This guest post is written by Liz Osman. Liz is Fellow Librarian at Homerton College Library.
It’s always enjoyable to put out a new exhibition; it’s a chance to show off the wonderful variety of items we have in the Homerton College Library Rare Book collection. But there’s something particularly special about a festive exhibition, even if that does mean thinking about Christmas when it’s barely November.
Our new exhibition is a chance to dive into winter and Christmas, with each case themed around a different aspect. The weather is well-represented, with snow, ice-skating and young boys moaning about the cold. We also have a case dedicated to Christmas decorations and trees, including a page from Enid Blyton’s Holiday Book on how to make stars for your tree. If cooking is more your area of interest then we have a case looking at Christmas food, and you can even take a copy of the Yule Cake recipe home with you to try.
Jesus features in one case, in pop up form, alongside some other religious novelties and a copy of the Book of Common Prayer from 1781 displaying the page for Christmas Day. We’ve also got a small selection of Christmas gift books, the sort of omnibuses and stories given as presents.
However, for me the case I had the most fun putting together is our pantomime display. We’re fortunate to have quite a number of books on the common panto stories. Multiple Cinderellas, Aladdin, Puss in Boots, Jack and the Beanstalk etc. Perhaps the highlight among them is a children’s theatre book of Cinderella. It comes complete with a back cover that opens out in to a stage, and push-out scenery and characters to create your own theatrical Cinderella. That all the pieces have survived when it has clearly been played with is quite a feat.
The books on display range from the 18th century right up to the 1960s with renowned authors like Astrid Lindgren or Jack Ezra Keats side by side with tales from moral Victorian authors and anonymous novelty items.