Category Archives: Library

Who was George Thackeray?

During the last eighteen months of our HLF-supported project based around the rare book collection of former King’s Provost George Thackeray we have enjoyed sharing gems from the collection with the public through this blog, a variety of exhibitions in King’s Library, some public talks, and more recently through our Thackeray project digital library. As we enter the final six months of the project it seems appropriate to pause for a moment and think about who Thackeray was, why he collected books, and perhaps give some thought to Thackeray the man as opposed to Thackeray the book collector.

Thackeray, apparently sitting in the Provost’s Lodge at King’s with the Chapel in the background. (Lithograph by Richard James Lane, 1851)

Born in 1777 in Windsor, to parents Frederick and Elizabeth, Thackeray was admitted to Eton as a King’s Scholar in 1792 before proceeding to King’s College in 1797. He became a fellow of King’s in 1800, and received the BA in 1802, the MA in 1805 and the BD in 1813. He had returned to Eton in 1801 as Assistant Master and had married a Miss Carbonell in 1803. Tragically she died young (possibly in 1810), and it seems to be peculiarly difficult to find any more about her. In 1814 Thackeray was elected Provost at King’s and in the same year the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred on him, by royal mandate. He remained Provost until 1850, overseeing major building works in the College including the building of the current College Library which was completed in 1828.

This hand-coloured engraving by Le Keux shows King’s Library and the adjoining Provost’s Lodge, where Thackeray resided, as it would have looked in 1841.

Things seemed to be looking up for the newly elected Provost of King’s. He married again in 1816, his bride being Mary Ann Cottin. However, tragedy was looming only two short years away. On 13th February 1818 when in labour with their first child, the accoucher (someone who looks after ladies in their confinement) in attendance, Sir Richard Croft, showed great agitation and exhaustion in their house in Wimpole Street. Thackeray found Croft dead at 2am in a bedroom in the house, the latter having shot himself in the head with two pistols which belonged to Thackeray. Apparently Thackeray had kept the pistols in the house for protection against a spate of house robberies that had been taking place in the area. Former King’s Librarian Tim Munby conjectured that Mary Ann’s labour might have shown similarities to the labour of Princess Charlotte who had died in childbirth in the previous year. She was also attended by Sir Richard Croft. Mary Ann gave birth to a daughter, Mary Ann Elizabeth, on 13th February, exactly two hundred years ago today. It appears from a note in Thackeray’s hand in his Bible (now in King’s Library) that she was not expected to survive, so was hurriedly baptised five days later on the 18th, on which day her mother died:

Thackeray’s inscription on the rear pastedown in his Bible (Thackeray.I.1.3/1-2)

Mary Ann Elizabeth Thackeray’s baptism record, St Marylebone Church, Westminster, 21 April 1819.

Mary Ann Thackeray, burial record, St Matthew Friday Street Church, London, 23 February 1818

Today we are on the eve of the start of Lent, a period often associated with self sacrifice and suffering, so it seems appropriate to pause to think of Thackeray’s early personal tragedy. Thackeray’s obituarist wrote that ‘this sad event threw an air of gloom and desolation about his house from which it never altogether recovered’. He goes on to say that whilst this early tragedy appears not to have prevented him from assiduously undertaking his college and university duties, or being a valued member of such society as he mingled in, ‘it threw him, for his general companionship, upon Erasmus and Propertius, black-letter Bibles, and odd books generally—for there was not a vendor of literary curiosities in London who had not some reason for knowing the Provost of King’s’.

Opening of Chapter IV of Matthew (from Thackeray’s Bible) describing the fasting and temptation of Jesus in the desert. This passage is strongly associated with Lent.

Book collecting and ornithology were two of Thackeray’s passions, and his collection includes a large number of natural history books in fine bindings, alongside the English literature, black-letter divinity books and Bibles. Whether the book collecting really was an anodyne for Thackeray (as Munby suggests) or whether he would have been an equally devout bibliophile had his early tragedies not happened we will never know. When he died in 1850 he left his black-letter books to King’s in his will (some 165 volumes). His daughter, Mary Ann Elizabeth, did live into adulthood and left the remainder of her father’s library, amounting to some 3,200 volumes in total, to the College in her will when she died in 1879.

The engraved title page of Thackeray’s Bible, with its heart-shaped title border, has become associated with tragedy rather than love owing to Thackeray’s inscription on the final pastedown

After his death in 1850, in his house in Wimpole Street in London, Thackeray was buried in King’s Chapel. His funeral, by all accounts, was a grand affair. A copy of the ‘Programme of the procession of the funeral of the late George Thackeray’ survives in the College archives and gives an indication of the scale of the occasion.

Programme of procession of the funeral of George Thackeray, D.D. (King’s College Archives: KCAR/1/2/20/2)

In May of this year we will be exhibiting a number of the black-letter divinity books in King’s College Chapel. More information will be announced on this blog in due course.

JC

Thackeray Project Digital Library

It might seem that we have been a little quiet here recently, but that is because we have been working hard behind the scenes on our digital library which we are now able to share with everyone.

Rare book spines (from left): vellum (gatherings exposed), three with raised bands and decorative gold-tooled panels, the last without raised bands, but with coloured leather spine labels tooled in gold.

One of the objectives of our HLF-funded project, which is centred around the rare book collection of former King’s Provost George Thackeray (1777-1850), is the creation of a corpus of digital content that will last well beyond the lifetime of the two-year project. This can now be viewed on the King’s website here.

Title within woodcut architectural border (McKerrow and Ferguson 278). William Gouge, The Saints sacrifice (London: George Miller, 1632; Thackeray.I.7.5)

The digital library, which we will continue to add to during the project, currently includes a gallery of book bindings, title pages, a gallery showing the stages of book conservation and a page devoted to the first and early editions of Jane Austen.

Title page of the first English edition of Emma (Thackeray.J.57.10)

Stay tuned for many more images from the Thackeray collection!

JC

Jane Austen Open Day: An Online Exhibition – Part 2

On 18 July 2017, the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, King’s College Library mounted an exhibition featuring first editions of all of Austen’s novels, the autograph manuscript of her unfinished novel Sanditon, a manuscript letter to her publisher, a book from her library, early translations of her novels, and other rare treasures. The event was a great success and was attended by over 1,000 people. Some of this material was used in our Open Cambridge exhibition which attracted over 1,400 visitors during the weekend of 8-9 September. We present below some highlights from the second part of the exhibition for those who could not visit in person.

Persuasion was first printed in French in 1821. This copy of the second French edition (1828), freely translated by the Swiss novelist and translator Isabelle de Montolieu (1751–1832), belonged to Sir Geoffrey Keynes, the younger brother of John Maynard Keynes.

Jane Austen, La Famille Elliot ou l’Ancienne Inclination
(Paris: Arthus Bertrand, 1828)
Gilson.A.PeF.1828/1

Routledge’s Railway Library, intended for ‘amusement while travelling’, began in 1849 as a shameless imitation of Simms and McIntyre’s Parlour Library. The inclusion of Pride and Prejudice in the series in 1850 is a testament to the popularity of the novel at the time.

Pride and Prejudice. By Miss Austen, ‘The Railway Library’
(London: Routledge, 1850)
Gilson.A.Pr.1850a

Chapman and Hall’s series ‘Select Library of Fiction’ was closely associated with W.H. Smith, who carefully sought out copyrights, or reprint rights, of popular novels in order to publish yellowback editions for sale on his railway bookstalls. The series, which ran from 1854 until it was taken over by Ward, Lock in 1881, included at least thirty novels by Anthony Trollope, who had strong views on the poor quality of much railway literature. This is one of the few known copies of Sense and Sensibility in yellowback.

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
(London: Chapman and Hall, 1870)
Warren.A.Se.1870

Lady Catherine is fully aware of her station in life and had no qualms in making others aware of this. This edition of Pride and Prejudice is illustrated by the Cambridge-based artist Charles Edmund Brock.

Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice
with twenty-four coloured illustrations by C. E. Brock
(London: Dent, 1907)
Gilson.A.Pr.1907b

In this scene from A. A. Milne’s stage adaptation, Jane and Mr Bennet discuss Lydia’s elopement with Mr Wickham, fully aware of the social implications and prospects for the family as a result.

A. A. Milne, Miss Elizabeth Bennet: A Play from “Pride and Prejudice”
(London: Chatto & Windus, 1936)
Gilson.A.Pr.Z.Mil

The 1940 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, is notorious for drastically diverging from the novel and being excessively ‘Hollywoodized’ — and for putting the women in clothes based on the styles of the late 1820s and 30s. This publication, which coincides with the release of the film, bears the subtitle: ‘The complete text of the famous romantic love story from which the M-G-M movie starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson was made’.

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (New York: Triangle, 1940)
Gilson.A.Pr.1940

This Victorian edition of Mansfield Park was presented to E. M. Forster’s mother by his father, and was later inherited by Forster himself.

Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
(London: Routledge, 18—)
Forster.AUS.Man

One of the highlights in the exhibition was Jane Austen’s copy of Orlando furioso, signed by her on the fly-leaf, sold by the Austen-Leigh family, bought by Virginia Woolf, and inscribed by Woolf to John Maynard Keynes at Christmas 1936.

Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando furioso (trans. by John Hoole)
(London: Charles Bathurst, 1783)
Keynes.E.4.1

King’s College owns the manuscript of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon, the last one on which she was working before she died on 18 July 1817. It is a rare surviving autograph manuscript of her fiction. It was given to King’s in 1930 by Jane’s great-great niece (Mary) Isabella Lefroy in memory of her sister Florence and Florence’s husband, the late Provost Augustus Austen Leigh who was a great-nephew of Jane. The booklets were made by Austen herself. The last writing is dated 18 March 1817. She died four months later.

The beginning of Sanditon

Sanditon, chapters 4-5

IJ/Harriet Alder/JC

Public Lecture on Jane Austen’s First Editions

Our series of events marking the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death culminates in a public lecture on the publication of the first and early editions of Austen’s novels by a leading expert, Dr Linda Bree (Cambridge University Press), editor of Jane Austen’s Persuasion (1998) and the Cambridge Edition of Austen’s Later Manuscripts (2008). The lecture will be held in the Audit Room at King’s College, Cambridge on Tuesday 24th October 2017 at 6pm.

Front cover of Austen’s Persuasion (Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 1998), edited by Linda Bree

Dr Bree’s lecture, entitled “Jane Austen in Print”, will focus on the appearance in print of all the first editions: how they were first published, what they looked like and how they were received, her relationship with her publishers, and the posthumous editions of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

The event is free and open to all, but as spaces are limited, you will need to reserve your place by going to the following website and clicking on “Register” before printing your ticket:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/jane-austen-in-print-public-lecture-by-dr-linda-bree-cup-tickets-38630831858

Those attending the lecture are invited to visit King’s College Library to view first editions of all six novels on 24th October between 5pm and 6pm and after the talk. We look forward to seeing you there!

IJ

 

 

Celebrating Jane Austen at King’s Library

To mark the bicentenary year of Jane Austen’s death, King’s College Library and Archives are hosting an exhibition showcasing first and early editions of the author’s much-loved novels, alongside the autograph manuscript of her unfinished novel Sanditon and treasures highlighting the Austen family’s connection with the College. This two-day event, which is part of the Open Cambridge weekend, is a rare opportunity to take a look inside the College’s beautiful early nineteenth-century library designed by the architect William Wilkins.

If you would like to find out more about one of Britain’s most loved novelists, why not pop in when you are in town. This free exhibition is open to all and can be viewed on Friday 8 and Saturday 9 September between 10:30am and 4pm in King’s College Library.

The interior of King’s College Library

Upon arrival at the front gate of King’s College, tell the member of staff on duty (or the porters) that you are visiting the Jane Austen exhibition. They will direct you to the College Library (see map below).

How to find King’s College Library

Exhibition DATE: Friday 8 and Saturday 9 September 2017

Opening times: 10:30am-4pm each day

JC

Jane Austen Open Day: An Online Exhibition – Part 1

On 18 July 2017, the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, King’s College Library mounted an exhibition featuring first editions of all of Austen’s novels, the autograph manuscript of her unfinished novel Sanditon, a manuscript letter to her publisher, a book from her library, early translations of her novels, and other rare treasures. The event was a great success and was attended by over 1,000 people. We present below some highlights from the first part of the exhibition for those who could not visit in person.

Jane was born in Steventon parsonage in Hampshire, and lived the first 25 years of her life there. She drafted Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey in Steventon. She was so distraught when she was told the news in December 1800 that the family would be moving to Bath that she fainted.

J. E. Austen-Leigh, A Memoir of Jane Austen by her Nephew (London: Bentley, 1870), Gilson.B.96.AusJ.1870b

Sense and Sensibility, Austen’s first novel to be published, was written in epistolary form around 1795 in Steventon under the title Elinor and Marianne. It was begun in its present form in autumn 1797 and revised and prepared for publication in 1809-1811 when Jane was living in Chawton.

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility (London: Egerton, 1811), First edition
Warren.A.Se.1811/1-3

Pride and Prejudice, originally titled First Impressions, was offered for publication to the London bookseller Thomas Cadell, but the offer was declined by return post. The novel was subsequently published by Thomas Egerton under the revised title Pride and Prejudice. Upon receiving her copy of the first edition from the publisher, Jane wrote: ‘I have got my darling child from London’ (27 Jan 1813).

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (London: Egerton, 1813), First edition
Warren.A.Pr.1813a/1-3

The Austen family lived in Bath between 1801 and 1806. Jane was familiar with the Pump Room, which is used as a setting in her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. This image, from The New Bath Guide (1807), shows the Pump Room, a venue for fashionable people, as it would have looked during Jane Austen’s time there.

Christopher Anstey, The New Bath Guide; or, Memoirs
of the B.N.R.D. Family in a Series of Poetical Epistles (Bath, 1807)
Warren.B.97.New.1807

Austen’s novels Persuasion (written 1815-16) and Northanger Abbey (written 1798-99) both appeared posthumously in a four-volume set in December 1817, although the title page states 1818. They are prefaced by a ‘biographical notice’ written by Jane’s brother Henry Austen in which Jane’s identity is revealed for the first time. She appears to have intended to publish Persuasion in 1818 but did not live long enough to do so.

The beginning of chapter 3 of Persuasion mentions Bath and the Pump Room. Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion (London: Murray, 1818), First edition
Thackeray.J.57.12-15

In 1809 Austen’s brother Edward offered his mother and sisters a more settled life – the use of a large cottage in Chawton, near Alton in Hampshire. Whilst living in Chawton Jane published her first four novels. She also wrote Mansfield Park there between 1811 and 1813. It was first published by Egerton in 1814 and a second edition was published in 1816 by John Murray, still within Austen’s lifetime. It did not receive any critical attention when it first appeared.

Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (London: Egerton, 1814), First edition
Warren.A.Ma.1814/1-3

When Henry Austen was taken ill in London in October 1815, he was attended by his sister Jane and by one of the Prince Regent’s doctors who identified her as the author of Pride and Prejudice. The doctor reported that the Prince (later George IV) was a great admirer of her novels and she was invited to dedicate one of her future works to the Prince. Emma was the lucky work. Jane disapproved of the Prince’s treatment of his wife, but felt she couldn’t refuse, so she settled for a title page reading simply ‘Emma, Dedicated by Permission to HRH The Prince Regent’, though her publisher (John Murray) thought it ought to be more elaborate.

This copy of the first edition of Emma belonged to King’s Provost George Thackeray (1777–1850).

Jane Austen, Emma (London: Murray, 1816), First edition
Thackeray.J.57.9-11

Several months after the dedication of Emma, Jane wrote to John Murray and reported that the Prince had thanked her for the copy of Emma. In the same letter she notes that in a recent review of the novel, the anonymous reviewer (later established as Sir Walter Scott) completely fails to mention Mansfield Park, remarking with regret that ‘so clever a man as the reviewer of Emma, should consider it as unworthy of being noticed’.

Jane Austen’s letter to John Murray, 1 April 1816 (NM/Austen/1)

In his review of Emma, Sir Walter Scott fails to mention Mansfield Park:

The Quarterly Review, Vol. XIV (London: Murray, 1816)
Gilson.C.Gif.1816

Jane Austen was seemingly unaware that one of her novels was published in America during her lifetime. This is one of only four known copies of the first American edition of Emma. The rest of her novels were not published in the US until the early 1830s. As well as the expected differences in spelling and punctuation, the text has also been bowdlerized.

Jane Austen, Emma (Philadelphia: M. Carey, 1816), First US edition
Gilson.A.Em.1816b/1-2

Due to popular demand, an expanded version of this exhibition will be presented as part of the Open Cambridge weekend on 8 and 9 September 2017. So if you couldn’t make it this time, or would like to see the exhibition again, please put these dates in your diary! More details will follow here in due course.

IJ/Harriet Alder/JC

 

Jane Austen Open Day at King’s College Library

The 18 July 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, and King’s College Library joins the commemorations with an exhibition showcasing rare first editions of all of her novels, the autograph manuscript of her unfinished novel Sanditon, a manuscript letter to her publisher, a book from her library, early translations of her novels, and other rare treasures.

If you would like to find out more about one of Britain’s most loved novelists, why not pop in when you are in town. This free exhibition is open to all and can be viewed only on Tuesday 18 July 2017 between 10am and 4pm, in King’s College’s beautiful early nineteenth-century library.

The interior of King’s College Library

Upon arrival at the front gate of King’s College, tell the member of staff on duty (or the porters) that you are visiting the Jane Austen exhibition. They will direct you to the College Library (see map below).

When you reach the Library, simply press the buzzer on the main door and one of the Library team will let you in and welcome you to the Library.

How to find King’s College Library

Exhibition DATE: 18 July 2017

Opening times: 10am-4pm

JC