Two new books celebrate Durham’s 175th anniversary
(19 December 2007)
Two new books have been written and published to celebrate 175 years of England’s third oldest university.
The Durham Difference spans the birth, infancy and maturity of Durham University, whilst the Treasures of Durham University Library features artefacts from one of Britain’s most precious and largest collections of medieval manuscripts. The Durham Difference, a highly-illustrated hardback book, charts Durham’s roots as a monastic institution and the award of its Royal Charter in 1837 to become one of the most highly regarded universities in the country, with an outstanding record both in teaching and research. The book is written by Nigel Watson, a history graduate from Durham University’s University College, which is more commonly known as ‘Castle’. Nigel has thoroughly researched original records and drawn on previously untapped reminiscences of staff and students from various generations, which bring the book to life. Durham is the only university to own, live and work in a World Heritage Site, and the photography for the book includes some impressive images of the university’s historic setting, including Durham Castle and Cathedral, in addition to a selection of images from throughout the years. Durham University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Higgins, who was a student at Durham in the 1970s and returned during the University’s 175th anniversary year, said: “Durham University is one of the world’s great institutions. “Like other world-class Universities it espouses excellence in scholarship and research, learning and teaching, but additionally evokes a unique sense of community and place derived from its historic origins, the beauty of the medieval City, and its collegiate system. “This book wonderfully illustrates the ‘Durham Difference’ and why those who have passed through the University as staff or students remember the University and the impact it has had on their lives with such special affection.” Bill Bryson, Durham University Chancellor and world-famous author, writes in his foreword to the book: “Nowhere that I know of is that happy air of productive, brainy toil more winningly offset by architectural glory than in Durham. What other universities, after all, can claim a castle and cathedral at their very heart?” Treasures of Durham University Library, an illustrated paperback, showcases some of the treasures of the Library’s seventy thousand books printed before 1850. The historic core of the collection is the library assembled by John Cosin, bishop of Durham (1660-72) and the deposit of the library from Bamburgh Castle. It includes late antique papyri to modern literary manuscripts, as well as substantial archival and photographic materials. The medieval manuscripts featured in the book include the best-preserved service-book produced in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest, and a collection of the works of the English religious poet, Thomas Hoccleve, transcribed by the poet himself. The book is edited by Richard Gameson, Professor of the History of the Book at Durham University’s Department of History. In his foreword, Bill Bryson writes: “Surprisingly few people, including many within the university itself, are aware of just how extensive and diverse the University Library’s holdings. This is clearly a collection worth knowing. It is a very real joy to welcome here such a handsome and readable survey.” Durham University has enjoyed a year of celebrations for its 175th anniversary in 2007, which included a whole weekend of public events organised at its Stockton Campus and the Illuminate event in Durham, which featured top street performers from around the world, a spectacular display of acrobatics and a large-scale firework display on the city’s river banks. At a special summer anniversary ceremony, five pivotal figures, including Durham graduate and BBC TV journalist George Alagiah, were awarded honorary degrees. The Durham Difference is available for sale online via Durham University website at http://www.dur.ac.uk/175/history/ The Treasures of Durham University Library is available for sale via The Palace Green Library, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0191 334 2932.