Wednesday 23rd April 2014

Okay then, what do two Swindon-born writers and a library have in common? The Swindon Collection of course!

I’ve written previously about the services of the Swindon collection, who reside in the upper reaches of the Central Library, but am giving them a mention again now chiefly because I finally found some time to go up there and say hello and to take some photographs – see below.  Furthermore, the most marvellous Swindon local Flickr collection , administered by the Swindon local team, recently had its 10 millionth view. So there’s another good reason to celebrate once more this section of the library service which is a veritable treasure trove for local history enthusiasts and those interested in genealogy.

I had a lovely chat with the lady on the desk up there and a mooch round at the department. Apart from the bookshelves groaning with all manner of local history and genealogy related material there are some lovely displays of old photographs and other historical material – I had no idea – all of which were really lovely to see.  I picked up a leaflet regarding a walk one can do which identifies features from some of Richard Jefferies texts, notably Bevis. I confess that what little I know of this Swindon-born writer I have gleaned from writing this blog and the Facebook page of the Richard Jefferies society.  Anyway, I was really quite excited to see from this aforementioned leaflet, that the illustrations in Bevis were drawn by none other than E H Shepard of Winnie the Pooh fame. How cool is that? Clearly an EXPOTITION is in order!

In one of the glass cases there was a photograph of Alfred Williams, another, by all accounts, under-rated and neglected Swindon-born writer. I was intrigued to see that his wife was called Mary Peck. One because Peck is my maiden name and two because it’s just not a name one comes across very often. Well not outside Sufflok anyway, where there seem to be thousands of them – my dad originated in Suffolk. Anyway, that’s by way of a digression. I say ‘by all accounts’ about Alfred’s abilities as a writer because I have no personal opinion not having read any of his work. Something else I hope to change before too long.  There’s lots of information about him out in the ether but, as so often is the case, Swindon Web is as good a place as any to start. And of course there is an official website dedicated to the man and his literary output.

See how much you can learn just from a wander around the department? Never mind actually reading anything! 🙂  So even if you don’t want to study anything in detail the section is worth a visit just for a look at the photographs and displays. And you can always have a coffee downstairs in Chapters coffee bar – a more than pleasant pit stop.

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