Tag Archives: John Maynard Keynes

Library History: An Online Exhibition

A couple of months ago we curated an exhibition featuring items highlighting various aspects of the history of King’s College Library over the centuries. Below you will find some of the exhibits.

From the late sixteenth century until the current library opened in 1828, King’s Library occupied five of the side chapels on the south side of the famous Chapel. For most of this period it was a chained library. This book is one of a few to have survived with the original chains intact.

Pierre Bersuire, Dictionarii seu repertorii moralis
Venice: Gaspare Bindoni, 1589 (D.13.3)

Theatre was one of John Maynard Keynes’ particular areas of interest and his book collection includes many plays. He founded the Cambridge Arts Theatre in 1936. This is a reprint of the second quarto of Romeo and Juliet that was published in 1599. All modern editions are based on this version, which is considered to be the most complete and reliable text of the play.

William Shakespeare, The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedie, of Romeo and Juliet
London: Printed [by William Stansby] for John Smethwicke, [1622] (Keynes.C.6.4)

In 1638 Thomas Goad, a Kingsman and the son of Provost Roger Goad, who had been responsible for restoring the Library in the side chapels in King’s after a period of neglect, made provision in his will for the annual profit from some land he owned at Milton (near Cambridge) to be used in perpetuity to purchase divinity books for the Library. This was listed each year thereafter in the bursar’s account books as ‘Library Money’, and was spent on books and the upkeep of the bookcases and building.

Bursar’s book for 1697–98 (KCAR/4/1/4/106)

This is one of the books listed on the inventory of books bought in 1697–98: paid ‘to Mr. Bugg for his book’. In this case the book appears to have been bought directly from the author.

Francis Bugg, The Pilgrim’s Progress, from Quakerism, to Christianity
London: W. Kettleby, 1698 (D.13.3)

The volume below records donors of books to King’s College Library from about 1600 to about 1710, with details of the volumes they donated. On this page we see details of donations from three Provosts of King’s: Roger Goad, William Smith and Fogge Newton. The volume seems to have left King’s at some point in the 18th century, but was returned in 1784 as a note on the front flyleaf explains:

‘This book was given by the Revd Dr Farmer in 1784. He had found it at a Booksellers, & purchased it that it might be returned to the College. Wm Cooke’

Nomina eorum qu[i bibliothecam] Regalem sua munifice[ntia] locupletarunt [Donors’ Book]
(KCAC/6/2/29)

Finally, three historic bindings from the Thackeray Collection:

TOP LEFT: Calf armorial binding with the arms of Percy Clinton Sydney Smythe, 6th Viscount Strangford (1780-1855) (Thackeray.141)
TOP RIGHT: 16th-century manuscript waste binding consisting of a contemporary vellum sheet (stab-sewn) featuring part of the Psalms in textura quadrata with initials illuminated in red and blue (Thackeray.182)
BOTTOM: 19th-century blue goat skin stamped in gold (Thackeray.136)

GB/JC

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

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

Brooke Acquisitions

As many of you know, King’s has recently been awarded £430,000 (for which we are most grateful) from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) towards the £500,000 purchase price of the largest collection of Rupert Brooke material that was held outside King’s. We took possession of the collection on April 17th. Peter Jones (Librarian) and Peter Monteith (Assistant Archivist) are shown here, unpacking the acquisition in our reading room.

SONY DSC

The University Press Office published a news story Madonna and Childabout the accession. As you can see from the photo, most of the manuscripts were bound by Marsh and Schroder into guard books, which kept them in good condition and makes them easy to catalogue. The letters and papers in guard books are now on open access, and the cataloguing will proceed apace so that everyone will soon know exactly what is in the new accession. My favourite finds so far relate to Eric Gill. There are three letters from Brooke to Gill. In the first he says he’s seen Gill’s Madonna and Child sculptures that belong to Frances Cornford and to Maynard Keynes (which was left unfinished, as Keynes preferred it) and would like Madonna and Child (right) to buy one for himself. Keynes left his art collection to King’s, and we have his, which in fact presides over the top of the last staircase you have to climb to get up to the archives. It was seen by Keynes before Gill had finished it, and Keynes so liked it in that state that he purchased it as it was.

The second letter says Brooke has received his Madonna, and loves it, and will send a cheque. The third and final letter, written from San Francisco, says he may have forgotten to pay Gill and so he asked Eddie Marsh to send a cheque. At the bottom of the page you’ll find ‘If you’ve a cheque from him, too, you’d better tear up one, + I advise this: for he is of the Great + his cheque is sure to be honoured, but I’m a poet, + with me it’s always doubtful.’

RCB-S-1-11b-r

The Schroder collection also includes the torn-up cheque.

RCB-S-1-11c

Poignantly, there is also a letter from Eric Gill to Eddie Marsh offering to carve the lettering on the memorial plaque that was erected in the Rugby chapel. These are my favourites because they illustrate the research value of the new papers (I’ve never seen anything before about Brooke’s artistic tastes), they create even more links between our collections (we have Keynes’s correspondence with Gill and invoice forRCB-Ph-333 his Madonna, as well as having the statue itself), and they exemplify the relationship between old and new collections (the photo of the Rugby plaque is from the old collection). There’s the allure of ‘big names’ like Eric Gill. Finally, there are questions raised – why a torn-up cheque? – that can only be answered by recourse to the papers themselves.

It is particularly gratifying that the majority of funding to acquire this important collection comes from the NHMF. The Fund has its roots in the National Land Fund, established by the then Chancellor, Hugh Dalton, himself a Kingsman and friend of Rupert Brooke, who established the fund as ‘a thank-offering for victory and a war-memorial’. The letters Hugh Dalton himself had received from Rupert Brooke, were bequeathed to King’s and form part of the College’s existing Brooke papers.

PKM

The Vagaries of English Spelling

When George Bernard Shaw died in 1950, he bequeathed a substantial portion of his estate to finance the creation of a new English phonemic alphabet. The word ‘ghoti’, i.e. ‘fish’ (gh, pronounced [f] as in tough; o, pronounced [ɪ] as in women; ti, pronounced [ʃ] as in nation), is often cited as an example of the irregularities in English and misattributed to Shaw. While his endeavours to simplify English orthography are well known, he is not the first one to have taken steps towards this end.

Shavian Alphabet

The Shavian Alphabet, devised in 1958 by Kingsley Read and three other entrants who won a competition to create an economical writing system for English, as stipulated in Shaw’s will

The Keynes Bequest features a first edition of Epistolae Ho-Elianae: Familiar Letters Domestic and Forren (1645) by James Howell (ca. 1594-1666), in which the author argues in the epilogue: ‘Amongst other reasons which make the English language of so small extent, and put strangers out of conceit to learn it, one is, that we do not pronounce as we write, which proceeds from divers superfluous letters, that occur in many of our words, which adds to the difficulty of the language’.

Keynes.D.3.16-2 Title page

Engraved title page of Howell’s Epistolae Ho-Elianae: Familiar Letters Domestic and Forren (1645)

Keynes.D.3.16-2 Epilogue

Howell’s Epilogue ‘To the Intelligent Reader’ criticising redundant letters in English words

Keynes wrote to Shaw on 5 January 1946 to draw his attention to Howell, ‘the first pioneer whom you are following’. The carbon copy of the letter, initialled by Keynes, is preserved in the book and accompanied by his transcription of Howell’s epilogue ‘To the Intelligent Reader’. This highlights the importance of cataloguing the collection, as it throws light on Keynes himself, his book-collecting habits and uncovers new correspondence between him and his illustrious friends.

Keynes.D.3.16-2 Letter

Keynes’s letter to Shaw, 5 January 1946 [recto]

Keynes.D.3.16-2 Letter 2

Keynes’s letter to Shaw, 5 January 1946 [verso]

Later this year, the English Spelling Society will host the first International Spelling Congress to come up with proposals to update the English spelling system. While the implementation of such recommendations is likely to face major obstacles, the case for simplification has been made compellingly in a 2003 study which investigated literacy acquisition rates in 13 languages, and concluded what Howell had already highlighted in 1645: ‘Children from a majority of European countries become accurate and fluent in foundation level reading before the end of the first school year. […] The rate of development in English is more than twice as slow.’

In 1991, the Académie française recommended a number of ‘rectifications orthographiques’ to regularise French spelling, which, though largely ignored at first, have now become widely accepted. The Germans too introduced an orthography reform in 1996, which has been adopted throughout German-speaking countries after some initial controversies and teething problems. So shud Inglish follou sut?

IJ

Je suis Louis de Montalte

At a time when freedom of expression has been widely debated following the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris, it may seem appropriate to look at a book in the Keynes Bequest published when the freedoms which we take for granted were but a distant mirage.

Keynes.Ec.7.3.20 Title page

Title page of Keynes.Ec.7.3.20

Blaise Pascal’s Lettres provinciales was first printed in 1657 under the pseudonym Louis de Montalte during the formulary controversy between the Jesuits and Jansenists. Jansenism was a seventeenth-century movement in the Catholic Church which came under attack from the Jesuits in 1655. Pascal was invited to write a rejoinder, which took the form of a withering criticism of the casuistical methods of argument used by the Jesuits to justify their lax morality. Having been forced into hiding while writing this work, Pascal pretended the letters were reports on religious and doctrinal issues debated at the Sorbonne sent from a Parisian, Louis de Montalte, to a friend in the provinces.

Port-Royal-des-Champs (1700-49) Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht

The abbey of Port-Royal-des-Champs in Paris, the theological centre of the Jansenist movement (Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht, ca. 1700-49)

The 18 letters were published and circulated anonymously as individual pamphlets from 23 January 1656 to 24 March 1657, and later collected under the fictitious imprint ‘Cologne, Chés Pierre de la Vallée’. They were in fact printed in Paris, probably by Pierre le Petit, Denis Langlois, Sébastien Hyp, and others. Anyone found in possession of the pamphlets was arrested, as the book was banned by both King Louis XIV and Pope Alexander VII.

Keynes.Ec.7.3.20 Title page detail

Close-up of the signature on the title page: L’abbé de champagne du Saullay?

Most editions are bound with polemical responses to Pascal’s epistles. Our copy is noteworthy in that it consists of no fewer than 57 items, and the original owner recorded on the flyleaf that ‘la plus grande partie de ces pièces m’ont esté données par les autheurs’. The identity of this owner remains elusive: ‘L’abbé de champagne du Saullay’? Or ‘L’abbé de champ [?] Saullay’? Any assistance in identifying them would be much appreciated!

Keynes.Ec.7.3.20 Nodier 2

A 19th-century owner’s inscription from Charles Nodier’s Mélanges tirés d’une petite bibliothèque (1829)

The book passed through several hands before Keynes. An anonymous owner recorded: ‘Acheté à M. Guillemot, libraire, le 28 mai 1832’. The same person inscribed on one of the fly-leaves a quotation from the French author and bibliophile Charles Nodier’s Mélanges tirés d’une petite bibliothèque (1829): ‘La réunion des éditions originales de nos classiques est un genre de collection encore peu à la mode, et qui fixera tôt ou tard l’attention des amateurs les plus délicats.’

Keynes.Ec.7.3.20 Keynes
Keynes’s pencil note on the fly-leaf

This statement could not have been more prophetic in light of the book’s subsequent owners. Unusually, Keynes recorded on one of the fly-leaves details of the book’s provenance and notable features: ‘This is evidently Recueil no. 2 from the collection of J. H. Basse [Jean Hippolyte Basse, d. 1877]’. It was offered for sale in Paris in 1878 by Léon Techener,  and must have been bought by the book collector Sir Thomas Brooke (1830-1908), whose bookplate is on the front paste-down. The volume was acquired in 1913 by the Austrian philosopher and rare books collector Heinrich Gomperz (1873-1942), who fled his homeland in 1938 following the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany and joined the University of Southern California. It was bought by Keynes in Vienna in 1936, and bequeathed to King’s College in 1946.

Pascal_Pajou_Louvre_RF2981

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) studying the cycloid. At his feet are the Pensées; the open book is the Provinciales (Augustin Pajou, 1785)

King Louis XIV’s order that the Lettres provinciales should be burned, and Pope Alexander VII’s placing it on the Index of Prohibited Books in 1657, clearly did nothing to deter educated Frenchmen from reading it: its popularity spread like wildfire, both in France and abroad, so that there were about 30 editions by 1700. The genealogy of this rare first edition’s illustrious owners, spanning three centuries and three countries, and their eagerness to mark their ownership on the book in a way that Pascal could not (he was identified as the author only after his death), is a testament to the letters’ enduring significance and importance. Apart from their religious value, Pascal’s brilliant prose style, his coruscating wit and use of mockery and satire contributed to making the Provinciales popular as a literary work. It later influenced Molière, Montesquieu and Voltaire, who, despite his aversion to Pascal’s thought, defined it in Le Siècle de Louis XIV (1751) as ‘le premier livre de génie qu’on vit en prose’.

‘I have made this [post] longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.’

IJ