Newspaper cuttings from the Frank Simpson Archive

  • 4 May 2015

I have previously blogged about how the Centre came to acquire the Frank Simpson Archive, as well as describing the care taken to pack the early twentieth century black and white photographs in preparation for moving into storage, but this time, I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the material I’ve found whilst cataloguing over the past few weeks that won’t make it into the collection. Although I personally enjoy reading old newspaper cuttings because they give an insight into society and events of the past, the ones I will describe below won’t become part of the Simpson Archive because they are not directly relevant to its themes and content. This practice of weeding and appraising material for its informational value is all part of the cataloguing process and has become quite a time-consuming activity with this collection.

As I’ve been working my way through what was assumed to be an alphabetical sequence of artist information files, I’ve found lots of newspaper cuttings spanning the decades between the 1920s and 1970s. Some of these were clearly kept by Frank Simpson because of their connection with British art history and art collections, but others appear to have been acquired for no other reason than they must simply have been of some interest to him, although the exact reasons remain unknown. A good example of this are the two small cuttings published in 1932 and 1933 which I discovered paper-clipped together in ‘Miscellaneous artists ‘L’’. These were presumably filed together there because Lewis begins with L and each bears the tell-tale signs of a rusty paper-clip, an all too common occurrence in this collection. The cuttings relate to the author Matthew Lewis who wrote ‘The Monk’, the sensational and popular gothic horror novel which was published in 1796. One is a request from someone who is preparing a study of Lewis’ life for information about the author’s letters.

" href="/media/_source/lewis-image-1-e1430142529546.jpg"> Matthew Gregory
  • Triumphant achievement, Monk Lewis cutting
  • The other suggests that the musical skill of Berlioz in conjuring up the macabre makes Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe and Lewis appear to be ‘merely children trying to frighten us with the innocent bogey apparatus of the nursery’.

    Another two cuttings, this time found in ‘Miscellaneous artists ‘M’’, give details of two very different events and appear to have been filed together for no other reason than the first letter of the names ‘Moy’ and ‘Mary’. One, dated 12th August 1922, details the King and Queen’s proposed visit to Moy for shooting with The Mackintosh, the chief of the Clan Chattan (the latter is apparently an alliance, or federation of Scottish clans). The other cutting, this time from The Daily Express, is titled ‘Police raided Sister Mary’s club’, and describes how an ex-nun ran a drinking club and received stolen goods.

    Queen's Visit to Moy: An historic Highland House cutting & and Sister Mary's club cutting

    Queen's Visit to Moy: An historic Highland House cutting & and Sister Mary's club cutting,

    Incidentally, the same folder also contained advertising material for Mazda cars from the 1970s, so all of this is making me question Frank Simpson’s filing skills!

    Finally, I found a full-page newspaper cutting titled ‘Homage to Pevsner on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday on the 30th January 1967’, published in The Times Literary Supplement, naturally filed under ‘P’.

    Homage to Pevsner cutting and recent Pevsner publication

    Homage to Pevsner cutting and recent Pevsner publication,

    This brown and fragile sheet details the books he edited and wrote for Penguin, together with their prices. One book mentioned is The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset, published in 1958 and which was available for 8s 6d. The Centre recently acquired a newly revised and enlarged edition (published by Yale University Press in 2014), so it’s nice to be able to link something which interested Frank Simpson in the 1960s with the activities of the Centre today.