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.
This summer marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of Frederick Warne & Co., the well-known publisher of children’s books. Here in the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections we hold several hundred of Warne’s publications with over a third of them belonging to the Pollard Collection, a collection of more than 10,000 children’s books.
The firm was established in late June 1865 at Bedford Street, Covent Garden by Frederick Warne (1825-1901). At a young age Warne had joined his elder brother in the bookselling business of their brother-in-law, George Routledge, and in 1851 became a partner in his publishing firm. Warne later set up his own company with partners Edward J. Dodd and A.W. Duret and the firm expanded to New York in the 1880s. The publishing house issued a number of popular series of reprints in both fiction and non-fiction. They also published editions of works by celebrated children’s authors and artists and utilised the skills of the leading London colour printer Edmund Evans.
We have marked the anniversary with a small display of Warne’s publications which will be on view until mid-September 2015 in the exhibition case in the foyer of the Berkeley Library. Included are children’s books illustrated by Kate Greenaway and Randolph Caldecott and by the author most associated with the firm, Beatrix Potter. Next year, in fact, will mark another significant anniversary, 150 years since the birth of Potter on 28 July 1866.
Potter first wrote the story of Peter Rabbit in 1893 in a picture letter to the child of a former governess. Following rejection by six publishers (including Warne), The tale of Peter Rabbit was issued privately by the author in December 1901. The following year Warne reconsidered and published the first commercial edition. Thus began a collaboration between author and publisher which saw the publication of twenty-three small format Peter Rabbit books.
Dating Warne’s children’s publications can often prove problematic. Toy book publishers at that time often collected together and reissued a group of works previously published separately, usually in time for Christmas and seldom dated. The copy of Caldecott’s picture book included in the display is a typical example. Library accession dates or provenance information can sometimes help to suggest a possible date. In the case of our copy from the Pollard Collection (at OLS POL 684) the clue comes from an inscription on the endpapers from a mother to her child, Rupert S. Thompson, from Surrey, dated Christmas 1899.
Taking note of the changes over time in a publisher’s imprint can also narrow down a likely date and Chester W. Topp’s bibliography, Victorian yellowbacks & paperbacks, 1849-1905 (Denver, 1993-2006) is a useful resource. Warne was a prominent issuer of yellowbacks, paperbacks and cheap cloth issues of children’s literature and volume 4 of Topp’s work is indispensable in building a picture of his output in this area.
Frederick Warne retired in 1895 leaving the firm in the hands of his three sons, Harold, Fruing and Norman. Norman, the youngest, became Potter’s editor but died suddenly from leukaemia in 1905 only four weeks after he and Beatrix had become engaged to be married. Potter continued publishing her ‘little books’ with the firm and, having no children of her own, bequeathed the rights to her published works to Norman Warne’s nephew, Frederick Warne Stephens, after her death. In the 20th century the firm introduced its famous Observer’s books series of handy pocket reference guides (we hold several hundred of them here in the Library). The company was acquired by Penguin Books in 1983 and later this year the publisher is issuing a celebratory volume, Classic nursery tales: 150 years of Frederick Warne.
One of the aims of the ‘In Tune’ exhibition in the Long Room in 2013-14 was to draw scholarly attention to some of the significant music resources in our collections. It is therefore gratifying to learn that one of the more obscure items in the exhibition piqued the interest of a prominent musician, and has led him to mount what may be the first performance of this piece since its original outing in 1711.
Peter Whelan is a music graduate of TCD (2000), and is now an internationally-acclaimed bassoon soloist and ensemble musician. In the Chapel Royal at Dublin Castle at 1.00pm on Friday 12 June he will direct his Ensemble Marsyas in the first modern performance of ‘The Universal Applause of Mount Parnassus’, a serenata by John Sigismond Cousser written to celebrate the birthday of Queen Anne at Dublin Castle on 6 February 1711.
Cousser (1660-1727) was the first significant European composer to settle in Ireland. Born in Pressburg (now Bratislava), he studied in Paris with Jean-Baptiste Lully before holding musical appointments in various parts of Germany. He moved to London in 1704 and then to Dublin in July 1707.
Between 1708 and 1727 Cousser composed an ode or serenata each year in honour of the reigning monarch’s birthday, usually performed at Dublin Castle. In almost all cases the music for these odes has been lost, so the word-books, several of which are preserved in TCD’s collections, provide the only remaining evidence of their content. Uniquely, the music for the 1711 ode does survive (in the collection of the Bodleian Library, Oxford), and this has enabled the performance by Ensemble Marsyas as part of the KBC Great Music in Irish Houses Festival.
An event not to be missed!
– Roy Stanley, Music Librarian
The loss of the RMS Lusitania one hundred years ago this week is one of the many World War I tragedies to resonate with war historians and the wider public. Uncertainties regarding the ship’s cargo and the role of its sinking in influencing America to enter the conflict have divided opinion.
The impact of the disaster and the familiar image of the stricken ship were not lost on the Department of Recruiting in Ireland who quickly used it to appeal to Irishmen to join the ranks of the army and avenge this wrongdoing.
Less well publicised however is the history of the passenger ship before the conflict. When launched in June 1906 RMS Lusitania was the largest and fastest ship in the world. By 1915 it had crossed the Atlantic over 200 times carrying ca.240,000 passengers. The current display in the Berkeley foyer features a reprint from Engineering which is in itself a fascinating account of the ship’s construction in Clydebank from 1904 onwards.
The display also includes two works by former US Consul, Wesley Frost. His role in Ireland during the war included the compilation of reports for the US authorities on submarine warfare in Irish waters. The prevalence of these attacks was noted by Frost – ‘As Consul at Queenstown for the three years ending last June, I reported to our Government on the destruction by submarines of eighty-one different ships carrying American citizens’. Traveling the length of the Irish south coast, Frost devoted much time to recording the legal testimonies of survivors of such U-boat attacks. He was later recalled, unfairly, in 1917 from his post in Ireland following an alleged complaint by Admiral Sims of his reporting of British destroyers at Queenstown. Tragically, Frost was to lose his only brother Cleveland in 1918 to submarine warfare as the USS Ticonderoga was torpedoed with the loss of 213 lives.
The RMS Lusitania was hit on 7 May 1915, off the coast of Kinsale, by a single torpedo from submarine U-20, killing 1,197 of the 1,960 passengers and crew. Frost helped coordinate relief operations for the survivors as they arrived traumatised on the quayside of Cobh. This experience was to have a profound lifelong effect on him. SM U-20 was responsible for the fate of 36 other ships during the conflict before being grounded in late 1916.