Friday 25 July 2014

The Only Way is Essex

A recent reader enquiry brought a rarely used manuscript out of the strong rooms and into the light of the Library office this week. This closely written commonplace book (MS A.2.78)  belonged to Abdias Assheton, who served as one of the household chaplains of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1565-1601). Devereux was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth but was beheaded for treason in 1601, and was accompanied to his execution by Assheton.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

A visit from ARLIS

We're very much looking forward to welcoming delegates from the ARLIS UK and Ireland Conference to the Library this afternoon. The Art Libraries Society is the professional organisation for people involved in providing library and information services and documenting resources in the visual arts, and their latest publication, the Art Researchers' Guide to Manchester and Salford, is being launched today. Senior Librarian Fergus Wilde, who has contributed to the guide, will be showing the group some of our art treasures including our large collection of Hogarth prints.

Friday 11 July 2014

The common press

We have almost reached the end of our 101 Treasures series, but we are saving some of the best til last: this week it's the turn of our wooden printing press which stands at the top of the stairs.

Expert Alan May, who was responsible for restoring the press, during which he made major discoveries about its history and construction, featured on a wonderful programme with Stephen Fry about the history of printing, which you can watch here.

Find out more about the history of the press and how it came to the Library on the website.


As part of our work on Belle Vue supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, we have commissioned a story by award-winning author Livi Michael which has been published as part of a new anthology of crime stories for teenagers. Crimelines is a Manchester Children's Book Festival project led by tutors at the Manchester Writing School which showcases new stories by students from MMU's MA in Writing for Children. 

The book is available to buy from the MMU online store.

Thursday 10 July 2014

The Diary of Mary Travers

The recent publication of a new novel caught our attention, as the subject matter relates indirectly to Thomas Jones, Librarian of Chetham’s from 1845 until his death in 1875.

The Diary of Mary Travers by Eibhear Walshe re-imagines the celebrated libel case between Mary and Sir William and Lady Wilde, the parents of Oscar Wilde, a scandal which filled the newspapers for weeks. Mary was the daughter of Robert Travers MD, scholar and Assistant Librarian of Archbishop Marsh’s Library in Dublin, and esteemed friend of Thomas Jones. The two friends corresponded for many years and over 200 letters from Travers to Jones survive here at Chetham’s; although sadly none of those sent by Jones to his friend have been preserved.

Travers’s letters remain on a friendly professional level throughout the correspondence: antiquarian and literary matters, social activities in Dublin, and political events. Perhaps the most extraordinary thing is that no mention is made of the court case whatsoever other than an oblique reference made six months after the end of the trial, Travers evidently having been so distressed during the court proceedings that he had been unable to write. Later, then, he writes to Jones, confessing that he is in poor health, and continuing: ‘I have had much of domestic and other annoyance and have perhaps yielded too much to its disheartening influence’. A beautifully poignant piece of Victorian understatement.

Japanese Gardens: A Celebration

Japanese Gardens: A Celebration 

You are warmly invited to a fantastic evening immersed in Japanese gardens and culture on August 7th here at Chetham's. 
In partnership with the National Trust and arranged to coincide with Manchester’s Dig the City gardening festival, this is an exclusive chance to see Japanese prints and books from the Library’s collection, including Hiroshige Wood Prints; followed by a talk on the Gardens of Kyoto by the National Trust Gardener-in-Residence for Manchester, Sean Harkin. This is a must for all those interested in art, culture and gardens. 

There will be food provided by Yo! Sushi. Admission is £5 on the door and is free for National Trust members, advance bookings taken.

We recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment as tickets may sell out on the day.
For advance bookings or queries please contact Ted Harris on or 0161 838 7224.

Wednesday 9 July 2014


Congratulations to one of the Library's favourite authors, Livi Michael, whose latest novel, Succession, will be launched tomorrow here at the Library. The book follows the fortunes of Margaret Beaufort and Margaret Anjou, set against the backdrop of the Wars of the Roses.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

New course starting in October

This eight-week course will be an introduction to the history of radical political ideas and movements in Manchester. This area was at the centre of the social, economic and industrial upheavals of the Industrial Revolution. This gave birth to a number of radical working class movements which will be explored during the course. There will also be an opportunity to look at archive items at Chetham’s connected with these movements.

The course will be taught by Michael Herbert MA, who has been researching and writing about the history of radical movements in Manchester for many years. His most recent book is 'Up Then Brave Women': Manchester’s Radical Women 1819-1918. He is a Trustee of the Working Class Movement Library and has taught adult education courses in history at Aquinas College, Stockport

The course will begin on 1 October 2014, 10.30am – 12.30pm.

The cost of the course is £40 per person, payable in advance.

Places can be booked on the course by contacting Michael Herbert at or on 01457 838885.