A modern painting in every student’s common room

Undergraduate taste in art mag cover 001Thus begins the front page article published in the January 19th 1951 issue of John O’London’s Weekly. In it the art critic F.M.Godfrey recounts the campaign of Anthony Emery, a mature undergraduate at Pembroke College, Oxford, to supply examples of modern art for the Common rooms, hostels and Unions used by every undergraduate in Britain.

The crusade to inspire students with the right attitude to ‘ the good, the beautiful and true’ had begun just after the war at Emery’s own college, where, shocked by the ignorance of modern art shown by serving officers, he ( a wartime officer ) and some like-minded friends had pledge to subscribe a £1 each to established a small collection for their common room. Inspired by the guidance of Sir Kenneth Clark, who had chosen for them a painting each by John Minton, John Piper and Duncan Grant, they had gone on to choose their own pictures.

As Godfrey remarks, Emery’s manifesto, which he called ‘A New Oxford Movement’ had the spirit of the reformer about it. And Godfrey himself echoed his sentiments.

‘Our appalling ignorance towards modern art must be eradicated when we are at the impressionable …age of under twenty, and we must conquer the schools to secure a lasting influence upon our manhood. If we had a ministry of culture and in it a department for the dissemination of modern art, here are the brains and the will to conduct it. For already half of Oxford has succumbed: Pembroke, Worcester, Brasenose, Exeter and New College, Magdalen and St Edmund’s Hall are outbidding one another in the effort to acquire the largest collection of modern painting in the United Kingdom ‘. Continue reading

I once met E.M. Forster

IMG_1569Found among the papers of the mathematician Norman Routledge (1928-2013) this affectionate memoir of E.M. Forster. Routledge  had known Forster in the 1950s when he was a Fellow at King’s College, Cambridge. He went on to become a distinguished  teacher of mathematics and was a close friend of Alan Turing, inheriting some of his books. The second half of his working  life was spent teaching maths at Eton. These notes were probably for a talk he gave to the boys there (mid 1960s) with a sound recording of Forster talking (probably this piece from YouTube) and some reading from his books. The notes are written on the back of the maths  homework of one Hope-Jones minor…

I wish I was going to tell you about a great hero- figure, spouting brilliant and amusing things, and combining an amazing literary  fertility (an earth-shaking novel every year) with great and noble deeds -what should they be? – fighting injustice and involved in passionate love affairs? But he is none of these.

He happens to have lived since the war in the college, Kings, where I was an undergraduate, and so one would occasionally meet him on social occasions. He’s rather non-descript in appearance – has a moustache and rather dowdy clothes and speaks very little but listens a lot. Very gentle eyes. Is greatly loved by all who know him– has indeed the air of always having been loved without having had to strive for it. Can be very amusing if he wishes, but you have to listen carefully– I’ve seen people quite fail to notice that he has been making fun of them. Continue reading

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Benjamin Jowett—‘I am Master ‘

"Here come I, my name is Jowett
  All there is to know, I know it
  I am Master of this College
  And what I don’t know isn’t knowledge."

This squib gently mocks the pretensions of arguably Balliol College’s most famous Master. Jowett was a Greek scholar, and like many classicists through the ages, felt that a grounding in Latin and Greek was sufficient qualification to tackle most areas of knowledge. But he was also a dedicated theologian and an educational reformer. This letter, which another hand (possibly the same one that snipped out Jowett’s signature, thus losing text) has dated in pencil 5th November 1874, four years after Jowett was appointed Master, is addressed to a Mr Buckland (possibly a member of the celebrated clan of eccentric scientists). In it Jowett, who was always interested in Indian affairs and was a member of the 1854 committee drawn up to debate the future administration of the colony, shows his keenness to promote the benefits of an education at Oxford University to young men who might wish to join the Indian Civil Service. Previous to 1858, when it closed, such candidates would have been trained at Haileybury College, near Hertford, but Jowett argues that an Oxford education might prove more attractive to these young men than a stint at Haileybury, should that institution be ‘revived’.

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Dame Dorothy Brock, O.B.E.

Found among the papers of L.R. Reeve* this affectionate portrait of Dorothy Brock much admired educationalist and the headmistress of the Mary Datchelor School in Camberwell for 32 years.

DOROTHY BROCK

Dame Dorothy Brock, O.B.E., was at one time Headmistress of the Mary Datchelor School, in Camberwell. Her pupils were very fortunate indeed to be learning under the direction of one of the best speakers in London, and much as I admired the platform genius of the late Mrs E. M. Burgwin of Brixton, I am fairly sure that if it were possible to have a choice of listening to one of them on the same evening I should choose Miss Brock.

It may be that her successor was, or is, as excellent a teacher as her immediate predecessor, and as charming a personality, for probably the appointment was open to all the leading women of Great Britain, but whatever the name of the fortunate successor, she had one of the hardest tasks in the country when she stepped into Dr Brock's shoes, and one would like to know how the traditional pioneers of public schools for girls, Miss Beale and Miss Buss, would stand up to such an appointment.

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J. H. Wimms

Another piece by L.R. Reeve, this on the writer and psychologist J.H. Wimms (Joseph Henry.) He is unknown to Wikipedia and his dates are also unknown but a remark by Reeves that his children must by now be grand parents or great grand parents (written circa 1970) puts Wimms birth date at about 1870. He published a paper in the British Journal of Psychology on The Relative Effects of Fatigue and Practice produced by Different Work in 1907 and earlier in 1903 Elementary Biology (Pilgrim Press). Wimms is mentioned in an earlier jot on D. W. Brogan where Reeve describes him as 'the finest lecturer I have ever known' - no mean compliment, as Reeve was a constant attender of lectures throughout a long and busy life. The Brogan piece also has background on L.R. Reeve.

J. H. WIMMS

The finest lecturer for any university is the man who can maintain an unbroken interest on almost any occasion. Trite, but true; and the greatest I have ever known was J. H. Wimms, M.A., of Goldsmiths’ College. He was one of those rare scholars who can maintain the attention of students who, even with no desire to learn are, in spite of themselves excited by the magnetic presentation of the lecturer, and find eventually that they have quite a fair knowledge of one or more specific subjects.
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James Joseph Sylvester—the mathematical genius snubbed by Cambridge

The rule among the dons of Oxford and Cambridge up to the end of the nineteenth century was that you were permitted to take a degree at these  'august' institutions as long as you weren’t a dissenter or a Jew. At around about the same time, when the first colleges for women were established, similar restrictions were applied to women, who were only granted degrees at Oxford in 1920, and shamefully, at Cambridge in 1948. At the latter University, woman  were palmed off with 'certificates' up to that date.

Today, when we are so aware of discrimination against minorities, mathematicians who admire the astonishing achievements of the Jewish-born James Joseph Sylvester (1814- 97) invariably pick up on the fact that despite being ranked second wrangler in the 1837 Cambridge University Tripos, Sylvester, as someone who as a Jew had refused to take the Thirty Nine Articles of the Church of England, was barred from graduating. Nor was he permitted to compete for a fellowship or obtain a Smith’s prize. A year later, and still without a degree,  Sylvester was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of London, where he had been a student for a short time from the age of 14. It was only in 1841, when Trinity College, Dublin awarded him the degrees he needed that Sylvester was officially qualified to teach students.

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J. J. Bell

From the papers of L R Reeve* this affectionate portrait of a minor character in British education. He does not have a Wikipedia page and is unknown to the DNB, but WorldCat record books on history especially a few text books in the Piers Plowman Histories series which were in print from 1913 - 1957. The other author involved in the series and covered by Reeve was also from Goldsmiths - Ethel Howard Spalding

J. J. BELL

I cannot possibly take an objective view of the late J. J. Bell; for his presence in any circumstances always exhilarated me, and other people seemed to be similarly affected, because there was invariably a rustle of anticipation whenever he joined an assembly. He was not a conscious showman, yet his demeanour was that of a laughing cavalier, a manner perfectly suitable, as he was morally and physically one of the bravest men of his generation.
  For some years before 1914, he was a lecturer at Goldsmiths' College. At one period he had to face an exceptionally high-spirited and restless group of young men. During one lecture his students were particularly troublesome.
  "You are a lot of rebels and hooligans!” he finally shouted, as he walked out of the lecture room.
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Caroline Graveson of Goldsmiths’ College

From the L.R. Reeve collection - this worthy piece about Caroline Graveson of Goldsmiths’ College. She is commemorated at their library site which is where the photo comes from (with much thanks). Her dates are not given but she started there in 1905. Reeve, as usual addresses the subjects speaking skills ('…her elocution was perfect…majestic'.)

CAROLINE GRAVESON

It would be very unlikely to hear of even one ex-student, trained at Goldsmiths’ College, London, when Miss Graveson was the Vice-Principal, who would speak disparagingly of one of the most gracious educationalists of her long era and an illustrious member of the Training College Association.
  For Miss Graveson was one of those exceptional women whose integrity, judgment, fairness, and dignity were suggested immediately one met her, and one always felt that any of her interpretations was likely to be the right one.
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May Smith O.B.E. Industrial Psychologist

From the L.R. Reeve* collection of short sketches of people he had met - this affectionate piece about psychologist May Smith O.B.E (1868-1968). There is a very brief entry at Wikipedia but a lot more in an article on early women industrial and experimental psychologists which details sleep privation tests she performed on herself in her study of fatigue amongst workers. Our photo is from the Science Museum and is of a Dotting Machine made by Edgar Schuster. It was used for testing accident-proneness in industrial workers by May Smith and her fellow psychologist Millais Culpin while she was at the Industrial Fatigue Research Board. This was  a body originally set up to study the health of munitions workers during World War I. As often with L.R. Reeve, an assiduous attender of lectures, he evaluates oratorical style - in her case 'compulsive' and '..much more unassuming than she ought to have been.'

May Smith

Mr Alec Rodger M.A., of Birkbeck College, London, has recently contributed, in a Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, a well-deserved tribute to the late Miss May Smith, O.B.E., whom for many years I considered to be among the dozen ablest psychologists in this country; and to this day my opinion has never changed. Moreover, Mr Rodger's survey of her career strengthens my previous conviction of her wide outlook, for although I saw her, heard her unruffled, steady speeches, read accounts of diligent research, such as studying, with Dr Millais Culpin, 1,000 people in all walks of life to find 60 per cent showing some sign of mental ill-health, I never knew of her close knowledge of so many of our eminent pioneers in psychology. I knew that she had been associated with William McDougall, Millais Culpin and Cyril Burt; but the fact that she had been influenced by the eminent Samuel Alexander, Lord D'Abernon, Lord Woolton and the steady, clear-thinking Eric Farmer was news to me;  and Mr Rodger’s account of her early days emphasises once again how frequently we meet people for years and suddenly learn that we have both lived in the same locality for a long period, and experienced a human environment of similar interest. Miss Smith and I both knew some of Manchester's leading figures and eminent learned men.
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Nicholas Murray Butler

Found among  the papers of the long defunct literary agency Michael Hayes of Cromwell Road S.W.5  - parts of a manuscript memoir by one L.R. Reeve of Newton Abbot, South Devon. Mr Reeve was attempting to get the book (Among those Present: Very Exceptional People) published, but on the evidence of the unused stamp Hayes never replied and  L. R. Reeve published the book himself through the esteemed vanity publisher Stockwell two years later in 1974.

L R Reeve had in a long life met or observed a remarkable selection of famous persons. He  presents 'vignettes' of 110 persons from all grades of society (many minor or even unknown) they include Winston Churchill, Dorothy Sayers,  H H Asquith, John Buchan, the cricketer Jack Hobbs, J.B. Priestley, H.G. Wells, Marconi, E.M. Forster, Duchess of Atholl, Marie Stopes, Oliver Lodge and Cecil Sharp -- 'it is unnecessary to explain that  many I have known have not known me. All of them I have seen, most of them I have heard, and some of them have sought information, even advice from me." Reeve states that the unifying qualification all these people have is '… some subtle emanation of personality we call leadership, and which can inspire people to actions  unlikely to be undertaken unless prompted by a stronger will."

Reeve was a teacher throughout his life and deputy head of 3 London schools, headmaster of Loughborough emergency schools, ex-president of London Class Teachers Association  and very early member of the British Psychological Society (55 years)... I calculate he was probably born in about 1900. His style is markedly unexciting but he has much information unavailable elsewhere.. He sent 6 typed manuscripts to (from the smell) the chain-smoking agent Hayes...This is L R Reeve's admiring take on Nicolas Murray Butler (1862 -1947) an American philosopher, diplomat, and educator. He was a somewhat divisive figure and not universally liked. One notable critic of Butler was Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. While attending Columbia, Ginsberg scrawled the words "Butler Has No Balls" on his grimy dorm window. This must have been just before Butler died and it seems to have lead to the poet being chucked out of college.

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Interview with Robin Cook aka Derek Raymond

Found - loosely inserted in a copy of his novel A State of Denmark this typescript of an interview with Robin Cook aka Derek Raymond. At one point he says he is 60 which dates it at 1991. It does not appear to have been published. Many of the typos have been cleared up. It was probably transcribed from a tape recorded in a noisy pub with a break in a Chinese restaurant and back to the pub. Robin Cook, cult novelist and author of The Crust on Its Uppers was also known as Derek Raymond. He had to change his name as it was the same as the best selling author of schlock medical thrillers (Coma etc.,).

Dead man upright. Chap still walking around who really oughtnt to be.
Bit like your nameless policeman.
Yea, lots of policemmen like that esp the busted ones. All driving minicabs. What can you do after being a bent policeman? and you know London well what can you do next/
Dont do research with police. Had lunch once . Id rather do it from imagination. Better relations with French police. How to beat people up with a telephone book.
Known a lot of busted ones in my time, disciplinary reasons, sex casess, bisexual ones.
Back in West Hampstead. Been there a year until I finish the book.
Memoirs out next month
BBC series. Kenneth Trodd. Scriptwriter is a man called William Golding. The man in charge is Kenneth Trodd. First met him years agao back in 1962 when he wanted to make a film of Crust on its Uppers, used to have endless talks. He did singing tec with Dennis Potter. So its in as good hands as it could be. Three 50min episodes, they will draw on all 4 books.
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Etiquette for young ladies at Cambridge

Found - this scarce pamphlet: Say "Thank you" : a manual of university etiquette for young ladies. It is known to be by Jean Olivia Lindsay and is light-hearted in tone. Jean Lindsay was at Girton in the 1930s and published several books on Spanish and Scottish history. The text of this book has (so far) been unavailable. Google Books note the existence of the book but have no text. Although she is very down on jeans and corduroys ('deplorable') the work is quite modern in tone, at one point she suggests you could meet men by joining a religious club 'but there the young men are apt to have very honourable intentions...' There is also a lot of practical advice, some of which probably still holds, like 'It is more important to be polite to gyps and bedders than to the Bursar or Senior Tutor.'

A MANUAL OF UNIVERSITY ETIQUETTE FOR YOUNG LADIES

FOREWORD

Almost certainly no bluestocking would ever worry whether her behaviour was ladylike or not, so a book of University etiquette for young ladies may appear to be so much wasted effort. However, as the great majority of young women who come up to the University every autumn would hotly repudiate the title of bluestocking, some of them may find these notes useful. Some dyed-in-the-wool donnish bluestockings may even find them amusing.
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