Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Desert Island Poems

It's been all go here at the Library recently, and on Friday night the beautiful Baronial Hall again provided the setting for an absorbing literary event. The poet Michael Schmidt OBE, founder of Carcanet Press and the Library's only Mexican governor, shared his 'Desert Island Poems' in the company of the poet John McAuliffe and an enthusiastic audience.

The Library was open for visiting at the end of the event and many people took the opportunity to see the historic interior in the romance of an evening setting. Several of these were first-time visitors and we look forward greatly to welcoming them back in daylight hours.

The event was part of the very successful Manchester Literature Festival which has now come to the end of its run but promises to be back next year with more fascinating literary occasions. You can visit their website for a review of this year's highlights.

Michael Schmidt is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, founder and editorial director of PN Review, and Professor of Poetry at the University of Glasgow. John McAuliffe is co-director of the University of Manchester's Centre for New Writing and has published two books with The Gallery Press, A Better Life and Next Door.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Manchester Fourteen Miles

Margaret Penn's classic title Manchester Fourteen Miles was published in this Guild Books edition in 1950. The cover illustration beautifully reflects the popular style of graphic art of the early 1950s, with its modernist, almost constructivist representation of a glamorous gown on the right of the picture. The semi-autobiographical novel tells the story of a young girl growing up in the countryside surrounding Manchester in the early part of the twentieth century.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

An evening's entertainment

Chetham's Library had fun hosting a splendid concert given by Laetitia Sadier on Sunday. The event was part of the Abandon Normal Devices Festival and Laetitia was introduced by Phil Collins (no, not that one, the artist and film-maker), who recently collaborated with Laetitia on the short film 'marxism today (prologue)'.

The event was organised by Cornerhouse staff, to whom much thanks is due, and quickly sold out. We and Laetitia's avid fans greatly enjoyed the evening and all doubtless would have wished for more than the single encore that time allowed. Find out more about Laetitia's music here, and about Stereolab, with whom she has had a long musical partnership, here.

The film-maker Phil Collins introduces Laetitia Sadier to an enthusiastic audience.

Friday, 1 October 2010

"I have thought of the days of old and the years that are past"

This hand-tinted engraved self-portrait by Thomas Barritt (1743-1820) is to be found pasted into the front of one of his small scrapbooks, of which the Library holds several. Barritt, a saddler by trade, was an enthusiastic local historian and one of the pioneering antiquarians of the Manchester region. His scrapbooks contain page after page of genealogical notes, drawings of coats of arms, memorial inscriptions and people and places in Manchester and Lancashire. The motto above the likeness reads 'profert antiqua in apricum', that is, 'he brings ancient things to light'.

One of the more unusual items is this scrap of Chinese paper weaving, an exquisitely detailed piece of hand-coloured construction:

A later page displays this delicate pen and ink representation of the dance of death:

We continue to examine the manuscript notebooks of Thomas Barritt with the hope of 'bringing to light' more of his fascinating and valuable observations.