Book History Seminar: LGBTQ+ Publishing History

Our next Book History Seminar will take place on Wednesday 13 January at 1pm.

In this live-only seminar, we will discuss factors affecting the publication and circulation of LGBTQ+ fiction in postwar Britain. We will examine how obscenity statutes and laws criminalising homosexuality impacted everything from a book’s text, to its cover design, to how and where it was sold. Examples will be drawn from the speaker’s personal collection.

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The Unwritten Book (General Seminar)

Yesterday, Yvonne Lewis shared the story of ‘The Unwritten Book’ – the evidence William John Bankes left behind him of his travels, and, in particular, a set of lithography stones intended for publication in a book that was never printed in the end.

There are many reasons that these stones are both interesting and mysterious, but the greatest mystery is why they exist in the first place. Lithography was invented in Munich in 1798 by Alois Senefelder, and as Michael Twyman points out in his core text on the topic, “the lithographed book is almost as old as lithography itself” (p. 15). One of its leading proponents in Britain, Charles Hullmandel, set up his press in 1819, and so Bankes’s travels (circa 1815-17) coincided with the very earliest period of English lithography. Hullmandel’s marks appear on the back of the stones, and, as Twyman asserted in a paper he gave in 2016, “Hullmandel can be linked with the stones now at Kingston Lacy in several ways. First and foremost he owned them all, at least initially. Secondly, he made the drawings on some of them himself. And, thirdly, wherever a printer’s imprint appears on a stone it is his.”

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Printmaking Techniques in Book Illustration

Join us online on Tuesday 8 December for our next Book History Seminar, in which Krystle Attard Trevisan will share her curatorial and research expertise in printmaking techniques in book illustration.

Krystle is the first art historian in Malta specializing in historical prints and book illustration. Her ongoing doctoral research includes cataloguing and studying the only intact 18th century print collection in a public museum of over 4,500 prints amassed by one man. She has also started hunting for Incunabula in Malta with a team of other researchers. She has recently joined MUŻA, the Malta National Community Art Museum that houses the national collection of art, where one of her tasks is to research the prints and rare books that have remained unstudied for years. Her passion is to teach about the importance of printmaking in the history of art and of the book through public outreach and object-based study.

This is a live-only seminar – no preparation in advance (except for the speaker, obviously), no recordings afterwards, just an expert speaker talking on Zoom for around half and hour followed by group discussion and chat.

Full details and registration: https://beginningcataloguing.teachable.com/p/bookhistory-seminar-december

Making Manuscripts (Book History Seminar)

Last week saw the first of our Book History Seminars, led by Sara Charles (Teaching Manuscripts) and I took the Chair’s prerogative to write the event report.

Sara is part of a growing number of researchers who unite their love of making and their love of research by using historical remaking in their academic work. From Alan May’s experiments in making printing presses through Joumana Medlej’s Inks and Paints of the Middle East (and her forthcoming Wild Colours: Seasonal Inks and Paints) to Jessie Wei-Hsuan Chen’s Hortus Floridus Iessi, people are finding more and more imaginative methods to engage with the ways in which early books were made.

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Beginning Bibliography: Five Favourite Texts

BOOK LOVER

Beginning Bibliography begins on Monday. We don’t set any reading that can’t be accessed for free, so this month’s Beginnings article highlights my top five book purchases in the field.

1. Bowers for the Detail. Love it or loathe it, you cannot ignore Bowers’s tome, Principles of Bibliographical Description (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1949). You would imagine bibliographers to be obsessed with detail, and Bowers was certainly that. I first read this book in 1990 and in thirty years, I’ve not found a single challenge in bibliographic description for which I have not been able to find an answer within it. If only he had been able to write in an engaging, encouraging style, I’d go so far as to say we would need no other book on how to describe a printed book. Alas! He conveys all of the detail but none of the love, and I have met some very distinguished bibliographers who have confided to me they have never been able to read his Principles from cover to cover, only dip in and out of it as and when required. Copies are available from Betterworld Books and second-hand from Abe and Abe UK.

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What Is Bibliography?

Open for Bookings: Beginning Bibliography

Want to learn the core techniques of bibliographic research? Getting into book collecting and keen to know exactly which impression of which edition of a book you’ve just purchased? Moving from modern cataloguing to working with early materials and need to get on top of format and collational formulae?

We’ve got a course for you. Beginning Bibliography has just opened for booking. 20-25 hours of learning at your own pace, with presentations, readings and activities including creating quasi-facsimiles (title page transcriptions), collation (working out the format of the book and how its pages were ordered and bound), and some paper-folding excises.

The introductory presentation is free to watch in order to help you make up your mind. Here’s the curriculum:

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