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
As the Early Printed Books reading room opens at 10am daily, and department staff are here earlier than that, the hour between 9 and 10 can be used for class teaching, and we welcome this opportunity to share our collections with a wide range of undergraduates and postgraduates. A member of EPB staff will give an introduction to the reading room and our reference collection if required, then the group tutor is free to teach using original materials which students might not otherwise see.
If you are a lecturer and would like to use these resources, please contact the department on ext.1172 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a suitable date.
By Jack Quin and Tom Walker
This poster for Thomas Bodkin’s book Hugh Lane and his pictures (1932) is included in the exhibition ‘Writing Art in Ireland, 1890–1930’, currently on display in the Long Room. The advert reproduces William Orpen’s Homage to Manet (1909), a group portrait of the novelist George Moore reading from his pamphlet Reminiscences of the Impressionist Painters (1906) to an audience in London made up of the collector Hugh Lane, the painters Philip Wilson Steer, Walter Sickert and Henry Tonks, and D.S. MacColl, the Keeper of the Tate Gallery. Above them hangs Édouard Manet’s painting of another impressionist painter Eva Gonzales. Continue reading
At the beginning of term, a student, Catherine Costello, presented us with a copy of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of pure reason, translated by J. M. D. Meiklejohn and published in London in 1887. Although we are always happy to consider donations when they are offered, we are not always in a position to take them. However, the connection with Trinity meant that there was no hesitation over accepting this one. Continue reading
A new exhibition has opened in the Old Library, Trinity College Dublin. ‘Writing Art in Ireland, c.1890–1930’ explores the ways in which the visual arts were written about during a period that saw a surge in cultural activity take place against a backdrop of tumultuous constitutional change. From Margaret Stokes’s emphasis on the aesthetic value of medieval Irish artefacts in Early Christian art in Ireland (1887) through to Mainie Jellett’s defence of abstract painting in the magazine Motley in 1932, the exhibition also serves as a celebration of the wealth of material relating to the visual arts held in the Library.
The texts and images displayed highlight how commentators looked to the achievements of the past as well as to continental innovations in debating how best to forge a distinctly modern national artistic identity. Also outlined are the links between the visual arts and the emerging Irish state, as vigorous discussion took place around the role art should play in the economy, in educational institutions, and in the Church.
The exhibition was prepared by Dr Tom Walker, with assistance from Jack Quin, from the School of English, TCD, as part of the Irish Research Council New Horizons research project ‘W.B. Yeats and The Writing of Art’. It will be on view in the Long Room until January 2017.
A symposium related to the exhibition and wider research project will be taking place at the Trinity Long Room Hub on Saturday 8 October.
Anne Plumptre was a writer of fiction and non-fiction, both with considerable political content, and a translator of drama, correspondence, travel writing and more. She was born in Norwich in 1760 and died there in 1818 but spent much time in London and three years in Napoleonic France. Her A Narrative of a three years’ residence in France … 1802–5 (1810) is a political enquiry into the views of Napoleon held by the French people, particularly those outside Paris. Plumptre came to the conclusion that he was not a monster but generally popular within France and was being misrepresented in Britain. She refuted with detailed descriptions many of the claims made by contemporary writers and advocated making peace with Napoleon, a view which was not popular at home. Continue reading
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.
Shedding light on … Christianity
Trinity College Library holds a huge number of pamphlets on various subjects. Many of the early ones are religious as it was common for preachers to publish their sermons. These are often bound together, but some were bound by their owners with completely unrelated subjects. These volumes sometimes have a handwritten index which can be as interesting to researchers as the content of the tracts. This volume, from the Crofton Collection of about 2,000 items, contains a mixture of mainly political and religious material bound in an apparently random order.