One of the main reasons for starting this blog was that there was so much to tell – as the very first post said: “It’s about the life of the Libraries & Archives”. There are so very many facets to a public library service; I wanted to help bring more of what we can offer into the light.
After eighteen years in Westminster Libraries (a brief interlude in comparison to the tenure of Malcolm and many others, of course), I’ve rounded up a selection of wonderful things and, with apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein, persuaded my library-fan children to spare you my singing voice. As I move on to pastures new, one of the things I will miss the most is editing this blog (I look forward to being a reader from now on). It’s been a privilege.
So long, farewell…
Mayfair Library Reading Group met yesterday to discuss Cousins by Salley Vickers.
May 1994: Will Tye, a student at Cambridge, falls from the tower of King’s College. This event is the starting point for a story running through three generations of the Tye family, told from the view point of three different women: Will’s sister Hetta, grandmother Betsy and his aunt Bell. The group felt that this device was sometimes confusing, they weren’t always sure who was speaking.
All agreed that the ending (which we won’t give away!) was the best part of the book, when the story really picked up. They saw it as interesting rather than shocking or surprising.
Salley Vickers is probably best known for her first novel, published in 2000, Miss Garnet’s Angel. You can find her other books, including Cousins, in Westminster Libraries.
The group meets at the end of March to discuss their next book, Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop. Come and join in!
Marylebone is not lacking in blue plaques recording the former residences of the great – and not-so-great – local residents. Several examples have been the subject of previous blog posts. The official plaques were erected formally first by the London County Council / Greater London Council and are currently administered by English Heritage.
English Heritage’s selection criteria include a minimum time frame of 22 years between the subject’s death and an erection of a commemorative plaque. December 2016 saw an unofficial blue plaque erected to Joe Strummer of influential punk band The Clash. Strummer died in 2002 and thus fails the formal selection criteria. Nonetheless, a ceremony was held at the Seymour Housing Co-op building (33 Daventry Street NW1, between Lisson Grove and Edgware Road). In nearby Bell Street, Malcolm McLaren and two of the Sex Pistols were also residents in this period. This is the second public commemoration to Joe Strummer in the area. The pedestrian subway linking the two halves of Edgware Road, bisected by Harrow Road, is named the Joe Strummer Subway. Fittingly above this junction and subway soars the elevated Westway, an major inspiration for the band.
Joe Strummer has also made it into the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (log in with your library card). Other resources one can use for research into his life and the band’s significance in music history are the several newspaper and magazine archives which can also be accessed free online with a Westminster Libraries membership. Those readers who were around in the late 1970s will remember the moral panic that bands such as The Clash and the Sex Pistols generated and this is reflected in many newspaper articles. I found an interesting slant upon the punk rock phenomenon in an Economist article entitled More money than music in nihilism, (June 11, 1977, page 22).
Away from these contemporary reports Westminster Libraries hold a number of books relating to The Clash and the punk rock phenomenon:
Posted in Books, Marylebone Library, Music
Tagged 24/7, biography, Blue Plaques, books, Joe Strummer, Marylebone, newspapers, ODNB, online, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, punk, reference, The Clash
Leaves from a Missionary’s Notebook by Stephen Tennant
Hamish Hamilton, 1986
(First published by Secker & Warburg Ltd, 1929)
Stephen Tennant, “the brightest” of “The Bright Young People”, was twenty-three years old when Leaves from a Missionary’s Notebook was first published. The notebook tells the story of the Rev Felix Littlejohn and his quest to convert the heathens to the light and in the process is exposed to all sorts of outrageous, horrifying and hilarious behaviour by natives, sailors and other characters.
It is in some ways a book ahead of its time, as the story is told in graphic novel format with drawings by the author who was also an artist as well as a socialite and a quintessential English eccentric.
Stephen’s life is as interesting as any book if not more so. The son of British nobility, as a young man he is supposed to have ‘resembled the youthful Shelley’ and was the inspiration for Cedric in Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate. Stephen’s friends ranged from Virginia Woolf to David Hockney and his surrealist poses are a frequent feature in Cecil Beaton’s photographs of the 1920s and 1930s.
Stephen’s niece was British novelist and editor, the Hon. Emma Tennant who sadly died last month.