The Ruth and Ken Campbell Collection

Ref: Special Collection
Title: The Ruth and Ken Campbell Collection

Scope: A collection of artists’ books from the book artist and printer Ken Campbell.
Dates: 1977–2015
Extent: 13 vols plus 1 catalogue

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Administrative/biographical history:

Ken Campbell (b. London, 1939) is a book artist, poet, and printer.

His wife, Ruth (née Droller), a neuropsychologist, was born in Sheffield. Her parents, both physicians, fled Nazi Germany for the UK in 1933. Ruth’s father Hugo Droller is renowned in the North of England for his innovations in geriatric medicine. In 1951 the Drollers relocated from Sheffield to Leeds, where Hugo Droller became the city’s first consultant geriatrician.

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Ken Campbell has produced twenty-three books so far and his work is represented in national collections (including the British Library; the New York Public Library; the Yale Center for British Art; the Library of Congress; and the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, Germany; each has every title). The collection now at Sheffield represents a significant holding for the North of England. In 2016 the CAFA Art Museum (Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing) presented Ken Campbell with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the second ‘Diamond Leaves: artists’ books from around the world’ exhibition, organised by the museum and the Artron Culture Group.

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Ken Campbell and Ruth Droller have generously gifted this collection of thirteen titles in commemoration of the life of Alice Dorell (first cousin to Ruth’s father). Alice was achieving success as a cabaret artist and actress in her homeland of Germany just as the National Socialists came to power. She travelled to Paris, then, in 1933, joined her family who had fled to the Netherlands. Alice Dorell was the first woman to start an all-female theatre company in the Netherlands (the Three Ladies Cabaret), which performed until 1936. After World War II broke out Alice Dorell was rounded up and sent first to Westerbork, and from there deported to Poland, where she died at the age of thirty-five in Auschwitz on 30 August 1942.

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Detailed descriptions of, and many images from each of Ken Campbell’s books can be found at www.brokenrules.co.uk

  • Related collections: Private Presses Collection, Circle Press Collection
  • Source: By donation from the artist
  • System of arrangement: Numerical
  • Subjects: Artists’ Books; Poetry – 20th century; Poetry – 21st century
  • Conditions of access: Available to all researchers, by appointment
  • Restrictions: No restrictions
  • Copyright: According to document
  • Finding aids: Listed and catalogued