All change in the Treasures Gallery!

It’s a busy July and August in the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery.


In July and August we celebrated a few milestones. During the Leeds International Medieval Congress in July we welcomed our 10,000th visitor to the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery – we think it was someone who attended our special lecture on digital learning resources, several of which focus on the medieval holdings in Special Collections.

The 1st of August marked our six-month anniversary and was also the day that we de-installed our first temporary exhibition, On Conscientious Grounds: Objection and Resistance in the First World War. This moving and thought-provoking display explored the experiences of conscientious objectors and their families and friends, through letters, artwork, diaries, postcards and personal items. These materials will be checked by our conservation team and returned to storage where they will be available once more for consultation by readers and researchers. We are planning an online resource bringing together text and images from this exhibition. It will be available on our website later in the year.

Preparations are well under way for our next temporary exhibition, For All Time: Shakespeare in Yorkshire. Opening in September, this special exhibition will explore the relationship between Shakespeare and Yorkshire. Four hundred years after the death of the Bard, we will be putting on public display for the first time the rare Shakespeare materials left to Leeds University Library by Lord Brotherton. Lord Brotherton of Wakefield (1856-1930) was one of the country’s leading private collectors of rare books and manuscripts. On his death he left his remarkable collection to the University, including the “holy grail” of book collecting, the four 17th-century Shakespeare folios. He also collected “apocrypha”, books that had Shakespeare’s name on the title page but were in fact by other writers. These include A Yorkshire Tragedie, telling the story of a murder in Calverley in 1605.

The exhibition will look at how Shakespeare dramatised Yorkshire history, and explore how directors today are still using his work to ask questions about regional identity.

The formal launch event will take place on Tuesday 6 September, and all are welcome to attend.

We look forward to seeing you there!


New accessions – July 2016

From politics to theatre to shoes, we’ve taken in a varied selection of books and archives this month.

Two unusual items have been added to the Artists’ Books collection, both the work of Lenka Clayton. “Qaeda, quality, question, quickly, quickly, quiet” is a vinyl LP of President George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech, re-edited with the words arranged in alphabetical order. “One Brown Shoe” is a box of cards documenting Clayton’s project in which she gave 100 married couples a kit of parts to make a pair of shoes; the catch was that they had to make one shoe each, in secret from one another, with mismatched results.

In “Her Majesty’s Commissioners 1878-1978” Kenneth Neale presents a brief history of the Prison Commission, set up to administer England’s local prisons after they were taken over by the government. From that point, the Commissioners, having inherited a system in which the treadmill, the crank and oakum-picking still played a prominent part, pursued a high-minded programme of improvement and modernization, insofar as resources and political opposition allowed, until their abolition in 1963.

Richard Thackrah has chronicled Ilkley’s part in World War I in a series of booklets of extracts reproduced from the Ilkley Gazette, including records of those killed and wounded, the Battle of the Somme, awards, and poems by local people.

John Marston’s play “Histrio-mastix. Or, The player whipt” is an allegorical comedy lampooning the professional theatre, and particularly Ben Jonson (1572-1637). It is a spectacular play with a large cast, featuring songs, dances and special effects. The play was first performed in 1599. We have the first edition, published anonymously in 1610.


The television producer Andy Lipman (1952-1997) originally trained as a lawyer, but left the legal world behind to work in the media.  We have recently acquired a small collection of his archives.  With Philip Timmins, Lipman was a project coordinator of the low-budget video ‘Framed Youth’ which consisted of tales of coming-out.  This won the Grierson Award for best documentary in 1984.  Lipman submitted the proposal that became ‘The Media Show’ on Channel 4 and was its producer.  From 1990-1992 Lipman edited and produced the programme ‘For Love or Money’ about the art and antiques’ market.

We have also acquired the archive of the Leeds Theatre Company Blah, Blah, Blah. Set up in 1985 the Blah, Blah, Blah’s are a leading theatre in education company.  The collection includes production files, project files for teachers and also scripts by well-known playwrights such as Mark Catley and Mike Kenny.