Yesterday I was treated to lunch at Darbar (only the best Indian restaurant in Kingston) by my Dean, Jim Denford (@jamessdenford) whose support of my work and my career has been unequivocal and enthusiastic. He gave me a gift that started out as a performance: he read part of a letter from Lady Franklin of Russell Square – the one in which Lady Franklin outlines Charles Dickens’s plan to refute John Rae’s story about cannibalism in his weekly paper, Household Words. And the gift I unwrapped? A bound, C19 copy of the Household Words issues that carried the debate. It was “deaccessioned” from the Carnegie Library, and is in beautiful shape, still smelling of coal and the gold edging intact.
As a grad student I wrote my first academic article on these debates with stapled photocopies from Robart’s Library in Toronto, which I’ve kept all this time for sentimental reasons. I even read them now and again – certainly I did when imagining how Lady Franklin may have felt when they came out. Now I have the originals on my shelf, and they’re so very special. Thank you, Jim.