Manuscripts and Special Collections

The archive chain challenge (2)

May 12th, 2010 at 09:05

For this second archive chain challenge I’m going to attempt to connect the late Nottingham author Alan Sillitoe with one of our recent accessions – a collection of just three items relating to a nurse in Nottingham. Same rules apply as last time – five archival references connected by four links.

1. You can currently view descriptions of one archive concerning Alan Sillitoe on our online catalogue (MS 625). This comprises correspondence from Sillitoe principally to his nephew Patrick Cawkwell offering him advice on writing novels.

2. Patrick Cawkwell wrote at least two unpublished novels: one called ‘Fanningtails’ and a fantasy called ‘Icecreamland’. Is there something related to ice cream in the archive catalogue? Curiously enough, there are three hits, one of which is letter amongst the Thoroton Hildyard papers which we blogged about recently. THF/C/2/2/20 is from Myles Thoroton Hildyard to his parents from Palestine where he was serving with the British Army in the Second World War. He describes an important military expedition to find strawberries and cakes in the local town to feed the troops. His expedition was not entirely successful but he describes the bizarre scenario of returning back to camp with thermos flasks filled with ice cream for the men.

3. Elsewhere in his letter he refers to his astonishment at the British evacuation of Dunkirk of which news had only just reached the Middle East. Another man who noted reactions to Dunkirk was Lou Wootton who wrote a reminiscence ‘Return Journey / The Eleven Who Came Back / Forty Years On’ which reflects on the Dunkirk evacuation and Normandy D-Day landings during the Second World War in which he was involved.

4. Wootton worked for most of his life at Player’s cigarette factory in Nottingham. John Player was a notable benefactor to Nottingham General Hospital and we hold a photograph of him amongst the hospital archive.

5. The University of Nottingham holds many records related to health issues and amongst these are a tiny collection of papers from a nurse working at the General Hospital including this copy of Ballière’s Popular Atlas of the Anatomy and Physiology of the Female Human Body. Her name was Patricia Latham and she was born on 29 March 1935 in West Bridgford but spent much of her childhood living with aunts and uncles in York where she was schooled alongside Dame Judi Dench and Susan Drabble (who wrote under the pen name of A.S. Byatt). Latham remained friends with Drabble and would often visit her family and her sister, the author Margaret Drabble.
She began her nursing training in 1953 at the General Hospital in Nottingham from which period the archive dates.

So there you have it! However, there are plenty of other ways to make the connection and complete the challenge. If you find one, why not post it as a comment?

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