Browse Exhibits (3 total)

Children's Literature and Education in 19th Century Ireland and Australia

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Scottish-born Australian writer, Catherine Helen Spence (1825-1910), believed that at the heart of a good education is 'the enjoyment of a good story'. Reading, she argued in 1905, is the 'key to the universe'.

For the first time, this exhibition bring together materials from libraries and museums across Ireland and Australia to illustrate the connections between childhood reading and education in these two countries. These materials provide a fascinating insight into the circulation of texts and ideas that underpinned children's literature and education in the British colonies in the nineteenth century. They also demonstrate the centrality of women writers to educational thinking in this time period, as well as the significance of children's literature in the processes of nation building. 

Materials for this exhibition have been borrowed from key primary and manuscript collections - the Thyne Reid Trust Collection of Children's Books held at the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia; the Nesbitt School Textbook Collection in the Special Collections Library at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland; and the Irish National Readers Collection at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra, Northern Ireland. 

This exhibition significantly brings together these three important collections and extends existing knowledge of the historical interconnections between Ireland and Australia. 


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Ireland and the Colonies

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The Library and Special Collections at Queen's University Belfast are proud to present this collection of unique artefacts curated by Dr Kath Stevenson in cooperation with Dr Daniel Roberts, Dr Matthew Reznicek and Dr Jonathan Wright. This very special exhibition is presented in conjunction with the conference: Ireland and the Colonies, 1775‐1947: Friendships, Alliances, Resistances.

As ‘England’s oldest colony’, and, from the 1800 Act of Union, a constituent of the United Kingdom, Ireland was uniquely regarded as both a subject nation, and as a significant partner in Britain’s imperial enterprise. While Ireland acquired global connections during the colonial period, its conflicted status enabled both oppositional and collaborative atitudes to emerge significantly in Irish culture. This interdisciplinary project will seek to examine the ways in which Irish colonial agents interacted with peoples of other colonies forming relationships that implicated personal considerations with larger issues of historical, political, and cultural significance.

Framed by two key events of world history, the American Revolutionary War, and Indian Independence, the project spans the gamut of British colonial history, seeking to draw out the significance of Irish involvement in the global politics of empire. Researchers will interrogate historical and cultural developments from the perspective of transnational and transcultural relationships: from personal and literary connections, to familial and institutional alliances, and the creation of new forms of political and social solidarity and resistance.

The project was inaugurated with a symposium between 3‐5 June 2014 at Queen’s University Belfast examining the contribution of Irish and international agents in major historical processes such as the war of American independence, the Irish rebellion, the abolition of slavery, the Indian ‘mutiny’, nationalist movements, the emergence of the Irish Free State and independence, partiton of territories. Ireland and the Colonies, 1775‐1947, will seek to interrogate current models of colonial and postcolonial scholarship within the disciplinary boundaries of the academy and the historiographical traditions dictated by modern nation states. The symposium aims to inaugurate a major new international research network to lead and disseminate future research in this field.

This digital exhibition features specific topics:

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Somerville & Ross: A Lasting Legacy


"It was in October, 1887, that we began what was soon to be known to us as 'The Shocker,' and 'The Shaughraun,' to our family generally as 'that nonsense of the girls,' and subsequently, to the general public as 'An Irish Cousin'.

Given that 'every man's hand was against' them in their desire to 'commence author', E. OE. Somerville (1858-1949) and Martin Ross's (1862-1915) manuscript papers at Queen's not only represent the stunning and rarely divulged multiplicity, professionalism, and inexhaustible literary output of the two Irish 'shockers', but also survive as a potent symbol of female determination in the face of nineteenth-century social and family gender conventions.

An important and unique collection reflecting the lives, interests and work of the two authors, The Somerville and Ross archive at Queen's consists largely of  literary papers, personal correspondence, diaries, and Somerville's pen and wash book illustrations and pencil sketches.

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