Author Archives: Buckley

Reader looke, Not on his Picture, but his Book

Close-up of fore-edge and battered binding
©Bodleian Libraries

Today’s post comes from Pip Wilcox, digital editor at the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford. She unveils exciting news about the digitisation of a rare copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, which everybody will be able to download and read from 23 April 2013.

A Prodigal First Folio

In the winter of 1623, a copy of Shakespeare’s newly printed First Folio arrived at Oxford’s Bodleian Library from London. Some time later, it left the Library and for years it was lost from view.

But in 1905, Gladwyn Turbutt, an undergraduate at Magdalen College, brought a tattered copy of an early Shakespeare Folio into the Library for advice on its binding. The sub-librarian on duty, Falconer Madan, immediately knew it was the lost Bodleian First Folio, still in its original binding.

 

Cymbeline © Bodleian Libraries

Excited as he was, Madan publicized the discovery. Word of it reached America, from where an anonymous prospective buyer offered an enormous £3,000 for the book. Later the would-be buyer was revealed as the chairman of Standard Oil, Henry Clay Folger.

The book’s owners, the Turbutt family of Derbyshire, gave the Bodleian a chance to match Folger’s offer. Funds were scarce, but the book was particularly precious, and so the first public fund-raising campaign in its history was born. It needed an extension from the Turbutts and over 80 donors to raise the sum, but finally, in 1906, the First Folio returned to its first owners.

In the winter of 2011, Emma Smith gave a talk on her research into this copy of the book, rarely seen by scholars due to its fragility. Emma’s lecture, her generosity, and her passion for sharing knowledge sparked a new public fund-raising campaign, Sprint for Shakespeare. With support from champions led by Vanessa Redgrave, and hundreds of donors, colleagues from across the Bodleian are working to conserve, digitize, and publish the book online.

Vanessa Redgrave and Thelma Holt with the First Folio © Bodleian Libraries

Emma Smith (the academic whose research started the project) & Maev Kennedy (Guardian)
© Bodleian Libraries 

 

This book, lost and found, tells an extraordinary story of overwhelming generosity, recent and historic, intellectual and financial. We know an unusual amount about its past: who bound it, and when (William Wildgoose, in February 1624); we know its exact position during the first years of its life – through the theatre closures of the Commonwealth – chained to a shelf in the recently completed Arts End of Duke Humfrey’s Library. Thanks to the efforts of Falconer Madan and Strickland Gibson, we have a detailed description of its state in 1905. E W B Nicholson’s gift for administration has left us a complete archive of its first funding campaign.

 

Damage with 18th Century patching © Bodleian Libraries  

More surprising may be what we do not know of its history: how the book came to the Bodleian in 1623 – whether through the Library’s agreement with the Stationers’ Company or as a presentation copy; how and when it left the Library; who owned it before the Turbutt family.

But perhaps the best stories are the ones the book itself tells – its plays, of course, but also how it was printed, bound, kept, and above all read. It has plenty left to tell us, with its first-instance Droeshout engraving, the poor quality of its paper, an unidentified manuscript poem, an apple pip squashed flat in its gutter, of how King John appears barely touched while Romeo and Juliet has been read to tatters.

Conservation in action © Bodleian Libraries

 

We are delighted that public support and digital technology allow us to share, rather than compete for, this treasure of the Bodleian’s collections. On 23 April 2013 we will publish the digital facsimile online, freely available for study and download. We hope you will help us tell its stories.

 

The battered binding © Bodleian Libraries

 

Title Page © Bodleian Libraries

Pip Willcox is a digital editor at the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

To the Faire Murderess of my Soul

 

More today from the entertaining book of compliments from 1699. The author devotes quite a few pages to guiding his male readers through the process of writing a love letter, and provides some possible greetings and signatures for his readers to adopt. He also presents a series of sample letters which can be copied in an effort to woo the ladies, and below the suggested greetings are two of the most entertaining.

 

Suggested droll greetings when writing a love letter to a mistress:

To the most gracious Queen of my Soul
To the most illustrious Princess of my Heart
To the Countess Dowager of my Affections
To the Baroness of my Words and Actions
To the Peerles Paragon of Exquisite Formosity
To the Empress of my Thoughts
To the Lilly-white-hands of my Angelical Mistress
To the Ninth Wonder of the World
To the most Accomplished Work of Nature, and the Astonishment of all Eyes
To the Faire Murderess of my Soul
To the Rose of pure Delight
To the Choise Nutmeg of Sweetest Consolation
To her who is Day without Night, a Sun full of Shade, a Shade full of Light, Mistress, Etcetera

Suggested signatures:

Your Gally-Slave
Your Always burning Salamander
Your Continual Martyr
Your poor Worm, that must of necessity die, if trod upon by the foot of your disdain
The Vassal of your Severest Frowns

 

 

A Cockney to his Mistress

My Dear Peggie

I have here sent thee these Lines writ with my tears, and a little blacking that our Maid rubs my Father’s Shoes with, that I may unload a whole Cart-load of grief into the Warehouse of thy bosome. Truly Peggie, I think I shall die, for I can neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep, nor wake. Nothing that my mother can buy, either in Cheap-side or Newgate-Market will go down with me. My mother sees me looking as pale as the Linen in Moor-fields, and moping in the Chimney corner. She jeers me, saying, What are you love-sick Tom? I cry and make a noise like a Cat upon the Tiles. But let all the world say what they will, I will pout and be sick, and my Father and Mother shall lose their eldest Son, but I’ll have Peggie, that I will. I beseech thee not to omit any occasion of writing to me, that since I cannot kiss thy hand, I may kiss the Letters that thy hand did write. The Bearer hereof is our Cook-maid, one that pitties my condition, and is very trusty. I have therefore engaged her to call and see thee every time she goes to Market. My Mothers Rings are all close lockt up, else I would steal one to send it thee. However I intreat thee to accept of the good will for the deed, and to take in good part the endeavours of thy most faithful servant.

POSTSCRIPT

As I was going to steal a ring, my Father came in, taken suddently and desperately ill. The Physicians were sent for, and by their whispering, assure me that he cannot live. As soon as he is dead I shall not fail to visit thee.

 

A Countrey Bumpkin to his Mistress

Sweet honey, Jone

I have here sent thee a thing, such a one as the Gentlefolks call a Love Letter. T’was indicted by my self after I had drank two or three draughts of Ale. Truly Jone, my parents never brought me up to speak finely, but this I can say in downright terms, I love thee. Marry, Jone, many times and oft have I fetcht home thy Cows when no body knew who did it. Marry, Jone, when thou didst win the Garland in the Whitson-holidayes, I was sure to be drunk that night for joy. I know thou dost love Will the Tayler, but I can tell thee Jone, I think I shall be a better man than he shortly; I am learning to play the Fiddle, so that if thou wilt not yeild the sooner, I will ravish thee with my musick. Tis true I never yet gave thee a Token, but I have here sent thee a piece of silver Ribband. I bought it in the Exchange, where all the folks shouted at me. But what wilt thou give me, Jone? Alas, I ask for nothing but thy self. What a happy day that would be, to see us with our best Cloathes on, at Church, and the Parson saying, I Tom, take thee Jone. I would take thee, and hug thee, and then away to the Alehouse for the Canaries and the Sillabubs and the Shoulder a Mutton and gravie, with a hey down derry and a diddle diddle dee. Thus having no more to say, I rest in assurance of thy good will. Honestly, truly, and blewly.

 

If you enjoyed this, you’ll enjoy the same author’s hyperbolic compliments for women here at The Stars Borrow Light From Your Radiant Eyes

Axe Murder Woodcut

I just had to share this woodcut. It’s the title page to A true Relation of a barbarous and most Cruell Murther, committed by one Enoch ap Evan, who cut off his own naturall Mothers Head, and his Brothers (1633).

The stars borrow light from your radiant eyes

I’ve been laughing out loud at a book of wooing and courtship from the late seventeenth century. Here are a few entertaining chat up lines for men. And yes, the book really does contain a section on how to woo in a cake shop.

An address to make known a man’s affection:

Madam, among all the dayes of my life I must accompt this the happiest above all the rest, wherein I had the honour first to know you.

Saying hello:

Save you, fair Lady, all health and your own wishes be upon you. All the toys the Gods delight in wait on you, fairest.

Complimenting her looks:

You are the beauty without parallel; in your Face all the Graces, and in your Mind all the vertues are met: he that looks upon your mild aspect were it the most savage creature, would derive a new nature from your beauty.

Your hair is like the Beams that adorn Apollo’s head. Your hair is as soft as new spun silk, curling with such a natural wantonness as if it strove to delight the fancy. read more »

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