|Sir Henry Clifton Sorby|
My first challenge was deciphering the curling, crawling script, further complicated by Sorby’s unique style of shorthand and abbreviations ( I presume 'FC' meant 'Firth Court', the oldest building of the University, but could it be 'Football Club'? ). My top tip for anyone engaged in similar tasks is this: if you can't make out a word, note where it is, then LEAVE IT and carry on ... Chances are you will come across some combination of letters later that will reveal all. I spent quite a while grappling with one sentence, before giving up and ploughing on to the next section. When I returned to the phrase, with just one look I suddenly had it - 'I awoke with swollen face and neuralgia' !!!
|That Troublesome Sentence!|
|Note the shorthand and the wonderful z s in "Drizzle"!|
|A typical page from my own lab book|
It was interesting to compare the content with the pages of my own lab book. Whilst I feel compelled to record every minor detail of each experiment ( temperatures , times, concentrations, light intensity, etc.) to be able to answer my supervisor’s questions, Sorby’s entries are remarkably brief and leave much to the imagination. 'Draw and read' was the most common phrase, a refrain that surfaced again and again throughout the months. I used to think that this sounded very idle activity until I chanced upon some results of Sorby’s drawing in the cabinets outside the Alfred Denny museum. A gifted artist, Sorby’s depictions of the specimens he encountered are exquisite, meticulous in detail and alive with colour. The value these would have had before the age of widespread photography should not be underestimated.
|Just some of Sorby's Beautiful Lantern Slides - that I get to walk past every day at work!|