Posts tagged: Shelf Lives

‘Shelf Lives’ round-up

By , 15 June 2012 7:04 pm

Shelf Lives logoAs the ‘Shelf Lives’ exhibition draws to a close (Sat 16 June is the last day), here’s a round-up of more posts on the theme of collecting on related blogs …

In her post ‘Patience Rewarded’, Dominique Ruhlman writes about Sir William Wynne (1729-1815), master of Trinity Hall, who gave 252 volumes to the college library in the space of just nine years, starting in 1804.

On the MusiCB3 blog, Margaret Jones looks at Frederick Booth, who bequeathed his collection of around 3,500 scores to the University, along with some 3,000 LPs. The scores include works by Prokofiev, Stockhausen, Berio, and Poulenc, along with a liberal selection of twentieth-century British music.

Finally, Clemens Gresser’s post features Hedli Anderson (1907–1990), a singer of cabaret and political songs primarily in the 1930s and 1940s, who premiered the works of many composers and poets of the time. Anderson collected songs that were either written for her or were part of her library as a professional singer, and these are now held at the University Library.

Whose ‘Shelf Life’ is it anyway?

By , 10 June 2012 11:54 am

One book, three collectors: Kathleen Butler, A.N.L. Munby, Gilbert de Botton

A book can have many lives, passing from one collector to another over the course of centuries, and in each collection it finds new meaning. When I was choosing what to include in the case in the ‘Shelf Lives’ exhibition on ‘The Design of Friendship: The Montaigne Library of Gilbert de Botton’, I came across a copy of Charles Sorel’s La bibliothèque françoise (1664) with a very interesting collecting genealogy. Not only had it belonged to Gilbert de Botton, but two other ‘Cambridge collectors’ had also at one time owned this book: Kathleen ‘Blazing’ Butler, the flame-haired mistress of Girton College, whose collection of Italian books came to the Library in 1951 (classmark CCA–E.17), and the bibliographer A.N.L. ‘Tim’ Munby, whose collection of auction catalogues, booksellers’ catalogues and proposals and specimens is now the University Library’s Munby collection, and after whom the Munby Rare Books Room is named.

Sorel’s La bibliothèque françoise is an important early work of French bibliography and guide to French literature. His selections are usually grouped by category (e.g. ‘Des livres de philosophie’, ‘Des voyages’, ‘Des romans comiques’), but a whole chapter is devoted to Montaigne (‘un grand Autheur & … un Homme de rare merite’).

Keep reading …

Matthew Parker as collector: the ones that got away I

By , 31 May 2012 6:14 pm

Shelf Lives logoThere are still a couple of weeks left to see the ‘Shelf Lives’ exhibition at the University Library, which closes on 16 June.

And in the latest in the series of blog posts on Cambridge collectors, Suzanne Paul of the Parker Library writes more about Matthew Parker, who features in the exhibition:

“Although the Parker Library contains hundreds of manuscripts given by Parker to Corpus, he did give manuscripts to other people and institutions. Inspired by Cambridge University Library’s Shelf Lives exhibition, I thought I’d look at some of the ‘ones that got away’”.

Read the full post on the Parker Library blog …

‘Moore Bede’ on TV and in ‘Shelf Lives’ exhibition

By , 28 May 2012 12:42 pm
Michael Wood at the UL

Michael Wood filming in the Keynes Room at Cambridge University Library

“It’s no exaggeration to say that this is one of the most important books in the story of Britain”—Michael Wood on ‘The Moore Bede’.

The University Library’s famous ‘Moore Bede’ manuscript, featured in the first episode of Michael Wood’s new BBC2 series The Great British Story: A People’s History, is now on display at Cambridge University Library.

Michael Wood and crew came to film at the UL last July. ‘The Moore Bede’ (MS Kk.5.16), is the second oldest surviving copy of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, written after 734 AD. Early in its history it travelled to the court of Charlemagne and was later owned by John Moore (1646–1714), Bishop of Norwich (1691–1707) and Ely (1707–1714). ‘The Book of Deer’ (MS Ii.6.32) was also filmed, and will feature in Episode 2.

‘The Moore Bede’ is currently on display as part of the exhibition Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors and their Books, and there are still a few more days left to see it before the exhibition closes on 16 June 2012.

The first episode of The Great British Story is available on the BBC iPlayer (UK only) for the next four weeks.

More Music Collectors…

By , 7 May 2012 8:50 am

Shelf Lives logoA previous post on this blog, titled Music collectors’ ‘Shelf Lives’, alerted you to the fact that MusiCB3, the blog of the Music Collections at the University of Cambridge, would dedicate some posts to ‘Music Collectors’ whilst ‘Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors and their Books’ was on display (so until 16 Jun 2012).

The latest installment in this series is on Richard Pendlebury, and explains the connection of Pendlebury to the Faculty of Music’s library.

If you would like to read previous posts in this series, or want to keep track of future posts on music collectors, please go to, or bookmark

Cambridge collectors: The last of his kind: George Parker Bidder

By , 1 May 2012 1:54 pm

Bidder bookplateThe University Library’s exhibition ‘Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors and their Books’ runs for another six weeks until 16 June 2012.

Dawn Moutrey continues our theme of Cambridge collectors with a recent post on George Parker Bidder (1863–1953), whose collection of some sixty books on subjects including physiology, natural history, zoology and calculus is held at the Whipple Library. Bidder’s obituary in Nature described him as ‘the last of his kind—that of the great amateur biologists of the past century’.

Read the full post on the ‘Whipple Library Books Blog’ …

View the Library’s treasures cover to cover

By , 29 March 2012 3:33 pm
God creates Adam

God creates Adam. From the hand-coloured copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle presented to the Library in 1574 by Archbishop Matthew Parker (Inc.0.A.7.2(888))

Further content and functionality has been added to the Cambridge Digital Library. We have added more items to the Islamic Manuscripts and Newton collections—including several videos explaining Newton’s work and ideas—and have initiated two new collections: The Cairo Genizah collection and Treasures of the Library. Both these collections will grow considerably over the the next few months. The initial Genizah collection includes a selection of seventy-two manuscripts, intended to show the wide range of material in this fascinating collection. Among the Treasures we’ve added to the Digital Library are the Codex Bezae, Life of St Edward the Confessor, Nuremberg Chronicle, and Montaigne’s copy of Lucretius’ De rerum natura. The last three works are featured in the current Library exhibition, Shelf Lives. Now you can view these treasures in great detail, from cover to cover.

Cambridge collectors: Origins of the Whipple

By , 28 February 2012 12:17 pm

Whipple collection spine labelDawn Moutrey continues our theme of Cambridge collectors with a post on the origin of the Whipple Library in the collection of Robert Stewart Whipple.

‘Donations to libraries come in all sizes, from a single book donated by the author, to large collections which make you get out a tape measure to make sure you have the space. They all have a place in the history and development of a collection, and even a subject field.  The donation in 1944 by Robert Stewart Whipple (1871–1953) of his scientific instruments and books to the University has been viewed as “… an essential element in the establishment of the history of science as an academic discipline in Cambridge”’.

Read the full post on the ‘Whipple Library Books Blog’ …

Our posts on Cambridge collectors accompany the University Library’s major exhibition ‘Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors and their Books’, which runs until 16 June 2012.

‘Shelf Lives’: Does size matter?

By , 10 February 2012 1:09 pm

Letter written in 1868 by Charles DickensDominique Ruhlmann of Trinity Hall Library continues the ‘Shelf Lives’ theme with her feature on a letter of advice from Charles Dickens to his son Henry Fielding Dickens (‘My Dear Harry’), at the start of his son’s time as an undergraduate at Trinity Hall in October 1868.

‘Does a donation have to be large and impressive to be important? The answer is most emphatically “No”! One of our star items is a single sheet of paper measuring no more than 18 x 22.7 cm. It is a modest piece of nineteenth-century writing paper with no “bling” about it – but it still has the wow factor because it is a letter from Charles Dickens!’

Read the full post on ‘The Old Library at Trinity Hall’ blog …

Cambridge collectors: The Steward Collection

By , 7 February 2012 1:29 pm

Embossed stamp of J. H. Steward Ltd.

Our theme of Cambridge collectors, accompanying the current exhibition ‘Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors and their Books’, continues with a post by Dawn Moutrey of the Whipple Library on the Steward Collection, which came to the library in the 1970s when the Whipple Museum purchased a number of scientific instruments from the Steward family.

‘The J.H. Steward company was established in London in 1852 and became J.H. Steward Ltd. in 1913. It produced instruments for optical measuring, observation, military use, drawing and surveying. The 100-odd books we have in this collection cover physics, optics, scientific instruments, astronomy, lubrication, meteorology and gemmology (James Henry Steward, who established the company, was also a jeweller).’

Read the full post on the ‘Whipple Library Books Blog’ …