Found among a large collection of menus printed at the turn of the nineteenth century by the high class Cambridge printer W.P.Spalding is this menu for the annual ‘Agamemnon Dinner’ of the famous Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club, which was held at King’s College on 27th November 1900.
A copy of this particular menu, signed by some who attended the Dinner, is in the King’s College archives. It shows that the medievalist M.R.James, a good amateur actor who enjoyed reciting his famous ghost stories at ADC events, was present at the Dinner, along with A.A.Milne, then in his Fresher year. All the menus reflect the high gastronomical standards of the various Cambridge colleges at that time, but the dishes on offer at the Agamemnon Dinner seem particularly delicious.
James and Milne could choose from starters that included Potage Dauphine served with an amontillado, Turbot boulli, sauce crevettes and filet de sole a la Villeroi which came with a liebfraumilch, perdrix aux choux, or petites timbales a la Royale, which were served with a 1894 Champagne Irroy.
The main courses consisted of Boeuf pique a la Godard, Oison Roti, sauce aux pommes, celery a l’Espagnoles, haricots verts, pommes de terre en croquettes et Oakley.
Or they might prefer Langue de Boeuf a la Ecarlate with puree d’Epinards.
Dessert number one came in the form of ‘Pouding A.D.C.’ or Bavarois au Curacao.
Then there were liqueurs offered with Glace au pain bis a la Jamaique..
Then, rather bizarrely, came Croutes d’ Anchois ( marinated fish towards the end of a meal; I wonder if this was ever popular). And finally, another Dessert (not specified), after which came port and coffee.
Personally, I could happily scoff the lot—apart from the anchovies, obviously, although I’d want to know what potato croquettes ‘et Oakley’ exactly meant. [RR]
Found in a copy of The Romantic Movement in French Literature - Traced By a Series of Texts (C.U.P. 1924) this obituary of A.A. Tilley by his co-author H.F. Stewart - also a distinguished Cambridge academic and francophile, but so far rather neglected on the web. It appeared in The Cambridge Review 6/3/1943. It is a model of its kind and gives a glimpse into a vanished world..
Arthur Augustus Tilley - December 1, 1851 - December 4, 1942.No one who visited Arthur Tilley in the evening of his long life but must have felt himself standing on hallowed ground, in the presence of a veteran who, having fulfilled his course, was quietly, serenely, awaiting his call. "Le vent de l'éternité le frappait au front." Not that there was anything pietistic about his conversation. He would speak with grave simplicity of things deep and high, and pass easily to current events upon which he commented with shrewdness and vigour, or to the sometimes affectionate, sometimes caustic, review of men and their doings in the past. And what a range, and how varied, his memory covered! He was the favourite nephew of Anthony Trollope, whom as a boy he adored and as a mature critic he greatly admired. He had known everyone worth knowing i the University for 70 years, and his recollections were sometimes starling. A propos of a picture card of the Puy de Dôme he said to me the last time I saw him, "I took Bradshaw up there; I shouldn't have done so if I had known his heart was bad."
Austin Dobson was one of those rare examples—Anthony Trollope, Kenneth Grahame and Charles Lamb were three others—of a writer who had a day job in quite a different field. He was a career civil servant in the Board of Trade who somehow found the time to publish very entertaining essays, principally on themes in eighteenth century art and literature, and much experimental minor verse. As a seventeen year old bibliophile I discovered the Georgian period through Dobson’s wonderful Eighteenth Century Vignettes. In Dobson’s time, the three Brock brothers of Cambridge, all brilliant draughtsmen, were falling in love with the period, as did, a little later, the architect, Sir Albert Richardson, who held dinners with his friends at his Georgian mansion in Ampthill in which everyone dressed up in Georgian costume. I don’t think Dobson went that far, but I could imagine all five men getting on very well together.
This bookplate, which was discovered among many other examples, among the papers of a descendant of Dobson’s, is interesting enough, but becomes more so when we find that there exists a sketch by the bookplate’s designer , the well-known American book illustrator E. A. Abbey, in which Dobson is depicted ‘winding-up’ the designer to get him to create this very bookplate.[RMH]
Everyone who has ever lived or studied at Cambridge knows Heffers. It’s the big cheese bookseller in the city and is an international brand too. Around 1996 the company, which then employed around 300 people, issued a brief history, which has been useful in compiling this profile.
The Heffer family originally came from Grantchester, celebrated by Rupert Brooke and now the home of well-known storyteller Jeffery Archer. In 1876 William Heffer opened up a stationery shop in Fitzroy Street, just east of the city centre, where his success with a sideline of hymn books, bibles and general school books, convinced him that he ought to focus more on bookselling. Further success resulting from 25% discounts for cash and an expansion into academic and general titles, made it possible for Heffers to relocate to the city centre in Petty Cury.
Heffer then became a printer—and books printed by the company from the early twentieth century until 1987, when a management buy-out created the Black Bear Press-- can often be found, especially locally. Following William’s death in 1928 the company, with its three distinct areas of operation, was steered forward by son Ernest, and grandson Reuben, who became an influential figure in University and city life. Further success, especially internationally, followed the appointment as General Manager in 1964 of Cambridge graduate John Welch, who had no experience of bookselling and was not even a family member.
Heffers remained in Petty Cury until the late 1960s, by which time the decision of the City Council to redevelop the street, and the continuing expansion of Heffers as a business, made it necessary for the company to relocate once again. This time the decision was made easier by the offer by Trinity College of premises in Trinity Street once occupied by a grocer. The site was redeveloped from scratch and today, the design of the shop that has been called ‘one of the first and largest custom-built bookshops in the country’ is admired internationally for its bold simplicity.
Doubtless over the decades many students have supplemented their grants by working the odd Saturday at Trinity Street, but few have gone on to achieve the success of children’s writer Pippa Goodhart, the prizewinning author of over ninety books. Having, like the founder, grown up in Grantchester, she got a Saturday job with Heffers at the age of 16, then after University and teacher-training, returned to the shop when she failed to find a post as an infant teacher. For five years she managed the Heffers children’s bookshop, but moved to Leicester to start a family. It was here that she began to write for children, never imagining that her work would end up being sold in the very bookshop she had managed years before. Her life has gone full circle now with a move back to Grantchester.
Recently retired Newsnight anchor Jeremy ‘Paxo’ Paxman is another Heffers habitué. He was spotted not long ago by one blogger who had to ‘stare him down when he was pretending not to know where the queue started. He got behind me’, adds the blogger.
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
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.