Roses are red, violets are blue, we’ve delved into the British Newspaper Archive…. just for you!

Today is Valentine’s Day and with that in mind we’ve been having a look at some historical newspapers to see what we could find.

If you think that the heavy burden on the postie was a relatively new thing, think again. Back in 1876, the Edinburgh Evening News reported that the pillar box at the GPO had to be emptied 5 or 6 times to cope with the demand.

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Edinburgh Evening News 14th Feb 1876

In the Dundee Evening Telegraph, you could win £2 2s for pouring your heart out….

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Dundee Evening Telegraph 10th Feb 1931

And a few years later this little drawing appeared, can you work out the message?

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Dundee Evening Telegraph 14th Feb 1936

And if you forgot to send off that card, there was even a belated Valentine’s message.

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There are over 14 million digitised pages from more than 700 UK and Irish newspapers available on the British Newspaper Archive. You can browse for FREE in Central Library’s Edinburgh & Scottish Collection and Reference Library.

So do come and have a look yourself and use the Libraries’ computers or wifi to explore thousands of newspapers from 1710-1954 for FREE.

The news of Christmas past

We’re still in the Christmas mood and have been flicking through the pages of the British Newspaper Archive, delving into Christmases past.

1918’s panto at the King’s Theatre was Jack and The Beanstalk… Oh yes it was!

Jack and The Beanstalk- 1918

5th January 1918

In 1900 there was a “Great Christmas and New Year Carnival” in the Waverley Market, which had been turned into “a veritable Fairyland” and not a big wheel or German Market in sight!

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25th December 1924

In 1920 the coolest Christmas gift was a gramophone…..fast forward 96 years, and once again it’s appearing on Santa’s list.

gramophone

24th December 1920

With Christmas Day only becoming a public holiday in Scotland in 1958, most workers were lucky to get a half days holiday to celebrate….

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22nd December 1924

All these ads were taken from the Edinburgh Evening News, but there are over 14 million digitised pages from more than 700 UK and Irish newspapers available on the British Newspaper Archive. You can browse for FREE in Central Library’s Edinburgh & Scottish Collection and Reference Library.

So do come and have a look yourself and use the Libraries computers to explore thousands of newspapers from 1710-1954 for FREE.

Robert Louis Stevenson Day 2016

Robert Louis Stevenson Day (#RLSDay) is now an annual date on Edinburgh’s literary calendar when the life and works of one of our City of Literature’s most famous writers are celebrated. The lead up to Stevenson’s birthday on 13 November saw events taking place throughout Edinburgh.

We were privileged on 10 November to host a lecture by the eminent Robert Louis Stevenson expert, Professor Barry Menikoff. We heard a very insightful talk about Stevenson’s book, David Balfour – better known to most of us as Catriona.

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We were also entertained by a scratch company of student actors from Liverpool who performed a dramatized version of Stevenson’s short story Markheim. The first time that a murdered body has been found on one of the Reference Library’s desks!

This event was organised by The Centre for Literature and Writing (CLAW) at Napier University.

Victorian travels in the Middle East

Fancy a trip back in time to the Middle East of the late 1800s? Our latest exhibition on Capital Collections is a stunning collection of early travel photographs capturing these exotic lands which were far beyond the imagination of the British public of the time.

Mosque of Sultan Ahmed

Mosque of Sultan Ahmed, Istanbul

By the 1860s, British tour operators such as Cook’s Tours were offering package tours to the Middle East encompassing destinations such as Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, and Egypt. Wealthy gentlemen (including King Edward VII) embarked on these tours to learn about the ancient cultures, history, and religions of these mysterious faraway lands.

Parthenon, Athens

Parthenon, Athens

As the tourist trade grew, photographers from all over Europe flocked here, keen to document this different world. Some set up studios to produce prints specifically for the tourist trade, much like a modern travel postcard, many of which can be seen in this collection.

View of the bridge in Istanbul

View of the bridge in Istanbul

Did you know the Great Sphinx of Giza was not fully uncovered until the 1930s?

The Sphinx and the pyramids, Egypt

The Sphinx and the pyramids, Egypt

Browse this wonderful travel album and you’ll trek though the ancient ruins of some the world’s earliest civilisations, get lost in the bustling streets of old Constantinople, and escape the heat whilst marvelling at the exquisite interiors of the ancient mosques.

A calendar of flowers

It may be thought perhaps the Winter months are void of the delights expected in a flower garden; but the mistake will soon be discovered by any curious observer, when he shall find, that there are at least two and thirty flowers of different kinds then in their splendour.

So wrote the author in ‘The Flower Garden Display’d’ volume of 1732.

January

This vibrant display shows January’s blooms. The following months’ illustrations can be seen in our latest Capital Collections exhibition. The flowers from each month’s bouquet are identified to help the budding horticulturist.

Belzoni : The giant archaeologists love to hate

Our latest exhibition on Capital Collections records Giovanni Belzoni’s research whilst on expedition in Egypt and Nubia.

Belzoni’s introduction to the wonders of the ancient world could hardly have been less auspicious. Whilst in Cairo waiting for an audience with Mohammed Ali Pasha, the Italian monk-turned-peddler-turned-hydrologist-turned-circus impresario paid a visit to the Great Pyramid and became so tightly wedged his guides had to forcibly extract him!

Tableau representing the two niches supposed to include the names of the hero deposited in the Tomb

As an explorer Belzoni was motivated by finding hidden treasure to sell as artefacts to collectors. His methods were often destructive and quite unorthodox he was once called “the most notorious tomb robber Egypt has ever known” but his discoveries laid the foundation for the scientific study of Egyptology.

Our exhibition brings together some of the paintings from his adventures ……let’s explore!

 

Buckfast, libraries and Margaret Thatcher: Damian Barr at Central Library

An engaging and witty Damian Barr popped in to Central Reference Library last month to discuss his memoir Maggie and Me.

Our video shows Damian talking openly to Richard Holloway about the devastating abuse he suffered as a child, his relationship with his parents and teachers, and how he found refuge in libraries.

Check out our playlist for film from other Edinburgh Reads  events.