Category: Friends of Cambridge University Library

An early Cambridge binding by Nicholas Spierinck

By , 3 April 2014 3:30 pm

The mark of Badius Ascensius, printer of “Orationes Prelectiones Præfationes & quædam Mithicæ Historiæ Philippi Beroaldi” (Paris: 1508), from the title page to item 6 in 5000.d.122

The library has recently acquired, with help from the Friends of Cambridge University Library, an important sammelband (catalogued at the shelfmark 5000.d.122) of nine early sixteenth-century works, including the so-called Appendix Vergiliana (poems spuriously attributed to Virgil but probably assembled in Late Antiquity), a short work by the early Christian writer Lactantius and seven works by the fifteenth-century Bolognese writer Filippo Beroaldo.  Printing dates range from June 1505 to April 1510.  In addition to the rarity of each individual item, this collection is significant for another reason; it is in an early sixteenth-century Cambridge binding and has sixteenth-century Cambridge provenance.  The volume was bound by the Cambridge stationer and bookbinder Nicholas Spierinck, no earlier than April 1510 (the publication date of the latest work) and no later than 1533 (when it believed he ceased work as a binder).  Born in the 1470s into a family of stationers and booksellers, Spierinck worked first in Antwerp before moving to Cambridge shortly after 1500.  Unlike Oxford, where printing had been practised as early as 1478 (albeit with a long lull between 1486 and 1517), Cambridge had no printer until 1520, when John Siberch began work.  Spierinck seems to have started out as a bookseller, importing foreign books to sell to members of the University.  In 1534 he was appointed (with the binders Garrett Godfrey and Segar Nicholson) the first official Stationer and Printer to the University.

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Friends talk: Cambridge poets and their papers

By , 17 February 2014 3:54 pm

On Wednesday February 19, the Friends of Cambridge University Library are pleased to welcome poet and literary critic J.H. Prynne, together with teacher and author Ian Brinton, to speak on the Cambridge Poets’ Papers project, which aims to archive the papers of prominent Cambridge poets in the University Library. This event will coincide with a display of materials from the project in the Entrance Hall.

The talk begins at 5.30 pm in the Milstein Seminar Rooms at the library, with tea beforehand. Admission is £3.50 for the general public, £2.50 to members of the Friends and free to students.

Rose Book-Collecting Prize 2014

By , 15 October 2013 4:23 pm

The gilt armorial book stamp of Jacques Auguste de Thou (1553-1617), French historian, book collector and president of the Parlement de Paris.

Cambridge University Library is delighted to open this year’s competition for the 2014 Rose Book-Collecting Prize, which offers students the chance to win £500 by building their own book collections.

The Prize was endowed in 2006 and is believed to be the first of its kind offered by any European university. As well as the £500 prize money, the winner will be offered 10 years’ free membership of the Friends of Cambridge University Library. The prize will be awarded in the Easter Term. It has been funded by Professor James Marrow and Dr Emily Rose in honour of Dr Rose’s parents, Daniel and Joanna Rose.

John Pine’s bookplate commemorating George I’s gift to Cambridge of the library of John Moore (1646-1714), Bishop of Ely and one of the greatest book-collectors of his day.

The contest is open to all current undergraduate and graduate students of the University registered for a Cambridge degree. To enter, students should submit a list of their collection together with a short essay, explaining the theme and significance of the collection, by the first day of the Lent full term. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to talk about their collection to the judges.

The judges will make their decision based on the intelligence and originality of the collection, its coherence as a collection, as well as the thought, creativity and persistence demonstrated by the collector and the condition of the books. The monetary value of the collections will not be a factor in determining the winning entry – a coherent collection of paperbacks is a perfectly valid entry.

Norman Waddleton (1916–2008) aimed to collect comprehensively all books with colour-printed illustrations or decorations up to 1893.

In 2013, the prize was won by Chloe Stopa-Hunt (King’s College) for her collection of books and pamphlets relating to Camille Desmoulins.  She described winning the prize as “quite magical”.  Chloe will introduce and showcase the winning collection at a public lecture on 6 November at the University Library – full details can be found here.

Full details of the Rose Book-Collecting Prize and how to enter are available here.

Peter Scupham at Eighty

By , 25 April 2013 12:39 pm
Draft of Scupham's poem ‘Out of Season’

A draft of Scupham’s poem ‘Out of Season’, from MS Add. 9941.

The new exhibition in the North Front Corridor celebrates the eightieth birthday of the distinguished poet Peter Scupham.

Born in Bootle in 1933, Scupham read English at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. While working as a schoolteacher, and later in semi-retirement as a bookseller, Scupham has produced eleven full-length collections of poetry in addition to volumes of Selected and Collected poems. His formal and technically adroit poems have been seen as continuing the tradition of Hardy, Frost and Edward Thomas; childhood, England, ghosts and war are among his typical themes. He has written that he would like his poems ‘to be windows not mirrors…. A window cuts a shape, and I am fascinated by structure, harmony, balance – all those qualities which give definition to the view’. He received a Cholmondeley Award in 1996 and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Keep reading …

Radical print culture

By , 9 February 2012 12:34 pm

On Wednesday 15 February, John Gardner will give a talk in the Library on ‘Radical Print Culture from 1815 to 1822′.

‘“Radical” is a new word since my time—it was not in the political vocabulary in 1816’ (Byron in a letter to John Cam Hobhouse, April 1820)

Following the end of the war with France, street literature, in the form of pamphlets, broadsides, illustrations, pornography, pirate publications and advertising, became increasingly radical, and ephemeral. This paper will examine radicalism in this period and its literary and cultural legacy.

The talk starts in the Library’s Morison Room at 5.30 p.m., and forms part of the programme of the Friends of the Library (see Friends of the Library: £2.50. Others: £3.50. (Junior members of the University of Cambridge: free.)

Library illuminations

By , 13 December 2011 5:44 pm

MS Gg.4.6Thursday 15 December 2011, at 5:00 pm, Morison Room

Following the publication of their book Western illuminated manuscripts: a catalogue of the collection in Cambridge University Library (produced with the collaboration of Stella Panayotova), Paul Binski and Patrick Zutshi will give an illustrated presentation and lead a viewing of a selection of the Library’s most remarkable illuminated manuscripts.

The talk forms part of the programme of the Friends of the Library (see Friends of the Library: £2.50. Others: £3.50. (Junior members of the University of Cambridge: free.)

Babies Make News

By , 24 November 2011 9:28 am

On Saturday 26 November Peter Jones, Fellow-Librarian of King’s College, will be giving a talk to the Friends of the Library entitled ‘Babies Make News’. Mr Jones is one of the curators of the ‘Books and Babies’ exhibition currently on display in the Library, and his talk will explore ways in which the subject of human reproduction has shaped books, manuscripts, newspapers and films, and how communications media have in turn framed thinking about babies. The event will take place in the Morison Room in the Library, starting at 11.30 a.m. (following the Friends’ AGM). All are welcome: Friends of the Library and junior members of Cambridge University: free, others: £3.50.

Islamic seals event

By , 10 May 2011 4:14 pm


Seal engraver

A seal engraver, drawn in the Kashmiri style, ca 1850. Add.Or.1692. © The British Library

On Thursday 19 May, Venetia Porter and Annabel Gallop will give a talk in the Library on ‘Islamic Seals: Treasures from the British Library and the British Museum’.

Venetia, from the British Museum, will introduce a millennium of Islamic seals, from the earliest lead and clay seals stamped on papyrus documents in Arabic, through early seals carved in carnelian, quartz, garnets and other semi-precious stones, to more recent seal matrices of silver and brass. Annabel, from the British Library, will pick up the story from the time that paper replaced papyrus and parchment as the main writing medium in the Islamic world, and will talk about Islamic seal impressions stamped on manuscript books and documents, treaties and royal letters.

This illustrated talk will be accompanied by a display of the travelling photographic exhibition ‘Lasting Impressions: Seals from the Islamic World’. It starts in the Library’s Morison Room at 5.30 p.m., and forms part of the programme of the Friends of the Library (see Friends of the Library: £2.50. Others: £3.50. (Junior members of the University of Cambridge: free.)

John Ruskin and the King James Bible

By , 10 May 2011 4:13 pm

Ruskin, like many English writers, was inspired by the King James Bible: not only its religious teaching but its rhythms, imagery and social subversiveness. On Tuesday 17 May, Cambridge poet and academic Clive Wilmer will give a talk in the University Library on ‘The “King James” as Literary Inspiration: John Ruskin and the Bible’.

The talk starts in the Library’s Morison Room at 5.30 p.m., and forms part of the programme of the Friends of the Library (see Friends of the Library: £2.50. Others: £3.50. (Junior members of the University of Cambridge: free.)

Before the talk, visitors may like to take the opportunity of viewing the Library’s current exhibition, ‘Great and Manifold Blessings: The Making of the King James Bible’, on display in the Exhibition Centre adjacent to the Morison Room (see