Revelling in Rackham

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.

This self-portrait is the frontispiece to Derek Hudson’s biography of Rackham, published in 1960.

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The Best Bear in All the World

Winnie-the-Pooh, the storybook by A. A. Milne about the eponymous, much-loved teddy bear and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood, first appeared in hardback on 14th October 1926. The bear himself, although at that stage unnamed, had made his debut in the 13th February 1924 issue of Punch, in a poem which was included later that year in the collection When we were very Young.

Punch, February 13,1924

Punch, February 13,1924 (Shelfmark 32.o.95)

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Tennis: “The Game of Kings”

charlesNow 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

The Kelmscott Chaucer

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?

first opening

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Turning Points

On Friday 29th and Saturday 30th April 2016, the Department of Italian here in TCD is hosting the Society for Italian Studies Interim Conference ‘Turning Points: Cultures of transition, transformation and transmission in Italy’. To coincide with this, Professors Corinna Salvadori-Lonergan and Cormac Ó Cuilleanáin, in conjunction with the Department of Early Printed Books, have prepared an exhibition in the Long Room of some of our Italian treasures.

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Celebrating Cervantes, 1616-2016

April 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of the death of both William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes, both of whom are the best-known writers in their respective countries of birth. They died, in fact, on consecutive days: Cervantes on the 22nd April, Shakespeare on the 23rd. The former was probably 68 years old, the latter younger at 52. The Library holds many editions of their works, both in their native languages and in translation, dating from the 16th century to the present day. Three editions of “Don Quixote” have been chosen to go on display at the entrance to the Berkeley Library, in celebration of the quatercentenary of the Spanish writer’s death and the enduring popularity of his great novel.

Cervantes: "Don Quixote" (London, 1756), ill. J. Vanderbank. Shelfmark: S.e.33

Shelfmark: S.e.33

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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 Continue reading

“Upon the Wild Waves” — a new exhibition opens in the Long Room

"The Children of Lir" illustration ©PJ Lynch 2014 from "The Names Upon The Harp" by Marie Heaney, published by Faber

“The Children of Lir” illustration ©PJ Lynch 2014 from “The Names Upon The Harp” by Marie Heaney, published by Faber

A new exhibition has opened in the Old Library, Trinity College Dublin: “Upon the wild waves: a journey through myth in children’s books” explores some of the varying ways in which writers and illustrators have used myth down through the centuries to engage and excite younger readers. From Thomas Godwin’s “Romanae historiae anthologia” (1648) to “Hagwitch” (2013) by the contemporary Irish writer and illustrator Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, the exhibition serves as a celebration of the wealth of children’s literature held in the Library.

Myths from around the world are represented in this display, although there is a particular emphasis on English-language books and on tales from Irish authors. The exhibition includes sections on Biblical, Classical, Norse, Arthurian and Irish myths. It is clear from all the works displayed that myths have always had an important role to play in providing guidance to children on how to deal with the great problems of life, as well as offering ways of understanding the past, present and future, and of explaining the inexplicable.

The exhibition was prepared by Dr Pádraic Whyte, co-director of the Masters programme in Children’s Literature at the School of English, TCD. It will be on view in the Long Room until April 2015.

An online version of the exhibition is available here.