Tag Archives: William Shakespeare

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)

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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.

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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!

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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!

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IJ

 

Celebrating Shakespeare at King’s Library

Shakespeare folio image

William Shakespeare as depicted on the title page of the first folio edition

This year is the quatercentenary of the death of William Shakespeare (1654–1616) and events are being held worldwide to celebrate the life and work of the UK’s most famous poet, playwright and actor, described by Ben Jonson as ‘not of an age, but for all time’. In this special year, thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, King’s College Library and Archives will be joining the festivities by hosting various events showcasing many of our rare book and archive treasures.

1. The interior of the Library

The interior of King’s College Library

Our first event is an exhibition celebrating Shakespeare and theatre in Cambridge which will be running until the end of August. This free exhibition is open to all and can be viewed between 2pm and 5pm Monday to Friday in King’s College’s beautiful early nineteenth-century library. If you would like to see some early editions of Shakespeare’s plays as well as some archival treasures, why not pop in and see us when you are in town.

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Upon arrival at the front gate of King’s College speak to the Visitor Guide on duty and tell them that you are visiting the Library’s Shakespeare exhibition. They will direct you to the College Library. 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.

We look forward to seeing you!

college-map-library

How to find King’s College Library

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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

HLF funding for King’s Library

King’s Library has received £44,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, ‘Shakespeare and Austen at King’s College: Celebrating their Centenaries in 2016 and 2017’. The project will result in the online cataloguing and conservation of the English literature section of the Thackeray collection of rare books, bequeathed to King’s College Library in the mid-nineteenth century by the sometime Provost of the College, George Thackeray (1777-1850), cousin of the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863). A major part of the project is a comprehensive programme of outreach activities and online educational material.

by Richard James Lane, lithograph, 1851

George Thackeray (1777-1850) by Richard James Lane, lithograph, 1851

The project will enable local people and volunteers to engage with some of the most important books in the history of English literature through a series of exhibitions, talks, open days and workshops for young people, and give a worldwide audience the opportunity to learn about the collection online. Owing to the lack of a proper online catalogue, the collection has remained difficult to explore.

Shakespeare folio image

Title page of Shakespeare’s First Folio (1623)

Highlights in Thackeray’s library include Shakespeare’s First Folio, first and early editions of all of Austen’s novels, a collection of 16th-century books on theology (including works by Sir Thomas More, Martin Luther and Erasmus), and over one thousand volumes of early editions of the most important English authors in sumptuous historic bindings. Other major writers included are John Milton, John Donne, Edmund Spenser and Ben Jonson.

We are delighted to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will enable us to gain a much better understanding of the Thackeray collection and help us to improve access to these treasures. We are also looking forward to the many opportunities the project will afford us to allow local people to engage with their heritage (anyone interested in volunteering for the project is most welcome to get in touch), and hopefully revisit the works of Shakespeare and Austen during their anniversary years.

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JC