Virago Modern Classics

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Cover illustrations by Yehrin Tong on display in our Reading Room. 

To celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Virago Modern Classics, earlier this summer Virago Press published a baker’s dozen of deluxe paperbacks, designed by Hannah Wood and featuring artwork by the illustrator, Yehrin Tong. We are delighted that they have donated a complete set of the books to our Book Design Collection, available for all to see in our Reading Room.

The books in this series are by some of Virago’s most-loved writers: Antonia White, Elizabeth Taylor, Zora Neale Hurston, Angela Carter, Patricia Highsmith, Nora Ephron, Grace Paley, Janet Frame, Rosamond Lehmann, Mary Renault, Rebecca West, Muriel Spark and Elaine Dundy. And they are introduced by some of the very best contemporary writers, including Sarah Waters, Hilary Mantel, George Saunders, Tessa Hadley, Zadie Smith, Gillian Flynn, Tom Holland, A. L. Kennedy, Elizabeth Day and Rachel Cooke.

Virago also issued a hardback, Writers as Readers: an anthology of forty introductions from the last four decades.  This anthology celebrates the women and men who, from the list’s inception, have shared their knowledge and enthusiasm by writing wonderful introductions, championing the Virago Modern Classics as books that deserve once again to be read and loved.

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Constructing a Narrative

Today’s post has been written by artist, curator and writer Jo Manby. Over the past few months, Jo has worked in collaboration with artist Gary James Williams and our curator, Stephanie Boydell, to research and develop a new exhibition for our Spotlight Gallery.
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Will Mellor Arts and Crafts Book Artist

For anyone who missed our exhibition earlier this year on Will Mellor, the Arts and Crafts book artist, there’s another chance to see it at Manchester’s Central Library. The exhibition runs until 31 January 2018  and can be found in Archives+ on the ground floor of the Library and in the Wolfson Reading Room on the first floor. The Library is open Monday – Thursday 9.00am-8.00pm and on Fridays and Saturdays from 9.00am-5.00pm.

Will Mellor: Arts and Crafts book artist


Will Mellor (1885-1966) was apprenticed as a bookbinder and studied at the Manchester School of Art between 1903 and 1909. He excelled in book design and illustration, calligraphy and fine bookbinding, winning many School awards, as well as national prizes and free scholarships. His work was noted and illustrated in the leading art and design magazines of the day.

A beautiful exhibition of books by Mellor has opened today in our Spotlight Gallery on the ground floor of All Saints Library. Continue reading

Students explore the Avant-garde

Undergraduates studying Art History and Art History and Curating at the Manchester School of Art have curated an exhibition currently on display on the ground floor of All Saints Library at Manchester Met’s city centre campus. They were asked to consider notions of the Avant-garde and curate an exhibition using artefacts from Special Collections, with the support of our Curator, Stephanie Boydell.


All of the works in the three displays have a relationship with the Avant-garde, whether that be responding to the origins of the phrase – the vanguard of an army; associated artist manifestos and printed materials promoting radical social reform; or in reflecting the principles of innovation and experimentation through advances in technology.

The exhibition continues until 10 March 2017.

International Ambitions

Earlier this year we were awarded a grant by the Working Internationally Regional Project (WIRP). The grant enables non-national museums to undertake international visits to develop projects and partnerships. In this post our Curator, Stephanie Boydell,  shares her recent experience of visiting China to develop a touring exhibition on British book illustration. Continue reading