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Book of the month

Explore highlights from our collections, from the 15th century to the present day.

Bowdler’s defence of single women

Our Book of the Month for January is H. M. Bowdler's 'Pen Tamar'; a novel in which the author seeks to address early nineteenth century attitudes towards single women. Set against a backdrop of the English Civil War, this moral tale of romance and heartbreak tells the story of Matilda Heywood and her relationship with Devonian Sir William Trelawney, in which he is taught to challenge his preconceived ideas about 'old maids'.

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The worst journey in the world

Our Book of the Month for December was researched and written by Tony Rhodes, a library volunteer at the Devon and Exeter Institution. Apsley Cherry-Gerrard was a member of the infamous Terra Nova expedition. His first hand account recalls the race to the South Pole that tragically turned out to be the final expedition for Robert Falcon Scott. December 2022 marks the 100 year anniversary since the book's first publication.

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A tale of dread

As the nights draw in and Halloween looms closer, our Book of the Month blog for October is a spooky tale of demons and witchcraft set on Dartmoor. This blog was written and researched by Becky Rae, one of our Prints and Drawings Volunteers.

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Book of the Month: David Gregory and Euclid

September's Book of the Month blog was written by Library Volunteer Edward Maunder, and looks into Scottish mathematician David Gregory and his commentary on Euclid's Elements - one of the most influential works in the history of mathematics.

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A gift to the Queen of Seaweed

As it is the season to be poking around in rock pools and enjoying the Devon coast, our Book of the Month is Landsborough’s A popular history of British sea-weeds. Published in 1849, this work invited amateur and expert alike to take delight in the natural history of the seashore. The DEI is lucky to hold a copy formerly owned by Mrs Griffiths of Torquay – the Queen of Seaweed.

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Oyntments, powders and syrops – a mysterious medical recipe manuscript

Deep in the Manuscripts Cupboard of the Devon and Exeter Institution library lives a small, roughly bound, handwritten book, containing recipes for the treatment of many ailments, from ‘almond milk for a fever’, to ‘a powder against bleeding of lunggs’ and ‘an oyntment against swellings’. There are even instructions to make ‘a distilled water for the plague’. This manuscript contains no clear indications of authorship, and no definite date of creation. Written in different hands, there is the suggestion of this book being passed down, sharing its medicinal wisdom through the generations.

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