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Henry Power and MS Sloane 1346: The Life and Library of a 17th-Century Northcountry Doctor

Guest post by Stanton J. Linden

Folio 1 of MS Sloane 1346 in the British Library opens with these words by Henry Power:  “A Catalogue of all my Bookes taken this 1st of September 1664 just before my removeall [from Halifax] to Wakefield.”  On the fifteen folios that follow, Power copied out in “hasty hand,” the contents of his personal library, supplying brief entries, usually only the author’s last name and an abbreviated title for each of the 543 books. Within the Catalogue, books are organized in sections only by size and the language in which they were written.  There is no classification by subject or alphabetical listing by author. Since this is a physician’s collection, medical books in Latin—often by foreign authors and published abroad—are predominant.  Clearly, this is a text intended for private use, not posterity.  The fact that it was hidden away in manuscript and that Power himself—at least later in life—might be said to have been “hidden away” in remote Yorkshire also contributed to the fact that his achievements have often been overlooked.

With focus on my transcription of Power’s Catalogue and related study and annotation, I hope my study will reveal the importance of this previously unknown text to our understanding of early modern medical education and practice, the book trade, especially in rural England, as well as the role that his library played in the life of this rural doctor. Note: I have added the following “modern” subject classification scheme to the transcription to facilitate study and conversation.  Those interested in the topic might give it a swift perusal since I will be referring to several of these subject classes, but have neither time nor interest in making this a statistical presentation.

Subject Classification: Henry Power’s Catalogue

 

 

Number of books

% of  total

AHIS

Ancient History

18

3.3

ALCH

Alchemy

22

4.0

AST

Astrology and Astronomy

19

3.5

BIB

Bibles

13

2.4

BOT

Botany, including Herbals

16

2.9

CLIT

Classical Literature: all genres

28

5.1

CMED

Classical Medicine and Science

10

1.8

CONT

Controversies

12

2.2

EDUC

Education, Practical Arts, Invention

15

2.7

EMH

Early Modern History, incl. Heraldry

11

2.0

EML

Early Modern Literature: all genres and Rhetoric

36

6.6

EMM

Early Modern Medicine, Anatomy and Surgery

97

17.8

EMSC

Early Modern Science and Natural Philosophy

33

6.0

FRN

Books written in French

9

1.6

GEOG

Geography, Travel, Exploration

21

3.8

LAW

Law and Legal Affairs

13

2.4

MATH

Mathematics

11

2.0

MISC

Miscellaneous Identified References, e.g. Music

7

1.2

OCLT

Occult, Magic

9

1.6

PHIL

Philosophy and Logic

40

7.3

PHRM

Paracelsus, Iatrochemistry, Pharmacy

15

2.7

POL

Politics and Government

10

1.8

REF

Dictionaries, Lexicons, Grammars, etc.

21

3.8

REL

Religion, Theology

33

6.0

XX

Unidentified References

24

4.4

 

Total number of books

543

 

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Milton’s lust, and other marginalia

Adam Smyth, one of the speakers at our conference, has contributed to the LRB Blog on Milton’s lust, and other marginalia.

M. S. Lourenço’s book owning alter ego

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M.S. Lourenco, O Doge (1962)

Guest post by João Dionisio

In the Gospel according to John, Nicodemus heard Jesus say that no one could see the kingdom of God unless through rebirth. Nicodemus reacted with puzzlement for it seemed to him that no one, once born, would be able to be born again (“How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?”, John 3:4, New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition). Jesus then replied: “no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3: 5-8). Here lies the basis for baptism, one of the seven sacraments in Roman Catholic Church which came to be associated with the assumption of a (new) name. The motive of regeneration or rebirth plays a core role in the poetics of Portuguese writer M. S. Lourenço (1936-2009), in the guise of a current literary motif, under the paratextual form of a made-up obituary or more visibly through the instance of his alter ego Alexis Christian von Rätselhaft und Gribskov. Known as the fictional author of O Doge, a collection of prose short pieces published in 1962.  Though it is not the only, it is certainly the most conspicuous alternative name inscribed on the title page of several books in Lourenço’s private library. These books may function as a biographical trait ascribed to the ‘Alexis von Gribskov’ persona : what kind of books did he have? which books did he read? and so forth. By looking into this part of his library, we can shed on some aspects of Lourenço’s literary work from the 1960s. Perhaps more importantly, looking into this part of his library enables one to view it as the stage where multiple personal projections enter in an intellectual dialogue. Against this background emerges the seemingly special status of some books by Rilke, both as a determinant factor in the literary staging of otherness and as a possible poetic enactment of the Gospel passage: “the wind blows where it chooses”. In this respect the fact that Alexis von Gribskov’s motto is precisely “spiritus ubi vult spirat” is especially meaningful.

Tweeps…

…. we would like to announce the Twitter hashtag for our conference: #writerslibs.   twittter-logo

Secret History of Second Hand Books

The reason why we are putting together this conference on Writers and their Libraries has become apparent (as if it needed any elucidation) from an article in The Guardian website today by freelance writer Wayne Gooderham on “The Secret Contents of Second Hand Books”.  A collector of annotated books and regular blogger on the subject, Gooderham explains how he’s got second hand booksellers in London keeping an eye out for him for whatever may be of interest.  Collecting books with personal inscription is one thing, he says, “find the buggers” another. To his delight, the manager of Skoob Books invited him along to their warehouse near Oxford, to browse around but also to look at their collection of items they had over the years found in books.  Mostly the objects are nothing extraordinary: book marks, tickets, postcards, photos, pressed flowers (a tradition that seems not quite to have disappeared), and so on. But the tantalizing presence (and preservation) of past human activity of the most ephemeral kind is what is fascinating. Equally fascinating are the (at the time of writing this) 146 responses that readers have posted in the comments section.  Finding “any old crap pleases” apparently, and it is more popular than we had imagined.  At least one other blogger, who works as a rare book cataloguer, is keeping a list of these objets trouvés.

Gooderham has put together a small exhibition with items from the Skoob warehouse in Foyles on Charing Cross Road. The exhibition ends on 13 December, so you can still catch it. Otherwise you can check out the small selection of his favourite items Foyles have made available on their website.

Conference Registration

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Registration for the Writers and their Libraries conference is now open.  The registration fee is £65 (full fee) and £45 (reduced fee for speakers at the conference, registered students and members of the Institute of English Studies.  To register please follow the link to the on-line registration page.  A preliminary programme is available from the Institute website.

Link

Annotating Shakespeare

Annotating Shakespeare

An interesting post from the Finding Shakespeare site about inscriptions in the holdings of the Royal Shakespeare Company researched by Jean Christophe Mayer (Montpellier University).

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