Tag Archives: IJ

Shakespeare and Theatre in Cambridge: An Online Exhibition

Last month, King’s College Library and Archives hosted an exhibition for the Open Cambridge weekend as part of the events marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The exhibition, held on 9 and 10 September, showcased scarce editions of Shakespeare’s plays alongside other treasures from the special collections in the College Archive celebrating theatre and the history of theatre in Cambridge. Below are some selected highlights from the exhibition focusing on early editions of Shakespeare’s works.

College Librarian James Clements and College Archivist Patricia McGuire waiting to welcome visitors

College Librarian James Clements and College Archivist Patricia McGuire waiting to welcome visitors

King’s College’s First Folio (1623) is one of only 234 known surviving copies. The title-page portrait in this copy is not original and appears to be an engraved facsimile. The importance of this book cannot be overstated. Pivotal plays like The Tempest, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, and Julius Caesar were printed here for the first time, and may have been lost otherwise. Next to it is the first facsimile reprint of the First Folio, edited by Francis Douce. The date has been derived from the paper, which is watermarked: Shakespeare. J. Whatman, 1807:

Shakespeare’s First Folio (right) next to the 1807 facsimile reprint (left)

Shakespeare’s First Folio (right) next to the 1807 facsimile reprint (left)

On the other side of the display case are the two other Folios from the Thackeray Bequest: the Second (1632) and the Fourth (1685). The printing of the former was carried out by Thomas Cotes and a syndicate of five other partners: Richard Hawkins, John Smethwick, William Aspley, Robert Allot, and Richard Meighen. This copy bears the “exceedingly rare” Hawkins imprint (Frank Karslake, Book Auction Records, London: William Dawson, 1903; p. 355):

Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies London: Printed by Tho[mas] Cotes, for Richard Hawkins, 1632

Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies
London: Printed by Tho[mas] Cotes, for Richard Hawkins, 1632

The Fourth Folio included seven additional plays: Pericles, Prince of Tyre; Locrine; The London Prodigal; The Puritan; Sir John Oldcastle; Thomas Lord Cromwell; and A Yorkshire Tragedy. All of these had been printed as quartos during Shakespeare’s lifetime, but only Pericles is now seriously considered to have any Shakespearean connection. The front board of this copy was completely detached; it was repaired in August 2016 thanks to the grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Mr. William Shakespear’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies: Published According to the True Original Copies London: Printed for H. Herringman, E. Brewster, and R. Bentley, 1685.

Mr. William Shakespear’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies
London: Printed for H. Herringman, E. Brewster, and R. Bentley, 1685

As well as the Folio editions of Shakespeare’s plays, the exhibition also included early quartos of individual plays. This is a third edition of Henry V, a reprint of the second quarto of 1602. The imprint date is false, as the book was printed in 1619 for the Shakespearean collection of that year:

William Shakespeare, The Chronicle History of Henry the Fift London: Printed [by William Jaggard] for T[homas] P[avier], 1608 [i.e. 1619]

William Shakespeare, The Chronicle History of Henry the Fift
London: Printed [by William Jaggard] for T[homas] P[avier], 1608 [i.e. 1619]

Below is a copy of the fourth edition of Othello. The play was entered into the Stationers’ Register on 6 October 1621 by Thomas Walkley, and the first quarto was printed by him in 1622.

William Shakespeare, The Tragoedy of Othello, the Moore of Venice London: Printed for William Leak, 1655

William Shakespeare, The Tragoedy of Othello, the Moore of Venice
London: Printed for William Leak, 1655

Featured in the exhibition were also later editions of Shakespeare’s works. This 18th-century collection of his plays, edited by Kingsman George Steevens (1736-1800), includes a facsimile of Shakespeare’s will:

The Plays of William Shakspeare: In Fifteen Volumes. With the Corrections and Illustrations of Various Commentators. To Which Are Added Notes by Samuel Johnson and George Steevens London: Printed [by H. Baldwin] for T. Longman, et al., 1793

The Plays of William Shakspeare: In Fifteen Volumes. With the Corrections and Illustrations of Various Commentators. To Which Are Added Notes by Samuel Johnson and George Steevens
London: Printed [by H. Baldwin] for T. Longman, et al., 1793

Despite inclement weather on the second day, the event was attended by more than 600 local people:

Local residents attending the exhibition on 9 September 2016

Local residents attending the exhibition on 9 September 2016

Our Shakespeare season culminated in a public lecture on the First Folio by a leading world expert, Professor Emma Smith (Hertford College, Oxford) on 3 October 2016. Professor Smith’s talk took the captive audience into the First Folio, and investigated the clues it gives us about Shakespeare’s writing methods, the early modern theatre, and the development of the Shakespeare brand.

english_landscape_pantone

IJ

Public Lecture on Shakespeare’s First Folio

Our series of events marking the quatercentenary of Shakespeare’s death culminates in a public lecture on Shakespeare’s First Folio by a leading world expert, Professor Emma Smith (Hertford College, Oxford), author of Shakespeare’s First Folio: Four Centuries of an Iconic Book (2016) and The Making of Shakespeare’s First Folio (2015). The lecture will be held in the Audit Room at King’s College, Cambridge on Monday 3rd October 2016 at 6pm.

Front cover of Emma Smith's The Making of Shakespeare’s First Folio (2015)

Front cover of Emma Smith’s The Making of Shakespeare’s First Folio (2015)

Professor Smith’s lecture is entitled “Reading Shakespeare’s First Folio”. She will discuss the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, the First Folio of 1623, which has become one of the world’s most sought-after books. This illustrated talk takes us into the First Folio, and investigates the clues it gives us about Shakespeare’s writing methods, the early modern theatre, and the development of the Shakespeare brand. You can hear Professor Smith talk about the recent discovery of a copy of the First Folio on the Isle of Bute here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-35973094

The event is free and open to all, but as spaces are limited, we ask that you reserve your place by going to the following website and clicking on ‘Register’ before printing your ticket:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/reading-shakespeares-first-folio-lecture-by-professor-emma-smith-tickets-27940806705

Those attending the lecture are invited to visit King’s College Library to view the First Folio from the Thackeray Bequest between 5pm and 6pm on 3rd October and after the talk. We look forward to seeing you there!

english_landscape_pantone

IJ

 

Bowdlerizing the Bard

According to the OED, the etymology of the verb “to bowdlerize”, meaning “to expurgate (a book or writing), by omitting or modifying words or passages considered indelicate or offensive”, comes from Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825), “who in 1818 published an edition of Shakespeare, ‘in which those words and expressions are omitted which cannot with propriety be read aloud in a family’”.

In the collection of books bequeathed to King’s College by its sometime Provost George Thackeray (1777-1850), a cousin of the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray, is a copy of the fifth edition of Thomas Bowdler’s eight-volume The Family Shakspeare (1827):

Thomas Bowdler, The family Shakspeare (London: Printed for Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, Paternoster-Row, 1827) (Thackeray.J.63.1)

Title of page of vol. 1 of Thomas Bowdler’s The Family Shakspeare (London: Printed for Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, Paternoster-Row, 1827) Thackeray.J.63.1

Some of the alterations to Shakespeare’s plays made by Bowdler include, for example, Lady Macbeth’s line, “Out, damned spot!” changed to “Out, crimson spot!” (Macbeth, V.1); in Henry IV, Part 2 the prostitute Doll Tearsheet is omitted from the story altogether; and in all plays the exclamation “God!” is replaced with “Heavens!”

Below is the scan of a line spoken by Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet (II.iv) as it appeared in the Fourth Folio of Shakespeare’s plays (1685) along with the expurgated version printed by Bowdler (vol. 8, p. 168):

Spot the difference: Mercutio’s “the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon” has been changed to “the hand of the dial is now upon the point of noon”.

Spot the difference: Mercutio’s “the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon” has been changed to “the hand of the dial is now upon the point of noon”.

Thackeray’s obituarist writes that “In his discipline generally there was something of almost Roman firmness … Yet under the rigid manner lay the kindest sympathy”. While his library included the First, Second and Fourth Folios of Shakespeare’s plays – as well as later editions – it is interesting that this is the edition he decided to present to his daughter, who recorded the gift on the fly-leaf of all eight volumes: “Mary Ann Eliz.th Thackeray the gift of her father”. But this is perhaps more a reflection on the times than on Thackeray himself.

All these books, along with many other treasures, will be on display at King’s Library’s free Shakespeare exhibition as part of Open Cambridge on Friday 9th and Saturday 10th September, 10.30am – 4pm:

http://www.opencambridge.cam.ac.uk/news/kings-college-library-and-archives-open-their-doors

We hope to see many of you there!

english_landscape_pantone

IJ

 

Another Portrait of Mr. W. H.

As we’re marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, this book from the Keynes Bequest could not be more topical. England’s Helicon, an anthology of Elizabethan poems first printed in 1600, includes contributions by Christopher Marlowe, Sir Walter Raleigh, William Shakespeare, Sir Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser.

Title page of England’s Helicon: A Collection of Pastoral and Lyric Poems, First Published at the Close of the Reign of Q. Elizabeth, edited by S. E. Brydges and Joseph Haslewood (London: Thomas Bensley, 1812; Keynes.E.3.8)

Title page of England’s Helicon: A Collection of Pastoral and Lyric Poems, edited by S. E. Brydges and Joseph Haslewood (London: Thomas Bensley, 1812; Keynes.E.3.8)

In an 1812 reprint of the third edition (1614) is the carbon copy of a letter from John Maynard Keynes to Dadie Rylands dated 6 February 1944 and initialled in ink by Keynes. Rylands was a Fellow at King’s and a noted Shakespeare scholar who also directed several plays for the Marlowe Society and acted as chairman of the Cambridge Arts Theatre between 1946 and 1982.

Dadie Rylands (1902-1999) punting on the Cam, mid-1930s

Dadie Rylands (1902-1999) punting along the Cam, mid-1930s

Keynes writes: “Is this a new theory of the Sonnets? In England’s Helicon, published in 1600, there are two poems signed W. H., otherwise unknown, and no editor has attached any plausible conjecture to the initials. […] It would be pleasant to suppose that this Mr. W. H. is the same as the other”.

Carbon copy of Keynes’s letter to Dadie Rylands, 6 February 1944

Carbon copy of Keynes’s letter to Dadie Rylands, 6 February 1944

The first 126 of Shakespeare’s Sonnets (1609) are addressed to a “fair youth”, and the whole work is dedicated to a certain “Mr. W. H.”. The identity of the dedicatee remains a mystery, and possible contenders include Shakespeare’s patrons, Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton (1573-1624), and William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke (1580-1630).

W. H., “Wodenfride’s Song in Praise of Amargana”, England’s Helicon, pp. 68-69

W. H., “Wodenfride’s Song in Praise of Amargana”, England’s Helicon, pp. 68-69

Keynes seems to have failed to check the “Index of the Names of Authors” at the beginning of the book, where W. H. is tentatively identified as “Wm. Hunnis?” The editors, S. E. Brydges and Joseph Haslewood, state in the biographical notice of W. H.: “I recollect no writer to whom these initials may apply, unless William Hunnis, who seems to have lived too early to have been a contributor to this volume. […] Qu.? William Herbert?” The poet William Hunnis, who died in 1597 and could have therefore known Shakespeare, was in the service of William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke (1501-1570) and grandfather of Shakespeare’s patron, the 3rd Earl of Pembroke. So there is a connection with Shakespeare there, albeit a tenuous one.

The second poem by W. H. in England’s Helicon, pp. 70-72

The second poem by W. H. in England’s Helicon, pp. 70-72

As shown in a previous post on James Howell’s Epistolae Ho-Elianae (1645), Keynes’s book collecting was not merely a matter of accumulating items, as he actively engaged with the issues raised in these works and shared his ideas, thoughts and opinions with friends. But going back to his original question. Could the W. H. in England’s Helicon really be the mysterious dedicatee of Shakespeare’s Sonnets? Over to Shakespeare scholars.

IJ

Lake District Books (1750-1850): An Online Exhibition

Peter Bicknell (1907-1995), an architect, mountaineer and art historian who taught architecture at Cambridge for more than fifty years, was also a book collector with a particular interest in eighteenth-century topographical books and prints. In 1980 he donated his collection of books on the Lake District to King’s College Library. As Bicknell later recalled in his introduction to The Picturesque Scenery of the Lake District, “My addiction to book-collecting was stimulated by the friendship of that inspired lover of books, A. N. L. (‘Tim’) Munby. When some years ago I decided that it was time I found a permanent home for my Lake District collection, it occurred to me that there could be no better place for it than the library of King’s” (Winchester: St. Paul Bibliographies, 1990, p. x). We have just started cataloguing the collection and mounted an exhibition in the library, some highlights from which are described below.

Peter Holland was a Liverpool artist about whom little is known. He visited Ambleside in 1797. His Select Views of the Lakes is the first book of Lake District views using the printing technique known as aquatint. In this method of printing the artist makes marks on the plate (in the case of aquatint, a copper or zinc plate) that are capable of holding ink. The inked plate is passed through a printing press together with a sheet of paper, resulting in a transfer of the ink to the paper.

Peter Holland, Select Views of the Lakes in Cumberland, Westmoreland & Lancashire (Liverpool: printed by James Smith, for John Peeling, [1792]) Bicknell.61

Peter Holland, Select Views of the Lakes in
Cumberland, Westmoreland & Lancashire
(Liverpool: printed by James Smith, for John Peeling, [1792])
Bicknell.61

This copy of Revd Stebbing Shaw’s A Tour in 1787 from London to the Western Highlands of Scotland bears the ownership inscription “Elizabeth Vernon: Given to her by the Marquis of Lansdown 1792”. It ended up in the library of Holland House in Kensington and has their bookplate on the inside front pastedown. The book shows signs of fire damage from when Holland House was bombed during the Blitz in 1940.

Stebbing Shaw, A tour, in 1787, from London, to the Western Highlands of Scotland (London: printed for L. Davis, Messrs. Robson and Clarke, W. Lowndes, H. Gardner, J. Walker, [1788]) Bicknell.27

Stebbing Shaw, A Tour, in 1787, from London,
to the Western Highlands of Scotland
(London: printed for L. Davis, Messrs. Robson and Clarke,
W. Lowndes, H. Gardner, J. Walker, [1788])
Bicknell.27

Peter Crosthwaite was an expert in self-advertisement, referring to himself in this plate as “Admiral at Keswick Regatta; who keeps the Museum at Keswick, is Guide, Pilot, Geographer, Hydrographer to the Nobility and Gentry, who makes the Tour of the Lakes”.

An accurate map of the matchless Lake of Derwent (situated in the most delightful Vale which perhaps ever Human Eye beheld) Peter Crosthwaite, Maps of the Lake District (London: published & sold by Peter Crosthwaite, 1819) Bicknell.10

“An accurate map of the matchless Lake of Derwent (situated in the most delightful Vale which perhaps ever Human Eye beheld)”
Peter Crosthwaite, Maps of the Lake District
(London: published & sold by Peter Crosthwaite, 1819)
Bicknell.10

The next item in the exhibition, William Hutchinson’s An Excursion to the Lakes in Westmoreland and Cumberland, is one of the earliest books in the Bicknell Collection. The excursion was made with William Hutchinson’s brother Richard who acted as draughtsman. The book includes a generous amount of rich picturesque description and lively accounts of unusual incidents.

William Hutchinson, An Excursion to the Lakes in Westmoreland and Cumberland (London: printed for J. Wilkie & W. Goldsmith, 1774) Bicknell.1

William Hutchinson, An Excursion to the Lakes in Westmoreland and Cumberland
(London: printed for J. Wilkie & W. Goldsmith, 1774)
Bicknell.1

This manuscript journal is illustrated with wash drawings in imitation of William Gilpin’s Observations (London, 1786). The tour was taken in the autumn of 1792 by Mr and Mrs R. Rede and Mr Dreyer. The book is compiled from notes taken on the spot by Mr Rede.

R. Dreyer, A Tour of the Lakes of Cumberland & Westmoreland (Great Yarmouth) Bicknell.82

R. Dreyer, A Tour of the Lakes of Cumberland & Westmoreland
(Great Yarmouth)
Bicknell.82

Thomas Rose’s three-volume work Westmorland, Cumberland, Durham, & Northumberland includes 213 steel engravings from drawings by Allom, Gastineau and Pickering by various engravers. Prints from these fine and durable steel plates were produced in large numbers for many years. They were used in various books and for a variety of purposes such as headings for letter paper and for table maps.

Thomas Rose, Westmorland, Cumberland, Durham, & Northumberland (London: Fisher & Jackson, [1832-1835]) Bicknell.85

Thomas Rose, Westmorland, Cumberland, Durham, & Northumberland
(London: Fisher & Jackson, [1832-1835])
Bicknell.85

Finally, these sixteen views were issued without text or title to be bound with Thomas West’s Guide to the Lakes (1778). The views were advertised in the later editions of West’s Guide, and in that sense belong closely to the aesthetic promoted by West’s editors. The artists often intervene in the topography to improve the view.

John Smith, Sixteen Views of the Lakes in Cumberland and Westmorland (London: printed for W. Clarke [1794-1795]) Bicknell.84

John Smith, Sixteen Views of the Lakes in Cumberland and Westmorland
(London: printed for W. Clarke [1794-1795])
Bicknell.84

Mira Le/JC/IJ

Monday mourning

The untimely death of Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales was met with universal sorrow across the land in 1612. The national outpouring of grief is probably comparable to that witnessed in the aftermath of Princess Diana’s death in 1997. Prince Henry (1594-1612), the eldest son of James I and brother of the future King Charles I, was praised in life by authors including George Chapman, Sir John Davies, Michael Drayton, and Francis Bacon. There was a proliferation of mourning pamphlets and funeral sermons following the popular Prince’s death at the age of 18 from typhoid fever, and he was mourned by such luminaries as Thomas Campion, George Herbert, and Sir Walter Raleigh. Prince Henry was the patron of the poet Josuah Sylvester (1563-1618), who expressed his sorrow in Lachrimae lachrimarum (1612), one of the earliest examples of a book containing black mourning pages:

Keynes.C.12.8

The tears of tears: title page of the first edition of Lachrimae lachrimarum; or, The distillation of teares shede for the untymely death of the incomparable Prince Panaretus (London: Humfrey Lownes, 1612; Keynes.C.12.8).

The sense of grief is compounded by a black page with a woodcut of the royal arms on every verso, and mourning borders with skeleton frames on each recto:

Keynes.C.12.8 (2)

Lachrimae lachrimarum, leaf A2 recto and facing mourning page (Keynes.C.12.8).

The first edition includes elegies in English, French, Latin and Italian by the royal tutor, Walter Quin (1575?-1640):

Keynes.C.12.8 (3)

Lachrimae lachrimarum, leaf D3 recto with an Italian sonnet by Walter Quin (Keynes.C.12.8).

While tears are only mentioned in Sylvester’s book, these are shown explicitly in Christopher Brooke’s Two Elegies (1613), which features a pattern of tears with a quotation from Ovid’s Epistulae ex Ponto, 3.1.158: “Interdum lachrimae pondera vocis habent” (sometimes tears have the same weight as words):

Brooke, Two elegies (ESTC S106715) 2

Christopher Brooke, Two elegies, consecrated to the neuer-dying memorie of the most worthily admyred; most hartily loued; and generally bewayled prince; Henry Prince of Wales (London: Thomas Snodham, 1613; image from EEBO).

Variations on the black mourning page were used widely well into the 18th century. The premature death of John Churchill, Marquess of Blandford (1686-1703), who died here at King’s College on 20 February 1703, was lamented in William Congreve’s The Tears of Amaryllis for Amyntas (1703). The title page is framed within a mourning border of black blocks:

Keynes.C.5.6

Title page of William Congreve’s The Tears of Amaryllis for Amyntas (London: Jacob Tonson, 1703; Keynes.C.5.6).

The black mourning page may be a technique that originated in the 17th century, but one of the most well-known examples of this practice is to be found in the 18th century, namely in Laurence Sterne’s novel Tristram Shandy (1759-67), which is revolutionary in its use of unconventional typographical devices such as blank and marbled pages. Yorick’s death in vol. 1 is followed by a black mourning page:

Keynes.Ec.7.1.15

Alas, poor Yorick: black mourning page in the first edition of Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (York: J. Hinxman, 1759; Keynes.Ec.7.1.15).

In order to protect his work from piracy, Sterne signed the opening chapter of the first and second editions of volume 5, as well as the first editions of volumes 7 and 9. He must have therefore autographed over 12,000 volumes:

Keynes.Ec.7.1.21 and 23

Opening chapters of volumes 7 and 9 of Tristram Shandy, with Sterne’s autograph (Keynes.Ec.7.1.21 and Keynes.Ec.7.1.23).

Today is Blue Monday, allegedly the gloomiest day of the year, so we thought this would cheer everyone up. And let’s look on the bright side: if Prince Henry had lived to become King, he would have probably been beheaded during the English Civil War, as happened to his younger brother Charles I, so it looks like he had a lucky escape after all…

IJ

 

All that glitters is not gold

As we are all surrounded by illuminations at this time of the year (whether we like it or not), let’s have a look at another type of illumination, that of the vibrant colours and intricate decorations of initials and margins often found in medieval manuscript books. Such illuminations were also a feature of early printed books and can be regarded as a vestige of the manuscript tradition that persisted in the transition to the printing era. As Scrase and Croft point out in their book Maynard Keynes, “It is characteristic of the earliest period of printing that the book was conceived as a collaboration between the practitioners of the new art and the professional scribes and illuminators whose traditional involvement in book production went back for centuries” (Cambridge: Provost and Scholars of King’s College, Cambridge, 1983, p. 74). The illuminations were applied by hand following completion of the printing process, and the printer would leave blank spaces with or without guide letters for the illuminator:

Keynes.Ec.7.2.9

Diogenes Laertius, Vitae et sententiae eorum qui in philosophia probati fuerunt (Venice: Nicolas Jenson, 1475; Keynes.Ec.7.2.9).

This 1476 copy of Boethius’s De consolatione philosophiae has the first initial of text illuminated in gold and blue, with a pink, green and blue decorative leaf border carried around the inner and lower margins:

Keynes.Ec.7.1.4

Boethius, De consolatione philosophiae (Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 1476; Keynes.Ec.7.1.4) with close-up of initial illuminated in gold and blue.

Sometimes, the initial letters were simply supplied in red, blue or gold, as in this copy of Lucian’s Opera (1503): 

Keynes.Ec.7.2.19 2

Lucian of Samosata, Luciani opera (Venice: Aldo Manuzio, 1503; Keynes.Ec.7.2.19).

One of the most impressive illuminations in the incunabula in the Keynes Bequest is undoubtedly to be found in a copy of Saint Augustine’s De civitate Dei (1468), printed in Rome by two Germans, Konrad Sweynheim and Arnold Pannartz, who are credited with introducing the art of printing into Italy. The first page of text after the preliminaries features the initials “I” and “G” supplied in gold; both initials are embellished with a decorative white vine stem border defined in blue, pink and green with a pattern of white dots, which extends into the upper, inner and lower margins. In the lower margin is a painted coat of arms of Cardinal Medici within a green laurel wreath and a putto on either side:

Keynes.Ec.7.1.2

Saint Augustine, De civitate Dei (Rome: Konrad Sweynheim and Arnold Pannartz, 1468; Keynes.Ec.7.1.2). The Medici arms are not authentic and were added by the forger Hagué.

Below is a close-up of the 15-line initial “I” and the 8-line initial “G”:

Keynes.Ec.7.1.2 (2)

Saint Augustine, De civitate Dei (Rome: Konrad Sweynheim and Arnold Pannartz, 1468; Keynes.Ec.7.1.2); detail.

If you thought the illumination in this incunabulum was impressive, wait until you see the cover. This is a 19th-century binding entirely covered in gold produced by the Belgian bookbinder and binding forger Théodore (aka Louis) Hagué (1822 or 1823-1891) in imitation of a 16th-century Italian binding purported to have been made for Cardinal Medici:

Keynes.Ec.7.1.2 (3)

The book with the golden cover: calf over wooden boards; covers and spine entirely covered in gold with an elaborate interlacing ribbon/strapwork design; four metal bosses on each cover; arms of Cardinal Medici painted in an oval medallion at the centre of each cover. Detail shows gilt and gauffered edges with the Medici coat of arms in the middle, and the pattern of the decorations filled in with red.

Hagué was a master of forgery and produced fake bindings that were passed off as having belonged to popes, cardinals, kings  and queens. And people fell for it hook line and sinker. The sale catalogue description pasted on the fly-leaf reads: “Italian binding of the 16th century. This book is probably unique in its style of binding. It is of calf; tooled and completely covered with gilding. On each cover the arms of Cardinal Medici are painted…” For more information on Hagué, see Mirjam M. Foot, “Binder, Faker and Artist”, The Library 13.2 (2012), pp. 133-146, available here.

This is our last blog post before Christmas, so happy festive season from all of us at King’s College Library and Archives! We’ll be back in the New Year with more posts about the treasures in our special collections, so watch this space…

IJ

Flying Sheets

The Keynes Bequest is not merely a collection of books. Interspersed among first editions of Galileo, Descartes, Pascal, Hobbes, Kant and Locke are a number of pamphlets of historical, literary and scientific significance, ranging in size from one sheet to several pages. In the extensive collection of first and early editions of Isaac Newton’s works is an anonymous pamphlet with the caption “29. Julii 1713”. This is the so-called Charta volans (flying sheet), an important document written by Gottfried Leibniz during the bitter controversy between him and Newton over which of them invented the mathematical study of change, calculus. Given the rarity of this pamphlet (the only other copies are in Yale, Chicago and in the Burndy Library), and in the interest of scholarship, we provide a scan of all four pages:

Charta Volans 1-2

Gottfried Leibniz’s Charta volans (1713), in which he argues that Newton had not published anything on calculus before him, adding that Newton’s fluxional method was in imitation of his calculus (Keynes.Ec.7.2.27)

Charta Volans 3-4

Charta volans, pp. 3-4

Its acquisition history is also rather fascinating. Keynes had originally bought two copies of the pamphlet, and observed in a letter to K. G. Maggs when the latter offered to purchase the duplicate copy in May 1942 that he had done so “not because I wanted them, but because they were fastened together, never having been separated by a paper knife when issued. So far I have not had the heart to split the Siamese twins.” The correspondence between Keynes and Maggs throws an interesting light on his relationship with booksellers and how he went about augmenting his collection of rare books and pamphlets:

Keynes-Maggs 1

J. M. Keynes’s correspondence with K. G. Maggs, 15 May-18 May 1942

Keynes-Maggs 2

J. M. Keynes’s correspondence with K. G. Maggs, 28 May-29 May 1942

The “American library which specialises in Newton material” that bought the second copy of the Charta volans is almost certainly the Burndy Library, founded the previous year by the industrialist and historian Bern Dibner. Their copy is now at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.

As the above correspondence reveals, the loss of one of the “Siamese twins” to the Burndy Library led to Keynes’s acquisition of another exciting “flying sheet”, namely a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, the first book printed using movable type which marked the beginning of the Printing Revolution. The iconic 42-line Bible was printed in Mainz, ca. 1454-55, by Johannes Gutenberg. Of the about 180 copies printed, 49 are known to have survived, only 21 of which are complete. This leaf includes all of Jeremiah XX and part of Jeremiah XXI:

Gutenberg Bible Leaf 2

The first printed book: recto and verso of leaf 80 from the Gutenberg Bible (1454-55). Printed in two columns, one column on each side being defective; 2 initials supplied in red, chapter numbers in red and blue (Keynes.Ec.7.2.13)

The addition of a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible to Keynes’s collection means that the items in the Keynes Bequest cover five centuries of printing, from its very inception in the middle of the fifteenth century, right up to the middle of the twentieth.

IJ

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester: an online exhibition

Exhibition case

Last Friday King’s College Library and Archives hosted an exhibition for the Open Cambridge weekend, focusing partly on Kingsman John Davy Hayward (1905-1965) and his collection of early editions of the works of John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester (1647-1680). These are some selected highlights of the exhibition.

H.14.1

Poems on Several Occasions by the Right Honourable the E. of R- – – (Printed at Antwerp, 1680). Hayward Bequest, H.14.1

Poems on Several Occasions was the first anthology of Rochester’s poems published after his death in July 1680. The false imprint (it was printed in London) and lack of a publisher’s name permitted unrestrained lewdness of content. By November of that year Samuel Pepys had a copy which he kept in the right-hand drawer of his writing desk as he considered it ‘unfit to mix with my other books’, adding ‘pray let it remain there, for as he is past writing any more so bad in one sense, so I despair of any man surviving him to write so good in another’.

H.10.5

A Satyr against Marriage ([London], undated). Hayward Bequest, H.10.5

Only a handful of Rochester’s works were printed during his lifetime, mainly satires published as broadsides. The most famous was his ‘A Satyr against Mankind’ (1679) which is a scathing denunciation of rationalism and optimism that contrasts human wickedness with animal wisdom. His ‘A Satyr against Marriage’ is written in a similar vein.

H.14.17 and H.14.16

Frontispiece portraits from two editions of The Miscellaneous Works of the Right Honourable the late Earls of Rochester and Roscommon . . . by Mons. St. Evremont (London, 1707). Hayward Bequest, H.14.16 & H.14.17

Spot the difference: numerous editions of Rochester’s works appeared during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and their salacious content was gradually rewritten to reflect ‘respectable’ tastes. One of these portraits has been doctored, perhaps to suggest the venereal disease that would eventually lead to Rochester’s demise.

H.12.7

A Genuine Letter from the Earl of Rochester to Nell Gwyn. Copied from an Original Manuscript in the French King’s Library. Hayward Bequest, H.12.7

The actress Nell Gwyn, a long-time mistress of Charles II, is also believed to have been Rochester’s mistress, perhaps demonstrating his prominent position at court as well as his interest in the theatre. In 1673 Rochester had begun training Elizabeth Barry as an actress. She went on to become the most famous actress of her age and her relationship with Rochester produced a daughter. Whilst bearing all the hallmarks of Rochester’s style, some doubt the authenticity of this explicit (and anonymously published) letter from Rochester to Nell.

Engraving

Engraving of Rochester crowning his monkey. Hayward Bequest, no shelfmark

Monkey business: this engraving is one of the best known images of Rochester, and provided the title for Graham Greene’s biography of the author, Lord Rochester’s Monkey. In ‘A Satyr against Mankind’ Rochester writes:

Were I, who to my Cost already am
One of those strange, prodigious Creatures Man,
A Spirit free, to choose for my own Share,
What sort of Flesh and Blood I pleas’d to wear,
I’d be a Dog, a Monkey, or a Bear,
Or any thing, but that vain Animal,
Who is so proud of being Rational.

H.12.15

Broadside circular ([London], ca. 1676), Hayward Bequest, H.12.15

In 1676 Rochester fell into disfavour with the King and fled this time to Tower Hill where he impersonated a physician, one ‘Dr Alexander Bendo’. Under this persona he claimed skill in treating many conditions including ‘barrenness’, apparently gaining him access to many young ladies.

WARNING: This blog post was not suitable for children.

GB/JC/IJ

Judging a Book by its Cover

While most of the books in the Keynes Bequest have been acquired for their intellectual content, charting the history of European thought, there is one section in which the items have been collected primarily because of their physical characteristics, namely the binding. Every book bound before the early 19th century is a unique handcrafted object, so no two bindings can be genuinely identical. Recording the binding information when cataloguing a rare book is important as it gives us an indication of its provenance as well as how the book was used, regarded and circulated. Below is a selection of some of the most interesting items in the ‘binding’ section of the Keynes Library.

This copy of Les Pseaumes de David (1668) features an ornamental binding in goat-skin from the atelier de Charenton, characterised by corner-pieces and fleurons incorporating several pointillé motifs; on the board edges is a decorative roll in the style of the binder Antoine Ruette (1609-1669). Four stud holes are visible at the centre:

Keynes.Ec.7.4.11

Keynes.Ec.7.4.11: Les Pseaumes de David mis en rime franc̜oise par Clement Marot, et Theodore de Beze (Charenton: Estienne Lucas, 1668).

Keynes.Ec.7.4.13 is an example of a book judged solely by its cover, being a copy of an obscure Italian play on St. John the Baptist which seems to have been consigned to oblivion by literary history, but whose binding features an aesthetically pleasing symmetrical double-panel design with drawer-handle and leaf ornaments tooled in gold:

Keynes.Ec.7.4.13

Keynes.Ec.7.4.13: Niccolò Lippi, La verità conosciuta, e non seguita: overo la decollazione del glorioso S. Gio. Battista (Naples: Eredi di Laino, 1721).

There are also a number of armorial bindings in this section with interesting historical associations. We have a copy of Notizie per l’anno 1759, a volume of a statistical and administrative annual printed in Rome from 1716 to 1849, the precursor of the Annuario pontificio. Again, the content of the book is probably less interesting than the binding, which features the arms of the book’s dedicatee Cardinal Carlo Rezzonico (1724-1799), nephew of Pope Clement XIII, gold-stamped at the centre, and corner-pieces with elaborate floral decorations:

Keynes.Ec.7.4.12

Keynes.Ec.7.4.12: Notizie per l’anno 1759 (Rome: Chracas, 1759).

Going back to France, this copy of René Budel’s De monetis, et re numaria (1591) has the coat of arms of the noted French historian and bibliophile Jacques-Auguste de Thou (1553-1617) and of his second wife Gasparde de la Chastre blocked in gold at the centre of each cover. The fact that de Thou and his wife were already dead when this volume was added to their library is indicated by the addition of an urn above the two coats of arms. Underneath them, and on each spine panel, is the couple’s monogram IAGG. De Thou’s son François continued to add books to his late father’s library using this version of his coat of arms:

Keynes.Ec.7.4.6

Keynes.Ec.7.4.6: René Budel, De monetis, et re numaria, libri duo (Cologne: Johann Gymnich, 1591). Detail from the cover and spine.

And finally something closer to home: a 16th-century English blind-stamped volume bound by Garret Godfrey of Cambridge (d. 1539), with a panel design formed by a roll containing a lion, a wyvern, and a gryphon; the floral ornaments feature the binder’s initials G. G. The metal clasps, catch plates and leather straps are intact:

Keynes.Ec.7.4.7

Keynes.Ec.7.4.7: Petrus Comestor, Historia scholastica (Paris: Jean Frellon, 1513).

Some useful online resources on bookbinding:

http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/bookbindings/

https://armorial.library.utoronto.ca/

http://www.cyclopaedia.org/virtual/bookbinding.html

http://www.joh.cam.ac.uk/library/special_collections/provenance/bindings/

IJ