Satan’s mistress

SouthcottSatan’s mistress is certainly a title to grab your attention, and includes plenty of strange facts about the life of 18th century fanatic and prophet Joanna Southcott.  The blurb on the back of the book is equally sensational:

“Joanna Southcott’s yearning to make her mark in the world was so strong that she inadvertently sold her soul to the Devil.  She would rather have given it to Jesus, but the Devil persuaded her that the voices she heard were from God.  It was only on her death-bed that she realised she was not the Bride of Christ at all, but the mistress of Satan.”

A sparsely educated daughter from a farming farming Joanna grew up to be a widely influential prophet who in her mid sixties claimed to be pregnant by immaculate conception, and that her son Shiloh would be born on Christmas day.  In fact she died on 27th December, unsurprisingly without giving birth.  Even today there is a sect of believers called the Panacea Society who are waiting for the spirit of Shiloh to manifest.

Val Lewis leads us through Joanna’s life, and explores what may have happened to the sealed Box of Prophecies, which was only to have been opened by 24 Church of England Bishops.

An extraordinary story about a woman who had 14,000 followers and a cult that still survives today.

Lewis, Val (1997) Satan’s mistress. Shepperton: Nauticalia.
ISBN: 0953045803
Classmark: BF1815.S6.L3 (ASSL)

Celebrating Ebooks Week

Cardiff University Libraries are beginning a week long promotion of their electronic book collections from 6-12 March 2014.  This coincides with World Book Day on 6th March.

Alongside this, for a limited period, is an “Ebooks on Demand” trial, presenting an opportunity for library users to rent and potentially purchase new ebooks.

Cardiff University Library currently has access to nearly 9,000 ebooks, available on and off-campus.  These range from titles in reference databases, subject specific collections, and individually purchased textbooks.

Recent additions to the library collection include:

Longmore, Murray, Wilkinson, Ian, B.,  Baldwin, Andrew & Wallin, Elizabeth (2014) Oxford handbook of clinical medicine. 9th ed. (now updated to the latest  edition)

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Benner, Erica (2014) Machiavelli’s Prince: a new reading
ISBN: 9780191769405
(Amongst 23 new titles recently added to the Political Science Module on Oxford Scholarship Online)

Blog 9780199653638

Brock, George (2013) Out of print: newspapers, journalism and the business of news in the digital age
ISBN: 9780749466527

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The Severn Tsunami?


By a happy coincidence – or is it just good timing, given the weather we have been having? – a new book on the floods of 1607 was recently ordered just as our colleague cataloguing Cardiff’s rare books was discovering a contemporary pamphlet about the same event. The Severn Tsunami? The story of Britain’s greatest natural disaster has been written by Mike Hall, a retired geography teacher, and it claims to be the first comprehensive account of the flood of 30 January 1607, which modern science now suggests may have been a tsunami.  It was a catastrophic event: a huge wave swept up the River Severn and flooded the land on both sides, killing many people and sweeping whole settlements away. The book is written in a fairly informal style, appealing to a general readership rather than a strictly academic one, but it nevertheless examines the sources thoroughly, drawing on several contemporary accounts. The pamphlet which we hold in our Special Collections is not directly quoted, although some of the same material and a similar illustration from  other sources are used. You can read about our seventeenth century pamphlet over on our Special Collections blog here, and if that has whetted your appetite you can borrow the modern book from the Salisbury Collection on the third floor of the Arts and Social Studies Library.

Detail from the woodcut on our 1607 pamphlet, "A true report of certaine wonderfull overflowings of water" in the Cardiff Rare Books collection in SCOLAR

Detail from the woodcut on our 1607 pamphlet, “A true report of certaine wonderfull overflowings of water” in the Cardiff Rare Books collection in SCOLAR

Hall, Mike (2013) The Severn tsunami? The story of Britain’s greatest natural disaster
Stroud: The History Press
Classmark: Celt GB1399.5.G7.H2 (ASSL Salisbury Collection)

Slang and swearing: what language do you use?

SwearTwo entertaining books on language have been added to the library recently, one about swearing and the other about slang.  Melissa Mohr’s Holy Sh*t looks at the history of swearing – both obscenities and oaths, from the ‘big ten’ worst Latin words in Ancient Rome up to the ‘big six’ worst English words today, lists that fluctuate depending on culture and society.  In between we visit the Bible, look at the Middle Ages when English was the minority language in England next to Latin and Norman French, discuss ‘equivocation’ during the Renaissance, and the euphemisms of the 18th and 19th centuries, and end up in the modern world wondering as taboos change what the swear words of the future will be, and whether we are swearing more now than we did in the past.

slangIn The life of slang by Julie Coleman we learn just what slang is, how it developed throughout the English speaking world, and how it continues to flourish.  She explains that “Slang is an attitude…expressed in words.  Any word habitually used with one of these slangy attitudes retains the association, but the association wears off when the word is used by people who don’t share or are only pretending to share the attitude. When a group of people are stereotyped by their attitude, outsiders will find signs of it even where it isn’t being expressed.” (p.306).

Coleman also discusses swear words in the context of slang, which aren’t necessarily the same things.

Both these books will probably teach you several new words, whether you can use them in polite company is another matter.

Mohr, Melissa (2013) Holy sh*t. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
ISBN: 9780199742677
Classmark: PE3724.S85.M6 (ASSL)

Coleman, Julie (2012) The life of slang. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
ISBN: 9780199571994
Classmark: PE3711.C6 (ASSL)

When is a library not just a library? …. When it’s a work of art!

The library: a world history by James W.P. Campbell, photographs by Will Pryce, leads the reader through a tour of the most varied and visually stunning libraries the world over. From the libraries of the ancient world to the 21st Century and beyond, from the most ornate of the The Theological Hall, Strahov Abbey in Prague, Czech Republic to the modern National Library of China, Beijing.


Architectural historian Campbell’s authoritative account of library architecture is matched only by Pryce’s beautifully striking and spectacular accompanying photographs. It just goes to show that libraries, whether they be public, academic or National don’t have to be musty, concrete, lifeless buildings but can be the heart and soul of the town or city.

As the dust jacket perfectly sums up “The finest libraries are repositories not just of books, but also of learning, creativity and contemplations: they embody some of the highest achievements of humankind”

Many of the eighty libraries visited by Campbell and Pryce can be described as nothing short of works of art. The book can, rather unsurprisingly, be found in the Architecture Library!

Campbell, James W.P. (2013) The Library: a world history
ISBN:  9780500342886
Classmark: 727.8 CAM (ARCHI)

The C-word

cwordThe tag line for this book is “Just your average 28 year old…friends, family, facebook, cancer”.  Not your run of the mill,  ‘personal experience of a disease’ book, this one comes across more in the style of Bridget Jones.

“Carrie Bradshaw fell in Dior, I fell in Debenhams.  It was May 2008, and it was spectacular.  Uncomfortable heels + slippy floor + head turned by a cocktail dress = thwack. Arms stretched overhead, teeth cracking on floor tiles, chest and knees breaking the fall. It was theatrical, exaggerated, a perfect 6.0. And it was Significant Moment #1 in discovering that I had grade-three breast cancer.”  (p. 2)

Lisa Lynch, a journalist and magazine editor, discovered she had breast cancer at 28. One of her ways of dealing with ‘The bullshit’ as she called it, was to write a blog telling it how it really was.  Endorsed by Stephen Fry, the blog turned into a book – The C-Word.

Lisa beat breast cancer, the blog carried on, and there is talk of the BBC turning the book into a film; sadly however, three years later she developed a secondary cancer, and died earlier this year (2013).

The book is a great read whether you have had to deal with cancer in your life or not; for those who have they will surely recognize plenty of moments, for those who haven’t its a realistic eye opener, told in a very funny way.

Lynch, Lisa (2010) The C-word. London: Arrow Books.
ISBN: 9780099547549
Classmark: 362.19699490092 LYN (Health Library)

Titles from Cardiff authors

Over summer the library added several books to its collections that were written, or contributed to, by Cardiff authors, here is a selection:

PlotTarbatt, Jonathan (2012) The plot : designing diversity in the built environment : a manual for architects and urban designers. London: RIBA Publishing.
ISBN: 9781859464434
Classmark: 724.7 PLO (Bute (ARCHI)

Jonathan Tarbatt is a former Cardiff University student who is now a practicing architect.  This books is a professional manual for making more sustainable places.



BelongingHurdley, Rachel (2013) Home, materiality, memory and belonging : keeping culture. Basingstoke:  Palgrave Macmillan.
ISBN: 9780230230286
Classmark: HM753.H8 (Bute (SOCSI)

Rachel Hurdley is a Research Fellow in the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences whose research focuses on everyday relations between people, things, space and time.



channelsOviedo-Orta, Ernesto, Kwak, Brenda R. & Evans, W. Howard (2013, eds.) Connexin cell communication channels : roles in the immune system and immunopathology. London: CRC Press.
ISBN: 9781439862575
Classmark: 571.96364 CON (Health)

W. Howard Evans is the Professor of Medical Biochemistry in the Institute of Infection & Immunity, Cardiff University.



ByzantiTougher, Shaun.  Bearding Byzantium : Masculinity, Eunuchs and the Byzantine Life Course In, Neil, Bronwen & Garland, Lynda (2013, eds.) Questions of gender in Byzantine society. Farnham: Ashgate.
ISBN: 9781409447795
Classmark: HQ1075.5.B97.Q8 (ASSL)

Shaun Tougher is the Senior Lecturer in Ancient History in the School of History, Archaeology and Religion, and the co-director of the Centre for Late Antique Religion and Cutlure at Cardiff.



lawEgede, Edwin & Sutch, Peter (2013) The politics of international law and international justice. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
ISBN: 9780748634729
Classmark: JC578.E4 (ASSL)

Edwin Egede is a Senior Lecturer in International Law and International Relations at Cardiff, and Peter Sutch is the Professor of Political and International Theory at Cardiff.

Modernity and reproduction: seductive motorcars, rebellious robots and friendly trees

ModernityWhat does the organization “Men of trees” and the woman who campaigned for birth control, Marie Stopes, have in common?  Perhaps surprisingly the answer is the eugenicist Reginald Ruggles Gate, who was the first husband of Stopes and a member of this tree planting society.   It was this fact that first provided the spark for author Angus McLaren to set off on a journey looking into sexuality and modernity.

Looking at popular literature, films, and public debate from the 1920s and 1930s, alongside the work of biologists and psychiatrists, McLaren discusses the way the mechanistic ideas of modernity were turned to ideas of sexuality and reproduction, and the conversations and discussions that ensued.

“While American science-fiction writers were obsessed with extraterrestrials, rocket ships, and death rays, the British were hypnotized by the possibilities and pitfalls of harnessing biological change.” p. 5 (Introduction)

We are shown how man’s relationship with the environment and ecological issues became intrinsically intertwined with that of eugenics and modernity.

“A large and eccentric cast of characters including seductive motorcars, rebellious robots, friendly trees, and timorous test-tube babies populate this brief study.  Its goal is to better understand why in a remarkably short space of time modernizers (of a variety of stripes) succeeded in advancing the arguments that the protean forces of sex and reproduction had to be subjected to planning and control. They, of course, did not win the debate – it is still going on.” p 6 (Introduction)

McLaren, Angus (2012) Reproduction by design: sex, robots, trees, and test-tube babies in interwar Britain.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
ISBN: 9780226560694
Classmark: PR478.F87.M2 (ASSL)

Rare Book School at the University of Virginia

Our Rare book Cataloguer went to America this summer to attend Rare Book School, read all about his adventures here:

Special Collections and Archives / Casgliadau Arbennig ac Archifau

This summer I had the exciting opportunity to study at the prestigious Rare Book School (RBS) at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Each year RBSRBS runs a wide range of courses on antiquarian books, manuscripts and special collections, offering  librarians, rare book dealers and conservators the chance to be taught by some of the world’s leading experts in the history of the book. Courses are intensive and last for five days with students attending from 8:30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Library tours, bookstore visits, evening lectures and other bookish events also take place throughout the week.

Founded at Columbia University in 1983, Rare Book School is now based in the University of Virginia’s Alderman Library. RBS classes are kept small, usually just 10-12 students, to ensure that everyone can get their hands on the books, and entry to courses is highly competitive. This year there were more than…

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What do we do when the students aren’t around?

Actually it doesn’t really matter to a cataloguer whether its term time (erm or semester time), because it doesn’t effect our work load.  We carry on regardless of the time of year, though we do have some flows and ebbs that are related to students – such as making sure all the multiple copy textbooks get out on the shelves as quickly as possible.  I am amazed by how many people do ask me if I get the summer off though (if only!) – however, this seems to be a generic question for anyone who works in any capacity for a university.  Just because undergraduates aren’t being taught during these summer months doesn’t mean the University grinds to a halt though!

This week, however, one could perhaps quite legitimately ask what the cataloguers are doing, because this week is when our library management system (Voyager) is being upgraded.  It is a good week to take time off, because you can’t get on with the main part of the job, but its also a good week to catch up on all those tasks you put off because they aren’t cataloguing.

There is some obligatory desk tidying, and email sorting (both of which I have yet to get round to); this week I also intend to write a selection of blog posts (ready to use at a later point), type up some notes on an archiving project, create lists of some genetics books waiting to be catalogued for the Human Genetics Historical Library project that the genetics professor wants, start revamping the cataloguing manual which is several years out of date now, catch up with staff development activities, finalise arrangements for a training session I’ve organised for next week, and several other bits of administration work.  That’s just me, my colleagues will have their own jobs, which for some also mean working on the institutional repository ORCA.

Eragny PressToday I also created a Pinterest account for the cataloguing department too.  Its going to feature the occasional pictures of us and our surroundings, there will be some library infographics that are fun, bookplates we find while cataloguing the rare books (in SCOLAR), private press printing devices, interesting book covers, fun things inspired by books – you get the picture!  Why not follow our boards.