Category Archives: Manuscripts

Shakespeare’s Scribe and Scull & Cross Bones?

While we were improving the minimal cataloging of our medieval and early modern manuscript holdings, we came across a hand-written copy of one of the earliest specialized English Dictionaries, Henry Manwayring’s Seaman’s Dictionary.  Since our library boasts an amazing collection of early English dictionaries, we were not overly surprised.  It is always pleasant to see examples of industrious lovers of books copying out the text from printed books in the days before xeroxing.  The layout mimics the printed text of 1644, the entries appeared to be the same, and it even included the author’s preface.  But wait, this manuscript predates the printed text! More on that in a moment.

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The 1644 printed text is considered the first authoritative treatise in seamanship in English.  It was written by Sir Henry Manwayring, a famous seaman of the Jacobean era, who happened to be an infamous pirate for a few years.  Manwayring was a Shropshire lad, born in 1587.  And lest you think your own children or grandchildren are precocious, consider Manwayring, who matriculated at Oxford at the age of 12, received his B.A. three years later, and was admitted to the Inner Temple as a lawyer at 17. He soon became a naval officer, chasing pirates in the British Channel and off the coast of Newfoundland.  But a few years later, he took offense when King James I buckled under Spanish pressure and prevented him from fulfilling one of his naval missions.  He took out his frustrations on the Spanish, becoming a notorious pirate on the Barbary Coast.  He bedeviled the Spanish navy for several years and annoyed the French with his swashbuckling, though he claimed never to have attacked English ships.

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Fearing reprisals from France and Spain, King James eventually offered Manwayring pardon if he gave up piracy. He came back to England in 1616, received knighthood in 1618, and dedicated his “Discourse on Piracy” – an insider’s perspective, obviously – to the King.  In that book, by the way, he warns the King against granting pardons to pirates.  He later served in Parliament and received an honorary doctorate of physics from Oxford.  Needless to say, there is more to tell about our pirate-knight, but let’s get back to our manuscript.

The 1644 imprint is very small, just 20 centimeters, a handy vademecum  for a sailor to carry on board.  Though small, there is a bit more text on the title page of the printed book than the folio manuscript, but that’s to be expected since it includes publication information.  The manuscript is twice the size and the title is a little different: “A Briefe Abstract, Exposition, and Demonstration of all Termes, Parts, and Things Belonging to a Shippe, and The Practick of Navigation.” Manwayring is noted as the author.

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Suddenly, the date in the lower right corner catches the eye.  1626?  But this is a copy of a book that was first printed in 1644.  We soon learn that Manwayring appears to have written the Seaman’s Dictionary while serving at Dover Castle from 1620 to 1623.  Clearly, this is one of those texts, so common in early modern literature, which circulated in manuscript before it appeared in print.   And sure enough, there seem to have been at least 14 manuscripts of the text in circulation from 1620 to 1644.

Looking at our manuscript again, we see that the scribe has signed and dated it, and we see that his name is Raph Crane.  This is when our hearts beat a little faster because, as denizens of one of the best Elizabethan and Stuart drama collections in America, we know that Raph Crane was a scrivener for the King’s Men at the Globe Theater.  He is generally thought to have been the scribe for at least five of the fair copies of Shakespeare’s plays that appear in the First Folio.

Of course the date is 1626, ten years after Shakespeare’s death, but the connection is still there.  Scholars always want more evidence for Crane, more examples of his penmanship, and here it is in our manuscript.  Though ours is the only one signed, four other extant manuscripts have been attributed to Crane’s hand.

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So, what to make of it all?  This little encounter with an interesting manuscript in our collection not only introduced those of us not up on our Jacobean naval history to Henry Manwayring and his important early English dictionary, but this bibliographic adventure also provided further evidence for the common practice of circulating books in manuscript in the 17th century; clarified for the world exactly which copy of Manwayring’s dictionary we hold; and provided Renaissance scholars with another example of Raph Crane’s handwriting.  We have digitized the manuscript and already two researchers in England are working on it.  VH

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April 16, 2014 · 1:06 pm

Victorian Scrapbooks Rediscovered

Here at The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, seemingly simple reference questions often turn into much deeper discoveries.That was the case when a patron enquired about our material concerning one Martin F. Tupper. If you aren’t familiar with Martin F. Tupper (1810-1889), then you probably didn’t live in the mid-19th century; if you did, you likely would have ranked him alongside Wordsworth and Tennyson as one of the most brilliant contemporary English poets. Tupper originally rose to fame on the strength of his third book, Proverbial Philosophy (1838), a collection of poetry expressed as quotable wisdom consisting of such gems as “a good book is the best of friends, the same to-day and for ever”(“Of Reading”) and “A wise man in a crowded street winneth his way with gentleness” (“Of Tolerance”).

One of Martin F. Tupper’s voluminous scrapbooks (v. 58). His monogram is visible on the cover.

He was a prolific writer, full of patriotism and religious fervor, and he was always ready with a choice verse for every occasion, such as his paean to the Crystal Palace in 1851 (“Hurrah for honest Industry ! hurrah for handy Skill !”). Part self-help guru and part religious revivalist, he might be considered the Victorian version of Mitch Albom, and he appealed immensely to middlebrow Victorian readers, who devoured his maxims. Alongside his poetry, Tupper also wrote novels and plays, as well as curious fare such as An Author’s Mind: The Book of Title-Pages (1841), sketching out fifty possible books that Tupper envisioned but lacked the time to write. By mid-century, however, Tupper’s star had begun to wane, as critics took him to task for his “empty vanities” and derided his “tea table literature.” By the 1860s, “Tupperism” and other variations on his name had become bywords for overwrought sentimentality and insipid moralization, and continued to be used critically for decades. Today, if Tupper is remembered at all, he is regarded only as an emblematic representation of Victorian culture and morality. What, then, does Tupper have to do with the University of Illinois?

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A Birthday Card for Albert Camus

Manuscript fragment from "L'Homme révolté" in Albert Camus's hand.

Manuscript fragment from L’Homme révolté in Albert Camus’s hand.

Albert Camus, the French novelist, playwright, journalist, philosopher and Nobel Prize winner was born on this day, November 7, one hundred years ago.

This is a good occasion to highlight a small manuscript fragment from Camus’s 1951 essay L’Homme révolté (Paris: Gallimard, translated in English as The Rebel) which was recently re-discovered on the shelves of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library (shelfmark MS Q.216 C15h).

Small graph paper pages in Camus’s hand were pasted on seventeen larger leaves with annotations in blue ink, also in Camus’s hand. These pages appear to be a draft or variants of the fourth section of the essay, titled “Révolte et Art”, and its sub-sections “Roman et révolte,” Révolte et style” and “Création et révolution.” The manuscript pages are followed by a series of six newspaper clippings relating to an exchange of open letters in the weekly review Arts between André Breton and Albert Camus about L’Homme révolté. This fragment, bound in red morocco, was acquired from R. Simonson in 1966. CS

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The Cité du Livre – Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence (France) houses Albert Camus’s archives in its Centre Albert Camus: http://www.citedulivre-aix.com/Typo3/fileadmin/documents/Expositions/centrecamus/

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Marcel Proust on Writing

proust_845p94oa_v1_cover-copy2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Du côté de chez Swann (Swann’s Way), the first part of Marcel Proust’s lengthy literary masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time, also known as Remembrance of Things Past. The Rare Book & Manuscript Library is celebrating this milestone with an exhibition drawn from its renowned Proust collection. The selection of books and manuscripts follows Marcel Proust through his school-year publications, through the formative years of the study and translations of John Ruskin’s works, to the all-consuming adventure of A la recherche du temps perdu, which occupied the author from 1908 until his death in 1922.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the completion of the 21-volume edition of the correspondence of Proust by Philip Kolb (Paris: Plon, 1970-93), a professor of French literature at the University of Illinois whose fifty-year association with the University Library led to the creation of our outstanding collection of books, manuscripts and letters by Marcel Proust. Because Proust never kept a journal, his letters have become the most important source of information about his life and his work. They give us a glimpse of his real-world inspirations and show us how his works subsequently evolved.

In the foreword to the first volume, Kolb wrote:

“The letters of Marcel Proust, if compared to his novel, resemble it to the extent that a tapestry’s reverse side resembles its front.  One can distinguish all the threads, all the colors: what is missing is the sharpness in the drawing, the finish, the art, in other words. Likewise, much of what he put into his oeuvre can be seen in his letters, albeit in a less poetic, more genuine light.”

Proust’s talent for writing and his vocation were expressed early on in his letters. He wrote to one of his classmates in 1888: “Forgive my handwriting, my style, my spelling. I don’t dare reread myself. When I write at breakneck speed. I know I shouldn’t. But I have so much to say. It comes pouring out of me.” In 1893, the same year that Proust was editing Le Banquet review with friends, he responded to his father, who was urging him to choose a suitable career path, “I still believe that anything I do outside of literature and philosophy will be just so much time wasted.”

If the years spent on translating and commenting the works of John Ruskin contributed to developing the young author’s aesthetic and critical sense, they didn’t satisfy him completely, as he confided to his friend Antoine Bibesco:

“And this so-called work I’ve taken up again—it plagues me for several reasons. Most of all, because what I’m doing at present is not real work, only documentation, translation, etc. It’s enough to arouse my thirst for creation, without of course slaking it in the least. [...] A thousand characters for novels, a thousand ideas urge me to give them body, like the shades in the Odyssey who plead with Ulysses to give them a little blood to drink to bring them back to life and whom the hero brushes aside with his sword.” [December 1902.]

The urge to create, combined with an extraordinary facility for writing, made it difficult for Proust to adhere to the constraints set by his editors and publishers. Writing about an article commissioned by the daily Le Figaro in 1907, he admitted, “they find that I’m always ten times too long, and however much I try to compress, to remove from myself, a bit here and a bit there, Shylock’s pound of flesh in order to weigh less, I can’t seem to arrive at the required length.” The following year, commenting about one of the literary pastiches he was about to publish in the same newspaper, Proust confessed, “I didn’t make a single correction in the Renan. But it came pouring out in such floods that I stuck whole new pages on to the proofs at the last minute.”

As he embarked on the publication of his novel with Bernard Grasset in 1913, and then with the Nouvelle revue française (NRF) in 1916, Proust continued to employ this work method. The transition from manuscript to type and proofs generated multiple, extensive revisions and redraftings. In April 1913, Proust described his “proof-reading” technique to a friend:

“My corrections up to now (I hope it won’t go on) are not corrections. Scarcely one line in 20 of the original text (replaced of course by another) remains. It’s crossed out and altered in all the white spaces I can find, and I stick additional bits of paper above and below, to the right and to the left, etc.”

A month later, he sent some proofs back to his publisher with this recommendation: “I advise you to draw your people’s attention to the fact that my proofs are very fragile; I’ve stuck bits of paper which could easily tear, and that would cause endless complications. There are galleys which may seem to be half-missing. This is because I have transferred a passage elsewhere.”

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The resulting paper mosaics can be seen in two fragments from A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, on display in the exhibition. For example, a short passage about Odette Swann’s salon, located at the bottom of the 2nd column on the first galley, reappears on the second plate, 2nd column.

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The manuscript addition from the first plate was set in type and corrected again. It was then cut out and fixed in the revised textual sequence with much paste and patience by a clerk at the NRF. The resulting text must have undergone at least one additional round of proof-reading because the published version contains minor revisions that are not noted on our fragment.

In his letters, Proust expressed some ambivalence about the fate of his manuscripts and papers. In 1919, he asked of a friend: “What would you say if a man decided to keep to himself, as autographs, Voltaire’s correspondence, or Emerson’s? A private collection must be made into a museum, or else it deprives the community.” The following year, he decided to add plates from the Jeunes filles composite manuscript to all fifty copies of the luxury edition of that book. Yet, while entertaining an offer for the sale of his manuscripts in 1922, he admitted to his friend Sydney Schiff: “It is not very pleasant to think that anybody (if people still care about my books) will be allowed to consult my manuscripts, to compare them to the definitive text, to infer from them suppositions that will always be wrong about the way I work, the evolution of my thinking, etc.”

One hundred years later, the vast numbers of editions, translations and adaptations of Proust’s books, as well as the prodigious amounts of scholarship published on the subject, are evidence that people still care about his work. With this exhibition and continued work on our collection, we hope to have met Proust’s wish not to deprive the community of  the opportunity to discover the work and life of one the major novelists of the 20th century. CS

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A basic bibliography of works by and about Marcel Proust

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William Paul Schenk Papers: A New Acquisition Related to Carl Sandburg

The Rare Book Library is pleased to announce the acquisition of the William Paul Schenk Papers from his estate early in 2011.

In addition to many of his own manuscripts, the William Schenk papers contain a treasure trove of articles, correspondence, and photographs concerning Carl Sandburg and his family. Schenk greatly admired the famous poet and worked for him briefly as his secretary and research assistant. Many of Schenk’s photographs were taken during the time he lived with the Sandburg family on their goat farm in North Carolina. They capture Sandburgs day-to-day activities including writing in his office, spending time with his family, and sitting in his chair playing his guitar.

 

William Schenk

Born in Chicago in 1913, William Schenk was a writer, editor, and photographer.  Schenk pursued a degree in English at the University of Chicago and later founded Hull House Magazine with fellow writers Willard Motley and Alexander Saxon. Financial troubles during the Great Depression forced Schenk to drop out of the University before completing his degree. Fortunately, his good friend, Carl Sandburg, found work for him as a ghostwriter. Shortly thereafter, the University of Chicago hired Schenk as a writer, and later as an editor, for their alumni publications in the Department of Public Relations. He continued his work with a variety of other publications; writing on a wide range of topics. These included: biographies of famous artists, science articles in encyclopedias, and history pieces for travel magazines.

This collection provides a unique look at a writer who was passionate about many topics and disciplines. It also serves to further expand the University’s extensive resources regarding Carl Sandburg. PG

 

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Congratulations to our Poet Laureate W. S. Merwin!

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Illinois now has even more reason to be proud of being the home of William S. Merwin’s papers: on Thursday, July 1, it was announced that William S. Merwin would be named the next poet laureate of the United States. The duties of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress are to foster an appreciation for the reading and  writing of poetry in America, to give an annual lecture along with a reading of their poetry and, typically, to introduce poets during  the annual poetry series held at the Library of Congress. Merwin has said that he plans to do several readings and to visit schools as part of the fulfillment of this role.

Merwin has written numerous volumes of poetry, translated works from several languages and, in his increasing notability as an  environmentalist, dedicated himself to the preservation of native Hawaiian plant species. His archives at Illinois are rich in material that document his activities in these three realms. The collection includes manuscripts of his plays, prose, translations and poems,  as well as correspondence and other miscellaneous papers.

A finding aid for parts of the W.S. Merwin collection can be found here,  you can search the W.S. Merwin correspondence database here, and you can view the press release announcing the decision here.

We hope that Merwin’s new honor–after having received nearly every other honor possible for a poet–will inspire students and  scholars to explore his archive, and enter the mind of an astounding poet, scholar and activist. VH

 

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A Collection of Letters to Barnard Gregory

“Satire’s my weapon. I was born a critic and a satirist; and my nurse remarked that I hissed as soon as I saw light.”

In the vault of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, we recently rediscovered a correspondence collection of the London actor and journalist Barnard Gregory (1796-1852). Gregory edited and owned The Satirist; or, Censor of The Times, a London weekly paper and scandal sheet which was first published in 1831 and ran until 1849. Gregory committed libel and frequently blackmailed the subjects of his publications by sending them manuscript copies of the scandals he intended to print and threatening to publish them if not paid by their maligned subjects.  As G.C. Boase so elegantly states, “The weak yielded and were plundered, the strong resisted and were libeled, when, owing to the uncertain state of the law and the expenses attending a trial, it was not easy to obtain any redress.” Gregory was involved in several court cases related to his nefarious practices and was imprisoned on several occasions during his lifetime. Gregory was also fascinated by the theater and performed as an amateur actor. His reputation as a scandal monger, however, made public performances a bit of a spectacle. Twice in his career as an actor, Gregory’s performances were disrupted by riotous mobs.

Many of the letters contained in the collection are anonymous praise and contributions of content from enthusiastic patrons of the paper. One fascinating element of this correspondence collection, and a potential source of research, is the glimpse into Victorian hypocrisy: a thirst for scandal, paired with a prudishness and obsessive fear of blemishing one’s reputation. Papers such as Gregory’s The Satirist found a captive audience, as did the penny dreadful serials with their gruesome tales of murder and villainy. The submissions to The Satirist, while generally not grisly, do tend toward the bawdy. In an undated letter, the correspondent Lynx asks Gregory to use his powers as an editor to publicly admonish an exhibitionist. Another submission, again undated, is a nuptial poem for Victoria and Albert, with a very explicit note written in another hand (perhaps Gregory’s?) in the top margin.

 

Many of the letters are also from readers asking Gregory to print corrections to previous publications, and these show very well the extent of Victorian prudery. One letter, dated February 26, 1833, from John Thompson, asks Gregory to clear his daughters’ reputations which were endangered by an article printed by The Satirist on incidents in Brighton stating that the Misses Thompsons “Frightened Byshe by each in turn asking him to dance” (The Satirist February 17, 1833). Thompson states that he enclosed £5 in the letter for the printing of a correction.

 

The correspondence collection also contains many wonderful examples of Victorian letter-writing culture, including wax seals, stamps, and cross-writing. These items are of interest both to scholars and to anyone curious about this period of history.

Some issues of The Satirist can be found at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library and it can be read online via the University of Illinois’ subscription to 19th Century UK Periodicals. For more information on Gregory, see G. C. Boase’s article in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. LK

 

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An anonymous manuscript tract found in the Incunabula collection

While updating the catalog records for the Incunabula collection, a copy of the Pseudo-Augustinian work Sermones ad heremitas was recently re-cataloged. The Rare Book & Manuscript Library has three fifteenth-century imprints of this work, two from Venice and one from Strasbourg. The copy printed by Paganinus de Paganinis on 26 May 1487 is the smallest in size of the three copies and is bound in vellum.

This copy also features an anonymous manuscript tract written on the last (blank) page and continuing on a leaf tipped in at the end. This tract is titled “Tractatalus de excelle[n]tissi[m]o sacramento corporis [Christ]i” (from explicit) and is written in a fifteenth-century hand, with the incipits and the explicit in red, and with two initials. 

This tract would be an excellent opportunity and a manageable editing project for a student studying classics, medieval studies, or paleography. DG

 

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Letters from John Ruskin primarily to Joan Severn (Post 1650 MS 0009)

Sitting quietly in our vault, awaiting further study is a cache of thirty unpublished letters from John Ruskin to his Scottish cousin Joan (Agnew Ruskin) Severn.   Ruskin wrote over 3000 letters to Severn, many of which have been published in the thirty-nine volume edition of The Works of John Ruskin by Edward T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, or, more recently in Rachel Dickinson’s 2009 book, John Ruskin’s Correspondence with Joan Severn: Sense and Nonsense Letters.

The Ruskin letters at Illinois, however, do not appear in either of those collections.  The relationship between Ruskin and Severn has puzzled scholars.  The letters are full of nonsense, private personal references, and baby-talk, yet they also deal with topics of significance for Ruskin’s work such as the arts and crafts movement, aesthetics, travel, and fashion.  Dickinson believes that Ruskin “often used his letters to Severn as a substitute for his personal diary.”  For this reason, this small collection of letters dating from August to October 1888 should be of interest to Ruskin researchers. VH

                   

 

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To the End of the World and Back (Post-1650 MS 334)

Under the direction of Captain Sir William Parry, the HMS Hecla and HMS Griper left port on 11 May 1819 destined for the Arctic. Their objective was to continue the search for the Northwest Passage and to pursue the Longitude prize by surpassing the record for a sailing vessel traveling the farthest north (previously set by whalers/explorers William Scoresby, Sr. & Jr. in 1806 at 81 30′ N). Parry’s arctic voyage of 1819-1820 has been labeled the most successful arctic voyage of the 19th century.

The journey, chronicled in Parry’s Journal of a Voyage for the Discovery of a North-West Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific (London, 1821; shelfmark: Q. 919.8 P24J), sailed to Greenland and to the mouth of Lancaster Sound. The expedition easily passed through the sound (previously thought to be impassable by the 1818 expedition of Captain John Ross) and progressed towards the Arctic Ocean. The expedition finally reached 113 46′ 43.5″ and were impeded by ice, and so the decision was made to winter on Melville Island. This was the first British naval expedition of the 19th century to winter in Arctic conditions.

 During the winter on Melville Island the crew entertained themselves with theatrical shows, hunting, schooling, and with the circulation of a weekly journal called The North Georgia Gazette and Winter Chronicle. The goal of the Chronicle was to “enliven the tedious and inactive months of winter” which would be “wholly dependent on the gentlemen of the expedition”, and was first proposed on 20 October 1819 to be edited by Captain Edward Sabine. The Chronicle was circulated in manuscript form between all of the expedition’s crew.

 

Post-1650 MS 0334 is the personal copy of Charles Palmer, Midshipman on the H.M.S. Hecla. Mr. Palmer is mentioned many times throughout Sabine’s printed version of the Chronicle as an entertainer and singer, who was a source of good humor for his expedition mates. MS 334 is comprised of 54 large leaves (31 cm) written in two columns and composed as a contemporary newspaper. This manuscript and the printed version (shelfmark: Rare Books Q. 052 NG) are accompanied by a short letter written to Mr. Palmer’s sister, Judith Maria Palmer. DG

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