PI: Grace Marks

Supervisors: Dr Andrew McInnes, Dr Bob Nicholson, Dan Copley

Sketch of three Victorian women sitting around a table, chatting. The text reads 'Another reputation gone'.

The Friendship Books, as they are known in the Edge Hill Archive, are a fabulous collection which document the friendships of the earliest cohorts of Edge Hill Training College. The books contain quotes, paintings, and illustrations, and they provide a representation of real-life friendships that would otherwise be lost to time. A favourite page of mine is ‘Another Reputation Gone’, depicting three ladies leaned over a table, presumably gossiping. ‘Another’ implies that they have ruined reputations before through their meetings. In this illustration we not only see the time and dedication of the illustrator, but we also see a representation of friendship – meeting up to gossip – within a representation of friendship – the Friendship Book itself.

The Friendship Books allow for a greater understanding of friendship beyond literature and fiction. By examining how friendship is captured within the archives, the importance of friendship today, particularly those maintained at a distance through social media, can be brought into perspective. Long distance friendships are not a new phenomenon, they are a long-established tradition that modernises itself with each new generation of technology.