Odds and quads

These images are taken from an ornately designed leather-bound scrapbook, now in the collection of the Humanities Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, that Jane Webb Loudon (1807-58) seems to have put together for family and friends.

January 26, 2012




She was the author of The Mummy! (18), a semi-comic response to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in which a hideous Egyptian mummy, Cheops, is revived in the 22nd century. Now seen as a pioneering example of science fiction, it includes descriptions of steam ploughs and mechanical milking machines that attracted the attention of agricultural writer John Claudius Loudon. After they met and later married, she abandoned fiction for gardening writing.

After an elaborate title page and a verse dedication "To The Misses Perry", the album contains autographs, diary entries and poetry, some composed for the Loudons' wedding. Shown here are a hand-pressed flower "gathered by Mrs Loudon on the plains of Waterloo 1850" and a sketch of a young lady - possibly the author - by Isabelle Martin, the daughter of the visionary artist John Martin.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to: matthew.reisz @tsleducation.com.

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