Two books for learning Spanish in 19th century England

The Spanish language started attracting widespread attention in Britain in the 19th century, when “Great Britain’s attitude to Spain was softening, and former prejudices were giving way to a new understanding” (The emergence and growth of Hispanic studies in British and Irish universities, 2018.11.705).


First issue of Bulletin of Spanish Studies (Dec. 1923) P744.c.6.1

Modern languages were officially introduced in the 19th century in universities such as King’s College London and University College London, and later, in the so-called Redbrick universities (Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and Bristol) – the term “redbrick” was coined by an influential English Hispanist, Edgar Allison Peers, Professor at Liverpool and founder of the Bulletin of Spanish studies (1923). These newer universities were more open to the study of modern languages than the historic universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge. Continue reading

Saint Nicholas: from bishop of Myra to Santa Claus

December 6th is St. Nicholas’ Day on which many children in the Netherlands and other countries in mainland Europe wake up expectantly, hoping to find gifts in the shoes they left out the night before. In the Netherlands, the arrival in mid-November of Sinterklaas (as he is called there) on a ship from Spain, followed by a parade on a white horse, is a major (now televised) event and has been taking place for many years. It was depicted in the 19th century by Jan Schenkman in his Sint Nikolaas en zijn knecht.

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Love for three oranges : the November 2018 Slavonic items of the month

The University Library recently received several dozen books from the library of the late Russian drama critic and Cambridge graduate Edward (Ted) Braun.  Professor Braun studied in particular the work of Vsevolod Meierkhol’d, commonly anglicised as Meyerhold.  Meierkhol’d published an influential journal of literary and critical texts called Liubov’ k trem apel’sinam (Love for three oranges) over the course of 1914 to 1916.  The UL had only one volume, so we were delighted to be offered all those collected by Professor Braun.  We now hold all but the first issue.

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Italian ebooks – an update

For several years now we have had in place a facility whereby readers can recommend Italian language ebooks – and in fact also English language ebooks published in Italy – through iDiscover.

The Torrossa platform operates rather differently to other ebook platforms we work with, in that we have added catalogue records for all of the platform’s ebook content to iDiscover, but the first user to be interested in accessing any given title has to make an explicit recommendation through the Torrossa site. This Patron Driven Acquisition scheme allows us to expose users of iDiscover to many potentially useful titles whilst only purchasing those for which there is ‘patron demand’. Continue reading


80 years ago in the night of November 9-10, 1938 Nazi Germany unleashed terror on its Jewish citizens. The ‘Reichskristallnacht’ marked the beginning of the Nazis’ implementation of their ‘final solution’, the annihilation of the Jewish population and with it the destruction of Jewish culture and civilization. In this post we look at the Soncino-Gesellschaft as an example of the rich Jewish culture which was destroyed by Nazi Germany. Continue reading