Archive for April, 2010

Joe Versus the Volcano

April 23, 2010

Earlier this week, UCLA English literature professor Joseph Bristow, a great friend of the Clark’s, was  interviewed by The Chronicle of Higher Education about being stuck in Ireland because of volcanic ash.  In the interview, he mentions how students in his Oscar Wilde seminar, which meets weekly at the Clark, had to work on independent research projects at the library in his absence.  Hopefully his flight home today is uneventful and quick!

Item of the Week: “My Dear Arthur Fish”

April 16, 2010

Wilde MS Box 82, folder 4

The Clark has recently acquired this letter from Oscar Wilde to Arthur Fish, dated 8 August 1890, which mentions a photograph that he would like to give Fish before the latter’s wedding day.  The Clark has owned the photograph in question for some time.  A lovely large image, mounted on beveled boards, it is signed “To dear Arthur from his friend Oscar Wilde.”

Wildeiana Box 14, item 21


Item of the Week: Cookery, with ferns

April 9, 2010

Though the original purpose of this volume was recording cooking recipes for things like ginger bread and short bread (two of the recipes seen above), it also ended up being a place to press ferns and a place to copy out favorite passages of poetry and prose for a teenage girl named Helen Brackenridg.  The cookbook section of the manuscript appears to have been begun in 1726, a date recorded in the front of the volume, while Helen Brackenridg’s contributions date only a little bit later: 1732.


Item of the Week: Bibliotheca Classica

April 2, 2010

Bibliotheca Classica, written by John Lempriere in 1788, is a recent Clark purchase, made with funds endowed by the late Dr. Adam Wechsler, a great friend and supporter of the library.

John Carter’s Printing and the Mind of Man names this particular work as “the first specialist work designed as a substitute for, rather than as an aid to, learning.”  Though Lempriere himself was only 23, an assistant master at Reading Grammar School on vacation from Pembroke College, Oxford, his creation of a book regarded as “lively and unusually readable  for a work of reference” is all the more impressive an achievement.

Apart from the book’s intrinsic values, it has also won lasting fame through the fact that John Keats owned a copy of it.  As Carter remarks, “it was the source of much of” the poet’s “knowledge of Greek and Latin mythology,” and even more significantly, “one can sometimes even see the genesis of his lines in Lempriere’s humble but lively prose.”