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Yummy Acquisition

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has recently acquired the first cookbook devoted to pastry making. Le Pastissier françois (The French Pastry Chef), published in 1655 by the great Dutch printing house of Elzevir, is a landmark in the history of cooking and cookbooks. The book is often attributed to François Pierre de la Varenne (1615-1678), the father of French gastronomy and author of the first French cookbook (Le Cuisinier françois, 1651). He was also the first to break with Italian practices, concocting such staples of French cooking as Béchamel, hollandaise sauce, and bisque. Le Pastissier françois is equally revolutionary in the history of cooking for establishing most of the foundations of French pastry making. For example, here for the first time, we find an explanation of the now universal way of making flaky pastry dough by weaving together butter and flour. The author also introduces such classics of French baking as beignets, chansons aux pommes (apple turnovers), choux pastry (used for éclairs), and gaufres (waffles), as well as the very first recipes for a cake (gateaux) and an apple pie (!). In addition to these innovative sweet confections, Le Pastissier françois offers recipes for savory pastries as well.

Groundbreaking in many ways, Le Pastissier françois is the first cookbook to indicate precise measurements and quantities for each ingredient, the first to give exact cooking times and heat levels, and the first to include an alphabetic index to the recipes.

The book was printed by Louis and Daniel Elzevir in 1655, the third generation of the great Elzevir printing house in Amsterdam. Le Pastissier françois has been called “the most sought after of all Elzevir imprints,” chiefly because of its rarity. Like hymnals and children’s books, cookbooks are printed to be used (and abused) and therefore have poor survival rates. Indeed, in the nineteenth century, the Elzevir Le Pastissier françois became a kind of Holy Grail for collectors and the price skyrocketed accordingly, leading several English and French authors to comment admiringly or sarcastically upon the phenomenon. Alexandre Dumas, for example, claims to have been distracted from a play by the incredible sight of a man reading a copy of Le Pastissier nearby, and several English novelists list this title when describing the grandeur of character’s library. When J.P. Morgan died, the New York Times mentioned about a dozen of the highpoints of Morgan’s collection, listing the Elzevir Le Pastissier françois alongside the Golden Gospels of Henry VIII, the Gutenberg Bible, and the manuscript of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. There appear to be fewer than a dozen recorded copies, most of them outside the U.S.

[LA VARENNE, François Pierre de (1618-1678), attributed to]. Le pastissier françois. Ou est enseigné la maniere de faire toute sorte de pastisserie, tres-utile à toute sorte de personnes. Ensemble le moyen d’aprester toutes sortes d’oeufs pour les jours maigres, & autres, en plus de soixantes façons. Amsterdam: Louis & Daniel Elzevir, 1655. Vicaire 659-64; Brunet IV, 426-27; Willems 1187. Shelfmark: IUB01721.

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Freedom of Speech for Me….but not for Thee

John Milton (1608-1674). Areopagitica, A speech of Mr. John Milton for the liberty of vnlicenc’d printing to the Parliament of England. London: [s.n.], 1644. Shelfmark: 821 M64 N6.

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With manuscript warrant issued to John Milton on 25 June 1650. Shelfmark: Pre-1650 MS 0168

Milton_warrant

John Milton, arguably the most significant English poet of the seventeenth century, was also a republican politician, religious renegade, and a vocal polemicist on the issues of his day. He flouted the Star Chamber Decree of 1637 when he published his tracts on divorce without license. His Areopagitica also appeared without permit or notice of publisher as required by the law. The Areopagitica has had an enormous impact on modern society, arguing, as it does, that without the freedom of speech, there can be no freedom of thought.

The Areopagitica presents the history of censorship from antiquity to Milton’s day in an eloquent and compelling narrative. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are presented as inalienable rights of humankind. Without free exchange of ideas, Milton claims that moral, intellectual, and societal development is impossible. From this book comes one of the most powerful statements on the freedom of the press ever written: “as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, God’s Image; but hee who destroyes a good Book, kills reason it selfe.”

Ironically, six years later, in 1650, Milton, now part of the ruling party, was issued a warrant to search the rooms of William Prynne, the Puritan writer with whom he had often squabbled in print. The warrant authorizes Milton to “seize all writings … of dangerous nature against the Commonwealth.” Prynne was arrested five days later and sentenced to three years in prison for expressing views contrary to those held by Milton and the Commonwealth.

The University of Illinois holds both these documents, historical proof that freedom of speech is easier to preach than practice.

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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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Sesquicentennial of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

Abraham Lincoln’s “few appropriate remarks” at Gettysburg, delivered 150 years ago today, are memorialized on Lincoln Hall on the University of Illinois campus.  One of the biographical panels on the Quad side of the building depicts the president as he spoke.  Pictured as seating directly behind him, according to the manufacturer of the panel in 1912, was an old man named Burke.  So I once wrote, without confirming the name (Lincoln Hall at the University of Illinois. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010).  Not so, I soon learned from Wayne C. Temple (Ph.D., Illinois, 1956).  His name was Burns.

One of sculptor Kristian Schneider's terra cotta panels on the exterior of Lincoln Hall.

One of sculptor Kristian Schneider’s terra cotta panels on the exterior of Lincoln Hall.

John Burns, a veteran of the War of 1812, was nearly three score and ten years old when the Civil War came to Gettysburg on July 1, 1863.  Although deemed too old for combat, he grabbed an old flintlock musket and trotted onto field of battle.  His antique swallow-tail coat and stove pipe hat made him an easy target.  Wounded and captured, he survived the battle.

Photographed by Matthew Brady, Burns was featured in Harper’s Weekly, and his story appeared in hundreds of papers across the North.  When Lincoln came to Gettysburg, he asked about the old soldier and soon met him.  If Burns did not sit on the platform when Lincoln spoke, as shown in the Lincoln Hall panel, he at least accompanied the president to the church service at the end of the day.  Later, Lincoln signed an act of Congress giving Burns a pension “for patriotic services at Gettysburg.”

In 1864, Bret Harte, the California poet, celebrated Burns.  “When the rebels rode through his native town,” he was “the only man who didn’t back down.”  By contrast, “all his townsfolk ran away.”  By 1911, even as “Burke” was being pictured in the terra cotta plaque on Lincoln Hall, Pennsylvania erected a bronze monument at Gettysburg for Burns, depicting him rather like Daniel Chester French’s “Minuteman” at the rude bridge in Concord.

But Burns claimed too much.  He not only freely and inconsistently embellished his story, but he also belittled the deeds of others (calling one neighbor “a damned coward, a chicken hearted squaw, a tallow faced sissy”).  For years, Burns, a cobbler by trade, had been regarded by Gettysburgians as eccentric and cantankerous, and today he is often known, erroneously, only as “the town drunk.”

The evidence about Burns, particularly at the battle, is too incomplete and contradictory to separate fact from fiction, as Timothy H. Smith’s John Burns, “The Hero of Gettysburg” (2000) makes clear.  Moreover, as Carl Caldwell, another U. of I. alumnus has pointed out, Margaret S. Creighton has now brought to the foreground others than Burns, in The Colors of Courage: Gettysburg’s Forgotten History: Immigrants, Women, and African Americans in the Civil War’s Defining Battle (2005).  But it is the story of John Burns, Gettysburg’s civilian warrior, that became particularly attached to the story of one of the nation’s most memorable texts.  Much of the voluminous literature on that text, as well as graphic depictions of it, are part of the Library’s Illinois History and Lincoln Collections. — John Hoffmann, Illinois History & Lincoln Collections Librarian

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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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The Rare Book and Manuscript Library Invites Visiting Scholar Applications for 2014-15

The John “Bud” Velde Visiting Scholars Program

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

 CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library annually awards two stipends of up to $3,000 to scholars and researchers, unaffiliated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who would like to spend a month or more conducting research with our materials. 

The holdings of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library are substantial. Comprehensive collections support research in printing and printing history, Renaissance studies, Elizabethan and Stuart life and letters, John Milton and his age, emblem studies, economic history, and works on early science and natural history. The library also houses the papers of such diverse literary figures as Carl Sandburg, H.G. Wells, William Maxwell, and W.S. Merwin.

For information about this program, how to apply, and to find out more about The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, please visit our Web site at:

http://www.library.illinois.edu/rbx/research_fellowships.html

Please contact the Public Programs Manager, Dennis Sears, with further questions about the program or The Rare Book & Manuscript Library:

Or email Dennis: dsears (at) illinois (dot) edu.   

Deadline for application: *1 February 2014*.

Thank you!

 Dennis Sears

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library
1408 W. Gregory Dr., Room 346
Urbana, IL   61801

(217) 333-7242, (217) 244-1755 fax

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Frances Wolfreston: A Woman Reader of the Late Renaissance Revealed

The Schoole of Vertue, and Booke of Good Nature (ca. 1640) by F. Segar

The Schoole of Vertue, and Booke of Good Nature (ca. 1640) by F. Segar

A rare book is seldom dumb. If you know how to listen, it can speak volumes (pardon the phrase) about who owned it, why it was read and how often, where it was sold, what the purchase price was, when its binding was fitted, and so on. Take the Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s The Schoole of Vertue, and Booke of Good Nature (ca. 1640) by F. Segar, shelfmark IUA11184. It is a slim, 48-page octavo bound in full blue morocco, with marbled endpapers and a bookplate from The Huth Library on the front pastedown. The binding is signed in small gilt letters by F. Bedford (1799–1883), indicating that the book was rebound sometime in the mid- to late 1800s. This is the provenance that talks the loudest. But there is a whisper, more intriguing, of somebody else: a woman reader from the late Renaissance by the name of Frances Wolfreston. 

Very faint inscription reads: "Frances Wolfreston hor bouk".

The very faint inscription reads: “Frances Wolfreston hor bouk”.

Wolfreston, who lived from 1607 to 1677, was probably the book’s first owner and would have been in her early thirties when it was published. Her inscription on the recto of leaf A3 reads Frances Wolfreston hor bouk. As the book is filled with prayers and instructions for raising children, we can surmise that she used it as a parenting aid. Some Non-Solus readers may find this information unsurprising, even typical. Wolfreston’s story is not one of a simple provincial housewife, however.

Just down the road from the RBML, at Illinois State University’s Special Collections in Normal, Illinois, is a scarce book by Lady Mary Wroth called The Countesse of Mountgomeries Urania (1621)Widely considered to be the first English work of prose by a woman, Uraniais a sprawling pastoral romance with characters based on the contemporaries of its author Lady Mary Wroth, niece of Sir Philip Sidney and a lady in Queen Anne’s court. Fewer than forty copies of the work survive—most were withdrawn from publication and destroyed after Wroth’s allusions to her contemporaries sparked an outcry. (For details of the feud, see Josephine A. Roberts’s 1977 essay “An Unpublished Literary Quarrel Concerning the Suppression of Mary Wroth’s ‘Urania’ (1621).”)

Inscription reads: “[H]or bouk / bot at London”

Inscription reads: “[H]or bouk / bot at London”

Illinois State’s copy of Urania bears some interesting provenance indeed. Frances Wolfreston’s ownership inscription appears on it three times, once on each pastedown and once on the verso of leaf Mm3. Wolfreston has written “bot at London” beneath the inscription on the front pastedown. Urania exemplifies Wolfreston’s keen interest in literature and books about women. Though her collection includes a number of religious texts and domestic miscellany like The Schoole of Vertue, the majority of her surviving books are literary in nature. Identifiable women readers of this time period are rare, and it is even more unusual to come across one so unabashed in her love for romances and light reading, content thought in Wolfreston’s time to make women lazy and licentious. Wolfreston also owned dozens of pamphlets and tracts, bought from traveling chapmen and not meant to survive for centuries, as they have. The Schoole of Vertue falls in the latter category.

I am not the first to be captivated by Wolfreston’s bold inscription; scholars have been writing about her for at least thirty years. The premiere article on the subject is Paul Morgan’s 1989 “Francis Wolfreston and ‘Hor Bouks': A Seventeenth-Century Woman Book-Collector.” Morgan tells us that Wolfreston’s library, willed to her youngest living son Stanford, survived intact at the family seat of Statfold Hall for close to 200 years before being auctioned by Sotheby and Wilkinson in 1856. Though Morgan estimates that Wolfreston may have owned as many as 400 books, the whereabouts of three-fourths remain unknown.

Morgan’s essay includes an appendix of around 100 located copies of Wolfreston’s books. The School of Vertue is one, Urania is not, suggesting that many books from Wolfreston’s library have yet to come to light. Another copy not mentioned in Morgan’s appendix is Wolfreston’s copy of Chaucer, given hor by hor motherinlaw, featured in 2008 on the blog of Sarah Werner, Digital Media Specialist at the Folger Library. Werner has also highlighted Wolfreston’s copy of Othello, now housed at the University of Pennsylvania. It is a book which Wolfreston–not a habitual note-maker–has declared a sad one. (For more by Werner, visit her blog here: http://sarahwerner.net/blog/). The majority of Wolfreston’s books have ended up in the Folger, the British Library, The Huntington, and other academic libraries.

Unlike the thick quarto that is UraniaThe Schoole of Vertue is a short, thin volume, a booklet really, that illuminates the domestic side of a literature-lover. The book is well-used; the pages are creased, smudged, and softly worn in the same manner as Urania‘s. Taken together, The Schoole of Vertue and Urania indicate that Wolfreston returned to her books again and again throughout her lifetime. Unfortunately, binder F. Bedford or another previous owner expunged Wolfreston’s trademark inscription from The Schoole of Vertue; only a faint blot remains, impossible to make out unless you’ve seen her hand before (and had the aid of Morgan’s helpful appendix). Still, it is worth examining the next time you visit the Rare Book and Manuscript Library—and has much to say about what you can learn from a book if only you listen closely.

The Schoole of Vertue

The Schoole of Vertue

Unlike the thick quarto that is Urania, The Schoole of Vertue is a short, thin volume, a booklet really, that illuminates the domestic side of a literature-lover. The book is well-used; the pages are creased, smudged, and softly worn in the same manner as Urania‘s. Taken together, The Schoole of Vertue and Urania indicate that Wolfreston returned to her books again and again throughout her lifetime. Unfortunately, binder F. Bedford or another previous owner expunged Wolfreston’s trademark inscription from The Schoole of Vertue; only a faint blot remains, impossible to make out unless you’ve seen her hand before (and had the aid of Morgan’s helpful appendix). Still, it is worth examining the next time you visit the Rare Book and Manuscript Library—and has much to say about what you can learn from a book if only you listen closely. —Sarah Lindenbaum, Project Cataloger

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October 28, 2013 · 9:58 am