A quick note here: our look at the periodicals and the reading room of the Peterborough Mechanics’ Institute will appear early next week (Tuesday or Wednesday). So have a good weekend!
Above: a cartoon from Punch magazine, which was indeed available to be perused at the Peterborough Mechanics’ Institute, published July 23rd, 1870.
“Its object shall be to instruct its members in the principles of the Arts and in the various branches of Science and useful knowledge.” Such was the stated goal of the Peterborough Mechanics’ Institute, the city’s first library, at the time of its founding in 1843. In the most recent post, we took a brief look at the history and workings of the Mechanics’ Institute, but now we turn our attention to the actual books available in the Institute’s collection. What was considered “useful knowledge,” and was there any room in there for reading for pleasure? Answers below the jump…
Peterborough’s bibliothecal (it’s a word!) history is not, of course, as long as that of our subject of the other day, Baghdad. However, it does go back tolerably far into the city’s early history: to 1843, and the foundation of the Peterborough Mechanics’ Institute. Read on, and don’t be fooled by the word “Mechanics'”…
Scholars in a library in Baghdad, illustration from a 13th-century manuscript. (Image Source)
With the Literary Map of Peterborough still very much under construction (it goes, if slowly, with dots added here and there at a relaxed sort of pace, which is the only pace the computer is allowing me these days), it is time to turn our attention further afield, and look at another of the UNESCO Cities of Literature. Today, we cast an eye over the city of Baghdad, capital of Iraq, so read on for a tale of two libraries…
Peterborough Public Library’s former home on George Street. (Image Source)
If we are to consider Peterborough and its surrounding area as a City of Literature, then we should expect literature, or at least its footprints, fairly easy to find in these parts. But how easy? Ignoring for the moment whatever literature one might have lying about one’s own home, how far would you need to go to find some? And where would you find it?
I had hoped to answer some of these questions this evening, but some technical issues got in the way. But later on this weekend (hopefully tomorrow, perhaps Sunday) we will delve into the question of Peterborough’s literary resources — its libraries, bookstores, archives, publishers, sites of literary-historical interest, and more — and of course we will discover that we are pretty much up to our necks in literature around these parts, if we know where to look for it.
Update: Further issues with the map have arisen — nothing serious, and it will get done, but it does not appear to be going to happen this weekend. So we will table the map for a future date. However, I leave you with the original question: how much literature, and literary things in general, are there lying around in Peterborough and its environs?
Join us again on Tuesday for talk about a City of Literature.
Grafton Street, Dublin, in the late 18th Century. (Image Source)
As indicated in an earlier post, I intend, as part of this series, to take a short individual look at each of the offical UNESCO Cities of Literature. Given that it was Irishmen and -women who comprised the first large group of European settlers to arrive in the area of Peterborough, and that the County’s probable first book was written by an Irish farmer, it seems that a good place to start is the Ireland’s capital itself, Dublin. Read on, for a look at one small literary place in that city, and its profound connection to Peterborough.
Dummer Township, from the County Atlas of 1879. (Image Source)
Books are not the only literary medium, by any means, but they are by far the main one. And there have been any number of them written in Peterborough County. But where did it all begin — what was the first actual book written in these parts? As far as we know, it began with a convalescing farmer in Dummer Township in the early 1830s (I would remind you here that in talking of the literature of Peterborough, we are talking not just of the city itself, but of its hinterland as well) Read on, for the tale of Peterborough County’s first book!