Celebrating Professional Librarians

Ducarel portrait

As a young man, Ducarel was blinded one eye, which is why it appears cloudy in this portrait. From A Series of above two hundred Ango-Gallic, or Norman and Aquitain coins… (London, 1757). 

On Wednesday, 14 July, the United States Senate confirmed Dr. Carla Hayden as the new Librarian of Congress. In addition to being the first woman and the first African-American to hold the post, she is also the first professional librarian to head the Library of Congress in more than 60 years. Most of the previous appointees have been scholars or writers who did not necessarily hold professional qualifications as librarians. (In the United States, this means a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from an ALA-accredited programme). Inspired by this historic appointment, today’s blog post looks at another noteworthy librarian, Andrew Coltee Ducarel, who was the first professional librarian of Lambeth Palace.

Andrew Ducarel was born in Paris on 9 June 1713 to a family of Huguenots from Normandy. Fleeing from persecution in France, his family stayed briefly in Amsterdam before settling in England in 1721. After studying law at Oxford and Cambridge, Ducarel was admitted to the College of Advocates (Doctors’ Commons) in November 1743. It was at Doctors’ Commons that he first tried his hand at library work, serving as its librarian from 1754-1757 in addition to his regular legal work.

Ducarel had a keen interest in history and antiquities, and was admitted to the Society of Antiquaries at the the age of twenty-four. Throughout his life, he published several tracts on English and Norman antiquities, especially coins and medals. He was elected a member of the Society of Antiquaries of Cortona in 1760, a fellow of the Royal Society in 1762, of the Society of Antiquaries of Cassel in 1778, and of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1781.

numismatics illustration

Ducarel’s antiquarian interests included numismatics, the study of coins and medals. Illustration from Ducarel’s A Series of above two hundred Ango-Gallic, or Norman and Aquitain coins… (London, 1757).

In March 1754, Archbishop Thomas Herring asked Ducarel to prepare an account of Croydon Palace and its surroundings. Assisted by his friend, Edward Rowe Mores, Ducarel presented the Archbishop with a manuscript copy of “Some account of the town, church, and archiepiscopal palace of Croydon” in 1755. (It was not published until 1783.) While preparing the research for this account, the two men spent several weeks in Lambeth Library, sorting and labelling nearly 2000 old records.

At least partly thanks to his work with the Lambeth records in 1754-1755, Ducarel was formally appointed to the position of librarian at Lambeth Palace in 1757, for which he received a salary of £30 per annum. Ducarel was the first layperson appointed to the position, and would become its longest-serving librarian, working under five archbishops over twenty-eight years, until his death in 1785.

Ducarel bookplate

Cardiff University holds two books with Ducarel’s armorial bookplate.

Although the post had previously been viewed as a stepping-stone on the path to greater preferment, Ducarel made caring for the library his life-long occupation. He continued the work of organizing and cataloguing its records, but also acquired, accessioned, and arranged for the binding of new books, pamphlets, and manuscripts; he dealt with visitors and enquiries, drew up surveys and reports in support of the building’s maintenance and repair, and researched the history of the palace and library. Ducarel frequently turned to his antiquary friends for assistance in writing the tracts which bear his name, preferring to devote his attention to organising and indexing the holdings of the library.

After his death. Many of Ducarel’s personal books and manuscripts were left to his friends Richard Gough and John Nichols, and were later sold at auction in 1786. Today, the bulk of his library is divided between Lambeth Palace, the British Library, and the Bodleian Library at Oxford, but at least two volumes from Ducarel’s library now reside at Cardiff University. One of these volumes is Dugdale’s Origines juridiciales (London, 1671). The other is a collection of seven tracts by Ducarel, including his first published work, A tour through Normandy, described in a letter to a friend (London, 1754), four Four letters concerning chesnut and other trees, and biographical notes on Browne Willis. Of the seven tracts, two have not previously been recorded in the English Short Title Catalogue

Table of Contents

This volume from Ducarel’s personal library contains seven of his own tracts bound together with a handwritten contents list.

Robert Recorde and his linguistic Witte

As someone who loves nothing more than rummaging through antiquarian books, mathematics is not usually my first go to subject. And so, in my new role as the Assistant Librarian here at Special Collections and Archives, I was tasked, amongst other things, with identifying some ‘treasures’ in the famous Salisbury collection. Brilliant. Over the past few weeks I have been indulging myself in this magnificent collection of almanacs, medical works, bibles, and musical scores to name but a few, with not a  single thought to Pythagoras, permutation, or anything perpendicular! The only algebra running through my mind is the three bs  – old books + more old books = bliss! And it was in this state of bliss I came across the following:

Whettstone of Witte title page

Title page of the Whetstone of Witte (London, 1557)

The whetstone of witte : whiche is the seconde parte of arithmetike ; containyng thextraction of rootes ; the cossike practise, with the rule of equation ; and the woorkes of surde nombers, published in 1557. Oh, my, God!

Why all the excitement? Well, while I freely admit I know nothing of ‘cossike practise’, I do know that this is no ordinary maths book. Its author, Robert Recorde, is best known as the Welsh Tudor mathematician who invented the equals sign, first introduced in English, in this very book. Fantastic, yes, but, there is much more to the man than just maths.

Quote on equals sign

Recorde’s introduction of the equals sign, from the Whetstone of Witte (London, 1557)

Born c. 1510 to a merchant family in Tenby, we know very little of Recorde’s formative years in Wales but should not discount, perhaps, the influences that this thriving mercantile port had on his young mathematical mind. We do know that he obtained his degree from Oxford in 1531, was elected a Fellow of All Souls college and granted a license to study medicine. After gaining his MD from Cambridge in 1545, it appears he moved to London where he reportedly served as Royal Physician to King Edward VI and Queen Mary.

It was not unusual for sixteenth-century physicians to have multifaceted careers as mathematicians, civil servants, diplomats, even spies (the renowned John Dee may well spring to mind here, and it is no coincidence that Dee edited some of Recorde’s works!) Recorde’s scientific and mathematical skills enabled him to work as an iron-founder, accountant and metallurgist for the Crown service. He also wrote on astronomy. The Castle of Knowledge published in 1556, was one of the first to make public reference to the heliocentric model which placed the sun at the centre of the solar system. As if he didn’t have enough to do, he also dabbled in antiquarianism and linguistics!

The Castle of Knowledge title page 1556

Title page of The Castle of Knowledge (London, 1556)

Such a comprehensive skill-set was not un-common amongst our learned contemporaries, but what makes Recorde unique is the linguistic insight displayed in his writings. The Ground of Artes  published in 1543, possibly the first original arithmetic book in English, was written in the form of a dialogue as ‘the easiest way of instruction, when the scholar may ask every doubt orderly, and the master may answer.’

Dialogue detail from the Ground of Artes, 1663

Opening page from The Ground of Artes (London, 1632)

Similarly, The Whetstone of Witte follows the conversation between a master and scholar comparing the rudiments of geometry and arithmetic. If this didn’t grab you, Recorde also created imaginative titles and often used poetry as a way of introducing his subject and injecting a little humour into his works. The Whetstone of Witte, for instance, so called after a whetstone to sharpen the mind:

Here if you lift your wittes to whette,
Much sharpness thereby shall you get’.

Poem detail from The Castle of Knowledge

Poem at the end of the contents page of The Castle of Knowledge (London, 1556)

His use of English as opposed to Latin, and his attempts to modify the language to explain the maths, highlights his aim to communicate his ideas as widely and effectively as possible. At a time when printing in the vernacular was relatively new and literacy was limited, Recorde’s approach was ground breaking.

His only medical work, The Urinal of Physick, is notable for its use of the vernacular as well as the choice of topic. At a time when fortune-telling and prophesying were highly suspect, uroscopy, or the study of urine for symptoms of disease could be seen as divinatory if it was the only medical method used. So to publish a treatise solely on urine, in English, was an original move especially as this type of literature was not typically produced by orthodox physicians.

Detail of urine flask in The Urinal of Physick

Urine flask detail from The Urinal of Physick (London, 1651)

Nor was this style of writing. It is a testament to Recorde’s innovative attitude to learning that he wrote his works the way he did. By introducing us to a general vocabulary of learning he enabled us to engage with ideas in a language that he helped mould as our own. And so, the lesson of this story is to never underestimate the allure of special collections, for old books, even those on maths = bliss, and as Recorde himself states: ‘no two things can be more equal’.

Stephen Duck, Thresher and Poet

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Portrait of Stephen Duck, from Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1764)

Although now largely overlooked, the “Thresher Poet” Stephen Duck was an 18th-century celebrity. Critics and scholars have been generally dismissive of the quality of his verse, yet he enjoyed the patronage of Queen Caroline from his introduction at court in 1730 until her death in 1737, and was rumored to have been considered for the laureateship.

Duck spent his early years as a poor agricultural labourer, receiving a rudimentary education until the age of 14 when he left school to work in the fields. According to “An account of the author” written by his friend and supporter Joseph Spence, he “had a certain Longing after Knowledge; and when he reflected within himself on his Want of Education, he began to be particularly uneasy.” Duck would work extended hours in the fields to earn extra money which he spent on books. Once he had the books, he finished his work as quickly as possible, “that he might get Half an Hour to read a Spectator, without injuring his Master.” Together with a friend who had lived in London and amassed a small library, Duck would read, re-read, and discuss the few dozen volumes that were available to him. Spence, describing this early period in the poet’s life, records their collection as follows:

“Perhaps you would be willing to know what Books their little Library consisted of. I need not mention those of Arithmetick again, nor his Bible: Milton, the Spectators, and Seneca, were his first Favourites; Telemachus, with another Piece by the same Hand, and Addison’s Defence of Christianity, his next. They had an English Dictionary, and a Sort of English Grammar, an Ovid of long standing with them, and a Bysshe’s Art of Poetry of latter Acquisition: Seneca’s Morals made the Name of l’Estrange dear to them; and, as I imagine, might occasion their getting his Josephus in Folio, which was the largest Purchace in their Collection: They had one Volume of Shakespeare, with Seven of his Plays in it. Beside theses, Stephen had read three or four other Plays; some of Epictetus, Waller, Dryden’s Virgil, Prior, Hudibras, Tom Brown, and the London Spy. You may see I am a faithfull Historian, by giving you the Bad with the Good.”

Duck was particularly drawn to Milton’s Paradise Lost, reading it over “twice or thrice with a Dictionary, before he could understand the Language of it thoroughly… [H]e has got English just as we get Latin. He study’d Paradise Lost, as others study the Classics.” Inspired to try and imitate Milton’s verse, began to compose a few poems, most of which he claims to have thrown onto the fire, considering them to be of little or no literary merit. When rumors began to circulate about a poor thresher who could write couplets, a young gentleman of Oxford requested of him a letter in verse. The result, Duck’s first composition of more than a few disconnected lines, is preserved as “To a Gentleman, who requested a Copy of Verses from the Author.”  

1733_title_page

Cardiff University holds the 1733 edition of Poems on Several Subjects, and the 1753 and 1764 editions of Poems on Several Occasions.

The letter’s favourable reception inspired Duck to continue his efforts, which were published in up to ten pirated editions between 1730 and 1733 under the title, Poems on Several Subjects. These early editions attracted attention on a much wider scale and earned him an audience in the court of Queen Caroline. Duck was well received by the queen, who rewarded him with an annuity of £30 or £50, a house, and, in 1735, a position as keeper of the queen’s library in Merlin’s Cave, a Gothic building in Richmond Gardens. He was introduced to literary giants such as Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope, both of whom subscribed to his 1736 volume of poems. Although they had nothing good to say about his poetry, Swift and Pope both spoke highly of Duck as a humble, genial, and virtuous man.

Today, scholars are beginning to revisit Stephen Duck’s literary contributions. In her chapter in A Companion to Literature from Milton to Blake, Bridget Keegan suggests several areas of study where Duck’s work is of value, such as documenting the everyday lives of 18th century working-class people; or the concept of “genius” in the 18th century literary landscape. She argues that Duck’s success may be seen to pave the way for the rise of the Romantic movement and other self-educated poets such as Robert Bloomfield, Robert Burns and John Clare.

threshers_labour

The opening verse of “The Thresher’s Labour,” from the 1733 edition of Poems on Several Subjects.

With its mock-heroic language and inversion of traditional pastoral imagery, Duck’s poem, “The Thresher’s Labour” anticipates the themes of destruction and corrupt greed in Goldsmith’s “Deserted Village.” As the first writer in what would become a class of “peasant-poets,” Duck also inspired many contemporary imitations and responses from other working-class authors, including Robert Tatersal (The Bricklayer’s Miscellany) and John Bancks (The Weaver’s Miscellany). Perhaps the most famous of these responses is The Woman’s Labour by Mary Collier. Offended by Duck’s portrayal of female agricultural workers as lazy chatterboxes, she composed a rebuttal in verse, cataloguing her own struggles as a washer-woman in London. Despite their literary sparring, however, Collier acknowledged her admiration for Duck and composed an Elegy on his death many years later.

Sadly, Stephen Duck’s story does not end well. After Queen Caroline’s death in 1837, he found himself without a patron as his celebrity waned. Rather than continue his literary career, he devoted himself to scholarship and took holy orders in 1746. He served as a military chaplain from 1747 to 1751, then briefly as preacher to Kew chapel. In January 1752 he was appointed to the rectory of Byfleet, Surrey where he proved a hard working and popular parish priest, but between 30 March and 2 April 1756 committed suicide by drowning at Reading.

frontispiece

The frontispiece of the pirated 1733 edition of Poems on Several Subjects.

 

John Donne’s Biathanatos

NPG 6790; John Donne by Unknown English artist

Portrait of John Donne by Unknown English artist, oil on panel, circa 1595. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

This week’s cataloguing efforts have uncovered another noteworthy item in the Cardiff Rare Books Collection: a first edition of Biathanatos (London, 1644) by John Donne.

The full title of the book is Βιαθανατος : a declaration of that paradoxe, or thesis, that selfe-homicide is not so naturally sinne, that it may never be otherwise. Wherein the nature, and the extent of all those lawes, which seeme to be violated by this act, are diligently surveyed. The paradox was a literary genre popular during the English Renaissance in which the author puts forth an argument in support of a thesis which contradicts common sense or questions a commonly-held belief. As a young man, Donne wrote several paradoxes, generally on comparatively trivial subjects such as, “That old Men are more Fantastique then younge,” or “Why have Bastards best fortune.”  In his personal correspondence, Donne claims that his paradoxes were made “rather to deceive time than her daughter truth,” and “are rather alarums to truth to arme her then enemies.” Donne’s use of the genre for a discussion of suicide suggests that it is not intended to be taken at face value, but rather to encourage thoughtful discussion and contradiction.

1644_title_page

Title page of the 1644 first edition of Biathanatos.

Biathanatos was written during a lengthy period of unemployment, during which Donne suffered from low spirits. In 1608, around the time that Biathanatos  was originally composed, Donne wrote to his friend Henry Goodyer, “Every Tuesday I make account that I turn a great hourglass, and consider that a week’s life is run out since I writ. But if I ask myself what I have done in the last watch, or would do in the next, I can say nothing.” Although John Sym’s Lifes Preservative Against Self-Killing (London, 1637) was published earlier, Biathanatos was the first book written in the Western tradition on the subject of suicide.

Donne’s treatise is divided into sections discussing the rational, legal, and theological arguments against suicide. Its controversial thesis proposes that while most motivations for suicide (including despair, self-aggrandizement, fear of suffering, or impatience to reach the afterlife) are selfish and sinful, suicide is justified when, like submission to martyrdom, it is done with charity and for the glory of God. Donne even goes so far as to say that Christ himself, in allowing himself to be killed on the cross, was in fact a suicide. Donne’s case is supported by thousands of citations from more than 170 authors (though Donne admits in the introductory matter that, “In citing these Authors…I have trusted mine owne old notes; which though I have no reason to suspect, yet I confesse here my lazines; and that I did not refresh them with going to the Originall”).

Although the subject matter may be uncomfortable to some, this treatise has an intriguing history. Aware that Biathanatos dealt with “a misinterpretable subject,” Donne carefully controlled its circulation in a small number of manuscript copies which he distributed among his close personal friends.

Jack_Donne

From a letter from John Donne “To Sr Robert Carre now Earle of Ankerum, with my Book Biathanatos at my going into Germany,” published in Letters to severall persons of honour (London, 1654).

Donne’s reluctance to publish Biathanatos is not remarkable in itself; many of Donne’s works, including the poems for which he is best known today, were not published during his lifetime. Nevertheless, his attitude toward Biathanatos seems particularly ambivalent. In entrusting the manuscript to to Sir Robert Ker, he writes: 

“I have always gone so near suppressing it, as that it is onely not burnt: no hand hath passed upon it to copy it, nor many eyes to read it: onely to some particular friends in both Universities, then when I writ it, I did communicate it … Keep it, I pray, with the same jealousie; let any that your discretion admits to the sight of it, know the date of it; and that it is a book written by Jack Donne, and not by D. Donne: Reserve it for me, if I live, and if I die, I only forbid it the Presse, and the Fire: publish it not, but yet burn it not; and between those, do what you will with it.” (from Letters to severall persons of honour).

He is eager to distance himself from the work, ascribing it to the his younger self, Jack Donne, rather than the mature Doctor Donne, but he still insists on preserving its existence. Equally fearful that his work would be either lost or misunderstood, Donne never sent it out unaccompanied by letters of introduction like the one quoted above. The transmission of the manuscript copies is a fascinating story in itself, discussed in detail in Peter Beal’s book, In praise of scribes: manuscripts and their makers in seventeenth-century England.

publication_quote

From the dedicatory epistle of the first printed edition of Biathantos (London, 1644), written by John Donne, Jr. sixteen years after his father’s death.

After Donne’s death, his son published Biathanatos against his father’s wishes, writing in the dedicatory epistle, “Two dangers appeared more eminently to hover over this, being then a Manuscript; a danger of being utterly lost, and a danger of being utterly found.” The first edition appeared in 1644, followed by a re-issue with a new title page in 1648 and a new edition in 1700. Both the 1644 and 1700 editions can be found in the Cardiff Rare Books collection.

Following its publication, a number of outraged rebuttals appeared, most notably John Adams’ An essay concerning self-murther. Wherein is endeavour’d to prove, that it is unlawful according to natural principles. With some considerations upon what is pretended from the said principles, by the author of a treatise, intituled, Biathanatos, and others. (London, 1700). More than 300 years later, scholars still debate whether the argument set forth in Biathanatos was intended to be sincere or satirical. Either way, Donne’s paradoxical essay has succeeded in its goal of stimulating thoughtful conversation on a topic which remains controversial even today.

Gallery

Report on first Annual CRECS Conference, 17 May 2016

This gallery contains 18 photos.

Originally posted on CRECS//:
On Tuesday 17 May 2016, Cardiff University’s Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR) opened its doors to welcome the attendees of the first annual CRECS student conference. After partaking in a welcome hot beverage—at a safe distance from the special…

William Dampier: Pirate, Navigator, Naturalist, and Explorer

NPG 538; William Dampier by Thomas Murray

Portrait of William Dampier by Thomas Murray, oil on canvas, circa 1697-1698, courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.

At age 18, William Dampier (1652–1715) was apprenticed to a seaman at Weymouth. He served briefly in the Third Anglo-Dutch War, worked on a Jamaican sugar plantation and aboard merchant ships, before deserting his post to join a buccaneer fleet. After an unsuccessful attack on Panama City, he joined a group of French and English pirates with whom he raided Costa Rica and frequented the buccaneer base at Tortuga before being driven away by Spanish warships. In 1686, Dampier sailed more than 6000 miles across the Pacific from Cape Corrientes, Mexico, to Guam, later carrying on through the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. From there, his ship turned southward and in 1688 became the first English ship to visit New Holland (Australia). His journey continued through India, Sumatra, Vietnam, and the Malay peninsula, until he finally returned to England in 1691, making him the first Englishman to circle the globe since Thomas Cavendish a century before.

A second trading voyage to the West Indies resulted in a mutiny and a change of occupation from trading to piracy. Dampier remained with the ship until the end of his term of employment, but upon returning to London and asked for his back wages, he was instead accused of aiding the mutineers and received no money.

titles

Dampier published accounts of his voyages in 1697, 1699, and 1703.

From early in his career, he had kept a regular journal where he recorded observations of the winds and tides, geography, plants and animals, and native peoples. In 1697, left with few assets besides these journals, he published his observations under the title, A New Voyage Round the World. Dampier’s account of strange foreign lands was straightforward and practical rather than sensational, and proved extremely popular among merchants, statesmen, and scientists, as well as the general public. Within his lifetime, A New Voyage Round the World went through seven printings in English and translations into Dutch, French, and German.

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“Plants found in New Holland,” from A Voyage to New Holland… (London, 1703).

In 1699, Dampier’s fortunes were on the rise. He published a second volume under the title Voyages and Descriptions and returned to the Pacific, this time as captain of the HMS Roebuck, the first voyage intended specifically for scientific exploration. He sailed around Australia and New Guinea, discovering the island which he named New Britain before the ship’s poor condition forced him to return home, carrying with him specimens of around forty Australian plants (now in the Sherardian Herbarium at Oxford).

Once again, however, Dampier’s return home was not a happy one. He arrived in England to face a court martial for assaulting an officer on board the HMS Roebuck, and was judged to be unfit for command. He returned to the Pacific yet again as commodore of a privateering expedition during which, after a hurried refit on the island of Juan Fernandez, the ship’s master Alexander Selkirk preferred to be marooned there rather than set sail on a vessel he did not believe to be seaworthy. Selkirk would remain on the island for five years before being rescued by another privateer vessel commanded by Captain Woodes Rogers and piloted by none other than William Dampier.

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Views of the Brazilian coastline in A Voyage to New Holland… (London, 1703).

Although Dampier and Selkirk had grated on each other’s nerves during the earlier voyage, it was on Dampier’s recommendation that Rogers appointed Selkirk as mate on board his ship. Selkirk’s abandonment and subsequent rescue, described in Rogers’ journal and in The Englishman magazine, are widely believed to be the inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s novel, Robinson Crusoe.

Dampier’s third book, A Voyage to New Holland, in the Year 1699, was published in 1703, and contained the first description of Aboriginal Australians. Although his account unfortunately depicted them as ‘the miserablest People in the world’, his writing nevertheless sparked intense interest in the south Pacific.

Over the course of his career, Dampier would circumnavigate the globe three times, making him the first person to do so.  His books, with their detailed records of weather patterns, safe harbours, disposition of native peoples, sources of food, and advice on maintaining health while at sea, were for a long time considered essential reading for mariners and recommended by the likes of Cook, Howe, and Nelson. Dampier’s writings also inspired literature such as Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner“. 

wind_map

Voyages and Descriptions includes “A Discourse of Trade-Winds,” which was used in compiling Admiralty Sailing Directions as late as the 1930s.

His was the first English language description of breadfruit, plantain, and bananas, and it was Dampier who first introduced the words “barbecue” and “chopsticks” into the English language. His legacy lives on in the names of Dampier Strait in Papua New Guinea, Dampier Land in Western Australia, and the Dampier Archipelago off the west coast of Australia.

new_holland

At the time of Dampier’s expedition, much of Australia remained uncharted.

Cardiff University holds the fifth edition of A new voyage round the world (1703), third edition of Voyages and descriptions (1705), and the first edition of A Voyage to New Holland, in the Year 1699 (1703). Although they belong to different editions, they are bound uniformly as a set and bear the property stamp of “T. Falconer,” possibly the English jurist and explorer Thomas Falconer (1805-1882) who served as judge of Glamorganshire, Brecknockshire and Rhayader from 1851 to 1881.

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Discovering the Edward Thomas archive: a student perspective

This guest post comes from Sarah Murray, a final year English Literature undergraduate. Sarah recently worked on a project in Special Collections as part of the Poetry in the Making module led by Dr Carrie Smith. The students were tasked with exploring the Edward Thomas archive, to find items to inspire short films. These would present arguments about Thomas’ life and work, with reference to primary sources. An extract from one of the films is featured below.

During our first visit to Special Collections, we worked closely with archivist, Alison Harvey, who collected a huge range of material from manuscripts of poems to Thomas’ personal diaries, to flower cuttings, to personal items, such as his clay pipes.

We were able to spend time looking through this material, and quickly realised that the diversity of materials the archive has to offer meant that there was a huge scope for creativity in the upcoming project.

Manuscripts, transcripts, diaries and flower cuttings - a typical scene at our table.

Manuscripts, transcripts, diaries and flower cuttings – a typical scene at our table.

My group was struck by the regular communication between Edward Thomas and fellow poet Robert Frost, and decided to concentrate on the profound impact Frost had on Thomas’ birth as a poet. Armed with more material than it was possible to process, we visited the archive regularly, pouring over the correspondence between Thomas and Frost.

The calming atmosphere of Special Collections made a welcome change from the rest of the Arts and Social Studies Library, and if it was not for the fact that I would be eternally thirsty, I would do all of my writing in the archive! (It’s funny how the moment you know you can’t have something, that’s immediately all you want in the world.)

After much research, constructing our arguments and a lot of video editing, the four groups in our class each created and submitted a ten minute film as part of the module assessment and it was surprising how different each one was. Almost as if we had sat down and allocated different approaches to take.

Uniquely, the work we produced was showcased to the English Literature department. Although slightly embarrassing to watch and listen to ourselves on the big screen (there was a lot of face covering and even a quick exit), the opportunity to share our videos with members of the department who were interested and surprised by the originality of our arguments, made the project seem incredibly worthwhile.

litmodulestudentsFor me, the experience was eye opening as it provided us with the thought processes and concerns that preceded the published versions of Thomas’ eloquent poetry. I hadn’t really considered the apprehension that a poet may experience when writing, perhaps having been consumed by the Romantic idea that inspiration for a complete product is found while sitting peacefully at the top of a hill. The ability to immerse ourselves in the material that led to the publication of Thomas’ poetry enabled us to understand the man and consequently, the poet and his poetry in a deeper sense.

Samantha Palen, third year English Literature and Journalism student, adds: “As an amateur poet myself, I had long ago rejected the Wordsworthian / Romantic idea of writing poetry, if purely for the fact that British weather means that writing anything whilst strolling through the countryside proves nearly impossible. However, I was surprised to learn the range of materials in the archive that fed into the final published poems; classically you imagine that a poem is written, edited through various manuscripts and then published, bish, bash, bosh. What I didn’t take into account was all of the materials that fall outside of this process, the photographs, the diaries, the correspondence with friends and family, which arguably have a greater impact on the creation of a piece of poetry. All of this took some time to get my head around and the sheer amount of information available seemed incredibly daunting, but all of the archive staff were incredibly helpful in making this an incredibly enjoyable experience!”

All in all, this project was definitely more challenging than anything else I have been required to do as part of my degree and was a welcome change to the thousands of words of essay I have written across nearly three years of reading English Literature. I greatly enjoyed the time we spent in Special Collections. Cardiff University is very lucky to have such a rich collection of historical and literary archives and the opportunity to make use of this material enriched my knowledge of a subject I am passionate about. Finally, I am very grateful to Carrie for providing us with this new and exciting academic opportunity and to Alison for her time and commitment to supporting us throughout the project.

Exhibition: David Jones (1895-1974)

Curated by Prof. Judi Loach, School of History, Archaeology and Religion. Images are reproduced with kind permission of the Trustees of the David Jones Estate.

David Jones would become one of the leading figures in Britain’s inter-war revival of wood engraving, despite only working in this medium for little more than 5 years.

1895: Born in South London; Welsh father, working for printers

1909: Camberwell School of Art

1914-18: Private in Royal Welch Fusiliers; served on Western front

1919-21: Westminster School of Art

1921: Received into the Roman Catholic Church

1922: Joined Eric Gill’s Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic at Ditchling (Sussex), initially as apprentice carpenter; taught wood engraving by Desmond Chute (1895-1962)

1924: Gill (1882-1940) moved to Capel-y-ffin; engaged to Gill’s daughter Petra.  Jones now lived partly at home with parents in London, partly at Capel-y-ffin and partly with the Benedictine monks on Caldey Island.

1927: Petra Gill broke off their engagement; Jones moved back to London, where he lived with his parents and was accepted into the Society of Wood Engravers.

Eyestrain forced Jones to abandon wood engraving soon afterwards.  He focused instead on watercolour, bringing to it a certain complexity and ambiguity that he had developed through his wood engraving.  He simultaneously began to write poetry, but while his painting was immediately acclaimed he would not publish any poems until 1937, when Faber & Faber brought out his book-length poem, In Parenthesis.

Witty works

Eric Gill’s community of Catholic craftspeople at the village of Ditchling, in Sussex, was marked by a desire to return to a pre-industrial way of life, inspired at once by William Morris’s Arts and Crafts movement and by the Catholic revival.  Many of the community’s pastimes embodied a rather childlike sense of innocent fun, reflected in turn in their publications.

The community’s St Dominic’s Press renewed hand printing but produced relatively cheap book(lets) so as to maximise circulation.  They therefore used wood, rather than copper, engraving, thus enabling illustrations to be printed simultaneously with text (copper engraving required printing on a separate press).

Jones joined soon after his own conversion to Catholicism, and began working in wood, simultaneously trying his hand at carpentry, sculpture and wood engraving.  His exploitation of this material’s grain distinguishes his work from that of his colleagues there, who tended to exploit the medium as a means of either creating scarcely detailed black silhouettes (e.g. some of Desmond Chute’s in Pertinent and Impertinent) or reducing to lines alone (e.g. Desmond Chute’s ‘Nazareth’, in Songs to our Lady of Silence, 1921).

D. C. Pepler, Pertinent and Impertinent (St Dominic’s Press, 1926). Illustrations by David Jones and Desmond Chute.

Jones, as yet unsure of his own style, betrays the influence that various contemporaries made on him. In ‘March’, one sees Paul Nash, equally touched by experience of war-scarred landscapes, while in ‘The Milkmaid’, the German Expressionists. Both contrast with the approach of his wood engraving teacher Desmond Chute (e.g. ‘Nazareth’).

David Jones, March. Pepler, Pertinent and Impertinent.

David Jones, March. Pepler, Pertinent and Impertinent. © David Jones Estate

David Jones, The Milkmaid. Pepler, Pertinent and Impertinent.

David Jones, The Milkmaid. Pepler, Pertinent and Impertinent. © David Jones Estate

Untitled by Desmond Chute. Pepler, Pertinent and Impertinent.

Untitled by Desmond Chute. Pepler, Pertinent and Impertinent.

Desmond Chute, Nazareth. Woellwarth, Songs to our Lady of Silence.

Desmond Chute, Nazareth. Woellwarth, Songs to our Lady of Silence.

Desmond Chute, Egypt. Woellwarth, Songs to our Lady of Silence.

Desmond Chute, Egypt. Woellwarth, Songs to our Lady of Silence.

Desmond Chute, Bethlehem. Woellwarth, Songs to our Lady of Silence.

Desmond Chute, Bethlehem. Woellwarth, Songs to our Lady of Silence.

D. C. Pepler, Libellus lapidum (St Dominic’s Press, 1924). Handwritten annotation by Pepler on flyleaf: ‘The author is ashamed of some of these verses but not of their printing’.

The cover shows Jones (with his schoolboy haircut), clinging on behind Pepler while also hanging onto his engraving tools, metaphorically his knightly weapons. Jones experimented with Vorticism (Sadler) and primitivism (Shaw).

 David Jones, Sir Michael Sadler. Pepler, Libellus lapidum.

David Jones, Sir Michael Sadler. Pepler, Libellus lapidum. © David Jones Estate

David Jones, cover image. Pepler, Libellus lapidum.

David Jones, cover image. Pepler, Libellus lapidum. © David Jones Estate

David Jones, View of Stairs. Pepler, Libellus lapidum.

David Jones, View of Stairs. Pepler, Libellus lapidum. © David Jones Estate

David Jones, Epstein and John. Pepler, Libellus lapidum.

David Jones, Epstein and John. Pepler, Libellus lapidum. © David Jones Estate

David Jones, George Bernard Shaw. Pepler, Libellus lapidum.

David Jones, George Bernard Shaw. Pepler, Libellus lapidum. © David Jones Estate

Francis Coventry, The history of Pompey the Little: or, The life and adventures of a lap-dog (Golden Cockerel, 1926).

In the same period Jones was producing work for the secular, and more fashionable, Golden Cockerel Press, where he displays a tendency to be influenced by its milieu, e.g. aping early modern imprints.

David Jones, frontispiece. Coventry, History of Pompey the Little.

David Jones, frontispiece. Coventry, History of Pompey the Little. © David Jones Estate

Devotional works

A Child’s Rosary book (St Dominic’s Press, 1924).

Here, in one of Jones’s earliest wood engraved works, he deliberately uses the grain of the wood to obscure an immediate reading, thereby forcing the child to spend time with the image, which is intended as a stimulant to meditation, time and again, not merely as a single-use didactic illustration.

David Jones, Crucifixion. A Child’s Rosary book, illustrated by David Jones.

David Jones, Crucifixion. A Child’s Rosary book, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

David Jones, Crucifixion. A Child’s Rosary book.

David Jones, Crucifixion. A Child’s Rosary book. © David Jones Estate

David Jones, Ascension. A Child’s Rosary book.

David Jones, Ascension. A Child’s Rosary book. © David Jones Estate

Eric Gill’s devotional works for St Dominic’s Press, compared with David Jones’s:

The Way of the Cross (1917): derived from his stations of the Cross for Westminster Cathedral.

Horae Beatae Virginis (1923): This is inspired by mediaeval breviaries, with most of the woodcuts taking the place of illuminated initials, but without bearing initials!

Common Carol Book (1926): Whereas the artist Jones’s Primitivism was influenced by that of Modern art, notably German Expressionism, the craftsman Gill’s is rather inspired by early modern woodcuts, or else often uses drawings by children in the Ditchling community, some seemingly worked in a kind of scraperboard.

Common carol book, illustrated by Eric Gill.

Common carol book, illustrated by Eric Gill.

Common carol book, illustrated by Eric Gill.

Common carol book, illustrated by Eric Gill.

Common carol book, illustrated by Eric Gill.

Common carol book, illustrated by Eric Gill.

Common carol book, illustrated by Eric Gill.

Common carol book, illustrated by Eric Gill.

The book of Jonah (Golden Cockerel, 1926).

Despite the change from St Dominic’s (cheap – trying to get the material into as many hands as possible) to Golden Cockerel, Jones retains his commitment to making the ‘woodiness’ of his printing block apparent in the print on paper, and to a degree of complexity (at the expense of immediate clarity) so as to force the viewer to engage with the image.

The book of Jonah, illustrated by David Jones.

The book of Jonah, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

The book of Jonah, illustrated by David Jones.

The book of Jonah, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

The book of Jonah, illustrated by David Jones.

The book of Jonah, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

The book of Jonah, illustrated by David Jones.

The book of Jonah, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Chester play of the Deluge (Golden Cockerel, 1927).

Although this was probably his finest set of wood engravings, they were printed rather faintly, which upset Jones. The scenes depicting the building of the ark may be intended to evoke Jones’s grandfather’s labours in the London dockyards and/or his own less successful attempts at carpentry when in Ditchling.  His loving portrayals of various animals, each with their own characters, draws on his sketches at London Zoo.

Chester Play of the Deluge, illustrated by David Jones.

Chester Play of the Deluge, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Chester Play of the Deluge, illustrated by David Jones.

Chester Play of the Deluge, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Chester Play of the Deluge, illustrated by David Jones.

Chester Play of the Deluge, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Chester Play of the Deluge, illustrated by David Jones.

Chester Play of the Deluge, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Llyfr y pregeth-wr. [Ecclesiastes] (Gregynog, 1927).

For this more abstract scriptural text, a volume commissioned by the Welsh Davies sisters and published in the same year as the Golden Cockerel’s Deluge, Jones provides a single engraving, as frontispiece. Printed and bound by their Gregynog Press, this is a particularly rare book, as only 25 copies were printed.

David Jones, frontispiece. Llyfr y pregeth-wr. [Ecclesiastes].

David Jones, frontispiece. Llyfr y pregeth-wr. [Ecclesiastes]. © David Jones Estate

Allegorical works: Gulliver’s Travels

Jones was attracted to texts open to multiple and/or inner meanings, such as Jonathan Swift’s satire on human nature, clothed in the form of a fictional traveller’s tale.

Here we can compare David Jones’s treatment (Golden Cockerel, 1925) with that by the fashionable artist Rex Whistler (Cresset Press, 1930).  Apart from the full-page maps, Jones uses small wood blocks inserted into the running text.  As before, he exploits the ‘woody’ character of his base material to obscure immediate understanding of the image’s meaning.  He was upset when his publisher commissioned art students to hand-colour many of his images, probably in part because this rendered their meaning immediately apparent.

Whistler, by contrast, mainly provides full-page illustrations, more literal yet also more comic; each of these is presented within a frame appropriate to its subject (framing a monarch in a Classical architectural arch or a peasant in a pergola of agricultural implements), in a way reminiscent of Whistler’s work as a designer of stage sets.

Swift, Gulliver's travels, illustrated by David Jones.

Swift, Gulliver’s travels, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Swift, Gulliver's travels, illustrated by David Jones.

Swift, Gulliver’s travels, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Swift, Gulliver's travels, illustrated by David Jones.

Swift, Gulliver’s travels, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Swift, Gulliver's travels, illustrated by David Jones.

Swift, Gulliver’s travels, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Swift, Gulliver's travels, illustrated by David Jones.

Swift, Gulliver’s travels, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Swift, Gulliver's travels, illustrated by David Jones.

Swift, Gulliver’s travels, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Swift, Gulliver's travels, illustrated by David Jones.

Swift, Gulliver’s travels, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Swift, Gulliver's travels, illustrated by David Jones.

Swift, Gulliver’s travels, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Swift, Gulliver's travels, illustrated by David Jones.

Swift, Gulliver’s travels, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Swift, Gulliver's travels, illustrated by David Jones.

Swift, Gulliver’s travels, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Swift, Gulliver's travels, illustrated by David Jones.

Swift, Gulliver’s travels, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Swift, Gulliver's travels, illustrated by David Jones.

Swift, Gulliver’s travels, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Swift, Gulliver's travels, illustrated by David Jones.

Swift, Gulliver’s travels, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Swift, Gulliver's travels, illustrated by Rex Whistler.

Swift, Gulliver’s travels, illustrated by Rex Whistler.

Swift, Gulliver's travels, illustrated by Rex Whistler.

Swift, Gulliver’s travels, illustrated by Rex Whistler.

Metaphysical works: Rime of the Ancient Mariner

David Jones was attracted above all to texts with potential for metaphysical interpretation.  In Douglas Cleverdon’s 1929 edition, the wedding guest to whom the Ancient Mariner recounts his tale becomes a figure of one who accepts Christ’s invitation to his celestial marriage feast, leading the subsequent tale to become an allegory of the appreciation and acceptance of divine grace.

Jones is using copper engraving instead of wood engraving, and so is focusing on the line, rather than on any mass.  But he carries over from his wood engravings an intrinsic sense of ambiguity, or polyvalence, accentuated by not washing the plate before printing, so as to imbue the background with a certain ghostliness.

Jones’s metaphysical understanding of the narrative is emphasised in a central image that personifies the figures of ‘Death’ and ‘Life in Death’, but also in the allusion drawn, through his addition of a final tailpiece: the pelican voluntarily giving its own blood to feed its young, traditionally a figure of Christ sacrificing Himself for his Church, sinners like those who killed Him, is implicitly placed in parallel with the albatross, whose death was involuntary and ineffectual.

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by David Jones.

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by David Jones.

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by David Jones.

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by David Jones.

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by David Jones.

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by David Jones. © David Jones Estate

S. T. Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by William Strang (Essex House Press, 1903)

For the edition produced by his Arts and Crafts Essex House Press, CR Ashbee selected a single incident from the narrative for illustration by Strang: the crucial moment when the albatross is hung around the Ancient Mariner’s neck.

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by William Strang.

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by William Strang.

 S. T. Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by Gustave Doré (C.S. Ameling, 1876)

Doré illustrates each episode in the narrative, and does so naturalistically, almost like a series of photographs. As embodiments of Victorian romanticism, the plates tend to depict these scenes darkly, indeed almost invariably at nighttime.

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by Gustave Doré.

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by Gustave Doré.

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by Gustave Doré.

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by Gustave Doré.

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by Gustave Doré.

Coleridge, Rime of the ancient mariner, illustrated by Gustave Doré.

 

Cataloguing Early Printed Greek

As a cataloguer, I create detailed descriptions of books. More than just transcribing titles and authors, I try to anticipate all of the ways in someone might search for a particular book and add notes, subjects, and name headings accordingly. At the risk of stating the obvious, this means that I need to be able to read the thing that I’m cataloguing.

Because I work with rare books, I encounter materials published in many different countries, over several centuries, in many different languages. This can present some interesting challenges, such as reading Fraktur or other Blackletter typefaces, deciphering centuries-old handwriting, or simply reading a language I’ve never studied.

At Cardiff University, most of our rare books are in English, Latin, or Welsh, but it’s not at all unusual to find books in French, Spanish, German, Italian, or Greek. With the aid of a good dictionary and Google Translate, it’s not too difficult to muddle through most languages, but Greek has the added challenge of being written in an entirely different alphabet. Luckily, there are tools to help cataloguers convert non-Roman scripts into their nearest Roman alphabet equivalents, but Early Modern Greek isn’t nearly as simple as the Library of Congress’ Romanization table would have you believe.

When printing with movable type was invented around 1450, early printers consciously imitated the style of manuscripts, including common ligatures and symbols of abbreviation which had been in common use for centuries.

MS_vs_Print

Left: Manuscript Book of Hours (Italy, ca. 1460-1480). Right: Bible (Basel: Johann Amerbach for Anton Koberger, 1498). Both use abbreviations, as in, “orbem terra[rum]” on line 3 on the left and “In principio creavit de[us] celum et terra[m]” on the right.

The earliest Greek typefaces were no exception, and were based largely on the uncial and minuscule hands used in manuscript books.

 

Between 1490 and 1503, however, the Venetian printer Aldus Manutius (1449-1515) began to design a series of Greek typefaces based on the everyday Greek cursive of the day. 

annotations

This page from Aesop’s fables (Basel: Froben, 1524) shows the similarity in appearance between the handwritten annotations and the printed text.

When copying entire books by hand, standardised abbreviations are a valuable time saver, and were used even in formal book hands. In cursive though, the letters are shaped more for speed than elegance, and ligatures and abbreviations abound. Even so, to a contemporary reader, the cursive style would have been more familiar and faster to read than its formal counterparts. Manutius’ Greek books proved such a commercial success that other printers soon began to imitate the new typeface.

Early_vs_Modern

Two impressions of the first lines of Homer’s Iliad, the left one printed in 1664 using a variety of ligatures, the right one printed in 1931 using the modern 24-letter alphabet.

By the middle of the 16th century, most symbols of abbreviation gradually fell out of use in Latin and other vernacular printed texts. Not so with Greek; 16th century type designers continued to develop a profusion of new symbols for the most frequent combinations of letters.

In 1541, King Francis I of France commissioned the creation of a new Greek typeface. Designed by Claude Garamond, it became known as Grecs du Roi and remained in use well into the 18th century. Modelled after the handwriting of Angelo Vergecio, the King’s librarian at Fontainbleu, Grecs du Roi retained many of the complex ligatures that had characterised the Aldine Greek type. Robert Estienne, Royal Printer for Greek under King Francis I, recorded that his largest case of Greek type consisted of more than four hundred and thirty different characters, most of them ligatures.

The prospect of deciphering such a staggering array of symbols is enough to cause despair in even the most dedicated cataloguer. Fortunately, there is help in the form of William H. Ingram’s 1966 article, “The Ligatures of Early Printed Greek,” which spells out approximately 400 different ligatures. With Ingram’s list in hand, there’s no excuse for this cataloguer to say “It Greek to me!”

John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica (1564)

John Dee (1527-1608) is one amongthe most intriguing figures of the English Renaissance. Born in London to a Welsh family, he would become one of the most learned men of his day. His studies extended to nearly every area of learning, but especially mathematics, astronomy, navigation, alchemy, astrology, and Hermetic philosophy. He worked with Gerardus Mercator, the famous cartographer, and used his mathematical expertise to advise navigators on trade routes to the New World. Some scholars believe that his journeys to the continent to study with prominent mathematicians and scientists actually had a dual purpose, allowing him to operate as a spy for Queen Elizabeth.

alchemical_tables

Dee’s research often combined mathematics, alchemy, astrology, and Hermetic philosophy. (Monas Hieroglyphica. London, 1564)

In addition to his academic work, Dee had an interest in mechanical automata and created special effects for stage performances which gave rise to the rumour that he was a conjuror of spirits. A devout Christian, he vehemently denied these accusations, although today he is remembered more for his supernatural studies than his scientific ones.

While Dee’s interests were more esoteric than most, the distinction between science and magic was not as clear-cut in the 16th and 17th centuries as it is today. The disciplines of mathematics and numerology, astronomy and astrology, chemistry and alchemy, were closely intertwined. Dee’s preface to the 1570 English translation of Euclid’s Elements of Geometrie claims that the study of “Things Mathematicall,” particularly geometry, can be used to deepen our understanding of both the natural and spiritual world.

Euclid_preface

Dee’s preface to Euclid’s Elements of Geometrie (London, 1570) states that the study of “Things Mathematicall” leads to a better understanding of “things Intellectual, Spirituall, aeternall, and such as concerne our Blisse everlasting.”

In 1564, while studying at Antwerp, Dee published Monas Hieroglyphica, a series of twenty-four theorems interpreting the Hieroglyphic Monad, a symbol of Dee’s own devising which carried associations with both creation and unity. The glyph first appeared in Dee’s earlier text on astronomy, Propaedeumata Aphoristica (1558), but in the Monas Hieroglyphica it became the central focus of the work. One of his most incomprehensible texts, it draws parallels between and ascribes cabbalistic meaning to the physical properties of certain minerals, their governing planets according to alchemical theories of the day, and the geometry of their alchemical and astrological symbols. The result is a complex web of meaning that is not fully understood even today.

Title_angled

Title page of Monas Hieroglyphica (Antwerp, 1564).

Some believe that the Monas Hieroglyphica was intended as a textbook to accompany lessons delivered orally by Dee but now lost; others believe that it is a hidden treatise on cryptography to be used in espionage. Whatever its original purpose, Dee’s hieroglyph became a cornerstone of hermetic philosophy and a significant influence on the Rosicrucians, a secret society which venerated the images of the rose (symbolising resurrection) and the cross (symbolising redemption). Dee himself is frequently associated with the Rosicrucians, although there is no evidence that he ever belonged to the society, or that it even existed prior to his death in 1608.

Monas_detail_cropped

Dee’s symbol combines the astrological and alchemical symbols for the moon, sun, four elements, and Aries or fire.

Dee was a rescuer and collector of books, gradually amassing one of the largest private libraries of 16th century England. After the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, Dee lamented the loss of monastic libraries as centers of learning and advocated for the recovery and preservation of manuscripts and printed books that had been dispersed. The largest surviving portion of Dee’s library can be found at the Royal College of Physicians in London, where it is currently on exhibition until 29 July. In addition to the 1564 Monas Hieroglyphica, Cardiff University owns a copy of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa contra gentiles (London, 1570) from Dee’s own library and bearing his signature. Other works in Cardiff University’s collection with contributions by Dee include 17th century editions of Euclid’s Elements of Geometrie and Robert Recorde’s The Ground of Arts (a treatise on arithmetic).

Dee_signature

John Dee’s signature on the title page of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Contra Ge[n]tiles… (London, 1570)