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Archives and Special Collections

William Morris - Designer, craftsman, artist, writer

William Morris (1834-1896) was one of the leading figures of the Arts and Crafts movement, as a designer, craftsman and artist, his work was highly influential. Morris founded the popular Morris & Co for which he designed tapestries, wallpapers, stained glass, fabrics and furniture. Many of his designs are still in production today.

He also founded the Kelmscott Press in 1891 for the printing of fine illustrated books.

The Yellow Book

The Yellow Book (1894-87) is a notorious periodical of the aesthetic movement featuring essays, poems, fiction and illustrations. The publication featured cover illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley who also served as art editor. Beardsley worked with other influential figures of the aesthetic movement such as Oscar Wilde, illustrating his book Salomé. 

The name The Yellow Book refers to the yellow bindings often given to controversial French novels of the time - our first edition of Dracula also features a yellow cover for this reason. The colour expressed the risqué, sensual and often decadent spirit of Fin de  Siècle culture. Wilde's title character in The Picture of Dorian Gray is corrupted by a 'yellow book' - often assumed to  be Joris-Karl Huysmans’s À rebours (1884). A prominent aesthate, Wilde was often caricatured and satirised in Punch by illustrator George du Maurier (see below).

The Yellow Book was also intended as an attractive object in its own right, like the works produced at Morris's  Kelmscott Press.

Read more about The Yellow Book and its context here on the British Library website.


George du Maurier - illustrator, cartoonist and novelist

George Louis Palmella Busson du Maurier (1834-1896) was a well-known illustrator and novelist. Born in Paris, he moved to London with the rest of his family in 1851, where he originally studied chemistry, followed by opera-singing and then art in Paris. He eventually returned from his studies abroad in 1860, becoming quickly established as a magazine illustrator, working for both 'Once a Week' and 'Punch' as a cartoonist. He married Emma Wightwick in 1863, and rapidly formed part of the Bohemian Hampstead circle. Friends of the family included Kate Greenaway, Sir Walter Besant, John Millais and George Eliot. Joining the Rabelais Club, he met other established literary figures, and illustrated the novels of Thomas Hardy, Elizabeth Gaskell and Wilkie Collins. He also had illustrations published in other London literary magazine throughout his life, such as 'The Illustrated London News', 'Good Words', the 'Illustrated Times', 'London Society', the 'Sunday Magazine', 'The Leisure Hour', 'Harper's Magazine' and the 'English Illustrated Magazine'. He was also a successful novelist, publishing 'Peter Ibbetson' (1889), 'Trilby' (1894) and 'The Martian' (1897).

These collections are part of a larger collection of papers relating to various members of the du Maurier family.

  • Papers relating to George du Maurier in EUL MS 207/2, include drawings, letters, personal papers and manuscripts.
  • Papers relating to George du Maurier in EUL MS 462/3/2 include original letters and drawings.

Printed books


A collection formed by Professor Chris Brooks (1949-2002), one of Britain's leading cultural historians of the Victorian period. His library was donated to the University Library in 2002. The collection supports a wide range within the field of Victorian culture and adult and juvenile fiction of the Victorian and Edwardian period forms a major emphasis in the collection. The Periodical collection contains a complete set of Punch, indexed by Brooks and as such provides an insight into his research topics. Other titles include All the Year Round,The Boy's Own PaperCornhill MagazineFireside, and Good Words.

  • The collection is catalogued and entries appear on the University Library's online catalogue under the local classmark 'Brooks'.


The Hypatia Collection consists of approximately 10,000 books and journals by or about women. The books and journals date chiefly from the late 19th to late 20th century.

Part of its richness stems from the inclusive collecting habits of its creator, Dr Melissa Hardie, who acquired many ephemeral titles and books on subjects and by writers traditionally excluded from the academic canon in her aim 'to make available published documentation about women in every aspect of their lives'. The collection is strongest on biography, social life, occupations and history, as well as on literature (especially fiction) and the arts. In addition there is also the Cheris Kramerae gift of books on second-wave feminism and related topics. 

To search the entire Hypatia Collection, enter *HYPATIA* in the search field on the Library Catalogue. You can also search *Hypatia* + *Keyword* or *Hypatia* + *Author* or *Hypatia* + *Book Title*. Then under *Refine your results* and under *Location* select *Special Collections Old Library*

You can also search the collection by subject. The books in the Hypatia Collection are shelved alphabetically within the following subject sequences and classmarks (click on the links to search the collection according to the subject sequences):


Searching for books:

Rare books can be found by searching the University of Exeter Library catalogue

  • Enter a keyword, title or author in the search bar
  • To restrict the results to a specific time period, enter a date range under *Refine your results* and *Creation Date*
  • To restrict the results to results to Special Collections materials, select *Special Collections, Old Library* under *Location*

Further guidance on using the Library catalogue can be found on the Searching our Catalogues guide

Bill Douglas Cinema Museum


The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum is both a public museum and an academic research centre, housing one of Britain's largest public collections of books, prints, artefacts and ephemera relating to the long history of screen practice. There are over 80,000 items in the collection. Holdings include many examples of nineteenth-century panoramas, dioramas, magic lanterns, stereoscopes, peepshows, optical illusions, and early cinema handbills. Artefacts are complemented by printed works relating to nineteenth-century science, technology, domestic leisure and popular entertainment. is home to one of the largest collections of material on the moving image in Britain.

Leonard Baskin - Illustrator

Leonard Baskin was born in 1922 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and brought up in Brooklyn. He had his first exhibition of sculpture in New York at the age of seventeen and went on to study at Yale University followed by the New School for Social Research between 1941 and 1949. In 1953 he began teaching printmaking and sculpture at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he remained until 1974. He moved to Lurley, Tiverton, Devon in 1974 close to his friend, Ted Hughes, and stayed till 1983 when he returned to America. He died in 2000.

Baskin founded the Gehenna Press in 1942 while at Yale, and in 1956 the press moved to Northampton, Massachusetts. From the start it specialised in fine book production, its first publication being a collection of Baskin's own poems. Not long after the press had moved, Baskin began a lasting collaborative friendship with Ted Hughes, poet laureate, when they met at Smith College in 1959, where Hughes was teaching at the time. This friendship continued until Hughes' death and proved to be a very fruitful period of collaboration between the artist and the poet producing works such as 'Pike' (1959), 'Crow' (1970), 'Season Songs', (1975), 'Cave Birds' (1975, 1978, EUL MS 58), 'Under the North Star' (1981, EUL MS 263) 'Capriccio' and 'Oresteia', (1990, 2001, EUL MS 349). Several of their collaborative works were published by the Gehenna Press, including 'Capriccio' and 'Oresteia'.

From the time Baskin moved to Devon in 1974 until Ted Hughes' death in 1998 Baskin sent signed proofs of his work to Ted and Carol Hughes. An extremly talented sculptor, he created a relief bronze of Ted Hughes in profile in 1978, and another entitled 'Weeping Angel', as a memorial piece.

EUL MS 350 - Leonard Baskin and Ted Hughes collection

This collection consists of a range of prints, including etchings, woodcuts, woodblocks, lithographs and watercolours; books, drawings and correspondence from Leonard Baskin to Ted Hughes and catalogues by Baskin and the Gehenna Press. Many of the items are artists' proofs and are signed and annotated to Ted and Carol Hughes.

EUL MS 349 - Leonard Baskin, woodcut proofs for 'Capriccio' and the 'Oresteia', published by Gehenna Press

tems from two collaborative works between Leonard Baskin and Ted Hughes, both published by the Gehenna Press:

Proofs for 'Capriccio', 1990 (all measurements in inches, w x h)

Title page, proof, colour (27.5 x 19.75)
The Error, proof, (14.125 x 19.9)
Systole Diastole, proof sheet (27.5 x 19.75)

Proofs for 'Oresteia ', 2001

Prospectus (24.125 x 16
Gorgon (12.25 x 16)
Paris and Helen (12.25 x 16)
Orestes (12.25 x 16)
Snake and Eagle (12.25 x 16)
Eagle and Hare, press proof, sheet with text (24.125 x 16)
Three Furies, press proof, sheet with text (24.125 x 16)
The colophon (24.125 x 16)

EUL MS 192 add. 2 - Noel Chanan: 'The artist and the poet' DVD

Documentary by Noel Chanan of Leonard Baskin and Ted Hughes in conversation, 1983

EUL MS 192 add. 1 - Ted Hughes, Exhibition Posters and Limited Prints

Poster advertising exhibition of illustrations to Ted Hughes' poems, held at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), 12 September to 28 October 1979. One of a limited edition of 150 posters signed by both the poet and the artist, Leonard Baskin. Also one, possibly the proof, of a limited edition of 100 copies of the poem "Thomas the Rhymer's Song" with woodcut illustration by Baskin, printed by the Gehenna Press and published on the occasion of the opening of the Ted Hughes Papers, Robert R Woodruff Libary, Emory University on 7 April 1000.

EUL MS 58 - Literary papers relating to Ted Hughes's 'Cave Birds'

The collection is the complete series of poems and drafts for 'Cave Birds'. This series of poems was commissioned from Hughes by the Ilkley Festival of Literature and was first performed at Ilkley on 30 May 1975. The original 'Cave Birds' poems were based on a series of drawings by Leonard Baskin. Later, a second series of ten drawings inspired a further group of poems, and later still these poems were diversified, for relief and contrast, by the interpolation of a further set of poems in a looser and more dramatic style. The complete sequence consists of thirty poems. To these, Hughes added a brief series of explanatory notes, one for each poem. The Scolar Press produced a limited edition of 100 copies of the second set of poems, together with the corresponding drawings by Baskin, in 1975. Twenty-nine poems were published in an edition by Faber in 1978. The collection includes a page of contextual notes by Eric W White, former committee member of the Arts Council.

The collection is organized by book, project portfolio or format. There is a large series of individual prints not yet fully catalogued.

EUL MS 350/3 Prints by Leonard Baskin relating to both published books and individual print sequences.

EUL MS 350/3/1 Prints by Leonard Baskin relating to published books.

EUL MS 350/3/1/1 Prints related to 'Cave Birds'. Series of prints relating to 'Cave Birds'. Some annotated to Ted and Carol Hughes and some artist's proofs.

EUL MS 350/3/1/2 Prints related to 'Unknown Dutch Artists'. Artist's proof unbound copy of 'Unknown Dutch Artists', published by the Eremite Press in 1983. Annotated to Ted and Carol Hughes and signed by Leonard Baskin. 1 of 2 artist's proof copies.

EUL MS 350/3/1/3 Prints related to 'Crow'

EUL MS 350/3/1/4 Prints related to 'Capriccio'. Artist's proofs of prints from 'Capriccio', published by the Gehenna Press in 1990. Seven of the prints pasted on to paper backing. Some prints signed and annotated to Ted and Carol Hughes as proofs by Leonard Baskin.

EUL MS 350/3/1/5 Prints related to 'Grotesques: etchings and a panegyrical note'. Artist's proofs of 'Grotesques: etchings and a panegyrical note', published by the Gehenna Press in 1991. Annotated to Ted and Carol Hughes and signed by Leonard Baskin.

EUL MS 350/3/1/6 Prints related to 'Jewish artists of the early & late Renaissance: a book of etchings & words'. Artist's proof unbound copy of 'Jewish artists of the early & late Renaissance: a book of etchings & words', published by the Gehenna Press in 1993. Annotated as proofs and signed by Leonard Baskin.

EUL MS 350/3/1/7 Prints related to 'Lepidoptera Fantastica'. Artist's proofs of 'Lepidoptera Fantastica', published by the Gehenna Press in 1994. Annotated to Ted and Carol Hughes and signed by Leonard Baskin.

EUL MS 350/3/1/8  Prints related to 'Presumptions of Death'. Artist's proof unbound copy of 'Presumptions of Death', published by the Gehenna Press in 1995. Annotated to Ted and Carol Hughes and signed and annotated with some brief notes regarding the prints by Leonard Baskin. Also contains seven seperate prints, signed and annotated to Ted and Carol Highes.

EUL MS 350/3/1/9 Prints related to 'Oresteia'. Prints relating to the 'Oresteia' . Includes annotated artist's proofs signed and annotated to Ted and Carol Hughes by Leonard Baskin.

EUL MS 350/3/1/10 Prints related to 'Skulls'

EUL MS 350/3/2 Other Prints. A collection of prints by Leonard Baskin including working proofs and trial prints. Some are annotated to Ted and Carol Hughes.

1. Augustus St. Gaudens, 1981; black and white lithograph, touched trial proof, 8th pull
2. Augustus St. Gaudens, 1981; colour lithograph, artist's proof
3. Medea in her magic making hat, 1981; black and white lithograph, trial proof, 2nd pull
4. Medea in her magic making hat, 1981; colour lithograph, proof
5. Medea Magic, 1981; black and white lithograph, trial pull, 3rd pull
6. Medea Magic, 1981; colour lithogrpah, proof
7. Self portrait, 1981; colour lithograph, working proof
8. Yom Kippur, 1982; black and white lithograph, trial proof, 9th pull
9. Yom Kippur, 1982; colour lithograph, proof
10. Untitled , 1982; black and white lithograph, trial proof, 1st state, 10th pull

Included in the collection are limited edition Gehenna Press books of Baskin's collaborations with Ted Hughes including 'Howls and Whispers', 'Oresteia' and 'Mokomaki' and other, often artists' copies, limited edition Gehenna Press books illustrated by Baskin including 'Diptera', 'Hermaika' and 'Nature's Mould'.

There are also catalogues and flyers for individual works published by Gehenna Press, a Catalogue Raisonne of Baskin's work, exhibition posters, printing plates, and books illustrated by Leonard Baskin.

EUL MS 350/1 Collection of books including collaborations with Ted Hughes, books published by The Gehenna Press, fine limited edition copies and other books illustrated by Leonard Baskin. Many contain annotations to Ted and Carol Hughes from the artist.

EUL MS 350/1/1 Collaborations with Ted Hughes.  Books written by Ted Hughes and illustrated by Leonard Baskin including limited edition fine copies by The Gehenna Press and the Eremite Press.

EUL MS 350/1/2 Gehenna Press and Eremite Press limited edition books. Books from the collection of Ted and Carol Hughes, published by the Gehenna Press, founded by Leonard Baskin in 1942.

Visual resources from our Archives

John Gendall (bap. 1791, d. 1865), watercolour painter, was baptized on 2 January 1791 at St Edmund's Church, Exeter, the son of John and Frances Gendall. 

One of the leading topographical painters in pure watercolour, Gendall displayed exact draftsmanship, brilliance of colouring, and competent figure drawing in his work.

Between 1846 and 1863 at the Royal Academy he regularly exhibited views of the Devon countryside both in watercolour, and with increasing use of gouache and oils.

Gendall played a central role in the cultural life of Exeter, and from 1862 to 1864 served as the first curator of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.

The archive collection comprises 3 large volumes containing a series of sketches pasted in at a later date. They include watercolour drawings, pencil sketches, chalk and charcoal drawings of various picturesque locations at Lynmouth and Plymouth (one volume), Okehampton, Gloucester and Tintern (another), and other places (a miscellaneous volume).


Edward Cahen (1880-1961), photographer, was born in London, son of Albert Cahen, banker, and his wife Frederica. Educated at Marlborough. Studied Chemistry at the Royal College of Science from 1900, and joined the staff there 1907-1911. Travelled in Brittany, the Schwarzwald and Poland prior to becoming a demonstrator at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, in 1913. In 1917 he moved to the National Explosives Co. Ltd. in Cornwall. He retired in about 1923, and died in 1961 at Bovey Tracey, Devon.

The collection comprises 5 volumes and loose items.Two of the albums are collections of Cahen's portraits, one relating to literary and artistic individuals; the other medical men, especially the staff at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London. The other three relate to Cahen's journeys to Poland, France and Germany before the First World War. The portrait albums mostly incorporate press cuttings relating to the subjects.

Papers relating to Ballets Russes

Ballets Russes was a Russian émigré ballet company formed and directed by Serge Diaghilev (1827-1929). As a touring company, it created a sensation in Western Europe in the early 20th century, premiering much of today's established ballet repertoire, featuring many prominent dancers, composers, artists and choreographers of the period such as Bakst, Matisse, Picasso, Stravinsky, Prokoviev, Debussy, Ravel, Fokine, Nijinsky, Balanchine, Pavolva and Karsavina.
The company was established in 1909 as a summer theatre in Paris by the Russian Opera and Ballet, and became a permanent company in 1911. The company spent regular seasons in Paris from 1909 until its closure on Diaghilev's death in 1929.

This small collection contains two programmes of the Russian Ballet's seasons at the Theatre du Chatelet, Paris, 1912-1914. Included are many colour illustrations of costume designs, as well as photographs and illustrations of various dancers and text about various ballet productions. Also contained within the collection is a programme for 1911, to which other publicity materials such as cuttings, magazine articles, portions of programmes and postcards have been added. A colour brochure showing costume designs, and a few other stray and incomplete materials relating to Ballets Russes [taken from programmes] are also included.

It is not known who accumulated this collection of papers.

Art student's diary (EUL MS 21b) The diary begins on 30 Dec 1852 and has extensive, irregular entries on art, art history, friendsand the Royal Academy to 5 Jul 1853. There is one further entry, dated 11 Aug 1853, on which occasion the author notes he was in Colyton.

'Bird Book' containing watercolour illustrations of birds and eggs (EUL MS 23) The volume is a bound series of seventy-five watercolour illustrations of birds and one of eggs, some of which are annotated and dated (from 1802 at the earliest to 1831 at the latest) and which seem to be local to the Devon/Cornwall border: some are recorded to have been sketched 'at the boathouse', and Calstock is on the River Tamar. A number of sketches have contemporary manuscript notes attached.

William Harding King photographs relating to his explorations of the Libyan Desert (EUL MS 11)

William Joseph Harding King (1869-1933) was an explorer and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He travelled extensively in the north African deserts; in 1900 and 1908 he was in the Western Sahara, and from 1909-1912 he explored the central portions of the Libyan Desert. This collection comprises a series of 508 black and white photographs taken by William Harding King in the Libyan desert in the early 20th century. They include many images that capture the local people and culture, including photographs of the Tuareg people.

Find out more about this collection on the online catalogue

Common Ground archive

Common Ground is an arts and environmental charity, which was founded in 1982 with a mission to link nature with culture and use celebration of the everyday as a starting point for local action. The charity has raised awareness of a variety of environmental issues through its innovative projects, which have involved public participation; the commissioning of new artistic works; the organisation of exhibitions, events and conferences; the launching of new calendar customs; and the publication of books, pamphlets, newsletters, leaflets and postcards. Many of the projects - in particular, 'Parish Maps', the ‘Campaign for Local Distinctiveness’ and 'Apple Day' - have proven to be highly sustainable, continuing long after Common Ground's active involvement in them ceased.

The Common Ground archive comprises a wide range of material created and collected by the charity in the course of its activities between 1982 and 2013, including project planning papers, correspondence, reports, financial papers, research material, press clippings, photographs, promotional material, and publications. 

Between 2018 and 2020, a cataloguing project was undertaken at the University of Exeter Special Collections to make this archive more accessible to the public and open it up to new research. The archive has rich potential for interdisciplinary research in a wide range of areas, including environmental studies, geography, literature, visual culture, cultural studies, sociology and business studies.

The Common Ground archive has rich potential for interdisciplinary research on a wide range of areas, including environmental studies, geography, literature, visual culture, cultural studies, sociology and business studies.. Some possible areas of research are listed below.

  • Relationship between nature and culture - Common Ground believes that the combination of nature and culture makes each place unique, and this forms the basis of its work to stimulate public interest and enthusiasm for the commonplace in our localities. Research into archive material relating to the different projects can shed light on how Common Ground explored the links between nature and culture, especially through its commissioning of artwork, prose, music, and poetry, and organisation of cultural events.
  • Environmental issues in the UK - Research material relating to a range of environmental issues - including the climate emergency, pollution, deforestation, flooding, droughts, natural disasters, the use of pesticides, and habitat loss - can be found within the archive. The archive also includes a variety of responses to these issues such as ideas for and examples of local conservation, as well as reports, policies and strategies by the British Government and environmental organisations. 
  • Project planning - The archive contains project planning papers for each of its projects, from the early 1980s to 2013. This material includes planning notes, project proposals, grant applications, meeting minutes, correspondence, and project reports. These records can be used to understand how arts and environmental are planned and organised, as well as provide insight into Common Ground's practices in particular.
  • Sustainability - Common Ground has pioneered several projects that were designed to be sustainable and encourage long-term local action without extra support from the charity, in particular, the ‘Parish Maps' project and ‘Apple Day’ The success of the sustainability of Common Ground projects can be researched through reports, correspondence, and press clippings in the archive.
  • Sense of place -  Sense of place has been explored by Common Ground through the concept of 'Local Distinctiveness', a term developed by the charity in the early 1980s to examine the relationship between places, people, nature and identity. Correspondence, notes, essays and promotional material relating to the 'Campaign for Local Distinctiveness' can provide more insight into the development of this concept.
  • British culture and landscape - In its mission to raise awareness of what makes our everyday places distinctive and unique, Common Ground collected a vast amount of research material on British landscapes, wildlife, buildings, art, music, literature, customs, history, heritage, and folklore. Research material, promotional material, correspondence and more in the archive, which was arranged by Common Ground alphabetically by subject, can be used to research contemporary Britain.

The Common Ground archive has been catalogued and descriptions of the material within the archive can be browsed on our online archives catalogue under the reference number EUL MS 416.


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