Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Review: The name of the wind by Patrick Rothfuss

How to describe this book? Rothfuss takes the reader on a twisting, turning, and seemingly totally mundane journey that manages to grab hold and not let go.

His protagonist, Kvothe, decides to tell his life story to a man known as The Chronicler, and the narrative jumps between the telling and the living. In another writer's hands, this could be too confusing, but Rothfuss handles it exceptionally well. There are passages where nothing much seems to happen, which would usually be the point where I put the book down, but I was so captivated by the prose and the characters that I couldn't stop reading.

Rothfuss has created a self-contained and believable world, with plenty of nuance and interest, and since this story is intended as a trilogy, there's more where this came from. Thank goodness.



If you like the sound of this, you might also like:
Review written by Ann Brook (Library and Information Assistant)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Exploring the Archives: Sheffield Castle - the city’s lost landmark


Artist's impression of Sheffield Castle in 1060
Students in the School of English at the University of Sheffield are provided with the opportunity of taking a work placement as part of their degree programme.  This year Mollie Littlewood is working with us at Sheffield City Archives and Local Studies Library.  She is writing a series of blog posts highlighting the city’s fascinating archival treasures. This week she took a walk down to Castlegate to try and better understand a document she found in the archives...
Map data copyright 2017 Google
On the site next to Wilkinson's, Castle Market stood from 1965 to 2015; it was named after the building that was once in its place. Over 900 years ago on this same spot next to the River Don, the first earth and timber castle was constructed by William De Lovetot. This wooden castle, along with most of the town was destroyed by John de Eyvill’s forces in 1266. King Henry III granted permission for it to be rebuilt in stone in 1270, and this stone castle formed the centre of the structure which survived until the 17th century.

Plan of Sheffield Castle about 1700 (drawn
in the 1930s)
Sheffield Archives holds a document dated 16th November 1586 which details the inventory of armour held at the castle at that time. According to the document the castle held various weapons and pieces of armour. These included pistols, firearms, muskets and haldberds (a combination of spear and battleaxe). The castle stored armour for the horsemen and footmen which included ‘Jacks and plat coattes’ which were a sleeveless coat or tunic worn by foot soldiers and coats of plate armour, a kind of light armour first used in Germany called ‘Almann Revett’. There were also pieces of armour for protecting specific parts of the body;
Gorget - a piece of armour for the throat
Curiass of proof - a piece of armour consisting of breast and back plate made of tested metal
Morryan - a kind of helmet without beaver or visor 
Poldrens’ - shoulder plates
Scules’ - skull caps made of metal
Splents’ - overlapping pieces of steel in armour often used for the knee and elbow to give flexibility
Vambracis’ - a piece of armour protecting the forearm from the elbow to the wrist.


Sheffield Castle excavations recorded by J.B. Himsworth.
Shoe found in Castle Moat.
Western Park Museum exhibits items from the Sheffield Castle including fragments of jugs, cooking pans and plates that would have been used by ordinary people. The museum also has items that would have been found in the castle armoury including stone and iron cannonballs, a lead musket ball and an iron spur that would have been worn by the horsemen.

Inventory of armour at Sheffield Castle
dating from 1586 (Sheffield Archives)
Despite the Castle’s vast armoury, this did not prevent it being severely damaged in a parliamentary siege during the English Civil War in August 1644. The castle was able to withstand the siege for several days because of its 18 feet deep moat and walls that were two yards thick. However, two larger cannons were brought in and caused major damage to the castle walls.

Two years later on 30th April 1648 the House of Commons resolved that Sheffield Castle should be made untenable. The order was carried out that same year and the stone and various effects were sold to local people for building material, meaning that the body of Sheffield Castle is perhaps still standing in fragments and spread across the city.

Stones from Sheffield Castle
The document detailing the inventory of armour at Sheffield Castle is also fascinating in itself. It is now over 400 years old. There is evidence of where the edges have at one time been folded and pieces have been ripped away. However the ink has not faded and the writing is still clear, although the style of handwriting is difficult to read.

The handwriting used in this document is a specific style of handwriting that was developed in the 16th century because of the new diversity of uses for writing. What was demanded was ‘a universally acceptable style - one which could be written quickly and read everywhere without difficulty - a handwriting for the ordinary man.’ Of course this handwriting is now practically illegible to the 21st century lay person, however at the time it was introduced to create a standard handwriting that did not represent an individual, as handwriting normally does, but that looked consistent whoever was writing it. This type of handwriting was called ‘Secretary’. There were three types of Secretary handwriting; engrossing, upright and sloped. Sloped style had no consistency between the different letters and it was influenced by the consistent slope of italic hand. Engrossing secretary, or ceremonious hand, had regularity in design, a consistent uprightness, absence of linking strokes between the letters and a contrast between different strength of strokes.
Read today some of the letters can be mistaken for a different letter, for example the e and the c in upright secretary look very similar. The letter h bears no resemblance to the way we write the letter h today, but looks closer to the letter g or S as it begins with a loop and is finished off with a deep curving swirl underneath. The letter p is written in one continuous action and often looks like an x. The letters a, c, and g are sometimes begun with ‘a long straight stroke, inclined to the right and rising high above the line of writing’. The letters can be difficult to distinguish from one another making the handwriting difficult to read.
Coloured reconstruction of the castle (from Brightside
and Carbrook Co-operative Society Annual Report 1968)
Although at first glance this document looks impossible to engage with, when you begin to learn about the style of handwriting and how the different letters are formed it becomes slightly clearer. I know I felt an achievement when I began to recognise and was able to read these 400 year old letters and words within the document. Along with the incredibly helpful transcription this document detailing the inventory of armour in Sheffield Castle in 1586 is a gateway into exploring the inner workings of the castle, but also a glimpse into 16th century life in this city.



Mollie Littlewood


The Inventory of armour in Sheffield Castle, 1586 is available to view at Sheffield Archives upon request.  Please quote the reference number: JC/919.  A transcript is available on the Archives catalogue: http://www.calmview.eu/SheffieldArchives/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=JC%2f14%2f19&pos=2
For more information on the Sheffield Castle site see: http://friendsofsheffieldcastle.org.uk/


For a full list of sources at Sheffield Archives and Local Studies Library relating to Sheffield Castle, see our comprehensive Study Guide: http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/libraries-archives/access-archives-local-studies-library/research-guides/castle





 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Exploring the archives: Sheffield's first free public library


Frank Waddington's watercolour of Sheffield Central Library, 1934
Students in the School of English at the University of Sheffield are provided with the opportunity of taking a work placement as part of their degree programme.  This year Mollie Littlewood is working with us at Sheffield City Archives and Local Studies Library.  She is writing a series of blog posts highlighting the city’s fascinating archival treasures.  This week she’s been looking at the very first handwritten Library Committee minute book from 1853 to uncover the origins of the library service in Sheffield…

The front cover of the first Library Committee minute book
at Sheffield Archives dating back to 1853
The job of establishing a free public library in Sheffield was undertaken by the Free Public Library Committee. The committee meetings were attended by the Mayor, the aldermen, the councillors and inhabitants of the Borough who were not members of the council. Sub-committees were also appointed to handle certain aspects of the project. For example a Book Sub-committee was established which controlled the purchasing of books for the library. There was also a General Reference Sub-committee which assisted the librarian and attended to the state of the library. The first meeting of the committee was held on Monday 19th December 1853. By 1856 a public library was open to the people of Sheffield. Sheffield Archives holds the original handwritten minute books of the Free Public Libraries Committee. These document the process of the establishment of Sheffield’s central library and branch network.

Mechanics' Institute, Surrey Street - home of the
original reading rooms of the public library.
The plan of the committee was to establish both a library and museum in the city; however, the library was prioritised. At the first meeting it was decided that a Borough Rate of one half penny was to be introduced to pay for the library. The library could have been located at Arundel Street on land adjoining the School of Design, however the site was rejected as ‘not sufficiently eligible’ with the feeling that a better site could be found.  Their judgement was correct as on 4th January 1855 the committee were offered two rooms in a building held by the Sheffield Mechanics Institute on Surrey Street – the same site at which the library is still located today. One of the rooms in the Mechanics Institute was already used as a library and so this formed the basis upon which to build the Sheffield Library. The committee went on to rent the entire ground floor and basement of the Mechanics Institute for the use of the library.

After finding a suitable site one of the first jobs of the Committee was to appoint a Librarian. An advert was put out in the local newspapers on 6th March 1855 for a Librarian who was ‘required to devote his whole time to the duties of the office and to act also as secretary to the Public Library Committee’. Fifty nine people applied for the role; Mr Walter Parsonson was appointed and he remained the Chief Librarian for many years. As the library grew in size and more rooms were rented from the Mechanics Institute, an Assistant Librarian, Mr Thomas Hurst, was appointed to help manage the workload.

The committee also drew up rules and regulations for the library, which included:

  • Library to be open every day 10-2 and 4-9:30
  • 'No person shall be admitted who is intoxicated or in an uncleanly condition'
  • 'No person shall be allowed the use of the library, without first obtaining the signatures and addresses of two ratepayers whose names appear on the Burgess Roll of the Borough'
  • No one under the age of 14 allowed in the Reading Room

The Librarian also reserved the right to delay the issue of books if he felt the need to enquire into the person wanting to loan the books, or their referees. There was also a restriction on how many items were allowed to be loaned out from the library. Readers could not take out more than one volume and one unbound periodical at one time. The books were also marked with letters A to I, similar to the system still used today, and all books could be kept out for 14 nights except for those marked with H or I. Also, like in libraries today, there was a fine if a book was not returned on time. In certain circumstances the penalty would increase to that reader being denied access to the library for an agreed amount of time.

The first handwritten minutes of the Library Committee, 1853
There were certain learning curves that the Library Committee had to go through in setting up the library. For example the Librarian kept a Register Book in which he wrote the number of the reader’s ticket when books were taken out. However it was noticed that when books went missing a lot of them had been taken out under wrong numbers.  Because of this it was decided that the name of the reader would be recorded in the Register Book as well as their number so it would be known who was not returning books. This system has evolved over the years to become the electronic library card system we use today.

These first three minute books (all bound together in one) depict a period of experimentation for the Sheffield Library in its first few years of existence. In 1857 there was an experiment to see if the working men of Sheffield would appreciate a public museum. Readers were allowed access once a week for three hours to the museum of the library and the Philosophical Society. However it was concluded that the museum would not get an increasing number of visitors because it was not sufficiently stocked, the objects were not sufficiently classified and that the room was too gloomy. It was felt that the money should be put into the library instead.

On 11th April 1856 a room in the library was opened solely for the use of female readers. A year later there was a suggestion they remove the female reading room and make it into something else, however it was seen as a positive that women had their own space to go and read. A report by the General Reference Sub-committee in the minute books observes that the room was being more frequently used. It is pointed out that if the room were to be made into something else the library would lose a large portion of its visitors as one quarter of books borrowed were borrowed by females:

The original reading room
‘were the room to be applied to another than its present purpose, the females would not only be deprived of a privilege which they duly value and avail themselves of, but by being denied the necessary accommodation, would in many cases be prevented from attending the library...’ 

The number of readers attending the library overall is documented as having increased every year since the library opening. However, even though the library was being enjoyed by the people of Sheffield, in the 1860 report the committee admits that the stock of books was still much lower than needed and that ‘many who desire to use the Lending Department are deterred from doing so by the difficulty of procuring the works they wish to read.’ They also report that the library was ‘insufficiently supplied with the current literature of the day’ and that they were without many of the standard works a public library should have.

The original minute book at Sheffield Archives
Although the committee reports that the library was insufficiently stocked, it was felt that more space was needed. In the 1859 report the establishment of branch libraries is suggested as it was felt that ‘the time will shortly come when better arranged and more spacious accommodation will be required for both readers and books’. The first branch library opened at Albert Terrace Road in Upperthorpe in 1869. There is still a library at Upperthorpe to this day, located in the Zest Centre.

The Sheffield Library service expanded considerably thereafter with branches being established across the city. The success of the original two-roomed public library, established over 160 years ago, is evidenced by the fact that the library network in Sheffield is still a busy, vibrant place where people use computers, attend events, meet people, conduct historical research and, of course, borrow books. It is thanks to the Sheffield Free Public Library Committee who set up the library system in 1853 - and whose every decision is carefully written out in hand in the many volumes of minute books at Sheffield Archives - that we have the modern library network we use today.

Mollie Littlewood

Source: minute book of the Sheffield Free Public Library Committee, 1853 - 1870 (Sheffield Archives: CA-LAM/1/1) - available to view at Sheffield Archives by request.

To mark its 100th anniversary, the Libraries Committee commissioned a short film about Sheffield Libraries called 'Books In Hand'.  This is available online via the Yorkshire Film Archive website and is well worth a watch: http://www.yorkshirefilmarchive.com/film/books-hand

 
 




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Review: Adventures in the Anthropocene by Gaia Vince

We're entering a new geological age: the anthropocene. This is the era where humankind's effects on the planet are making themselves known. In this absorbing book, Gaia Vince travels the world to find out how people are living and coping with these changes.

Each chapter focuses on a different biome (including the atmosphere, rivers, oceans, savannahs, rocks, and cities), and this format provides a logical and progressive order to this challenging field of research. The language is clear and accessible without dumbing down the complexities. 

Vince talks to the people on the ground who are employing innovative solutions to environmental problems. These solutions can be controversial and she isn't afraid of showing some criticism or skepticism where necessary. However, with many of the techniques yielding results and even exceeding expectations, Vince also has the happier task of describing the success stories too.

The problems are big and their impact is vast, but the ingenuity of people is astounding, and gives me hope that we can make the most of this new age.


If you like the sound of this, you might also like:
Review written by Ann Brook (Library and Information Assistant)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Exploring the Archives: Enemy attack! Sheffield's ARP and the Blitz

Students in the School of English at the University of Sheffield are provided with the opportunity of taking a work placement as part of their degree programme.  This year Mollie Littlewood is working with us at Sheffield City Archives and Local Studies Library.  She is writing a series of blog posts highlighting the city’s fascinating archival treasures.  This week she’s been looking at the Sheffield Blitz edition of the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) magazine All Clear!
On the 12th and 15th December 1940 Sheffield was attacked by German aircraft.  On the evening of the 12th the air raid sounded at 7pm and was followed by over nine hours of bombing.  It is estimated that 330 German aircraft attacked Sheffield with 355 tonnes of high explosives and over 16,000 incendiary canisters. Two nights later a further 100 planes attacked during a three hour air raid. The bombing caused devastation across the city leaving a wreckage of buildings in its wake.
In April 1937 the government asked for Air Raid Precautions (ARP) to be set up across the country.  These precautions included Air Raid Wardens, casualty services, First Aid posts and Emergency Feeding and Rest Centres amongst other things.  Initially the idea was not well received as people did not want to think of war.  In the beginning there were also periods of boredom for those training for the ARP as there was nothing for them to do.  However, as time went on the ARP increased in size and by the outbreak of war there were 1.5 million people in the ARP across the country.
When Sheffield was attacked in December 1940 the ARP were prepared and dealt with the aftermath of the bombings as best they could with great efficiency, care and bravery.  The Lord Mayor of Sheffield praised the people of the city for showing ‘gallantry, fortitude, untiring energy and great devotion to duty.’

The ARP produced a monthly magazine called All Clear! which included articles about the precautions to be taken in case of an air raid, the status of the war, stories from the air raids and poetry.  In January 1941 a special Blitz Edition was produced praising the people of Sheffield for their response to the attack on their city. The special edition contains letters from the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, the Chairman of the Emergency Committee and from Harewood House on behalf of the Princess Royal paying tribute to Sheffielders.   The Princess Royal compliments the people of Sheffield highlighting the work of the women in ‘organising the relief of distress, and especially the temporary housing and feeding of those whose homes have been destroyed.’
There is a section of the magazine dedicated to praising the women’s voluntary services.  The women of the ARP provided care, supported the homeless and helped children to trace missing parents.  They provided comfort for people who needed it.  They are also praised specifically for their efficient work and improvisation in their almost impossible working environment.  The headquarters of the organising body suffered three direct hits and over 75% of the Emergency Feeding and Rest centres became unavailable.  This did not stop the women, however:
‘It was they who assisted in improvisation schemes; them who courageously held the fort until reinforcements arrived; they who summed up the situation in a flash and “got a move on”’.

The letter from The Chairman of the Emergency Committee that appears in the magazine praises the people of Sheffield for their ‘devotion to duty and the courage you displayed under conditions which it is difficult to describe could only be equalled by soldiers in the front line of battle.’

The magazine includes numerous stories of brave members of the ARP and civilians who showed devotion and courage by risking their lives to save others who were injured or trapped in the rubble. There is a section entitled ‘Our Heroes’ which gives accounts of unbelievable acts of bravery during the Blitz. These include a member of the First Aid party who was killed whilst attending to a casualty. Bombs were dropped nearby and he threw himself over the patient’s body and was struck by falling masonry and killed whilst his patient survived.  A civilian saved five people who were trapped beneath a house by crawling under the debris.  He worked for three and a half hours and managed to get them all out.  A warden rescued five people from a cellar by digging a tunnel with his bare hands.  A nurse working at a First Aid Post was advised to shelter in a passage-way with her colleagues but instead continued to sing cheerfully and go from patient to patient giving them care. These stories highlight moments of triumph and bravery in the face of extreme adversity.  They give me a feeling of pride in the people of Sheffield, and they highlight the importance community had at that time when the world was being torn apart, a message still relevant to the world today.
The special Blitz Edition of All Clear! is bookended by emotional pieces of prose about the Sheffield Blitz and its aftermath:
‘When the sirens sounded there seemed no reason for undue alarm. They had sounded many times before. To be followed in due time by more sirens signifying “All Clear.”
Why Worry?
Then it started; and it continued for many hours.
Two days later they came again.
They left us serious minded and scarred.’ 

This reveals that although the city was well prepared with safety precautions for an attack, there was little that could be done to mentally prepare people for the horror of their homes being bombed; no amount of training and preparation could alleviate the feelings of fear and heartbreak wrought by the attempted demolition of the city.
The piece that closes the special Blitz Edition of All Clear! is titled ‘And Then--’ and gives the message that  although Sheffield has been damaged, it has not been defeated by these attacks:
‘...If the objective was our morale then the victory is ours for the battle has left us, not desperate, but defiant...
How shall we honour our dead?
That is for the future.


When the time comes we shall remember them by removing our scars and, in their place, we shall build a better and greater Sheffield.’

This overwhelming sense of positivity and strength is found throughout the Blitz Edition of the magazine.  Separating these two pieces of prose are pages of praise for every section of the ARP.  It suggests that without the hard work of the people of Sheffield the city would not have been able to go from being ‘serious minded and scarred’ to ‘defiant’ and ready to ‘build a better and greater Sheffield.’

Mollie Littlewood

ARP Magazine Blitz Edition 1941 (Sheffield Local Studies Library: 623.3 S)

Images © Sheffield City Archives/Picture Sheffield

Monday, March 6, 2017

Exploring the Archives: the Sheffield Women’s Lib Movement in the 1970s


Students in the School of English at the University of Sheffield are provided with the opportunity of taking a work placement as part of their degree programme.  This year Mollie Littlewood is working with us at Sheffield City Archives and Local Studies Library.  She is writing a series of blog posts highlighting the city’s fascinating archival treasures.  This week she’s been looking at newsletters produced by the Sheffield Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1970s…

The Sheffield Women’s Newsletter was produced by the Sheffield Women’s Liberation Movement which appears to have been established in the late 1960s. It was a group that criticised the male dominated society and condemned sexism. The group campaigned on issues such as equal pay, violence against women, rape, pornography and ‘cultural sexist attitudes’. The newsletter was a space for women in Sheffield to communicate with one another and form a support network as they campaigned for women’s rights.

The first Sheffield Women’s Newsletter was published in May 1971 and took the form of a two-side typescript page outlining the aims of the Women’s Liberation Movement.  By 1979 the newsletter had become a stapled booklet with hand drawn illustrations, personal articles and poetry from women in the movement.  The women in the movement produced the newsletters themselves.  All of the material in the newsletters was composed, typed and drawn by them including the illustrations that appear in the issues at the latter end of the decade.  In 1976 they began to draw front covers for the newsletters and illustrations for the articles and poems. These are all hand drawn in felt tip pen.  This DIY ethic makes the newsletters feel more personal - they remind the reader that local women were making them with limited resources.  The illustrations give the newsletter greater appeal than plain text, but they are cleverly used to help present the points made in the written pieces.

The group later learnt how to print the newsletters themselves.  An article written by Jos Kingston in the springtime 1978 issue discusses the printing group and her experience of teaching herself how to print with a machine and platemaker that was now in use at the Polytechnic Student’s Union (now Sheffield Hallam University). She writes that ‘the “man from Roneo” gave two 20-minute trainings in what knobs to turn, and the rest of my learning was trial and error’. She basically taught herself how to print and although she admits to wasting almost £20 worth of materials in the process, in the end she finds a great satisfaction in the skill she has gained: ‘It’s such an advantage if you’re participating in the whole process of communicating what matters to you, from start to finish’.  These newsletters were a space for women to voice their opinions and any outside help they would have had or asked for would have most likely been from men.  I feel a sense of pride when I read these newsletters because these women were breaking gender stereotypes and revealing their own capabilities.  Jos discusses in her article the desires of herself and others in the printing group to try and make a living out of printing.  They enjoyed learning a skill that would not have been taught to them otherwise and sought the feeling of independence that comes with earning money.

Although the newsletter in itself is an exhibition of these women’s talents, the issues discussed within it are incredibly sobering.  In the July 1975 issue, Shirley Field writes an article entitled ‘Some Notes on Rape’. She discusses a ruling by the House of Lords that a defendant in a rape case could escape conviction if he believed the woman consented. She writes ‘the defendant’s belief does not even have to be a reasonable one’.  In 1975 the charge of rape could be dismissed if the man stated that he believed the women enjoyed it. Shirley Field discusses the views of a Sir Harold Cassel whose opinion was that ‘a resisting woman could well be giving the man the additional thrill of a struggle’. The use of the word ‘could’ in his statement highlights the ludicrousness of the situation. The judges in the courts were relying on their own personal viewpoint rather than fact. Field highlights the impossible situation this placed women in; ‘the procedure of going through the courts to prosecute a rapist is already severe how many women will run the gauntlet of sneers and jokes to be told that she got what she asked for and enjoyed it!!’ This level of sexism shocked me - this was happening only 40 years ago when my parents were teenagers!

Some of the articles written in the newsletters take a more comic and light-hearted approach although they are still discussing serious issues. There is an article in the Jan/Feb 1978 issue written by Sue Pethen who discusses her experience of pregnancy.  Whilst reading her article I had to constantly remind myself that it was written in the late 1970s and not much earlier in the century.  She discusses the booklet produced by the British Medical Association that she received at her first antenatal visit to the hospital.  It emphasised the need for sleep: ‘if you are working, when you get home, before starting any of the household work, put your feet up for an hour, and try to doze off’.  Of course the housework was a must and pregnancy did not exempt women from this task. The booklet tentatively suggested that the husband might help out with cleaning the bath as this was seen as a danger, however all other housework was perfectly acceptable for a pregnant woman to do. The booklet gave suggestions as to how to cope with backache.  Women were advised to ‘carry two shopping bags, one in each hand, rather than only one heavy one; do tasks like ironing, washing up, peeling vegetables sitting down’.  The illustration that accompanies this article comically depicts a heavily pregnant woman sat down with an ironing board over her knee looking tired and angry whilst her husband stands in front of her smiling handing her flowers.  The illustration captures the essence of the article perfectly and I suspect that male input into the newsletter would have altered its look and tone significantly.  It made me realise the importance of the fact that these women produced these newsletters by themselves as it enabled them to completely critique and expose the reality of their situation without censorship.

Finally, the contributions to these newsletters that have struck me the most are the poems. They are few and far between but they give an insight into the true inner emotions of a woman living through a time of fighting for equality.  In the Feb/March 1979 issue of the newsletter there is a poem by Judy Tyrrell about her not feeling at home in her own home.  She feels suffocated and trapped at home: ‘Like feeding with a jumper/ Pulled over your head.’  She compares her home to her experience of being in the Women’s Movement.  As part of the Women’s Movement she writes ‘My own eyes have seen/My lips shared thoughts/Closeness and warmth’.  In the movement she has the freedom to speak and she feels part of a community, ‘But they find no room’ in her home with her husband.  She writes ‘I carry my space inside me’.  She cannot share her feeling of freedom with her husband; she has to keep it private. The poem also describes the patriarchal home she lives in; ‘I am neatly hemmed in/With unspoken expectations/ All framework and fodder’.  At home she is trapped by the masculine ideal of women, an ideal that does not have to be spoken but is simply known.  She writes that in the Women’s Movement ‘We choose to live differently’, whereas her compliant behaviour at home is ‘an empty gesture –/ A failure to say no.’ This poem gives a moving insight into the double lives some of the women in the movement were living.  They were fighting for equal rights but these had not yet been granted and so they were also still living in the world of gender inequality.  Many women will have been both a woman of the movement and a wife.

Mollie Littlewood, School of English, University of Sheffield
Records relating to the Sheffield Women’s Liberation Movement, c.1971 - 1980 (Sheffield City Archives MD7966; X695); Images © Sheffield Women's Newsletter.

International Women's Day is on Wednesday 8 March 2017 - a global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of the past, present and future. Rooted in the struggle for women's suffrage and equal rights, it has been celebrated worldwide since 1911.  #BeBoldForChange
 
 
 



Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I swept through this book with indecent haste. Juliet, a writer living in London in 1946, receives an unexpected letter from a Guernsey man named Dawsey who has found her name in a book by Charles Lamb. They start up a correspondence, and she learns about the society of the title, the people who founded it, and why. 

The novel unfolds through letters as Juliet corresponds with various islanders about their experiences. What starts out as research turns into a passion, and she decides to visit Guernsey and meet the people to hear their stories of the war first-hand.

I really felt for the characters and was drawn into their lives along with Juliet, and the letter format is particularly effective in bringing out the various nuances of life on Guernsey during that time. I enjoyed this book very much.


If you like the sound of this, you might also like:

Review written by Ann Brook (Library and Information Assistant)