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

Exhibition: Life on the Moon opens with Lecture by Simon J. James

Professor James came all the way from the UK to deliver the opening lecture to Life on the Moon (and to see some H.G. Wells materials from our collections, of course). It was a great lecture and we had a great turnout. Thanks to everyone for coming out and checking out the lecture and the exhibition. For those of you who missed it, here’s a video!

The Idea of a Planned World”:

H. G. Wells’s “The First Men in the Moon”
A Lecture by Simon J. James

30 August 2013, 3-5 p.m
The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, 346 Library

H. G. Wells is now best known for Victorian science fiction such as The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds. In his own time, however, Wells was more famous for his utopian and political writing. His later Edwardian scientific romances combine the fantastic with social thought. The First Men in the Moon gives extended consideration to the imagined life in the moon of the “Selenite Society,” both a utopian image of Wells’s own dreams for the Earth, and a dystopian nightmare of an entirely planned world. Professor Simon J. James, of Durham University, UK, the author of scholarly work on Wells, will give an account of The First Men in the Moon in the context of Wells’s wider work, and of some of the unpublished material in the book’s manuscript, which is held in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s H. G. Wells Collection. The event is co-sponsored by The Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH).

Professor Simon J. James is Professor of Victorian Literature in the Department of English Studies, Durham University. He taught at Cambridge and at Salford Universities before moving to Durham University in 1999. He is a specialist in Victorian and early twentieth-century fiction in particular, and in forms of narrative more generally. He is the author of Unsettled Accounts: Money and Narrative Form in the Novels of George Gissing (Anthem, 2003) and Maps of Utopia: H. G. Wells, Modernity and the End of Culture (Oxford University Press, 2012) and the co-editor of The Evolution of Literature: Legacies of Darwin in European Cultures (Rodopi, 2011) and George Gissing and the Woman Question: Convention and Dissent (Ashgate, 2013). He is the editor of The Wellsian, the scholarly journal of the H. G. Wells Society, and of four Wells novels in the Penguin Classics series. He is currently working on an online edition of the manuscript of The Time Machine, and books on Dickens and on male bonding in Victorian and Edwardian fiction.

The exhibition, Life on the Moon: Literary and Scientific Reflections (30 August—13 December 2013) explores the history of scientific and literary speculation about life on the moon. Books and manuscript material from the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Illinois trace the history of writing about the Moon, from the Lucian’s “True Historie,” through the first telescopic observations of the Moon, its investment as a proxy for thinking anew about human society and multiple worlds, and on into the opportunity for stories of science-based adventure. Also on display will be three artifacts from the Apollo 16 mission; including a moon rock sample on loan from NASA, and two artifacts used on the moon’s surface on loan from Kennesaw State University. The exhibition is curated by Marten Stromberg, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and Patrick Fadely, a Ph.D candidate in the UIUC English Department.

Along with the exhibition, an event series called “See You on the Moon,” will feature a whole host of events including: a night reading at the Station Theatre in Urbana, storytelling at the Parkland Planetarium, an on-campus moon observation session by the Astronomy Department, “WOLF” (a performance art piece that is part of the “Unreliable Bestiary” series), a Moon-themed performance by the U of I Concert Jazz Band, a harvest moon festival sponsored by Orchard Downs and the Japan House, children’s events at the Urbana and Champaign public libraries, and an Art Exhibition at the Independent Media Center to take place during the Pygmalion Music Festival. Details on these and other events are found at the website: go.illinois.edu/moon.

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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.”

proust_8_msfile_04_01-copyproust_8_msfile_04_02-copy_full_-copy

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.

proust_8_msfile_04_01-copy_det_proust_8_msfile_04_02-copy2_-copy_det_

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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The Frozen Deep

Yesterday at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, first year MFA students in Theatre gathered to perform a reading of The Frozen Deep, by Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens. Tom Mitchell put together the text and Adam Doskey provided the introduction. This is just one of several events being held around the current exhibition of Arctic materials up in RBML. Refer to our calendar for more information: http://illinois.edu/calendar/list/2169?cal=20120621&skinId=6641

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February 8, 2013 · 4:22 pm

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library Invites Visiting Scholar Applications for 2013-14

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 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 quite 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:

Dennis Sears, Public Programs Manager
The Rare Book & Manuscript Library
University of Illinois Library, Room 346
1408 West Gregory Drive
Urbana, IL 61801
USA
(217) 333 7242 voice, (217) 244 1755 fax

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

Deadline for application: *1 March 2013*.

Thank you!

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Two Events to Celebrate the University Library’s 13-Millionth Book: The First Illustrated Japanese printed book!

Thursday, 27 September, 3pm in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Tales of Ise, 1608: The First Japanese Illustrated Work of Literature A Lecture by Colin Franklin, author, bibliographer, and book-collector

Colin Franklin is an important English collector of Asian materials, a bibliophile and the author of numerous books on printing history, including Exploring Japanese Books and Scrolls, (British Library, 2005).

Friday, 28 September, 4pm in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Saga-bon Ise monogatari: The Most Influential Book in Early-Modern Japan? A lecture by Professor Joshua S. Mostow, University of British Columbia

Professor Mostow has written about the inter-relations between text and image in Japanese culture, Japanese women’s writing in the court tradition. He is also the author of The Ise Stories, (University of Hawaii Press, 2010).

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