Showing posts from October, 2016

The Battle of the Somme: part 1

This year marks the centenary of the Battle of the Somme (1st July - 19th November 1916) one of the largest battles of the First World War fought on the Western Front. In the first of two posts, Ilka Heale highlights some books on the subject in the University Library.

At 7.30am on Saturday 1st July 1916, the opening British and French attack was launched near the River Somme in Picardy, northern France. The battle was fought in three major phases and several battles: at Albert, Bazentin Ridge, Fromelles, Delville Wood, Pozières Ridge, Guillemont, Ginchy, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Transloy Ridge, Thiepval Ridge, Ancre Heights, and at Ancre.

This was the 'Big Push' and was intended to hasten a victory for the Allies and to end the war. It was also one of the bloodiest battles. By the end of the fighting on the Somme, the British Army had lost over 400,000 men for an advance of a mere six miles. Between both sides, over 1,000,000 were killed or wounded. Practically all were in…

Flying squirrels and medieval knights: the John Heath Collection

Matthew Wigzell explores the recently catalogues John Heath Collection

Tales of a medieval knight, the writings of a Swiss pseudo-scientist, and an illustration of the hooded flying squirrel. There may seem to be no apparent link, but all of these can be found in a wonderful new collection of books recently added to the Library's Special Collections.

The collection was amassed by former British diplomat Sir John Heath (1922-2009), who acquired examples of books illustrated by his ancestors, including the well-known engraver James Heath (1757–1834). The books were left to the University in Sir John's will and have now been fully catalogued and made available for study.

The collection, which is a wonderful glimpse into the late 18th and early 19th centuries, has books on a range of different subjects, with a particular focus on literature, early travel writing, and scientific subjects such as zoology (with some amazing illustrations of exotic animals).

As an added bonus, many of t…