From the Crewe Collection: Works by Richard Francis Burton

Sir Richard Francis Burton by Frederic Leighton, Baron Leighton, oil on canvas, circa 1872-1875, NPG 1070, © National Portrait Gallery, London
burton
Richard Burton (photograph pasted to the front flyleaf of First Footsteps)

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 AfricaRichard 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.

stone-talk

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.

Further Reading:

burtoniana.org

Photograph of the Month

Add P 86
Add P 86

This month’s photograph shows Andrew Sydenham Farrar Gow (1886–1978). A classical scholar, ASF Gow was elected a Fellow of Trinity College in 1911 but spent the years 1914 to 1925 as the Assistant Master of Eton College. Gow’s notable works include editions of Machon, Theocritus and the Greek Anthology.

The Gow collection at Trinity College Library consists of 323 books from Gow’s library, most of them published in the 20th century, on the subjects of  art, classics and literature (Gow 1-323). Gow was a friend and colleague of the poet and classicist A.E. Housman, who is best known for the series of poems called ‘A Shropshire lad’.  Housman also came to Trinity in 1911, taking the Kennedy Professorship in Latin.  The Gow collection contains 33 books by or about A.E. Housman, including one written by Housman’s sister Clemence and  illustrated by his brother Laurence Housman  (Gow 314).

Gow’s memorial is in Trinity College Chapel.

The Ling Collection

lingshelves2

The Ling collection consists of 208 books chiefly in the area of linguistics from the library of Vivien Law, Fellow of Trinity College who died in 2002, at the age of 47. The books came to the library shortly after her death.

Dr Law held the only lectureship in the world dedicated to the history of linguistic thought. After her death the Henry Sweet Society for the History of Linguistic Ideas established a prize in her name for the best essay submitted on any topic within the history of linguistics. The collection of books which came to the library comprises books in English, Welsh, Swedish, Danish, French, Italian, Latin, German, Arabic, Dutch, Slovenian, Syriac, Hungarian, Ukrainian , Russian and the Indo-Aryan and Trinity College F.A VIII.34Dravidian group of languages.

Dr Law was a specialist in the area of medieval grammar (her book Grammar and Grammarians in the Early Middle Ages was published in 1997) and there are a number of books on medieval grammar in the collection. The oldest is a copy of the first ever Italian grammar Regole grammaticali della volgar lingua (dated 1524, Ling.c.119) by Giovanni Francesco Fortunio . It contains an analysis of the Tuscan vernacular based upon works by Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca and Giovanni Boccaccio. There is also a grammar of the Latin language, dated 1552, by Aldo Manuzio (1449-1515) (Ling.c.110). Manuzio was best known as an innovative printer and publisher and founder of the Aldine Press.

Ling, c.110, title page
Ling, c110, title page

 

 

Charles I’s copy of the Book of Common Prayer

London, 1634 (C.12.82)

Inside front cover with inscription
Inscription ascribing ownership to Charles I

This copy of the Book of Common Prayer belonged to Charles I.  The covers bear the Royal coat of arms.  It is inscribed on the inside cover in a hand contemporary with the times ‘Charles Stuart Rex a book he used to take out of his closett 1648’.

Charles insisted upon religious conformity across the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland.  This went disastrously wrong when the Anglican liturgy and prayer book were forced upon the Scottish Kirk in 1637, resulting in war between the two nations.  In order to finance war against the Scots, Charles was obliged to recall Parliament in 1640, bringing his eleven-year personal rule to an end.  So, this book is significant on two levels.  On a personal level it was his book and he would have used it; on a public level it represents one of the major areas of conflict between Charles and the people, a conflict which ultimately lead to his execution in January 1649.

Title page
Title page
Cover
Cover