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Archive Advent Calendar: 16 December 2013

We continue our archival countdown to Christmas by opening another window on the Library’s literary past with the joining form to the Library of the master mariner and master novelist Josef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski (1857-1924) – better known as Joseph Conrad. Conrad is without question one of the greatest writers of Fiction in the canon and “probably the greatest political novelist”[i] in the English language.

Conrad joined the Library in 1897 two years before The Heart of Darkness (as it was called in serial form) appeared in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine.  Blackwood’s was a leading Victorian periodical which had early established itself under the talented editor and publisher John Blackwood (1818-1879). Over thirty years Blackwood both established the periodical as a market leader and published the works of George Eliot, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Charles Lever, Charles Reade, George Henry Lewes and Margaret Oliphant to name a few – all  of whom are also present in the Victorian membership ledgers of the Library.

The date of Conrad’s joining form is revealing:  1897 marks the beginning of the major phase of his literary career.  His milieu included Ford Madox Ford, John Galsworthy, H.G. Wells and R.B. Cunninghame Graham amongst others who were all also subscribing members.

Many of Conrad’s seminal works made a staggeringly successful transition to film. Lord JimVictoryThe Secret Agent, and Heart of Darkness are just a few that made the leap – Heart of Darkness was the inspiration behind Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 masterpieceApocalypse Now.

[i] Cedric Watts, ‘Conrad, Joseph (1857–1924)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2011

© Helen O’Neill        Archive, Heritage and Development Librarian

Heart of Darkness

Two years after joining the Library The Heart of Darkness appeared in serial form in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine.


Joseph Conrad’s joined the Library on March 13th 1897 as he enters the major phase of his literary career.


John Blackwood established Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine as a leading periodical of the Victorian era. His name appears in the Victorian membership ledgers in 1867.

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Beyond the sparkle, glitz and John Lewis adverts that saturate the nation’s sensibilities during the ‘festive’ period, The London Library’s fifteen miles of shelving offer a glimpse into the more forgotten, obscure customs and ideas surrounding the theme of Good Will.  As well as Christmas with Rumpole, Poirot, and Nancy Mitford nestled in the Literature stacks, transcriptions of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures and poetry on the Christmas Truce of The Great War, we’ve picked some of the seasonal shelfmarks well worth exploring at The London Library.

S. Christmas &c.
This lean yet fascinating shelfmark is a rich seam of seasonal surprises. ‘Cakes and Characters, An English Tradition’ is Bridget Ann Henisch’s examination of how the once ubiquitous, now historic ‘Twelfth cake’ became the plain old Christmas cake. ‘Kings and Queens, Lovers and Ladies, Captains and Dandies’ once played an important role in the construction of this giant symbolic bake once adorned with ‘characters’ who originated from the ancient Saturnalia festival, celebrated on 17 December. You’ll also discover that Dickens and Thackeray, key figures in London Library history, played an important part in this delicious story… (More on Saturnalia can be found in Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius’s writings from the fifth century in his compendium of ancient Roman religious and antiquarian lore in L. Greek & Latin Lit., Trans!).

Chapters on Christmas and MaterialismThe Rituals of Christmas Giving and Cinderella Christmas: Kitsch, Consumerism and Youth in Japan provide different food for thought in Unwrapping Christmas, a collection of comforting anthropological essays to keep close to hand when the pressure to consume gets too much…Furthermore, topics such as Victorian MiscellanyThe Strange History of Father Christmasand Christmas Under the Puritans from The Englishman’s Christmasmight be helpful for the revival of old customs.  In the Spirit of ‘Make do and Mend’, try making a beautiful wartime Anderson Shelter in cake form in Mike Brown’s Christmas on the Home Front!

Christmas is cancelled; ‘Prophane Customs’ in Puritan New England
A particularly terrifying volume can be found nestling in R. Religious & Theol. Lit.  Written by the fantastically named Increase Mather, Rector of Harvard College, Massachussets in 1687, this discourse against Having Fun over the ‘festive’ period covers the Profane and Superstitious Customs practised in New England at the time. Enjoy the anti-pious activities of ‘health-drinking, dicing, cards, and Christmas-keeping’ at your peril!

Testimony against prophane customs : namely, health drinking, dicing, cards, Christmas-keeping, New Year’s gifts, cock-scaling, saints’ days, etc / Reprinted from the 1687 ed., with an introd. and notes by William Peden, and a bibliographical note by Lawrence Starkey.  You have been warned!

R. Druids, R. Paganism

By way of introduction to the Library’s volumes on the alternative rituals to keep the spirits at bay and ensure the return of the light, the world of paganism at the Winter Solstice is beautifully explored in Diane Maclean’s article on the role of Scottish druids


If the thought of entertaining your favourite small people as the school holidays get underway fills you with fear, then we recommend you come to the 6th floor, borrow Juliana Horatia Ewing’s The Peace Egg, A Christmas Mumming Play and stage an alternative Christmas production! ‘Written expressly for all Mummers, to commemorate the Holy Wars, and the happy Festival of Christmas. No scenery is required.” Dragons and Knights replace shepherds, Wise Men and donkeys – much more fun for dressing up than the customary Nativity tea-towels/dressing gown costume creations!

More on the wonderful English Mummers tradition can be sourced by finding The English Mummers Play, Alex Helm’s publication in Societies, Folk-Lore Soc., 4to., or Sidney Oldall Addy’s 1907 publication Guising and Mumming in Derbyshire in T. England, Derbyshire. In L English Drama, find Thomas Hardy’s 1923 (not so)famous tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall at Titagel in Lyonesse : “a new version of an old story arranged as a play for mummers in one act requiring no theatre or scenery.”

Perhaps combine it with some readings from 1960s classic anthology Our American Holidays, Christmas its origin, celebration and significance’ as related in prose & verse ed. by Robert Haven Schauffler.

‘Two Planks and a Passion’; S. Skating & Skiing

At the top of the dark, cosy 1890s bookstacks you will find a series of guides to Skating and Skiing, with particular focus on these beautifully illustrated volumes from the early 20th Century. How to ski and how not to; the ideal winter travelling companion/cautionary tale from 1911!

Finally, after exploring the treasures of R. Religions of the World and, R. Church Festivals, why not stop at shelfmark R. Fanaticism & Enthusiasm – for those who really do wish it could be Christmas every day…

Make membership to The London Library the ultimate Christmas gift for those who love books. Buying a gift membership – at just over £1 a day, this Christmas present will instil a lifelong love of books and is a richly rewarding way of giving to charity.

Half price for young people and spouses/partners of members – the perfect gift for children, god-children and your ‘better’ half!  Buy online.

How to Ski

Vivian Caulfeild’s 1911 book ‘How to ski and how not to’

Christmas on the Home Front 2

Anderson Shelter Cake from Mike Brown’s ‘Christmas on the Home Front’

Christmas on the Home Front 1

Christmas on the Home Front

Our American Holidays

New England

Profane Customs!

New England 2

Profane Customs!

JAR Pimlott’s ‘The Englishman’s Christmas’, A Social History’

R. Paganism

R. Druids

The Peace Egg, a Christmas mumming play : with illus. by Gordon Browne, by Juliana Horatia Brown, c.1887.

S. Skating & Skiing

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Archive Advent Calendar: 13 December 2013

It could only be Virginia Woolf who wrote the piece on George Eliot which appeared in the Times Literary Supplement on November 20, 1919.  Woolf reconfigured Eliot’s reputation in the piece viewing Eliot and her literary reputation from a distinctly female perspective and concluding in her final sentence:

“We must lay upon her grave whatever we have it in our power to bestow of laurel and rose”.

Woolf’s own joining form to the London Library dates from 1904 when she was 22 years old.  It is richly revealing.  Note her self-described occupation or position “Spinster”.  The £40 she paid for life membership at the age of twenty-two makes a clear statement about her future career direction and the date is significant too.  Virginia took out life membership of the London Library four days after the death of her father, Leslie Stephen who had been President of the London Library from 1892 until his death. Within three years of Virginia signing her joining form she was writing Melymbrosia later published as her ground breaking novel The Voyage Out”.

© Helen O’Neill        Archive, Heritage and Development Librarian


The joining for to the Library of Virginia Woolf dating from 1904 the year in which her father died. She gives her occupation as “Spinster”.


From the Library’s Special Collections, Sissinghurst by Vita Sackville West dedicated “To V.W.” Printed by hand by Leonard & Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press in 1931, it is signed by Vita and is one of only 500 copies printed.

Sackville West (1)

From the Library’s Special Collections, Sissinghurst by Vita Sackville West dedicated “To V.W.” Printed by hand by Leonard & Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press in 1931, it is signed by Vita and is one of only 500 copies printed.

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Posted by on in Archives

Archive Advent Calendar: 12 December 2013

A year after the success of Scenes of a Clerical Life (1858) George Eliot published her first novel Adam Bede to critical success. During the same year her gothic horror story The Lifted Veil appeared in Blackwood’s Magazine and she was also conducting research for “Mill on the Floss” which was published hot on the heels of Adam Bede in 1860.

“At the beginning of the year [1859] she [George Eliot] had gone into town to the London Library to research ‘cases of inundation’ and found useful examples of widespread destruction in the northeast of England during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.”[i]

George Eliot’s use of the Annual Register in her research on cases of “inundation” recorded in her journal in January 1859 factually underpins the final dramatic flooding scenes in the Mill on the Floss, one of her most enduring and autobiographically revealing novels.

1859 was also the year Eliot was outed as the female writer behind the pseudonym she resolutely retained. Fiercely intelligent, staggeringly talented and brave enough to weather both social disapproval and whipped-up gossip for her relationship with G.H. Lewes, Eliot was a towering female talent in Victorian literary London.  Three significant men in her life: G.H. Lewes her partner; Dr John Chapman proprietor of the Westminster Review which Eliot contributed to and edited between 1851 and 1854; and her publisher John Blackwood were also all subscribing members.

Check in tomorrow to find out which defining modern novelist resuscitated and reconfigured George Eliot’s waning literary reputation in a piece in the TLS in 1919.

[i] Catherine Hughes George Eliot: The Last Victorian. London:Fourth Estate, 1998.

Annual Registers

The Annual Register, still as complete, accessible and informative in 2013 as they were in 1859

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Archive Advent Calendar: 11 December 2013

We continue our archival countdown to Christmas by lifting the curtain on some of the Library’s theatrical members.

I promised a trip to the theatre yesterday and so in four archival records we will whisk through over a hundred years of acting and theatrical heritage evidenced in the Library’s membership records.

One of the earliest playwrights in the records is John Oxenford (1812-1877) author of over 100 plays, an accomplished translator and theatre critic for The Times. His play A Day Well Spent staged at the Lyceum theatre in 1836 was adapted by Johann Nestroy in Vienna in 1845 as Einen Jux will er sich machen.  Nestroy’s play adapted again by Tom Stoppard in On the Razzle which opened at the Lyttleton Theatre on 18 September 1981 and is also the inspiration behind the hit musical Hello Dolly!

No-one did more in the Victorian era than Henry Irving (1838-1905) to elevate the status of the stage and the profession of acting and he was rewarded for his efforts with a knighthood – the first actor to receive the accolade. His wit, verve and humility all in evidence in the description of his occupation on his joining form to the Library: “Comedian”.

The actress Isabel Bateman (1854-1934) came from an American acting family her father Hezekiah Linthicum Bateman took over management of the Lyceum in 1871 and it was he that spotted and recruited the talent of the young Irving who in turn provided the Lyceum with a runaway success with his critically acclaimed performance as Hamlet in 1874. Irving took over the management of the Lyceum in 1878 after the death of Mr Bateman and became the defining actor theatre manager of the Victorian age.

Laurence Olivier (1907-1989) is considered Irving’s natural successor.  He too was knighted for services to the stage and film in 1947: the youngest actor to have received the honour.  His joining form to the Library dates from 1944, a landmark year for Olivier.  His film version of Henry V in which he not only starred in but co-produced and directed was released and it was also the year in which he joined Ralph Richardson and Ralph Burrell in running the Old Vic at the New Theatre – and it is the address of the New Theatre which appears on his joining form.

Join us tomorrow when we find out who used the Annual Registers (currently shelved in the Sackler Study) in her research for one of the most enduring novels in the English language.


Irving as Hamlet.
Austin Brereton Henry Irving: A Biographical Sketch London: David Bogue 1883.

Irving (2)

The defining actor of his generation Henry Irving joined the Library in 1890. His right hand man at the Lyceum Theatre, Bram Stoker joined the same year.


From an American acting dynasty Isabel Bateman joined the Library in 1878. In 1898 she gave up the stage to take holy orders.


John Oxenford was the 705th person to join the Library in 1843.


Laurence Olivier joined the Library in 1944 the year in which he won critical acclaim for the film version of Henry V.

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Archive Advent Calendar: 10 December 2013

I promised something “dark and racy” yesterday to wash down our Beeton’s Christmas pudding and here it is.  The brewer and philanthropist Edward Cecil Guinness (1847-1927) appears in the Library’s membership records in 1879 when he was the owner of the second largest brewery in the world. An astonishing businessman with good looks, intelligence and flair Guinness matched his staggering entrepreneurship with a keen eye for social welfare.  In the yearDracula hit the booksellers he established the Guinness Trust for housing the poor in London and Dublin and his philanthropic works gathered apace thereafter.

Guinness is followed in the membership records by another businessman philanthropist whose brand also continues to today Thomas Wall (1846-1930).  The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography describes Wall as “Philanthropist and sausage entrepreneur”.  Note his address -113 Jermyn Street just round the corner from the Library in the spot currently occupied by Rowley’s. Wall’s firm had a royal warrant – his father supplied sausages (albeit enriched with her chef’s own seasoning) to Queen Victoria.

Check in tomorrow for a decidedly theatrical outing from the membership records…

© Helen O’Neill        Archive, Heritage and Development Librarian

Thomas Wall (1846-1930). “Philanthropist and sausage entrepreneur”.

Thomas Wall (1846-1930). “Philanthropist and sausage entrepreneur”.


Brewer and philanthropist Edward Cecil Guinness (1847-1927), London Library member 1879

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Posted by on in Archives


Join us for an archival countdown to Christmas as Helen O’Neill,  Archive Heritage and Development Librarian treats us every week-day between now and Christmas Eve to a small tasty nugget from the archive…

An archival countdown to Christmas…

9 December 2013

Over the next three weeks join me for an advent calendar with a difference. Between now and Christmas Eve I will be opening small windows onto the Library’s literary and cultural past by unveiling from the archive past London Library members.  To get the ball rolling on these short but quick fire blogs I’m starting with a name synonymous with Christmas – Beeton.

The membership ledgers reveal the publisher Samuel Orchart Beeton joined the London Library in 1863.  He had established himself as a publisher in partnership with Charles H. Clarke when he was just 21 and capitalized on an early opportunity to publish Uncle Tom’s Cabinthe staggeringly successful novel by the then unknown American Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Beeton was innovative and prolific publisher and editor.  A supporter of women’s suffrage it is perhaps no surprise that his wife also played a role in the success of the company – commuting with her husband to work. The breadth of the Beeton publishing empire is clearly visible in advertisements in The Times on December 23 1863 in which the following Beeton titles appear:

Beeton’s Robinson Crusoe Penny parts
Beeton’s Christmas Annual
Beeton’s Dictionaries of Reference
Beeton’s Garden Management
Beeton’s Home Games
Beeton’s Home Pets
Beeton’s Household Management
Boy’s Monthly Magazine
Boy’s Own Library
Boy’s Own Magazine
Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine

Isabella Beeton’s took four years to write the most abiding of these titlesHousehold Management and it laid the groundwork for many a cookbook that was to follow – ingredients given first then instructions accompanied by colour illustrations: but it was a great deal more than a recipe book. The eldest girl of a household of twenty-one children in her youth Mrs Beeton’s clear and meticulous recipes were augmented by common sense advice on all things domestic from understanding cuts of meat to recognizing and administering to childhood diseases or hiring domestic staff. The book was a staggering runaway success.  She died when she was 28 but the Mrs Beeton name continued as a hugely successful brand that it is still recognised today.

Check in tomorrow when I will be sluicing down the Christmas pudding with another archival helping in the shape of a glass of something “dry and racy”.

Samuel Orchart Beeton joined the Library in 1863.  His wife Mrs (Isabella Mary) Beeton played a full role in Beeton’s publishing success and remains a household name.

Samuel Orchart Beeton joined the Library in 1863. His wife Mrs (Isabella Mary) Beeton played a full role in Beeton’s publishing success and remains a household name.

Stuck for ideas for Christmas gifts? Why not try your hand at a pair of Cricket Slippers in Berlin Wool and Purse Silk? Beeton’s Young Englishwoman September 1873.

Stuck for ideas for Christmas gifts? Why not try your hand at a pair of Cricket Slippers in Berlin Wool and Purse Silk? Beeton’s Young Englishwoman September 1873.

Beeton’s Every-Day Cookery and Housekeeping Book. London: Ward Lock & Co Limited, 1890.  Mrs Beeton’s Christmas Plum Pudding, like Dickens’s Christmas Carol is a quintessential Christmas legacy from our Victorian past.

Beeton’s Every-Day Cookery and Housekeeping Book. London: Ward Lock & Co Limited, 1890. Mrs Beeton’s Christmas Plum Pudding, like Dickens’s Christmas Carol is a quintessential Christmas legacy from our Victorian past.

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Posted by on in Acquisitions
By Michael Schmalholz, London Library German Language Collection Specialist, and Anna Vlasova, Retrospective Cataloguer.

From its foundation in 1841, the London Library has aimed to maintain a representative collection of literature in all major European languages and German language books have been extensively collected from the beginning. Thomas Carlyle, the founder of the London Library, who had a personal interest in German literature and history, admired Goethe, corresponded with him and promoted interest in him in Britain. Already at the Library’s founding several German books were donated by Prince Albert. In fact, the 1842 London Library catalogue mentions “a valuable selection of the best German authors from his Royal Highness Prince Albert, the Patron of the Institution”. Also, this catalogue already includes Goethe’s, Schiller’s and Jean-Paul’s collected works.

At present the London Library holds a remarkably extensive collection of German language books, with an especially rich collection of German literature. Indeed, the German literature section is now the largest of the foreign language sections in the collections. The German literature collection includes all major works and authors that span from ca. 800 (e.g. Hildebrandslied) to the present day. Alongside the latest publications, in the open-access stacks members can find borrowable copies of a wide range of 19th and 20th century editions of German novels and short stories, as well as poetry, drama and essays. The Library has maintained its holdings of the writings of established authors from the late 19th-early 20th centuries, many of whom are not easily available elsewhere.

There is an active acquisitions policy for contemporary German literature and fiction. When possible, collected works are acquired, and the most well-known and well-established authors are covered by several editions. The Library is rich in German classical literature, and the best represented author is Goethe. The Library possesses numerous editions of his collected works, from Goethes Werke : vollständige Ausgabe letzter Hand (Stuttgart: Cotta, 1827-1842) to Hamburger Ausgabe (Hamburg: Christian Wegner Verlag, 1949-1960) and Münchner Ausgabe (München: Hanser, c1985-c1998). Schiller is also represented by several editions of collected works, from Sämmtliche Werke (Stuttgart: Cotta, 1812-1815) to Schillers Werke: Nationalausgabe. Other important 18th and 19th century authors, such as Novalis, Wackenroder, Wieland, Auerbach, Heyse and many others, are also represented in contemporary and modern editions. Same stands true for the 20th century authors, and the Library possesses, for example, Brecht’s Werke: grosse kommentierte Berliner und Frankfurter Ausgabe and Kafka’s Schriften, Tagebücher, Briefe : kritische Ausgabe, and is subscribing to the literary works of Thomas Mann in Grosse kommentierte Frankfurter Ausgabe. Although the emphasis is on literature from the 18th century onwards, the Library holds editions of the most important medieval and early modern German works, and subscribes to Münchener Texte und Untersuchungen zur deutschen Literatur des Mittelalters.

The London Library holds several especially treasured editions of German literature, among which there is a copy of Randzeichnungen zu Goethe’s Balladen und Romanzen (1829-1830) that was sent as a gift from Goethe to Thomas Carlyle. The copy is beautifully illustrated by Eugen Napoleon Neureuther, of whose talent Carlyle had a high opinion. Notable first editions include the 1773 edition of Goethe’s Götz von Berlichingen mit der eisernen Hand, as well as the 1795 edition of his Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre. An example of a modern first edition possessed by the Library is Herman Hesse’s 1927 edition Steppenwolf.

As part of the Retrospective Cataloguing Project, pre-1950 German literature editions are currently in the process of being transferred to the Library’s online catalogue. All German works of fiction (e.g. individual novels and short stories), as well as post-1950 editions of German literature (e.g. collected works, individual works of poetry) are searchable on the Library’s online catalogue.

Seit ihrer Gründung im Jahre 1841 hat es sich die London Library zur Aufgabe gemacht, eine repräsentative Sammlung von Literatur in allen wichtigen europäischen Sprachen aufzubauen und deutsche Bücher wurden von Anfang an gesammelt. Thomas Carlyle, der Gründer der London Library, der ein persönliches Interesse an deutscher Literatur und Geschichte hatte, bewunderte Goethe, korrespondierte mit ihm und förderte das Interesse an ihm in Großbritannien. Bereits bei der Gründung der London Library wurden mehrere deutsche Bücher von Prince Albert gespendet. Bereits der Katalog der London Library aus dem Jahre 1842 erwähnt “eine wertvolle Auswahl der besten deutschen Autoren von seiner Königlichen Hoheit Prinz Albert, dem Schirmherrn der Institution“.  Auch die gesammelten Werke von Goethe, Schiller und Jean-Paul beinhaltet dieser Katalog bereits.

Heute enthält die London Library eine bemerkenswerte und umfangreiche Sammlung von Büchern in deutscher Sprache, mit besonders reichhaltigen Beständen auf dem Gebiet der deutschen Literatur. Tatsächlich ist die Abteilung Deutsche Literatur heute das größte aller nicht-englischsprachigen Sachgebiete in der gesamten Sammlung. Die Sammlung umfasst alle wichtigen Werke und Autoren, von ca. 800 (z.B. Hildebrandslied) bis zum heutigen Tag. Neben den neuesten Veröffentlichungen können Nutzer der Bibliothek auf einen umfangreichen Bestand von Ausgaben deutscher Prosa und Lyrik des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts zugreifen und ausleihen. Besondere Aufmerksamkeit hat die Bibliothek ihrem Bestand an Schriften von bekannten und weniger bekannten Autoren aus dem späten 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhundert gepflegt, und viele dieser Werke sind mittlerweile Raritäten, die sich in dieser Dichte selten finden.

Die London Library unterhält einen umfangreichen Akquisitionsplan für zeitgenössische deutsche Literatur und Belletristik. Wenn möglich, werden in erster Linie Werkausgaben erworben, und die bekanntesten und etablierten Autoren werden von mehreren Ausgaben abgedeckt. Die Bibliothek ist reich an klassischer deutscher Literatur, und der am prominentesten vertretene Autor ist Goethe. Die Bibliothek hat zahlreiche Ausgaben seiner gesammelten Werke,  von Goethes Werke: Vollständige Ausgabe letzter Hand (Stuttgart: Cotta, 1827-1842) zuHamburger Ausgabe (Hamburg: Christian Wegner Verlag, 1949-1960) und Münchner Ausgabe (München: Hanser, c1985 -c1998). Auch Schiller ist mit einigen Ausgaben der Gesammelten Werke vertreten, von Sämmtliche Werke (Stuttgart: Cotta, 1812-1815) zu Schillers Werke: Nationalausgabe. Weitere wichtige Autoren des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts wie Novalis, Wackenroder, Wieland, Auerbach, Heyse und viele andere, sind auch in der zeitgenössischen und modernen Ausgaben vertreten. Dies gilt auch für die Autoren des 20. Jahrhunderts, und die Bibliothek besitzt besispielsweise Brechts Werke: grosse Kommentierte Berliner und Frankfurter Ausgabe und KafkasSchriften, Tagebücher, Briefe: Kritische Ausgabe, und abonniert die literarischen Werke von Thomas Mann in der Grossen kommentierten Frankfurter Ausgabe. Obwohl der Schwerpunkt der Sammlung auf der Literatur ab dem 18. Jahrhundert liegt, enthält die Bibliothek auch Ausgaben der wichtigsten mittelalterlichen und frühneuzeitlichen deutschen Werke und abonniert die Münchener Texte und Untersuchungen zur deutschen Literatur des Mittelalters.

Die London Library enthält mehrere besonders wertvolle Ausgaben der deutschen Literatur, unter ihnen eine Kopie der Randzeichnungen zu Goethe’s Balladen und Romanzen (1829-1830), ein persönliches Geschenk Goethes an Thomas Carlyle, den ‚Vater‘ der London Library. Das Exemplar wurde wunderschön von Eugen Napoleon Neureuther illustriert, von dessen Talent Carlyle eine hohe Meinung hatte. Zu den bemerkenswertesten Erstausgaben im Bestand gehören die Ausgabe von Goethes Götz von Berlichingen mit der eisernen Hand aus dem Jahre 1773 sowie die Auflage seines Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre von 1795. Ein Beispiel für eine moderne Erstausgabe im Besitz der Bibliothek ist Herman Hesses Steppenwolf aus dem Jahre 1927.

Als Teil des Projekts zur retrospektiven Katalogisierung der London Library werden die vor 1950 erschienenen deutsche Literaturwerke gegenwärtig in den Online Katalog übertragen. Alle deutschen belletristischen Werke (z.B. einzelne Romane und Kurzgeschichten), sowie generell sämtliche Ausgaben der deutschen Literatur seit 1950 (z.B. Gesammelte Werke, einzelne Werke der Poesie) sind bereits jetzt zeit- und ortsunabhängig im Online Katalog der London Library recherchier- und bestellbar.

Randzeichnungen zu Goethe’s Balladen und Romanzen, 1829-1830

Joseph Viktor von Scheffel. Gaudeamus: Lieder aus dem Engeren und Weiteren (Stuttgart : Adolf Bonz, 1877)

Robert Hamerling. Amor und Psyche: eine Dichtung in Sechs Gesängen (Leipzig: Adolf Titze [1883])

Eugen Napoleon Neureuther’s illustration from Randzeichnungen zu Goethe’s Balladen und Romanzen

Hermann Hesse. Der Steppenwolf (Berlin: Fischer, 1927)

Ludwig Uhland. Uhlands Gedichte (Stuttgart : J.G. Cotta, 1867)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre: ein Roman (Berlin: Bei Johann Friedrich Unger, 1795)

Karl Gerok. Palmblätter (Stuttgart: E. Greiner , 1865)

Joseph Viktor von Scheffel . Der Trompeter von Säkkingen: ein Sang vom Oberrhein (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1873)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Götz von Berlichingen mit der eisernen Hand: ein Schauspiel ([S.l. : s.n.], 1773)

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By Anna Gonzalez-Fort

The Spanish literature collection is one of the largest foreign language literature collections in the Library and is actively added to with works by contemporary Spanish writers. Alongside the latest publications, in the open-access stacks members can find borrowable copies of a wide range of 20th, 19th and even some 18th century editions of Spanish novels and short stories, as well as poetry, drama and essays.

The collection spans from the 13th century with the “Cantar de Mio Cid” to the present day with authors such as Javier Marías or Almudena Grandes.

Editions of medieval Spanish literature held by the London Library cover works from the religious poetry of Gonzalo de Berceo to the works of the Infante Don Juan Manuel with his “El Conde Lucanor” or Juan Ruiz, Arcipreste de Hita with his “Libro de Buen Amor”. The transition of the medieval period to the Renaissance is also represented with the hybrid work between novel and theatrical play, “La Celestina”, by Fernando de Rojas.

From the period between the 15-17th centuries, known as the Spanish Golden Age due to the great flourishing in poetry, prose and drama, we can find poetic works such as the ones by Garcilaso de la Vega and San Juan de la Cruz; some examples of picaresque novel such as the “Lazarillo de Tormes” or “El Buscón” by Francisco de Quevedo, or what is considered to be the first modern European novel, “El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha”, by Miguel de Cervantes, of which the library possesses several editions.

But the most remarkable collection from this Golden Age period that is held by the London Library is the Spanish Plays collection. It is one of the largest collections of Spanish plays outside of Spain, consisting of almost 1,500 editions mostly bound into over 100 pamphlet volumes. The collection contains printed editions of a wide variety of different kinds of play, including pastorals, the one-act religious pieces known in Spanish as autos, other religious dramas, full-length comedies, tragedies, and tragicomedies, operas, interludes (entremeses), and sundry examples of the other minor genres associated with the great age of the Spanish stage. Most of the leading figures from the 17th century are represented in the collection: Antonio Mira de Amescua, Juan Ruiz de Alarcón y Mendoza, Francisco de Rojas Zorrilla, etc. Of particular interest to researchers are the holdings of Lope de Vega (c. 100), Calderón de la Barca (180), and Tirso de Molina (51). The collection is particularly rich in rare eighteenth-century Lope sueltas.

The 18th century saw the Age of Enlightment with the essays of Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos and the theatre of Leandro Fernández de Moratín, which lead to the Romanticism and the Realism of the 19th century with authors such as José de Espronceda, Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, José Zorrilla, Emilia Pardo Bazán and Benito Pérez Galdós, whose main works can be found at the library stacks.

A substantial part of the Spanish Literature collection at the London Library comes from the authors of the 20th century, both from the period pre-Spanish Civil War such as Antonio Machado, Federico García Lorca, Juan Ramón Jiménez and José Ortega y Gasset, and post-Spanish Civil War such as Camilo José Cela, Miguel Delibes, Gonzalo Torrente Ballester and Juan Marsé.

Numerous Spanish books were bequeathed to the London Library by R. B. Cunninghame Graham in 1936. He was a Scottish politician, writer, journalist and adventurer of Spanish origins (his grandmother was a Spanish noblewoman), who was strongly connected to Spain and Latin America throughout his life. The books were donated in memory of his wife, by whom the books were collected in Spain.

It is worth pointing out that the library also collects works published in the other official languages ​​of Spain: Catalan (which can be found under the separate shelfmark L. Catalan &c.), Basque (under the separate shelfmark L. Basque) and Galician. On the other hand, all works by and about Latin American authors who write in the Spanish language are also classified as part of the Spanish Literature collection.

The Spanish Literature collection has been fully transferred to the Library’s online catalogue as part of the Retrospective Cataloguing Project, and therefore it is searchable on the Library’s online catalogue.

Spanish translation

La colección de literatura española  es una de las mayores colecciones en lengua extranjera que se encuentran en la biblioteca, la cual es activamente ampliada con obras de escritores españoles contemporáneos. Junto a las últimas publicaciones, los usuarios de la biblioteca pueden encontrar ejemplares prestables de un amplio abanico de ediciones de novelas y relatos cortos en español del siglo XX, XIX e incluso XVIII, así como poesía, teatro y ensayos.

La colección abarca desde el siglo XIII con el “Cantar de Mio Cid” hasta la actualidad, con autores como Javier Marías o Almudena Grandes.

Los ejemplares de literatura medieval española que se pueden encontrar en la London Library incluyen obras desde la poesía religiosa de Gonzalo de Berceo hasta las obras del Infante Don Juan Manuel con su “El Conde Lucanor” o Juan Ruiz, Arcipreste de Hita con su “Libro de Buen Amor”. La transición del periodo medieval al Renacimiento también está representada con la obra híbrida entre novela y teatro “La Celestina”, de Fernando de Rojas.

Del período entre los siglos XV y XVII, conocidos como el Siglo de Oro debido a la gran proliferación de la prosa, la poesía y el teatro, podemos encontrar obras poéticas como las de Garcilaso de la Vega y San Juan de la Cruz; algunos ejemplos de novela picaresca como el “Lazarillo de Tormes” o “El Buscón” de Francisco de Quevedo, o la que está considerada como la primera novela europea moderna, “El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha”, de Miguel de Cervantes, de la cual la biblioteca posee varias ediciones.

Pero la colección más destacada del periodo del Siglo de Oro que se puede encontrar en la London Library es la colección de Teatro Español. Se trata de una de las más grandes colecciones de obras de teatro español fuera de España, y consiste de casi 1500 obras, la mayor parte de las cuales encuadernadas en unos 100 volúmenes facticios. La colección contiene ediciones impresas de diferentes tipos de obra, incluyendo pastorales, autos sacramentales, comedias, tragedias y tragicomedias, operas, entremeses y ejemplos diversos de otros géneros menores relacionados con la gran época del teatro español. La mayoría de los principales autores del siglo XVII están representados en la colección: Antonio Mira de Amescua, Juan Ruiz de Alarcón y Mendoza, Francisco de Rojas Zorrilla, etc. De particular interés para los investigadores son los fondos de Lope de Vega (c. 100 obras), Calderón de la Barca (180) y Tirso de Molina (51). La colección es particularmente rica en raros ejemplares de sueltas de Lope de Vega.

El siglo XVIII vio la época de la Ilustración con los ensayos de Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos y el teatro de Leandro Fernández de Moratín, que llevaron hasta el Romanticismo y el Realismo del siglo XIX con autores como José de Espronceda, Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, José Zorrilla, Emilia Pardo Bazán y Benito Pérez Galdós, cuyas principales obras se pueden encontrar en las estanterías de la biblioteca.

Una gran parte de la colección de literatura española en la London Library proviene de los autores del siglo XX, tanto del periodo anterior a la Guerra Civil española  como Antonio Machado, Federico García Lorca, Juan Ramón Jiménez y José Ortega y Gasset, como posteriores a la Guerra como Camilo José Cela, Miguel Delibes, Gonzalo Torrente Ballester y Juan Marsé.

Numerosos libros en español fueron legados a la London Library por R. B. Cunninghame Graham en 1936. Éste fue un político, escritor, periodista y aventurero escocés de origen español (su abuela era una dama de la nobleza española), que estuvo fuertemente ligado a España y América Latina a lo largo de toda su vida. Los libros fueron donados en memoria de su mujer, la cual recolectó los libros en España.

Es importante señalar que la biblioteca también adquiere obras publicadas en las otras lenguas oficiales de España: catalán (que pueden encontrarse bajo la signatura L. Catalan Lit. &c.), vasco (bajo la signatura L. Basque) y gallego. Por otra parte, todas las obras de y sobre autores latinoamericanos que escriben en español también están clasificadas dentro de la colección de literatura española.

La colección de literatura española ya ha sido transferida en su totalidad al catálogo en línea de la biblioteca en el marco del Proyecto de Catalogación Retrospectiva, y por tanto se puede buscar en el catálogo de la biblioteca.

Chronica del famoso e invencible cavallero Cid Ruy Diez Campeador” (1552)

A small edition of “Lazarillo de Tormes castigado” (1603)

A small edition of “Lazarillo de Tormes castigado” (1603)

One of the numerous editions of “Don Quijote” in the Library

One of the numerous editions of “Don Quijote” in the Library

A volume of Spanish “comedias” from the 17th century

A volume of Spanish “comedias” from the 17th century

“Rimas humanas y divinas”, by Lope de Vega (1674)

An example of “sainete” included in “Colección de saynetes representados en los teatros de esta Corte” (1792)

An example of “sainete” included in “Colección de saynetes representados en los teatros de esta Corte” (1792)

“La Celestina : tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea” (1883), with the Cunninghame Graham bequest label

“La Celestina : tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea” (1883), with the Cunninghame Graham bequest label

“Obras poéticas de Espronceda” (1882)

“Obras poéticas de Espronceda” (1882)

“Perfiles y colores”, by Fernando Martínez Pedrosa (1882)

“Perfiles y colores”, by Fernando Martínez Pedrosa (1882)

“La mariposa”, translated from the Catalan by Narcís Oller (1886)

“La mariposa”, translated from the Catalan by Narcís Oller (1886)

Hits: 1877

The latest blog installment in our foreign languages series focuses on the riches of our French Literature collection.
By Anna Vlasova with assistance from Anna Gonzalez-Fort.

The French collections of the London Library have developed steadily from the Library’s foundation in 1841. At present the French literature collection is one of the largest foreign language literature collections in the Library and is actively added to with contemporary French writers’ works. Alongside the latest publications, in the open-access stacks members can find borrowable copies of a wide range of 20th, 19th and even some 18th century editions of French novels and short stories, as well as poetry, drama and essays. The French literature collection includes all major works and authors that span from the 11th century (e.g. Chanson de Roland) to the present day (e.g. Michel Houellebecq).Editions of medieval French literature held by the London Library cover works from the earliest anonymous ones to the first named authors, such as Chrétien de Troyes (12th century), later Jean de Meung and Guillaume de Lorris (13th century) and Clément Marot and François Villon (15th century). The Library also holds a considerable amount of volumes of Société des anciens textes français, a series of critical editions of French medieval texts. French literature of the Renaissance period is represented with such writers as Rabelais, Marot and Ronsard. The famous 17th century playwrights, such as Corneille and Racine for tragedy and Molière for comedy are also present in the Library’s collections. The 18th century saw the appearance of the philosophers such as Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau and Montesquieu, all of whom wrote novels as well as works of philosophy and political science. Numerous editions of their oeuvres completes can be found in the French literature stacks. The names come thick and fast in the 19th century with the Romantics such as Hugo and Chateaubriand, Realists such as Balzac and Stendhal and Naturalists such as Zola. Among the 19th century poets Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Nerval and Vigny and many others can be found on the Library’s open-access stacks. In the first half of the 20th century come Proust, Mauriac, Gide, Céline, Colette, followed by Camus, Sagan, Beauvoir, Sartre, Malraux, not forgetting the Belgian Simenon, all established novelists, plus the surrealists Breton, Aragon, Apollinaire, Eluard. Editions of individual 20th century French authors are supplemented by Les Oeuvres libres: recueil littéraire mensuel ne publiant que de l’inédit (Paris : A. Fayard, 1921-1964), of which the Library has a complete set. More recent authors include Houellebecq, Beigbeder, Ben Jelloun, Maalouf, Bouraoui and Nothomb.

Numerous books, especially earlier editions, in the French literature collections contain a wealth of provenance evidence, such as bookplates, inscriptions by previous owners and donation labels. This evidence reveals fascinating details about the books’ previous whereabouts and in some cases their way into the Library’s collections. For example, a bookplate and an inscription in the ten-volume Oeuvres de monsieur Scarron (Amsterdam: Chez J. Wetstein & G. Smith, 1737) indicates it was previously owned by John Boyle, 5th Earl of Cork and 5th

Earl of Orrery (1707–1762), who bought it in Dublin in 1737. John Boyle, whose writings can be found in the London Library’s collections, was a writer, a member of the Royal Society and a close friend of Jonathan Swift (he wrote Remarks on the Life and Writings of Jonathan Swift in 1751). Œuvres dramatiques de Néricault Destouches (Paris: Imprimerie royale, 1757) originally belonged to John Towneley (1731–1813), a noted book collector from the Towneley family. The Towneley family library can be traced back to 1603, when Richard Towneley (1566–1628) had his book bindings impressed with his coat of arms and the motto Tenez Le Vray (still present on the John Towneley bookplate). The first sale of the Towneley library took place in 1813 and the second one in 1883. Evidently, Sir Edmund Gosse (1849–1928), an English poet, author and critic, as well as the Vice President of the London Library from 1922 to 1928, acquired these volumes at the second Towneley library sale and subsequently donated them to the London Library.

As part of the Retrospective Cataloguing Project , pre-1950 French literature and fiction editions are currently in the process of being transferred to the Library’s online catalogue. All French literature and fiction published after 1950 are searchable on the Library’s online catalogue.

[French translation]
La collection des ouvrages français a été constituée au fil des ans depuis 1841, date de la fondation de la London Library. C’est une des plus importantes collections parmi celles de littérature en langue étrangère; de nouvelles œuvres d’écrivains français y sont continuellement ajoutées. Non seulement les membres peuvent consulter en libre accès les dernières parutions mais ils peuvent aussi emprunter des romans et nouvelles du XXème, XIXème et même du XVIIIème ainsi que des recueils de poésie, des pièces de théâtre et des essais. La collection de littérature française comprend un large panel d’œuvres et d’auteurs marquants du XIème siècle (ex: Chanson de Roland) jusqu’à nos jours (ex: Michel Houellebecq).

La London Library détient des exemplaires de la littérature du Moyen Âge des premiers anonymes jusqu’aux auteurs tels Chrétien de Troyes (XIIème siècle), puis Jean de Meung et Guillaume de Lorris (XIIIème siècle) ou Clément Marot et François Villon (XVème siècle). La London Library détient aussi un nombre conséquent de volume de la Société des anciens textes français, une collection d’œuvres critiques de textes en français médiéval. La littérature de la Renaissance est représentée à la London Library par des auteurs tels que Rabelais, Marot et Ronsard. Les célèbres auteurs de pièces de théatre du XVIIème siècle, comme Corneille et Racine pour les tragédies et Molière pour les comédies sont aussi présents à la London Library. Le XVIIIème siècle voit apparaître des auteurs tels que Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau et Montesquieu, tous ont écrit des romans ainsi que des œuvres philosophiques et des sciences politiques. Un grand nombre de leurs ouvrages complets se trouvent dans les rayons de la collection française. Des Romantiques comme Hugo et Chateaubriand aux Réalistes tels que Balzac et Stendhal en passant par les Naturalistes avec Zola se bousculent parmi la collection française. Les ouvrages des poètes du XIXème siècle tels que ceux de Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Nerval et Vigny sont en libre accès parmi les rayons de la London Library. Tous les auteurs marquants de la première moitié du XXème siècle sont consultables à la London Library parmi lesquels Proust, Mauriac, Gide, Céline, Colette, suivis de Camus, Sagan, Beauvoir, Sartre, Malraux, sans oublier l’écrivain belge Simenon ainsi que les grands romanciers et les surréalistes tels que Breton, Aragon, Apollinaire, Eluard. La London Library comprends aussi une collection complète des Œuvres libres: recueil littéraire mensuel ne publiant que de l’inédit (Paris : A. Fayard, 1921-1964). Les auteurs les plus récents tels que Houellebecq, Beigbeder, Ben Jelloun, Maalouf, Bouraoui and Nothomb peuvent aussi être empruntés.

De nombreux ouvrages, en particulier les éditions les plus anciennes, de la collection française recèlent une large quantité d’indices et de traces de provenance comme les ex-libris, les inscriptions par les anciens propriétaires et les labels des dons. Ces informations peuvent nous éclairer sur le parcours d’un ouvrage et parfois la façon dont il a rejoint les rayons de la London Library. Par exemple, un ex-libris et une inscription dans les dix volumes Œuvres de Monsieur Scarron (Amsterdam: Chez J. Wetstein & G. Smith, 1737) indique qu’il était précédemment détenu par John Boyle, Vème comte de Cork et Vème comte d’Orrery (1707–1762), qui l’avait acheté à Dublin en 1737. John Boyle, dont les écrits se trouvent dans les collections de la London Library, était un écrivain, un membre de la Royal Society et un ami proche de Jonathan Swift (il a écrit Remarks on the Life and Writings of Jonathan Swift en 1751). Les Œuvres dramatiques de Destouches Néricault (Paris: Imprimerie royale, 1757) appartenaient à l’origine à John Towneley (1731-1813), un collectionneur de livres membre de la famille Towneley. La bibliothèque de la famille Towneley remonte à 1603, lorsque Richard Towneley (1566–1628) avait ses reliures marquées de ses armoiries et la devise Tenez Le Vray (toujours présent sur l’ex-libris de John Towneley). La première vente de la bibliothèque Towneley a eu lieu en 1813 et la seconde en 1883. Evidemment, Sir Edmund Gosse (1849–1928), un poète anglais, auteur et critique littéraire, ainsi que le vice-président de la London Library de 1922 à 1928, ont acquis ces volumes à la deuxième vente de la bibliothèque Towneley et ils en ont par la suite fait don à la bibliothèque.

Dans le cadre du Retrospective Cataloguing Project, la littérature française et les éditions de fiction publiées avant 1950 sont actuellement en cours de transfert sur le catalogue en ligne de la bibliothèque. Toute la littérature française et les éditions de fiction publiées après 1950 sont déjà consultables sur le catalogue en ligne de la Bibliothèque

From La Chanson de Roland : texte critique, traduction et commentaire par Léon Gautier (Tours: Alfred Mame et fils, 1888)

From La Chanson de Roland : texte critique, traduction et commentaire par Léon Gautier (Tours: Alfred Mame et fils, 1888)

L'Héautontimorouménos by Tony George-Roux from Charles Baudelaire Les fleurs du mal (Paris: A Lemerre, [1917?])

L’Héautontimorouménos by Tony George-Roux from Charles Baudelaire Les fleurs du mal (Paris: A Lemerre, [1917?])

Illustrations by Gustave Brion in Victor Hugo’s Les misérables (Paris: J. Hetzel et A. Lacroix, 1865)

Illustrations by Gustave Brion in Victor Hugo’s Les misérables (Paris: J. Hetzel et A. Lacroix, 1865)

John Towneley ex-libris with the motto Tenez Le Vray in Œuvres dramatiques de Néricault Destouches (Paris : Imprimerie royale, 1757)

John Towneley ex-libris with the motto Tenez Le Vray in Œuvres dramatiques de Néricault Destouches (Paris : Imprimerie royale, 1757)

Sir Edmund Gosse donation label in Œuvres dramatiques de Néricault Destouches (Paris : Imprimerie royale, 1757)

Sir Edmund Gosse donation label in Œuvres dramatiques de Néricault Destouches (Paris : Imprimerie royale, 1757)

John Boyle 5th Earl of Cork and 5th Earl of Orrery inscription in Œuvres de monsieur Scarron

John Boyle 5th Earl of Cork and 5th Earl of Orrery inscription in Œuvres de monsieur Scarron

John Boyle 5th Earl of Cork and 5th Earl of Orrery ex-libris in Œuvres de monsieur Scarron

John Boyle 5th Earl of Cork and 5th Earl of Orrery ex-libris in Œuvres de monsieur Scarron

Œuvres de monsieur Scarron (Amsterdam: Chez J. Wetstein & G. Smith, 1737)

Œuvres de monsieur Scarron (Amsterdam: Chez J. Wetstein & G. Smith, 1737)

From Œuvres de Molière (Paris: Compagnie des libraires associés, 1773)

From Œuvres de Molière (Paris: Compagnie des libraires associés, 1773)

Hits: 1789

The London Library’s enviable foreign languages collection contains books in over 50 languages, with particular riches in the French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian collections. The Library’s resident polyglot Retrospective Cataloguer Anna Vlasova, with assistance from Claudia Ricci, gives the first installment in her series of bi-lingual pieces focused on the foreign languages in the London Library ahead of this year’s European Day of Languages celebrated on 26 September. Anna takes a look at the Library’s fascinating RUSSIAN COLLECTION of literature, poetry and essays from the 19th/20th centuries. (English and with Russian transliteration, below).

From its foundation in 1841, the London Library has aimed to maintain a representative collection of literature in all major European languages. The Russian element was introduced by Robert Harrison, Librarian from 1857 to 1893, and remained strong ever since. Robert Harrison spent several years in Russia acting as a tutor to the family of prince Demidov and lecturing in the St. Anne’s school in St. Petersburg. Harrison’s successor Sir Charles Hagberg Wright, Librarian from 1894 to 1940, received much of his early education in Russia and maintained a lifelong devotion to the country and its great writers, some of whom, notably, Tolstoy and Gorky, were close friends. One of the permanent memorials to Sir Charles’s Russian interests is the London Library’s comprehensive collection of Russian literature. Russian literature collections, including the collection of 19th century Russian literature, praised by Sir Isaiah Berlin as ‘truly remarkable’ and containing ‘among other, better-known works, a number of rare and fascinating books some of which are not to be found in the British Library or anywhere else in Britain’, was recently electronically catalogued as part of the Library’s Retrospective Cataloguing Project:http://www.londonlibrary.co.uk/index.php?/retrospective-cataloguing.html

The Russian literature collections include editions of collected works of all major Russian writers, as well as individual works of poetry, drama and essays by a wide range of authors in the original Russian as well as in translation. Some of the notable collected works include Tolstoy’s 91 volume Polnoe sobranie sochineniǐ (Moskva: Terra, 1992), Chekhov’sPolnoe sobranie sochineniǐ i pisem v tridtsati tomakh (Moskva: Nauka, 1974-1983) and Turgenev’s Polnoe sobranie sochineniĭ i pisem v dvadtsati vosʹmi tomakh (Moskva: Nauka, 1961-1968). For all major 19th century authors (e.g. Gogol, Pushkin, Lermontov, Turgenev, Ostrovsky, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy) contemporary editions (printed using the old spelling conventions) are found alongside more modern ones. The remarkable collection of the authors of the Golden Age of the Russian literature is supplemented by an equally comprehensive collection of the poets of the Silver Age. Works of Blok, Esenin, Briusov, Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva, Severianin, Gumilev, to name a few, can be found on the Library’s open access shelves. Notable Symbolists, such as Andreev, Merezhkovsky, Gippius, Sologub and Ivanov are also present.  The Library holds many works of the Silver Age poets in original editions published by Alkonost, Al’tsiona, Sirin and Skorpion.

Due to Hagberg Wright’s friendship with and interest in Tolstoy, the Library holds a particularly rich collection of Tolstoy’s works from the 1890s and 1900s, including, notably, his banned works (published in Russian by A. Tchertkoff in Christchurch and M. Elpidine in Geneva), his less well-known religious and philosophical works (published in English by the Free Age Press in Christchurch), and also criticism of his literature and thought from this period.

Some examples of donations found in the Russian literature collections are particularly notable, as they illustrate the interests of a few British authors in the cultural and political affairs of the 20th century Russia. Among other things, Hagberg Wright’s connections with Russia’s cultural milieu are evident from an inscription expressing hope for future meetings from Ivan Bilibin found in a 1905 edition of Pushkin’s Fairy Tales for which Bilibin created the illustrations. A copy of Tsarstvo Antikhrista, donated to the Library by a British travel-writer and novelist Stephen Graham (1884 -1975), includes Merezhkovsky’s dedication to Graham dated 1925, when Merezhkovsky and his wife Zinaida Gippius were in exile in Paris. Sir Isaiah Berlin, some of whose books are now held by the London Library, met with Boris Pasternak (Doctor Zhivago) in the Soviet Union in the 1940s. A testimony of these meetings is found in Pasternak’s dedication to Berlin in a 1933 edition of his poetry: “To I.M. Berlin, Lucky book it will travel and end up in Oxford instead of me! B.Pasternak, 24 XII 1945, Moscow”.

Currently there is an active acquisitions policy for Russian works, including contemporary literature and fiction. For more information on Russian collections please visit Introduction to the Collections: http://www.londonlibrary.co.uk/index.php?/books.html.

С момента своего основания в 1841 году Лондонская Библиотека целенаправленно комплектует печатные издания на всех основных европейских языках. Русские коллекции Лондонской Библиотеки были основаны Робертом Харрисоном, занимавшим должность библиотекаря с 1857 по 1893 год. Харрисон провел несколько лет в России, где он работал преподавателем в семье князя Демидова и в училище Св. Aнны в Санкт-Петербурге. Преемник Харрисона, Сэр Чарльз Хегберг Райт (Sir Charles Hagberg Wright), работал библиотекарем с 1894 по 1940 год  и был особенно заинтересован русской культурой и литературой, поскольку он получил образование в России и был лично знаком Л.Н. Толстым, М. Горьким и другими писателями. Русские коллекции обязаны своим богатством  Хегбергу Райту, который комплектовал русские издания в течении почти пятидесяти лет. Коллекции русской литературы, включая коллекцию 19-го века, названную Сэром Исаей Берлином (Isaiah Berlin) ‘поистине выдающейся’ и содержащей ‘среди прочих более известных работ, редкие и занимательные книги, некоторые из которык не найти в Британской Библиотеке, да и нигде в Великобритании’, недавно были полностью каталогизированны в рамках Проекта Ретроспективной Каталогизации Лондонской Библиотекиhttp://www.londonlibrary.co.uk/index.php?/retrospective-cataloguing.html

Коллекции русской литературы включают в себя издания полных собраний сочинений ключевых русских писателей, а так же отдельные издания романов, стихов, пьес и очерков широкого круга авторов как на русском языке, так и в переводе. Из собраний сочинений можно особо выделить такие издания как Полное собрание сочинений Л.Н. Толстого в девяносто одном томе (Москва: Терра, 1992), Полное собрание сочинений и писем (31 том) А.П. Чехова (Москва: Наука, 1974-1983), а так же Полное собрание сочинений и писем в двадцати восьми томах Тургенева (Москва: Наука, 1961-1968). Произведения выдающихся писателей 19-го века (например Н.В. Гоголя, А.С. Пушкина, М.Ю.  Лермонтова, И.С. Тургенева, А.Н. Островского, Ф.М. Достоевского, Л.Н.Толстого) доступны в изданиях как 19-го (в дореформенной орфографии), так и в изданиях 20-го веков. Богатая коллекция писателей Золотого Века русской литературы дополнена не менее замечательной коллекцией поэтов Серебряного Века. А. А. Блок, С. А. Есенин, В. Я. Брюсов, А. А. Aхматова, М. И. Цветаева, И. Северянин, Н. Гумилев – лишь некоторые из поэтов Серебрянного Века, произведения которых читатели могут найти на полках открытого доступа в Библиотеке. Важнейшие Символисты, такие как Л. Aндреев, Д. С. Мережковский, З. Н. Гиппиус, Ф. Сологуб и В. Иванов также содержатся в коллекциях русской литературы. Произведения многих поэтов Серебрянного Века доступны в оригинальных изданиях AлконостаAльционаСирина и Скорпиона.

Поскольку Сэр Хегберг Райт был поклонником творчества Толстого, переводил его произведения на англииский язык и был другом великого русского писателя, Лондонская Библиотека содержит особо богатую коллекцию трудов Толстого, изданных в 1890-х и 1900-х годах. Фонды Библиотеки содержат так же запрещенные произведения Толстого, изданные на русском языке A. Чертковым в Крайстчерч и М. Элпидиным в Женеве, его менее известные религиозные и философские произведения, изданные на английском языке в издательстве Free Age Press в Крайстчерч, а так же критические статьи о его творчестве.

Некоторые книги из коллекциии русской литературы, подаренные Лондонской Библиотеке британскими авторами и коллекционерами, особенно примечательны, поскольку они демонстрируиут интерес британской публики к русской культуре и политике. Многие книги из коллекций русской литературы были подарены Библиотеке Сэром Хегбергом Райтом. Многочисленные книги содержат дарственные надписи авторов, переводчиков и иллюстраторов, адресованные Райту. Одна из таких надписей, от иллюстратора Ивана Билибина, находится в издании СказокПушкина 1905 года. Копия Царства Aнтихриста, подаренная Библиотеке британским путешественником и писателем Стивеном Грэемом (Stephen Graham), содержит дарственную надпись Дмитрия Мережковского датированную 1925 годом, когда Мережковский и его жена Зинаида Гиппиус прибывали в эмиграции в Париже. Сэр Исайа Берлин, чья коллекция книг после его смерти частично перешла в фонд Лондонской Библиотеки, встерчался с Борисом Пастернаком в СССР в 1940-х годах. Свидетельство об одной из их встреч – дарственная надпись Пастернака на форзаце книги его стихов: “И.М. Берлину, Счастливая книга, она будет путешествовать и попадет вместо меня в Оксфорд! Б.Пастернак, 24 XII 1945, Москва”.

В настоящий момент Лондонская Библиотека активно комплектует печатные издания на русском языке, включая современную русскую прозу и поэзию. Подробная информация о Русских коллекциях доступна на сайте Библиотеки в разделе Introduction to the Collectionshttp://www.londonlibrary.co.uk/index.php?/books.html

1 Ivanov_web

1. Viacheslav Ivanov. Prozrachnostʹ (Moskva: Skorpion, 1904)

Viacheslav Ivanov. Cor ardens (Moskva: Skorpion, 1911)

2. Viacheslav Ivanov. Cor ardens (Moskva: Skorpion, 1911)

3.Fedor Sologub. Fimiamy (Peterburg: Stranstvuiushchii entuziast, 1921) 4.Mikhail Kuzmin. Osenniia ozera (Moskva: Skorpion, 1912).   Book cover by Sergei Sudeikin  5.Vol.8 of Tolstoy’s forbidden works published in Christchurch, 1901-1904. 6.Cover of Pushkin’s Fairy tales by Ivan Bilibin, 1905. 7.Ivan Bilibin’s dedication to Hagberg Wright: “In hope that this meeting will not remain the only one” 8.Merezhkovsky’s dedication to Stephen Graham: “To Stephen Graham as a sign of heartfelt compassion for the fight with a mutual enemy of mankind. D. Merezhkovskii, 14/I 1925 Paris” 9.Pasternak’s dedication to Berlin: “To I.M. Berlin, Lucky book it will travel and end up in Oxford instead of me! B.Pasternak, 24 XII 1945, Moscow”

3. Fedor Sologub. Fimiamy (Peterburg: Stranstvuiushchii entuziast, 1921)

4 Kuzmin_web

4. Mikhail Kuzmin. Osenniia ozera (Moskva: Skorpion, 1912). Book cover by Sergei Sudeikin.

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5. Vol.8 of Tolstoy’s forbidden works published in Christchurch, 1901-1904.

6.Cover of Pushkin’s Fairy tales by Ivan Bilibin, 1905.

6. Cover of Pushkin’s Fairy tales by Ivan Bilibin, 1905.

7.Ivan Bilibin’s dedication to Hagberg Wright: “In hope that this meeting will not remain the only one”.

7. Ivan Bilibin’s dedication to Hagberg Wright: “In hope that this meeting will not remain the only one”.

8.Merezhkovsky’s dedication to Stephen Graham: “To Stephen Graham as a sign of heartfelt compassion for the fight with a mutual enemy of mankind. D. Merezhkovskii, 14/I 1925 Paris”.

8. Merezhkovsky’s dedication to Stephen Graham: “To Stephen Graham as a sign of heartfelt compassion for the fight with a mutual enemy of mankind. D. Merezhkovskii, 14/I 1925 Paris”.

9.Pasternak’s dedication to Berlin: “To I.M. Berlin, Lucky book it will travel and end up in Oxford instead of me! B.Pasternak, 24 XII 1945, Moscow”.

9. Pasternak’s dedication to Berlin: “To I.M. Berlin, Lucky book it will travel and end up in Oxford instead of me! B.Pasternak, 24 XII 1945, Moscow”.

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Claudia Ricci offers an update from the Bibliographic Services team, demonstrating how geopolitics have a direct bearing on where books in our collections are shelved…

“Kingdoms rise and fall, nations come and go”, according to the Confucian precept, but in the stacks of The London Library, and particularly in the History section, shelfmarks have traditionally been immune to change. Actually, this may have been the case for many decades, but lately things have started to change, as even we have had to accept that some “new” countries are here to stay. Therefore you will notice that a handful of new shelfmarks have appeared in the History stacks: we have created new sub-sections for H. BelarusH. KazakhstanH. Moldova and H. Ukraine.

Thanks to its policy of “preserving the original name of countries” the library had never adopted the heading “Soviet Union”, (after all this country only existed for a mere 70 years!), which makes our job easier today. Under  H. Russia you will still find many works that cover the past history of Ukraine or Belarus, as in the old medieval Chronicles, when the histories of the three countries were closely intertwined, or as in Soviet times, when all the socialist republics were treated as one country. But at least we no longer have to shelf Kuchma’s book “Ukraine is not Russia” in the section H. Russia…

Note: Eagle-eyed Library members will see a reference to the Library’s lack of an H. Ukraine shelfmark in the forthcoming issue of The London Library Magazine. This error should have been corrected before it went to print — our H. Ukraine shelfmark is alive and well! We hope you enjoy the books to be found there, along with the Magazine’s Hidden Corners piece on our Russian collections.


The new H. Belarus shelfmark sits proudly in our History stacks

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In the latest update from her adventures in the Library’s archives, our Head of Reader Services finds some wonderful Pre-Raphaelite connections.

The painter Edward Burne-Jones and the writer, artist and designer William Morris were in the vanguard of the second generation Pre-Raphaelites who clustered round Rossetti. I am currently researching the Pre-Raphaelite network of friends and artistic collaborators evident in the Library’s Victorian membership records and thought I would share with you some of the men and women who painted, designed, etched, stitched, printed, illuminated and mused their way into the archive, and into national life.

Edward Burne-Jones joined the Library in 1867 when he was 34 years old, and he is followed in 1872 by his muse and lover, the sculptor Marie Zambaco.  She is the inspiration behind many of his works from the late 1860s onwards.  She is the temptress in The Beguiling of Merlin and her unmistakable features adorn the faces of both the male and female protagonists in Phyllis and Demophoon.  The psychological subtext of this emotionally revealing work is the traumatic end of their affair, which surfaces less violently, but in equal bleakness, over twenty years later in Love among the Ruins.

In 1870 Phyllis and Demophoon caused outrage not only for its subtext, but for its male nudity which did not sit easily with the Old Watercolour Society who exhibited the work in their Summer Exhibition. The experience triggered Burne-Jones’ resignation from the Society and his withdrawal from exhibiting for the following seven years, but he would become one of the acclaimed figures in the history of British art.

Burne-Jones was a lifelong friend and artistic collaborator of the veritable creative combustion engine that was William Morris.  He described Morris as “the greatest master of ornament in the world”. Their friendship began when they were both theology undergraduates and lasted for life. Their final collaboration, for which Burne-Jones provided 87 woodcut illustrations and 116 full page plates, was the Kelmscott Chaucer: an awe inspiring love letter to the codex, or, as Burne-Jones neatly put it, a “pocket cathedral”.

William Morris — writer, artist, craftsman extraordinaire, designer, poet, weaver, embroiderer, printer, entrepreneur and socialist — appears in the published London Library Members List of 1888. He died at the age of 62 from what his doctor diagnosed as simply “being William Morris” – having expended the energy of “ten men” during his lifetime which saw him re-ignite, master and elevate an astounding array of arts and crafts from stained glass to weaving. He was lauded during his lifetime for his literary works, (he was in the running for the Poet Laureateship after Tennyson’s death), but it is his status as the most original and successful designer of the industrial age which is more commonly recognised today. His wallpaper designs, like many significant literary works from this era, are still in print.

Morris had, as ever, several things on the go when he was a member of the Library. In 1885 he published “Chants for Socialists” and over the following two years he was at the heart of political protest in Britain. Between 1884 and 1898 he wrote and published a new genre of prose romances set in imaginary historic landscapes (all still available for loan from the Library’s Fiction shelves) and in 1891 Morris established the Kelmscott Press. Within five years the Press produced an undisputed jewel in British book production in the Kelmscott Chaucer, for which Burne-Jones provided the illustrations, Morris the borders and initial letters. The Kelmscott Chaucer shown here, from the Library’s Special Collections, was bound by the Doves Press in white pigskin with elaborate blind tooling and elegant silver clasps.  There is no better indicator of the literary soul of the Pre-Raphaelites than the Kelmscott Chaucer.

I was curious, given Morris’s enormous and varied creative output, to see how his “occupation or position” had been described in the manuscript membership records and when I checked I found a stunner of an archival record (see the image, right).  Predating and intertwined with William Morris’ name was the name of one of the most recognisable Pre-Raphaelite women: William’s wife (Rossetti’s lover, muse and collaborator), the exquisite embroiderer Jane Morris.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti drew and painted Jane Morris for over 20 years of his working life.  She appears in many guises as Pandora,Proserpine, and Mariana to name just a few, and  it was Jane asAstarte Syriaca, painted by Rossetti in 1877, that the Tate used to advertise the glorious “Pre- Raphaelites: Victorian Avante-Garde” exhibition last year. Rossetti also commissioned photographs of Jane in 1865, taken by John Robert Parsons – her staggering beauty is there; so too, and much more striking, her intelligent inner life.

Did Jane join the Library for her own use or did she join on behalf of William or were they both making use of the membership? Why is her name scored through and William’s added to her original record? Did Jane decide to give up her membership but William want to keep it on? Could this be a precursor to an institutional membership where a company registers for membership?  It is impossible to say exactly but those two small ticks on the left of the record indicate that both Jane and William at some point were members. It is William’s name only that appears in the published list of 1888, but it is clear that it was Jane, nominated by the process engraver and typographer Emery Walker, who first established the membership.

Emery Walker was a close friend of Jane and William. He joined the Library in 1879 when he was 28 and London Manager of the Typographic Etching Company.  His name is revered in the field of typography.  His involvement in, and influence on, the Kelmscott, Doves and Ashendene Presses mark him out as one of the most influential and significant people in the history of British book printing and he rose, like Jane from the humblest of beginnings.

After the death of Morris, Emery Walker set up Doves Press with Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson. It was Jane Morris who in 1882 had suggested Cobden-Sanderson take up book binding.  A long standing London Library member (he joined in 1864) Cobden-Sanderson donated over 30 Doves Press works to the Library including a beautifully printed and simply bound version of Love in Enough by William Morris. Sanderson’s affection for the Library is clearly evident in his donation inscriptions such this one from 1909: “Presented to the London Library, as to an old friend, by an old member, the printer.”

Over the fire place at Red House is the inscription “Ars Longa Vita Brevis” (Art is long, life is short).  The Library’s archival records, like art, are long, and each surviving record illuminates part of the Library’s rich and absorbing cultural heritage.

The London Library's copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer.

The London Library’s copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer

Burne-Jones LL archive

Edward Burne-Jones joined the Library in 1857

Madame Zambaco

Our archival records show Madame Zambaco’s Kensington address

Kelmscott Chaucer, LL copy

The beautiful, white pigskin binding of our Kelmscott Chaucer

William and Jane Morris, LL Archive

William and Jane Morris — joint London Library members?

Tagged in: Pre-Raphaelites
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Posted by on in London Library Members

John Stuart Mill is an important figure in the history of The London Library and an intriguing presence in our institutional archive. Helen O’Neil, Head of Reader Services, continues her archival sleuthing.

In researching the Library’s archival records I want to do more than simply unearth those writers and thinkers who have been members of the Library throughout its history. I want to demonstrate the significance of membership.  One way of doing this is to take a single figure and delve deeply. With this in mind I have been tracking the economist, political theorist and most influential 19th century philosopher in the English language, John Stuart Mill, through the archive. Needless to say the archive has offered up a revealing picture of his engagement with, and use of the Library.

Mill’s name is not to be found in obvious places.  He is absent from the lists of past Library Presidents, Trustees and Committee Members but his elegant intellectual handprint can be seen dispersed throughout the collections to a much greater degree than we had perhaps previously realised. We have always known that Mill drew up the lists for the first Political Economy collection – this is evidenced in letters from him in the archive and in the 1841 minutes of the Library Book Committee.  We knew too that he donated books to the Library; there are several such donations in the Library’s Special Collections. These donations are personal and significant to him and include for instance the Commonplace Books of his father, the reformist James Mill.  I mentioned in an earlier blog too, that Mill introduced his step daughter Helen Taylor to the Library in the year before he died, and she edited and translated several of his works after his death in 1873.

In addition to this Mill’s donations turn up thrillingly, (and not infrequently) on the open shelves.  Sermons Preached in Boston on the Death of Abraham Lincoln; the Conspiracy Trial for the Murder of the President and The Special Report of the Anti-Slavery Conference held in Paris in 1867 are all examples of this. If you have recently been to see Daniel Day Lewis’s distilled performance as Lincoln, these donations demonstrate exactly how keenly Mill was watching America. He would follow up these donations with another in 1868 – Walt Whitman’s poetic panoramic of the American Civil War, Drum Taps.

Mill’s presence is also particularly prevalent in two other archival resources from which I have been gathering and collating data over the last month.  The first is a heavily annotated working copy of the Library’s first catalogue, and the second is the Library’s early Issue Books.  The annotated 1842 catalogue is an extraordinary Victorian document which reveals the level of Mill’s donations in 1841 was far greater than we had previously realised. 87 titles (numbering in excess of 240 volumes) are attributed to Mill in the annotated catalogue – only a handful of which are recorded in our much more contemporary records. In addition to this, Mill’s presence is unequivocally and impressively stamped in the Library’s early Issue Books which record the books issued during the very early years of the Library’s existence. I am half way through the Issue Books and have details of over 250 books Mill borrowed. To say he was an active regular user is an understatement.  Just look at the regularity and number of books he was borrowing during 1845.

There are several themes which play out both in both Mill’s issues and his donations.  The first is they are incredibly international in feel.  His donations are published in Paris, Dublin, Brussels, London, Berlin, Venice, Amsterdam, Bonn, Hamburg, Calcutta, Dresden, Milan, New York, San Francisco, Boston and Edinburgh; and his loans include books about all parts of the globe including Europe, America, India, Africa, Australia, Mexico, China and New Zealand. Mill donated an enormous amount of material in 1841 in French on the French Revolution including Mary Wollstonecraft’s View of the French Revolution – and both his donations and loans are in English, French, German, Italian and Latin.

For a man caricatured in a dress for his outspokenness on the position of women, most notably after the publication of The Subjection of Women, his loans reveal that he was not only reading books about women, he was reading and donating books written by women.  One of my favourites is The History of Margaret Catchpole: a Suffolk Girlpublished in 1846 by the Rev Richard Cobbold. Margret Catchpole was an extraordinary woman, who twice escaped the death sentence in the late 1790s for stealing a horse (she captured the popular imagination by riding 70 miles in 10 hours without a saddle) and for escaping prison by scaling a 22 foot wall disguised as a sailor.

To read Mill is to read work which is still relevant today.  He joined the Library in 1841 two years before he published Utilitarianism, and the major works which made his name were all published during his thirty two years of Library membership. On Liberty, one of Mill’s greatest legacies has never been out of print since it was published in 1859, an indicator of its enduring importance.

On May 8th this year it will be 140 years since John Stuart Mill died.  By then I hope to have wrestled out of obscurity both the books Mill donated and the books he borrowed from the Library and I will be mapping these against his published works.  UCL has an internationally recognised reputation in the Digital Humanities which I am hoping will show its value here as I attempt to use the mass of Victorian digitised material sloshing round the internet to triangulate Mill’s issues, donation and published works.

It is to this unique destination point that I am racing, with as much speed as I can muster, to meet Mr Mill.

© Helen O’Neill

Title page of ‘Sermons Preached in Boston on the Death of Abraham Lincoln; the Conspiracy Trial for the Murder of the President’, donated to the Library by John Stuart Mill

The Library Issue Book showing some of John Stuart Mill’s borrowing in 1845

An illustration from ‘The History of Margaret Catchpole: a Suffolk Girl’ (1846)

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Many of you will have read in the Winter 2012 issue of The London Library Magazine that a substantial refurbishment of the Library’s Victorian Reading Room and North Bay will take place this summer. This latest phase — Phase 3A — of our capital project will see the creation of additional study spaces in both rooms and improved facilities for our members. Mary Gillies, Reader Services Manager, explains the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of the preparation work beginning now.

One of our aims in the lead up to the refurbishment, and throughout the process, is to minimise disruption to members. While both the Reading Room and North Bay (soon to be known as the Writers’ Room) will have to be closed for a short time — watch this space for dates, which will be given well in advance — we will ensure that Reading Room and North Bay materials remain on site and on open access, not in storage or locked away. We have identified pockets of space throughout the Library where we can relocate books; identifying heavily used items and making these readily accessible, trying our best to keep similar types of material together and choosing the most suitable available space for each. An example of this is the planned move to bring different sized Reading Room atlases to open access shelving in The Times Room, where they will be easier to browse and consult using the upright angled bookrests. We will also try to maintain a relevant and useful collection in the Reading Room and North Bay for as long as possible before work commences.

As part of this work you may see a variety of staff members in unusual positions as they crawl, with as much dignity as possible, around the Reading Room and North Bay floors, and in and out of cupboards, pencil and paper in one hand and tape measure in the other. A large part of ensuring that we can keep this material on site and in a logical fashion relies on us knowing that each section we identify to move (often filled with various size books) fits where we want to put it, with regards to height, depth and width!

As you can probably imagine, this is a mammoth task that will require careful planning and organising to ensure that stock movement is logical and easy to follow for both members and staff. Over the coming months, as different material is moved from the Reading Room and North Bay, we will keep you informed with new or updated signage within the building, up to date information on the Phase 3 section of our website (www.londonlibrary.co.uk/phase3) and regular posts here on the blog. Please feel free to ask a member of staff to show you to the new location for something you are trying to find or to retrieve any items for you; there will also be an explanatory feature on Phase 3A in the Spring 2013 issue of The London Library Magazine, which will reach members in mid-March.

There are very exciting things ahead which will make using the Library an even better experience for all. We look forward to sharing updates and providing you with all the practical information you will need over the coming months!

If you have any questions or comments about this ongoing work or about the planned refurbishment, please emailcapitalproject@londonlibrary.co.uk  or contact the Development Office on (020) 7766 4704.

This short film gives an inspiring overview of the Library’s redevelopment, including both completed and planned phases. Librarian and CEO Inez Lynn, London Library President Tom Stoppard and architect Graham Haworth outline the Library’s vision for its future:


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Posted by on in Acquisitions

As we all get into the swing of the new year, our Acquisitions Assistant has been hard at work ordering new titles to fascinate and inspire members in 2013.  In the latest installment of her regular blog, Rhiannon tells us about the fascinating titles crossing her desk.

I hope this won’t be an indication of things to come in world affairs this year, but we have ordered quite a lot of titles recently with a warfare or military theme. These titles vary hugely, spanning from the Fifteenth Century to now; they also cover a large variety of subjects, from torture and nuclear weapons, to photography and bird watching. They may not be especially cheering, but they are fascinating:

“Burke + Norfolk: photographs from the war in Afghanistan” Norfolk, Simon & Burke, John (Dewi Lewis Publishing: 2012)

“Sabres on the steppes: danger, diplomacy and adventure in the great game” Ure, John (Constable: 2012)

“The Finish: killing Osama Bin Laden” Bowden, Mark (Grove Press: 2012)

“Cruel Britannia: a secret history of torture” Cobain, Ian (Portobello: 2012)

“Nuclear Iran” Patrikarakos, David (I.B. Tauris: 2012)

“Power tends to corrupt: Lord Acton’s study of liberty” Lazarski, Christopher (NIU Press: 2012)

“Alexander I: the Tsar who defeated Napoleon” Rey, Marie-Pierre (NIU Press: 2012)

“War/Photography: images of armed conflict and its aftermath” Tucker, Anne Wilkes (Museum of Fine Arts Houston/Yale University Press: 2012)

“Magnum Revolution: 65 years of fighting for freedom” Watson, Paul (Prestel: 2012) – This is a photographic record of revolutions, from the Algerian uprising of 1954 to the “Arab Spring” of 2011

“Reading and war in fifteenth-century England” Nall, Catherine (D.S. Brewer: 2012)

“Birds in a cage: the remarkable story of how four prisoners of war survived captivity” Niemann, Derek (Short Books: 2012) – this is about bird-watching in a POW camp during WW2

“Iron man Rudolf Berthold: Germany’s indomitable fighter ace of World War I” Kilduff, Peter (Grub Street: 2012)

A number of other titles have caught my eye recently, mostly because I liked their titles. These ones are especially noteworthy:

“When pigs could fly and bears could dance” Neirick, Miriam (University of Wisconsin Press: 2012) – this is a history of the Soviet circus

“The Legend of Spring-heeled Jack: Victorian urban folklore and popular fiction” Bell, Karl (Boydell Press: 2012)

“From Gabriel to Lucifer: a cultural history of angels” Rees, Valery (I.B. Tauris, 2012)

“Angels and demons in art” Giorgi, Rosa (J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005)

And my favourite title, which has landed on my desk this very moment.

“Walking sideways: the remarkable world of crabs” Weis, Judith S. (Cornell University Press, 2012)

I have a large stack of publisher catalogues to order from in 2013, so there will be plenty of new titles arriving in the library throughout the year. I look forward to keeping you informed!

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Posted by on in Staff

Our Head of Reader Services, Helen O’Neill, provided a fascinating series of blog posts in 2012, tracing her journey into The London Library Archive. We hope you enjoy her final post for 2012 – the journey will continue in 2013!

The Victorian membership records of Henry Irving (1838-1905) and Bram Stoker (1847-1912) date from 1890.  Irving is Britain’s most acclaimed Victorian actor and theatre manager who, against considerable odds, not only made it to the top of his profession but changed the perception and status of his profession in the process.  Five years after joining the Library he became the first actor to be recognised with a knighthood for services to the stage.  Irving’s wingman, Bram Stoker joined the Library in the year he began work onDracula.  Within seven years he published his most famous literary work which has never been out of print, and which made the most breath-taking transition onto the global stage with the advent of film.

Stoker’s handwriting is a good example of the challenges involved in deciphering Victorian manuscript records. Stoker’s occupation, if you are struggling with the handwriting reads “Acting Manager Lyceum Theatre” where he was Irving’s right-hand-man for 27 years.   It is perhaps no coincidence that someone intimately involved in the theatre and who worked at close quarters with an actor of Irving’s magnetism, would create a character that would enthral in a visual medium. In the year Dracula was published, Stoker’s nominee Hall Caine publishedThe Christian: the first novel in Britain to sell a million copies.

It is hard to imagine looking at these documents that either Irving or Stoker could have imagined when they dashed them off, that over a century later they would have the power to arrest and captivate in quite the way they do.  Look at Irving’s description of his occupation: verve, wit, humility and pride all wrapped up in that playful, telling word “Comedian”.

Irving’s status as a national treasure is captured in an evocative piece inThe Times on October 20 1905, the day before his funeral.  The piece describes the traffic being stopped at the junction of Stratton Street and Piccadilly as a large number of “humble admirers” assembled to pay their respects as a glass hearse carrying Irving’s flower covered coffin made its way, at walking pace, to Westminster Abbey.  The piece records how Irving’s body had lain in state at the house of Lady Burdett-Coutts (also a member) where “all day long a silent stream of visitors had flowed slowly round the room and out again” a scene “in which gentle and simple joined in great numbers”.

In the Library’s Special Collections there is a copy of Tennyson’s playBecket.  Irving died in a hotel lobby after performing in the title role of this play.  His praise for the play appears on the title page, which is also signed and dated by Bram Stoker. The play, annotated throughout, was donated to the Library in 1937 by N.T. Stoker.  It is an eloquent example of how the collections have been shaped and enriched by past members and it demonstrates how a connection to the library, once made, can spread across generations within the same family.  Taken in conjunction with the membership records of Irving and Stoker it reflects the relationship not only between the archive and the book collection, but between the Library and the cultural life of the nation.

One last membership record before finishing: from 1894 the joining form of Constance Wilde.  Notice her “occupation or position” is given as “Wife of Oscar Wilde Esq”. Within a year Oscar would be in jail and the family home at Tite Street along with all its contents auctioned off. My experience with the membership records to date tells me that wives often turn up in the records after their husbands, so if I come across Oscar while I continue pincher-action on the Victorian records, you will be the first to know.

Next time: John William Waterhouse and George Frederic Watts lead the charge as the artists and illustrators sweep in.

© Helen O’Neill

Bram Stoker’s membership form

Henry Irving’s membership form

Bookplate in Tennyson’s Becket

Annotated pages – Tennyson’s Becket

Constance Wilde’s membership form

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Posted by on in Staff

In this, her third London Library archive blog instalment, Helen O’Neill explores Librarian Robert Harrison’s Commonplace Book and discovers fascinating anecdotes about past ‘literary workers’ in the Library…

Robert Harrison, Librarian (1857-1893) used this unwanted ledger to scribble anecdotes and personal experiences about his time at the Library.  His obituary notice in The Athenaeum in 1897 noted that his “long service at the London Library brought him in constant association with most of the leading literary men of the last forty years”.[1]  His entries are dashed off quickly and never re-worked – they brim with social and historical context, but have the immediacy of conversation.   His anecdotes pre-date the construction works of 1896-1898 which brought in the Issue Hall, main reading room, grilled Back Stacks and Literature block. During Harrison’s time, the membership would have rubbed shoulders, in what was essentially still a town house being filled with books. The photographs below pre-date the Victorian construction and remodelling works and give a flavour of the Library as it was in Harrison’s day.

I have picked two entries from Harrison’s Commonplace book: George Eliot, is the subject of the first extract, and Alfred Tennyson, (as he was at the time), is the focus of the second. Transcriptions are displayed below the manuscript image.

Are Harrison’s anecdotes just tittle-tattle or do they provide revealing insights into a network of Victorian literary workers making use of the Library during his time? The extracts, though brief and entertaining are insightful. George Eliot was a formidable intellect and freethinker – and in 1859 no-one would have had more first-hand experience of her ability than the dashing Byron look-a-like, John Chapman; and Tennyson did have very real tensions between his inner and outer worlds, and struggled in the limelight.

In these two short snippets Harrison highlights George Eliot, Tennyson, the Irish poet William Allingham, and Dr Chapman, the influential publisher and proprietor of the radical Westminster Review, but it is the context, as well as the content, of Harrison’s anecdotes which make them zing with interest.  In addition to the literary movers-and-shakers, Harrison provides us with specific Victorian cultural references points.  We get a whiff of phrenology, (in its heyday during this period); and we are whisked off to the Egyptian Halls on Piccadilly (where “sofa stalls for three persons”[4] went for a guinea) to see the illusionist Dr Lynn, “the embodiment of all the strange manifestations and phenomena of the so-called spirit-media”[5] who was enthralling the metropolis every evening at 8pm in 1873, as the Evening Standard reported:

“During the past week an entertainment – one of the most extraordinary ever witnessed by a London audience- has been given nightly at the Egyptian Hall.  Dr. Lynn, who is a wizard of the most marvellous skill … comes to us from Paris with a certificate of excellence from no less a person than the poet Victor Hugo…”[6]

I doubt even Victor Hugo’s personal endorsement would have been any comfort to Tennyson but I confess to being hugely interested in the fact that Tennyson, whose work is littered with protagonists in psychological states of suspension, went to Dr Lynn’s show.  I am intrigued too by Harrison’s conversation with Chapman, and am rather impressed that in his anecdote George Eliot’s intelligence gets prime billing, ahead of her agreeable conversation, her looks, and her radical life choices.

Harrison used the ledger for what he called his “scrawling”[7] but his anecdotes act rather like flares, illuminating momentarily the hubbub of Library members with whom he came into contact, and the cultural and historical context in which they moved.

If you are interested in reading Harrison’s Commonplace Book it was transcribed and published in The Cornhill Magazine in December 1931 under the title “A Bundle of Dry Leaves” by his grandson Douglas G. Browne. The Cornhill Magazine is available in Periodicals 8vo in the Basement, sadly not through JSTOR.

Next time: Bram Stoker and Henry Irving get in on the act…

© Helen O’Neill

[1] Quoted in Douglas G. Browne, “A Bundle of Dry Leaves” in The Cornhill Magazine December 1931, p. 746.

[2] Robert Harrison,  Commonplace book of anecdotes and personal experiences 1857-83

[3] Ibid

[4] Morning Post May 26, 1873, p.1.

[5] Ibid

[6] The Standard May 30, 1873, p. 3.

[7] Quoted in Douglas G. Browne, 1931 p. 746.

1859 Miss Evans, the author of Adam Bede, etc., etc., translator of Strauss’s Life of Jesus,possesses, says Dr. Chapman (of West’ Review), one of the most massive intellects of our time. Combe, the physiologist and phrenologist told him (Chapman) that he had never seen a woman’s head indicative of so much power, and very few men’s heads.  She is an agreeable conversationalist, full of knowledge-but her external graces are small and few, coiffure and toilette generally being of the negligent sort.  She was bred a Wesleyan and “turned out of her father’s house on account of her religious opinions or negations, which being of the most advanced school of freethinking make one wonder at the sketch of “Dinah.” [2]

Dec 4/73 One day last week Tennyson, the laureate went with W. Allingham [the poet], “Laurence Bloomfield”, to see Dr Lynn the conjurer at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly. They are both very self-conscious men but dred to show it, tho’ imagining the world’s eye to be always on them.  The Laureate especially is morbidly sensitive about strangers noticing him in any way or drawing attention to him.   Conjurers however know no distinctions, and Lynn, who probably did not know his visitor by sight, walked up to him and asking what he had in his beard, seemed to pull out an egg therefrom, then another from his ear- the poet’s ear! – and to the amazed attention of the whole audience to the author of the “Idylls”.  Fancy his horror and disgust! [3]

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The President, trustees, members and staff of The London Library heard with great sadness of the death of Mrs Valerie Eliot last Friday, 9 November 2012.

Mrs Eliot had been a Vice-President of the Library since 2009, and through Old Possum’s Practical Trust was one of the Library’s most generous benefactors, providing funds for the purchase and redevelopment of our newest wing, T.S. Eliot House.

Mrs Eliot was present at the building’s naming on 11 June 2008, where actress Fiona Shaw read T.S. Eliot’s moving poem for Valerie, ‘A Dedication to My Wife.’

The Library’s President, Sir Tom Stoppard, said: “Valerie brought unprecedented and long-awaited happiness to her husband, to whom she was passionately devoted. During the long decades of her widowhood, she was equally devoted to her custodianship of his remarkable work. Her passing severs a vital link with our literary past. The London Library will continue to preserve the memories of both T.S. and Valerie Eliot, whose generosity, advocacy and leadership are part of the fabric of this great institution.”

T.S. Eliot was President of The London Library from 1952 to his death in 1965.

On assuming the office of President, he delivered an address at the Library’s Annual General Meeting in which he declared that ‘if this library disappeared, it would be a disaster to the world of letters, and would leave a vacancy that no other form of library could fill.’

A portrait of Mrs Valerie Eliot by Emma Sargeant hangs in The London Library, adjacent to the entrance to T.S. Eliot House.

The Library extends its condolences to Mrs Eliot’s family, to the staff and trustees of Old Possum’s Practical Trust, and to who all who knew and worked with Mrs Eliot.

Mrs Valerie Eliot at the opening of T.S. Eliot House, The London Library, 11 June 2008

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Posted by on in Acquisitions

Our industrious Acquisitions Assistant, Rhiannon highlights some of the new books that now grace the Library shelves, including approximately 900 volumes donated by generous members, authors and publishers and some of the numerous titles that have been added to the rapidly growing Art collection…

It’s been a while since my last blog entry, during which time the Acquisitions Department has been as busy as ever. We have ordered many new titles from recent publisher catalogues and newspaper reviews, as well as receiving many book donations (approximately 900 volumes in 6 months) from Library members, authors and publishers. Amongst the Publisher donations received are a copy of the recently reviewed “Wine Grapes: a complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties, including their origins and flavours” ed. Robinson, Jancis; Harding, Julia and Vouillamoz, Jose (Allen Lane, 2012) from Penguin, and “A History of Opera: the last 400 years” ed. Abbate, Carolyn and Parker, Roger (Allen Lane, 2012) also from Penguin.

I have been keeping an eye on the huge variety of items that we are adding to the Library’s literature and fiction holdings. The series The Oxford History of Historical Writing” has just been completed with the publication of volume 2. (The 5 volumes were, rather confusingly, not published in volume order.) Recently arrived titles also include:

  • “Four Byzantine Novels” translated and introduced by Jeffreys, Elizabeth (Liverpool University Press, 2012)
  • “The Girl with the Golden Eyes” de Balzac, Honore. Translated by Collier, Peter (Oxford World Classics, 2012)
  • “Sylvia Plath: poems chosen by Carol Ann Duffy” (Faber, 2012)
  • “<c> Odes” O’Donnell-Smith, Daniel (Open House Editions, 2012) – this is a debut publication and is housed in the Pamphlet collection
  •  “Stag’s Leap” Olds, Sharon (Cape Poetry, 2012) – donated by the publisher

Titles currently on order and due to arrive shortly are:

  • “May we be Forgiven” Homes, A. M. (Granta, 2012)
  • “The Testament of Mary” Toibin, Colm (Viking, 2012)
  • “Self-Control” Saeterbakken, Stig. Translated by Kinsella, Sean (Dalkey Archive Press, 2012)

We have also ordered quite a few art books recently, the most recent of which to arrive are:

  • “Discourse on Sacred and Profane Images” Paleotti, Grabriele (Getty Research Institute, 2012)
  • “Fish in Art” Jackson, Christine E. (Reaktion, 2012)
  • “The Book of Kells” Meehan, Bernard (Thames & Hudson, 2012)
  • “The Company of Artists: the origins of the Royal Academy of Arts in London” Saumarez Smith, Charles (Modern Art Press, 2012)
  • “William Klein: ABC” Klein, William (Tate, 2012)
  • “The Naked Nude” Borzello, Frances (Thames & Hudson, 2012)
  • “Art as Politics in Late Medieval and Renaissance Siena” ed. Smith, Timothy B. and Steinhoff, Judith B. (Ashgate, 2012)
  • “Graphic Design before Graphic Designers: the printer as designer and craftsman 1700-1914” Jury, David (Thames & Hudson, 2012)
  • “The Black Hole of the Camera: the films of Andy Warhol” Murphy, J.J. (University of California Press, 2012)
  • “Daido Moriyama” Ed. Baker, Simon (Tate, 2012)

If we are missing any titles that you would like to read, please email your suggestion to the Acquisitions Department – suggestions@londonlibrary.co.uk. You can also browse a full list of new books added to The London Library catalogue via our website.

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