Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92) was a student at Trinity between 1827 and 1831. Some of his most important manuscripts, which are kept in the Wren Library, have been made available online via the Cambridge Digital Library. The collection includes the earliest extant full-scale draft of his best known poem, In Memoriam. This manuscript was a gift to the College in 1897 from Lady Simeon who had been given the manuscript by Tennyson himself in 1886.
Later – in 1924 – the College’s collection was increased by a bequest from Tennyson’s son, Hallam which included many of his father’s notebooks. However the terms of this bequest limited access to the material: the manuscripts could not be published or used to provide variant readings and readers were only permitted to make short notes. The Library was, however, free to display the manuscripts. It was not until 1969 that the family agreed to lift the restrictions.
The collection is of interest, not simply because it includes drafts of some of Tennyson’s most lyrical poetry, but because it also contains many sketches and doodles made by the poet. Together the words and images provide new opportunities for understanding his process of composition.
The newly established Archive seeks eventually to bring together all Tennyson material into one centralised digital library. In a collaboration with our colleagues at the University Library, the manuscripts kept in the Wren Library are the first to be included.
The explorer Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890) was best known for his travels in Africa, Asia and the Americas. His observations, which he recorded in numerous books and articles, provided a remarkable insight into the lives and habits of the people he encountered. There are five works by Burton in the Crewe collection, of which two are notable for their rarity. The first is a copy of First footsteps in East Africa, or an exploration of Harar (1856), an in depth account of the customs, practices and way of life of the peoples of East Africa. Richard Burton was a personal friend of Richard Monckton Milnes (Lord Houghton) and this copy includes a handwritten letter from Burton, addressed to ‘My dear Milnes’ explaining that he has found the ‘original copy’ of appendix 4. Appendix 4 describes the practice of female circumcision in the East Africa region. To circumvent the censor, it was translated into Latin, but the cautious publisher left it out of all but a few copies of the book. A website devoted to Burton and his work (burtoniana.org ) tells us with regard to appendix 4 that ‘Spink & son (1976) estimated that no more than 6 of these were printed, presumably for Burton’s personal use. Appendix IV contains 4 pages, on two leaves, numbered as pages 593-6. Most known copies with Appendix IV have only 1 leaf, that is two pages’. The Crewe collection copy has two printed pages of the appendix, the rest of it (another two pages) has been completed in manuscript by an unknown hand but is tempting to think it was completed by Burton himself.
The second book is Stone Talk (1865). Burton’s lifestyle and attitude often brought him into conflict with the mores and values of the society of the day and by the 1860s his career in the army was faltering. It was these circumstances which gave rise to this bitter satire on Victorian society. The book was written in verse under the pseudonym Frank Baker.
Referring to the publication of the book, his wife Isabel writes in her ‘Life’ (London: Chapman & Hall, 1893), ‘When I showed it to Lord Houghton, he told me that he was afraid that it would do Richard a great deal of harm with the “powers that were.” And advised me to buy them up, which I did.’
burtoniana.org tells us that ‘Stone Talk has been hard to find ever since it was first published. Burton … only had 200 copies printed. The majority of these (128) were for distribution to his friends and the press, and most of the remainder were soon bought back by his wife Isabel and destroyed, ostensibly because she thought the book might damage his career’.
Books from the Crewe Collection including First Footsteps are currently on display in the Wren Library during public opening hours.
Prince Henry Frederick (1594 –1612) was the son of James VI of Scotland (also later James I of England) and Anne of Denmark. In his short lifetime, he was regarded as a young man of great promise – the ideal Renaissance prince – but he died of typhoid fever at the age of only 18.
The boxed collection of eight copybooks, catalogued together as R.7.23*, date from around 1604-6 and provide a fascinating glimpse into the education of the young Prince. The most evocative book is perhaps volume 1 which contains handwriting practice:
On later pages, Henry also practised letters, Latin phrases, flourishes and his signature (left). The right-hand side begins with a passage of Latin adapted from Cicero. Henry copied it out three more times down the length of the page. At the bottom there are two lines of apparently original composition (probably by his writing master of the time, Peter Bales) which translate as “indeed, in my opinion, Prince Henry has such a childish hand that he is hardly worthy of even mediocre praise as a writer”. However, a letter written to Henry by his father in 1604 praises the improvement of his handwriting [The Lost Prince, nos 12 and 20].
The copybooks indicate that Henry had a fairly conventional early education. As well as practising Italic handwriting, he learned Latin, Greek and French and composed and translated Latin texts. Volume 6 contains a series of Latin exercises by the Prince, preceded by a letter from his tutor exhorting him to emulate the learning of Alexander the Great. Like most schoolboys, Henry’s pages sometimes included smudges and crossings out!
Volume 7 contains a printed volume, originally in French with an English translation and then translated by Henry into Latin alongside the printed text.
The French ambassador writing in 1606 described Henry as spending two hours a day studying, but the rest of his time in physical exercise [Strong, 66]. As he grew older, Henry’s education was broadened to include other subjects such as mathematics, music and history. He also showed great interest in naval and military matters, and enthusiasm for chivalric pursuits. Henry became a generous patron of the arts and his tragically early death was deeply felt and gave rise to much literature – particularly in sermons and verse – mourning the loss. Editions of some of these works can also be consulted in the College Library. After Henry’s death, his brother became heir to the throne and was crowned Charles I in 1626.
The copybooks were kept by Adam Newton (d. 1630) who was Henry’s tutor from 1599 and later his secretary. The volumes were bound, probably in 1610, in white velum and tooled with gold. They were given to the College by Newton’s son, Sir Henry Puckering (c.1619-1701) in 1691.
Catherine MacLeod, The Lost Prince: The Life & Death of Henry Stuart, National Portrait Gallery (London, 2012)
Roy Strong, Henry, Prince of Wales and England’s Lost Renaissance (London, 1986)
The Crewe collection contains a number of early editions of works by Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900). Wilde was known to the 1st marquess of Crewe when he was Lord Houghton and a fellow member of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt’s Crabbet Club. The collection also contains works about, and relating to, Wilde published after his death.
Lord Alfred Douglas (1870 –1945), a cousin of Blunt, was an author and poet but is better known as the friend, lover and instigator of the downfall of Oscar Wilde. Following Wilde’s death Lord Alfred’s behaviour became increasingly erratic and led to his involvement in several libel actions and much public controversy. His relations with Robert Ross (1869 –1918), an art critic, art dealer, friend and literary executor of Wilde became particularly bitter and inflamed. Lord Alfred vindictively pursued Ross and attempted on a number of occasions to have him arrested and tried for homosexuality. Another object of Lord Alfred’s bile was Edmund Gosse, a friend of Lord Crewe and a supporter and protector of Ross.
In 1916 Lord Alfred wrote and circulated The Rossiad, a polemic directed against Ross, a copy of which was sent to Lord Crewe through the Privy Council Office. This was accompanied by a letter from Lord Alfred suggesting improprieties on the part of Gosse.
Lord Alfred’s reputation was such that a civil servant sent a note to the marquess on official paper saying:
“Lord Crewe – I suppose it would be dangerous to send any form of acknowledgement”
To which Lord Crewe replied
“No reply, of course”
Books from the Crewe Collection including The Rossiad and works by Oscar Wilde are currently on display in the Wren Library during public opening hours.
Yesterday we officially announced the arrival at Trinity of the Crewe bequest of over 7500 books. It is described by the Librarian, Dr Nicolas Bell, as ‘an extraordinary library – one of the most important private collections in Britain’ and is one of the largest bequests in the Library’s history. The collection includes major works of English and French literature, rare political pamphlets and several unpublished literary manuscripts, as well as first editions inscribed by Byron, Shelly, Wordsworth and Tennyson.
The books were bequeathed by Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe who died in 2014 and whose father, Robert Crewe-Milnes, and grandfather, Richard Monckton Milnes, both studied at Trinity before embarking on important political careers. The collection was built up between the 1830s and the early twentieth century. Many of the books were presented by their authors to Monckton Milnes, later Lord Houghton, who was a leading Liberal in Victorian politics as well as a writer and poet. At the time of the bequest the collection was kept at West Horsley Place, the Surrey house bought by Crewe-Milnes in 1931.
Over the past year the collection has been transported to the Wren Library and the long process of sorting, classifying, cleaning and conserving the books has begun. The first few hundred volumes have been added to the Library’s online catalogue, selected volumes are on display during public opening hours and, by appointment, all of the books are available to researchers for consultation. A small first selection of books has been added to the Wren Digital Library.
You can read more about the collection here and here. For a family tree, click here.
As part of its 200th birthday celebrations, the Fitzwilliam is staging one of the largest exhibitions of medieval illuminated manuscripts for several years. Colour: The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscipts combines a fantastic display of medieval artworks with the findings of a major scientific research project, www.miniare.org. The research project uses non-invasive techniques to analyse the chemical structure of the artists’ materials, shedding light on the processes and equipment required by a medieval illuminator.
Most of the 122 exhibits are drawn from the Fitzwilliam’s own collections, but three important manuscripts are on loan from Trinity College Library, all of which are available to view complete online as part of the Wren Digital Library:
The Trinity Apocalypse (R.16.2) is the most lavishly decorated English manuscript of the Book of Revelation, possibly made for king Henry III’s queen, Eleanor of Provence in the late 1250s. Bright colours are used to depict the heavenly Jerusalem.
Poems on the Praises of the Holy Crossby Hrabanus Maurus (B.16.3) is an extraordinary collection of poems written in grids of letters with superimposed patterns of crosses and other figures. Several of the poems are concerned with the significance of colours: the poem on display in the exhibition uses the colours hyacinth, purple, linen and scarlet to show Christ’s divinity, blood, chastity and love.
One of the manuscripts most central to the theme of the exhibition is John de Foxton’s Book of Cosmography (R.15.21), a manuscript written in York at the start of the fifiteenth century. The elaborate images throughout this book include nude portraits of the four elements, showing the effect of the humours on the colour of their skin: red for the Sanguine man, white for the Phlegmatic man, black for the Melancholic man and yellow for the Choleric man.
The crucial differences between the four temperaments in this book are shown with a complex combination of base colours with mixtures of up to seven different pigments for the upper layers of painting. Painstaking analysis of this manuscript has revealed the use of materials sourced from many different countries.
The exhibition will be on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum until Friday 30 December 2016, admission free. See the Colour events programme online.
Written and illustrated by Jean Baptiste Audebert, this large, 19th century French book includes 63 full-page engravings of beautifully represented monkeys and lemurs. The book recently arrived at the Wren Library as part of the Crewe collection, bequeathed by Mary Innes-Ker, Duchess of Roxburghe to Trinity College. The binding was in fairly poor condition and handling of the book risked further damage. Conservation treatment was requested by the Librarian.
The leather spine had fallen into pieces and the remaining leather and the covering marbled paper on the boards were both scratched and torn, especially along the edges. The boards were still attached to the text-block by the laced-in cords ; however, the missing leather along the joints and torn inside hinges made the attachment vulnerable.
The text-block was wavy and dirty along the top edges and several pages had large water stains.
The conservation treatment, which took place at the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Book and Manuscript Conservation Workshop, aimed to restore the accessibility of the book while considering its historical and aesthetical values.
Firstly, the entire text-block was dry cleaned using a smoke-sponge. The two title pages were removed from the book and washed in warm de-ionised water. They were then left to dry under weight.
The visually disturbing water stains that covered some engravings were reduced by humidifying the stain edge and drying it immediately with a heated spatula through filter paper to avoid spreading the discolouration and distorting the paper.
The worn and delaminated vellum corners were repaired with new toned vellum and wheat-starch paste. The vellum was previously lined with paper which allows the piece of vellum to be moulded easily around the corner.
After removing the spine linings and any old adhesives, the spine was pasted, re-shaped slightly and lined with a strip of Japanese paper to consolidate the sewing. The board attachment was strengthened with a strip of aerolinen adhered onto the spine and extending onto the boards. The two title pages were then re-attached to the text-block by sewing them through the aerolinen.
New back-bead headbands were made with linen threads to reinforce the sewing structure.
A hollow back made of Heritage Archival paper was adhered to the spine and the book was re-backed with a piece of calf leather toned to match the remaining leather on the boards. Finally, the original leather label was pasted onto the spine and gold lines were tooled to imitate the original spine.
And finally, some full page images from the conserved book:
Two hundred years ago, Percy Bysshe Shelley made a tour of Europe with his lover and future wife Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and her step-sister Claire Clairmont, who was pregnant with Lord Byron’s child. Their sojourn in the Alps quickly become notorious for two reasons: one night in June, the group challenged each other to write the scariest horror story, and the first seeds of the novel Frankenstein were sown. And the following month, on 23 July 1816 Shelley caused a scandal by publicly declaring himself an atheist when signing the visitors’ book at the Hôtel de Londres in Chamonix. The offending page from that hotel visitors’ book has just resurfaced in the Wren Library as part of a new bequest.
The visitors’ book was ruled with several columns, allotted to date, name, place of birth, and the starting-point and destination of the visitor’s journey. Shelley entered his name on 23 July 1816, born in Sussex and travelling from London ‘à l’Enfer’ – to Hell. In the space for comments, where an earlier visitor has commented on the divine majesty of the Alps, Shelley writes, in Greek, ‘eimi philanthropos, demokratikos, atheos te’: ‘I am a lover of mankind, a democrat and an atheist’. A later visitor wrote beneath this a verse from the Psalms: ‘The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God’.
Shelley’s public declaration of atheism in this book quickly became infamous, and many came to the hotel in order to inspect the book. Underneath Shelley’s name is written ‘Mad. M. W. G.’ – Madame Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, the future Mary Shelley – and a further name, now crossed out, was Claire Clairmont. It was very likely to have been Byron who underlined Shelley’s name along with ‘the fool’ in the Greek text, in order to vent his frustration at Shelley’s outrage, and who crossed out Claire Clairmont’s name. A later visitor cut this page out of the visitors’ book, and it found its way into the collection of Richard Monckton Milnes, the remarkable Victorian MP and bibliophile whose library was recently bequeathed to Trinity College by his grand-daughter Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe. Several very rare Shelley editions are included in the bequest, and this page had been pasted inside the front cover of his epic poem The Revolt of Islam.
Before they arrived at the the hotel in Chamonix, Shelley had taken Mary Godwin and Claire Clairmont to visit Lord Byron at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva, where he was staying with his personal physician, John William Polidori. On one night in June 1816, Byron challenged each member of the group to write a ghost story. Polidori’s efforts were later expanded into The Vampyre, the first vampire novel, and Mary Godwin’s story was published in 1818 as Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. This page shows the first appearance of Frankenstein’s monster, in the Alps.
Shelley returned to England in the autumn of 1816. The following year he began work on an epic poem inspired by his observations of the French Revolution. First published as Laon and Cythna, the work became better known in its revised version as The Revolt of Islam, and is a highly sophisticated parable of revolutionary idealism. Shelley drafted much of the text on a boat on the Thames near Marlow in Buckinghamshire. Trinity College Library houses one page from the neat copy which Shelley prepared for his printer, showing part of Canto IX. It forms part of a substantial collection of autographs, the Cullum Collection. Laon and Cythna was quickly withdrawn after publication, amid fears of prosecution for blasphemy, and was reissued with a new title and many altered lines in 1817.
The papers of the eminent philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein are available via the Wren Digital Library. Outwith this archive, however, is a curious letter he addressed to the Garden Committee of the College in 1934, of incidental interest because of his studied objections to their plans for the Fellows’ Garden.
The area of land to the west of Trinity College and alongside Queen’s Road was bought for the college in 1871 (it had been leased for about 60 years before that). At the time it was known as the ‘Roundabout’ because of the circular walks within it, but from then on it was designated as the Fellows’ Garden. Designs were provided by the landscape gardener William Brodrick Thomas (1811-98) who also designed the ornamental lake at Sandringham and the Garden Committee was set up to oversee the implementation of these plans. They included retaining the already established avenue of elms and the ‘roundabout’ path, but adding flowering shrubs and ornamental trees.
Summer grasses in the Fellows’ Garden were traditionally left uncut, but in 1933 some experimental paths were cut through the long grass. Ludwig Wittgenstein – by this time a fellow of Trinity – in a letter to the secretary offered (presumably unsolicited) opinions and advice on this decision. Affronted by the line of the paths, he suggested re-positioning them as well as making adjustments to the shape of the flower beds and the position of trees. He also criticised the planting schemes “… the kidney shaped bed with the dahlias in it looks very bad because of the border of Veronica round the dahlias. This fringe makes it look like a gaudy birthday cake.”
Bernard Gui (1260-1331) was a Friar-Preacher perhaps best known as an Inquisitor against the Albigensians (or Cathars). He ended his career as Bishop of Lodève. This manuscript (R.4.23) includes various works by Bernard, but we are highlighting the beautifully illustrated genealogical tree – Arbor genealogie regum – which traced the lineage of the French Kings from their Trojan origins (ff. 49v-52v).
Each page is a sequence of illuminated pictures which narrate the succession and genealogy of the kings of France. Each king is represented standing in a medallion in which their name and the length of their reign is also written. The kings have the royal insignia – the crown and sceptre – and are dressed in gowns covered with the fleur-de-lys. Beside them there are usually some smaller medallions in which their ancestors, offspring and spouses appear.
The tree begins on f.49v with medallions representing the chiefs of the Sicambri and, at the top of the page, a damaged miniature of robed men conversing. The tree continues with larger medallions. The first (on f.50r) is Pharamond, a legendary early King of the Franks; he was not mentioned in any chronicles from the Middle Ages (for example he was omitted by Gregory of Tours in his famous Historia francorum). The legend says that his daughter Argotta, from his second marriage, is the ancestress of the French royal line, as she was Merovech’s mother. Below Pharamond follow Chlodio, Pharamond’s son and Merovech, the founder of the Merovingian dynasty in the 5th century.
The lineage continues on the subsequent pages. Those depicted on f.52v, for example, represent Dagobert II, king of Autrasia (676-679) who was made a saint by the Roman Catholic Church; his feast is on 23 December. He is pictured with some of his relatives. Ansegisel, a son of Arnulf of Metz, is pictured in the uppermost medallion. Through his marriage to Begga, the daughter of Pepin the Elder, the clans of the Pippinids and the Arnulfings were united, giving rise to a family which would eventually rule the Franks as the Carolingians. Below, other important figures appear, like Charles Martel (king of Franks between 737-741) and Pepin the Short.
The last page (f. 57r) presents Louis X (who reigned between 1314-1316); he was the eldest son of King Philippe IV ‘the Fair’, most famous for having annihilated the order of the Knights Templar. The name of Louis X is not written in the medallion but it is mentioned in the accompanying text. Some later notes continue the genealogy.