‘…is not the deprivation of liberty the deepest, the severest of injuries?’In November 2015 the Bodleian Libraries acquired its 12 millionth printed book: a unique copy of a pamphlet entitled Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things, written by ‘a Gentleman of the University of Oxford’ and printed in 1811. The pamphlet was the work of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), then a student at Oxford University, and now recognised as one of the great English poets of the 19th century. The acquisition is a momentous event for the public, for scholars, the University and the Bodleian Libraries. Known to have been published by Shelley in 1811 but lost until recently, Shelley’s Poetical Essay is, thanks to the generosity of a benefactor, now freely available to all in digitized form.The Bodleian Libraries are extremely grateful to Mr Brian Fenwick-Smith and Mr Antonio Bonchristiano for their generous support of this project.The poem, written for the support of an Irish journalist imprisoned for libel, shows a young Shelley engaging with the political and social issues that coloured much of his work. The themes Shelley addresses in Poetical Essay (the abuse of press freedom, dysfunctional political institutions and the global impact of war) preoccupied him throughout his career, and are as sharply present today as they were 200 years ago.
For other copies, see , vol. 2, p. 189; , vol. 2, p. 252; Dietrich, Medicinalia, pp. 207-8 no. 96; , p. 188; and Oxford, Bodleian Library, Oriental Collections, MS Bruce 4 and MS Hyde 16 ().
It appears that the last time the Prize was awarded was in 1975 when David Helliwell was awarded the prize for his essay, “What were the aims of the New Text Confucians in the former Han Dynasty?” I suspect, though do not know for sure, that this prize-winner may be the David Helliwell who is Curator of Chinese Collections, Bodleian Library, Oxford. The current Sir George Staunton Prize now fills the remit that once belonged to the Universities Prize Essay Award.
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The sixteenth century was a time of considerable change for the German language. Once, Luther himself was regarded as the driving force of this change, but, while his importance in the development of the German language and German print culture should not be underestimated, he was part of a wider moment in which German changed. This included writers like Luther, but also merchants and printers, who all participated in changes in German literary culture. Proverb collections have been a focus for historians of popular culture trying to find a way in to oral culture which cannot be easily found through books. While this is attractive, there are significant problems with the use of proverb collections as examples of popular oral culture, since many collections of proverbs were used to give moral instruction. This is clear in the proverb collections of Luther’s contemporary, and sometime friend, Agricola, in which most of the proverbs are accompanied by brief moral instructions explaining how the proverbs can be used for personal improvement. Published proverb collections like Agricola’s provide an example more of what their authors think, or want, popular behaviour to be, than a reflection its reality. Moreover, the first, and most famous, of the sixteenth-century proverb collections, Erasmus’ Adages was emphatically not a collection of examples from popular speech: they were phrases to be learned and used for instruction, rather than as representative of folk wisdom and oral culture. These books of proverbs, then, reflect not popular opinions and beliefs, but the opinions and beliefs of the educated and of literary wits. To be included in such a collection was an indication, perhaps, not of the peasant-authenticity of a phrase, but on its aptness or elegance.
Dr Lorna J Clark, Royal Bank of Canada Foundation Fellow at the Bodleian Libraries, is editing The Letters of Dr Charles Burney. She is the editor of a volume in the series of The Memoirs of the Court of George III (Pickering, 2015), two volumes of The Court Journals of Frances Burney (Oxford, 2014), and a novel, The Romance of Private Life (1839) in the Chawton House Library Series.
Catto, Jeremy, Pamela Gradon, and Anne Hudson. Wyclif and His Followers: An Exhibition to Mark the 600th Anniversary of the Death of John Wyclif, December 1984-April 1985. Oxford: Bodleian Library, 1984.
Turning over one page (figure 2), this narrative thread continues since now the border of the verso page (e4v) shows the crucifixion in slightly modified form from the previous large scale depiction since the mourning women under the cross are replaced by Longinus with the lance. This is supported by the creation of Eve (Immisit dominus soporem in adam) and by Moses beating water out of the rock. The main text for this page consists of the full Matins for the Office of the Cross, i.e. the first verse of the hymn for the Hour Patris sapientia veritas divina which talks about arresting Christ. This in turn had been a topic in the margin, including its typological antecedents, a few pages previously: e1v. The Collect for the Officium which is repeated at every hour starts with the words: Iesu christe fili dei vivi pone passionem crucem et mortem tuam inter iudicium tuum et animam meam. It seems remarkable that the complete text of the first Hour of the Office of the Cross coincides precisely with the crucifixion in the Biblia pauperum-inspired marginal decorations. As mentioned above, the shifting process of aligning margins and body of the book would make this quite hard to plan, and due to the scarcity of research on this, I am not yet able to determine whether this coincidence is a common one. In any case, the Bodleian copy achieves a rare harmony of the two text-image-cycles in the body and the margin of the Book of Hours. The following recto-page (e5r) shows a full-page rendering of Pentecost as opening illustration for the Office of the Holy Spirit which then takes up all of the following verso-page (e5v).
Pitard, Derrick. “A New Language of Authority: The Growth of Vernacular Religious Literacy in England during the Later Middle Ages.” Ph.D. diss. U. of Rochester, 1997. [Includes the Prologues to the Glossed Gospel Commentary on Matthew from Bodleian, Laud Misc. 235 and to the Glossed Gospel Commentary on Luke from Bodleian, Bodley 143.]
MS. Lincoln College Lat. 16 is a fourteenth-century English manuscript which has been held at the Bodleian Library since 1892, when it was deposited from Lincoln College, Oxford. It is composed of a commented Apocalypse of St John in Latin (ff. 1-138), and a commented Apocalypse of St John in French which also features numerous illustrations (ff. 139-181).
The Cheney archive documents the history of Cheney & Sons, an independent family printing firm based in Banbury. The firm was in operation from 1767 to 2001, working primarily as jobbing printers but also printing some books. The archive, acquired by the Bodleian Library in 2010, includes 17 volumes of printed ephemera, books, and manuscript material, and demonstrates both the longevity of the company and their adaptability through over two centuries of politics, wars and changing technology.
Wilson, E.P. “A Critical Text, with Commentary, of MS. English Theology f. 39 in the Bodleian Library.” B. Litt. Thesis. University of Oxford, 1968.