Tag Archives: Open Cambridge

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

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

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

 

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