Sunday 29 August 2021

Gerald Dillon, freelance journalist

Gerald Aloysius Dillon (29 June 1897–[after 1952]), Irish-Australian soldier and freelance journalist, contributed an article on “'The Female Spectator': Mrs. Eliza Heywood's Periodical” to Australian Woman’s Mirror in March of 1934. I said in my post on that article (here), that Dillon contributed a series of roughly fifty bookish essays to the Australian Woman’s Mirror, "many about women or women writers such Joanna Southcott, Ouida, Angella Burdett, Sidney Webb and Katherine Mansfield (probably his most famous essay)." I also said that "I have not been able to find out as much about Dillon as I would like"—but what I have found is below.

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The AustLit entry for Dillon states "Gerald Dillon was a freelance writer from Sydney," and list only six of his works: once self-published book (Why Editors Regret: First Aid for the Free-Lance Gerald Dillon (Sydney, 1929)), the Katherine Mansfield essay mentioned above, and four pieces of his journalism that seem to have been selected more-or-less at random.

After a pretty extensive search online, I located quite a bit more information than AustLit offers. My three main sources of biographical information (reproduced below) are a series of entries for him (and his brothers) in The Catholic Who's Who and Yearbook from 1930–52 (vol. 23 (1930): 134; 29 (1936): 131; 34 (1941): 130; 35 (1952): 118), a brief article about Dillon published in <>The wireless weekly: the hundred per cent Australian radio journal, Vol. 36 No. 28 (12 July 1941): 3b (this article supplied the only photograh I could find of Gerald Dillon), and a National Archives entry.

The Catholic Who's Who and Yearbook entries are all much the same, the 1930 edition reading

[1930–52] "Dillon, Gerald Aloysius—b.1897, y.s. [youngest son] of late Theobald Augustus Dillon, co Roscommon; edu. Downside and R.M.C. [Royal Military College, Sandhurst]; Sec.Lieut 6 (Inniskillg) Dgns [Dragoons] 1916; resigned as Lieut 1921; served Great War; at present engaged in journalism. Author of Why Editors Regret: Box 2876N. G.P.O., Sydney, N.S.W."

The yearbooks contain entries for two bothers, which provide more details of the family:
  Gerald's father was Theobald, of Mount Dillon, co. Roscommon,
  his mother was Bertha, daughter of Nicholas Mulhall of Boyle, co. Roscommon;
  his eldest brother went to Trinity College Cambridge (B.A.), was Capt. in the Connaught Rangers (Special Reserve); served in WW1, and was called to the Irish Bar in 1922;
  the second brother, Capt. John Jospeph Dillon (b. 19 Feb. 1896), went to Sandhurst, like Gerald, was a Lieutenant in the Connaught Rangers (Special Reserve); was twice wounded in WW1, winning the Military Cross, rising to Captain in 1927 in the Royal Army Service Corps.

Gerald Dillon, well known for his talks on 2FC and 2BL [Sydney radio stations], has had a life crammed with travel and adventure.
  An Irishman, born in Dublin in 1897, he spent six years at an English public school before returning to Dublin to study law.
  In 1916 he abandoned law to enter Sandhurst. Graduating there with a commission in the Dragoons, he served in France in the last war.
  After the war, feeling an urge to travel, he resigned his commission in the Army, and visited Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, and Tahiti before settling for several years in Papua as a plantation manager.
  Gerald Dillon’s variety of experience has given him plenty of material for broadcasting. He is also well known as a freelance journalist, and on one occasion he turned to authorship.
His anecdotes of life among the wild and woolly natives of Papua have proved very happy entertainment for radio audiences.

[1939–48] WW2 Service record [National Archives of Australia: Citizen Military Forces Personnel Dossier]

Service Number - N279151
Date of birth - 29 Jun 1897
Place of birth - DUBLIN IRELAND
Place of enlistment - PADDINGTON NSW
Next of Kin - Unknown
Contents date range: 1939–1948
Item ID: 6194595
Location: Canberra
Access status: Open

[ (here) adds: "Rank: Corporal"]

Beyond The Catholic Who's Who and Yearbook and the anonymous "Filled Life With travel," Trove fills in many details concerning Dillon's freelance and radio work. However, although there are hundreds of entries for Dillon on Trove, they add little about his personal life. Apparently, he lived in "Verona," Waruda St., Kirribilli, Sydney, before WW2, but I was unable to find any record after the 1952 Catholic Who's Who and Yearbook. If we are to judge by the lack of a Next of Kin in his WW2 Military Forces Personnel Dossier, it appears he did not marry. He seems to have died obscurely, and alone, with no memorial or death notice.

* * * * *

Dillon's self-published 58-page booklet, Why Editors Regret was reasonably-well received, being reviewed in half a dozen journals throughout Australia. Although most major libraries in Australia have a copy, I have been unable to look into one due to the lock-down, but the reviews contain a number of details, so I will finish this post by transcribing three the longer reviews, and provide links to three others. The reviews below are organised chronologically.

"Franziska" [Frances Zabel], The Australian Woman's Mirror, Vol. 5 No. 48 (22 October 1929): 24c, 41b "Let's Talk about Books" (here)

Editors would have far fewer regrets if this little book were read by all those Australians seeking to break into freelance journalism The author, who can speak from experience of the ups and downs of freelancing, gives much practical advice to the budding writer and covers a wide field—what editors want, the article, book reviews, verse, the paragraph, the short story, writing for children, and so on. A foreword has been written by the editor of the Bulletin and there are special contributions by the editor of Aussie, the editor of the Mirror, Katharine Susannah Prichard, J. H. M. Abbott Professor Brennan, Edward Perugini, W. E. FitzHenry and others. Apart from a few typographical errors that should not have crept into a literary handbook, the little volume is well-produced, and it should do something toward realising the expressed purpose of Mr. Dillon the lightening of the heavy burthen which weighs on those who wander without proper sense of direction in the fugitive byways of literature.

The Bulletin, vol. 50, no. 2594 (30 Oct 1929): 5a–b (here)

Why Editors Regret
  They don’t; but the harmless fiction makes a catchy title, and prospective or potential freelances who spend half a crown on Gerald Dillon’s booklet of that name should not have any regrets, either. Editors do not regret, because theirs is the most impersonal job on earth; they buy what they want, they turn down what they don’t want. The best friend in the world ceases to be a friend when he translates himself into a piece of paper with words on it. Having done that, the best friend is a bit of copy and nothing else.
  Mr. Dillon has strong support: Bert F. Toy, editor of the Woman’s Mirror, and writer here of a most compact and in formative article; Walter Jago, editor of Aussie—not very informative, but a good blow where one has been long asked for; Katharine Susannah Prichard—so so; Harold Mercer—amusing and encouraging (he says, “One bit of misleading information may destroy a growing reputation painfully built up” (and he writes sermons for sick clergymen); C. J. Brennan—an excellent page on light verse; Hugh McCrae—Hugh McCrae; Edward Perugini—one or two acute remarks on serious verse; J. H. M. Abbott—on “historical background” in fiction (“There are 700 possible separate characters available amongst the convicts of the first fleet.” May he be spared to use the five of them that he has not used already!); Edyth Bavin, wife of the N.S.W. Premier—on “writing for children,” which she herself does charmingly; W. E. FitzHenry, who has grown up in The Bulletin office and knows as much about marketing paper with words on it as the next man, and his brother. A guiding foreword by S. H. Prior, editor of The Bulletin, and seven articles by Mr. Dillon covering pretty well the whole field of freelancing complete the bill of contents.

The Capricornian (Thu 5 Dec 1929): 12a: BOOKS RECEIVED (here)

S. A. Rosa, The Labor Daily (Sat 7 Dec 1929): 9g. LITERARY JOTTINGS (here)

The Advertiser (Sat 8 Feb 1930): 14f "LITERARY BEGINNERS" (here)

The West Australian (5 Jul 1930): 5d (here)

(By J.P.)

A small booklet with the above title came recently before my notice, and I found it interesting to read because of the elementary hints and tips it contains for those who practice free-lance journalism in Australia. That it is written for Australians is its chief virtue. This booklet, largely the work of Mr. Gerald Dillon, but containing some brief contributions by other well-known journalists and authors, fills a want that, I imagine, many writers in Australia have felt: it sets down some guidance that should explain to the disappointed just why and how editors 'regret' when they return manuscripts. For instance: 'What the editor wants is the sort of matter he publishes' … 'Get a typewriter' … 'Never fold your manuscript more than once' … 'Enclose a stamped addressed envelope for return' … 'Never use single spacing in typing' … 'Never send a covering letter with a manuscript'—these are the first essentials to the equipment of the freelance; indeed, I think they are guides that will take him over half his journey to acceptance of his manuscript.
  The book discusses the usual methods of writing newspaper articles, short stories, serials, verse, juvenile matter and paragraphs—the last subject to some purpose, which is perhaps not unnatural in a laud where paragraph writing has become a habit rather than a practice. These discussions are slight, and the symposium to which various well-known writers have contributed is notable for its general evasion of the book's requirements. Katharine Susannah Prichard has 'nothing very much to say as to 'why the editor regrets,' except that he doesn't when he says so.' The truth is that editors often do regret: and the editor of 'Aussie' has here something to say about why they regret. Hugh MacRae says. 'I cannot see how any freelance journalist could benefit by anything I might have to say.' J. H. M. Abbott dismisses 'The Historical Back ground,' of the short story, in two paragraphs, and Edyth Bavin 'Writing for Children' in two shorter paragraphs. Perhaps the soundest and most useful article is that by the Editor of 'The Australian Woman's Mirror' on 'The Woman Free Lance.' and it is a pity that the other contributors had not approached their task with the same seriousness and desire to help, when a thorough-going handbook for the local freelance might have been the result.
  This booklet should, though, be useful to the beginner, who will soon find that his experience does not tally with Mr. Dillon's in several matters. It is said that there is practically no market in Australia for articles of the discursive essayist type: and 'The local market for short stories is practically unlimited.' With good essays on almost all subjects appearing regularly in our leading papers. I wonder what shade of meaning Mr. Dillon in tends for his word 'discursive.' As for the short story market, this is decidedly limited, because it is over-supplied, and this for the reason that short-story writing ' is the one branch of literature in which, more than in any other with the possible exception of verse, local writers have squandered their energies.

* * * * *

Four final notes: [1] In a recent essay by Martin Griffiths ("Katherine Mansfield’s Australia," Tinakori: Critical Journal of the Katherine Mansfield Society Issue 4 (Summer 2020): 60–70) Dillon is mistakenly described thusly (ibid. 63) "New-Zealand-born commentator Gerald Dillon." [2] it is nice to see a Frances Zabel review of Dillon's book. For my post on Mrs Zabel, see here. [3] I was delighted to find that Dillon wrote an article on "A Perfect Library," which I will post soon. [4] "Verona" near "Astoria" in Waruda St., Kirribilli was a boarding house (according to Anne Watson, The Art of Roland Wakelin (1975), 2.22), but a "superior" one, according to a 1930 advertisement (offering "Superior Single Rooms, fireplace, balcony, glorious views, from 15/.").

Sunday 22 August 2021

Works Falsely Attributed to Eliza Haywood

Below are links to original editions online of works falsely attributed to Eliza Haywood. These Haywood attributions are ones that I believe to be—and have previously explained at length why I believe them to be—false attributions (explanations I might add here at a later date).

In my Bibliography of Eliza Haywood (2004) I listed these items in section "Ca. REJECTED ATTRIBUTIONS"—explaining why the arguments that have been proposed for including them in the Haywood canon are suspect (a few are plausible, but unproven; many were made by accident; others are simply ridiculous or idiotic).

I have added this post to my blog for much the same reason as I added posts that include links to genuine works by Haywood (here) and William Hatchett (here): it is actually convenient for me—and I hope for others—to have these links all in one place.

All author attributions below are tentative or conventional, and are included only to help readers find more information about each title. (My interest being not so much in who wrote these works, but whether there is compelling evidence that Haywood wrote them.)

Item numbers are from my Bibliography (2004).

In the case of two false attributions made since 2004, new item numbers have been created in the appropriate alphabetical position, in the form Ca.19A for The Lady’s Drawing Room and Ca.32A Nunnery Tales, written by a Young Nobleman.

In the case of popular works, such as Ca.1 Penelope Aubin's The Adventures of the Prince of Clermont, I only listed the first edition of the work in my Bibliography, and so there is no "Spedding-number" for the later editions linked below. Rather than attemption to create a consistent series of new numbers, I simply use a lower-case "x" (in the form Ca.1.x) for all such editions.

For now, links are only to copies on Google Books, but I will add links to copies on The Internet Archive, etc. as I find them.

* * * * *

Ca.1.x [Penelope Aubin], The Adventures of the Prince of Clermont, 2nd ed. (1728) [British Library copy here]

Ca.2.3 The Busy-Body; or, The Adventures of Monieur Bigand, vol. 1 (Dublin, 1768) [University of California copy here]
Ca.2.3 The Busy-Body; or, The Adventures of Monieur Bigand, vol. 2 (Dublin, 1768) [University of California copy here]

Ca.7.3 A Present for Women Addicted to Drinking (1750) [British Library copy here]

Ca.10 The Fair Concubine, 2nd ed. (1732) [British Library copy here]
Ca.10 The Fair Concubine, 4th ed. (1732) [British Library copy here]
Ca.10 The Fair Concubine, 4th ed. (1732) [University of Michigan copy here]

Ca.15 [Bonnell Thornton, ed.], Have at You All: or, The Drury-Lane Journal (1752) [Oxford University Library copy here]

Ca.17 [Sarah Robinson Scott], The History of Cornelia (1750). [British Library copy here]

Ca.18.2a [William Bond], The History of the Life and Adventures of Mr. Duncan Campbell, 2nd ed. corrected (1720) [Oxford University Library copy here; University of Michigan copy here]
Ca.18.2c The Supernatural Philosopher: Or, The Mysteries of Magick [i.e. The History of the Life and Adventures of Mr. Duncan Campbell, 2nd ed. corrected] (1728) [New York Public Library copy here]
Ca.18.3 The Supernatural Philosopher [i.e. The History of the Life and Adventures of Mr. Duncan Campbell] trs. as Der übernatürliche Philosoph (Berlin, 1742) [University of Lausanne copy here]

Ca.19A.1b The Lady’s Drawing Room, 2nd ed. (1748). [British Library copy here]

Ca.22 Leonora: Or, Characters Drawn from Real Life (1745), vol. 1 [Oxford University Library copy here]

Ca.23 Letters from Sophia to Mira (1763) [British Library copy here]

Ca.24 [John Shebbeare], Letters on the English Nation (1755) [University of Michigan copy here]

Ca.26.x [Edward (‘Ned’) Ward], The London-Spy Compleat (1718) [British Library copy here]

Ca.28.3 [John Shebbeare], Lydia, or Filial Piety, vol. 1 (Dublin, 1763) [University of Michigan copy here]
Ca.28.3 [John Shebbeare], Lydia, or Filial Piety, vol. 3 (Dublin, 1763) [University of Michigan copy here]

Ca.29.1 [John Shebbeare], The Marriage Act. A Novel, vol. 2 (1754). [Ohio State University copy here]

Ca.30.1c Memoirs of The Court of Lilliput (Dublin, 1727) [British Library copy here]

Ca.32.2 [Dr. John Hill], [Translation: French] Caractères Modernes tirés des divers états de la vie civile, vol. 1 (Londres, 1770). [Austrian National Library copy here]
Ca.32.2 [Dr. John Hill], [Translation: French] Caractères Modernes tirés des divers états de la vie civile, vol. 2 (Londres, 1770). [Austrian National Library copy here; Bavarian State Library copy here]

Ca.32A Nunnery Tales, written by a Young Nobleman (1727) [British Library copy here]

Ca.35.1 [Joseph Mitchell], Poems on Several Occasions, vol. 1 (1729) [National Library of the Netherlands copy here]

Ca.38.3 [Samuel Croxall, ed.], A Select Collection of Novels and Histories. In Six Volumes, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (1729) [New York Public Library copy here]
Ca.38.3 [Samuel Croxall, ed.], A Select Collection of Novels and Histories. In Six Volumes, 2nd ed., vol. 3 (1729) [New York Public Library copy here]

Ca.40.2 Some Memiors of the Amours and Intrigues of a Certain Irish Dean [Part 1], 3rd ed. (1730) [Oxford University Library copy here]

Ca.41 The Spring-garden journal, by Miss Priscilla Termagant (1752). [Oxford University copy here] NEW

Ca.44.1 A Treatise on the Dismal Effects of Low-Spiritedness (ca. 1751). [British Library copy here]

Ca.45.1 Vanelia (1732). [British Library copy here]

[Updated 26 March 2022]

Monday 16 August 2021

Eliza Haywood in Sydney, 1934

On the weekend I made an astonishing discovery: I am not the first person in Australia to have an interest in Eliza Haywood. Amazing, I know; check it out:

Below I have transcribed the article I discovered: Gerald Dillon, “'The Female Spectator': Mrs. Eliza Heywood's Periodical” Australian Woman’s Mirror, vol.10, no.15 (6 March 1934): 8, 59 (here). The illustrations—seeming prepared for this essay—are signed "CON" (elsewhere in the Mirror the name is expanded to "R. W. CON"—but I am still not able to identify them).

From the spelling of Haywood's name (Heywood, rather than Haywood) it is fairly clear that the source of Dillon's text was The Female Spectator. Being selections from Mrs. Eliza Heywood's periodical (1744-1746). ed. Mary Priestley, illustrated by Constance Rowlands (London: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1929), but his selection of anecdotes also makes this likely, since he does not mention anything that is not in the Priestley edition.

However, the reason that I suspected that Dillon's text was the Priestley edition is that there were very few eighteenth century copies of Haywood's Female Spectator in Australia in 1934 (other than my own copies, there are still only three). In 1934 the only complete, eighteenth century copy was almost certainly that in the University of Melbourne library. Monash acquired their copy at some point after the university was founded in 1958; while the only copy in Sydney—an odd-volume of the 5th edition—first appears on "NUCOM 2" (the "Second Cumulative supplement" of Australia's "National Union Catalogue of Monographs," 1977)—not NUCOM 1 (1976)—so it was probably acquired in the 1970s.

Not only were there no eighteenth century copies of Haywood's Female Spectator in Sydney in 1934, there appear to have been no copies of the Priestley edition in any institutional library either: and there still are none! It seems likely that Dillon was relying on his own copy, so—from my point of view—he had an excellent libary.

I am not sure whether Dillon realised just how pitiful a cultural backwater Sydney is and was, but I am sure he felt that he was doing his bit to both entertain and improve his readers with the series of roughly fifty bookish essays he wrote for Bert F. Hoy, editor of the Australian Woman’s Mirror, many about women or women writers such as Joanna Southcott, Ouida, Angella Burdett, Sidney Webb and Katherine Mansfield (probably his most famous essay).

I have not been able to find out as much about Dillon as I would like, but what I have found I will put into a separate post about him soon. [That post has now been completed; see here] Until then, here is his take on Eliza Haywood.

* * * * *

“The Female Spectator”


THE FEMALE SPECTATOR was the first periodical to be produced by a woman, and may therefore be regarded as the inspiration from which are derived the whole regiment of women’s papers to-day.
  Mrs. Eliza Heywood was founder and first and last editor. She was also its entire staff. The paper came out as a monthly in 1744 and enjoyed an existence of two short years. It was one of the many imitations of the type of journalism produced by Steele and Addison in THE SPECTATOR, but Mrs. Heywood’s periodical was written of course from and for the feminine viewpoint.
  Mrs. Heywood was what might be called a woman of the world. Her husband left no footprints on the sands of time. Of him it is known only that he deserted his wife, who was then left to shift both for herself and her two children.
  She went on the stage for a brief period, but subsequently became a “writing woman.” She produced some enthusiastic novels, re-wrote some plays, mothered a few pamphlets, and was a publisher for a span. She was born about 1693 and died in 1756.
  Rumor has it that Mrs. Heywood was what the period called “a flighty woman,” if she was not actually “fast”—though there is nothing at all in the tone and temper of her paper even to hint at that; nor is there anything in THE FEMALE SPECTATOR bearing even a slight resemblance to woman’s journalism as we know it to-day.
  The paper printed no serial. It never boasted of a “bright” article. There was nothing of “interest” about Lady Thingumitite or the Queen’s pet cat. No household hints. No medical advice.
  There were stories (of sorts) and some feeble murmurings about Nature study and natural philosophy.
  Mrs. Heywood, however, knew the value and importance of sexual themes in relation to light reading. The stories all had a moral—the moral being “’tis better to look before you leap” in the matter of love, and the stories all carried dreadful emphasis on the terrible ubiquity of the ensnaring male.
  I have said that THE FEMALE SPECTATOR was composed of a staff of one. In the first number we are introduced to two assistants, Mira and Euphrosine, but I think this trinity was a piece of camouflage on the part of Mrs. Heywood, and that in reality their existence was due to an editorial compromise with truth.
  Mrs. Heywood was a believer evidently in the type of male which Hollywood has now perfected.
  We notice one article on “Peace, a Promoter of Finikins,” in which attention is drawn to the prevalence of somewhat effeminate men. Indeed, Mrs. Heywood goes so far as to publish a page from the account book of a bankrupt beauty specialist showing an amount of £38/9/6 due to her from “a gentleman now in the army.”
  This gentleman had been supplied with a variety of “beautifying” things, including lip-salve, carmine, powder, jessamin butter for the hair, cold cream, perfumed mouth water, a toothbrush, and a riding mask to prevent sunburn!
  Mrs. Heywood hoped that “frequent campaigns” would wear this effeminacy off.
  As a specimen of short story we have “Amaranthus, his Passion for Aminta.”
  The gentleman with the long name was of course an army officer. He was ordered to Germany. He took leave of Aminta with vows of eternal remembrance, but in spite of the fact that he vowed also to marry Aminta on his return he did not do so. In fact, he forgot all about her at the earliest possible moment.
  When he came back (after a severe battle in which he was wounded) he explained to Aminta that he was “convinced a tender intercourse with the ladies took up too much of a soldier’s mind” … and he preferred to be a good soldier. So Aminta retired to “a lone county house” and lived in single unhappiness for the rest of her life.
  Then there is the story of “Erminia, How Ruined,” who went to a masquerade (a masked ball). She also ended in a lone country house.
  These stories are only a part of the monthly features. The paper evidently had some out side contributors, and of the sterner sex, too. In April, 1745, we notice “Philo-Naturae,” who lived apparently in the Inner Temple, contributing a long letter of the “museum” type, covering such matter as “Worms, Somewhat Wonderful,” and “Butterflies, How Engendered.”
  In one article Mrs. Heywood discourses on “flying machines” and “the impossibility of their use.” She says:
  I have indeed heard some people foolish enough to maintain that there would come a time in which the ingenuity of man will invent machines to carry him through the air with the same ease as we now cross the seas; which, they cry, seemed doubtless as impracticable at first as this does at present. … Mrs. Heywood, however, knew better. She says God taught Noah how to build the Ark, and if God had wished man to fly He would obviously have shown him how.
  Though the “bodyline” controversy was then in the womb of time Mrs. Heywood was apparently an appreciator of the value of sport for the sake of sport. She says: “To hurl the tennis ball or play a match at cricket are certainly robust and manly exercises” … and deplores the introduction of monetary considerations into these activities. Evidently cricket and tennis in 1745 were—as now—not what they were!
  Eliza was the original Dorothy Dix. In November, 1745, “Bellamonte” writes to her for guidance in the choice between three suitors.
  A is tall, graceful, of honorable family and “well fixed”; has no vice, but is evidently not an ardent lover. When he should be telling her that he can’t live without her he is talking about Admiral Balchen, and the loss he was to the nation.
  B is a lover; in fact he is more like a pet poodle from the description. He is well off, too, but too agreeable, too accommodating, too slave-like.
  C is gay, witty, genteel, handsome and addresses to a charm.” Good voice, musical, and generally is a sort of pocket encyclopedia—but not so well off. “Bellamonte” suspects that C is a bit “too full of himself.” What should she do?
  The answer is rather involved, but it amounts to this: Take A; his serious turn of mind will probably make him a death-do-us-part husband.
  I do not know how the ladies regarded THE FEMALE SPECTATOR—perhaps as rather a naughty journal to be hidden from Mamma—but I am sure that to a great many who led sheltered lives it was a window on the world.
  That world was full of exciting possibilities, a world in which youth, at least occasionally, had its fling. A world that is no better than it ought to be, because it was peopled apparently by vigilant parents of highly respectable daughters who matched their united wits against a host of bold seducers, and in the resulting contests there was both give and take…

[UPDATED 29 August 2021]

Saturday 31 July 2021

What A Library Should Be Like, 1924

Richard Le Gallienne's “What A Library Should Be Like: Some Suggestions For Those To Whom Books and Their Heritage Are Precious” appeared in House and Garden in December 1924 (here). Le Gallienne (1866–1947) was a prolific author and poet, contributor to The Yellow Book, and one-time lover of Oscar Wilde, who married three times, living in the US before settling in Menton (near Nice), France.

It appears that Le Gallienne had a very nice library later in life. According to Wikipedia:

During the Second World War he was prevented from returning to his Menton home and lived in Monaco for the rest of the war. His house in Menton was occupied by German troops and his library was nearly sent back to Germany as bounty. Le Gallienne appealed to a German officer in Monaco, who allowed him to return to Menton to collect his books.

Although this bibliophic advice was written by a practice-what-you-preach aesthete, it seems not to have been reprinted in almost a century, and so I have transcribed it below. The full reference is: Richard Le Gallienne, “What A Library Should Be Like,” House and Garden, vol. 46 (December 1924): 58, 110, 112.

* * * * *


Some Suggestions For Those To Whom Books and Their Heritage Are Precious

JUST as there are gardens without souls, the loveless offspring of seedsmen's catalogs and newly acquired bank accounts, so is it with libraries. Neither have any more vital relation to their owners than an ice box, as little reflect their tastes, and are almost as seldom their personal concern.
  In English country houses the word library is often merely a euphemism for a combination of gunroom and smoking room. Guns, fishing rods, and pipe racks, with a copy of the Sporting Calendar, and a few old magazines, comprise its literature. We have all met such "libraries" in novels, and have wondered how the name chanced to be given to rooms where anything is to be found except a book or a reader.
  But there are libraries which do contain books in many and expensive "sets" that, in spite of them, still more drearily belie the description. These are even less often visited by friendly humanity, and their serried rows of uniform, morocco-bound volumes, frigidly enclosed behind glass doors, gleam lonely and uninviting as cabinets of minerals in a museum. Such libraries, we have been told, are bought by the yard like wall papers, irrespective of their literary contents, and have even less character than the other furnishings of the house, of which they form a regulation part. Obviously, these are not the libraries with which we have here to do.
  By a library we mean, of course, a cherished collection of books, and the room in which those books are sympathetically housed, a room that has taken on an unmistakable bookish character from their presence.

OUR library may be in the house or outside it, in a garden or in a woodland, by a stream among the rocks. It may be high up in a city garret, or it may be the warm heart of a palace. If one has a garden, there is no happier place for our library. "A library in a garden!" exclaims Mr. Edmund Gosse in one of his essays, "The phrase seems to contain the whole felicity of man!"
  The association of trees and books is, indeed, as old as the very derivations of the words "book" and "library," which are almost identical. Is not the word "book" derived from the Anglo-Saxon and German words for the beech tree (boce and buche) because the ancient Saxons and Germans did their first writing on beechen boards! And similarly the Latin word "liber" meant the inner bark of a tree used for writing on, before it meant "book," and gave us "library." When we reflect that the paper on which our books are printed is made from wood pulp, it will be seen that we arc still, in a sense, writing on the bark of trees, and the thought is worth playing with for a fanciful moment. The leaves of our books and the leaves on our garden trees should, therefore, feel at home together, being both made of the same mysterious substance, and when we bring our books into the garden it is but bringing them back to their green birthplace. And anyone who has built a library in a garden knows how at home indeed they are there. How the peace of both embrace and supplement each other, and, as we sit with our library door open on quiet summer afternoons, or on early mornings with the delicate sunlight playing tenderly like visible music on the nut-brown bindings, "while to and fro the room go the soft airs," the very stillness rarifies our minds, and the thoughts behind the words we read seem to steal out of themselves from the page, with the dews of their first utterance yet bright upon them. The low whisperings of the trees and the quiet talk of the books seem one, in a rare equilibrium of the soul. Yes! Mr. Gosse was right. A library in a garden! The phrase does contain the whole felicity of man!

YET it does not exhaust it. There are many other modes of felicity for a man who really loves his books whose library is the organic growth of years of collecting together those books and those only which sensitively express himself, and surround him like his own soul, his memories and his dreams, externalised in a companionable embodiment. Such a book lover will often indulge himself in imagining the many various libraries he might create for himself, like so many bookish castles in Spain. Sometimes he may dream of the libraries of great book lovers of the past. For example, if he is an omnivorous bibliomaniac, and never can have enough books about him, he may recall with envy the huge collection of Richard Heber, that "fiercest and strongest of all the bibliomaniacs," to whom Sir Walter Scott dedicated the sixth canto of Marmion. Heber is credited with owning at least 150,000 volumes, and for those as crazy as he the romantic thing about his "library" was that it was not all in one place. Eight houses were needed to hold it, all in different places, some in England, and some in ancient cities of Europe. Never was such a book glutton, a "hellus librorum." But think of the romantic adventure of pilgrimaging from one of his eight libraries to the other, the perpetual novelty of visiting and re-visiting his various Castles in Spain.

  However, I doubt whether the reader is with me in this rhapsody. Probably his dream of a library is something more sensible and static, and I dare say Montaigne's library in his old Gascon tower would be more to his taste. Indeed, who has not dreamed of that, and, well as it is known to us, it will be pertinent, and indeed practical, to quote something of his description: "'Tis in the third Story of a Tower of which the Ground-Room is my Chapel, the second Story an Apartment with a withdrawing Room and Closet, where I often lie to be more retired. Above it is a great Wardrobe, which formerly was the most useless part of the House. In that library I pass away most of the Days of my Life, and most of the Hours of the Day. In the Night I am never there. There is within it a Cabinet handsome and neat enough, with a very convenient Fire-place for the Winter, and Windows that afford a great deal of light, and very pleasant Prospects. … The Figure of my Study is round, and has no more flat Wall than what is taken up by my Table and Chairs; so that the remaining parts of the Circle present me a View of all my Books at once, set upon five Degrees of Shelves-round about me. It has three noble and free Prospects, and is sixteen Paces Diameter." Montaigne continues that only from fear of that "Trouble that frights me from all [page 111] Business," he had refrained from building on either side, "a Gallery of an hundred Paces long and twelve broad," because "every Place of Retirement requires a Walk." If we add those galleries for him in our imagination, can one conceive a library more after one's own heart! Here once more in another form is Mr. Gosse's "whole felicity of man." Perhaps some reader of this essay may have the whim—and the money—to reconstruct this old library in Montaigne's tower, not forgetting to complete it with the galleries.
  Wherever our library be situated, in a garden, in an ancestral tower, in some quaint old town with gables and belfries, or in a modern American city, the first condition of its being a real library, with the true library atmosphere, where the books can really breathe and live for us, instead of being merely stored, is that the room should not be stiff and formal. It should not be a square room, or a room we can see all at once. The one defect, to my mind, in Montaigne's library, though he himself esteemed it an advantage, was that he could see all his books at once.

  In this respect a library should be like a garden. The garden we can see all at once is not a garden but merely an horticultural exhibit. It has no surprises. And a library, similarly, should have room for surprises. It should be rambling in shape, or made to appear so. The [page 112] letter T, or better still, the letter I, with broad top and bottom, is a good ground plan. It should have two stone fireplaces, so disposed that one can only be seen at a time, roomy and hospitable, with deep angles, and there should be many alcoves, and nooks and corners, some with low windows and wide window seats. It should either be a room with low ceilings, and massive rafters of black oak, or it should be high, with galleries and winding stairways, and hidden some where in the galleries again should be other nooks, some with windows of richly dyed cathedral glass. One or two tiny rooms, with old tapestries for portieres, might be devised, suggesting secrecy and arcane mysteries; and everything, indeed, should be done to tempt the presiding genius of libraries, the nymph Quits, to make her abode there. Here and there should be bowls of roses, early violets, or drowsy wallflowers, and in some secluded corner the still statue of a goddess should come upon us with a white surprise. An old painting or two of some great dead scholar should be enshrined in hushed recesses, Erasmus, say, or Robert Burton of "The Anatomy of Melancholy"; and whatever other such objects of the sister arts are there should be un exciting, but with a quiet thrill in them, full of "whispers and of shadows."

  As for the bookshelves, they should be open, none of your forbidding glass doors, with locks and keys, behind which the books seem cold and distant as the coffined dead. Yet here and there an old Chippendale bookcase for rarities and delicate bindings, might blend its old world elegance and quaint lozenged panes, companionably among the open shelves. As for bindings, the old books will, of course, wear their old weathered coats of ribbed time-brown leather, or time-yellowed vellum. On these the morning sun and the evening lamplight fall most lovingly; and modern books, too, are best left in their original cloth which also soon take on a certain mellowness, as their different colors add variety to the whole informal, haphazard harmony. Nor should any uniformity in the heights of the volumes be aimed at. Nothing is so monotonous and un-suggestive to the eye, and so destructive of that gregariousness of all sorts and conditions of writers that counts for so much in the companionability of a library. "Sets" we must have, but these can be so disposed amid the general pattern as to give it firmness, without destroying its wayward charm.
  There is no need to speak of wall papers, for no wall space will be visible, as the library will be furnished from ceiling to floor with the most satisfactory mural decorations yet invented, namely—books; and, as to general furniture, such as tables and chairs, all that need be said is that they should be solid, simple, comfortable, and distinguished, Elizabethan and Jacobean, for preference, breathing austerity and reverie. And there should be Renaissance cabinet and writing desks with secret drawers. Which reminds me that one of those tiny hidden rooms above referred to should be accessible only by a sliding panel, the spring of which should be known only to the master of the library. And the library, too, should be provided with what one might call a postern, masked by shelves opening inward at a touch, and communicating with a private staircase, by which the master could escape intrusion at a moment's notice; for in a sense a library should be a fortress, a fortress of the soul, ready to repel attack by all enemies of quietude and dreams.
  For the essence of a library is solitude—solitude in the society of the choicest spirits of Time and Eternity. No idle creatures of a day should have entrance there.


[UPDATED 9 August 2021]

Sunday 18 July 2021

Chapbook Illustration and the History of Dr. Faustus

Thanks to Giles Bergel et al., bibliographers of the (very) long eighteenth-century have a valuable new widget for image-matching woodblocks. The widget was developed by Bergel et al. to search of woodblock illustrations in Scottish chapbooks held in the National Library of Scotland.

Importantly, said widget—"NLS Chapbooks"—has an external search function, allowing you to "Search using your own image" (see here) in much the same way you can conduct image searches using Google Images (here) etc.

As I have said recently (here), that the lack of a "Search using your own image" function, is the largest (remaining) limit on the utility of Hazel Wilkinson's otherwise outstanding "Compositor" (aka Fleuron 2.0).

Knowing this—and my interest in this subject generally—David Levy kindly sent me the details of the "NLS Chapbooks" search engine and a link to a very informative video of Bergel's NLS talk "Exploring Chapbooks Printed in Scotland with Machine Vision" (here).

* * * * *

Conveniently, I had the perfect candidate to test the "NLS Chapbooks" search function: the image above that appears on a chapbook History of Dr. Faustus, which I blogged about in 2010 (here). The result of my search was extremely gratifying. As you can see, it matched the image to seven items (listed below)—one of them from my copy of the History of Dr. Faustus—before the algorithm failed.

Something that should be immediately obvious, even in the small images above, is that the block has been intentionally altered—or "diminished" as Bergel explains in his talk (starting at 35.00). A halberd, a late eighteenth century version of the pole-axe-spear-weapon, is present in five of the seven images, but is missing from the two issues of the History of Dr. Faustus.

A closer examination of the seven images reveals two much more subtle changes: a very small chip in the hat (which seems to be some sort of French military bicorn hat), that becomes progressively less small, and a very small crack adjacent to that chip, which becomes progressively larger.

Above, we see the four distinct states or forms of this block represented by the NLS images, with the changes mentioned: [1] undamaged; and [2] tiny chip to hat (1st image below); [3] small chip and second tiny crack; and [4] large chip and small crack (2nd image below). The last of these corresponds with the block's de-halberdising.

Looking just at the just the top of the hat, this progression is a bit clearer—despite the pixilation at the magnification necessary.

* * * * *

The pixilation is a clear indication of the path to further progress. The excellent work by Bergel and his team may not be reproducible by Wilkinson (using images from ECCO), because the images she is working with are at a lower resolution that the NLS images. (NLS Chapbooks download at approximately 350dpi, ECCO images at 72dpi.)

Like decent OCR, matching user-supplied images requires more detailed images to reduce the number of false positives. This suggests the utility of ECCO upgrading at least a proportion of their scans with fresh photography, to improve OCR (which they now supply) as well as this sort of image-searching functionality.

But even when working with better images, such as those in the NLS Chapbooks series, resolution sets limits in identifying the sort of progressive damage to blocks seen above. This, in turn, suggests that the optimal image resolution is probably 600dpi—which has long been the digital archive standard.

* * * * *

One final point to make about the items listed below, with NLS cataloguing links, is that the suggested date of publication for these items at NLS will have to be re-considered. Judging from the ornament damage, the earliest item (Three Scotch songs) cannot be "1850–1860?" if the History of Dr. Faustus is "1840–1850?" etc.

Also, if the History of Dr. Faustus is the final form of this block, then it should also be clear that the person depicted in this block is neither Faustus not Mephistopheles—nor anyone else from the History of Dr. Faustus for that matter. As Edward J. Cowan and Mike Paterson explain:

"It was often felt necessary to ornament the front cover with a picture , and a woodcut usually served this purpose—even if it had been used several times before, was fairly crudely executed and made only an indirect allusion (if any at all) to the content." (Folk in Print: Scotland's Chapbook Heritage, 1750-1850 (2007), 13).

* * * * *

State 1: spear; no chip
Three Scotch songs: Donald Caird. Bundle and go. The Haughs of Crumdel (Glasgow: Printed for the booksellers, [1850–1860?]) [L.C.2845(30)] NLA catalogue entry.

State 2: spear; tiny chip
John Falkirk's cariches: to which is added Tam Merrilees; a capital story (Glasgow: Printed for the booksellers, [1840-1850?]), E [L.C.2852.C(10)] ¶ issue with number NLA catalogue entry; E [L.C.2848(1)]. ¶ issue without number NLA catalogue entry.

State 3: spear; small chip, 2nd tiny chip
Four popular songs: viz. Glasgow fair; Oh what a parish. A beauty I did grow; and The adventures of a shilling (Glasgow: Printed for the booksellers, [1850–1860?]), E [L.C.2845(32)] NLA catalogue entry.

The Haughs of Crumdel: to which is added, It fell upon the Martinmas time. Wilt thou go my bonny lassie? (Glasgow: Printed for the booksellers, [1850–1860?]), E [L.C.2845(5)] NLA catalogue entry.

State 4: no spear; large chip, 2nd small chip
History of Dr. Faustus: shewing his wicked life and horrid death, and how he sold himself to the devil, to have power for 24 years, to do what he pleased, also many strange things done by him with the assistance of Mephostophiles. With an account how the devil came for him at the end of 24 years, and tore him to pieces (Glasgow: Printed for the booksellers, [1840–1850?]), [L.C.2852.E(24)] NLA catalogue entry; L.C.2847(6)] ¶ issue without number NLA catalogue entry.

[UPDATED 2021.07.19]

Saturday 29 May 2021

Gossip in a Library, redux

The last time I mentioned Edmund Gosse and his puningly-titled essay collection, Gossip in a Library (1891; see here), I was rather hard on both the writer and his essay ("What Ann Lang Read").

Since I wrote that post in 2012, I have given four lectures on Gosse and his essay collection, in a variety of teaching units at Monash, and have continued to be equally hard on both.

In light of this, it may seem a little odd that I would spend a reasonable sum of money to buy the volume illustrated in this post, which is a signed, limited edition of Gossip in a Library containing a photogravure of Gosse.

Given that this limited edition was published a year later than the first edition, a copy of which I already have, I was clearly not motivated by any high-minded bibliographical or collecting principle: this is in no way better than a first edition. Quite the opposite, in fact.

However, the 1892, limited-to-one-hundred-copies, signed-by-the-author, deckled-edged, large-paper edition, has—as I mentioned—a photogravure of Gosse, and this sort of artwork is just the thing I need want for my book on Haywood's readers.

Looking online, I can only find one site which uses this 1892 photogravure. Not only is their reproduction (here) watermarked with text, it is also rather small: I will do better!

My only other justification for buying this kind-of duplicate is that it contains a two-page supplement of reviews ("Opinions of the Press"), which is not present in the 1891 edition of Gossip in a Library on Google Books (see here), and which will also be rather useful for my chapter of Gosse.

Sunday 23 May 2021

Marginal Notes, Now Published

Marginal Notes: Social Reading and the Literal Margins, edited by Patrick Spedding, Paul Tankard and Mia Goodwin (London: Palgrave, 2021)—the latest volume in the New Directions in Book History series—was issued on 29 March 2021. However, as far as I am concerned it was only really published yesterday, when I got to sit down on a quiet and relaxed Saturday morning, with a fresh coffee, and with the book in hand, like this:

The book, which is extremely satisfying to handle, is the final product of a conference collaboration that I first discussed with Paul Tankard in late 2015. The cover is also illustrated with the same image that graced the poster for our original conference (of the same name, and from which the book sprung) in September 2016 (announced on this blog, here).

I am inordinately proud of the cover image, since it contains a rebus—made slightly more obvious, I hope, by the positioning of image and title on the cover. As you can see in the original photo above, the annotator of my copy of Samuel Croxall's Fables of Aesop, not only glossed difficult words and phrases in the text, but also illustrated the silver tankard that is a central feature of this tale (which the thief is seeking at the bottom of the well). Not only is Paul's surname thus illustrated by way of annotation and rebus on the cover, mine is kind-of implied too: the "arch dissembler" being in the process of running or speeding (!) away. (Yes, this is lame, but it is a little less lame to me since, if I do not spell out my name, letter by letter, it is unfailingly recorded as "Speeding"!)

Moving on … of course, once I had a calm, reflective browse of the contents of our collection—I found one alarming error after another. And so I stopped, picked up my pencil, and annotated my copy with the corrections illustrated below. If you happen to read the book, or any of the essays in this collection, and find any more errors, please don't tell me. Rather, do as I have done, and as readers have long done, correct your copy too.

Saturday 1 May 2021

Oracles and the renaissance

Recently, my scholar-cousin found a roll of film in a canister marked: "Spedding. Berlin." Since he and I thought this might be 24 long-lost happy-snaps from a trip to Berlin, I asked him to send the film to me unopened, and asap.

As it happens, I should have asked him to look at it more closely first because, not only was it not a long-lost film of happy-snaps, the film was not from Berlin. Instead, it was a microfilm I had ordered for him from the British Library back in 1995, when I was in London.

It seems that, at that time, he needed to chase up a reference to an obscure Latin work, which contained a list of -mancy words. Johann Albert Fabricius, Bibliographia antiqvaria, sive introdvctio in notitiam scriptorvm qvi antiqvitates hebraicas, graecas, romanas et christianas scriptis illvstrarvnt (1713), CAPUT XII, §2. "De divinationibus, Vatibus, miraculis, Magia, juramentis et votis, scriptores." [oracles, soothsayers, magic, oaths and vows, writing].

Although there was a copy of this book in Australia, that copy was at the University of Melbourne, one thousand kilometers away from Sydney (where he lived at the time). Also, the University of Melbourne was not set up for copying as easily or cheaply as the British Library—where I was busy at work on my Haywood bibliography.

So, rather than him taking a long road-trip to check the reference, or pay a small fortune for photographs to be taken of each page, I paid £3.53 for a duplicate microfilm at the British Library. When the microfilm arrived, I obviously rationalised the many microfilms I had accumulated for my research, and sent him his film in a spare canister.

So, mystery solved. But it struck me that this vignette of antipodean scholarly industry was worth relating, if only to compare it to the ease with which we can chase up a reference to an obscure** Latin work today. Totally unsurprisingly, this obscure Latin work has been freely available online since 2017 via Google Books.

And, because [1] it is freely available online, and [2] there is little demand for obscure Latin scholarship, you can buy an even earlier edition than held anywhere in Australia for USD75.00. I am not sure what this 1708 edition (below) might have been priced at in 1995, but my guess is between five and ten times as much as it is now.

Of course, [1] is directly related to [2]: there are now almost no libraries seeking to establish a collection of such scholarly depth that they are filling Rare Books collections with obscure Latin scholarship, in the way that the University of Melbourne once did.

When the classical heritage of the West was returned to us via the East, it prompted a renaissance—two of them actually: one in the Twelfth century and one two or three centuries later, which we call either the Renaissance or the Italian Renaissance.

It seems to me that the boggling scholarly riches readily available to us in the twenty-first century should be prompting a third renaissance in the Humanities. The time that scholars previously wasted in overcoming the tyranny of distance (via travel and cumbersome copying) can now be spent in pushing forward research: much further and faster than was possible in the twentieth century.

Perhaps this third renaissance is underway. If so, evidence for a twenty-first century renaissance is no easier to find than Fabricius's Bibliographia antiqvaria was in 1995.

**Although Wikipedia tells us that Fabricius was a celebrated bibliographer and collector of manuscripts, who is credited with compiling 128 books, there are very few references to Fabricius' "De divinationibus" online, before or after 1995.

Thursday 22 April 2021

Put a pin in it, bookmarks in the 18C

There are a number of places online where various people have discussed the origin and meaning of the phrase to "put a pin in it." English Language and Usage Stack Exchange has a useful thread on this (here); a lot less useful is the one on Quora (here); the one on Urban Dictionary is as silly as you'd expect (here), and there are lots of similar fun, click-baity sites.

According to Urban Dictionary and The BS Dictionary: Uncovering the Origins and True Meanings of Business Speak (here): "The leading theory for where put a pin in it comes from is World War II, when soldiers were encouraged to put a pin back into an active hand grenade so it wouldn't go off. However, we have no credible sources to back that up."

What I love about this gloss is that the "BS" in the title (The BS Dictionary) is intended to suggest both "B[usiness] S[peak] Dictionary" and "B[ull] S[hit] Dictionary"—implying that "Business Speak" is Bull Shit (hilarious)—and that Bob and Tim's dictionary uncovers "the Origins and True Meanings" of said Business Speak / Bull Shit. In reality, the gloss itself is BS: "The leading theory for where put a pin in it comes from" is not from hand grenades and World War II, this is simply the first answer Bob and Tim discovered in precisely 1.4 seconds of Googling time (which led them to Urban Dictionary). So, rather than being a glossary to Business BS, The BS Dictionary is a Business glossary comprised of BS (also hilarious).

As for "put[ting] a pin in" something, most of the explanations offered for the origin of this term are based on thumb-tacks / drawing pins, which "conjures an image of somebody attaching a flyer or a notice to a cork board," "pin[ning] fabric in position before sewing it" in place or setting up pins in a pattern to create "bobbin lace" and stopping stitches you have finished from coming undone. Other suggestions relate to "pinning together pages of a book" or using "pins to mark edits in [a] manuscript"—something Jane Austen is credited with doing, apparently.

My own suggestion is rather more directly related to the meaning of the phrase, which is to "note carefully" or "bear in mind" (as glossed by Jonathon Green's excellent Dictionary of Slang, here): using a sewing pin as a bookmark.

* * * * *

As you can see in the photos above and below, sewing pins were used as bookmarks in the eighteenth century. In this copy of Ab.16.8a2 La Belle Assemblée, 4th ed. (Dublin, 1740), vol.1, a pin has been inserted between two pages in such a way as not to fall out when the book is opened. That is, the tip of the pin has been pushed into the fold between pages 142 and 143, then downwards parralel with the spine, so that it becomes lodged in the paper, glue and binding, with only a short section of the shaft visible when the book is opened.

By inserting the pin in this way, the reader has marked the opening much more securely than is possible with the sort of loose bookmarks I typically use: a piece of paper or cardboard, that tends to fall out when the book is not kept firmly closed.

I noticed quite a few of these sewing-pin bookmarks, inserted in the same way, when I was physically examining hundreds of eighteenth-century copies of works by Haywood, for my 2004 Bibliography. Unfortunately, I did not make a note of which specific copies contained these pin-bookmarks, but I did examine the pins closely enough to be sure that they were definitely contemporary, hand-made silvered brass or steel sewing pins.

How did I know this? Well, at first I didn't, but seventeenth and eighteenth century pins have a very distinct look since, as is explained here: the pin itself [is] made of brass wire, [and] the heads were made separately of brass wound around the top of the pin." Pin-making machines were invented in the early nineteenth century (as Wikipedia notes [in a rather pathetic entry on pins]). These eighteenth-century pins look quite different from any pin I'd handled before, so I started looking into it.

Since my interest in any eighteenth-century reader records has only increased over the years—any evidence of reading really—it was with great satisfaction that I discovered that a contemporary reader of my copy of La Belle Assemblée had "put a pin in it"—"note carefully" so as to "bear in mind" the text.

Of course, despite it's very sharp point, a pin does not have much precision when marking text in the way we see here; less than a modern printed cardboard bookmark, since printed bookmarks typically have a front and a back, a top and a bottom, allowing you to indicate the top or bottom or a specific page. A pin is also more cumbersome than a pencil or ink pen for marking a passage. Moreover, if you were to attempt to mark a line, paragraph or single page, by threading it into and out of a leaf parallel to the outer margin of the relevant text, the pin would inadvertently mark text on both sides of the leaf, since the pin would be visible on both sides of the leaf—though the side of the leaf with the pin head might be the equivalent of the front of a bookmark.

On the positive side, although a pin-threaded-page may be difficult to find again, requiring the reader to fan through the whole book until the page with the pin it was found, it would be easier to find a pinned page than a page with a line of ink or a pencil mark on it. But if you were to attempt to mark—as some readers do—dozens of passages, you would have difficulty closing a book stuffed with so many pins, and it would be an expensive way of marking the text. Since pins were handmade, they were more expensive that the machine-made pins that followed.

So, why use a pin rather than a pencil or ink pen, if it is more cumbersome, costly and less exact? My guess is that a pin was simply close at hand—very close. I suspect that our pin-wielding memorialist used a pin because she was (singularly or, more likely, in company) engaged in multi-tasking: either alternatively or (to the extent possible) simultaneously engaged in both reading and sewing. Also, one of the first recipes that Eliza Haywood included in her Present for a Servant-Maid (1743) was "How to get Spots of Ink out of Linen" (here)—a reminder that ink and linen were a bad combination, and that handling ink and any material while sewing was a bad idea. It was far easier and safer to use a pin than to risk having to soak the linen "all Night in Vinegar and Salt, the next Day rub the Spots well with it, as if you were washing in Water, then put fresh Vinegar and Salt, and let it lie another Night, and the next Day rub it again."

As well as being easier and safer to use a pin, rather than ink, it is also cheaper and less damaging to the book, since the pin can be re-used / moved and—when used as here—leaves only a tiny and discreet hole. The fact that the pin remains in place in my copy of La Belle Assemblée could be interpreted to mean that it was deployed as a long-term marker, like ink or pencil, but it seems much more likely that it was only ever intended to be a temporary place-holder and that this pin remains in place simply because it was forgotten.

* * * * *

In terms of moral alignment, using a pin as a bookmark might identify the reader a being somewhere between "true neutral" and "chaotic neutral" (alignments which cover bookmarking behaviour ranging from using a visiting card or bus ticket, through to using weird 3D objects to mark your place: pen, glasses, seed pods and [unused] condoms**) rather than lawful, neutral or chaotic evil (a continuum of place-holding and memorialising from dog-earing pages, highlighting passages, to tearing out pages you like and glueing them to the wall††). Generally-speaking, this sort of chaotic evil bookmarking is frowned upon, but from the perspective of someone writing a book on eighteenth century readers, it is actually quite welcome.

* * * * *

To return to our phrase, it may be that "putting a pin in it" was once quite common, though evidence may be lacking for a variety of plausible reasons: the preference for pristine (unread) copies in the book trade and among librarians dooming genuinely "used" books; an historical librarianish disapproval and neat-freakery, which erased the evidence of reading from the few examples that made their way into institutional collections, i.e., due to librarians removing any pins present so that they can't rust or otherwise mark the pages; or the pins may have been removed by collectors interested in the curly-headed pins themselves. I have certainly collected a few historical pins for this reason, if not in this way.

Whatever the reason for pinned pasages being uncommon today, it would certainly be consistent with the period in which the phrase arose (early 18C; earlier than recorded in Green's Dictionary, to judge from the quotes provided on Stack Exchange) and with the meaning of the phrase (to "note carefully" or "bear in mind"), for "to put a pin in it" to pin a passage as we see here. Also in favour of my interpretation is that my book may be considered primary evidence: where is the equvalent evidence for the alternative interpretations?!

* * * * *

**One of the few eighteenth-century condoms known to survive—one held by the British Museum—was found in a book in the Brish Library's Private Case, marking a passage where condoms were being discussed. An image of this condom appears in the exhibition catalogue London 1753 (2003), 144, No.3.20.

††Mary and Charles Lamb decorated the walls of their (rented) garret in Temple Lane, by cutting engraved illustrations out of their books and gluing them to the walls. Mary described the process in a letter of 2 November 1814:

"My brother and I almost covered the walls in prints, for which purpose he cut out every print from every book in his old library, coming in every now and then to ask my leave to strip a fresh poor author … There was such pasting, such consultation upon these portraits, and where the series of pictures from Ovid, Milton and Shakespeare would show to most advantage, and in what obscure corners authors of humble rank should be allowed to tell their stories … To conclude this long story about nothing, the poor despised garret is now called the print room, and is become our most familiar sitting-room" (here).

Thursday 8 April 2021

Slip cancellation in 1980

As Sarah Werner and Mitch Fraas observe (in a Folger library blog post, here) "Pasting in slips of paper to correct errors was not unusual practice in the hand-press period." Sarah went on to give a lot of examples of a variety of slip cancels from the hand-press period (here), with lots of fabulous photos.

Even after 1800, slip cancellation was not uncommon, and anyone who has handled a lot of old books will probably have seen quite a few imprints from the machine-press period that have been updated via little printed pieces of paper pasted over an old imprint—sometimes, half torn off again by curious readers. Most of the slip-cancells I have seen, or remember seeing, are from the late ninteenth and early twentieth century, but I have seen a few from the 70s and 80s too.

The present example is such a good one, since it is not just an imprint update, and such a late one, that I thought it might be worth posting. And, having looked online and found that there are almost no other "recent" examples, I decided to go ahead. I might even post a few more of these as I notice them (again) among my books.

Today's slip cancel is from Mariel Dewey, 12 Months Harvest (Edinburgh: John Bartholomew and Son Ltd., 1980), first published in 1975 by Ortho Books, San Francisco as A Guide to Preserving Food for a 12 Months Harvest: Canning, Freezing, Smoking, and Drying; Making Cheese, Cider, Soap and Grinding Grain; Getting the Most from Your Garden (the sort of comprehensive title that was popular in the 18C.).

I have had my copy of Dewey's 12 Months Harvest for thirty years, so I have often seen the cancel, and been struck by just how good an example it is of slip-cancellation.

As well as shortening the title, John Bartholomew and Son messed up the index. Probably, this was because—after they had compilied the Index—they made some late changes to the text and layout, which resulted in changes to the pagination, though it may be because they simply reprinted the American index without twigging that their own setting was different, and that this would result in changes to layout, index etc.

In any event, having printed the book with a faulty index, and realised that they had done so, they needed to either reprint the final gathering or paste in a slip explaining the error. Obviously the latter is cheaper and easier and so, as you can see, they opted for it (as printers have for hundreds of years).

As you can also see, by the shadow in the above photo, because the slip is pasted over the start of the index, it is attached by one edge only. You have to lift the left-hand side of the slip to see the index entries underneath for anything starting with an "A."

Saturday 3 April 2021

Ron Abbey on the Cornerstones of Civilisation

In July 1968, Eve and Ron Abbey founded Abbey's Bookshop, a business which continues to this day at 131 York Street, Sydney (here).

Ron owned several other bookstores, most of which I remember: a Penguin bookshop, the Oxford and Cambridge Bookshop, Galaxy Bookshop, the Language Book Centre, and Henry Lawson's Bookshop, Pickwick Bookshop, and Ron Abbey's Bookhouse (according to his obituary).

Ron was vice-president of the Australian Bookseller's Association from 1973–75 and president from 1975–77 (according to Austlit); he died, aged 78, on 16 July 2005 (according to Informit).

I have recently been reading a little about Ron in an essay by Joan Lawrence on "Sydney Bookshops," which was published in December 2020 in Biblionews.

Given his significance in the Australian (particularly Sydney) book scene, it is disappointing that there is not more information readily available about Ron.

The photograph of Frank Moorhouse (right, speaking) and Ron Abbey (left, listening) is the only one I can find online (here). It was taken during Australian Library Week in September 1974, when Ron was vice-president of the ABA.

The most extensive account I can find comes from the obituary written by his son Alan Abbey (linked above). According to Alan:

Ron Abbey greatly admired the self-educated man, living his life by the words of Bertrand Russell: "Books and bookshops are the cornerstones of civilisation; as to self-education, what other kind is there?"

* * * * *

Although it has been years since I read any Bertrand Russell, I was once a great fan. Curious about this unfamiliar quotations, which Joan also quotes, I went looking for the source … and couldn't find one. In fact, I can't find anything even close to it.

It is possible that this quotation is beyond the reach of Google, that it was said in an interview rather than a book or article, and has never been quoted in print, but it is more likely that either Ron or Alan (or both Ron and Alan) have misremembered it, and rephrased it during many years of repetition.

However, Googling both "Books and bookshops are" and "are the cornerstones of civilisation" does lead to some interesting claims:

Books and bookshops are a beloved hobby (here)
Books and bookshops are full of nostalgia and imagination (here)
Books and bookshops are retail therapy (here)
Books and bookshops are doomed (here)
Books and bookshops are fighting back (here)
Books and bookshops are moving up (here)
Books and bookshops are reinventing themselves (here)
Books and bookshops are always essential (here)
Books and bookshops are flourishing (here)

Reading and writing are the cornerstones of civilisation (here)
Story, or discourse are [sic] the cornerstones of civilisation (here)
Knowledge and culture are the cornerstones of civilisation (here)
Knowledge and expertise the cornerstones of civilisation (here)
Liberty, equality and a cup of tea are the cornerstones of civilisation (here)
Families are the cornerstones of civilisation (here)
Humour and sex are the cornerstones of civilisation (here)
Toleration and respect are the cornerstones of civilisation (here)
Judgement and public shaming are the cornerstones of civilisation (here)

The closest match I could find for the (seemingly, faux-)Russell quote is: "At EIBF, we recognise the importance of books and reading in people’s lives. Books, and bookshops, are one of the cornerstones of our civilization. Booksellers enrich the communities they are part of, offering cultural, economic, and educational contribution to society" (here).

In the faux-Russell quote, "cornerstones" is plural: an acknowledgment that "Books and bookshops" are separate things, and that each is a cornerstone in its own right. This does raise the question: how many cornerstones can a building have? A rectangular building will have four, though many buildings have more corners than this, it is customary to only celebrate one, the first.

(In the image below we see three cornerstones, though only one has been dated—1909—and celebrated.)

So, faux-Russell / Ron Abbey is making a claim to double the usual number; whereas the European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF) wants you to know they are only claiming one: weak! Pathetic! Are they setting aside scores of imaginary cornerstones for Reading, Writing, Liberty, Equality, Families, Humour, Sex, Public Shaming and a cup of tea!?

I would expect a Booksellers Federation to make a stronger claim these EU flunkies: why not either two cornerstones (if you allow more than one) or the only cornerstone (if one). I hope Ron Abbey's successors at the Australian Bookseller's Association reject this cowardly and pusillanimous EIBF statement, and embrace, instead, that of their one-time president.

[UPDATE 2021.04.08: Blogger tells me that this was my 300th post]

Saturday 20 March 2021

2001AD, give or take two decades

My previous post (here) on both my first library, and the great cull that followed my first year at University, is a sort-of necessary introduction to the following, 2020 year-in-collecting story.

As I explained in my previous post, I occasionally encounter a book that gives me pause, leaving me in a uncanny-like uncertainty as to whether or not said book was one that I had in my first library collection, but rashly disposed of decades ago.

(The Wikipedia entry for uncanny is rubbish—at least as it relates to literature—but accurately describes what I mean: "the psychological experience of something as strangely familiar, rather than simply mysterious." The uncanny in literature persists only so long as a reader is uncertain whether an event described has a natural or supernatural explanation. In fact, the major distinction between two schools of the gothic is based on how the uncanny is resolved: the English school taking the natural approach, the German school taking the supernatural approach.)

Anyway, in November of 2020 one of the books recommended to me by the eBay algorithm caught my eye. The cover looked kind-of familiar, and the longer I looked at it, the more familiar it appeared.

So, I did what I usually do in such cases: I pulled up a scan of a very old photo of my shelves, taken in the late 80s, enlarged it, squinted at it one way and another, fiddled with the contrast etc., until I convinced myself that the 43rd book on the top shelf of the bookcase in my photo—which had previously defied identification—was, in fact, G. Foster's 2001AD (1976).

Having got this far, I then did some searching online to try to find out more about the book, so that I could decide whether or not it was one that I might like to read again. Definitely working in its favour was that it was now as far beyond 2001 (20yrs, give or take) as it previously was prior to 2001 (20yrs, give or take), when I last read it.

What I discovered was that G. Foster's 2001AD was published in Sydney by Bill Ewington Books, that it was one of a very small number of books published by Bill Ewington Books, and that no library in Australia—or anywhere else, for that matter—seemed to have a copy of the book. As such, I was unable to discover anything about the author of what I could only assume was a locally-written and -published science fiction.

Given the rarity, the genre, the date, the near-perfect 70s font on the cover, the fact that it was local, and the neat two decades before-and-after focus date, I decided to buy a copy.

Although the book recommended by eBay was cheap, it appeared to be a little worn—but the photo was poor and so it was unclear just how worn the condition might be. Looking online, I could find no better copy—indeed, I could find no other copy at all—and so I wrote to the vendor and asked for more information or a better photo. (The eBay seller was manyhills), a rural Victorian bookseller (Manyhills Book Store.)

The vendor sent a larger photo (above) and on the basis of it, I went ahead and bought the book, which arrived very promptly. I have to say that the book looked even more familiar in hand. When I opened the cover I discovered why: it was not just a copy of a book I once owned, it was the copy I previously owned!

I know this for certain because, for a very short period of time, I inscribed my books: at first with just my initials, in ink, later my name in pencil, occasionally with a date. In total, I probably have fewer than a dozen such books still, but enough to be 100% certain: this was/is my copy of G. Foster's 2001AD.

I was gob-smacked. It was like seeing a toy snake turn into a real snake: talk about the uncanny! Here was something that was both "strangely familiar" and "mysterious": how on earth had my copy of 2001AD ended up in Traralgon, Victoria? Where had it been over the last three decades?

Having written to the vendor once again, he was able to tell me that the had owned the book since 2009 when he "bought a bulk lot of about 1600 sci-fi books from a guy who was moving overseas"; the books were picked up from Melbourne, but he could not remember the exact suburb (unsurprising, after more than a decade) .

The book itself contained further clues: stamps from Bill's Book Bar, 29 Block Arcade Ballarat and Sue's Book Bazaar, 34 Curtis St. Ballarat. Ballarat is a large inland city (relatively unusual in Australia) about 110 kms north-west of Melbourne.

The "much loved Bill's Book Bar" (see here)—a "a terrific shop … inside the Block Arcade, crammed with books" (here)—gets a few mentions online. In 2013, long after my book was in Melbourne, it was described in the past tense: as a "pok[e]y little shop … selling, as the name suggests, used books as well and magazines and comics" in "rows of shelves towering above" the customers (here). There is still (it seems) a "Book Bazaar" at 34 Curtis St. Ballarat, though by 2007 the "Sue's" had been dropped and the owner was John Nunn (here). Google street view shows the shop, with its present name, completely unchanged from December 2007 through to February 2018.

If I could establish a more accurate date-range for both Bill's Book Bar and Sue's Book Bazaar, I might be able to work out just how much of the last three decades my copy of 2001AD spent in Ballarat, but I would still be in the dark concerning how it got there from Sydney.

Turning from the long journey my book has taken: once my book arrived I refreshed my research and discovered more concerning the author and publishing history of the book. Although there was no entry for the book on ISFDB online (The Internet Speculative Fiction Database), I did find an entry on, which tells me that G. Foster was George C. Foster (1893–1975), a UK author, and that 2001AD is a rare Oz reprint of The Change (1960), a story in which "nuclear experiments inadvertently rejuvenate humanity" (entry here).

Many copies of the Digit Books paperback, with terrific cover-art (below), are available for less than ten dollars. There is also a single copy of a paperback edition published in the 70s by Eclipse Paperbacks, in Dee Why West (Sydney), with the subtitle "A terrifying novel of the future." A copy of this edition is held by the National Library of Australia (here), and a fine copy is available to buy from this West Australian bookseller for fifteen dollars.

Although I suspect that Eclipse and Bill Ewington Books are related in some way, and that the two books have identical text-blocks, I am resisting the urge to test this theory by buying the Eclipse Paperbacks edition. It is enough that I have been able to buy back this little bit of my past for only $14. (Of course, once I re-read the book, if I find that I like it, I will probably end up with copies of all three editions!)

I'll end with one further observations: part of my reasoning for buying (back) this book was that it was so rare that I may not get another opportunity to buy one: after all, I could find no copy in any library, for sale online (other than the one I bought), or having been for sale online. The fact that the one I bought turns out to be the same one I owned as a teenager reduces the total number of copies known to exist—or known to me anyway—to just one exemplar.

For all I know, no other copy exists, or has existed since I bought my copy (the first time) in the mid-80s. Of course, if it is true that no other copy exists or has existed for thirty-five years, I guess it is also true that it is not so remarkable that, in managing to buy a copy at all, I managed to buy back the one I stupidly sold as a part of the great cull.