Books in isolation
Explore highlights from our collections, from the 15th century to the present day.
Beautiful, intricate and varied, shells have adorned our clothes, our homes and our objects of art for centuries. From the end of the 17th century, natural scientists began to collect, organise, observe and draw them in earnest. George Montagu’s Testacea Britannica (1803) is one of the most important works of natural history to come out of the Age of Enlightenment – and it has a special significance for Exeter.
In his day, W. E. Norris was described as the ‘Gainsborough of English novelists’, an heir to Trollope and a writer of ‘Disraelian intensity’ … so why aren’t we reading his novels today?
From the early 19th century, Koenig & Bauer’s new steam-powered double-cylinder printing press, capable of printing over 1100 sheets an hour, disseminated information fast. The circulation of The Times newspaper increased from 5,000 to 50,000 by the middle of the century. However, not all printing was about speed – in 1822 William Savage published his guide to fine art printmaking – still a popular art form today.
Furloughed on half pay following the end of the war with France, Captain Hugh Clapperton (1788–1827) looked to augment his income with an intrepid exploration into the African interior.
What is the secret of good writing for children? Is there even such a thing as a children's book? As an adult alert to the child within, Lewis Carroll knew instinctively how to write for children and adults simultaneously.
Lighthouse keepers were certainly used to living in isolation; in this week's guest blog Edward Maunder tells the story of John Smeaton's Eddystone Lighthouse, situated 9 miles south of Rame Head off the Cornish coast.
If you are beginning to tire of the present lockdown you may perhaps find some solace in this little book of travels in the boudoir, or how to travel the world without leaving the house - something, it would seem, that women especially were rather good at in the early 19th century.
The third President of the United States of America is best known for drafting the Declaration of Independence that galvanised the British colonies in their fight to become a new nation. At home he immersed himself in science, engineering, architecture and book collecting – even rescuing one of the world’s greatest libraries.
Philip Henry Gosse's invention of the aquarium was 'instantly accepted by naturalists and amateurs alike, and became to the one a portable studio of biology, to the others a charming and fashionable toy'.