Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Review: "Straphanger"

Taras Grescoe's Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile (forthcoming from Times Books in April) is a masterful argument in favor of affordable, efficient, ubiquitous public transportation both within and between the world's cities. Grescoe travels the world exploring the theories of public transit, the histories of different cities' systems, and the best (and worst) examples of public transit implementation and practice.

Full disclosure: I've never owned a car, I don't drive, and I would be delighted if I could get through life without ever having to do either. But in today's America, it's a tricky way to live. As Grescoe notes, inter-city public transit in the United States and most of Canada is generally either overly time-consuming, unpleasant, or both - and that's when it exists at all (the Northeast Corridor's Acela train and Amtrak's Downeaster from Boston to Portland are notable exceptions, and thankfully they're what I get to use most often).

Grescoe goes deep beneath the streets of New York to witness construction on a new subway line there; he ventures onto the freeways of Los Angeles, and into the far reaches of car-required Phoenix (a city he describes as "his nightmare"). "This book," he writes, "is, in part, the story of a bad idea: the notion that our metropolises should be shaped by the needs of cars, rather than people" (p. 17). But it's also a showpiece for how good networks of public transit can rejuvenate cities, decrease pollution, improve the quality of life for billions of people.

I particularly liked one of his analogies, in which he compared a healthy city growing like an avocado, "nurtured by a solid pit of culture and commerce," to Phoenix, growing more like an onion: "remove the successive layers of subdivisions, and there is nothing - apart from an overpriced stadium, some car dealerships, and a few half-vacant office buildings - at its core" (p. 86).

As Grescoe argues, there's no one simple recipe for creating a viable public transit system: what works (extremely well, apparently) in Copenhagen wouldn't fly in Atlanta, and Philadelphia's model probably wouldn't do for Moscow. But, Grescoe maintains, by having a convenient, regionally-based network (of rail, bus and subway systems, or some combination thereof) combined with dedicated transit lanes within cities and, where possible, widespread pedestrian areas, it's possible to bring cities back from automobile-based hell. By changing rules which make construction and city planning to focus on automobiles (with rules about required off-street parking and things like that) and by shifting the priorities to favor mass transit to the extent possible, the reign of gridlock might someday be brought to an end.

It's not just intra-city transportation but also inter-city travel that needs a helping hand; the fact that most rail track in America is owned by freight companies means that inter-city passenger trains are generally at the mercy of freight, which has meant that the kinds of improvements which would allow faster trains (like those currently being built in Europe and especially China) haven't gotten off the ground in America. It will take a major investment, Grescoe admits, but in the long run, with train travel as by far the most sustainable method of long-distance travel, isn't it worth it?

I'll be interested to hear what others think of this book. I'm sure that my own personal views on the subject affect my opinion of it. Obviously in many areas of the country there's no question but that the private car must remain the transportation method of choice for the forseeable future, but I think Grescoe's point, that we can and should make cities and near-suburbs easily accessible by a fast, reliable, affordable and comfortable mass transit system, is not only a good idea, but an entirely necessary one. Not easy, of course, but necessary.

Highly recommended for anyone at all interested in mass transit systems around the world, or frustrated about how long they have to sit in traffic every day, or sick of standing out in the cold waiting for an old, clunky bus which might or might not show up when it's supposed to. By profiling the bad and the good, Grescoe offers both a cautionary tale and a call to action, and it's one I hope will resonate with many readers.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Links & Reviews

- New from the Folger, Shakespeare's Sisters: Voices of English and European Woman Writers, 1500-1700. The exhibit was reviewed in the NYTimes this week by Edward Rothstein.

- Tom Scheinfeldt's "Nobody cares about the library" is a must-read post of the week.

- From the really delightful Public Domain Review, Claire Preston examines Thomas Browne's Musaeum Clausum in "Lost Libraries."

- Paul Collins was on NPR to discuss the reissue of William Wallace Cook's 1928 book Plotto.

- Brian Cassidy's new catalogue (his sixth) is now online [PDF].

- Another fantastic post by Sarah Werner at The Collation, "Learning from Mistakes" (on what we can glean about the production process from errors that appear in early modern printed books).

- In this week's New Yorker, Lizzie Widdicome profiles Quentin Rowan, who found himself in hot water last year over plagiarism in his novel Assassin of Secrets.

- From the John Rylands Library, First Impressions, a site designed to display the spread of print across Europe.

- An official with the German cultural ministry was found to have thousands of books stolen from libraries in his home.

- At 8vo, Brooke Palmieri calls for a revitalized Federal Writers Project (or something like it). And Brooke is also featured in the Fine Books "Bright Young Things" series this week!

- For "Weekend Edition Saturday", Jacki Lydon visited the Providence Athenaeum, one of the most fascinating and historic libraries around.

- News this morning that Maine bookstore chain Mr. Paperback will be closing all ten of its stores by April.

- Flooding from a burst pipe at the Auckland Central Library was threatening the rare book and map collections this weekend.

- Jerry Morris treats us to some images and stories about books from his extensive collection of Johnsoniana.

- Over at the AAS blog, Ashley Cataldo uses a great J. Francis Ruggles book label to highlight collections relating to printing and bookselling history.

- From Biblioguerilla, one of my very favorite printers' devices.

- Booktryst notes the (re)surfacing of an early, apparently unpublished Tennessee Williams poem, currently offered for sale by Goldwasser Rare Books.


- Irvin Yalom's The Spinoza Problem; review by Ron Charles in the Washington Post.

- Matthew Pearl's The Technologists; review by Janet Maslin in the NYTimes.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Ireland Forgeries in Joseph Farington's Diary, Part II

NB: See Part I for an introduction to this series. Note that only the relevant sections from Farington's entries are included here.

Continuing with Joseph Farington's diary entries relating to the William Henry Ireland Shakespeare forgeries, we move into 1796. Some of the early entries are particularly interesting, and include references to publication of Malone's exposure of the documents and illustration techniques to be used:

Saturday, 2 January 1796: "Mr Malone I called on this morning, and found young James Boswell1 at breakfast with him.

He began a conversation on the subject of Irelands manuscripts; on which He is preparing some remarks which will fully prove the manuscripts to be forgeries. I told him that having seen his advertisement, I called to mention to him some observations which I had heard on the manuscripts by Mr. Lodge2 &c.: but before I stated them to him, He repeated most of them as having occurred to him. — He shewed me a tracing of the handwriting, & signature, of Queen Elizabeth; and the same of Lord Southampton; In both instances but particularly in the writing of Lord Southampton, the forgeries were grossly manifested.

Ireland once called on Mr. Malone to whom He was a stranger, to request He might see a cast from the Head of Shakespeare at Stratford upon Avon. Mr. Malone not being very well pleased with such an intrusion of a stranger, declined shewing it at that time. — Some time before the manuscripts now so much spoken of were announced to the publick, Mr. Byng3 an ignorant man in such matters, but ardent, and violently prejudiced in favor of their authenticity by Ireland, told Malone of this extraordinary treasure, and expressed a strong desire for him to see them. Malone recollecting what has passed between him & Ireland on the subject of the cast of Shakespeares head, & doubting the originality of the manuscripts, resolved not to go to Irelands to see them; but said, if the letters were original they might be proved such beyond doubt, by comparing the hand writing with letters known to be original. Mr. Byng desired Malone to come to his House on a certain day to see the letters; when He might compare the handwriting. He went, but no manuscripts were brought; and the excuse afterwards made was, that Dr. Joseph Wharton was that day examining them. Malone in consequence of what then passed wrote to Mr. Byng a private note for the purpose of seeing them in the way proposed by Mr. St. John; which note Mr. Byng very improperly shewed to Ireland; who from hearing it read, (He did not obtain Mr. Malones note) wrote down a Copy of it, suppressing all the circumstances which caused Malone to write the note, and shewed it to many persons as a proof that Malone desired to obtain a sight of the manuscripts in a clandestine manner. This transaction caused Malone to call St. John to account, and explain it.

Malone spoke of Steevens as having been formerly much acquainted with him: but the intimacy has ceased.

He has a difficulty to find an engraver to imitate the handwriting for the publication. I told him I thought it might be more easily etched.

Westall I called on. Ireland He knew more than thirteen years ago. The Children were then called Irwin. Ireland had an Uncle, who was a Bricklayer, on whom He had a little dependance. He was, Westall understood, originally intended to be an Architect; but became a Spittal-fields, weaver. In this business, he failed. — It was Mrs. Freeman with whom Ireland lived in Arundel Street.4

A friend of Westall, observed to Irelands daughter, that unless Her father could prove his pedigree clearly as being descended from William Ireland the friend of Shakespeare, He could not maintain his claim to the deeds &c. The girl faulteringly said that it was pretty nearly proved; not more than 30 years wanting proof.5

Westall describes Young Ireland to be a lad of no parts. Two yrs. ago He was in some part of the country hunting with a party, & was invited by a gentleman to dinner, where the Company got drunk. In this state, young Ireland, speaking of himself, said he was bred an Attorney; but that he did other things besides writing law deeds: that he had been employed in writing a Copy of all Shakespeares plays. The gentleman observed that must be a great waste of time, when He might purchase an edition for very little money."6

Sunday, 3 January 1796: Malone, I called on; and proposed to him to have his facsimiles of the Hand writings of Queen Elizabeth & Lord Southampton, etched with a black lead pencil on a soft etching ground, which I think will produce a more perfect imitation than can be obtained by the Engraver. — I offered to assist him; & with the assistance of Stadler, I told him I thought we should be able to complete the plates. — He asked me to breakfast with him tomorrow morning, and to go with him to the British museum, to trace the Hand writings of Queen Eliz. & Lord Southampton, which I engaged to do.

He told me he had written to Mr. Windham to request him to write to Lord Cornwallis, Governor of the Tower, for leave to inspect papers there; as probably some letters of Lord Southampton, written when He was Master of the House, will be found there."

Monday, 4 January 1796: "The British Museum I went to with Malone, and traced the parts of two letters of Queen Elizabeth with Her signatures; also parts of two letters of Lord Southampton with his signatures. One of the letters of Queen Eliz: was written to King James 1st. then King of Scotland; the other to Sir [blank].

One of the letters of Lord Southampton was written to the then Lord Keeper Williams in the reign of James 1st, as appears, only the concluding part of a letter, the persons name to whom it was addressed is not on any part of it. ...

[Later in the day, over a dinner] Mr. Byng who supports the authenticity of the Ireland manuscripts, is Brother to Lord Torrington. He is abt. 50 years of age. He was formerly in the Guards, and married a daur. of the late Commodore Forrest. Byng is ardent and ignorant of what is required to judge the authenticity of ancient manuscripts.

We talked of the singularies of George Steevens. He is so much offended with Mr. Cracherode7 for declaring in favor of Irelands manuscripts, that Mr. C. has told Malone Steevens will scarcely speak to him.

In conversation Steevens is limited to certain subjects. On Scholastic, or Shakespearian topics, He speaks much: but on political, Historical, or general topicks, He has little to say; and is apt to be impatient at the Literary Club, till He turn the conversation from such subjects.

Malone spoke of the powers of the mind. Were Johnson, said He, to have treated such a subject as Irelands Manuscripts, He would have preceded the investigation by a general review of forgeries and their effects; and in the course of his examination disputations would have risen on passages, which would have elucidated and strengthened them. I, said Malone, think only of facts, and confine my mind to them."

Thursday, 7 January 1796: "Malone sent to me. I called on him, & traced from Irelands book part of Queen Elizabeths letter, part of Lord Southamptons, and Shakespeares note of hand. The grossness of the forgeries is evident."

Friday, 8 January 1796: "Shakespeare Gallery I went to. G. Steevens there. He was full of Irelands Shakespearian forgeries — neither Payne, nor Edwards, have sold one copy. — He has found the word derange in Irelands Book. This is a modern derivation from the French. Were it used at that period it would be called disranged.

Ireland outmanuevered Sheriden by giving out that He wd. offer the play to Harris at Covent Garden. This caused Sheridan to engage that it shd. be played at Drury Lane. Sheridan has since scouted the play. Richardson who has £12000 engaged in shares at that theatre, to avoid Law suits agreed to let the play be brought forward."

Tuesday, 12 January 1796: "Malone I called on, and returned to him the tracings of the Shakespearian handwritings, as my etching from them would not answer. He sent to Young Longmeat who undertook to do them.8. Malone wishes me to obtain, through Westall, particulars of the Christening &c. [of] yougn Ireland, from Mr. William Aytoun his Godfather."

Wednesday, 13 January 1796: "Westall called on me. I proposed to him the questions stated by Mr. Malone relative to the christening of Irelands children. He said He wd. write to Mr. Aytoun for information.

Mrs. Freeman who lives with Ireland and is the mother of the Children, had, it is said, a fortune of £12000, and is of a good family. Her Brother is now living in London in great circumstances, but disowns Her: Westall does not now her maiden name. Ireland behaves very ill to her. — The Children for many years bore the name of Irwin; and it was at the birth day of one of them, when many persons were invited, & Westall one of the party, that it was signified by Mrs. Freeman that the young people were to be addressed by the name of Ireland. They had passed as her nieces. She still retains the name of Ireland.

Mr. Aytoun said told Westall that Irelands effects will not pay to his creditors under his bankruptcy 20 shillings in the pound. He now owes Coxe, his printer, £800, for work done & money lent.

Bowden [Boaden] was with Westall today. He proposes to publish his remarks on Irelands manuscripts tomorrow."

Thursday, 14 January 1796: "Malone sent to request me to go to the Prerogative Office, Doctors Commons, to trace the name of Hemynge annexed to his will. On inspecting the will we found it to be only a Copy, the original not being in the Office. From thence we went to Aldermanbury to find out the Parish Clerk in order to see the Old Registers, as it is possible the name of Hemynge or Cundall may be in one of them9. The Clerk was out.

I asked Malone if he knows anything of Mr. Riston [Ritson] who is said to be writing upon the Shakespearian manuscripts. Riston he said had attacked Steevens, Johnson, Dr. Wharton & himself on the subject of Shakespeare. He is a Northumberland man, and was bred an Attorney; has abilities and much acrimony.

Mr. Malone left me to go to Mr. Albany Wallis10, in Norfolk street, and in the evening He wrote to me that his visit had been crowned with success beyond his expectations; Mr. Wallis having lent him an original signature of Shakespeare that has never been seen, and which proves that He wrote his name Shakspere. — Mr. Wallis had also lent him a signature of John Hemynge which turns out a small fair hand. — On His way home Malone called on a friend who told him that Ireland says He cares not what Mr. Malone may write for as soon as He shall have published, Ireland will produce irresistible proof of the authenticity of all this trumpery.

Friday, 15 January 1796: "Malone I called on this morning, & traaced the names of Shakespeare & Hemynge from deeds signed by them which are now in the care of Mr. Albany Wallis, who lent them to Malone for three days. I also traced several other names. Shakspere, the Poet writes it."

Saturday, 16 January 1796: "Shakespeare Gallery I went to: Steevens there. He had got Boadens pamphlet on Irelands manuscripts11 which was published this day. It seems a superficial attempt. Steevens mentioned many more errors which He had discovered in Irelands publication.

John Ireland came and shewed me many words absurdly spelt in Irelands publication."

Sunday, 17 January 1796: At a dinner at the home of Sir Joseph Banks, "Much conversation about Irelands manuscripts. Craven Ord12 is a believer in their Authenticity; so is Dr. Greive, to whom Ireland has shewn an Edition of Spencer with marginal notes by Shakespere. Willis told me he is also a believer.

Sir Joseph Banks said the internal evidence is sufficient for him. He is convinced they are forgeries.

Lysons told me that Mr. Byng says Young Ireland frequently tells him He is going to dine with the gentleman who gave him the Manuscripts. Old Ireland still says He does not know who the gentleman is."

Tuesday, 19 January 1796: "Shakespeare Gallery I went to. Steevens there. He has learnt through Humphry, that I Have traced the Handwritings of Queen Elizabeth & Lord Southampton for Malone. He says there is a genuine letter of Queen Elizabeth in the Heralds Office. We made out a list of such as are Believers & Disbelievers of Irelands Manuscripts.

[NB: The Disbelievers list given below is in three columns in the printed text; for ease of reading here I've simply separated the names with commas; the | separates the columns. The Believers list is as printed.]
Disbelievers: Dr. Farmer, The Chief Baron, Mr. Malone, Lodge, Steevens, Ritson, Henley, Lord Orford, O.S. Brereton, Geo. Hardinge, Mr. Cracherode, Mr. West, Hoppner, Dance, Westall, | Bishop of Dromore, Isaac Reed, Fuseli, Courtney, Porson, Grey, Ld. Lauderdale, Sir Jos. Banks, Duke of Leeds, Humphry, Cosway, Farington, Hamilton, Mr. Rogers, D. Lysons, S. Lysons, Ant. Storer, Sir Wm. Scott, Sir Wm. Musgrave, Roger Wilbraham, Holte White, Barnard, Rev. Mr. Langham.

Believers: Craven Ord — Master Pepyss — Honble. John Byng — Sir Isaack Heard — Mr. Chalmers — Dr. Greive — Rev. Dr. Parr — Mr. Bindley — Caldecot — Caleb Whiteford — Albany Wallis — Mr. Champion — Mr. Townshend Heralds Office.

[Later in the day, at a meeting of the Trent Club] Mr. Rogers mentioned that His acquaintance the Revd. Mr. Wesson saw Irelands manuscripts and observed to Ireland that one of the letters was dated three years after the death of the person (Lord Leicester as I understood) alluded to in it as being then living. Soon after the manuscript being again seen it appeared that the date had either been expunged or was torn of[f]."

Wednesday, 20 January 1796: "Malone I called on this morning. He had completed his remarks of Irelands Manuscripts, and is proceeding to write them out fair for the press. I told him what Mr. Wesson had said about cancelling the date of one of the letters. He knows Wesson and will write to him. I mentioned that Humphry had told of my having traced the Handwriting, & that Steevens had attacked me on it. I gave him Steevens' list of persons who are for & against the authenticity of the Manuscripts.

Westall I called on. He has not recd. an answer from Mr. Aytoun."

Thursday, 21 January 1796: "Malone I dined with. The Revd. Mr. Courtney, Son to Mr. Courtney, Member of Parliament dined there.

Impressions of the two plates of Queen Eliz: & of Lord Southamptons handwriting, were brought to us finished."

Sunday, 31 January 1796: "Malone, I called on this morning. Harding, who paints Portraits, was with him. I read some pages of his Remarks on Irelands Manuscripts."

More soon! [Update: Part III]

1: James Boswell (1778-1822), the son of James Boswell the biographer.
2: See the entry for 29 December 1795 in Part I.
3: John Byng (1743-1813), later the 5th Viscount Torrington. A vocal supporter of Ireland, whose well-known diary ends, most unfortunately, in 1794.
4: This concerns the life of Samuel Ireland, William Henry's father.
5: Among the forgeries was a "deed of gift" from Shakespeare to an earlier "Masterre William henrye Irelande" for several manuscript plays and other docuements in Shakespeare's hand.
6: This entry is subject to a slight misreading in Jeffrey Kahan's Reforging Shakespeare (Lehigh University Press, 1998), p. 50. Kahan reports that Farington himself attended the party and heard Ireland make the remark, when in fact Farington was told the anecdote by Westall.
7: Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode (1730-1799), a major collector of books and artwork; his collections were bequeathed to the British Museum.
8: Barak Longmate the Younger (1768-1836).
9: John Hemings and Henry Condell, the editors of the First Folio.
10: Albany Wallis (1713-1800), a neighbor of the Irelands, whose Hemynge signature (which looked nothing like Ireland's forgery) led Ireland to create additional forged signatures in an attempt to match the real one.
11: James Boaden, "A Letter to George Steevens, Esq. Containing a Critical Examination of the Papers of Shakespeare; published by Mr. Samuel Ireland."
12: Craven Ord (1756-1832), antiquarian and collector.

This Week's Acquisitions

Here's what arrived this week:

- Bermuda Under the Sommer Islands Company, 1612-1684: Civil Records by A. C. Hollis Hallett (Juniperhill Press, 2005). 3 volumes. I. Thomas Buckley Books (via ABE).

- How Books Came to America: The Rise of the American Book Trade by John Hruschka (Penn State University Press, 2012). Amazon.

- Galore by Michael Crummey (Other Press, 2010). Longfellow Books.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Book Review: "Remembering Shakespeare"

Published to accompany an exhibit this spring at Yale's Beinecke Library, Remembering Shakespeare (Yale University Press, 2012) is everything a good exhibition catalog should be: short, but thorough; well-designed, and pleasurable to read and to look at. If I can, I certainly hope I'll be able to get to New Haven and view the show in person, but this excellent catalog will serve as a good stand-in should that prove impossible.

David Scott Kastan and Kathryn James have encapsulated the exhibit well, highlighting not just the major themes, but also the fact that this is an exhibit about Shakespeare at Yale, not just Shakespeare at the Beinecke. Items from the collections of the Elizabethan Club, the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, the Lewis Walpole Center, and the Yale Center for British Art are also on display, and their inclusion makes for a much richer, more satisfying experience.

The short chapters are well-written and crisp; there's not a superfluous word, and as it should the text continues to return to the main theme, on the very different ways Shakespeare has been "remembered" over the centuries. The illustrations are reproduced very well, and the overall design is attractive. A great success; if the exhibit comes anywhere near the high quality of the catalog, I'm sure it's just as much worth viewing as the book is worth reading.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Ireland Forgeries in Joseph Farington's Diary, Part I

In my ongoing examination of contemporary accounts of the William Henry Ireland Shakespeare forgeries (previous installments: William Godwin, George Canning, John Quincy Adams), one of the most extensive sources is the diary of Joseph Farington (1747-1821), a well-known landscape painter active in the Royal Academy and other artistic organizations. Farington wrote often about the Irelands and their Shakespeare papers, and was an early skeptic of the documents' authenticity.

The entries below are drawn from The Diary of Joseph Farington, Volume II: January 1795-August 1796, edited by Kenneth Garlick and Angus Macintyre and published by Yale University Press in 1978. I've added some footnotes to identify the people mentioned by Farington [an attempt, anyway - corrections/additions are welcome!]. This post includes the entries for 1795; I'll add additional entries later this week.

Wednesday, 4 February 1795:
"Lord Inchiquin1, I dined with. — Mr. Boswell and his 2 daughters2, Mr. Malone3, and Mr. & Mrs. Kemble4 there.

Malone related that Sam Ireland's son is said to be in possession of some manuscripts of Shakespeare and a whole play entitled Vortigern. — The story He told does not engage confidence when a man of Sam Irelands character is to support it, yet it is said that Dr. Wharton5 &c &c have seen part of the manuscripts and give credit to them.

Wednesday, 22 April 1795: "Bensley the Actor6 has seen Irelands Shakespeare manuscripts and says there is nothing but what might be imitated."

Friday, 6 November 1795: "Mr. Steevens7 I met at the Shakespeare gallery. — He is not at liberty to communicate what He knows on the subject, but He is satisfied Sheridan8 has taken himself in, in the matter of Irelands pretended discovered play of Shakespeare. — not meaning that Sheridan believes it to be genuine."

Wednesday, 25 November 1795: "The Play of Vortigern is certainly to be brought forward after Christmas. It seems there are some passages, or scenes, of an obscene kind, which it has been necessary to alter, for representation. Sheridan was too idle to undertake the task; others were proposed to do it; at last it was left to Ireland to cook it up in such a way as He could. Lysons9 hears the Play was not divided into Acts, & scenes, regularly, this has been part of the necessary task also. — He is told that it is a flat business; and that Ritson10, who has read the whole, or parts, does not think it original."

Thursday, 17 December 1795: "Shakespeare Gallery I went to, and met there Westall11 & Ireland.

Kemble told Boaden12 that He had read the play of Vortigern, and that it was wretched stuff. Ireland sd. another of the players had told him, that the Play would be damned the first night."

Wednesday, 23 December 1795: "The Shakespeare Gallery I went to. G. Steevens & Nicol13 there. — We talked of Irelands Shakespearian discoveries, which both of them ridiculed. — I told Steevens it had by some been supposed that the whole was a fabrication of fun made up by him. He said He had heard the same, but were He disposed to play such a trick it wd. not be in conjunction with S. Ireland.

Ireland the Editor of Hogarth moralised14 came in. He told me that S Ireland now disclaims any knowledge of the person who gave the Shakespearian Manuscripts to his Son: but that, with them, He settled at the same time £280 a year on him. — He now avows having found a Bible found filled with marginal notes by Shakespare.

The deed of gift of this collection of materials which S Ireland says was delivered to an Ancestor of his of the same name, Ireland laughs at, from knowing that S Ireland cannot trace back to a great grandfather."

Tuesday, 29 December 1795: "Shakespeare Gallery I went to, — met Mr. Lodge of the Heralds Office there. He gave me his opinion of Irelands Shakespearian manuscripts which were published last Thursday15. He saw the manuscripts 6 months ago in company with Mr. Pye, the poet Laureat16, and to him them declared his opinion. He thinks them such gross forgeries that there is sufficient in every page to detect them. There is both internal an[d] external evidence against them. Speaking of the orthography, He said it is rather an imitation of that of Henry 7th. rather than of Elizabeth; and that were He to copy the whole agreeable to the orthography of the latter reign it would be a sufficient exposure of the forgery. — But in imitating the orthography, as in common in forgeries, they have overdone it: and have added more letters in words than were ever known at any period to have been used. — Nor and or for instance are spelt nore & ore and this by various supposed persons. — The Earl of Southampton is addressed my Lord, — which is quite modern; it would have been Right Honourable. He is also styled your grace, which would never have been used to a lower rank than a Duke. — Lord Southampton in turn writes to Shakespare, Dear William., and the letters conclude after the modern modern; one of them with yours. — The word composition was never used in those [times] in the sense in which it is now frequently accepted viz. to signify a work of authorship. — The word Compliment was never, in those days, introduced to express reciprocal civilities. — Lord Southampton gives Shakespeare £1000, a sum perhaps equal to £15000 at this time; and Shakespeare with equal gallantry returns one half of it. These acts of bounty and disinterestedness are performed in those days of feudal dignity, between an Earl, and a young player. — Anna is modern. There is no instance of the word being spelt but as Anne till modern times; when sentimental love poetry became fashionable.

G. Steevens came in. He brought in his pocket a manuscript play written by Middleton, to prove the difference of orthography when compared with Irelands imitations. — I went over to Edwards', the Bookseller17, to see Irelands publication. Three or four gentlemen were there who scouted the nonsense of the matter, & the form of the forgeries: In this Edwards joined, saying that what Ireland has published will cut all hopes of his succeeding in the imposition.

Edwards said Ireland has been very active in procuring names to his subscription list which amounted to 126. The Duke of Leeds told Edwards that Ireland called upon him, and the Duke supposing that four guineas (the subscription) was his object, offered the money; but Ireland declined it saying it was the name of His Grace he wanted. Of course He got both name and money; but the Duke seems to think with other people."

Thursday, 31 December 1795: At a meeting of the Royal Academy. "Some talk about Irelands manuscripts. All concurred in believing them to be forgeries."

More in future; the 1796 entries get even more interesting in the runup to the 2 April debut of Ireland's Shakespeare play, Vortigern. [Update: Part II; Part III]

1: Presumably Murrough O'Brien, the 5th Earl of Inchiquin (1726-1808).
2: James Boswell (1740-1795), Johnson's biographer. When Boswell died on 19 May 1795 Farrington wrote "Poor Boswell died this day, — at his House in Tichfield Street."
3: Edmond Malone (1741-1812), Shakespeare scholar/editor who would later be the main scholarly critic of the Ireland papers with his An Inquiry into the Authenticity of Certain Miscellaneous Papers and Legal Instruments, Published Dec. 24, 1795, and Attributed to Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth, and Henry, Earl of Southampton (1796).
4: Perhaps Roger Kemble, the theater manager, and his wife, Sarah "Sally" Ward Kemble.
5: Joseph Warton, the younger brother of poet Thomas Warton.
6: Robert Bensley (~1740-1817).
7: George Steevens (1736-1800), another critic of the Ireland papers.
8: Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), manager of the Drury Lane theatre, where Vortigern was staged.
9: Daniel Lysons (1762-1834), the antiquary.
10: Joseph Ritson (1752-1803), literary critic.
11: Richard Westall (1765-1836), painter.
12: James Boaden (1762-1839), an early defender of the papers who was persuaded of their true nature. He authored the 1796 pamphlet "A Letter to George Steevens, Esq. Containing a Critical Examination of the Papers of Shakespeare; published by Mr. Samuel Ireland."
13: George Nicol (~1740-1828), bookseller.
14: Presumably John Ireland (d. 1808), editor of Hogarth illustrated, among other works.
15: This was the folio edition of Ireland's Miscellaneous papers and legal instruments under the hand and seal of William Shakspeare: including the tragedy of King Lear, and a small fragment of Hamlet, from the original Mss. in the possession of Samuel Ireland, Of Norfolk Street. London: Printed by Cooper and Graham, Bow Street, Covent Garden. Published by Mr. Egerton, Whitehall; Messrs. White, Fleet Street; Messrs. Leigh and Sotheby, York Street, Covent Garden; Mr. Robson, and Mr. Faulder, New Bond Street; and Mr. Sael, opposite St. Clement’s Church, 1796.
16: Henry James Pye (1745-1813).
17: Likely James Edwards (1756-1816), bookseller of Pall Mall.

Book Review: "Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer"

I'll say it flat out: I absolutely loved this book. Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer (Picador, 2010) by Wesley Stace (also known as composer John Wesley Harding) is fascinating from start to finish, and it will amost certainly keep you guessing until the very end.

Charles Jessold, a promising young composer, kills himself, his wife, and his wife's lover on the night before the premiere of his first opera ... the plot of which is practically identical to the scenario just described. Music critic Leslie Shepherd, Jessold's librettist and longtime friend, provides first the next morning's newspaper column about the murders, then his own statement to police about his relationship with Jessold and his thoughts on the crime.

But that's not all, of course. Shepherd has more to share, and in the second half of the book, narrated many years after the fact in the guise of a full-scale biography of Jessold, he shares.

Drawing on the true story of Italian composer Carlo Gesualdo, and on the history of English music during the early decades of the 20th century, with the folk-music revival and the rivalry with the German composers of the time, Stace's book makes for a truly musical, and most enjoyable experience.

NB: I first heard of the novel on the great radio show "To the Best of our Knowledge," here. The interview is also well worth a listen, and it includes some music "in the style of Jessold."

Links & Reviews

- In the NYTimes magazine this week, a profile of papermaker (and Rare Book School faculty member) Timothy Barrett.

- Timothy Smith, who was accused of stealing some fifty rare books from the widow of book collector Carter Burden, was sentenced this week, and will serve 1-3 years in prison. Back in June 2010 he'd entered a not guilty plea in relation to the charges, but later admitted that he'd taken the books (though maintaining, apparently, that he thought he had permission to do so).

- The SEA "new releases" page is recently updated with lots of new books of interest to early Americanists (and book historians).

- Gandhi's personal library, housed at a library in Ahmedabad, is in a sorry state, according to a recent report. Almost half the books have gone missing, and others desperately need conversation work.

- From Booktryst, a good rundown of the California International Book Fair, held last week in Pasadena.

- Oak Knoll's Rob Fleck is the latest young bookseller interviewed for the FB&C "Bright Young Things" series.

- Over on the AAS blog, they've got a short video up highlighting Curator of Newspapers Vince Golden's ongoing hunt for additions to the AAS collections. And also from AAS this week, some well-deserved recognition for Philip Lampi, who's been doing great work collecting and compiling the results of early American elections.

- A new exhibit from the University of Otago, "The Gentleman's Magazine: the 18th Century Answer to Google."


- Stuart Bennett's A Perfect Visit; review by Rebecca Rego Barry at the Fine Books Blog.

- Gregg Jones' Honor in the Dust; review by Candice Millard in the NYTimes.

- Natalie Dykstra's Clover Adams: A Life; review by Patricia O'Toole in the WSJ.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Recent Acquisitions

These arrived while I was in Bermuda:

- The Lunatic at Large by J. Storer Clouston (McSweeney's, 2007). Publisher.

- Freedom's Cap: The United States Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War by Guy Gugliotta (Hill and Wang, 2012). Publisher.

- The American Invasion of Canada: The War of 1812's First Year by Pierre Berton (Skyhorse Publishing, 2012). Publisher.

- Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile by Taras Grescoe (Henry Holt, 2012). Publisher.

- Remembering Shakespeare by David Scott Kastan and Kathryn James (Beinecke Library, 2012). Publisher.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Links & Reviews

I'm sure I missed lots of things this week since I was away from the computer every day, but here are a few goodies for you:

- Nate Pedersen is reporting on the California Antiquarian Book Fair: Day 1, Day 2.

- David Whitesell notes a nice new AAS acquisition, an 1865 book on the imposition of formes.

- Adam Hooks reports on a recent biblio-conference at Cornell College, and sends along a version of Rachel Stevenson's paper from the meeting.

- John Overholt found an interesting book in the Houghton stacks this week, and, Googling, found this great article on the book.

- Kwasi Kwarteng discussed his new book Ghosts of Empire on NPR.

- Robert Darnton was among the winners of the National Humanities Medal, announced this week.

- From Biblioguerilla, monsters!

- An important Mendel manuscript has been returned to the Czech Republic.


- Trea Martyn's Queen Elizabeth in the Garden; review by Miranda Seymour in the NYTimes.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bermuda Trip Update

Greetings from Bermuda! Today was going to be my day for exploring some parts of the island I haven't gotten to before, but since it's a bit stormy to do that, I'm hunkered down with a pile of books and lots of pictures from this week to get through. Tomorrow looks like it'll be much nicer for a hike.

I'm incredibly pleased to report that this has been an extremely fruitful trip thus far. I've already examined more material in the first five days at the Bermuda Archives than I expected to see for the whole trip, so everything I look at next week will be icing on the cake. My major focus has been on the volumes of wills and inventories through 1810, but I've also had a chance to look through a number of personal letterbooks, records of the Bermuda vice-admiralty court, government correspondence files, &c. The archivists have been wonderfully helpful, as always, and they've been pulling out all sorts of interesting little goodies for me to look at, including a "Bermuda incunabulum," one of the first pieces of job printing published in Bermuda (even better, it was the rules for one of the island's early literary societies).

I also was delighted to be able to look over the bookshelves at Verdmont, one of the Bermuda National Trust's house museums. There weren't all that many books, but a few of them had very interesting early Bermuda provenance, so I was happy to know of them. The most pleasingly appropriate was a copy of the 1777 third edition of James Lind's An Essay on Diseases Incidental to Europeans in Hot Climates, signed on the title page by Bermuda physician Richard Bell.

On Monday I'll be viewing the early records of the Bermuda National Library, and on Tuesday will visit the Bermuda Historical Society, which reportedly has some early Bermuda volumes. There are still a few more things on my "view if possible" list at the Archives too, and I'm now hoping I might actually be able to look at all of them (which would be really exciting).

I've put up a few of the non-research pictures from this week here, and once I've gotten the research images more fully processed I'll certainly pass along a few of those as well. I've been finding some fascinating things, but I need a bit of time to digest it all, so will hold off from sharing too much right at the moment.

And now, with the winds picking up outside (there are "gale warnings" up for this afternoon and evening), I think I'll go settle down with The Far Side of the World for a while.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Links & Reviews

- AP reported this week that Barry Landau may change his plea to guilty at a re-arraignment hearing on Tuesday.

- The new issue of Common-place focuses on science in early America, and as usual contains a great selection of must-read articles. Take your time, read 'em all!

- Over at the ABAA blog, they've posted the video of Michael Dirda's recent talk at the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest awards reception, "The Serendipitous Pleasures of Book Collecting."

- In the Guardian, a report on new efforts to once and for all identify the perpetrators of the infamous Piltdown hoax.

- The "You've Got Mail" feature from Houghton this week is a René Descartes letter to Marin Mersenne.

- From the Collation this week, a newly-identified Margaret Cavendish presentation copy.

- Another of the ABAA's bookseller interviews is up, this one with Bob Fleck of Oak Knoll Books.

- At Typefoundry, a new look at Jean Jannon's types.

- William Hale of the Incunabula Project posts some unidentified provenance marks from early books: can you help?


- Toby Lester's Da Vinci's Ghost; review by Jonathan Lopez in the NYTimes.

- Cullen Murphy's God's Jury; review by Noel Malcolm in the Telegraph.

- Three recent "Downton Abbey"-related books, reviewed by Judith Newman in the NYTimes.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Off to Bermuda!

Thanks to a generous fellowship award from the Bibliographical Society of America and the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, I'm headed to Bermuda tomorrow for a couple weeks of reseach in the archives there as part of my Bermuda Project (that is, a study of the history of books in Bermuda from settlement through 1800).

I'll be staying at Greenbank (pictured at left), just across the harbor from Hamilton, where the archives are located. Not only is it a great place to stay, but it also provides me at least a good excuse to be outside some of the time, since it means a ferry ride across the harbor to get back and forth from the archives each day (nothing like going to a nice warm place in the winter but spending most of the time in a climate-controlled basement archive, right?).

This trip I'll be focused again on the early Bermuda probate records, but I hope to make enough progress with those that I can move on to other archival collections as well; there are some tantalizing letterbooks and other materials there to be examined. Time permitting I'll chime in here with interesting finds.

I'm incredibly grateful to the BSA and ASECS for their support of the project, and I look forward to sharing more with you all over the course of the next couple weeks.

Books coming with me for the trip: Naomi Novik's Black Power War, Melvyn Bragg's The Adventure of English (in flipback format, for the plane rides), Patrick O'Brian's The Far Side of the World, Wesley Stace's Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer, Richard Conniff's The Species Seekers, Ned Landsman's From Colonials to Provincials, E.O. Wilson's The Social Conquest of Earth, and Elizabeth Little's Trip of the Tongue. Probably far too many, but better too many than too few, right?

Book Review: "Unpacking My Library"

Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books (Yale University Press, 2011) is the second (architects came first) in Yale's series of small coffee-table books featuring short interviews with well-known people about their libraries alongside images of the writers' libraries.

Leah Price provides a short introduction and conducted the interviews, with writers Alison Bechdel, Stephen Carter, Junot Diaz, Rebecca Goldstein & Stephen Pinker, Lev Grossman & Sophie Gee, Jonathan Lethem, Claire Messud & James Wood, Philip Pullman, Gary Shteyngart, and Edmund White. Most of the writers were asked the same series of questions, with slight variants depending on the person: which books weren't on the public shelves, whether they listen to audiobooks or read ebooks, how the books are organized, whether they've gotten rid of books as they've moved, &c.

While it's interesting to see different writers respond to the same questions, some additional variation might have made the interviews just a bit more lively. And of course, some of the responses are better than others, as you'd expect (not surprisingly, I liked Philip Pullman's better than Edmund White's, particularly this line of Pullman's, which rang very true: "Every time I go into town I accidentally buy two or three books").

Overall, certainly an enjoyable book to leaf through (and shelf-browse), and Price's introductory essay is nicely done.

Recent Acquisitions

It's been a bit since I've posted these; here's what came since the last time:

- Bring Me One of Everything by Leslie Hall Pinder (Grey Swan Press, 2012). Publisher.

- The Dead Witness: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Detective Stories; edited by Michael Sims (Walker & Company, 2011). Publisher.

- The Dark Defile: Britain's Catastrophic Invasion of Afghanistan, 1838-1842 by Diana Preston (Walker & Company, 2012). Publisher.

- If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley (Walker & Company, 2012). Publisher.

- Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America's Languages by Elizabeth Little (Bloomsbury, 2012). Publisher.

- God's Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World by Cullen Murphy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012). Publisher.

- Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik (Del Rey, 2011). Amazon.

- Institutes of Divine Jurisprudence, with Selections from Foundations of the Law of Nature and Nations by Christian Thomasius (Liberty Fund, 2011). Publisher.

- Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room by David Weinberger (Basic Books, 2012). Amazon.

- McSweeney's Issue 39; edited by Dave Eggers (McSweeney's, 2012). Amazon.

- The Beekeeper's Apprentice: Or On the Segregation of the Queen by Laurie R. King (Picador, 2007). Longfellow Books.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Auction Preview: February Sales

Another fairly quiet month on the auction front:

- There's a Bibliophile Sale at Bloomsbury tomorrow, 2 February, in 318 lots.

- At PBA Galleries, Rare Books & Manuscripts in 195 lots on 6 February.

- Heritage Auctions has a Rare Books sale on 8 February.

- Bonhams will sell Property from Serendipity Books on 12 February, in 270 lots.

- A few books are included in Bonhams 16 February Edinburgh sale.

- Also on 16, PBA Galleries sells Americana and Cartography (catalog not yet online).

- Bloomsbury will sell the Horological Library of Charles Allix on 22 February, in 138 lots.

- Swann Galleries is selling Private Press & Illustrated Books on 23 February, in 281 lots.