Old London Posts (cont.)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Friday, 20 May 2011
The last few days have been crazy busy with research. We spent all day Tuesday and Wednesday at the National Archives. Tuesday Jamie and I took the other girls to our favorite pub, The Hourglass, which we went to after work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It’s so nice to feel like we are actually working here, not just being tourists.

Thursday and Friday were spent at the London Metropolitan Archives. We had a fabulous tour behind the scenes by Claire, and she also introduced us to Jeremy in maps and images and Tim in conservation. Really fascinating stuff. Pretty sure I should have been a conservationist or archivist, though I’m not sure how you get those jobs.

PB took us all to dinner at the Admiral Codrington last night (Thursday), which was really good. Today Jamie and I hung back to see if we could get the room situation straightened out, and the good news is that we get to move May 31st to a new flat! Then we spent the rest of the day at the LMA. I had some amazing finds there, including an 1890s photo album from a family in India. I’m trying to figure out who they are right now. I would post pictures from it (because they are awesome), but they are copyright protected so I can’t put them online. :-(

After we left the LMA, Jamie, Cassie, and I went down to Trafalgar Square, ate at the Bear and Staff, and spent the evening at the National Gallery, which doesn’t close until 9 pm on Fridays. Tomorrow is another full day of work at the British Library, which I’m actually really excited about—because I’m a nerd over here doing nerdy things. :-)

The National Archives at Kew
Stacks behind the scenes at the LMA.
Tim, a conservationist at the LMA, showing us a book that has been burned to a brick.
Trafalgar Square from the front of the National Gallery.
Sunday, 22 May 2011

The weekend is over, and tomorrow it’s back to the BL for another fun day of research. (And I’m not being sarcastic.) Yesterday was our first day at the BL, and I have to say I was extremely happy and made some great and super useful finds. It’s been awhile since I’ve been really happy about doing research, so this trip was exactly what I needed to get back in the dissertation-writing mindset.

I spent most of the day transcribing this children’s book a mother wrote for her daughter growing up in India. In the dedication she says that the British children’s books didn’t really suit her daughter because they were all about experiences and places and things she was unfamiliar with, so she thought her daughter should have a book that reflected experiences she could relate to. The BL has the only two copies of the book that have survived (and both of them are on reserve for me!) and I think only one other person in the world has written about it (albeit briefly), so I think there’s a lot of original stuff I can say about it.

My nerdiest moment had to be when I was given the BL’s three copies of Eliza Fay’s Original Letters from India, a text I’ve been working on for over a year.  The BL has two copies of the 1821 edition and the only surviving copy of the 1817 first edition left in the world—the very copy E.M. Forster used when he did the 1925 edition of Fay’s book. I *might* have gotten a bit misty eyed when I opened that cover and saw 1817 written at the bottom. It’s a book I’ve been wanting to see for so very long.

Last night Jamie and I had dinner again at our favorite local pub, The Hourglass, and then we went out for drinks with Kellye and Cassie at the Queen’s Head, another local pub that also happens to be the oldest gay bar in Chelsea -AND- it happened to be karaoke night. It had a much older clientele (we had to be the youngest people there by 20 years), but listening to old gay men sing standards, show tunes, and classic songs was certainly entertaining (and most of them could really sing!), and Kellye and Cassie also performed a rousing version of a Cher song. :-)

Today we took to the bus to Covent Garden, wandered around a bit and listened to a string quartet and an opera singer, then went to the Globe to see As You Like It—a really fantastic production, I might add. Then Kellye, Sam, Cassie, and I went to the Tate Modern for the rest of the evening. We tried to go back to The Hourglass for dinner, but they don’t serve dinner on Sundays, so we just got pre-packaged Indian food from our local Sainbury’s, and it was actually quite amazing. Tomorrow it’s back to the BL, and then we are seeing Sheridan’s School for Scandal tomorrow night.

Covent Garden
St. Paul's
The Globe


A. Hab. May 30, 2011 at 9:25 AM  

I know how you become an archivist! It's a career path I considered for a few months this past year, but it does require more education and (most programs require) fluency in at least one other language (typically Latin or Greek, as far as I could tell). I personally decided to let my interest in archives end there--I just can't stay in school any more. I need a big break.

But, you, my dear, might be perfect for the job! Here's what I've found:

1. Info on how to be an archivist from the National Archives: http://www.archives.gov/preservation/professionals/archives-questions.html

2. The American Library Association (ALA) resources for degree programs:

Robert and I saw AYLI when we were in London for our honeymoon two years ago. How did you like it? For one season, the Globe had an entire repertoire of cross-gendered casts (I think it was in 2004 because that's when I got to see an all-female production of Much Ado). When Robert and I saw AYLI in 2009, it was about as traditional as you could get. Did they do anything interesting with the cast in this particular performance?

I'm glad that you're enjoying your time in the libraries! Can't wait to hear more! :)

Samantha June 5, 2011 at 6:18 AM  

I'm so glad you got a pic of Tim! He's been one of the most entertaining parts of the trip so far (and certainly one of the most enthusiastic)!

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