The Illustrated Alice: Celebrating 150 Years of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

October 6 through October 31, 2015

“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice “without pictures or conversation?”

~ Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Image of Illustrated AliceJoin us for a sesquicentennial celebration of one of the most beloved books ever written. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) is proud to present The Illustrated Alice, a visual journey through 150 years of illustrations from Lewis Carroll’s classic work.

Curated by Kristy Woodcock, a children’s librarian and student in the Master of Arts in Children’s Literature program at UBC, the exhibition explores the enduring appeal of Alice through the ages.

Few literary works in history have been more widely adapted and referenced than Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Since its first publication in 1865, Alice has inspired many of the world’s greatest artists. While Sir John Tenniel is well known as the original illustrator, the book has been reinterpreted by hundreds of artists, including Blanche McManus, Arthur Rackham, A.E. Jackson, Ralph Steadman, Barry Moser, Tove Jansson, and Lisbeth Zwerger.

Featuring items from RBSC’s Alice 100 Collection, the exhibition showcases the many illustrated editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. One of the most famous artists on display is Salvador Dalí. Published in 1969, the Dalí Alice contains original woodcut remarques in a linen and leather case. Other highlights include the 1866 first edition of Alice illustrated by John Tenniel, a nineteenth century facsimile of Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript, and a calf-bound set that bears Alice Hargreaves’ signature.

The Illustrated Alice is on display at UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections on the first and second floors of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre from October 6 through October 31, 2015, and can be viewed Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Beginning October 17, RBSC will also be open Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibition is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at (604) 822-2521 or


Image of IBBY exhibition posterRare Books and Special Collections at UBC Library is proud to host a new exhibition, The Right of Every Child to Become a Reader, sponsored by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY).

In response to the waves of refugees from Africa and the Middle East arriving in the Italian island, Lampedusa, IBBY launched the project “Silent Books, from the world to Lampedusa and back” in 2012. The project involved creating the first library on Lampedusa to be used by local and immigrant children. The organization went on to select a collection of silent books (wordless picture books) that could be understood and enjoyed by children regardless of language. These books were collected from IBBY National Sections, over one hundred books from over twenty countries.

Now IBBY has organized a traveling exhibition with stops in Vancouver, Edmonton, and Toronto. A collection of wordless picture books from around the world, curated by local illustrator, author, and teacher Kathryn Shoemaker, will be on display at Rare Books and Special Collections from October 1-23, 2015. Learn more about the traveling exhibition here!

The exhibition is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Rare Books and Special Collections on the first floor of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

Image of a Cuneiform tablets

Receipt by a temple official of “one sheep and one lamb on the thirteenth day of the month” for rent.

When I introduce folks to our collections here at RBSC, I love to pull out some materials that might be considered more obscure or outside of our usual collecting area, just to hear people say, “I can’t believe we have that right here at UBC!” Possibly the objects that get the biggest reaction are our cuneiform tablets. That’s right, we have five cuneiform tablets, each one small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Recently, our good friends over at UBC Library’s Digitization Centre, in collaboration with the From Stone to Screen project, have digitized our tablets so that they can be studied from anywhere in the world. DI has also published a very interesting blog post about the history of the tablets and the complicated matter of determining their provenance. Enjoy, and the next time you stick a receipt in your wallet, think about what people 4,000 years in the future might make of it!

Image of Greek papyrus

Invitation to a Serapis dinner

More great press on our papyri from Roman-age Egypt! Professor Max Nelson, who earned his Ph.D. at UBC and is now an Associate Professor at the University of Windsor, was interviewed on the CBC program Windsor Morning about the papyri. Professor Nelson is currently collaborating on an article about the papyri with UBC’s own Professor C. W. (Toph) Marshall. Enjoy the interview here!

Image of Greek papyrus

Invitation to a Serapis dinner

Global News watchers may have been pleasantly surprised to see our own Katherine Kalsbeek, acting head of Rare Books and Special Collections, on T.V. yesterday evening. Two pieces of papyri dating back to Roman-age Egypt about 1,800 years ago that had previously been uncatalogued have now been rediscovered by UBC scholars, and Global News was as excited about it as we are! The papyri scraps consist of a reminder for a dinner invitation and a letter from a young man to his mother; both are written in Greek. You can read more about the rediscovery of these great pieces in the RBSC collection and watch the coverage on Global News.

Leonard Guy McCann (1927-2015)

Leonard Guy McCann (1927-2015)

This past spring, Rare Books and Special Collections at UBC Library lost a dear friend, and Vancouver’s museum, historical, and archival communities lost a leader. Leonard Guy McCann, who was curator of the Vancouver Maritime Museum for 45 years, and a contributor to our own collections, passed away in late March at the age of 88. We would like to share Stephen Hume’s lovely farewell in the Vancouver Sun in celebration of Len’s life and legacy.


Rare Books and Special Collections at UBC Library announces a new exhibition!

Papal Parchments and Blackletter Books: How the Middle Ages Shaped the Way We Read, 1245 AD to UBC

Image of Bull of Innocent IV, Lyons, 1245, seal

Bull of Innocent IV, Lyons, 1245, seal

This fascinating exhibition tells the medieval and early modern story of the written word using RBSC’s fantastic collection. Two recent acquisitions are of particular note: a papal “bull,” or legal decree, issued by Pope Innocent IV in 1245 (whose seal is depicted at the right); and a textbook used at the University of Paris during the late thirteenth century. But the exhibition also showcases pieces that have been here for decades, such as a single leaf from the Catholicon, a Latin dictionary probably printed in 1460 by Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of typography. We also have a 1331 legal document donated to the library by the Bulwer family, whose ancestors are named in the manuscript and who moved from England to Vancouver in 1887.

The items found in this exhibition also explore the intersection between manuscripts and early books called incunabula (English “incunables”), texts printed during the period 1450-1500: the Biblia Pauperum (“Bible for the Poor”) is a printed book bound in the remnants of a medieval manuscript; and our copy of the Roman emperor Justinian’s Institutes has many annotations added by hand and even has fragments of an old manuscript book in its binding!

These pieces were produced over a period of nearly three hundred years, from 1245 to 1525, and together they tell the story of the written word as it moved towards the forms we use today. But we are part of the story too, moving that history forward as we write in English, French, or any of the other European languages.

You can explore the objects featured in the exhibition through the gallery below, but there is nothing quite like experiencing these treasures in person. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, runs from May 1-31, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Rare Books and Special Collections on the first floor of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at 604 822-2521 or


Image of Papal Bull Image of Papal Bull Reproduction Image of Medieval Manuscript Image of Gradual Image of Catholicon Image of Biblia Pauperum Image of Biblia Latina Image of Biblia Germanica Image of Bulwer family deed Image of Justinian Image of Notarial act Image of 1 Corinthians sheet Image of Book of Hours fragment Image of De Nuptiis Philogiae Image of four wind roses

An exhibition of Yokohama woodcut maps from the Tokugawa period is on display at Rare Books and Special Collections from April 1st to 30th, 2015.  This exhibition is part of a series of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Vancouver’s sister-city relationship with Yokohama.

Exhibition Poster

Exhibition Poster

The exhibition is free and open to the public, and can be viewed 10am-4pm Monday through Friday, and 12pm-5pm on Saturday, April 11th and 18th.

For more information, contact Rare Books and Special Collections at 604-822-2521 or

Information about other Vancouver Yokohama Golden Jubilee 1965-2015 events are available here.

Papal bull of Pope Innocent IV

Papal bull of Pope Innocent IV

More excitement at RBSC over the last few weeks! An extraordinary Papal document that’s nearly 800 years old has come to UBC Library and promises to be a valuable teaching and research tool. The legal decree, called a Papal bull, was written in 1245 and issued in Latin by Pope Innocent IV to the Italian convent of San Michele in Trento. It features the signatures of the Pope and 13 cardinals (including future pope Nicholas III)! Not surprisingly, we’ve been pretty excited about the new acquisition, and so has the media. Here’s a little Papal bull media roundup for your Tuesday morning enjoyment:

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