Manuscripts and Special Collections

The Creative World

The work of imaginative minds and creative hands is evident throughout the archives. Material for the historian of visual arts and music is present, but inevitably library collections focus strongly on the written word.

Of particular interest are the University’s literary collections of local authors, notably D.H. Lawrence, Stanley Middleton, Henry Kirke White and William and Mary Howitt. A recent collecting interest is the work of twentieth-century Nottingham poets. In areas such as drama and theatre history, the manuscripts and rare book collections have developed complementary strengths.

In the archives we find records of the purchase or collecting of cultural objects, and the patronage given by wealthy individuals. Books in the Special Collections provide published texts, and as artefacts themselves offer examples of fine binding and illustration.


Henry Kirke White Banquet, Exchange Hall Nottingham

Henry Kirke White Banquet, Exchange Hall Nottingham 21 Nov. 1906 [Kw 3/2/2]

Following the early death of Henry Kirke White (1785-1806) from tuberculosis whilst a student at Cambridge, his unpublished work was edited by Robert Southey as The Remains of Kirke White. The collections at Nottingham include both printed editions of his work and manuscript materials. Among the items is this record of the centenary banquet held to honour the local poet in 1906.


Page from a sketch book of Richard Bonington, 1810

Page from a sketch book of Richard Bonington, 1810 [MS 456/1]

Richard Bonington, father of the artist Richard Parkes Bonington (1802-1828), had a number of occupations including Governor of Nottingham Gaol. In 1817 Bonington moved his family from Arnold to France to set up a lace making business, which subsequently provided his son with the opportunity to undertake formal training as a painter. This watercolour sketchbook reflects Richard Bonington’s other career, as a drawing master. It contains landscapes including this scene of Old Radford Church, Nottingham, and various houses, churches and trees.


Local Panegyrical Comic Song

Song from A collection of comic songs written, compil’d, etch’d, and engrav’d, by J. Robertson (Peterborough, before 1831) [East Midlands Spec. Coll. Em. W8 ROB]

Evidence of the popularity of classical music, opera and theatre in the nineteenth century is well documented in the archives. Reflecting a taste for less highbrow music is this volume of songs sung by James Robertson at theatres in Yorkshire and the midlands. Robertson tailored his act to local audiences. His 'Local Panegyrical Comic Song, call'd Paul Pry's Visit to the Neighbourhood of Nottingham' includes allusions to familiar places.


Next: The Natural World


Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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