White Soup

January 28th this week marked the anniversary of the publication of the Jane Austen classic Pride & Prejudice.  To celebrate we bring you a staple from any Austen era ball, a recipe for White Soup.

We are first introduced to the delicacy by Mr Bingley  in Austen’s classic;

“As for the ball, it is quite a settled thing; and as soon as Nicholls has made white soup enough, I shall send round my cards.”

Pride & Prejudice (1813)

A classic recipe throughout the ages it is revisited again in P.D. James 2011 crime sequel Death Comes to Pemberley.

“Bingley whispered to Georgiana, ‘Which shows that he has never imbibed Pemberley white soups.’”

Death Comes to Pemberley (2011)

You too can make White Soup for your ball using the handwritten recipe from Susannah Walker’s 1833 Book of Household Recipes

White Soup

‘Take a knuckle of veal & a piece of ham, with turnips, carrots & savoury herbs, boil them to a strong gravy.  Also blanche and pound ¼ lb. of almonds & boil with the above, strain them but first add cayenne pepper, salt, mace, nutmeg & cream to make it white.  Thicken with flour and butter, serve it up with a toast in the middle.’

Susannah Walker (1833)

White Soup (detail)

White soup recipe

If you try this at home please let us know how it turns out.

Check our library catalogue for copies of Pride and Prejudice available in our libraries.

 

Famous Last Words

When they decided to stage a production of the historical tragedy Jane Shore in the summer of 1817, no one at the Leeds Theatre suspected that a very real tragedy was about to strike.

Tonight's performance

Tonight’s performance

Here’s a scan of the original playbill – now nearly 200 years old – advertising that dramatic night. It’s one of many bills, posters and programmes in our collection at the Local and Family History Library, dating back almost as far as the opening of the city’s first theatre in 1771. This, the Leeds Theatre as it was known, stood on Hunslet Lane at the bottom end of town, just over Leeds Bridge, near the Adelphi pub. It was a smallish, brick building, lit entirely by wax candles, with a capacity of around 600 and a roof that didn’t quite cover the entire audience (or at least not the heads of those sitting in the cheap seats at the back of the balcony).

Jane Shore was a once-popular play by Nicholas Rowe, written in the style of Shakespeare and first performed in 1713 at Drury Lane, London. Our copy of the New Theatrical Dictionary 1792 (shelf mark: SR 792.02 NEW) describes it as ‘a very excellent tragedy continually acted with great success’ and declares: ‘This play, consisting chiefly of domestic scenes and private distress, lays hold upon the heart.’

If you take another look at the playbill, you’ll notice towards the bottom of the cast list a Mr Cummins, who took the role of ‘Dumont’. This was Alexander Cummins, one of Leeds’ most famous actors of the day, noted for his ability to convincingly portray characters of a wide range of ages. In Jane Shore, he had just delivered the fateful lines:

Be witness for me, ye Celestial host!

Such mercy and such pardon as my soul

Accords to thee, and begs of Heav’n to show thee;

May such befal me at my latest hour

And make my portion blest or curs’d for ever.

…when he keeled over – quite dead. The evening’s entertainment was halted, the audience was in shock, and the city’s theatrical community went into mourning for one of its most beloved performers.

Cummins was buried in the churchyard of St. John’s on Briggate. A newspaper report from 1904 puts the location of his grave ‘in a line between the south porch of St. John’s Church and Mark Lane’ – which means it should be somewhere towards the bottom-right of this photograph from our Leodis website:

A thespian grave

A thespian grave

We went down to look for it earlier in the week and, perhaps it was the snow or – more likely – the once proud stone slab has since been moved, but Cummins’ final resting place was nowhere to be found. Had we seen it, however, we would have been able to read the epitaph:

Here lieth the body of

ALEXANDER CUMMINS

An established favourite of the Yorkshire Theatres

For upwards of 40 years,

Who departed this life on the 20th of June 1817.

 To see more historical playbills from Leeds’ rich theatrical heritage, visit: www.leodis.net/playbills

This story is taken from the upcoming talk Histories of Theatre in Leeds and West Yorkshire, on Thursday 29th January, 12.30–1.30pm, at the Brotherton Library. Reserve a free place at: http://library.leeds.ac.uk/lunchtime-talks

2015 Anniversaries

It is well known that the next 12-months see several anniversaries of major significance: the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta (1215); the 600th anniversary of Agincourt (1415); and the 200th anniversary of Waterloo (1815). But those three anniversaries are not the whole story, with 2015 also marking several other events of historical and literary importance: a selection of these are described below, together with details relating to the most interesting resources held by our Information and Research (IAR) library in each particular case.

Thomas Wolsey made Cardinal (10th September 1515: 500th anniversary)

The BBC have well-selected 2015 as the transmission date for their adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall – because this year marks a half-millennium since Thomas Wolsey, Henry VIII’s trusted lieutenant and a key character in Mantel’s depiction of sixteenth-century courtly intrigue, was made a Cardinal by Pope Leo X. Readers wishing to explore the historical background to these fictionalised events will find much of interest in our collection, including a 1726 biography of Wolsey himself.

Front-piece of Fiddes’ Life of Cardinal Wolsey (1726)

Front-piece of Fiddes’ Life of Cardinal Wolsey (1726)

 

First issue of the London Gazette (7th November 1665: 350th anniversary)

Reckoned to be the longest continuously-published newspaper in the UK, the London Gazette is an official journal of record for the British government. The Information and Research collection stretches all the way from 2013 back to 1665 and the first issue. The department also holds a work exploring the development of the journal over its first three centuries.

Image from the very first edition of the London Gazette (then called the Oxford Gazette) in 1665

Image from the very first edition of the London Gazette (then called the Oxford Gazette) in 1665

 

Front cover of a fascinating history of the journal, part of the main IAR stock collection

Front cover of a fascinating history of the journal, part of the main IAR stock collection

Birth of Anthony Trollope (April 24th 1815; 200th anniversary); births of WB Yeats and Rudyard Kipling (June 13th and December 30th: 150th anniversary)

Three titans of English (and Irish and Indian) literature: the excellent IAR collection of literary works contains many books by and about Trollope, Yeats and Kipling – novels, poems, biographies, memoirs and letters – including all the novels in Trollope’s ‘Chronicles of Barsetshire’ series and first editions of both Kipling’s Barrack-room Ballads (1892) and Yeats’ The Secret Rose (1897).

Front-piece from Kipling’s Barrack-Room Ballads – part of the Gascoigne Collection

Front-piece from Kipling’s Barrack-Room Ballads – part of the Gascoigne Collection

 

Title-page of Yeat’s The Secret Rose. This edition contains illustrations by J.B. Yeats – the author’s brother

Title-page of Yeat’s The Secret Rose. This edition contains illustrations by J.B. Yeats – the author’s brother

The ending of the American Civil War and slavery in the United States (June 22nd and December 6th 1865: 150th anniversary); Selma to Montgomery Civil Rights Marches; and death of Malcolm X (March 7th and February 21st 1965: 50th anniversary)

Three events, separated by one-hundred years, but intimately connected through their central theme: African-American history. Among other works, IAR holds contemporary accounts of American slavery; all three volumes of Shelby Foote’s magisterial history The Civil War: A Narrative; first-hand accounts of key events in the civil rights movement from Martin Luther King and speeches by Malcolm X.

Some titles from our Special Collections related to American Slavery. These are primarily first-hand accounts of slave conditions in the pre-Civil War era and anti-slavery tracts

Some titles from our Special Collections related to American Slavery. These are primarily first-hand accounts of slave conditions in the pre-Civil War era and anti-slavery tracts

Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister (May 10th 1940: 75th anniversary); Winston Churchill dies (January 24th 1965: 50th anniversary)

Two key moments in British political and social history. Churchill’s ascension to the top political job in the nation swung the tide of war, while his funeral was the largest state funeral in world history to that point. Many of Churchill’s most famous speeches and statements during World War II can be traced and contextualised through our holdings of Hansard (verbatim debates in the Houses of Commons and Lords) and reactions to his death can be explored in detail via online access to The Times Digital Archive(which covers the period from 1785-1985). Information and Research also holds an extensive collection of books by and about Churchill himself.

Image from Hansard on June 4th 1940, when Churchill first made his “We shall fight on the beaches” speech. It is interesting to note that the initial reaction of fellow MPs to Churchill’s now-legendary oration was to debate a technical “point of Order”

Image from Hansard on June 4th 1940, when Churchill first made his “We shall fight on the beaches” speech. It is interesting to note that the initial reaction of fellow MPs to Churchill’s now-legendary oration was to debate a technical “point of Order”

You are welcome to view any of the items mentioned here – with some being available for loan. Please contact the department on 0113 2478282 for more information. Or pop in! (we’re on the 2nd Floor of the Central Library).

 

Map of Murder

One of the more unusual items amongst our large collection of historical maps at Leeds Central Library goes by the name of ‘Regina v. William Higgins and Others’. The title refers to a court case that took place in late 1850 and the map is a ‘Prosecutor’s Plan’ from the time, showing the part of Leeds where a series of violent street brawls resulted in the death of a local man.

The area of the affray

The area of the affray

 

The story begins on Saturday 16 November 1850, when a group of men led by William Higgins met at Marsh Lane on the east side of the city centre and were overheard to be planning “a bloody row”. Before long, a man had been assaulted in the nearby Forester’s Arms Inn; money stolen and glasses smashed at the Lewis Arms pub; two police officers struck down by a mob carrying bludgeons and pokers; and a man called James Rhodes hit in the head by a flying brick in front of his young son.

It was Mr Rhodes who died in hospital the following Thursday, having sustained severe skull fractures and concussion. The inquest report that appeared in the Leeds Mercury on 30 November presents a tangle of conflicting testimonies, with the newspaper commenting that “many of the witnesses examined before the Magistrates were examined by the Coroner, but their second statements did not by any means agree with what they had sworn before the Justices”.

The opening of the Leeds Mercury report, 30 November 1850

The opening of the Leeds Mercury report, 30 November 1850

If you’d like to investigate further, you can do so online using our subscription to the website 19th Century British Newspapers – which can be accessed from anywhere using your Leeds Library Card number and the link on our Online Resources page. The Prosecutor’s Plan itself, along with microfilm copies of the local newspapers, can be viewed in the Local and Family History department.

Heritage tours

Find out more about our fabulous Central Library building with a new series of behind the scenes tours. The first dates are this weekend with one on Saturday 10th January 1-2.30p.m. and Sunday 11th January, 12 noon – 1.30 p.m. Further dates follow in February and March. Book your place at http://leedslibraryevents.ticketsource.co.uk/

Central Library heritage tours

Central Library heritage tours