Exhibits (5 total)

Mapping our Exeter

This exhibition explores ideas around mapping and a sense of place in the city of Exeter.

We invite you to travel back in time through a display of digitised historic maps of Exeter to discover how the city has been mapped over the past 500 years. How have Exeter's landmarks been represented? What was the purpose of each map? How and when did the city's boundaries expand? What in Exeter has changed, what has stayed the same - and why? 

Then browse our new and unique digital map of Exeter. Created through contributions from people in the community, it charts places of personal meaning to those who live in, work in or visit Exeter. These include places connected to special memories, landmarks of historical significance, the location of a friendly cat, and where to find the best banana bread!

This digital exhibition is based on an outreach project (2022-2023) with the local community in Exeter, organised by the University of Exeter Special Collections.

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One of the strengths of the University of Exeter Special Collections is a rich collection of twentieth-century literary papers by writers associated with the south west of England, with more than more than thirty writers, poets and playwrights represented within the collections.

These writers all had links to the south west of England, and many of them knew one another. Some were friends, attended each other's parties or weddings, and even supported each with their literary works by reading drafts, comparing experiences or sharing advice.

This exhibition explores some of the letters that they wrote to one another and the personal connections that they forged. The letters reflect themes in both their work and personal interests, and offer an interesting insight into the private lives of these public figures.

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Ronald Duncan - Writer, Poet and Librettist

Ronald Duncan (1914-1982) was a productive West Country author whose literary career encompassed journalism, fiction, poetry, libretti, film scripts and plays. He is best known as the playwright of This Way to the Tomb (1946), his epic poem Man (The Complete Cantos, 1980) and as the librettist for The Rape of Lucretia (1946), an opera he co-wrote with Benjamin Britten. He was also a farmer, horse breeder and wartime pacifist who lived and worked most of his life in North Devon.

Duncan left the legacy of a fascinating archive of literary and personal papers, The Ronald Duncan Collection, which was donated to Special Collections at the University of Exeter in 2016.

This exhibition helps shed light on this often overlooked writer and the treasures held within the Ronald Duncan Collection.

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Syon Abbey Collection - Discovering Sister Catherine 'Kitty' Witham

In the course of Syon Abbey's 596 years of existence, hundreds of women entered the monastery. Each of these women contributed to the continuation of Syon Abbey's tradition and their lives are woven into the fabric of the community's history.

Although Syon Abbey is no longer active, the community’s archive, manuscripts and printed books remain together and are now housed at the University of Exeter Special Collections. Collectively they form an invaluable resource through which to delve into Syon Abbey's history.

This exhibition focuses on one particular Syon nun - Sister Catherine 'Kitty' Witham - and what an exploration of the monastery's archive, manuscripts and books can reveal about her.

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The Hudson Transparencies

The Hudson Transparencies are a set of fifty-eight original images of microscopic plants and animals. Created in the late 19th century by Victorian naturalist Charles Thomas Hudson to accompany his educational talks, they now form part of the University of Exeter’s Special Collections. This exhibition showcases all 58 transparencies together for the first time, with images showing both their construction, and how they were intended to appear when lit from behind.

Image titles have been taken from labels on the transparencies, where present, so may not reflect current terminology for the creatures and plants depicted. Where the current terminology is known this is indicated in square brackets in the description.

With thanks to University of Exeter Arts and Culture, whose exhibition of the transparencies formed the basis for this online exhibition, and to Dr Robin Wootton who revived interest in these unique items, completing the first listing of the transparencies in 2011.

All images in this exhibition are courtesy of University of Exeter Special Collections and reproduction of these images is not permitted without permission from the Special Collections Department.