In the original College library, books were placed on the shelves with the fore-edges facing outwards. This was normal practice in libraries for much of the sixteenth century for two reasons. One is that writing or printing the title and author’s name on the spine was not common until the 17th century and therefore the ‘back’ of the book was purely functional, holding the pages together. The other is that books, like the manuscripts which preceded them, were often held securely by a chain fastened to a metal staple on the fore-edge of the wooden board. (There are a few examples in this blog post of libraries which have retained their books on chains and, of course, there were the magical books in the library at Unseen University in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.) The chain was long enough to reach both the shelf where the book was stored and a sloping lectern* where it could be read. Continue reading
Arthur Rackham, the fourth of twelve children, was born in Lewisham on 19th September 1867. His father wanted him to have a career in business and he began as an insurance clerk, but attended Lambeth School of Art in the evenings, having won prizes for drawing at school. In 1892, after having illustrations published in the The Pall Mall Budget over the course of the previous year, he took a job there, moving to the new Westminster Budget the following year. After just a few years he was able to become a self-supporting book illustrator, also contributing to The Westminster Gazette and magazines such as Little Folks and Cassell’s Magazine, a career which continued until his death from cancer on 6th September 1939.
By Regina Whelan Richardson
Spring is here and time for a close-up of some of the spring flowers blossoming in the Fagel Collection – the former library of the Fagel family of the Netherlands, which is now part of the Research Collections in Trinity College Library.
The Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections will close at 5pm today (Thursday 22nd December 2016) and reopen at 10am on Tuesday 3rd January 2017. We wish all our readers a very pleasant break and a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.
This image is from v.3 of Elizabeth Blackwell’s Herbal, shelfmark Fag.GG.3.7 – see more about this 5-volume set in a previous post.
Now that this year’s tennis tournament at Wimbledon is well under way, we would like to draw attention to a recent purchase in the Library, a 17th-century book about King Charles I of England and his family. Entitled The true effigies of our most illustrious soveraigne Lord, King Charles Queene Mary, with the rest of the royall progenie, the small volume consists of eight etched portraits of Charles and his wife Henrietta Maria, along with portraits of their six children who had been born by the end of 1640, the last child Henrietta being born in 1644, after this work was printed. Each portrait is accompanied by an anonymous poem describing the subject of the facing image. Continue reading
It is difficult to choose a favourite item in Trinity College Library’s collections but one of mine is the Kelmscott Chaucer, shelfmark Press B KEL 1896 2. It is not particularly colourful – red and black are the only inks used, and the former only sparingly – but despite the unpromising binding of Trinity’s copy it is a beautiful book. How can you not admire the sheer amount of work involved in designing and creating it?
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.
Continuing our Tercentenary celebrations, we are pleased to draw attention to a new exhibition in the Long Room, ‘Drawn to the page: Irish artists and illustration 1830-1930‘. It has been curated by Dr. Angela Griffith and Dr. Philip McEvansoneya with assistance from staff in the Department of Early Printed Books, especially Dr. Lydia Ferguson. The exhibition emphasises the important contribution made by Irish artists in the period known as the heyday of European book and periodical illustration.
It is the first exhibition of its kind to be undertaken in Ireland, drawing together a broad range of published designs by Irish artists. The works in the exhibition have been selected entirely from the rich and varied holdings of the College Library.
Among the artists included are: Daniel Maclise, George Petrie, William Mulready, Charles M. Grey, F.S. Walker, Margaret Stokes, Robert Goff, Myra K. Hughes, Jack B Yeats, Elizabeth C. Yeats, Harry Clarke, Joseph Campbell, Robert Gibbings, Mabel Annesley, and E M O’Rourke Dickey.
The exhibition shows the use of colour in illustration, from the meticulous application by hand by the staff of the Cuala Press to technological developments that gave Goff the artistic freedom to create richly coloured, painterly designs. The exhibition runs until 21 April 2013. For more information on this and past exhibitions please see our Exhibitions & Events page.