by Laurence Worms - Ash Rare Books
This week’s Object has been requested by several colleagues: it’s J.B. Priestley’s shirt! The shirt, which is clean, is folded and wrapped in cellophane (or something similar) marked with the details of the laundry: The Mayfair Laundry, Strafford Road, London W3.
“Realia” (objects, things, belongings of the creators of archives) can help shed light on aspects of their life or works and give an added dimension to those archives. Witness Priestley’s pipes, Jacquetta’s arrowhead or her OBE.
Such objects are also often instantly appealing in a way that documentary evidence may not be. Certainly we have found that the shirt is one of the most popular Objects in Special Collections, the one that many people remember from their visits, perhaps because it is so unexpected (unlike say letters, photographs or other standard archive materials).
The shirt is also a reminder of Priestley’s long connection with London, in…
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