Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Dracula (1979) as Paranormal Romance

In September 2008 I helped organise, and participated in, a two-day symposium at Monash University under the title Vampires, Vamps and Va Va Voom: A Critical Engagement with Paranormal Romance.


The symposium was great fun and great experience for those involved. (And NB, two presenters who were sessional or fixed-term staff now have ongoing positions and four or five(?) honours students have since won scholarships to extend their studies.) Information about the symposium, and podcasts of the papers, are available online (here).

My paper examines the main romance elements of John Badham's Dracula (1979), comparing them to typical elements in Paranormal Romance fiction, to assess whether the film succeeds a romance narrative or a horror story with a romantic sub-plot.

Anyway, the first version of the file they posted of my paper was corrupt and impossible to understand. Last week it was re-posted and is now available here. I had to listen to part of the file again to see if it was okay and doing so has encouraged me to write up the paper for publication. So, if you have any thoughts, any suggestions or criticisms, please do let me know. I can be contacted on

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Lewcock's Circulating Library, 1782

Paul Kaufman, Libraries and their Users: Collected Papers in Library History‎ (1969), 222, reports a "Printed label of Lucock's library, with written date 1782." Robin Alston, Circulating Libraries, 1660–1800 offers a different spelling: "Lewcock's Circulating Library." He also names the proprietor—S. Lucock—and adds a question mark to the date.


Lucock's circulating library was in Sheerness, a naval town on the Isle of Sheppey in north Kent. After the Sheerness fort was destroyed during the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1667) the Secretary of the Admiralty, Samuel Pepys, ordered the construction of a naval dockyard at Sheerness as an extension to that at Chatham. The first dry-dock was not completed until 1708. Using materials they were allowed to take from the yard, dockyard construction workers built the first houses in Sheerness. The grey-blue naval paint they used on the exteriors led to their homes becoming known as the Blue Houses. This was eventually corrupted to Blue Town, the modern name of northwest area of Sheerness. This is why the location of Lewcock's Circulating Library is, as you can see, "Blue Houses, Sheerness"


As Wikipedia explains, Blue Town was not a particularly healthy place to live. The town was a small self-contained community built on wet ground reclaimed from marshes. It was very confined, a dense triangle of houses and alleyways compressed between the dockyard wall and Well Marsh; it was also prone to both flood and fire. At one point separated from Sheerness fort by a moat and drawbridge, the area was enclosed by an earthwork bastioned trace at the end of the 18th century amid growing fears of a French invasion (pictures here). In such an unhealthy and dangereous place it is quite likely that Lewcock's copy of George Cheyne, An Essay on Health and Long Life, 8th ed. (1734), was much in demand!


In fact, this book seems to have had a very busy life before it even reached Lewcock's. There are four ownership inscriptions, two dated in the same year. These are, in the order in which they appear: "James Mullett's Book"; "Eleanor Boxer, her book"; "Elizabeth Marsh Jones, Her Book June 22/[17]52"; "John Derby, 1752." How many of these people were denizens of Blue Town only a local historian could tell.




It would be good to know how much of the last two centuries this book spent on the shelves at Lewcock's before it was carried to America. At some point it has been partially re-backed but it is in remarkably good condition for a Circulating Library book, and it was remarkably cheap (USD36) for a book which is so interesting and—for my research—so useful. (But not rare, there are thirty two copies listed under ESTC: t127366, including one at Monash.)

[UPDATE: 2 July 2016: After all my pictures disappeared (again) I decided to give up on external hosts for large versions (1000px) of my image files and, for now on, will stick with the smaller images (500px), which Blogger is prepared to host.]

Saturday, 13 February 2010

William Hatchett Texts, Links etc

[For Eliza Haywood Texts, Links etc, and criticism of the same, see here. For links specifically related to Haywood's life, contemporary biographical accounts etc, see here.]

My biography of William Hatchett is here (but NB The Literary Encyclopedia is a subscription site). There appears to be nothing else about Hatchett online!

Facsimile Texts and Downloadable pdfs

Below are links to eighteenth-century editions of works by William Hatchett (the item numbers are from my Bibliography of Eliza Haywood (2004)) that are on Google Books, The Internet Archive, etc. This list is not complete, but I'll add items as I find them.

Dd.1.1a The Adventures of Abdalla (1729)

Dd.1.1b The Adventures of Abdalla, 2nd ed. (1730) NEW

Dd.3.1 The Morals of Princes (1729) [University of Michigan copy]
Dd.3.1 The Morals of Princes (1729) [University of Madrid copy] ¶ This copy was not recorded in my Bibliography.

Dd.10.1 A Remarkable Cause on a Note of Hand (1742) NEW

Works attributed to Hatchett

De.1.2 The Fall of Mortimer, 2nd ed. (1731)

De.5 Remarks on an historical play, called, The Fall of Mortimer (1731) NEW

[Last updated 19 February 2015]

Friday, 12 February 2010

MUSTY (not)

M.U.S.T.Y. is a mnemonic acronym coined by the American Library Association in cooperation with the Texas State Library back in 1976 to help School librarians "Weed" their collections. The five letters stand for: Misleading, Ugly, Superseded, Trivial, Your collection.

"Misleading" can occur more rapidly in technology than mythology. Look for “dated” popular fiction, obsolete information, books containing racial, cultural or sexual stereotyping.

"Ugly" refers to the physical condition of the book: antiquated appearance, worn-out, frayed, dirty, unable to mend.

"Superseded": there may be newer copies available, duplicate copies, almanacs, yearbooks, encyclopedias superseded by newer editions.

"Trivial": look for appropriateness for the collection. Check for poor writing, inaccurate information, an inappropriate interest or reading level for students.

"Your collection" has no use for the book. It is irrelevant to your curriculum.


"Weeding", BTW, is defined (here) as "the removing of materials from a library collection in a systematic and deliberate way. It is an ongoing part of collection development, a planned and thoughtful action that will ensure library materials are current and enticing." Librarians are encouraged to develop a weeding policy: "This weeding policy should include a justification, rationale, a plan for teacher evaluation of materials being considered for discard and a process for disposal."

All of this seem innocuous enough, until one person decides to "weed" what another person wants retained. And since the "suggested" copyright indicator to consider weeding fiction is "10 years" then it is not just Enid Blyton, Captain W. E. Johns and Hergé who are on the chopping block. Still, you would expect a small school library to have a policy of renewal and you would hope that they would keep up a supply of recent fiction that is of interest to their students.

The reason why I mention the 1976 "MUSTY" system here, now, is that—according to people within State and University libraries who contacted me privately after my post about Monash University Library disposals—the "MUSTY" system is alive and well, it is still being promulgated and versions of it are being imposed in research and reference libraries today. In such libraries, "MUSTY"-systems are a disaster.

The reasons for this are obvious, "dated popular fiction, obsolete information, books containing racial, cultural or sexual stereotyping" can only become the subject of study and analysis if they are available for study.

The same applies to "superseded" editions and "duplicate copies." Recently, I wanted to see how various editors had handled a textual crux in Romeo and Juliet, so I set out to survey the major Shakespeare editions of the twentieth century. You'd think that this would be easy, but with even research libraries individually disposing of "superseded" editions and combining to dispose of "duplicate" copies, I found this very difficult to do and with a number of editions, not possible at all.

As for books with an "antiquated appearance"—which are "worn-out, frayed, dirty"—my suggestion is repair them or replace them! (There is no suggestion in this "MUSTY"-system that books which are "weeded" should be replaced. It is a disposal system designed to make space for other books, not replacement copies.)

And now I must return to Course Book hell.