Happy Birthday, Robert Burns!

Today marks the 257th birthday of Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns (1759-1796). Every year, in Scotland and around the world, admirers of Burns’ work sit down on or around the 25th of January to a celebratory meal of haggis, neeps, and tatties, often accompanied by bagpipes, recitations of Burns’ poetry and a glass of whisky.

A forerunner of the Romantic movement, Robert Burns is is known for his use of the Scots dialect in his poetry. Some of his best-known works include “Auld Lang Syne,” “Tam o’ Shanter,” “A Red, Red Rose,” “A Man’s a Man for A’ That,” “Scots Wha Hae,” and “My Heart’s in the highlands.” In addition to his original compositions, Burns also recorded many traditional Scottish folk songs, sometimes revising them as well.

Although we will not be having a formal Burns Night celebration here in Cardiff University special collections, I have nevertheless taken the opportunity to rummage through the stacks in search of Burns’ poetry in honour of the occasion.

Our oldest piece of Burnsiana is a broadside ballad, published around 1797. It contains words and music to “Gude forgi’e me for liein’,” also published as “Last May a Braw Wooer.”

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A broadside of “Gude forgi’e me for lieini'” published around 1797, not long after Burns’ death.

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were the heyday of ballad printing in Wales. This single sheet is bound into a volume of musical scores and broadsides, one of approximately 700 such volumes collected by Theodore Edward Aylward (1844-1933). In addition to ballads like this one, the Aylward collection includes material on sacred works, songs and singing, dramatic music, orchestral music, solos and studies and music for organ and harmonium, mainly from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Cardiff University’s other major collection of Welsh ballads, forming part of the Salisbury Library also contains at least four different 19th century Welsh-language editions of Burns’ “Highland Mary.”

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Three of the Welsh-language versions of “Highland Mary” found in the Salisbury Library.

Burns’ writing is characterised by directness and sincerity.  In the preface to Burns’ first published volume of poetry, Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, (1786), the poet presented himself as one who lacked “all the advantages of learned art” and who, being “Unacquainted with the necessary requisites for commencing Poet by rule”, instead “sings the sentiments and manners, he felt and saw in himself and his rustic compeers around him, in his and their native language.”

Interestingly though, some of Burns’ poetry was deemed too direct for sensitive 19th century audiences. The editor of one 1858 illustrated edition of Burns’ Poems and Songs felt that only a selection of poems could “with propriety be given in a volume intended for the Drawing-room.”

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Poems and Songs by Robert Burns, published in 1858 by Bell and Daldy.

Although Burns was the son of a tenant farmer, his humble origins haven’t prevented him from being picked up by some very upscale publishers.  The 1902 Essex House edition of “Tam o’ Shanter is printed on vellum and adorned with gold leaf.  The beautifully printed colophon assigns the poem a place “among the great poems of the language.”

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The 1902 Essex House edition of “Tam O’ Shanter” features colourful woodblock initials and a woodcut frontispiece.

In 1925, the Golden Cockerel Press also produced an edition of Songs from Robert Burns, illustrated with woodcuts by Mabel M. Annesley.

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Illustrations from the 1925 Golden Cockerel Press edition of Songs from Robert Burns.

Each of these beautiful editions is a testament to Burns’ continuing popularity. I hope you will join me in raising a glass (safely away from any books, of course) to this well-loved lyricist!

essex_house2

The colophon from the Golden Cockerel Press edition of “Tam O’ Shanter

Pob hwyl / farewell Peter !

Last month, Special Collections and Archives bid farewell to its rPK-JPetiring founder Peter Keelan, as he hung up his white gloves for the final time.

Peter has been a member of the Cardiff University library service in its various incarnations for over 35 years. As former Salisbury Librarian, Peter petitioned for improved storage and security for this important collection, which resulted in the establishment of Special Collections and Archives in 2005.

In 2010, the collections doubled in size with the acqPK-SDuisition of the Cardiff Rare Books collection from the City Council, taking the University into a new league in terms of the breadth, depth and calibre of its research collections. Over the last ten years, visitor numbers, collection items, and profile have all risen steadily, as evidenced in the Special Collections and Archives Review 2005-2015. Peter’s career reached a landmark milestone in 2014 when he was awarded Welsh Librarian of the Year.

Pob lwc a pob hwyl Peter!

Cake

The Benefits of Cleaning House; or, A Chronicle from the Press of Wynkyn de Worde

I think it’s fairly safe to say that every library has a stash of uncatalogued books that have been relegated to an out of the way corner for being troublesome. Often, these books are missing their title pages, or are fragments that have been cut from some larger volume, or else they’re in a language that none of the staff can read. They sit, waiting for the day when there’s enough time, funding, or expertise to accurately identify and describe them.

Cardiff University is no exception, particularly as we’d been without a full-time rare books cataloguer since the middle of 2014. So when I started as the new rare books cataloguer in November of last year, I was not at all surprised to see a trolley parked at the very back of the rare book stacks bearing an assortment of books (and pieces of books) that had been pulled aside from the main sequence, some bearing little slips of scrap paper with handwritten notes as testament to the efforts of cataloguers past.

Although time-consuming, working on these volumes is something of a treat for me. There’s a tremendous sense of satisfaction in being able to match up a small stack of loose gatherings with their parent volume, or to positively identify a particular edition even though its title page and preliminaries have gone on a walkabout somewhere.

Binding

With its binding of rich purple goatskin and gold tooling, this book’s former owner obviously valued it highly.

On this particular trolley, however, I saw a volume that didn’t look like the usual victim of damage or neglect. It was in outwardly good condition, with a 19th century binding of rich purple goatskin, tooled in gold. Why had this volume been set aside?

Opening the volume, I saw that the text was in English and the subject matter was secular–a chronicle of the history of England and Wales–but the typeface was blackletter, hinting that it might be an early imprint. The title page bore no date or publisher’s name, so I turned to the back of the volume in search of a colophon and found this full-page woodcut printer’s device:

Wynkyn de Worde’s printer’s device. The central glyph is taken from WIlliam Caxton’s device, showing de Worde’s respect for his former master.

Wynkyn de Worde’s printer’s device. The central glyph is taken from the printer’s mark of his former master, WIlliam Caxton.

I immediately recognized the device as that of Wynkyn de Worde, confirmed by the colophon on the previous page, which reads: “…imprynted at London … in flete street, at the sygne of the Sonne, by me Wynkyn de Worde”. No wonder the previous owner wanted to give it such a fancy binding!

The colophon of the 1528 Cronycles of Englonde. Wynkyn de Worde was the first printer to set up shop in Fleet Street, which remains to this day a central hub of printing and book production.

Wynkyn de Worde was the first printer to set up shop in Fleet Street, which remains to this day a central hub of printing and book production.

Born in the Netherlands, Wynkyn de Worde came to England around 1476 to work for William Caxton, the first printer to set up shop in England. Following Caxton’s death in 1492, de Worde took over Caxton’s business, moving his place of business from Westminster to London and publishing more than 400 books in over 800 editions over the course of his career.

De Worde’s books often featured woodcut illustrations to make them more visually attractive. To save money, early printers often re-used the same woodcuts in multiple places

De Worde’s books often featured woodcut illustrations to make them more visually attractive. To save money, early printers often re-used woodcuts within the same volume.

De Worde is sometimes compared unfavorably with Caxton, who translated and published the most fashionable texts from the Burgundian court and sold them to wealthy patrons. De Worde, by contrast, sold religious, popular, and educational books to a broader, more populist audience. The evidence of de Worde’s will, however, suggests that he was respected within the community and a well-connected and successful entrepreneur. His estate, for example, was valued at £201 11s. 1d. His household consisted of eight servants, and he left bequests to nine people associated with the book trade, some of whom owed him debts which were written off.

Cardiff University’s copy of of the 1528 Cronycles of Englonde includes a few marginal annotations in an early modern hand, but the text has been cropped so closely during re-binding that most of the handwritten text has been lost.

Cardiff University’s copy includes a some contemporary marginalia, but when the text was trimmed during re-binding much of the handwritten text was lost.

The volume I had found was the 1528 edition of The Cronycles of Englonde : with the dedes of popes and emperours, and also the descripcyon of Englonde. As the title suggests, the text is made up of two main parts. The first part of the text is known as “Brut’s Chronicle” or the “St. Alban’s Chronicle,” and was one of the most popular accounts of English history in the Middle Ages and in the early modern period. Caxton added citations to authoritative texts and produced the first printed edition of it in 1480, making it the first English historical work to be printed and earning it the additional moniker of “Caxton’s Chronicle.” The second part of the text is a description of Great Britain derived from Ranulf Higden’s Polychronicon as translated by John Trevisa.

I soon discovered the reason why this book had been set aside. It was missing several leaves, including the title page and first several leaves of the Chronicle. Presumably to draw attention away from the missing portions, the Descripcyon of Englonde, which has its own separate title page, was bound at the beginning of the volume instead of at the end. A cataloguer looking at this book for the first time wouldn’t necessarily know to search for a record under the main title, “Cronycles of Englonde” instead of “Descripcyon of Englonde”.

The library at Syston Park held a rich collection of early printed books, including a Gutenberg Bible, many incunables, and numerous editions by the Leiden publishing house Elzevier.

The library at Syston Park held a rich collection of early printed books, including a Gutenberg Bible, many incunables, and numerous editions by the Leiden publishing house Elzevier.

Our copy bears an armorial bookplate with the name “Syston Park”. Syston Park Hall, built in the 1770s, was the family seat of the Thorold baronets. Sir John Thorold, ninth baronet (1734–1815), and his eldest son and tenth baronet, Sir John Hayford Thorold (1773–1831), were both avid book collectors. A second, smaller bookplate bearing the monogram “JHT” suggests that this volume may have been acquired by the tenth baronet. Between 1822 and 1824, Sir John Hayford Thorold commissioned architect Lewis Vulliamy to build a new library at Syston, which visitor T. F. Dibdin described as “perhaps one of the most splendid and taking book repositories in Europe.” In 1884 and 1923, however, the contents of the house were dispersed in sales and the house demolished soon afterwards. This copy of The Cronycles of Englonde was sold as lot 646 in the 1884 auction, after which it passed through the hands of at least two other individuals, Yorkshire historian T. D. Whitaker and J. S. Isaac, both of whom left inscriptions on the endpapers, before it entered the collection of the Cardiff Public Libraries sometime after 1919.

The title page for the 1528 edition of the Descripcyon of Englonde.

The title page for the 1528 Descripcyon of Englonde.

Despite its imperfections, we here in SCOLAR are quite pleased to be the custodians of this little volume.  It is the earliest English imprint on the catalogue (so far!), and an important piece of printing history. It will no doubt see a lot of use in the classroom and reading room in years to come, and makes for a very nice start to the new year!

Livres d’Artistes exhibition

Our latest exhibition was launched at the opening of the Livres d’Artistes: The Artist’s Book in Theory and Practice conference. It showcases the generous donation of artists’ books from Ron King and the Circle Press, gifted to Special Collections and Archives in 2014. Sample images from the exhibition are featured below, with captions taken from an interview with Ron conducted by Cathy Courtney (1999), which looks back on his career in book arts.

Contracted at this time to create print editions for Editions Alecto, London, I persuaded them to take on this first book [The Prologue (1967)]. On completion of the work with their imprint on the title page and stamped logo on the reverse of the images, they suffered a financial set-back and I was forced to take on publication myself as Circle Press.

I had been working on a series of mask prints, and I knew this was a solution I wanted to explore for the Chaucer rather than attempting to ‘illustrate’ it… The abstract mask provided the opportunity to express the pilgrims through the merging of symbols – symbols taken from heraldry or the Church, for example – rather than caricature. The Parson, for instance, is not just himself but also a symbol of the Church, just as the Knight is the symbol of ruthlessness and (at the same time) vulnerability but also, in heraldic terms, of the Crusade… I used colour to put certain moods across; for instance, the Knight is grey, black, and silver and rather rusty, whereas the Squire is bright and gaudy.

Ronald King, Geoffrey Chaucer The Prologue (1967) Originally produced for Editions Alecto, London; published by Circle Press with frontispiece and fourteen mask images titled and initialled in pencil – printed silk screen and letterpress in 24 pt Plantin. 125 signed copies, 15 proofs – 50 x 37cm – 15 unbound 4pp sections in J. Green rag-made paper wraparound in blue cloth folder and canvas slipcase. Separate editions of 50 plus 5 proofs were made of all the images except ‘Friar’ and ‘Franklin’ onto J. Green paper 56 x 38cm titled, numbered, and fully signed. Guildford, 1967 (second edition, 1978).

Ronald King, Geoffrey Chaucer
The Prologue (1967)
Originally produced for Editions Alecto, London; published by Circle Press with frontispiece and fourteen mask images titled and initialled in pencil – printed silk screen and letterpress in 24 pt Plantin. 125 signed copies, 15 proofs – 50 x 37cm – 15 unbound 4pp sections in J. Green rag-made paper wraparound in blue cloth folder and canvas slipcase. Separate editions of 50 plus 5 proofs were made of all the images except ‘Friar’ and ‘Franklin’ onto J. Green paper 56 x 38cm titled, numbered, and fully signed. Guildford, 1967 (second edition, 1978).

There was a room in the Victoria and Albert Museum that was devoted to artists’ books in [the 1960s], and some of them had a deep influence on me. Matisse’s Jazz (1947) moved me tremendously, a revelation in the strength of its colour, the economy of its drawing, the exciting presentation of something that had been worked out in cut paper and reproduced by a hand-cut stencil technique in a way that vitalized rather than diminished it… Miró’s A Toute Epreuve (1958)… had a strong influence on the second book I did, The Song of Solomon (1969)

Ronald King, King James Bible The Song of Solomon (1968) Over 30 screen printed images, including 8 double spreads – text printed letterpress in 30 pt Fry’s Baskerville, interwoven with the designs. 150 signed copies, 15 proofs – 72pp unbound on J. Green mould-made paper – 40 x 30cm – in gold-blocked red cloth cover and slipcase. 50 copies reserved for London Graphic Arts Inc. and 10 for Imre Maltzahn Gallery. Separate editions of 30 signed prints on Hosho paper of all double spreads and 2 single pages were issued without text. Guildford, 1968 (second edition, 1990).

Ronald King, King James Bible
The Song of Solomon (1968)
Over 30 screen printed images, including 8 double spreads – text printed letterpress in 30 pt Fry’s Baskerville, interwoven with the designs. 150 signed copies, 15 proofs – 72pp unbound on J. Green mould-made paper – 40 x 30cm – in gold-blocked red cloth cover and slipcase. 50 copies reserved for London Graphic Arts Inc. and 10 for Imre Maltzahn Gallery. Separate editions of 30 signed prints on Hosho paper of all double spreads and 2 single pages were issued without text. Guildford, 1968 (second edition, 1990).

Bluebeard’s Castle (1972-73) marked the beginning of [my] collaboration with the poet Roy Fisher [and] my first step away from the traditional book format… The extraordinary thing was that within three weeks of my having sent Roy a mock-up of the book, he had written a text in which we only changed one word. I’d never met him… I designed the whole thing, and making it was incredibly masochistic. Absolute hell. The difficult thing about a work like Bluebeard’s Castle is to translate the dummy into something that can be manufactured or constructed in an edition. I remember sitting at a desk and just cutting and chopping and gluing and looking at all kinds of different pop-up material until I turned out the first room, the Torture Chamber. Once I got the idea that to make something pop-up you have to have symmetrical folding structure, I began experimenting in various ways.

Ronald King, Roy Fisher Bluebeard’s Castle (1972) Based on the opera by Bartok, the visual theme of the book is represented by nine pop-up constructions; the portcullis, the castle and seven secret chambers with the verse incorporated into the design printed in Optima. 125 signed copies – 30 x 20cm made up of 10 loose 4pp sections silk screened throughout onto Hollingsworth paper placed into a cardboard folder and held in a black Perspex tray with a clear lid. Guildford, 1972.

Ronald King, Roy Fisher
Bluebeard’s Castle (1972)
Based on the opera by Bartok, the visual theme of the book is represented by nine pop-up constructions; the portcullis, the castle and seven secret chambers with the verse incorporated into the design printed in Optima. 125 signed copies – 30 x 20cm made up of 10 loose 4pp sections silk screened throughout onto Hollingsworth paper placed into a cardboard folder and held in a black Perspex tray with a clear lid. Guildford, 1972.

I was born in Brazil in 1932. The Carnival was a three-day event just before Lent and was visually very powerful. I loved the spectacle of the fancy dress, the masks and hobby horses. I spent a lot of times making paper toys and kites. Kites have a tremendous masklike presence, and they have appeared in my adult work; for instance, I used them in my Anthony and Cleopatra (1979).

Ronald King, William Shakespeare Anthony and Cleopatra (1979) Over 30 screen printed designs for the full text of the play; printed letterpress in 11 pt Baskerville with screen printed handwriting for annotations by Keith Please. 300 signed copies, 40 proofs – eleven 8pp unbound sections – 38 x 29cm on Cuve Rives Blanc paper in a quarter-bound leatherette and canvas portfolio. Guildford, 1979.

Ronald King, William Shakespeare
Anthony and Cleopatra (1979)
Over 30 screen printed designs for the full text of the play; printed letterpress in 11 pt Baskerville with screen printed handwriting for annotations by Keith Please. 300 signed copies, 40 proofs – eleven 8pp unbound sections – 38 x 29cm on Cuve Rives Blanc paper in a quarter-bound leatherette and canvas portfolio. Guildford, 1979.

The Left-Handed Punch (1986) and Anansi Company (1992) are the two most elaborate books Roy and I worked on. The Punch is my favourite of all the books I’ve done; it holds together better than Anansi and has more dimensions. Punch’s moveable puppets, on-stage descriptions, the large chunks of the original Cruikshank version of the text, and the drawn Victorian tableaux scenes (spoofs of famous drawings and paintings) all fit together easily, and the photo montages and collages are relieved by the inclusion of the poet’s (Roy’s) handwriting to strong effect.

Ronald King, Roy Fisher The Left-Handed Punch (1986) The fifth collaboration of artist and poet in a modern version of the Punch and Judy drama. Entirely screen-printed with the exception of the introduction, titles and colophon, which were printed letterpress in 14 pt Baskerville. 80 signed copies made up often 4pp French-folded sections – 38 x 28cm on Somerset mould-made paper. The six scenes and epilogue (which include 1 articulated puppet designs) are held in cartridge paper folders within a red cloth-covered folder inserted into a hand-printed striped cloth slipcase. Guildford, 1986.

Ronald King, Roy Fisher
The Left-Handed Punch (1986)
The fifth collaboration of artist and poet in a modern version of the Punch and Judy drama. Entirely screen-printed with the exception of the introduction, titles and colophon, which were printed letterpress in 14 pt Baskerville. 80 signed copies made up often 4pp French-folded sections – 38 x 28cm on Somerset mould-made paper. The six scenes and epilogue (which include 1 articulated puppet designs) are held in cartridge paper folders within a red cloth-covered folder inserted into a hand-printed striped cloth slipcase. Guildford, 1986.

The Anansi book is more spectacular with its removable puppets made of wire and card – the whole book is like the Brazilian Carnival scene as I knew it, lots of noisy music and revelry coming from all directions.

Ronald King The Anansi Company (1992) The seventh collaboration of artist and poet with thirteen screen-printed removable wire and card puppets. Introduction and accompanying verse printed letterpress in 14 & 18 pt Walbaum. 120 copies, 10 proofs – one 8pp section, thirteen 4pp French-fold sections, and one 4pp section (40 x 29cm), all loosely inserted into card wraparound and held in large colour-blocked solander box. London, 1992.

Ronald King
The Anansi Company (1992)
The seventh collaboration of artist and poet with thirteen screen-printed removable wire and card puppets. Introduction and accompanying verse printed letterpress in 14 & 18 pt Walbaum. 120 copies, 10 proofs – one 8pp section, thirteen 4pp French-fold sections, and one 4pp section (40 x 29cm), all loosely inserted into card wraparound and held in large colour-blocked solander box. London, 1992.

If I am to criticise other works, I would say that, too often, one look through is enough! That does not mean that I can’t enjoy that ‘one-look’ type of book; not only do I have a large collection of them, but my own wire-printed productions, Turn Over Darling (1990) and Echo Book (1994), are books of that nature… I try to make even those ‘one-look’ books tactile and pleasing to handle and the printing relevant to the content. As in good speech, the message is not enough, the quality of delivery is vital.

Ronald King Turn Over Darling (1990) A series of six double-sided blind-embossed images printed in wire, which, when folded and juxtaposed in sequence, make eleven reclining nudes which change position from front to back view. 75 signed copies – six 4pp sections – 20 x 15cm on RWS hand-made paper and an unsigned, unlimited edition on Khadi Indian hand-made paper, both bound into tan hand-made paper covers and inserted into grey card slipcase. London, 1990.

Ronald King
Turn Over Darling (1990)
A series of six double-sided blind-embossed images printed in wire, which, when folded and juxtaposed in sequence, make eleven reclining nudes which change position from front to back view. 75 signed copies – six 4pp sections – 20 x 15cm on RWS hand-made paper and an unsigned, unlimited edition on Khadi Indian hand-made paper, both bound into tan hand-made paper covers and inserted into grey card slipcase. London, 1990.

Ronald King Echo Book (1994) A small booklet with the words ‘ECHO BOOK’ printed in wire and blind-embossed to read ‘BOOK ECHO’ on the reverse of the page. The impression fades as the pages are turned in sequence. 75 signed copies with three 4pp sections – 20 x 8cm of Khadi hand-made paper and an unsigned and unlimited edition with two 4pp sections, both sewn into a blind embossed black paper cover. London, 1994.

Ronald King
Echo Book (1994)
A small booklet with the words ‘ECHO BOOK’ printed in wire and blind-embossed to read ‘BOOK ECHO’ on the reverse of the page. The impression fades as the pages are turned in sequence. 75 signed copies with three 4pp sections – 20 x 8cm of Khadi hand-made paper and an unsigned and unlimited edition with two 4pp sections, both sewn into a blind embossed black paper cover. London, 1994.

Although I was never a wholly traditional printer, I was closer to that stand-point when I began than now, when much of what I do might be described as the work of an experimental book artist. For many years now I have been using materials such as wire, wood, mirror and stone and exploring the elasticity of the book form itself. In selecting slides for lectures, I’m often aware of how my approach to the book form has developed. From the conventional solution of image and text in the format of the Chaucer Prologue in 1967 – through pop-up books, mirror books, wire-embossed books with double images, stone books, sawn and laser-cut ones – to the hollow log which I cut earlier this year into forty sections and bound in the inner ring to make four quarter-circle books that fit together into the original log form, is a long way.

Ronald King Log Books: Hollow Log (1995) An on-going project, begun in 1995, for a series of book-works which explore the possibilities of sawing a log of wood into book sections, or pages, which can be reassembled into their original log form. In the case of Hollow Log, pages are cut from the circumference of a hollow log, divided into four codex-bound books of equal size.

Ronald King
Log Books: Hollow Log (1995)
An on-going project, begun in 1995, for a series of book-works which explore the possibilities of sawing a log of wood into book sections, or pages, which can be reassembled into their original log form. In the case of Hollow Log, pages are cut from the circumference of a hollow log, divided into four codex-bound books of equal size.

Ronald King Hick Hack Hock (1996-7) A series of book-works varying in size (7 x 5cm – 13-18cm) based on the ‘paper, scissor, stone’ game. The scissors are blind-embossed onto a concertina of hand-made black paper with split stones (which act as covers) adhered to both ends of the folded pages. Text printed letterpress in 8 pt Helvetica. Each book contained in a hinged custom-made box. London, 1996-7.

Ronald King
Hick Hack Hock (1996-7)
A series of book-works varying in size (7 x 5cm – 13-18cm) based on the ‘paper, scissor, stone’ game. The scissors are blind-embossed onto a concertina of hand-made black paper with split stones (which act as covers) adhered to both ends of the folded pages. Text printed letterpress in 8 pt Helvetica. Each book contained in a hinged custom-made box. London, 1996-7.

Artist’s Book conference: discount booking ends Friday

livres

 

Many thanks to those who have already registered for the conference Livres d’Artistes: the Artist’s Book in Theory and Practice. For those who have yet to do so, the last day for booking at the discounted rate is FRIDAY 13 NOVEMBER. Conference registration will cost £60 (£25 student/unwaged) until Friday, and £75 (£40 student/unwaged) after that date. A booking form can be downloaded from the website.

Full details of the conference programme and our plenary speakers can also be found on the conference website. Hurry – places are filling up fast!

Exhibition: Scandal and Sociability: New perspectives on the Burney family

Frances Burney (1752-1840) was one of the most successful and influential writers of the eighteenth century, publishing four novels (Evelina: or, the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World (1778); Cecilia: or, Memoirs of an Heiress (1782); Camilla: or, A Picture of Youth (1796); and The Wanderer: or, Female Difficulties (1814), which were immensely popular and influenced other writers including Jane Austen (1775-1817). In recent years, scholarly interest in Burney has widened to encompass the influence and activities of the rest of her remarkable family, which included musicians, sailors, classicists, artists and two other successful novelists. Between them, the Burneys knew most British luminaries of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries working in the fields of literature, art, music, politics, botany, exploration, and court and Church circles.

A symposium held at Cardiff University on 1 September 2015 considered the Burney family as a composite whole, asking how their sociable network and often tumultuous internal dynamics influenced the remarkable spate of cultural and sociable activity carried out by its polymathic members. This exhibition of rare print and visual material relating to the Burney family and circle was designed and curated by Dr. Sophie Coulombeau (School of English, Communication and Philosophy) and Alison Harvey (Special Collections and Archives) to complement the symposium.

 

Portraits, Lives and Letters

Many members of the Burney family and their social circle achieved fame or notoriety in their own day, as writers, artists, or musicians… or socialites with scandalous love lives.  This section explores visual and textual depictions of Frances Burney, her father Dr. Charles Burney (1726-1814), and the family friend – and later enemy – Hester Piozzi (1741-1821). Some were composed by the subjects themselves or with their permission; others devised by those closest to them after their deaths; and still others produced by perfect strangers exploiting their celebrity for commercial gain.

 

Portrait [of Frances Burney?]

Portrait

Dr. John Butterworth, an independent scholar, has kindly lent us an anonymous, undated portrait of a young woman identified on the frame as Frances Burney. An art historian and conservator have suggested that the portrait dates from the last quarter of the eighteenth century, and the hairstyle of the sitter (the so-called ‘pouf’, which was fashionable only in the second half of the 1770s) suggests a date from 1775-1780. If the sitter was Burney, it would therefore have been painted just before, or just after, she wrote and published Evelina.

Some attendees at the symposium felt that Dr. Butterworth made a persuasive case for the identity of the sitter as Burney. Others were more sceptical, and pointed out that there is no reference to the portrait in her journals and letters: conversely, when she had her portrait taken later in life, she complained about the process bitterly. It was also pointed out that the inscription on the portrait almost certainly dates fro the twentieth century. However, it should be noted that Burney’s journals and letters were twice heavily censored; and also that a modern inscription may well have replaced an earlier one.

 

Frances Burney, Diary and Letters of Madame D’Arblay, as edited by her niece Charlotte Barrett, 7 vols. (London: Henry Colburn, first edition, 1842-47).

Diary

This was the first published edition of Frances Burney’s Diary and Letters, which today stretches to over twenty volumes. This edition (severely edited by both Frances Burney and by her niece Charlotte Barrett to exclude any verdict on acquaintances that might be seen as offensive, and to excise any mention of incidents that might reflect badly on the Burney family) was a more modest seven volumes. Even after this censorship, the diaries provide a fascinating insight into life in Georgian England and France. The edition was influential in setting the direction of Burney’s critical reputation: for most of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, she was seen as a talented diarist rather than an important novelist.

These volumes belonged to Arthur Henriques: an inscription suggests they were a gift from his mother in 1878. The edition is notable for an interesting selection of frontispiece portraits used to illustrate the seven volumes: sitters include Burney herself, Hester Thrale, Queen Charlotte, Mary Delaney, General D’Arblay, Dr. Charles Burney and Germaine de Stael. From this selection of Burney’s acquaintance, we can glean an idea of the figures that Barrett’s publisher thought most likely to interest the readership.

 

Hester Lynch Piozzi, Love Letters of Mrs. Piozzi, written when she was eighty, to William Augustus Conway (London: John Russell Smith, first edition, 1843.)

Love Letters

Hester Lynch Thrale was Frances Burney’s dearest friend in the early 1780s. The two fell out in 1785 over Burney’s disapproval of Thrale’s second marriage (soon after the death of her husband) to the Italian Catholic music master Gabriel Piozzi. The marriage scandalised polite society, and Hester Lynch Piozzi achieved a reputation as a woman unable to control her passions, or to put her duties as a widow and mother above her ‘unfeminine’ lust. She steadily built up an impressive career as a poet, biographer and travel writer. But the whiff of scandal never deserted her; during old age, she conducted a close and ambiguous friendship with the young actor William Augustus Conway, who was fifty years her junior. This edition of some of her letters to him – styled ‘Love Letters’ – was published after her death by an anonymous editor. Like Barrett’s Diary and Letters of Burney, this edition is illustrated with thirteen portraits, with the following subjects: ‘Mrs. Thrale’, ‘A. Murphy’, ‘Dr. Johnson’, ‘Madame d’Arblay’, ‘Urn to Dr. Johnson’, ‘Mrs. Thrale’, ‘Mrs. Kemble’, ‘Cowper’, ‘Bath (view of)’, ‘Rousseau’, ‘Duke of Kent’, ‘Duchess of Kent’, ‘Mrs. Piozzi’.

 

Frances Burney, Memoirs of Dr. Burney (London: Edward Moxon, first edition, 1832).

Memoirs

Frances Burney’s father, the historian of music Dr. Charles Burney, died in 1814. She would live on for another twenty-nine years, most of which time she spent writing her beloved father’s Memoirs. The result, published in 1832, was the most critically reviled of all Burney’s works. John Wilson Croker (1780-1857), writing in the Quarterly Review, accused her of distorting her father’s memory in order to draw attention to her own achievements. Some modern scholars feel that he had a point: Dr. Cassie Ulph (York), speaking about the Memoirs at our symposium, said: ‘The real narrative of Memoirs of Doctor Burney is that of [Frances] Burney’s own literary career, and genius.’ In writing her father’s life, Burney was really writing her own.

 

Streatham and Cantab Literature

The Burney family were extraordinarily talented networkers. Throughout their lives, their literary, musical and artistic gifts helped them to assimilate into the social circles of people more wealthy and powerful than themselves, and to meet fellow men and women of letters. The most important of these groups, in the 1770s and the 1780s, was the Streatham Circle of the rich brewer Henry Thrale and his wife Hester, where Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was the star attraction. A more minor connection – but an important one for Frances Burney – was the ‘Cantab’ circle of the Cambridge family at Twickenham. This section of the exhibition showcases some early editions of writings by members of these two groups, showing how deeply the Burney family embedded themselves, throughout the 1770s and 1780s, within the metropolitan literary elite.

 

Hester Lynch Piozzi, Anecdotes of the late Samuel Johnson LL.D during the last twenty years of his life (London: T. Cadell, second edition, 1786).

Anecdotes

In the wake of her scandalous second marriage, Hester Piozzi embarked on a project: to publish a book of Anecdotes of the recently deceased literary lion Dr. Samuel Johnson, who had been her close friend before they fell out over her marriage to Piozzi. The Anecdotes were published by the reputable publisher Thomas Cadell, and sold like wildfire. They were strongly criticised by friends of Johnson (such as James Boswell (1740-1795)) who thought that Piozzi had painted Johnson in an unflattering light.

The inscription suggests that this copy was owned by William Ingham. A handwritten note at the back of the volume marks passages of particular interest to the owner.

 

Hester Lynch Piozzi, British Synonymy; or, an attempt at regulating the choice of words in familiar conversation, 2 vols (London: G.G. and J. Robinson, first edition, 1794). 

Synonymy def

In 1794, Hester Lynch Piozzi published a two-volume work of synonymy, a relatively new field; her innovative publication was preceded only by the Rev. John Trusler’s The Difference Between Words Esteemed Synonymous (1766). The book was popular and immediately ran into a further two editions. The editors of Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Synonymys (1984) note that Piozzi ‘frequently takes issue with Dr. Johnson or, in a sprightly manner, casts doubt on his judgments’: perhaps we might see this work of lexicography as Piozzi’s attempt to throw off the shadow of Johnson’s influence. If so, then she was unsuccessful, at least for the owner of this copy: the title-page of vol. 1 is annotated in a pencil hand: ‘Hester Lynch Piozzi’ is changed to ‘Mrs. Thrale – vide Johnson’. (Mrs. Thrale – see Johnson’).

 

Richard Owen Cambridge, An Account of the War in India (London: T. Jefferys, second edition, 1762) 

War

During the 1780s, Frances Burney became friendly with the Cambridge family of Twickenham. Richard Cambridge (1717-1802), a man of letters who published this volume in 1762, was the first to welcome her into their home. Eventually, however, his son George (1756-1841) became far more important to Burney: her manuscript letters reveal that she had strong romantic feelings for him, and believed them to be returned. But George Cambridge never proposed marriage. One of our speakers at the symposium, Professor Stewart Cooke (Dawson College), gave a fascinating insight into Burney’s misery and suspense over the mid-1780s as she realised that George Cambridge was a lost cause and tried to extract herself from a hopeless situation.

 

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, and on the proceedings in certain societies in London, (London: J. Dodsley, fourth edition, 1790).

Reflections

The philosopher and politician Edmund Burke (1729-1797) was one of the most regular visitors at Streatham, and a close friend of Charles Burney. Moreover, he provided literary mentorship to Frances Burney after the publication of Cecilia in 1782, sending her a warm letter full of compliments and thanking her ‘for providing instruction’.

Perhaps Burke’s most important work was his Reflections on the Revolution in France, a pamphlet published in 1790 reviling the action of French revolutionaries and British sympathisers, and arguing for the preservation of ancient traditions. He sent Charles Burney a copy of the first edition: Burney wrote of his ‘infinit eagerness and delight’ upon reading it, and promised: ‘this copy I shall deposit among my most precious literary possessions’. This volume of the fourth edition appears to have belonged to Isabella Metford, and is inscribed ‘May 1866’.

 

Charles Burney, A General History of Music, from the earliest of ages to the present period, 4 vols. (Vol. 1 London: Printed for the author, second edition, 1789; vols 2-4 London: J. Robson and G.G. Robinson, first edition, 1782-1789).

Burney portrait

In the 1770s Charles Burney was a music teacher and talented musician, but he harboured ambitions of being recognised as a bona fide man of letters like his heroes Dr. Johnson and Edmund Burke. The symposium’s keynote speaker, Professor Peter Sabor (McGill University) remarked: ‘With the publication of his General History of Music, Burney could transition from Johnson’s fan to his peer.’ Peter also gave us an overview of the creative exchanges between the two men: While Johnson was reading proofs of Burney’s General History of Music, Burney was reading the manuscript and proofs of Johnson’s last work: Lives of the Poets. By the time of Johnson’s death, Charles Burney was high in his estimation, a testament to the inimitable Burney networking skills.

An anonymous reader has annotated the volumes with the dates of his/her reading, and with notes drawing attention to passages of particular interest.

 

Exploration and Botany

Frances Burney’s elder brother James (1750-1821) had a colourful naval career: he travelled with Captain James Cook (1728-1779) on his last two voyages, and acted as interpreter for the famous Tahitian Mai (c. 1751-1780) when he conducted a tour of England in the 1770s. Several of our papers drew attention to the Burney family’s links, through James and his shipmate Molesworth Phillips (1755-1832), with South Sea culture and with the taxonomic work of the botanical explorers Joseph Banks (1743-1820) and Daniel Solander (1733-1782) (who accompanied Cook on his earlier voyages).

 

Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, Illustrations of Australian Plants collected in 1770 during Captain Cook’s Voyage round the World in H.M.S Endeavour, by the Right Hon. Sir Joseph Banks, Bart. K.B., P.R.S, and Dr. Daniel Solander, F.R.S., 3 vols (London: Longman & Co. and the British Museum, 1900-1905).

Solander

Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander were botanists who sailed to Brazil, Tahiti and Australia with Captain Cook on the HMS Endeavour in 1768-1761. They brought back hundreds of specimens of plants then unknown in Britain, which they catalogued and had illustrated for publication. Probably due to Solander’s sudden death in 1782 and Banks’s subsequent loss of interest in the project, their findings were not published for over a hundred years. These folio volumes, published by the British Museum in 1900, contain Solander’s descriptions and beautiful illustrations of the plants, many carried out by artists on board the Endeavour.

 

James Lee, Introduction to Botany, (London: S. Crowder et al, fifth edition, 1794).

Botany

Botanical study was a fashionable hobby in Georgian London, where new discoveries such as those of Banks and Solander attracted intense public interest. The Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) had recently developed a new method for classifying and identifying species that was simple to use, and was explained in many popular adaptations such as James Lee’s Introduction to Botany. At the symposium, Sophie Coulombeau (Cardiff University) argued that that botanical handbooks like James Lee’s, and the personal tutelage of Daniel Solander before his death, heavily influence Frances Burney’s theory of ‘character’ in her second novel, Cecilia.

 

John Hawkesworth, Account of the Voyages (London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell, first edition, 1773).

Hawkesworth

In 1773 the writer John Hawkesworth (1715-1773) was commissioned by the Admiralty to publish an authorised account of Captain James Cook’s voyages in the Southern Hemisphere. These beautifully illustrated volumes, which were hugely influential in crafting the public impression in Britain of little-known territories such as Tahiti, were the result. The inscription reads: ‘From the Library of T. Booker Esq, Velindra, near Cardiff, Purchased 1901’.

 

James Cook, A Voyage Towards the South Pole, and round the world 2 vols. (London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell, third edition, 1779).

Cook

A sort of sequel to Hawkesworth’s work, though this time written by Cook himself, this publication gave an account of Cook’s second major voyage (1772-1775), the first known expedition to cross the Antarctic circle. By the time these volumes appeared, Cook had embarked on his second voyage in the HMS Resolution, which was eventually to end in his gruesome death in Hawaii in 1779.

Guest post: CUROP Research Project – Pattern and the Romantic Imagination, 1780-1840

This guest post comes from Felicity Holmes-Mackie. A graduate of Cardiff University, Felicity has been working as a research assistant for Dr Jane Moore School of English, Communication and Philosophy on a CUROP (Cardiff Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme) project using ladies’ periodicals held in Special Collections and Archives.

Posters from all the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences CUROP projects undertaken this year will be exhibited later this week on Friday 16th October in the Viriamu Jones Gallery in Main Building between 12.00-13.30.


‘The fashionable colours for this month are…’

dress 2During my undergraduate degree at Cardiff I have been fortunate enough to enrol on several modules taught in conjunction with Special Collections and Archives. Having been exposed to the wonderland of exciting resources nestled underneath the Arts and Social Studies Library, I naturally leapt at the chance to embark upon a research project based there during summer 2015. Now, thanks to a project led by Dr Jane Moore and supported by the Cardiff Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (CUROP), I have spent a summer picking my way through the moveable shelving and examining the treasures I discovered.

The project, entitled Pattern and the Romantic Imagination: the creative interchange between poetry and needlework 1780-1840, explores the links between material crafts and imaginative poetry and prose fiction of the Romantic period. I have been, slowly but surely, rifling through the hard copy collections and online digital databases of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century
spinesperiodicals. The main publications I have focussed on are The Ladys Magazine, La Belle Assemblée, and The Ladies’ Monthly Museum, which feature a wide range of articles. These include serialised prose fiction, illustrated biographies, recipes for medicines, word puzzles, and needlework patterns. They were generally aimed at upper class ladies and contain work written by both male and female contributors, who were often unpaid.

dressThe most interesting discoveries of the project were undoubtedly those found in the fashion descriptions which feature in all three publications. Each magazine had a slightly different approach to reporting on the latest fashions; while some articles aim to inspire with vivid descriptions, others dictate what the reader should or should not be wearing according to the tastes that month. La Belle Assemblée outlines upcoming fashions, whereas The Ladies’ Monthly Museum describes fashions of the past month in its regular feature ‘The Mirror for Fashion’. The Ladys Magazine includes similar monthly features, but twice a year it also provides vivid and detailed descriptions of the court dresses worn on royal birthdays. In these pieces, each lady’s outfit is described and judged in terms of taste; sometimes the line between gossip and fashion description becomes somewhat blurred!

detailThese fashion articles can seem repetitive and uninteresting, perhaps something to skim quickly before finding the next instalment of a gripping serialised novel or the next letter in a stream of huffy correspondence. However, delving into these articles reveals an arsenal of technical language and a veritable rainbow of descriptive vocabulary. One of the highlights of the project has undoubtedly been the rich, varied, and occasionally eccentric colour vocabulary which features in all the publications to some degree. From pigeon’s breast to faded dove, marshmallow-blossom to date-leaf, ponceau to ethereal blue, the ‘fashionable colours for the month’ are rich, varied, and occasionally eccentric.

dress3The coloured fashion plates too, are a real treat. The majority of plates show ladies sitting or standing in ways which will show off their outfits, but some also show ladies dancing, at the beach, playing musical instruments, or picking flowers. In some months hat fashions go into overdrive and resemble crowns, large turban-style wraps, or even Roman helmets.

These fashion articles and plates are certainly more stimulating and imaginative than they might first appear. Not only did the colour vocabularies surprise me but the technical descriptions of the dresses offered an insight into thinking about outfits and dress which was peculiar to the period and is far-removed from the way we think about style today. The periodicals generally offered a range of unexpected and fascinating articles and illustrations and I certainly feel lucky to have familiarised myself with them.

Rare Books Lecture Series: Prof. Edna Longley on Edward Thomas

ET_1916_2This autumn we welcome Professor Emerita Edna Longley from Queen’s University Belfast, to deliver the first of our Rare Books Lectures for 2015/16. Edna has made many visits to Special Collections and Archives over the years, in order to make use of the extensive family archive of war-poet Edward Thomas, and we look forward to hearing some of the results of this research. Her talk is titled: ‘Finding “something to read”: Edward Thomas’s reviews and early twentieth-century print culture’.

The event will be held in Lecture Theatre 0.31, John Percival Building (Humanities), at 5.30pm on Thursday 22 October, sponsored by the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and Special Collections and Archives, in association with the School of English, Communication and Philosophy. Please contact us at scolar@cardiff.ac.uk to book  a place for the talk.

Edna Longley’s monographs include Louis MacNeice: A Study (Faber, 1989), The Living Stream: Literature and Revisionism in Ireland (Bloodaxe, 1994) and Poetry & Posterity (Bloodaxe, 2000). She has edited Edward Thomas: The Annotated Collected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2008). Her most recent book is Yeats and Modern Poetry (Cambridge University Press, 2013). She is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy and a Fellow of the British Academy.

Edward Thomas (1878-1917), was killed at the front in the First World War. His extensive family archive is held in Special Collections and Archives, and a major series on his prose work will be appearing shortly from Oxford University Press.

 

 

 

Guest post: CUROP Research Project – Early Welsh language children’s literature

ChildLitThis guest post comes from Bethan Morgan, undergraduate in the School of Welsh, on her CUROP (Cardiff Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme) project. Bethan has been working with Dr Siwan Rosser to create a bibliographic database of Welsh-language children’s books published before 1900.

Building on last year’s successful CUROP project to create a database of 19th-century periodicals for children, this project seeks to create a new resource for enhanced research on the history of children’s publishing in Wales. At present, no bibliography exists for pre-1900 publications, and library catalogue descriptions are often incomplete and inconsistent, impeding investigations into this important aspect of cultural history.

The project involved searching the University Library’s extensive Special Collections, as well as information from the on-line catalogue of the National Library of Wales, and amassing (through EndNote) relevant bibliographic material. The books were sorted into different categories within EndNote according to their genres, e.g. poetry, music, stories, textbooks, prayer books, and sermons. The resulting database, incorporating the previous CUROP periodical database, will be published online after the project, to be used in research and teaching here and to advance the study of this topic in general.

Bethan notes: “It was fascinating reading the pre-1900 collection of children’s books, because they are so different in comparison with contemporary children’s books. It was hard to believe at times that I was reading children’s literature, because of the serious / dark themes found in many of them, such as sin, death and disasters. The project is very worthwhile, and of value in developing knowledge of Cardiff University’s collection of children’s literature.”

It will also be an invaluable resource for Siwan Rosser during her 2015-16 Research Leave to produce a monograph on Welsh children’s literature. Furthermore, this database will lead to a joint project with Special Collections and Archives to create an online collection of early children’s books, as part of our programme to digitise library and archives to support research and teaching.

View Bethan’s post in full on Siwan Rosser’s Llenyddiaeth Plant blog.

Call for Papers: The Art of the Book, Cardiff University, December 4-6 2015

IMG_1888

 

In 2014 Cardiff University received a considerable donation of Artists’ Books from Ron King of the Circle Press, one of the most influential practitioners of the Book Arts. In December of this year, the University’s Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR) will be hosting a major international conference to celebrate this bequest. Speakers will include Ron King (Circle Press), Sarah Bodman (University of the West of England), and Chris McCabe (Poetry Library).

Proposals are now invited from practitioners and scholars for presentations of 20 minutes on any aspect of the Book Arts. A brief biographical note, along with an abstract of 200-300 words, should be sent NO LATER THAN October 1, 2015, to scolar@cardiff.ac.uk. Practitioners in attendance are encouraged to bring examples of their work for display at the conference.