Theatrical connections: Gertrude Kingston and George Bernard Shaw

In 1941, Kingsman Judge Edwin Max Konstam C.B.E. donated to the College a collection of books and papers from the library of his late sister, the acclaimed actress Gertrude Kingston (1862–1937).

Portrait of Gertrude Kingston

Gertrude Kingston (1862–1937) Portrait by Sidney Starr, 1888

Kingston (born Gertrude Angela Kohnstamm) had many strings to her bow. Passionate about art from an early age, she studied painting in Paris and Berlin, going on to publish three illustrated books. She developed an interest in lacquer  work and exhibited her creations in this medium in New York in 1927. She was a popular public speaker, using this talent initially on behalf of the women’s suffrage movement, and later in life also for the Conservative Party.  She taught public speaking to others, and wrote many journalistic articles.

However, it was as an actress that Kingston was best known. Her acting career moved from amateur involvement as a child to professional work after her marriage in 1889, necessitated by deficiencies in her husband’s income.  Adopting Kingston as her stage name, she made a reputation for herself on the London stage, acting in Shakespearean and classical as well as contemporary roles. One of the most notable of these roles was as Helen of Troy in Euripides’ The Trojan Women. Kingston undertook this role at the suggestion of playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950).

Kingston appeared in a number of productions of Shaw’s plays, and seems to have been highly regarded by him. The pair were in regular correspondence, as the large number of letters from Shaw to Kingston amongst the papers given to the College by her brother testify. Kingston also owned several copies of early published editions of Shaw’s plays, some of which are likely to have been her working copies, since they contain performance annotations.

One of the earliest of Shaw’s plays in Kingston’s collection is a first edition of Press Cuttings dating from 1909. This play is a satire of the anti-suffragist lobby, so is likely to have appealed to her feminist sensibilities. The cover has a label proclaiming “Votes for women”:

Cover of the play "Press cuttings" by George Bernard Shaw

Cover of the first edition of George Bernard Shaw’s play Press cuttings London, 1909. Shelfmark N.28.5

The title character of Shaw’s play Great Catherine was written specifically for Kingston,  and in November 1913 she duly starred in its first production at the Vaudeville Theatre in London.

Great Catherine cast note

Note detailing the cast of the first performance of Great Catherine in 1913, with Gertrude Kingston in the starring role. From the flyleaf of Great Catherine, London, 1914. Shelfmark N.28.4

Shaw’s inscription on the half-title page of Kingston’s copy of Heartbreak House, Great Catherine, and playlets of the war identifies her closely with the lead role and underlines the high regard he had for her:

Inscription by George Bernard Shaw

Half-title page of Heartbreak House, Great Catherine and playlets of the war, London, 1919. Shelfmark N.28.2. Shaw’s inscription reads: “To Gertrude Kingston, Catherine the second, but also Catherine the first (and the rest nowhere) from Bernard Shaw. 10th Oct 1919”

Kingston’s personal copy of Great Catherine is an early unpublished rough proof:

Rough proof copy of "Great Catherine" by Bernard Shaw

Great Catherine, London, 1914. Unpublished proof copy. Shelfmark N.28.4

This is one of the volumes containing pencil annotations within the text, likely to have been made by Kingston in order to help guide her performance:

Textual annotations

Annotations to page 5 of Great Catherine, London, 1914. Shelfmark N.28.4

In 1921 Gertrude Kingston joined the British Rhine Army Dramatic Company in Germany. She reprised the role of Lady Waynflete in Shaw’s 1901 play Captain Brassbound’s Conversion, having first played this character in 1912. The front cover of Kingston’s copy of this play gives instructions in several languages on where it should be returned if she should happen to misplace it:

Front cover of Captain Brassbound's conversion

Front cover of Captain Brassbound’s Conversion, London, 1920. Shelfmark N.28.6

Tucked inside the play is a leaflet advertising this production and other forthcoming “Army amusements” at other theatres:

Theatrical leaflet

Front cover of Army Amusements leaflet, 1921

Theatrical leaflet

Centre-page spread of Army Amusements leaflet, 1921

Collections such as these provide a fascinating glimpse into a long-vanished theatrical world.

AC

References

Kate Steedman, “Kingston, Gertrude [real name Gertrude Angela Kohnstamm] (1862–1937), actress.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sep. 2004; Accessed 16 Apr. 2020.

Friendship across the ocean: Mark Twain and Sir John MacAlister

A recent foray into one of our rare book storerooms for the purposes of cataloguing has brought to our immediate awareness a wonderful collection of books by Mark Twain, many of which feature inscriptions and quotes in the author’s own hand. These volumes were originally owned by Sir John Young Walker MacAlister (1856-1925), a close friend of Twain, and were given to the college by MacAlister’s son, Kingsman Donald MacAlister (1875-1968).

Photo of Sir John Young Walker MacAlister

Sir John Young Walker MacAlister  (1856-1925) Portrait photo courtesy of Wellcome Trust

Portrait of Mark Twain

Portrait of Mark Twain (1835-1910) from the frontispiece to Innocents abroad, London, 1899. Classmark: N.28.55

John MacAlister belonged to a profession dear to our hearts: librarianship. He was instrumental in building up the fledgling Library Association from a small London-based group into a large professional nationwide organisation, worthy of obtaining a Royal Charter in 1877. Editor of The Library Journal for many years, he wrote extensively about the principles of librarianship, developing many of the ideas which still underpin the profession today.

MacAlister had a wide circle of friends in intellectual spheres, including Mark Twain, with whom he corresponded regularly. They also socialised during periods when Twain was living in England, often getting together to chat and smoke. In June 1899, MacAlister took Twain to his gentleman’s club: The Savage. With very little prompting, the club committee duly elected Twain an honorary lifetime member. Noted caricaturist, Phil May (1864-1903) was also present and produced a cartoon to commemorate the occasion, which shows both Twain and MacAlister. The date of 1900 on the cartoon is thought to be May’s idea of a “prophecy” for the following year. It is unclear who the gentleman with the saw is supposed to be.

Cartoon of Twain and MacAlister at the Savage club

Cartoon by Phil May commemorating the Savage Club dinner on June 9th 1899. Illustration from: “The Savage Club: a medley of history, anecdote, and reminiscence”  by Aaron Watson: London, 1907

Twain was liberal in inscribing and adding pithy quotations to those volumes of his works which he presented to MacAlister. Featured below are just a  small selection of these:

Inscription by Mark Twain

“To MacAlister. “Truth is mighty and will prevail – the eternal years of God are hers” Bryant. There is nothing the matter with this, except that it Ain’t so. Truly yours Mark Twain. London, Feb. 19, 1900″ Inscription on the flyleaf of Innocents abroad, London, 1899. Classmark: N.28.55

Mark Twain quote

Inscription by Twain: “The man who is a pessimist before 48 knows too much; if he is an optimist after it he knows too little” On a sheet interleaved in a bound volume of chapters from Twain’s serialised autobiography. Classmark: N.28.57 

Mark Twain quote

“We often feel sad in the presence of music without words: & often more than that in the presence of music without music”. From another interleaved sheet in the volume of autobiography. Classmark: N.28.57

Several of the volumes are first or limited editions, including this copy of the first edition of the novel The man that corrupted Hadleyburg, with its colourful front cover:

Cover of "The man that corrupted Hadleyburg"

Cover of The man that corrupted Hadleyburg, by Mark Twain. London, 1900. Classmark: N.28.56

The signed edition statement of Innocents abroad identifies it as one of only 620 copies published:

Signed edition statement

Edition statement from MacAlister’s copy of “Innocents abroad” London, 1899. Classmark: N.28.55

Mark Twain was diligent in recording the story of his life whilst he lived it, but was determined that no memoirs be published in book form during his lifetime. In 1906 however, he did agree to allow some chapters of his autobiography to appear in serialised form in the North American Review. John MacAlister took it upon himself to collect these chapters and have them bound together into one volume. When informed of this, Twain, far from being cross, caused a special title-page to be printed for this unique volume, which he sent to MacAlister. The imprint states: “The only copy – MacAlister’s”.

Unique title page

Unique title page created by Mark Twain for John MacAlister. London, 1906-7. Classmark: N.28.57

Tucked inside this volume is the envelope in which the title page was sent. It is addressed in Twain’s own hand:

Envelope addressed by Mark Twain

Envelope addressed by Mark Twain, tucked inside N.28.57

The volumes of Twain’s works from MacAlister’s library clearly reflect the warm and longstanding friendship between the two men, which spanned many years and an ocean.

AC

References:

Death of a Librarian  by Lynn Macalister, accessed 24/04/2020

Mark Twain Day by Day by David Fears, accessed 24/04/2020

The Savage Club: a medley of history, anecdote, and reminiscence  by Aaron Watson, London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1907.

 

Celebrating Beethoven 2020

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). Many organisations around the world were planning to celebrate his music this year, and King’s Library was one of them, with planned exhibitions as part of the Cambridge Beethoven 2020 Festival. Our first exhibition, of first and early editions of Beethoven’s music from the Rowe Music Library, was due to be open to the public during March and April. Sadly, however, because of the coronavirus pandemic, we had to cancel our exhibition in the Library, although we are delighted to bring you an online version of our exhibition here.

Three Piano Quartets – First Edition

Trois quatuors originaux pour pianoforte, violon, alto et violoncelle … Oeuvre posthume (Vienna: Artaria et Comp., [1828]). Shelfmark: Rw.30.113-6/1-3. Title page

These piano quartets, designated WoO 36 in the catalogue of Beethoven’s works, were composed in 1785, when the composer was only fifteen years old. They were the only compositions he wrote in the genre, and their music is best known in recycled form, with thematic material from the C major quartet reappearing in two of the early piano sonatas. The works were not published until the year after Beethoven’s death, in this Viennese edition by Artaria.

Trois quatuors originaux pour pianoforte, violon, alto et violoncelle. Shelfmark: Rw.30.113-6/1-3. Quartet I, parts.

Trois quatuors originaux pour pianoforte, violon, alto et violoncelle. Shelfmark: Rw.30.113-6/1-3. Quartet I, Piano part.

Sonata quasi una Fantasia or ‘Moonlight’ Sonata

The so-called ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, op. 27 no. 2, was popular even during Beethoven’s lifetime and remains one of his most best loved pieces today. Its name derives from remarks made by the German poet and music critic Heinrich Friedrich Ludwig Rellstab (1799–1860) who, in 1832, likened the effect of the first movement to that of moonlight shining on Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. First published in Vienna 1802, this edition was published around 1811 by Giovanni André in Offenbach in Germany.

Sonata quasi una fantasia per il piano-forte [Moonlight Sonata] (Offenbach: André, [ca. 1811]). Shelfmark: Box D.1.1. Title page.

Sonata quasi una fantasia per il piano-forte [Moonlight Sonata]. Shelfmark: Box D.1.1. Opening of first movement.

Sonata quasi una fantasia per il piano-forte [Moonlight Sonata]. Shelfmark: Box D.1.1. Opening of third movement.

Third Piano Concerto – First Edition

Piano part of Grand concerto pour le pianoforte … Op. 37. (Vienna: Bureau d’Arts et d’Industrie, [1804]). Shelfmark: Rw.51.78. Title page

The first performance of this work took place on 5 April 1803 with Beethoven as the soloist. His friend Ignaz von Seyfried (1776–1841) turned pages for Beethoven, and later remarked:

I saw almost nothing but empty pages; at the most, on one page or another a few Egyptian hieroglyphs wholly unintelligible to me were scribbled down to serve as clues for him; for he played nearly all the solo part from memory since, as was so often the case, he had not had time to set it all down on paper.

The first edition was published in the spring of 1804 in Vienna by the Bureau d’Arts et d’Industrie, and dedicated to Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (1772–1806) who was a talented musician.

Piano part of Grand concerto pour le pianoforte … Op. 37. Shelfmark: Rw.51.78. First movement, piano entry.

Piano part of Grand concerto pour le pianoforte … Op. 37. Shelfmark: Rw.51.78. Second movement.

Six String Quartets, Arranged – First Edition

Six grandes sonates pour le piano-forte, violon obligé et violoncelle ad lib (Bonn: N. Simrock, [1806]). Shelfmark: Rw.19.59. Title page

Beethoven’s six string quartets, op. 18, were composed between 1798 and 1800 and first published by T. Mollo and Comp. in Vienna in 1801. They were republished by numerous publishers in Europe during Beethoven’s lifetime, and arrangements were also made of them for other instrumental combinations, including piano duet, piano solo and even two guitars! This arrangement for piano trio (piano, violin and cello) of these popular works was made by the composer Ferdinand Ries (1784–1838), a friend, pupil and secretary of Beethoven.

Six grandes sonates pour le piano-forte, violon obligé et violoncelle ad lib. Shelfmark: Rw.19.59. Parts

‘Appassionata’ Sonata – First Edition

The popular nickname of the celebrated op. 57 sonata was not Beethoven’s own, but coined in 1838 by Cranz, the Hamburg-based publisher of a piano duet arrangement of the work. The annotation, ‘Asspassionato’, at the head of the title page of this first edition from 1807, must date from after that time. The sonata’s dedicatee, the Hungarian nobleman and cellist Franz von Brunsvik (1777–1849), was the elder brother of Josephine Brunsvik, one of Beethoven’s dearest friends and a woman considered by many to be the composer’s mysterious ‘Immortal Beloved’.

LIVme sonate … Op. 57. (Vienna: Bureau des Arts et d’Industrie, [1807]).  Shelfmark: Rw.57.34/4. Title page

LIVme sonate … Op. 57. Shelfmark: Rw.57.34/4. Opening

First, Second and Third Symphonies – First Editions

Beethoven’s first three symphonies, which had all been performed in public by 1805, were not published in score until these English editions appeared in 1808 and 1809 as part of a series of the complete symphonies of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. A note tipped into the second volume of this set informs subscribers that because of the length of Beethoven’s works, future symphonies may have to be divided into two volumes each at considerable expense to the publisher. These three symphonies do appear to have been the final entries in the series, so perhaps the expense was too great to continue. The fact that the first two symphonies are wrongly numbered does not inspire confidence in the publisher!

A compleat collection of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven’s symphonies … Beethoven’s Symph[onies] I-III. (London: Cianchettini & Sperati, [1808–1809]). Shelfmark: Rw.75.BEE.1-3. Cover

A compleat collection of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven’s symphonies … Beethoven’s Symph[onies] I-III. Shelfmark: Rw.75.BEE.1-3. Opening of First Symphony

‘Eroica’ Symphony, Arranged – First Edition, Second Issue

Numerous arrangements were made of Beethoven’s orchestral works during his lifetime for smaller forces (e.g. piano duet, string quartet, piano trio etc.) thus rendering them playable by amateur musicians at home. Written between 1802 and 1804, the first edition of the parts for Beethoven’s third symphony (known as the ‘Eroica’) was published in October 1806 in Vienna. The first published arrangement for piano duet appeared in Leipzig in spring 1807 published by the publisher Kühnel. This edition, published by Peters after 1814, has been printed from the same set of engraved plates used by Kühnel.

Sinfonia Eroica aggiustata per il pianoforte a quattro mani … Op. 55. (Leipzig: C.F.Peters, [after 1814]). Shelfmark: Rw.33.79. Opening of finale (primo part)

Sinfonia Eroica aggiustata per il pianoforte a quattro mani … Op. 55. Shelfmark: Rw.33.79. Opening of finale (secondo part)

String Quartet in B flat – First Edition in Score

The op. 130 string quartet was published simultaneously as score and parts by Artaria in May 1827, shortly after Beethoven’s death. This was unusual and was remarked upon in many early reviews which pointed out that access to a full score was important because, unlike the op. 18 string quartets for example, this was music that needed to be studied, and not merely played or listened to. Written in the second half of 1825, the quartet’s original final movement was the Grosse Fuge (later designated op. 133), which was substituted for a new Allegro final movement after the quartet’s premiere in March 1826.

Troisieme quatuor pour 2 violons, alte & violoncelle  … Oeuvre 130. (Vienna: Maths. Artaria, [1827]). Shelfmark: Rw.105.67. Title page

Troisieme quatuor pour 2 violons, alte & violoncelle  … Oeuvre 130. (Vienna: Maths. Artaria, [1827]). Shelfmark: Rw.105.67. Finale (opening)

Troisieme quatuor pour 2 violons, alte & violoncelle  … Oeuvre 130. (Vienna: Maths. Artaria, [1827]). Shelfmark: Rw.105.67. Finale (continued)

We hope that despite the many cancelled events this year, perhaps you’ll be able to find the opportunity to reconnect with old favourites from among Beethoven’s compositions, or perhaps discover something new.

JC/GB

 

What Everyone Had Been Up To

To lighten your working-from-home need for a bit of local gossip, we present The Brochure (a student publication) from about 1905, with reports on what everyone had been up to.

EMW-2-1-1 Brochure title page

A Brochure

EMW-2-1-1 Brochure p 5

Catullus was said to threaten his detractors with including them in his verse: ‘At non effugies meos non iambos (But you shall not escape my iambics)’.

This very blog puts paid to Mr Nixon’s piteous cries – the history of the College has been kept, it’s all in the archives.

 

Pigou (half-way down page 7) read History and Moral Sciences (now Philosophy). He started lecturing in Economics only in 1901, the Economics Faculty being established in 1903. Apparently Pigou’s mentor Marshall asked another King’s fellow to ‘speak to Pigou on a personal matter – a rather delicate matter. I saw him coming out of Bowes’ shop in a Norfolk jacket with holes in both the elbows. So bad for the Economics Tripos!’

If you’re worried about your diet for the foreseeable future (i.e. what’s available), you might look up the advice of Eustace Miles (KC 1887) mentioned near the bottom of page 7. A champion at real tennis and an Olympic medalist, Miles published several books on diet for boys and sportsmen in the first few years of the 20th century. He married in 1906 and opened a vegetarian restaurant with his wife in London, to which Margaret Schlegel threatened to take Mr Wilcox in EM Forster’s Howard’s End.  (Forster came up to King’s ten years after Miles.)

The production of The Wasps mentioned in the middle of page 8 is probably the 1897 Greek play, rather than the better-known 1909 one.

Evangelism at south coast resorts (bottom of page 9) took place through Beach Missions, 150 years old and still lively today. (Under current restrictions we can’t even get into a church on Sunday.) Another such effort at ‘good works’, the King’s Social Work Committee (middle of page 9), was established in 1904. Students subscribed and the funds were provided to College estates for lectures, books and other social activities. It appears also to have been involved with a Mission, later Boys Club, at Barnwell, now the Buddhist Centre.

The Trappists (middle of page 10) were a tongue-in-cheek undergraduate secret society, even now somewhat obscure, that included Eric Milner-White who returned after the war and instituted the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols here.

The Second Bursar (bottom of page 10) at the time was William Corbett. The post is now called Domus Bursar but don’t go getting any ideas.

The Victoria County History says that in the City of Cambridge ‘Every Pound of this Butter is roll’d, and drawn out to a Yard in Length, about the Bigness of a Walking-cane; which is mentioned as peculiar to this Place’ (see near the top of page 11). Walter Durnford, later Provost, was indeed Mayor of Cambridge 1905-6.

EMW-2-1-1 Brochure p 12

Though undated, the internal evidence suggests The Brochure was published around 1905.

Whether the abandoned streets and workplaces make you feel like you’re in one of MR James’ Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (page 7), or you’re developing your deipnosophistry (skill at dining – page 10) in the face of erratic food availability, or wishing you could get butter by the inch never mind the yard (page 11), or waiting for travel restrictions to lift so that you can travel with Kipling ‘on the road to Mandalay where the flying fishes play’ (page 11), we wish you well and hope that you and yours stay healthy as long as possible.

PKM

 

LGBT LIT: An Exhibition for LGBT+ History Month

The special collections at King’s include rare editions of literary output of some noteworthy LGBT 20th-century writers—Kingsman E.M. Forster and war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen—and one surprise, Alan Turing. King’s Archives and Library were pleased to mark LGBT+ History Month by showcasing this material, along with a display of borrowable LGBT-themed books, in an exhibition in King’s Library. We are delighted to be able to share the exhibition here.

AMT-k7.4 (2)

Alan Turing (1912–54) came up to King’s in 1931. (Reference: AMT/K/7/4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Probably while undergoing therapy in the 1950s, Turing began a near-autobiographical short story called ‘Pryce’s Buoy’. The story is about an interplanetary travel scientist, Alec Pryce, who resembles Alan in several ways. Just as Alan devised the idea that came to be known as the Turing machine, Alec, at the same age, comes up with ‘the idea which is now commonly known as ‘Pryce’s buoy’. ‘Alec always felt a glow of pride when this phrase was used. The rather obvious double-entendre rather pleased him too. He always liked to parade his homosexuality…’

The love interest in ‘Pryce’s Buoy’ is called Ron[ald] Miller, not a million miles from Arnold Murray, the other party involved when Alan was prosecuted for homosexuality.

A page from Alan Turing’s autograph manuscript of ‘Pryce’s Buoy’. (Reference: AMT/A/13)

A Trinity physicist named Maurice Pryce (1913–2003) was a Cambridge colleague of Turing. Maurice Pryce and Turing seem to have met at Cambridge but would no doubt quickly have discovered they shared a history in Guildford. Turing visited his parents there during school holidays from 1927, even into his College days, and in Guildford he indulged his interest in astronomy. Maurice Pryce attended the Royal Grammar School in Guildford from 1923 to 1929. The fictional Alec Pryce was an astronomical scientist.

E.M. Forster (1879–1970) came up to King’s in 1897. (Reference: EMF/27/319)

‘Pryce’s Buoy’ describes Alec picking up Ron, a small-time criminal (including male prostitution), while Christmas shopping. The notion of the bourgeois professional picking up a working-class man was common in the years before homosexuality was partially legalised in Britain in 1967. It is one of the similarities between ‘Pryce’s Buoy’ and E.M. Forster’s posthumously published novel of homosexual love Maurice, first drafted in 1913.

P.N. Furbank (1920–2014). (Reference: KCPH/3/5)

It is possible that Turing learned of the Maurice manuscript from P.N. Furbank, a good friend of both Forster and Turing. He was Forster’s authorised biographer and one of Turing’s executors. Furbank came up to Emmanuel College in 1939.

If Turing had seen or heard of the Maurice manuscript, that might subconsciously have informed the choice of his hero’s name: Pryce for the real-life Maurice Pryce and Alec because in Forster’s novel the second of Maurice’s lovers is a working-class gamekeeper called Alec.

 

Another parallel between the fictional stories and real life was the threat of blackmail faced by gay men. Turing met Murray outside a cinema in 1952, took him to lunch (just as Alec took Ron to lunch in Turing’s story), eventually entertained him at home and loaned him money. They wrangled over the money with Murray threatening to ‘do his worst’. In Maurice, Alec tells Maurice ‘you reckernize it wouldn’t very well suit you if certain things came out’.

A page from Forster’s typescript of his novel Maurice. (Reference: EMF/1/5/9C)

Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967) in 1928 at Versailles (Reference: RNL/2/533)

Siegfried Sassoon came up to Clare College in 1905, a few years after Forster had left King’s. They knew of each other, had several aborted attempts at meeting and finally did so in 1919, soon after which Sassoon declared his homosexuality to Forster. Sassoon was one of the first people with whom Forster shared his short story ‘The Life to Come’, also published posthumously.

The story begins with Paul Pinmay, a missionary, going to bed with a great South Seas prince, Vithobai. For this he carries a great deal of guilt. Vithobai becomes Christian, taking the name Barnabas, and on the eve of both their weddings comes to Paul with a gift and confession of love.

A page from Forster’s typescript of ‘The Life to Come’. (Reference: EMF/3/13/2 vol 4/3)

Sassoon gave Forster several inscribed copies of his books of poetry and prose which are now in the Forster collection at King’s. The most affectionate inscription is on his 1950 book of poems, Common Chords, one of 107 copies printed on hand-made paper.

Sassoon’s inscription to Forster on his copy of Common Chords (Stanford Dingley: The Mill House Press, 1950). (Shelfmark: Forster.SAS.Com.1950)

Title page of Common Chords (Stanford Dingley: The Mill House Press, 1950).

One cannot skip past Sassoon without mentioning his protégé Wilfred Owen (1893–1918) who died in World War I.

Photograph of Wilfred Owen printed in Wilfred Owen, Poems (London: Chatto & Windus, 1920). (Shelfmark: N.32.16)

Owen and Sassoon met at Craiglockhart, a military psychiatric hospital in Edinburgh for the treatment of shell-shocked officers. It is believed that Owen, like Sassoon and other literary friends such as Robert Ross (Oscar Wilde’s literary executor, who was briefly a student at King’s), was also homosexual. As the Dictionary of National Biography says: ‘What is certain, however, is that Owen and Sassoon wrote more eloquently than other poets of the tragedy of boys killed in battle because they felt that tragedy more acutely, more personally.’ This year is the hundredth anniversary of the publication of this early edition of Owen’s poems, which includes an introduction by Sassoon.

Dustjacket from Owen’s Poems (London: Chatto & Windus, 1920). (Shelfmark: N.32.16)

Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘Greater Love’, in Poems (London: Chatto & Windus, 1920). (Shelfmark: N.32.16)

PKM

 

Demonology!

On this, the spookiest day of the year, we thought we’d share some images and text from books which tackle the subject of demons, devils, spirits and witches; all creatures regarded as a serious threat to body and soul in times past.

Our first tome is The hierarchie of the blessed angels, a long didactic poem by  the playwright Thomas Heywood (ca. 1570-1641) which also features Lucifer and his fallen angels, and includes many folkloric anecdotes and tales of demonic creatures engaged in spreading dread and devilment. Note the tumbling angels falling towards a demonic mouth on the right hand side of the title page below.

Keynes.C.10.01 title page

The hierarchie of the blessed angels. Their names,orders and offices. The fall of Lucifer with his angels by Thomas Heywood: London, 1635. Keynes.C.10.01

One illustration within the volume depicts the Archangel Michael standing victorious over the defeated Satan and his minions:

The Archangel Michael
Page 494 of Keynes.C.10.01

A detail from another appears to show a court of horned demons in hell:

Demons in hell. A detail from Keynes.C.10.01 page 406

Elsewhere, men of God try to ward off the forces of evil:

Detail from page 462 of Keynes.C.10.01

The poem has many evocative descriptions of various creatures up to the kind of  mischief and mayhem you might associate with Halloween:

Pugs and hob-goblins disturbing people’s sleep with their revels. Extract from page 574 of Keynes.C.10.01

Spooky inhabitants of church yards. Extract from page 505 of Keynes.C.10.01

Another passage vividly describes the marks by which evil creatures may be identified, including hooked noses and flaming eyes:

Extract from page 581 of Keynes.C.10.01

One of the anecdotes later in the text tells of a German illusionist who performed an aerial display with a woman and child in tow, only to end his life being burned at the stake as a witch:

Extract from page 613 of Keynes.C.10.01

Other works on demonology held in the Library include a late 16th-century Latin tome by a German theologian, Peter Thyraeus (1546-1601) and an 18th-century pamphlet by theologian William Whiston (1667-1752):

Title page of Daemoniaci, hoc est: De obsessis a spiritibvs daemoniorvm hominibvs by Peter Thyraeus, Cologne, 1598. D.8.5/1

Title page of An account of the daemoniacks, and of the power of casting out demons … by William Whiston: London, 1737. Keynes.F.10.14/8

The latter work describes the manner in which demons were cast out in the early years of Christianity:

Extract from page 56 of Keynes.F.10.14/8

Whatever you are doing this Halloween, stay safe out there, and watch out for things that go bump in the night!

AC

What’s in a Letter?

As we’ve seen in a previous post, illuminations in incunabula can be seen as a remnant of the manuscript tradition that persisted in the transition to the printing era. In our copy of Ognibene Bonisoli’s De octo partibus orationis (Padua, 1474), bequeathed to King’s College by Jacob Bryant (1715-1804), there are no guide letters in the spaces left blank for the illuminator, so it was up to him to choose which letter to write. On the first page is Bonisoli’s dedication to his pupil, the condottiere Federico Gonzaga (1441-84), who later became the third marquess of Mantua.

Federico Gonzaga (right) in one of Andrea Mantegna’s frescos in the Camera degli Sposi in Mantua, painted between 1465 and 1474.

Instead of inserting an “E” to give “En humanissime pri[n]ceps” (Lo, most humane leader), the illuminator added an “I”: “Inhumanissime pri[n]ceps” (Most inhumane leader):

First leaf of Ognibene Bonisoli’s De octo partibus orationis (Padua: Bartholomaeus de Valdezoccho and Martinus de Septem Arboribus, 1474; Bryant.XV.3.6). The manuscript inscription at the top indicates that the book belonged to the church of Santa Maria Incoronata in Milan, which was completed in 1460.

Though this is most likely to have been an unintentional error on the illuminator’s part, whose Latin perhaps was not up to scratch, it is tempting to imagine that it may have been a parting shot from a disgruntled employee on his final day at work…

IJ

A summer holiday in the Lakes

The ongoing project to catalogue the Library’s Bicknell Collection of books relating to the Lake District [see earlier blog post] continues to uncover fascinating items, not least among them being a small leather-bound, handwritten journal, documenting a family holiday in the Lakes in late August and early September 1877.

Cover of journal

Cover of Bicknell.148

The journal was written by one of Peter Bicknell’s uncles, Claude Lynnford Bicknell (1860-1882), who would have been 17 at the time. He travelled by train from his home in Beckenham, Kent, with his parents and his sister, Kathleen. Gentle sibling rivalry is suggested by a note on the back of the title page of Claude’s journal, which aims to dissociate it from his sister’s diary, referred to as “… the establishment round the corner.”

Note about Kathleen's diary

Bicknell.148 “N.B. I beg to state this journal has no connection with the establishment round the corner, viz. a journal edited by Miss KE Bicknell.”

The family were initially based at Cloudsdale’s Crown Hotel, in Windermere, moving after a week to the Borrowdale Hotel, Derwentwater.  Tucked into the journal are various travel ephemera, including this leaflet advertising the Crown:

Hotel promotion leaflet

Bicknell.148 Leaflet advertising Cloudsdale’s Crown Hotel

Claude has an engaging style of writing, and much of the pleasure to be derived from reading the journal is contained in his wry (albeit often rather snobbish) observations regarding the people he encounters, and his grumbles and gripes about topics such as the weather and the quality of the hotel food.

Observations on dinner in the hotel

Bicknell.148 page 2: “Dinner was so so, and the company decidedly seedy consisting of 4 old men, 4 old women; 3 young women with an old one in charge and […?] N.M’s: nearly all Yanks or Lancashires. After a very good desert, by far the best thing in the dinner, an old man got up & said a long and disjointed grace which of course sent Kathleen and myself into convulsions.”

 

Observations on a coach trip

Bicknell.148 page 14 “…all the rest of the seats were filled with Lancashire people, the men looking like farmers and the women like cooks … The coach is a very seedy turn out, drawn by 4 frightful screws.”

Occasionally Claude’s complaints veer into outright hyperbole, as seen most clearly in his reaction to heavy rain spoiling plans to go fishing on the first day of the holiday. With a wonderful turn of phrase he writes “Well, of all the horrid, disgusting, inhuman, blackguard days that were ever invented, to-day has been the very worst”.

Complaints about the weather

Bicknell.148 page 4. A very wet day

Better weather eventually allowed the family to make several fairly successful fishing trips, and to enjoy walks and excursions to local beauty spots. Claude took a turn rowing the boat during one fishing trip, and seems to have been very pleased with his performance:

A fishing trip

Bicknell.148 page 9: “My rowing was a very superior article and I caught a good many shell fish (crabs) & ducked every one in the boat several times.”

In typical teenager fashion however, he bemoans the decision of his mother to forbid him from going swimming:

Forbidden to bathe in the lake

Bicknell.148 page 12: “Bye the bye I wish to record here that during this day she refused to allow me to bathe in the lake. I think she imagines I shall drown in 20 or 30 feet of water because I am only accustomed to about 7.”

Illustrations in the journal are provided by engravings that Claude has repurposed from books or tourist pamphlets, and he is careful to note where artistic license has been employed:

Illustration of a hotel

Bicknell.148 page 18 “Something like only it is really much further from the lake”

The journal ends rather abruptly on Sunday the 2nd of September, with no indication as to whether this was actually the end of the holiday or simply the point at which Claude got bored with writing an account of each day. The final paragraph is slightly bizarre, featuring as it does, four alligators that apparently resided at the hotel!

Visiting the alligators

Bicknell.148 page 66 “During the day the number of people flocking to see 4 seedy little alligators which belong to the hotel was wonderful. They came in a string from morning to night.”

Claude went on to study at Trinity College, Cambridge, matriculating in 1879. That same year he was awarded a silver medal for political geography by the Royal Geographical Society. Sadly, he only lived a few more years, dying in 1882. It appears he was struck by a cricket ball at Fenner’s cricket ground in Cambridge. It seems likely that his untimely demise made his journal a treasured keepsake for his family, ensuring that it was preserved for posterity.

AC

 

An Astonishing Transformation

THE OBJECT

In the archives we have this somewhat intimidating collection of College records:

KCA/684: Before

Intimidating because it’s mostly 15th-century Latin, and it’s in this temporary-looking heavy straw-board folder

The old packaging

from the early 20th century which is itself falling apart, and you worry the pages will get out of place. Yet everything says it’s important: the vellum is so fine and soft that it drapes like fabric (nice to handle but it means you have to pay careful attention when turning pages), the wide margins bespeak a luxurious undertaking, and it’s one of the College’s oldest of its own documents. The first thing recorded in this volume is a detailed inventory of the College’s valuables in 1453-7.

THE TRANSFORMATION

Or at least we did have this intimidating object, until it was conserved over the winter by the Conservation Consortium and restored to what must be a very close approximation of its former glory.

During this process the Consortium carefully diagrammed all the quires, showing where blank pages had been cut out for use elsewhere:

Quire diagram

Then they flattened, under controlled humidification, and cleaned the pages,

Flattening the pages under weights

stabilising those that had the worst historic damage using Japanese paper. This is a soft tissue paper, often handmade, of consistent quality and free from impurities such as iron particles which can lead to paper degradation, rust spots, or ‘foxing’. It is transparent so that it can be glued over tears in existing pages while still allowing the text to be read, and allows for easily reversible interventions.

Based on evidence found within the book

Evidence of previous binding

and drawing from other historical contemporary book structures they recreated a late medieval-style binding. Boards were hand-carved from quarter cut planks of seasoned oak. The bookblock was carefully sewn to achieve a flat, well-supported opening,

Sewing the block

finishing it off with a quarto style alum-tawed (white) leather binding.

Claude applying glue to the leather binding

Sewing the binding to the spine of the book

Book conservator Claude Grewal-Sultze even went to the Bodleian Library to learn lessons from the conservation project on the Winchester Bible.

The result looks fabulous and now it’s hard to keep your hands off it – the smooth oak end-boards present a friendly, inviting surface.

KCA/684: After

Decorative sewing on the endband

You still have to be careful turning the soft pages of course. The document even appears smaller and lighter than it had done. Archivists will be surprised to hear that even after conservation and in its new protective box (made of archive-quality mid-weight cardboard), it fits in its old location.

The total cost of the renovation was £5000. This has been paid for by a generous donor, to whom we are very grateful.  

THE CONTENT

The volume contains more than just the inventory advertised on the cover, though it’s a magnificent inventory, befitting the holdings of a royal institution. We hope to publish a commentary on it in due course. The volume contents are:

1453-7 inventory (folios 3-12), high points of Henry VI’s charters for King’s (folios 13-26), Library books (folios 58r-65v), a list of members of the foundation (folios 70-77), and pledges (folio 81). There are blank pages between the sections, showing a consciousness that King’s was here to stay – further information would be added in due course.

Space on the page for additions

Due to the specially designed binding, the volume can be opened flat without causing damage.

The 1453-7 inventory was published by G. Williams (‘Ecclesiastical Vestments, Books, and Furniture, in the Collegiate Church of King’s College, Cambridge, in the Fifteenth Century’, three articles in The Ecclesiologist, 20 (1859), 304-15; 21 (1860), 1-7; and 24 (1863), 99-102). Williams left out additions to the inventory subsequent to the original scribe’s activity. These additions were transcribed by MR James and W St John Hope in a copy of Williams’s article (call mark Coll 2/23).

In 2018, various sections of this volume featured in an article Peter Jones wrote (‘Commemoration at a Royal College’, pages 106-122 from Commemoration in Medieval Cambridge, ed. John S. Lee and Christian Steer, in the series ‘The History of the University of Cambridge: Texts and Studies’ published by Boydell Press for Cambridge University Library).

SUBSEQUENTLY

Many of the objects listed here can be found in inventories made 50 or more years later (call mark KCA/22).

KCA/22 also left space for additions

The 1554 inventory in that book is interesting because in the intervening years the vestments had been turned into costumes – see our online exhibition about Queen Elizabeth’s 1564 visit.

Although not as elegantly presented as KCA/684, KCA/22 is still a spaciously designed book with a variety of flourished capitals and a use of display scripts. The inventories in KCA/22 were transcribed by MR James (Provost of King’s) and W St John Hope (antiquarian), and those transcriptions can be found in the archives under call marks Coll 2/23 and KCA/687. The same donation is covering the cost of conserving KCA/22. Part of the conservation will include replacement of the stiff parchment cover which has shrunk, making the pages’ leading edges vulnerable.

Peter Jones, Fellow Librarian
Patricia McGuire, Archivist

 

The Cadbury Bequest

Thanks to a generous bequest from Sir Adrian Cadbury (1929-2015), King’s College Library has been able to continue the process of cataloguing its collection of rare books. Sir Adrian was great-grandson of John Cadbury, a tea and coffee merchant in Birmingham who later manufactured cocoa powder. John’s sons developed a chocolate recipe in 1866 and went on to build the famous Bournville model village near Birmingham, introducing the Dairy Milk brand in 1905. Sir Adrian came up to King’s in 1949 to read economics. He joined the family business straight from university and became a director of Cadbury Bros in 1958. He retired from his position at Cadbury in 1989, and in his distinguished career was also a director of the Bank of England (1970-94) and of IBM (1975-94).

The Cadbury bequest has so far enabled us to catalogue over 200 incunabula, i.e. books printed before 1501. Some of these, such as a few statutes passed during the reign of King Henry VII and printed between 1496 and 1501, are not preserved in any other library. Other rare highlights include two copies of the 1470 editio princeps of Petrarch’s Canzoniere, one of the most important works in Italian literature of which only about 30 copies survive in public libraries worldwide:

“Voi ch’ascoltate in rime sparse il suono”: the opening of Petrarch’s Canzoniere, first printed in Venice by Vindelino da Spira in 1470 (Bryant.XV.2.11)

There are only three known copies of this 1495 edition of John Mirk’s Liber festivalis (Book of Festivals), a collection of homilies for the liturgical festivals as they were celebrated in Mirk’s native Shropshire at the time. The woodcut title page depicts the Annunciation and the Tree of Jesse:

Title page of John Mirk’s Liber festivalis (Rouen: James Ravynell, 1495) (Bryant.XV.3.24)

The book belonged to the noted Anglo-Saxon scholar Elizabeth Elstob (1683-1756), whose signature is visible on the right. On the title page verso is another woodcut featuring the Crucifixion and, at the foot of the page, Christ carrying the cross:

Title page verso of John Mirk’s Liber festivalis (Bryant.XV.3.24)

Happy Easter from all of us at King’s College Library and Archives; we hope you enjoy some Cadbury chocolate this Easter!

IJ