An illuminated manuscript of Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”

IMG_0926In addition to our many private press books and fine bindings, the Cardiff Rare Books Collection also holds a few modern illuminated manuscripts. This beautiful copy of Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard was written out and hand-illuminated by a man named Sidney Farnsworth in 1910. Mr Farnsworth was a painter, sculptor and illuminator, and also the author of a how-to guide for people wishing to learn the craft, Illumination and its Development in the Present Day (New York: George H. Doran, 1922).

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A well-travelled travel book: tracing former owners of a copy of Sandys’ Travels (1658)

???????????????????????????????George Sandys’ Relation of a journey begun an. Dom. 1610, more commonly known as Sandys’ Travels, relates the author’s wanderings through Europe and the Middle East. Setting off in May 1610, Sandys spent several years touring extensively through France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Cyprus and Palestine. His narrative of the journey was published in 1615 and was an influential work on geography and ethnology. Sandys was eventually appointed colonial treasurer of the Virginia Company and sailed for the New World in April 1621.

Like Sandys himself, our copy of the 1658 edition of his book has travelled far in its lifetime with several of the book’s previous owners leaving their mark in some way. An inscription on the front free endpaper reads, “Tho Sergeant. 1708. The gift of Joseph Moyle Esqr.” Some research revealed that Joseph Moyle was brother to the English politician, Walter Moyle, who was born in Cornwall in 1672, studied at Oxford and was admitted to Middle Temple in 1691. While a Member of Parliament for Saltash in Cornwall, he also wrote several essays on the forms and laws of government. After Walter’s death in 1721, his brother Joseph arranged for his works to be published and he selected Thomas Sergeant to be the editor. As our copy of the Travels was a gift from Joseph Moyle to Sergeant in 1708, they had apparently known each other for a long time.

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Further evidence of previous ownership can be found pasted onto the rear of the title page: an engraved bookplate of an unusual coat of arms with the caption, “Mr. Smart Lethieullier of Alldersbrook in Com Essex”. Smart Lethieullier (1701-1760) was the son of Sir John Lethieullier, Sheriff of London, and himself rose to the office of High Sheriff of Essex from 1758. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Oxford, and developed a lifelong passion for antiquities and fossils. Lethieullier wrote numerous papers on antiquarian topics, including the first English account of the Bayeux Tapestry, and, like Sandys, travelled widely throughout Europe.

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Yet another interesting inscription can be found on the book’s front pastedown which reads, “C. E. Norton. Bought at auction for my father, perhaps in 1847-8″. Some research of the web led me very quickly to an identical autograph of one Charles Eliot Norton (1827-1908), professor of the history of art at Harvard University and a leading American writer and social reformer. So our book, like its author, had also found its way to the New World. Between 1864 and 1868 Norton was editor of the first literary magazine in the United States, the North American Review, alongside his friend, the Romantic poet James Russell Lowell. In 1861 Norton and Lowell had assisted Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with his translation of Dante and together they had founded the Dante Club.

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Norton’s father, Andrews Norton (1786-1853), was professor of sacred literature at Harvard. A renowned preacher and theologian, he was instrumental in bringing liberal Unitarianism to New England. In addition to his duties as a lecturer, Andrews Norton also acted as librarian of Harvard College from 1813-1821.

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There is no evidence in the book to reveal how it made its way back across the Atlantic from the United States to Wales. Cardiff Public Libraries were certainly purchasing many books at auction in the early 1900s in the hope of becoming the Welsh national library, and it is possible that the book was bought at a sale after C. E. Norton’s death in 1908. However it returned to these shores, our copy of the Travels clearly lives up to its name.

 

National Library of Wales Cataloguing Visit 2014

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Our Cataloguing team, who are all helping with the Cardiff Rare Books Collection, enjoyed a research trip up to the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.

Originally posted on Cataloguers in Wales:

IMG_3826 On Tuesday 18 th March staff at the National Library of Wales welcomed a group of 15 cataloguers, from around Wales, on a visit co-ordinated by the Cataloguers in Wales group.  Cataloguing staff at NLW had arranged a day of presentations to inform us about a variety of practices at the National Library, and we were treated to a fascinating visit with a quick tour behind scenes as well.

We were welcomed by Kathy Murphy (Head of Systems and Mixed Media Workflow) who gave us an overview of cataloguing practices at NLW, and a brief history of how the current workflows had come about.  They had moved from a system where everything was split by material, with separate acquisitions and cataloguing teams, and systems for each type, to a more functional single department and LMS.

IMG_3822As a legal deposit library they are obviously very standards aware, and are responsible for…

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The high and low adventures of Robert Knox, sailor, prisoner and discoverer of cannabis

Captain Robert Knox (1642-1720)

Among the many books on voyages and exploration in the Cardiff Rare Books Collection is a copy of Robert Knox’s An historical relation of the island Ceylon, in the East Indies. First published in 1681, the work was one of the earliest European accounts of the inhabitants, customs and history of Sri Lanka. How Knox came to write the book is a remarkable tale of adventure, misfortune and daring escapes.

Rajahsinge II, King of the Kandyan Provinces of Ceylon

Rajahsinge II, King of the Kandyan Provinces of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Knox’s jailer

Robert Knox was just 14 years old in 1655 when he first joined his sea captain father on the ship Anne for a voyage to India. Three years later, the Knoxes set sail again for Persia in the service of the East India Company but had the ill luck to run into a storm which destroyed the ship’s mast and forced them to put ashore in Ceylon for repairs. King Rajasinghe II was suspicious of the Europeans’ intentions and ordered the ship be impounded and the Knoxes taken captive along with sixteen member of their crew.

Knox's "Historical relation of the island Ceylon", complete with a glowing endorsement from Sir Christopher Wren and a Preface by Robert Hooke

Knox’s “Historical relation of the island Ceylon”, complete with a glowing endorsement from Sir Christopher Wren and a Preface by Robert Hooke

The sailors were forbidden to leave the kingdom but otherwise treated fairly, with some of the captives eventually choosing to enter the king’s service. Although Knox refused to work for the king, he was still permitted to become a farmer and make a living. Knox senior died from malaria in February 1661 but Robert remained in captivity for 19 long years before finally making a bid for freedom with a fellow crewman. They managed to reach a Dutch fort on the coast of the island and gain passage to the Dutch East Indies, before at last setting sail for home aboard an English vessel.

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The grisly fate which awaited servants who displeased the king; Knox believed, apparently with good reason, that entering the king’s service would result in his death

Map of Ceylon showing Knox's escape route

Map of Ceylon from “Historical relation…” showing Knox’s escape route

Knox returned to London in September 1680, having spent the journey writing the manuscript for a book about his experiences. When published a year later as An historical relation of the island Ceylon, the book immediately attracted widespread interest, influencing Daniel Defoe’s famous castaway tale Robinson Crusoe and turning Knox into a celebrity. He continued to work for the East India Company for another thirteen years after his return, captaining the Tonqueen Merchant for four further voyages to the East which made him a wealthy man.

A yadda or wild man of Ceylon with pipe

A yadda or wild man of Ceylon with pipe

One final strange adventure in Knox’s remarkable life deserves our attention. Having become close friends with the scientist Robert Hooke, Knox often returned from his travels with gifts and curiosities for Hooke. After one trip, he presented the scientist with the seeds of a plant previously unknown in Europe. This “strange intoxicating herb,” which Knox referred to as ‘Indian hemp’ or ‘bangue’, is  better known today as cannabis indica. In December 1689, Hooke gave a lecture to the Royal Society in which he provided the first detailed description of cannabis in English, praising its “very wholesome” virtues and noting that Knox “has so often experimented it himself, that there is no Cause of Fear, tho’ possibly there may be of Laughter.”

A scandal repaired – the affair of Penelope Devereux and Charles Blount, Earl of Devonshire

The catalogue of honor, compiled by Thomas Milles and published in 1610, records the names, titles, arms and descendants of the nobility of Great Britain. The entry for Charles Blount, 1st Earl of Devonshire, states simply that he “died in 1606. without any issue lawfully begotten”, however in Cardiff’s copy a section of the page has been excised and later replaced with a handwritten list recording “Natural children which he had by Penelope”. Investigating this intriguing addition revealed a scandalous tale of adultery and forbidden love in the Elizabethan court.

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Portrait miniature of Penelope Devereux, c.1590 (public domain)

Penelope Devereux (1564-1607), sister to the Earl of Essex, was considered one of the true beauties of the age, inspiring the work of poets, musicians and authors. She was Philip Sidney’s muse, thought to be the inspiration for Stella in his sonnet sequence Astrophel and Stella, and had numerous other poems and sonnets dedicated to her. Even now Penelope continues to inspire the arts with her complicated love-life playing a role in Benjamin Britten’s 1953 opera, Gloriana.

In 1581 Penelope was wed to Robert Rich, 3rd Baron Rich, apparently very much against her will. Although they had six children together, the arranged marriage was never a happy one and Penelope soon began a secret romance with Charles Blount, Baron Mountjoy, who would later be created Earl of Devonshire.

The habit and attire of an Earl, from "The catalogue of honor" (1610)

Attire of an Earl, from “The catalogue of honor”

By 1601, Baron Rich had had enough of Penelope’s adultery and threw her out along with the illegitimate children she’d borne with her lover. Penelope moved in with Blount and their relationship became public. In 1605, Rich sued his wife for divorce, which was granted, but Penelope’s requests to remarry were denied by the Church. In defiance of canon law, Charles and Penelope chose to get married anyway and were wed in an unlicensed ceremony in December 1605, offending the social mores of the aristocracy and leading to the disgrace of both parties and banishment from the court of King James. The couple continued to live together as husband and wife until Blount’s death just a few months later. Penelope Devereux died on 7 July 1607.

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The English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) states that copies of The catalogue of honor are, like Cardiff’s copy, frequently found mutilated to remove the section referring to Charles Blount’s progeny. When Blount married Penelope he acknowledged their five children together, allowing them to inherit his titles as legitimate heirs and to take their rightful place in The catalogue, but this was perhaps not enough to lift the shame and appease the nobility.

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Adam G. Hooks at the University of Iowa examined several copies of the book and concluded that removal of the section was likely done by the printer himself, William Jaggard, to avoid further offense to the aristocracy and his readers (Blount’s shield has also been altered or printed blank to suggest he had no descendants). However, readers were apparently not as sensitive as Jaggard believed and a previous owner of our copy of The catalogue of honor simply rewrote the entry and repaired the scandal.

Lost Visions: New AHRC ‘Big Data’ project to tag British Library’s image collection

Originally posted on Cardiff Book History:

Thousands of neglected images dating back to the eighteenth century will soon be available for the public to search online and find out more about how they have shaped our culture.

Lost Visions: Retrieving the Visual Element of Printed Books from the Nineteenth Century, led by Professor Julia Thomas, based in the Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research (CEIR), is one of 21 new research projects, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, to address the challenges of working with big data and making the information more accessible and easier to interpret by a lay audience. Lost Visions builds on pioneering work on illustration studies and digital humanities, undertaken previously in CEIR, particularly the Database of Mid-Victorian Illustration.

In collaboration Professors Omer Rana and Paul Rosin, of Cardiff University’s School of Computer Sciences & Informatics, Professor Thomas will work on more than a

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“A true report of certaine wonderfull ouerflowings”: the great flood of 1607 in a contemporary pamphlet

With so much of the country finding itself suddenly underwater earlier this month, it is no surprise that I couldn’t resist having a closer look at a book called “Of floods in England – 1607″ when I noticed it in the stacks.

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IMG_9878This little pamphlet, printed in London in 1607, commemorates the terrible events of 30 January the same year, when the Bristol Channel overflowed to truly devastating effect. Entire villages were reportedly swept away, hundreds of miles of farmland and whole herds of livestock were destroyed, and more than 2,000 lives were lost. Here in Cardiff, not much more than a fishing village in 1607, the wave reached up to four miles inland and washed away all before it, including the foundations of the parish church on St. Mary’s Street.

The church depicted here is thought to be the church of St Mary in the village of Nash, near Newport.

The church depicted here is thought to be the church of St Mary in the village of Nash, near Newport.

The author of the pamphlet paints a vivid picture of the chaos of that awful night: “Men that were going to their labours were compelled (seeing so dreadfull an enemy approaching) to flye back to their houses, yet before they could enter, Death stood at their dores ready to receive them. In a short tyme did whole villages stand like islands … and in a more short time were those islands undiscoverable, and no where to be found.”

“An infant likewise was found swimming in a cradle, some mile or two [from that] place where it was knowen to be kept …”

The pamphlet’s terrifying tales of watery death and destruction are thankfully tempered by a few stories of miraculous survival and community spirit: “Here comes a husbande with his wife on his back, and under either arm an infant. The sonne carries the father, the brother the sister, the daughter the mother, whilst the unmercifull conqueror breakes down the walls of the houses … yet like a mercifull conquerour, having taken the towne, it gave them their liues …”

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While recent research has suggested that the great flood of 1607 may have been caused by a tsunami rather than a simple storm surge, contemporary reports tended to place the blame firmly on God’s shoulders and viewed the flood as a warning of His displeasure: “If this affliction laid vppon our Countrey now, bee sharper than that before, make vse of it: tremble, be fore-warned, Amend, least a more feareful punishment, and a longer whip of correction draw blood of us.”

‘The Theatre of the Book’: Marginalia and Mise en Page in the Cardiff Rare Books Restoration Drama Collection

Originally posted on Cardiff Book History:

by Melanie Bigold*

Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research, Occasional Publications No. 1

The Bigold abstractvalue-added aspect of both marginalia and provenance has long been recognized.  Ownership marks and autograph annotations from well-known writers or public figures increase the intellectual interest as well as monetary value of a given book. Handwritten keys, pointers, and marginal glosses can help to reveal unique, historical information unavailable in the printed text; information that, in turn, can be used to reconstruct various reading and interpretive experiences of the past. However, increasingly scholars such as Alan Westphall have acknowledged that the ‘study of marginalia and annotations’ results in ‘microhistory, producing narratives that are often idiosyncratic.’ While twenty to fifty percent of early modern texts have some sort of marking in them, many of these forays in textual alterity are unsystematic and fail to address, as William Sherman notes, ‘the larger patterns that most literary and historical…

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A Christmas Robin from John Gould’s “Birds of Great Britain”

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The European robin (Erithacus rubecula), affectionately known as the robin redbreast for its distinctive colouring, has been strongly associated with Christmas since the mid-19th century. The most common explanation is that the postmen who delivered cards and presents in Victorian Britain wore scarlet uniforms and were nicknamed “robins” or “redbreasts” after the birds. The robin itself was eventually depicted on Christmas cards to represent the postman who delivered them, which is why the bird is so often shown holding an envelope or sitting on a postbox.

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These illustrations come from our magnificent copy of John Gould’s Birds of Great Britain, published between 1861 and 1873. All 367 lithographs in this monumental five-volume work were hand-coloured; in his introduction to the book, Gould writes: “every sky with its varied tints and every feather of each bird were coloured by hand; and when it is considered that nearly two hundred and eighty thousand illustrations in the present work have been so treated, it will most likely cause some astonishment to those who give the subject a thought”.

Archives Wales Forum 2013: Working Together

Maesmawr Hall Hotel, Caersws

Maesmawr Hall Hotel, Caersws

This week I travelled to sunny Caersws for the annual Archives Wales Forum. Held in a Tudor manor house, the conference was attended by archivists from across the country, from Anglesey to Gwent. The theme was ‘working together’, and over a fully packed day, we heard from twenty speakers on a wide range of topics from educational outreach to catalogue conversion.

The guest speaker, Dr Aled Jones, Chief Executive and Librarian of the National Library of Wales (NLW), began the day by introducing the Library’s recently launched strategy document, Knowledge for All: Strategic Direction 2014-2017.

Morning speakers included Sally McInnes on the NLW’s £20.4 million Heritage Lottery Fund bid for a national Conservation Centre, which is proposed to be built onto the area of the National Library’s building affected by April’s fire. Alwyn Roberts (NLW) reported on a project to use volunteers to transcribe shipping records, and Elspeth Jordan (National Museum of Wales) discussed their £600,000 Esmée Fairbairn funded project to conserve, digitise and carry out research on a sample from their photography collection. Both Kerry Robinson from Powys Archives and Steven Davies from Flintshire Record Office spoke about using affordable portable scanners to digitise collections and catalogues. I gave a presentation on SCOLAR’s support for a new undergraduate module in the School of English – Project Management and Research – in which students undertake workplace-based projects in exchange for course credit, in order to develop employability skills prior to graduation.

The afternoon sessions focused on a number of educational outreach projects undertaken by Gwent, West Glamorgan, Anglesey and Glamorgan Archives, involving children as young as 3. All are successfully working with teachers to link local collections in with National Curriculum themes. Sarah Winning from Denbighshire archives spoke about their WordPress blog, launched to save staff time in writing annual reports and newsletters and to help reach a new online audience.

One of the most impressive presentations of the day came from Andrew Dulley of West Glamorgan Archives Service. Andrew produced an award-winning short film of the Olympic torch relay route, as it would have looked in 1908 Swansea. The resulting film is slick, professional, and successfully brings history to life – but it cost nothing to produce. Andrew used free software to carry out all transitions, image editing and sound editing, and obtained free music and sound effects under a Creative Commons licence.  It is a superb example of what archives across Wales are managing to achieve despite financially straitened times, with a bit of hard work, ingenuity and imagination!