Friday, 9 June 2017

Brian Alderson donates rare children’s book collection to Newcastle University and Seven Stories

Long-standing Bewick Society member, Brian Wouldhave Alderson, a Freeman of the City of Newcastle and a renowned children’s literature scholar, is donating his extraordinary collection of children's books to Newcastle University and Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books. 

Believed to be the largest privately-owned children’s literature collection in the UK, it is made up of more than 20,000 books, dating from the 17th century to the present day. Works come from the United States, France, Germany and Britain, and the collection includes original illustrations and papers related to Brian’s diverse career.

Jill Taylor-Roe, Acting University Librarian at Newcastle University, said: “The Alderson Collection enhances and extends the University Library’s unique and distinctive holdings in Children’s Literature, and together with Seven Stories’ holdings, will create an incredibly rich resource for anyone interested in the history and further development of children’s literature.”

Sarah Lawrence, Collections and Exhibitions Director at Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books, said: “We are immensely grateful to Brian Alderson for the generous gift of his collection, which includes many rare and unique books – now to be made publicly accessible for the first time – and complements the holdings of Seven Stories and the Philip Robinson Library perfectly.”

Kim Reynolds, Professor of Children’s Literature at Newcastle University, said: ‘We are all excited by this splendid donation. Thanks to Brian’s unique expertise, this collection is full of rare and unusual items, and it will be an invaluable contribution to the work of establishing Newcastle as a world-class centre for the study of children’s books.”

Brian Alderson will also be giving a free talk at the library about his collection, Every book has its own history: Reflections of a collector of children’s books, at 5.30pm on Wednesday 14th June.

To find out more about Brian Alderson’s talk on 14th June, visit:

For more information on Brian Alderson’s work and collection, visit:  

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

John Caffrey (1939-2017)

It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the death of John Caffrey.
John was a regular at Bewick Society meetings. We shall miss his good humour, great knowledge and quiet encouragement. His knowledge of Bewick's Birds was second to none. An enthusiast for the books of Henry David Thoreau, he was delighted to find connections between the American writer and the Northumberland engraver.

Link to the Guardian Other Lives Obituary.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

National Heritage Open Day weekend

From the Natural History Society of Northumbria:

"We have a treat in store for Bewick fans at the Hancock Museum

The 2 rare specimens of the extinct Great Auk will be on show for one day only with the original drawings of the Auks by Thomas Bewick. Bewick visited Marmaduke Tunstall's bird collection in 1791 and sketched the immature Great Auk in preparation for his History of British Birds. John Hancock's work on the Great Auk will also be highlighted - Hancock owned a Great Auk egg and regularly made copies of it for other collectors, come and find out how he did it!

Friday 9 September, 11 – 3.30pm

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle upon Tyne

We will be opening the doors of our prestigious Council Room in the Great North Museum: Hancock as part of the National Heritage Open Day weekend. Come and see some of our fascinating archive material, including manuscripts and artwork relating to the Society’s Great Auk collections, as well as some specimens from our museum collection. You can also see the historic furnishings and paintings in the room and speak to the Society’s archivist, June Holmes."

Friday, 2 September 2016

Post-Bewick Wood Engraving

 On Thursday we'll be looking at Wood Engraving after Bewick, including a glimpse of works from a substantial private collection.

AN INFORMAL LOOK AT POST-BEWICK WOOD ENGRAVING Date and time: at 6.30-7.30. Venue: Bewick Hall, Newcastle City Library, Charles Avison Building, 33, New Bridge Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AX.

Free but booking essential.

To book a place see Post-Bewick wood engraving, Thursday @ToonLibraries 6.30 pm, details here

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Walk to Cherryburn

Last  year’s  experimental  long  walk  to Cherryburn was a great success. This year there will be an opportunity to join in the fun along the way as we have three starting points and times.

Depart Gateshead 10am
Meet    outside    the    site    of    Thomas Bewick’s  last  home,  the  old  Gateshead Post  Office  on  West  Street.  Today  it  is the  Workplace  Gallery,  19-21  West  St, Gateshead NE8 1AD.

Sturdy footwear, water bottles and a sense of adventure required. The walk to Cherryburn from here is 12 miles following, in the main,riverside paths.

It’s a long and tiring day but well worth the effort.

Depart the  the Keelman Pub, Newburn, 1pm
The walkers from Gateshead will have stopped here for lunch. Join the group or set out on your own. The walk to Cherryburn from here is roughly 7 miles. En route, you will pass the Tidestone, near Heddon-on-the-Wall. (See Cherryburn Times Vol 6 No.7).

Depart George Stephenson’s Birthplace, Wylam NE41 8BP, 2pm
The walk from here to Cherryburn is around 4 miles.

Bewick in his Memoir writes:

“I regularly pursued my walks & while thus exercising, my mind was commonly engaged in considering upon plans about how I should conduct myself in life & forming resolutions on such as I approved of & of strictly acting upon them…..
I thought nothing of leaving Newcastle (occasionally) after I had done work (7 o clock) in a winters night & setg off to walk to Cherryburn – in this I was stimulated by an ardent desire to visit my parents as often as possible, & this desire continued to act upon me as long as they lived – In my solitary walks ( as before noticed) the first resolution I recollect of having made, was that of living within my income & another, of similar import, was that of never getting anything upon trust…”

Photos from last year's walk:click here to go to Flickr pages.

Thursday, 31 March 2016


This meeting will focus in particular on the work and enthusiasms of the Newcastle Imprint Club. Founded in 1963 the club met regularly over the next thirty years to discuss books, printing and design. They frequently printed from historic blocks and we hope to have numerous examples of the Club’s Bewick reprints on hand.
Date and time: Saturday 16 April at 1.00pm.
Venue: The Council Room of the Natural History Society of Northumbria, 2nd Floor Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4PT.
Admission: Free. Contact: June Holmes: The Natural History Society of Northumbria.
Tel no. 0191 208 5834 or Email