catalogues! And it leaves us with the question of how many researchers came and went without asking the archivists, the cataloguer, or the librarians, one (or several) of whom must have known it was there (but perhaps without knowing its significance). I have written about my find for the Wilkie Collins Journal, so you can read more a more thorough explanation of what the manuscript tells us in issue 14, which can be found on the Wilkie Collins Journal website.

Interested in finding out more about Wilkie Collins?  The University of York Library has many primary and secondary resources that will be of interest for teaching or research.

Cover art by Peter Whiteman. J. M. Dent & Sons,
London, 1977 reprint. Photo by John Keogh.
A first port of call is the Literature section on the second floor of the Morrell Library.  Here you will find a vast range of texts written by and criticism on Wilkie Collins.

You can also access a range of electronic resources off campus.  This list of primary and secondary resources is from our Subject Guides page where you can find information of our 19th century collections for English and Related Literatures.

Finally,  we have a copy of The Moonstone in the Milner-White collection.  The Very Revd Eric Milner-White, Dean of York from 1941 until his death in 1963, was a member of the University Promotion Committee, which was responsible for the original planning of the University of York. One of his many interests was book collecting, and his collection of English detective fiction came to the Library after his death.  The Moonstone is widely considered to be the first full length detective novel in the English language including ‘red herrings’, a reconstruction of the crime, false suspects and a final twist in the plot.

1. John B. Podeschi, Dickens and Dickensiana: A Catalogue of the Richard Gimbel Collection in the Yale University Library. New Haven: Yale University Library, 1980. Print. ix.

2. Wilkie Collins, Autobiographical Sketch. MS. Gimbel-Dickens. Beinecke Library, Yale University. H1239.