The University of Worcester Research Collections started out in 2006 with a primary focus on children’s literature. Since its conception this scope has extended further to encompass the experience of childhood as a whole; from what they read, to what they learnt and how they remember their own past. Whilst still having a large selection of children’s literature, we also have the Batho Collection of outdated teaching materials and a Girlguiding collection both of which provide different insights in to experiences of childhood in the 19th and 20th centuries. It was these areas we were looking to expand upon when the Research Collections Team visited the famous booksellers of Hay-on-Wye.

Hay-on-Wye is renowned for his second hand and antiquarian bookshops and is home to the annual Hay Festival, a literary festival which celebrates writers from all disciplines. The quaint nature of the town and the mass of bookshops made it such a pleasant day to hunt for those missing items from the collection! Below is a map of the bookshops in the area. For more information regarding the shops shown please click here to open the town booklet.

HayBookseller

Our day in Hay proved to be very successful as we managed to find a G.A. Henty title that we did not have in our Brown Collection. Yule-Tide Yarns is a collection of illustrated short stories edited by Henty, including a work of his own; ‘Chateau and Ship’.

YuleTideYarns

We also acquired more pop-up books for young children. Pop-ups use paper engineering to engage children with the stories in front of them. This example is called Kittens and is by Lesley Anne Ivory and Ron Van der Meer. The pop-up books are shelved with the John Marks Collection which houses novelty books with puzzles, pop-ups, jig-saws and cut-outs.

The biggest gain of the day was the addition of a further twenty eight Percy F. Westerman titles. Westerman (1876-1959) was a prolific writer of adventure stories.  Between 1908 and 1959 he wrote and published over 150 books for children, most with military or historical themes. Westerman, similar to Henty, was also known for short stories published in annuals for young boys, and these too were a common find on our day in Hay. Here are some examples of our new additions to the Westerman Collection (please click to enlarge).

With these examples of children’s literature you can learn a lot about the social attitudes of their time and how these were manifested in texts for young readers. They are rich resources for research and this is why we are strengthening our current collection. Our collections are continually expanding and we will keep you updated when new research materials arrive.

To access these or any other of our collections please email researchcollections@worc.ac.uk

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