Sunday, September 08, 2013

Catching up ...

I really will get back to a regular posting schedule, one of these days ... since I've last written I have managed to pack up and move to Charlottesville, and have about half the books unpacked and on their shelves again now (the remainder, which comprise the portions of my library that were still all jumbled together from the last move, are in boxes but on shelves, awaiting my sorting and shelving attentions). And I have started my job at Rare Book School, which promises to be exciting and challenging and wonderful in all kinds of ways. I've been enjoying getting to know Charlottesville in the fall, which is quite a lot different than Charlottesville in the summer, too.

Of course things haven't gone silent in the biblio-universe just because I've been fixated on shelf-locations and organizational schemas and boxes (oh, the boxes). In fact, rather the opposite! So, without further ado, and with apologies again for the long radio silence, here are my collected links and reviews from recent weeks. It is my fervent hope that I'll be able to keep up with these from here on. Wish me luck!

- The big story this week was of course the news that a plan was afoot by which the copies of the four Shakespeare Folios given to the Senate House Libraries, University of London by Sir Louis Sterling in 1956 would be sold at auction (reportedly at Bonhams this November) to fund an endowment designed to fund additional research at the libraries. This news took the book world by storm, and it was most heartening to see the strong, nearly unanimous reaction of shock and dismay.

The news broke with the release of a letter written by Professor Henry Woudhuysen, Rector of Lincoln College, to Senate House Libraries director Christopher Pressler, who had requested Woudhuysen's support for the planned sale. This is, I think, one of the strongest and most impressive responses to such a proposal I've ever read, and I was absolutely delighted to see it. If you haven't yet, you should go read the whole thing. I agree entirely with Ian Gadd's tweet in response to it: "Henry Woudhuysen’s response is comprehensive, magisterial, and unanswerable. This is why bibliography matters."

The Guardian covered the story on Tuesday, as did the Telegraph, and both articles featured strong quotes from scholars against the proposed sale. Director of UCL Library Services Dr Paul Ayris also issued a statement in opposition.

The sale would reportedly have required the permission of the Charity Commission, as it would have violated the terms of the original bequest which brought the Folios to the university in the first place.

Librarians and academics from around the world joined Woudhuysen in opposition, and The Bibliographical Society set up an online petition urging the library administrators to reconsider the sale; it garnered some 2,740 signatures before the library's decision to call off the sale was announced on Thursday evening.

Calling off the sale, University Vice Chancellor Sir Adrian Smith put out a statement announcing "The university has decided to focus its attention on examining alternative ways of investing in the collection. The money raised from any sale would have been used to invest in the future of the library by acquiring major works and archives of English literature." More from the Globe and Mail, including comments from Woudhuysen, who said "We wait to see what they do next. I’m not convinced that we’re out of the woods. There is always the possibility that they will return with another proposition and one would want to look at that quite carefully. They will have learned something from this."

Following Smith's Bibliographical Society president Christine Ferdinand posted a thorough synopsis of the reasons for opposition to the sale.

I've been digging a bit into the provenance of the Sterling Folios, and will have more on that soon. Pretty interesting copies, these!

- New from Lisa Fagin Davis, Manuscript Road Trip, a blog tour of lesser-known manuscript collections in the Lower 48. This will be fun to follow! On the same subject, Medieval Fragments recently posted on manuscripts in American collections.

- In The Nation, Scott Sherman has published a lengthy article on "The Hidden History of New York City's Central Library Plan."

- Ireland's Arts and Heritage minister has called on the Bodleian Library to return the 12th-century Annals of Inisfallen to Ireland, so that the manuscript can be displayed at Killarney House.

- Now at AAS, a personal account book of Boston museum proprietor Moses Kimball.

- The Sarum Missal, lost from the library of St. Paul's in the 19th century, was restored to the collection after it failed to meet estimates at the sale of the Mendham collection and was privately sold back to the cathedral library. Quite a good story on this in the Independent.

- Keith Houston blogs for The New Yorker about some of the punctuation marks described in his new book Shady Characters (which I've just finished reading; it's excellent).

- In my last I noted the arrest of German auction house director Herbert Schauer in relation to the de Caro thefts in Italy; the Telegraph ran an article on this development recently.

- A pre-Raphaelite mural was discovered on a wall at William Morris' Red House, now owned by the National Trust.

- Coming up in December at the Library of Congress, a full-day symposium on "Authenticity," which sounds amazing. I'll be there. Will you?

- There's an article in the new New Yorker about forger/con man Marc Landis, who has given hundreds of artworks and other forged documents to institutions around the country.

- Outgoing HRC director Thomas Staley was profiled recently in the NYTimes.

- From the LARB, William Giraldi's The Writer as Reader: Melville and his Marginalia is well worth a read.

- Three rare books were stolen from Jonkers Rare Books in June: first editions of Wodehouse's The Man Upstairs, Anthony Burgess' Time for a Tiger, and T.H. White's Dear Mr. Nixon. The shop discovered the thefts when a New York bookseller contacted them after having been offered the White book. "The thief is described as being in his fifties, of average height and chubby."

- The longlist for this year's Samuel Johnson Prize is out.

- A big-budget Bronte biopic may be in the works, according to the Telegraph & Argus.

- New: The Dutch in the Caribbean World, c.1670-c.1870, a guide to archival sources on Dutch colonies in the Caribbean as well as a summary of relevant laws and regulations.

- NPR highlighted the DPLA's efforts in a piece on "All Things Considered" recently. And the DPLA has officially moved into their new digs at the BPL.

- From John Overholt at Houghton Library, a look at some recently-digitized materials there.

- Arion Press and Andrew Hoyem are profiled in Harvard Magazine.

- Congratulations to several new members of the ABAA, announced this week.

- In August the Washington Map Society announced via its journal The Portolan, the discovery of what is claimed to be the oldest surviving engraved globe to show the New World. More from the Washington Post. As the Post article points out, there are some serious red flags being thrown about the provenance and ownership of the globe.


- Andrea Barrett's Archangel; review by Janet Maslin in the NYTimes.

- Thomas Healy's The Great Dissent; review by Roy Gutterman in the WaPo.

- A. Scott Berg's Wilson; review by Jeff Shesol in the WaPo.

- Joel F. Harrington's The Faithful Executioner; review by Richard J. Evans in the TLS.

- Charlotte Higgins' Under Another Sky; review by Emily Gowers in the TLS.

- Jonathan Lyons' The Society for Useful Knowledge; review by Laura Snyder in the WSJ.

- Nick Basbanes' On Paper; review by Pradeep Sebastian in The Hindu.