Tag Archives: engravings

Exhibition review: Tennyson’s Women

This guest post comes from Lauren Evetts, Literature MA student in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy.


Tennyson, Tennyson…. Where to begin?! I had just finished the taught element of a module about King Arthur in the 19th and 20th centuries and I had been particularly struck with Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, the beautiful retelling of Malory’s complete Arthurian legend in poetry form. My assessment was approaching and I really wanted to write a comparison piece, however I was struggling to find an appropriate text to compare it with. Hence my question – where on earth do I begin? I had this amazing, powerful tome of poetry but no approach, no methodology… I was pretty stuck.

All I can say is: Thank goodness for the people down in Special Collections! I thought I’d look for some inspiration amongst the collections and archives and maybe have a chat with the archivists to see what I could find. So I was incredibly pleased when I opened the double doors and right in front of me was an entire exhibition on the very text I wanted to write about! I was absolutely stunned.

Tennyson's Women exhibition at Special Collections and Archives, Arts and Social Studies Library, on until March 2017.

Tennyson’s Women exhibition at Special Collections and Archives, Arts and Social Studies Library, on until March 2017.

There in the glass cabinets were beautiful illustrations which accompanied Tennyson’s Idylls at the time of each publication. Gorgeous sketches, wood engravings, plates and paintings by Sir Richard Holmes, Gustave Doré, Edmund J. Sullivan, Florence Harrison, Mary Montgomerie Lamb, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rosetti instantly appealed to the artist in me. I had no idea that such renowned illustrators were involved in decorating Tennyson’s work, and each one with a different perspective on the same scenes. The artist who really grabbed my attention, however, was Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale, who produced 28 watercolour illustrations to accompany the 1911 edition of the Idylls. Her compassionate and complex portrayal of Tennyson’s women allowed me to gain a completely different stance on the characters and I knew, in that instant, that I had finally found a powerful comparison piece for my essay.

One image which particularly stood out to me was the depiction of Elaine being placed on her death bed.

Alfred Lord Tennyson, Idylls of the King, illustrated by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale.

‘So there two brethren from the chariot took / And on the blank decks laid her in her bed’. Alfred Lord Tennyson, Idylls of the King, illustrated by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1911.

Shunned by Lancelot after her repeated declarations of love, Tennyson’s Elaine chose to die rather than live with her unrequited feelings and asked her brothers, after her death, to deck her out like Lancelot’s beloved Queen Guinevere, put a letter for the knight in her hand, place her in a barge and let her float in it past the castle for all to see. Poor, young, naïve Elaine, who could only gain power over her circumstances in death! However, Fortescue-Brickdale’s illustration told rather a different tale.

The first thing I noticed was that Elaine has been positioned quite differently to the way she instructed her brothers to do so in the poem. Her gold covering is drawn right up to her chest, so that we are unable to see if she is dressed in the ‘rich’ clothing she desired, ‘like the Queen’, and her letter to Lancelot is completely hidden – if it is there at all! Furthermore, her face is pale and drawn – typical of a corpse, I suppose, but not smiling as in the text, and definitely not reminiscent of the ‘Fairy Queen’ which the courtly onlookers describe her as when she passes by. So Elaine is not powerful in death, after all. Her letter will go undelivered and she is unable to communicate her final message to the court. She is not sleeping the restful sleep of someone who has completed her final mission, but merely a powerless, young girl who died too young.

In these ways I could see that Fortescue-Brickdale felt that Elaine completely lacked autonomy over both her life and her death. She was dependent on men for her happiness in life and dependent on them to carry out her wishes in death. Although the changes in her illustration are fairly subtle, Fortescue-Brickdale’s depiction invites the viewer to feel Elaine’s helplessness and reliance on a patriarchal system. I found similar motifs in her other artwork and was able to write an argument on the female artist’s sympathy for Arthurian women. Now to wait for the results!

I strongly suggest asking for help from Special Collections and Archives if you’re ever stuck on what to write. In my experience, being able to view the original artwork accompanying Tennyson’s poetry was amazing, and visiting the exhibition really fascinated my inner geek. If you’re not stuck, I suggest going for a visit anyway – there are always incredible exhibitions, the staff are very helpful and know all sorts about all sorts of things. And who doesn’t love a bit of extra help?

Edition fever: Charles Knight’s illustrated Shakespeare

Reading Andrew Prescott’s excellent blog post on 19th century Shakespeare editions, ‘Why every copy of a book is different’, inspired me to find out more about our extra-illustrated set of Charles Knight’s Pictorial edition of the works of Shakspere (1839-43).

Special Collections' extra-illustrated set of Charles Knight's Pictorial Shakspere, enlarged from 7 to 15 volumes with the addition of almost 1,500 engravings.

Special Collections’ extra-illustrated set of Charles Knight’s Pictorial Shakspere, enlarged from 8 to 15 volumes with the addition of almost 1,500 engravings.

Knight’s edition was originally issued in 56 monthly parts between 1838-43, and simultaneously, as material became available, released in 8 bound volumes between 1839-43, (7 volumes of plays, with a biographical volume authored by Knight). This ambitious illustrated edition was a product of the Victorian cult of Shakespeare, prevalent among all social classes, as well as emerging technologies which made the mass-production of affordable, wood-engraved books possible for the first time.

Knight was acutely aware of the power of illustrated works to attract and educate new readers. His previous projects, the Penny Magazine (1832-45), and the 27-volume Penny Cyclopaedia (1833-44) contained hundreds of cheap woodcuts. He went on to produce ‘pictorial editions’ of the Bible, a history of England, and a Book of Common Prayer.

He rejected the approach made by Nicholas Rowe, in the first illustrated Shakespeare edition, Rowe’s works of Mr. William Shakespear (1709), in which copper engravings depict key scenes within their theatrical setting, complete with stage sets and contemporary costume.

Illustration from Nicholas Rowe's 1709 edition, showing a scene from Hamlet in its theatrical context (typically featuring a draped curtain, and actors in contemporary eighteenth century dress).

Illustration from Nicholas Rowe’s 1709 edition, showing a scene from Hamlet in its theatrical context (typically featuring a draped curtain, and actors in contemporary eighteenth century dress).

Instead, he desired to depict with historical accuracy:

‘the Realities upon which the imagination of the poet must have rested…the localities of the various scenes, whether English or foreign; the portraits of the real personages of the historical plays; the objects of natural history, so constantly occurring; accurate costume in all its rich variety,’ (Knight, 2:284).

Considering his background in encyclopedias and miscellanies, it is perhaps not surprising that he sought to surround the literary works with images of real locations, and real persons, ‘which imparted a character of truthfulness to many scenes, which upon the stage had in general been merely fanciful creations’.

Extract from Knight's 'introductory notices' to Romeo and Juliet, which places the play in its historic context.

Extract from Knight’s ‘introductory notices’ to Romeo and Juliet, which places the play in its historic context.

Compared to earlier editions by Nicholas Rowe and John Boydell, which featured expensive and laboriously-produced copper engravings, Knight capitalised on the economy of wood engraving, a quick and affordable technique perfected by Thomas Bewick (1753-1828), which allowed text and image to be printed simultaneously.

Knight’s printer, William Clowes and Sons, operated the largest printing works in the world at that time, and in 1843, owned 24 steam-driven printing presses, reducing mass-printing costs even further (Weedon, p. 158).

Steamprinting machine used by The Illustrated London News, 2 Dec 1843.

Steam-printing machine used by The Illustrated London News, 2 Dec 1843.

Boydell’s 1802 edition cost £42, compared to just £7 7s. for Knight’s some 40 years later. Knight’s edition was cheaper, but not yet within the reach of the working-class mass market. He continued to make edits and alterations, which saw a proliferation of new Shakespeare editions hit the market:

• Library edition (1842-4) in 12 volumes at £6
• Cabinet edition (1843-4) in 11 duodecimo volumes at £1 7s. 6d.
• A single volume edition of 1,084 pages (1845) at £1 1s.
• Standard edition (1846) in 7 volumes at £4
• National edition (1851-2) in 8 volumes at £3

These were followed by a Students’ edition (1857), and finally, dispensing with Knight’s extensive notes and essays, a single volume People’s edition (1864) for 2 shillings, or if bought as a serial, just:

‘two plays for one penny! … Sixty-four well-printed double-column pages containing Hamlet and Othello complete, for one penny, is really a wonder, even in this cheap-printing age… our greatest poet [is] thus brought within the reach of all, in a style fit for any home and illustrated with two woodcuts, but unencumbered with the ‘readings’ and ‘notes’, which only puzzle readers and too often interfere with the full enjoyment of Shakespeare’s immortal works’. (Birmingham Daily Post, 18 April 1864, p. 5).

A bibliographic tangle it may be, but the proliferation of editions is testament to the enduring popularity of the work, and the breadth of the potential market for illustrated Shakespeare.

Title page of Charles Knight's Pictorial edition of the works of Shakspere.

Title page of Charles Knight’s Pictorial edition of the works of Shakspere.

Special Collections and Archives’ set of Knight’s Pictorial edition of the works of Shakspere has every appearance of being a first edition, though this is difficult to verify conclusively without comparison with others. New digital databases such as the Victorian Illustrated Shakespeare Archive have vast potential to aid researchers in comparing editions and tracing source texts. Our copy is undated, re-bound, and most remarkably, has been extended to almost twice its original length by the inclusion of 1,495 additional engraved plates, and 26 original drawings by William Harvey (1796-1866).

Nicholas Harvey's original sketch for the Comedy of Errors frontispiece, bound in opposite the final engraving.

Nicholas Harvey’s original sketch for the Comedy of Errors frontispiece, bound in opposite the final engraving.

A pupil of Thomas Bewick, Harvey was employed to create a series of frontispieces, ‘which, embodying the realities of costume and other accessaries [sic], would have enough of an imaginative character to render them pleasing,’ (Knight, 2:284). His original drawings in pencil and ink, with a brown wash to indicate desired areas of shading, have been bound into the work alongside his engraved frontispieces.

One of the 1,495 extra illustrations added to our Knight edition. The same Hamlet scene as depicted Rowe's edition, this rendering features the same Regency dress and set design that Knight rejected in favour of historical accuracy.

One of the 1,495 extra illustrations added to our Knight edition. The same Hamlet scene as depicted Rowe’s edition, this rendering features the same Regency dress and set design that Knight rejected in favour of historical accuracy.

The work now stretches to 15 volumes rather than the original 8, and to what would surely be Knight’s dismay, contains many of the ‘artistic’ theatrical scenes from 18th and early 19th century editions, of which he disapproved so strongly, as well as illustrations from rival mid-19th century wood-engraved Shakespeare editions.

In the first volume, a bookseller’s catalogue listing is pasted onto the front free endpaper, with the price given as £35.label

An inscription records, ‘I give this book to my dear son Trevor / 22 April 1889, John C. Bigham’.

Inscription from John Charles Bigham (1840-1929) to his son Trevor (1876-1954).

Inscription from John Charles Bigham (1840-1929) to his son Trevor (1876-1954).

The son of a merchant, John Charles Bigham (1840-1929) trained as a barrister and rose quickly through the ranks to join the Queen’s Bench. In 1912, he was appointed commissioner to inquire into the sinking of the RMS Titanic, and was created the first Viscount Mersey in 1916. His third son, Trevor, to whom the book is inscribed, became Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (the second-in-command of London’s Metropolitan Police Service) in 1931.

Bookplate of John Charles Bigham (1840-1929)

Bookplate of John Charles Bigham (1840-1929)

Each Knight volume contains a bookplate belonging to John Charles Bigham, dated 1897. The pasted bookseller’s record suggests that neither Trevor Bigham nor his father were responsible for constructing this densely extra-illustrated work, and we may never know who was. Prescott writes ‘each copy of a book bears the imprint in different ways of its previous owners and can act as an archive of the owners’ interests, enthusiasms and preoccupations as much as their personal papers’. There could be few better examples of this than this handsome work, more scrapbook than book, and all the more fascinating for researchers as a result.

Further reading:

  • Knight, Charles, Passages of a working life during half a century, with a prelude of early reminiscences. London: Bradbury & Evans, 1864.
  • Weedon, Alexis, Victorian publishing: the economics of book production for a mass market, 1836-1916. Aldershot: Ashgate, c2003: 158.
  • Young, Alan R., ‘Charles Knight and the nineteenth-century market for Shakespeare’, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 103, no. 1 (March 2009), pp. 19-41.

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.

Exhibition: Wales in the Romantic Imagination

Our latest exhibition is held in collaboration with Romantic Imprints: the 14th International Conference of the British Association for Romantic Studies, Cardiff University, 16-19 July 2015. The exhibition will run until September.

Thomas Pennant (1726-1798)

“… he’s the best traveller I ever read; he observes more things than anyone else does.” – Samuel Johnson on Thomas Pennant

Thomas Pennant was a natural historian, antiquarian and prolific travel writer, principally known for his accounts of travelling on foot and horseback through Wales and Scotland in the late 18th century, exploring remote parts previously unknown to many. His naturally gregarious disposition encouraged local inhabitants to speak freely of their habits, customs and superstitions, all of which he documented in as much detail as the route and its scenery. A great believer in the ability of a picture to tell a thousand words, his works were heavily illustrated with engravings, initially sketched by his servant Moses Griffith, who travelled with him.

Tour in Wales, MDCCLXXIII
Thomas Pennant 1726-1798.
1778

pennant_castle dynas bran

 

Journey to Snowdon
Thomas Pennant 1726-1798.
1781

Journey from Chester to London
Thomas Pennant 1726-1798.
1782

Tour in Wales. Vol. II
Thomas Pennant 1726-1798.
1784

Tourism and the Wye Valley

The Wye Valley can be considered the birthplace of British tourism, and
British Romanticism, indeed, if one takes a cue from Wordsworth’s seminal poem ‘Tintern Abbey’. William Gilpin’s Observations on the River Wye (1782), the first British illustrated tour guide, is largely responsible for this. Gilpin popularised the concept of taking boat tours down the Wye Valley, to view its romantic sites and picturesque landscape. Viewing the valley from boats gave rise to ‘picturesque tourism’, which focused on an appreciation of scenery rather than just history or architecture.

Gilpin’s book was an instant commercial success, and brought many visitors, including artists, writers and poets to the Wye Valley. Both familiar and unknown, the Wye Valley formed a meeting place of two nations and four counties, an uncanny and unstable border territory shifting with the river’s movements, a place of exile for political radicals, and a subject for many of the period’s most celebrated writers.

Three essays: I. On picturesque: beauty; II. On picturesque; travel; III.
On the art of sketching landscape. Gilpin’s personal copy of the original holograph manuscript, together with nine original drawing in watercolour, tint, pen, ink and pencil by the author. From the archive of Cyril Brett, Professor of English (1921-36) at University College Cardiff.
William Gilpin 1724-1804.
1792

wye_mss

 

Observations on the River Wye : and several parts of South Wales, &c. relative chiefly to picturesque beauty; made in the summer of the year 1770.
William Gilpin 1724-1804.
1792

wye_gilpin

 

Excursion down the Wye from Ross to Monmouth : including historical and descriptive accounts of Wilton and Goodrich castles, also of Court Field, the nursery of King Henry the Fifth; New Wear, and every other object in the voyage.
Charles Heath 1761-1831.
1796

Picturesque views on the river Wye : from its source at Plinlimmon Hill, to its junction with the Severn below Chepstow: with observations on the public buildings, and other works of art, in its vicinity.
Samuel Ireland -1800.
1797

Tour of the River Wye and its vicinity : enriched with two engravings.
George Sael 1760 or 1761-1799
1798

wye_sael

 

Banks of Wye : a poem. In four books
Robert Bloomfield 1766-1823.
1811

Leigh’s guide to Wales & Monmouthshire : containing observations on the mode of travelling, plans of various tours, sketches of the manners and customs, notices of historical events, a description of every remarkable place, and a minute account of the Wye.
Samuel Leigh
1831

Hints to pedestrians : or, how to enjoy a three weeks’ ramble through North and South Wales and along the banks of the Wye / by a Pedestrian.
1837

Topographical Wales

Special Collections and Archives is home to the substantial personal library of the 19th century antiquarian Enoch Salisbury. A native of Flintshire, he was a businessman, politician and privately, a book-collector with a personal mission to collect every book on the subject of Wales, or in Welsh. His eventual bankruptcy led to the collection of some 13,000 volumes being purchased at auction in 1886 by the first incarnation of Cardiff University: the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire.

Salisbury had a particular interest in Welsh topography and antiquities, and tended to buy two copies of illustrated volumes with plates. One would be placed in the library, and the other would have the plates removed, and inserted into dedicated scrapbooks. He also purchased individual prints, sketches and paintings for inclusion. Salisbury kept a dedicated scrapbook for each Welsh county, featuring hundreds of illustrations of its landscape and architecture.

This image is thought to be the earliest known depiction of Hafod, Aberystwyth, painted by a visitor who captured the building process, recording the phasing of this important house. It is complemented by a copy of Cumberland’s guidebook and plan of the estate, together with an engraving of the completed Hafod.

 

Hafod, Aberyswyth, Ceredigion
Signed S. Walker
Circa 1784-5
Watercolour on card
142mm by 95mm
Salisbury Cardiganshire Volume

An attempt to describe Hafod: and the neighbouring scenes about the bridge over the Funack, commonly called the Devil’s Bridge, in the county of Cardigan: an ancient seat belonging to Thomas Johnes, Esq. Member for the County of Radnor
George Cumberland 1754-1848
1796

These watercolours show places in the Vale of Clwyd associated with
Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784).

salis_bachygraig

 

Monument erected by Colonel John Myddleton on the banks of the River Ystrad to commemorate the visit of Dr. Samuel Johnson in 1774 to Gwaenynog Hall, near Denbigh
Unknown artist
Circa 1810
Watercolour on paper
228mm by 140mm
Salisbury Denbighshire Volume

Distant view of a house titled as Bach-y-Graig, Tremeirchion, Denbighshire
Unknown artist
Circa 1830
Watercolour on paper
268mm by 203mm
Salisbury Denbighshire Volume

Called Bach-y-Graig, Tremeirchion, Denbighshire
Unknown artist
Circa 1830
Watercolour on paper
235mm by 143mm
Salisbury Denbighshire Volume

Both pencil sketches are by the artist Julia Mann, who visited South Wales during December 1831. On the left, Oxwich Castle, a Tudor courtyard house, was built by the Mansel family during the sixteenth-century. Their tenancy was short-lived, as the house became a romantic ruin during the 18th century, and a popular destination on the picturesque tourist trail. Manorbier Castle, on the right, was part of this circuit, claiming fame as being the birthplace of Gerald of Wales. The castle survived intact until the Civil War when it was slighted, afterwards becoming derelict.

salis_mann

 

Oxwich Castle, Oxwich Bay, Glamorganshire
Attributed to Julia Mann
Dated December 1831
Pencil on card
245mm by 176mm
Salisbury Glamorganshire Volume

Manorbier Castle, from North Pembrokeshire
Signed Julia Mann
Dated December 1831
Pencil on card
243mm by 176mm
Salisbury Pembrokeshire Volume

Welsh Romantic Medievalism and the Arthur myth

In 1816, the republication of two rival editions of Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, out of print since 1634, reawakened interest in Arthur and the medieval romances. Wales was inextricably linked with the Arthur myth; the earliest references to King Arthur come from Wales and its medieval literature, such as the Annales Cambriae, the Black Book of Carmarthen, the Book of Taliesin, and of course, the Mabinogion, in the Red Book of Hergest. The Arthur myth created a touchstone of Celtic nationalism in Cornwall and Wales which resonates to this day.

The London printer, Williams Stansby (1572-1638) produced this edition of Malory’s work based on the earlier editions by Wynken de Worde and William Caxton. Stansby’s text appeared in 1634, just before the outbreak of the English Civil War. It remained the only available edition for nearly two hundred years until the revival of interest in Arthurian literature in the 19th century.

Most ancient and famous history of the renowned prince Arthur King of Britaine : Wherein is declared his life and death, with all his glorious battailes against the Saxons, Saracens and pagans […] also, all the noble acts, and heroicke deeds of his valiant knights of the Round Table.
Sir Thomas Malory, active 15th century.
1634

arthur_1634

 

This three volume edition of Malory, edited by the antiquary, Joseph Haslewood, is one of two new editions that appeared in 1816, both based on Stansby’s edition of Caxton. The appearance of these editions heralded the revival of interest in the Arthurian story.

Mort d’Arthur : the most ancient and famous history of the renowned Prince Arthur and the knights of the Round Table / by Sir Thos. Malory.
Sir Thomas Malory, active 15th century.
1816

In Thomas Heywood’s 1641 edition of Merlin’s Prophecies, the sage is depicted as a hermit sitting under a tree rather than the powerful sorcerer of modern iconography. However he is still surrounded by images from his mythic history such as the two dragons whose epic fight provided Wales with its flag and with an enduring symbol of national identity.

The life of Merlin, sirnamed Ambrosius: his prophesies, and predictions interpreted, and their truth made good by our English annalls: being a chronographicall history of all the kings, and memorable passages of this kingdome, from Brute to the reigne of our royall soveraigne King Charles.
Thomas Heywood approximately 1574-1641
1641

arthur_merlin

 

This later edition of Merlin’s Prophecies from 1812 was printed at Carmarthen. By then the city was firmly associated with the figure of Merlin, and the place name was interpreted as ‘Caer Myrddin’ or Merlin’s town.

The life of Merlin, surnamed Ambrosius: his prophecies and predictions interpreted, and their truth made good by our English annals: being a chronographical history of all the kings and memorable passages of this kingdom, from Brute to the reign of King Charles.
Thomas Heywood approximately 1574-1641
1812

Arthur’s Stone, Cefn Bryn, the Gower, is the site of a Neolithic burial tomb. According to legend, Arthur threw this large stone and it landed in this spot. The tradition reflects the reputation of Arthur as a giant and a folk hero, rather than a courtly medieval king.

Illustration of Arthur’s Stone (Maen Ceti).
Glamorgan scrapbook, Salisbury archive

This Welsh translation of Merlin’s prophecies derives ultimately from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Latin work, Historia regum Britanniae (The History of the Kings of Britain). Merlin is taken before King Vortigirn (Brenin Gwrtheyrn) to explain the mystery of the falling tower.

Dwy gan o brophwydoliaethau Myrddin : a gymmerwyd allan o “Lyfr y daroganau”. Hefyd, hanes, o’r modd y daeth Myrddin i fod yn adnabyddus i’r brenin Gwrtheyrn, mab-y’nghyfraith Hengyst.
1810

Special editions

Special Collections and Archives holds a number of notable editions related to Romantic Studies. These include:

• A green leather folio edition of Felicia Hemans’ Welsh Melodies:

Selection of Welsh melodies : with symphonies and accompaniments / by John Parry; and characteristic words by Mrs. Hemans.
John Parry Bardd Alaw, 1776-1851; Felicia Hemans 1793-1835
1822

special_hemans

 

• A signed copy of Edmund Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime, inscribed to Arthur Onslow, Speaker of the House of Commons from 1728-1761:

Philosophical enquiry into the origin of our ideas of the sublime and beautiful.
Edmund Burke 1729-1797
1759

• A first edition of Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa:

Clarissa; or, the history of a young lady. Comprehending the most important concerns of private life. And particularly shewing the distresses that may attend the misconduct both of parents and children, in relation to marriage.
Samuel Richardson
1748

special_clarissa

 

• Examples of gothic novels from the Minerva Press:

Ellen, countess ospecial_ellenf Castle Howel : a novel.
Bennett, Mrs. (Anna Maria), -1808
1794

The Stranger : or, Llewellyn family ; a Cambrian tale.
A. Robert Evans
1798

Secret avengers ; or the rock of Glotzden: romance in four volumes / by Anne of
Swansea.
Julia Ann Hatton 1764-1838
1815

Gwelygordd; or, The child of sin. A tale of Welsh origin.
Charles Lucas 1769-1854
1820

Iolo Morganwg (1747-1826)

Edward Williams (1747-1826) remains better known by his bardic name, Iolo Morganwg, whose romantic image of Wales and its past greatly influenced Wales’ national identity. A prolific poet, radical and polymath, his interests ranged from druidism, folklore, antiquities, architecture, agriculture, geology, language and dialect. Following his death it was discovered that many of his collected manuscripts, which featured evidence of druidic practices in Wales, and observations on mystical and metaphysical philosophy, were in fact his own forgeries. The Salisbury Library in Special Collections and Archives holds a number of books formerly owned by Iolo Morganwg, annotated in his own hand.

The Historie of Cambria, now called Wales
David Powell 1552?-1598
1584
Inscribed by Iolo Morganwg to his daughter: “Ann Matthews Williams, Her Book’. The copy is heavily annotated throughout in various contemporary and later hands, including Iolo Morganwg’s.

iolo_signature

 

Awdyl ar dymhorau y vlwyzyn.
Richard Powell 1769-1795
1793

Cywydd y Drindod.
David Richards Dafydd Ionawr, 1751-1827
1793

iolo_poem

 

Halsing, neu gan newydd ar ddydd Natalic.
John Williams 1728-1806
1781

Cyflafan y beirdd : awdl.
Robert Williams Robert ap Gwilym Ddu, 1766-1850
[1793?]

iolo_mss insert

Circle Press Artists’ Books by Ron King: an exhibition

posterRon King was born in Brazil in 1932. He entered the Chelsea School of Art in London in 1951. He launched his Circle Press in 1967 with his work, ‘The Prologue’ from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. An innovative artist, he was also an innovative entrepreneur, and made many trips to North America where there was a ready market for his artist books. After many international exhibitions, and working with over one hundred artists and writers in the intervening years, and producing well over one hundred pieces of work, Ron King retired from publishing in 2009. He kindly donated his personal collection of artists’ books to Cardiff University in 2014.

Ron King & Roy Fisher, Anansi Company. Circle Press, 1992.

Ron King & Roy Fisher, Anansi Company. Circle Press, 1992.

 

Ron King, Alphabeta concertina. Circle Press, 1983. (Two editions of 1,000 copies)

Ron King, Alphabeta concertina. Circle Press, 1983. (Two editions of 1,000 copies)

“The idea for my first book came from a visit to the National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum. There, for the first time, I viewed the French beaux livres, Matisse’s ‘Jazz’, Miro’s ‘A Tout Epreuve’, and Derain’s illustrations for a book by Rabelais”.

— Book, Art, Object 2, Codex Foundation, 2013. (p. 77). Eds. D. Jury and P. Koch.

Ron King, The Song of Solomon (King James Bible text). Circle Press, 1968.

Ron King, The Song of Solomon (King James Bible text). Circle Press, 1968.

“In New York on a trip in the early seventies I bought a pop-up version of ‘Pinocchio’, published by Random House, ostensibly for my children. It was to set me off in an entirely new direction as far as the concept of the book was concerned”.

— Book, Art, Object 2, Codex Foundation, 2013. (p. 79). Eds. D. Jury and P. Koch.

Ron King & Roy Fisher, Left-handed Punch. Circle Press, 1986.

Ron King & Roy Fisher, Left-handed Punch. Circle Press, 1986.

“The [Circle] Press has been highly productive for over forty years and has had a profound effect, directly and indirectly, on other artists working with books, for it has provided a continuity and a context against which such activity can be measured”.

Circle Press website.

Ron King and Roy Fisher, Bluebeard’s castle (based on Bartok’s opera). Circle Press, 1972.

Ron King and Roy Fisher, Bluebeard’s castle (based on Bartok’s opera). Circle Press, 1972.

“Ron King is a maker. He is not just an artist – though that is his primary identity – he is a craftsman capable of turning his hand to the ready solution of practical problems … It is in this quality of inspired fabrication that his real genius resides”.

— Andrew Lambirth, Introduction, p. 13, Cooking the Books: Ron King and the Circle Press. Yale Centre for British Art, 2002.

Ron King, Hick, Hack, Hock (Scissors, paper, stone). Circle Press, 1996/97.

Ron King, Hick, Hack, Hock (Scissors, paper, stone). Circle Press, 1996/97.

“An artist’s book is a book produced under the direction of an artist. The word ‘artist’ is used broadly: the artist may be a visual artist or a text-based conceptual artist; he or she may normally work with other media or they may be an artist solely on the basis of their work as a ‘book artist’. An artist’s book may be produced by a fine press but also as easily by the artist or by an associated studio, gallery or collective”.

— British Library, ‘Fine Presses, Artists’ Books, and Book Arts’.

Ron King, Hollow log (log books). 1996.

Ron King, Hollow log (log books). 1996.

Cardiff is the only UK university to receive a donation of nearly all of the Circle Press works – Ron King’s other main collection is at Yale University in the USA, in the Yale Centre for British Arts. Cardiff University is also a leading UK centre for research in illustration studies for 19th century printing, and it is home to one of the largest arts and crafts Private Press book collections in the UK.

Ron King, Turn over darling. Circle Press, 1990.

Ron King, Turn over darling. Circle Press, 1990.

To order copies of Circle Press books please visit their website for further contact, availability, and ordering information.

Some methods used in image or illustration production in artists’ books –

  • Screen printing: pressing ink through a mesh, using stencils to block off unprinted areas.
  • Embossing: to shape an object which is pressed into paper to create raised areas.
  • Linocut: cutting into lino to create raised ‘relief’ images, which are either inked and pressed onto paper, or embossed into paper.
  • Engraving: the incision of a design or image into metal, using tools or acid. Ink is pushed into the incisions, and the surface of the metal is cleaned before pressing it onto paper.
  • Aquatint: applying a fine dust of particles to an indented metal plate prior to engraving, which gives texture to the metal and creates tonal effects in the final print.

Exhib

Items displayed in the exhibition include:

  • Ron King, The Song of Solomon (King James Bible text). Circle Press, 1968.
  • Ron King, The prologue – prints edition. Circle Press, 1978. (King, Crozier, Fisher, Please, Power).
  • Ron King & Richard Price, Gift horse. Circle Press, 1999.
  • Ron King, Echo book. Circle Press, 1994.
  • Ron King, Turn over darling. Circle Press, 1990.
  • Ron King & Roy Fisher, Left-handed Punch. Circle Press, 1986.
  • Ron King & Roy Fisher, Anansi Company. Circle Press, 1992.
  • Ron King and Roy Fisher, Bluebeard’s castle (based on Bartok’s opera). Circle Press, 1972.
  • Ron King, Hick, Hack, Hock (Scissors, paper, stone). Circle Press, 1996/97.
  • Ron King, Hollow log (log books). 1996.
  • Ron King, Alphabeta concertina. Circle Press, 1983. (Two editions of 1,000 copies)
  • Ron King, White alphabet. Circle Press, 1984. (150 signed copies).
  • Norman Ackroyd and Jeremy Hooker, Itchen water, Circle Press, 1982.
  • Ron King and George Szirtes, The burning of the books. Circle Press, 2008.
  • Willow Legge, An African folktale. Circle Press, 1979. (With blind and intaglio screen prints).

Special Collections and Archives wish to thank the Art and Design undergraduates from Cardiff Metropolitan University who helped create the Circle Press artist book exhibition, for their work in selecting, prioritising, and organising the works which were displayed; namely – Miriam Davies, Adam Wright, Daisy Burrell, Emma Harry, Sarah Thomas, Jemma Schiebe, Molly Lewis, Maya Holthuis, Naomi Morgan, Ruby Fox, and Beth Morris. Beth has written an excellent account of the experience on her blog.

Exhibition: Should women wear trousers?

Special Collections and Archives’ latest exhibition is curated by Dr Becky Munford and Amber Jenkins, School of English, Communication and Philosophy. The exhibition forms part of Becky’s wider research project into trouser wearing among women in Britain, France and America since the French Revolution. Becky’s website, ‘Women in Trousers: A Visual Archive’, will be launched later this summer.

The exhibition will be on display until early September. Extracts are supplied below.

Should women wear trousers?

From Joan of Arc to George Sand, Mary Edwards Walker to Marlene Dietrich and Colette to Coco Chanel, the history of trouser-wearing women in the West is vexed by controversy. Linked with periods of social and political upheaval, women’s liberation, radical thought, aesthetic innovation and erotic freedom, women in trousers have historically represented an illegitimate assumption of male authority and power – of ‘wearing the trousers’ – that destabilises fixed notions of sexual difference and threatens the ideology of the separate spheres.

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‘Should Women Wear Trousers?’, Picture Post (1 November 1941), pp. 22-23.

‘Trousers For Women Are Not Necessarily Unattractive’, Punch (11 May 1927), p. 517.

Dress reform and ‘rational’ costume

The ‘bloomer costume’ was popularised by the American women’s rights activist and temperance advocate Amelia Bloomer in The Lily in 1851. Consisting of loose Turkish-style ‘trowsers’ worn under a short dress, the bloomer costume offered a ‘rational’ alternative to what Bloomer described as the ‘everlasting bondage’ of stays and petticoats. Although trousers had been worn by women in utopian socialist communities earlier in the century, bloomers represented the most radical challenge to fashionable dress because they wedded dress reform to feminist thought and political protest.

bloomerism

‘Woman’s Emancipation (Being a Letter addressed to Mr. Punch, with a Drawing, by a strong-minded American Woman)’, Punch (28 June 1851), p. 3.

‘Amelia Bloomer, Originator of the New Dress’, Illustrated London News (27 September 1851), p. 396 [first printed in The Lily (September 1851), p. 69].

‘The American Ladies’ New Costume’, Illustrated London News (19 July 1851), p. 85.

‘Bloomeriana. A Dream’, Punch (1851) pp. 204-205. Illustrated London News (19 July 1851), p. 85.  

Irrational Rationalists

The intrigue and anxiety provoked by the sight of women wearing trousers in public unfolded across the printed pages of the popular press on both sides of the Atlantic. The British weekly magazine Punch focused its satire on the figure of the ‘strong-minded woman’, whose appropriation of trousers – a visual symbol of male power and privilege – was construed as a direct assault on masculinity. In the early 1850s, the magazine routinely offered derisive images of bloomer-clad women adopting ‘masculine’ poses, smoking cigars, proposing to men and terrorising their ‘hen-pecked’ husbands.

sirens

‘Bloomerism!’, Punch (1851), p. 189.

‘The Angel in ‘The House;’ Or, the Result of Female Suffrage (A Troubled Dream of the Future)’, Punch (14 June 1884), p. 279.

‘Sirens in Small-Clothes’, Lady’s Pictorial (25 April 1891), p. 654.

Free-wheeling feminism

The bloomer costume reappeared with the bicycle craze of the 1890s, and once again became the object of Punch’s caricature. The New Woman on a bicycle not only represented new locomotive freedoms for women, but also the possibility of broader social, intellectual and political freedoms. In 1896, the American women’s suffrage campaigner Susan B. Anthony declared that bicycling had done ‘more to emancipate women than anything else in the world’.

bicycle

‘The Latest Craze in Paris: Lady Cyclists as Seen at Longchamps’, The Graphic (14 April 1894), front cover.

‘Fashions for November’, The Graphic (27 October 1894), p. 495.

‘The National Cycle Show’, The Graphic (15 December 1894), p. 682.

‘The Latest Parisian Craze’, The Graphic (14 April 1894), p. 420.

‘Bicycle Suit’, Punch (12 January 1895), p. 23.

‘A Girl Goes Cycling’, Picture Post (17 February 1940), pp. 42-43.

Wearing the trousers

The early decades of the twentieth century saw dramatic transformations in women’s dress to match the seismic changes taking place in the cultural, technological and political spheres. During the First and Second World Wars women adopted trousers to take up new modes of labour, working on the land, in munitions factories, as ship-builders, and as ambulance drivers and pilots, among other professions, preparing for and responding to ‘national emergencies’.

landgirl

‘Farmers! Protect Your Crops by Using “Binks’s Patent Futurist Scarecrow”’, Punch (17 July 1918), p. 33.

‘The Farmer’s Idea of the Landgirl’, Punch (13 March 1940), n.p.

‘Ambulance Drivers in their War-Time Kit’, Picture Post (13 May 1939), p. 16.

‘Girl Pilots’, Picture Post (22 October 1938), p. 47.

Fashioning the modern woman

In the 1920s and 1930s, trousers became a more acceptable part of women’s attire for sports and leisure activities. Sportswear influenced the masculinisation of women’s fashion, while pyjama suits, and even shorts, became a part of fashionable women’s summer wardrobes. That trousers played a vital role in fashioning the idea of ‘modern’ femininity was also reflected in the association between trouser-wearing and smoking – trousers featured prominently in cigarette advertising of the period to suggest the freedoms promised by smoking for the modern woman.

fashion

‘Trousers – And All That – For Women’, Punch (18 May 1931), n.p.

‘Play Suits for Summer’, Picture Post (1 April 1939), pp. 52-53.

‘Advertisement for Camels’, Harper’s Magazine (July 1930), back cover.

Building Noah’s Ark: instructions from Thomas Stackhouse’s “A new history of the Holy Bible” (1733)

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Construction begins on the ark as mankind ignores the danger: this engraving from the 1752 edition of Stackhouse’s “A new history of the Holy Bible” clearly shows the three decks, single window and door described in Genesis

These fascinating illustrations come from A new history of the Holy Bible, written by Thomas Stackhouse and first published in 1733. We hold several editions of this work in the Cardiff Rare Books Collection, each containing different engravingsIMG_0973a depicting the design and construction of Noah’s ark as described in the Old Testament. The book of Genesis tells how God decided to undo his creation of the Earth by sending a flood to wash away the wickedness of man. Noah was instructed by God to build an ark, a large waterproof vessel that would save Noah, his family and a sample of the world’s animals from the coming storm that would soon cleanse the Earth.

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The rectangular, box-shaped design is apparent here in the first edition of 1733, but the many (impractical?) windows allow us to view the animals on the decks. In his text, even Stackhouse refers to this depiction as “pure imagination”.

In Genesis 6:14-6:16, God gives Noah detailed directions for the construction of the vessel: “Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you shall make it: the length of the ark 300 hundred cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and finish it to a cubit from the top; and set the door of the ark in the side of it; you shall make it with lower, second, and third decks …” The length of a cubit has varied over time but Stackhouse calculated the measurements to correspond roughly to a vessel 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high, which, as Stackhouse readily admits, would make the ark of Noah larger than any wooden vessel ever built.

Although slightly closer to the familiar boat design, this ark also shows the single skylight in the roof as described

A more traditional view of a ship-shaped ark from Weigel's "Biblia ectypa" (1697)

A more traditional view of a ship-shaped ark from Weigel’s “Biblia ectypa” (1697)

Stackhouse and his illustrators depict the ark as having a rectangular box-like design, very different to the traditional sea-going ship with curved keel, bow and rounded hull (the Hebrew word for the ark, “tebah”, actually means box or container, as in the Ark of the Covenant). In Stackhouse’s words, Noah was commanded to “build a kind of vessel, not in the form of ships now in use, but rather inclining to the fashion of a large chest or ark”. As this ark was “intended only for a kind of float, to swim above the water, the flatness of it’s bottom did render it more capacious”. It was, Stackhouse argues, designed for protection and not for navigation.

An earlier illustration of the ark depicting the single door and triple decks (from our 1474 copy of Rolewinck's "Fasciculus temporum")

This earlier illustration of the ark is very similar to the one above and also depicts the single door and triple decks (from our 1474 copy of Rolewinck’s “Fasciculus temporum”)

Surprisingly, the box-shaped ark has resurfaced once again in 2014. Despite the apparent unseaworthiness of the design, film director Darren Aronofsky chose to depict an ark very similar to Stackhouse’s ‘floating container’ for his retelling of the flood narrative, Noah, starring Russell Crowe as the titular prophet.

 

Eagle or dodo? A guide to identification

Possibly very few people in history have ever spotted a large bird of prey soaring majestically above the treetops and thought to themselves, “Is that an eagle or a dodo?”. However, for anyone who has difficulty telling these two magnificent birds apart we can now point to this helpful engraving from our copy of Buffon’s System of natural history (1791). Problem solved!

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The pointy stick proliferation, or, How to explore the antiquities of Britain as an 18th century gentleman

Pointy stickIn the late 1700s, an interest in the study of British history and other antiquarian pursuits was the mark of a gentleman and a patriot, and many topographical books of the day reflect the increasing public interest in ancient remains. These illustrations all come from Francis Grose’s The antiquities of England and Wales, published between 1772 and 1776 and aimed at the popular market of interested readers who perhaps had neither the means nor the inclination to visit the sites in person.

O horor

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Grose’s topographical engravings are notable not just for the ancient ruins they depict in skillful detail but also for their “staffage”, the little figures invariably included for scale or atmosphere who are shown exploring the site or simply going about their daily business – men fishing in the rivers, scholars chatting by the chapel, and tiny milkmaids chased by angry livestock! But by far the most common figures to be found in these prints are the gentlemen dandies with their ever-present pointy sticks…

Proliferation of pointy sticks

Got milk?

By the end of the 18th century, a rigid cane had replaced the sword as an essential part of the discerning gentleman’s wardrobe. Walking sticks became an ???????????????????????????????important indicator of social status and a way for a gentleman to display his wealth; usually made from rattan, sticks were elaborately and expensively crafted with silver, ivory or jeweled handles. As the highways of the late 1700s still held some dangers for the lone traveller, walking sticks often retained the sword’s function as a defensive weapon, and canes with blades or even pistols hidden in the shaft were common. As these pictures show, however, the most important use of a gentleman’s walking stick was to point out matters of interest to a friend, a lady companion, or even the occasional dog!

One man and a dog

Francis Grose (1731-1791) himself was an interesting character. A soldier by ???????????????????????????????trade, he was far more inclined to his work as an antiquary and spent his summers sketching medieval ruins around the country. The first part of The antiquities of England and Wales was published in 1772 and was followed by three more volumes and a supplement with illustrations by other artists. While touring Scotland to begin work on The antiquities of Scotland, Captain Grose became close friends with Robert Burns and the poet composed Tam O’Shanter to accompany Grose’s drawing of Alloway Kirk when the book was published in 1791.

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Dog

Engravers of the Lost Ark

IMG_0362I have been fascinated by tales of the Ark of the Covenant from the first time Indiana Jones strapped on his bullwhip and picked up his fedora for Raiders of the Lost Ark (never go on an adventure without your hat!), so I was thrilled to discover an 18th century depiction of the Ark in a book I was cataloguing from the Cardiff Rare Books Collection. Intrigued to see how other engravers depicted this fabled lost artefact, I set out on a quest to unearth some more illustrations from the early printed books in our extensive collections.

An unusual depiction of the Ark from a 1708 edition of Josephus’ “Jewish history” showing the cherubim supporting the mercy seat or “footstool” which appears in some later descriptions. Also surprising to note that the angels here are depicted with hooves.

Copper engraving by Bleyswyk showing Aaron’s rod and a vessel of manna said to be deposited with the Ark

According to the biblical account from the Book of Exodus, the Ark of the Covenant was built at the command of God as a coffer for storing the original stone tablets given to Moses on Mount Sinai.  Exodus provides detailed instructions on how the Ark was to be constructed: it was to be made of shittim (acacia) wood, 2.5 cubits long, 1.5 wide and 1.5 high, and plated entirely in gold with a ring attached to each foot so that it could be carried aloft on wooden poles. A cover of solid gold adorned with two golden cherubim with their wings outstretched was to be placed over the top.

The Ark, veiled with blue cloth and skins, at the head of the Israelite army, from Augustin Calmet’s “Historical, critical, geographical, chronological, and etymological dictionary of the Holy Bible” (1732)

The Ark was carried by the Israelites during their 40 years in the desert and many of their victories are attributed to its supernatural power, from parting the waters of the Jordan to bringing down the walls of Jericho. Priests carried the Ark, usually veiled in cloth and animal skins, in the vanguard of the army and when the host was encamped it had its own sacred tent, known as the Tabernacle. During the construction of King Solomon’s massive temple complex in Jerusalem, a special inner courtroom, called the Holy of Holies, was designed to house the Ark, where it stood as a throne for God’s rule on Earth.

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The consecration of the Hebrew commonwealth with the Ark unveiled at the centre, from Calmet

The Ark is believed to have disappeared from Jerusalem after the Babylonians invaded and sacked the city in the sixth century A.D., but since then it  has continued to capture the imaginations of engravers, writers, film-makers, and even the occasional whip-wielding archaeologist!

Depiction of the Ark in the Holy of Holies and an inset showing the cloud between the two cherubim which was said to reveal God's presence

Depiction of the Ark in the Holy of Holies and an inset showing the cloud between the two cherubim which was said to reveal God’s presence