A touch of class

Two of our regular visiting researchers, Professor Andrew Pettegree (a Long Room Hub Fellow) and Arthur der Weduwen, both from the University of St. Andrews School of History, have been living in the reading room for the past fortnight, working their way through about 2,500 pamphlets in the Fagel Collection and identifying, with a hit-rate of 12-13%, unique copies for the Universal Short Title Catalogue, of which Andrew is director.
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A book worth googling

Colour plate depicting the Gogo (or Camel Bird)

The Gogo (or Camel Bird)

Long before the Internet was invented, an English economist named Vincent Cartwright Vickers (1879-1939) wrote and illustrated The Google Book. This charming children’s book features a colourful assortment of imaginary Google birds described in humorous verse.

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We wish you a merry Christmas …

… and a happy, peaceful and healthy New Year.

Charles Dickens, 'A Christmas Carol', London, 1843. OLS POL 1034

Charles Dickens: ‘A Christmas Carol’, London, 1843. OLS POL 1034

Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, is closed 24 December 2015 – 3 January 2016 inclusive.

The reading room will open as usual at 10am on Monday 4th January and, as we are immediately in term-time hours, will remain open until 8pm on Tuesday and Wednesday of that week. We look forward to welcoming you back.

The wanderer’s return from an odyssey

Christmas is a time for homecomings and in EPB we are delighted to welcome back a copy of William Wittich’s ‘A lexicon to Homer …’ (London, 1843). The volume, originally part of the old lending library, has been away for some time.


In September we received an envelope containing the book, a note and a cheque for €34 from Arthur Pritchard in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. Arthur, who graduated from TCD in 1965, had visited the College for the August alumni celebrations this year and thoughtfully brought along the volume which he had recently discovered when clearing out his loft! Unfortunately the Library was closed when he attempted to return the work in person. His humorous note includes a photograph of his valiant effort to return the overdue text. Arthur’s generous cheque more than makes up for any accrued fines!



Alice – still looking good at 150

OLS Pol 739 portrait

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written in 1865 by the mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898) under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. The story of the title character’s fall down a rabbit hole, the strange creatures she meets and the odd circumstances in which she finds herself have made this fantasy one of the most popular children’s books ever written.

The first print run, of 2,000 copies, was suppressed because John Tenniel, the illustrator, objected to the ‘disgraceful’ print quality and fewer than 25 of these withdrawn copies survive. A new edition was released in time for the Christmas market the same year, but carrying an 1866 date. Trinity’s copy is at shelfmark Press K.3.7.
Press K.3.7 title
Such is the popularity of Alice that it has never been out of print and a number of different artists have illustrated Carroll’s text over the years in a variety of styles, including:
OLS Pol 732 p11 facsimile


The author himself in his manuscript of Alice’s adventures under ground, which he subsequently developed into Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. This facsimile (right) is in the Pollard Collection at shelfmark OLS POL 732.


Gall.20.d.8 Nursery p15


Sir John Tenniel (1820-1914), the principal political cartoonist for Punch magazine, whose serious drawings showed the essence of Victorian society and whose animals and fantasy images were equally clever. The nursery Alice (left), with enlargements of his original drawings, is at shelfmark Gall.20.d.8.


Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), one of the leading illustrators of his time, particularly of mystical books or those on magic or legends. Towards the end of his life he began oil painting and stage design. Shelfmark: 73.c.51 (right)

73.b.48 Robinson



Charles Robinson (1870-1937), who came from a family of artists but could not afford to take up the place he won at the Royal Academy. Shelfmark: 73.b.48 (left)

75.ff.61 G SoperGeorge Soper (1870-1942), a keen amateur naturalist and botanist as well as engraver, water-colourist, wood-engraver and illustrator. Shelfmark: 75.ff.61 (right)

181.r.28 E Soper



and his daughter Eileen (1905-1990), who had no formal art training but studied with her father and exhibited at the Royal Academy aged only 15. She is best known for her illustrations of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. Shelfmark: Juv 181.r.28 (left)

75.rr.43 Tarrant



Margaret Tarrant (1888-1959), daughter of the painter Percy Tarrant, remembered primarily through calendars and greetings cards which often, today, still carry her water-colours or pen-and-ink drawings. Shelfmark: 75.rr.43 (right)



The story has been translated (as early as 1869 into French and German),


continued, both by Lewis Carroll and by other authors,

and even used as advertising material!

Click on any image to enlarge it.

We got visitors!

The Department was delighted to host the Masters Students from the Literature and Publishing Group (NUIG) on their recent trip to Dublin. Led by Dr. Rebecca Barr the group also visited the Royal Irish Academy and Marsh’s Library. It was interesting to learn from Dr. Barr that the taught course includes a module on book history and early modern print and manuscript cultures. As well as the working though the modules the students are also responsible for the publication of the annual edition of ROPES: review of postgraduate studies. Busy people! The trip to the library included a tour of the Old Library by Anne- Marie Diffley (Visitors Services) and a presentation by Shane Mawe on the role of the Library with a display drawn from the collections.


750 years of Dante

Durante degli Alighieri, usually known simply as Dante, was born in Florence, probably in 1265. He held various political posts and was among the White Guelphs exiled in 1302. An amnesty was offered in 1315 but Dante refused it as it involved a heavy fine and public penance. He died in 1321, never having returned to his native city and was buried in Ravenna. Florentines eventually came to regret his absence – an empty tomb was built in 1829 in the hope of repatriating his remains and in 2008 the city council finally passed a motion rescinding his sentence.



Dante wrote some of his works in Latin, as was the custom of the time, but he was also among the first to write in the vernacular, leading to his soubriquet ‘Father of the Italian language’. His best known work is the epic poem Commedia, later called by Giovanni Boccaccio Divina (The Divine Comedy), which is in three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso and tells of Dante’s journey through the three realms of the dead. Commedia (original spelling Comedia) has been translated into numerous languages in the original ternary rhyme, in free verse and in prose. It is universally recognised as a literary masterpiece.

The images here are from Trinity College Library’s two earliest editions of Commedia which are in the Quin Collection of early continental printings. Quin 51 was printed at Foligno in 1472, the first ever printed edition, and Quin 52 in Venice in 1502. Quin 51 has a beautifully illuminated initial page and the printer has left space for an illuminated initial at the start of both Purgatorio and Paradiso which were never completed; a P has been lightly written into Purgatorio but there is just a blank space where the L of ‘La’ should be in Paradiso.

Due to the light levels, these incunabula cannot be displayed in the Berkeley foyer. Instead, there is currently a modern, limited edition, English version of Paradise on display there opposite a 1757 illustrated Italian edition.
BLU case
Trinity College Dublin, in conjunction with other Irish institutions, is marking the 750th anniversary of Dante’s birth with a reading of the entire CommediaInferno in Dublin on 28th November, Purgatorio in Cork on 4th December and Paradiso in Trinity on 11th December. See details here.

Never judge a book … by its shelfmark!

Title page of "Le franc discours ..." (1602)

Title page of “Le franc discours …” (1602)

We recently received a request from a reader to consult our copy of Le franc discours. A discourse, presented of late to the French King … (1602). The work is an English translation of a political publication by the French lawyer Antoine Arnauld (1560-1619). Our 1872 Printed Catalogue recorded the shelfmark as DD.ll.47. We were puzzled, however, when we retrieved the book as it contained a different work printed in 1599, Apologia societatis Jesu in Gallia, ad … Henricum IV

Title page of "Apologia societatis Jesu in Gallia, ad ... Henricum IV …" (1599) Shelfmark: G.n.51

Title page of “Apologia societatis Jesu in Gallia, ad … Henricum IV …” (1599)

In such cases we usually turn to the annotated copy of the Printed Catalogue, held here in the Department of Early Printed Books, to look for any notes that might suggest a new location. In this instance, however, we couldn’t find any clues. Almost at a dead end, we decided to perform one more search in the Printed Catalogue, this time for the 1599 work that we were already holding in our hands. This led us to another shelfmark, G.n.51, and to our relief we found the title we had originally sought sitting in the other’s place on the Long Room shelves.

The two bindings side by side.

Holding the two books side by side it became apparent how the mix-up had occurred. Both volumes had been repaired by an external binder in late 1958. The binder had mixed up the two shelfmarks and incorrectly tooled the new rebacked spines. The books were then reshelved in each other’s spots on opposite sides of the Long Room, where they remained for the next 57 years. We will shortly send both volumes to our own Preservation and Conservation Department to have their spines retooled so that they can finally return to their rightful places after a gap of over half a century!

Make your vote count!

Our sister blog Changed Utterly- Ireland and the Easter Rising has been shortlisted for the Blog Awards Ireland! We are shortlisted in two categories ‘Best Art and Culture’ and ‘Best Educational & Science’ Blog.cropped-1916TCDb

We are absolutely delighted but now need your help as the finalists are decided by public vote. If you like what we do with Changed Utterly, please consider voting for us.

To vote for us in the ‘Art and Culture’ category please click here, and tick Changed Utterly.

To vote for us in the ‘Educational and Science’ category please click here and tick Changed Utterly.

Voting opened on 7 September and remains open for two weeks. We are up against stiff competition from some other fantastic blogs and would really appreciate your support.

With many thanks

Shane, Estelle and the Changed Utterly team

George Rose: the original Mrs. Brown

OLS B-6-426_1_WEB

Mrs. Brown’s visits to Paris, [1868]. Shelfmark: OLS B-6-426 no.1

As a former curate in Camberwell, South London, George Rose (1817-1882) may not suggest the most obvious connection to the successful Brendan O’Carroll character, Agnes Brown. However, after leaving the Church of England in 1855, Rose underwent a major career change and began to adapt and produce a number of plays for the stage under the pseudonym Arthur Sketchley.

OLS B-7-203_1_WEB

Mrs. Brown at Margate, [1874]. Shelfmark: OLS B-7-203

His big breakthrough came with his fictitious character Mrs. Brown, whose monologues first appeared in Fun magazine on 20 May 1865, one year before Routledge began to issue the works in book form. Running to over 30 volumes the series was a major success. As with the 21st century Mrs. Brown, Rose’s creation was from a working class background and addressed her audience in a humourous and colloquial fashion. Tackling the current topics of the day, titles such as Mrs Brown on the new liquor law (1872) and Mrs Brown on Home Rule (1881) gives an idea of the broad subject matter. Success in print form prompted Rose to return to his artistic roots and tour music halls and theatres globally, delivering Mrs. Brown monologues.Unfortunately in his later years Rose became massively overweight and died suddenly on 11 November 1882.

The Library of Trinity College Dublin holds four titles in the series – ‘Mrs. Brown’s visits to Paris’, [1868]; ‘Mrs. Brown in London’ [1869]; ‘Mrs. Brown on the battle of Dorking’, [1871] and ‘Mrs. Brown at Margate’, [1874].