An exhibition of nineteenth-century English chapbooks is currently on display at UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC). Chapbooks are booklets that were popular in rural areas and towns from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Literature of this sort was a miscellany, spanning jestbooks to histories of depraved criminals, medieval romances to song verses. Although once read by many, chapbooks are extremely delicate and ephemeral: being cheaply produced on low-quality paper and small in size, they were not made to survive over time. Many are illustrated with luridly coloured woodcuts. There are over three hundred in RBSC, many of which are part of the Arkley Collection of Early & Historical Children’s Literature. The exhibition demonstrates the collection’s value as a catalogue of the diverse themes covered by this type of print publication in nineteenth-century Britain.
The exhibition, created by English Master’s student Catherine Whitehead, will run from July 2008 to the end of November 2008. RBSC is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.