“We shall each write a ghost story” was Lord Byron’s challenge to his guests at Villa Diodati near Geneva in the summer of 1816. This competition would eventually produce two of the greatest gothic novels; Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819).
Happy anniversary: 10 years of the John Murray Archive at the National Library
With the acquisition of the John Murray publishing archive ten years ago, the National Library of Scotland welcomed the likes of Charles Darwin, Jane Austen and Lord Byron to the collections. Over a quarter of a million letters and publishing papers of some of the greatest names in literature bolstered already outstanding collections. But this was […]
Money and Murray
The thousands of letters that I catalogue as part of the John Murray Archive cover a huge variety of themes. But one topic of conversation that comes up time and again is that of money. This is probably unsurprising. The John Murray Archive is, after all, a business archive. The ledgers and letters largely reflect […]
Catching the eye of Martin Scorsese
You’re not quite sure what to expect when you seal an envelope addressed to Hollywood film director, Martin Scorsese in New York. Enclosed was a letter from the National Library of Scotland asking him to support our Moving Image Archive campaign. I wasn’t too hopeful but you just never know so I posted it and […]
Have yourself a very cine Christmas – the power of Frank Marshall’s family films
Only two more sleeps! As children across the land excitedly prepare for Christmas, we unwrap some festive films in the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive. Not only made for fun and entertainment, they also offer evidence of a thriving amateur film-making culture and an emotionally charged record of Scotland’s past. Here are four […]
Touring Scotland with the Caledonian Railway
As the railway grew, its initial functional nature was eventually surpassed by one of luxury. Mere journeys became holidays, trips became tours and the manner of getting there became just as important as getting there itself.
The price you pay
It may sometimes seem as though there is a map for everything, but this was decidedly proven when I stumbled upon this unlikely map with the theme of life insurance.
Likable Advertising: An Oxymoron?
I have a tendency to shudder at the mere thought of advertising. The idea of television programmes which tantalisingly countdown the top 100 adverts fill me with dread, on many levels. Can something so inherently awful ever be beautiful? Of course, it turns out that the answer is yes. Until now this blog has focused […]
Putting disease on the map
Maps are ever so helpful when it comes to finding one’s way around the world. They are the obvious choice if you need to know how to get to Devon, for example, and they help to put the planet and its features into context. However, for some purposes, maps can have a much more profound […]
Keeping things in proportion
Inspired by an item I’ve recently discovered in the Bartholomew Archive Printing Record the time has come for me to stop glossing over some of the more complicated intricacies of maps and to tackle the art of scale. For those in the know, this is a simple and effective system to communicate the levels of […]