Category Archives: Humanities

Percy Manning catalogue

The new catalogue of the Percy Manning collection is now available online.

Percy Manning centenary poster

Manning centenary

Percy Manning was a historian, folklorist and archaeologist with a special interest in Oxfordshire. When he died in 1917 he bequeathed his extensive collection to the Bodleian Library, the Ashmolean Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museum. It includes not only his own research notes and books on Oxfordshire history but also his personal collection of everything from medieval manorial records to watercolour paintings by established artists to actual archaeological finds (the archaeological papers went to the Ashmolean, and the artefacts to the Pitt Rivers). It’s a fascinating collection, full of hidden and forgotten histories as well as beautiful paintings and drawings of buildings and views across Oxfordshire which date back to the eighteenth century.

Created with the financial support of the Marc Fitch Fund, this new finding aid brings together all our existing descriptions of the Percy Manning archive, which were previously scattered across a variety of book, manuscript, map and even music catalogues. It also allowed us to do something new: to list all the Oxfordshire places that are named or referenced in the collection, whether it’s a manorial map of Bladon, or a snippet of folklore from Bicester. If you live in Oxfordshire, try searching for your town, village, or city, and see what you can find!

Oxford is celebrating Percy Manning’s centenary this spring with an array of events and activities including (but not limited to!) an exhibition in the Weston Library, a study day on 18 February at the Oxford University Department of Continuing Education, a lecture at the Weston on 22 March, a museum trail at the Pitt Rivers Museum, an Ashmolean showcase of Percy Manning’s archaeological finds and a City Museum exhibition on Mummers and Maypoles. Other events include the unveiling of a blue plaque, family activities, music workshops, and a Centenary Celebration Concert with Magpie Lane and the Headington Quarry Morris Dancers. Full listings are available at the Folk in Oxford website.

Discovered! A ‘lost’ diary of Sir Edmund Warcup of Northmoor, 1670-1674

Gallen-almanack-1672

Warcup’s Gallen Almanack of 1672

The Rawlinson Almanacs

One of the joys of the Bodleian’s collections is that they are so rich and complex that there are still discoveries to be made, even among collections that have been here for 200 years or more. The sheer scale of the great and ongoing task of making the collections intelligible and available to researchers means that inevitably in attempting to cover broad areas, some individual items are missed.

Almanacs appear to be a case in point. While 17th-century almanacs can be found via SOLO, they are quite often only briefly described. But a number of them are unique items, containing manuscript memoranda, accounts and even diary entries. I have found an interesting late-17th century diary in the course of researching our collections of Gallen almanacs, as we have recently purchased a Gallen almanac of 1667 which contains a very interesting diary indeed – look out for news of this in the near future.

There are a number of almanacs in the Rawlinson collection, that vast and miscelleneous treasure house of books and manuscripts bequeathed by Richard Rawlinson in 1755. Many of these are in a separate sequence, shelmarked Rawl. Alm. Five almanacs bound together, including a 1672 Gallen almanac, have the shelfmark [Octavo] Rawl. 439. However, though SOLO does not record the fact, if these five little almanacs began life as printed books, they are no longer, because their owner kept his diary in them between 1670 and 1674.

 

Sir Edmund Warcup’s diaries unearthed

My attention was first drawn by the bold signature of one R. Warcup on one of the pages. Warcup was a name known to me. Sir Edmund Warcup (or Warcupp) was a lawyer and magistrate who makes it into the pages of the Dictionary of National Biography largely on account of his notoriety as an over-zealous pursuer of papists during the (mostly imaginary) Popish Plot of 1678. Subsequently he realigned himself with the Anglican-Tory interest in the aftermath of the Exclusion Crisis. Some of his papers relating to the interrogation of supposed plotters can be found in the manuscript collections in the Bodleian. His memorandum book on legal business 1652-1666 is in the Rawlinson collection (MS. Rawl. D. 930), and further miscellaneous papers are in MS. Rawl. D. 384. These papers, acquired as a result of Rawlinson’s bequest of 1755, were supplemented by further papers given to the Library by St. John’s College, Oxford, in 1953, comprising largely depositions taken before Warcup about the Popish and Presbyterian plots, 1678-82 (MS. Eng. hist. b. 204).

So my first thought on seeing the signature of R. Warcup was that this almanac might in some way be connected with Sir Edmund. A closer inspection revealed firstly, that the signatures (there are more than one) were in a different hand from the rest of the manuscript notes; secondly, a Robert Warcup is mentioned in the text as ‘brother’; and thirdly, the notes were partly a diary and partly memoranda, and the diary begins in January 1670 (New Style) with an account of rumours circulating at Court about the Queen’s wish to divorce Charles II and retire to Ham House. The diarist seems to have been active in spreading the gossip about, until one of his confidants went straight to the King and the diarist was told never to speak of the matter again!

Warcup-diary-entry-1670

Warcup diary January 1670 [New Style] – gossip about the Queen

 Internal evidence suggested that the diarist might be Sir Edmund Warcup himself, particularly the several references to Northmoor, Oxfordshire, his country seat. The DNB article mentions a diary of 1676-1684, edited and published by K. G. Feiling and F. R. D. Needham in the English Historical Review in 1925. Much to my surprise, this diary turned out to be in the Bodleian. The editors stated in their 1925 article that ‘certain journals of this Edmund Warcup, hitherto, it is believed, imprinted, have lately been discovered in the Bodleian Library’. They are in fact among the Rawlinson Almanac collection and have the shelfmarks Rawl. Alm. 201-203, though I have found no trace of a catalogue of these discoveries either in SOLO or in the Printed Books with MS Additions catalogue. There are two volumes of a diary 1676-1684, and a further volume comprising little more than brief memoranda 1708-11. So although these diaries were discovered in 1925, and the edition by Feiling and Needham has been cited by scholars of Restoration history ever since, the original diaries have remained as nothing more than printed almanacs in our own catalogues. And the annotated almanacs I have discovered take Warcup’s diary back to 1670. Feiling and Needham missed it for one simple reason – it is not in the Rawlinson almanac series. The 1670-1674 diary was for some reason now unfathomable, given the shelfmark [Octavo] Rawl 439. Presumably at some early stage in its life, it became separated from the others.

Warcup-diaries-binding

Three volumes of Warcup’s diary. The two to the right unearthed in 1925, the one on the left in 2016. Acquired 1755.

Feiling and Needham’s edition provided all the remaining evidence needed to be sure it was Sir Edmund’s diary I was looking at. The introduction in the EHR article mentions that Warcup, after a spell out of favour occasioned by his over-free use of Arlington’s name ‘to cover some financial transactions of his own … resumed in 1667 a long career as farmer of the excise for Wiltshire and Dorset, again became a justice, and added a commissionership in wine licences.’ Part of the newly discovered diary is indeed a ‘Journall into the West in anno 1673 about the wyne lycences’; and Arlington is mentioned  very early in the diary when Warcup notes that on 3 January 1670 ‘Lady Arl[ington] presented M. to Q. who kissed her hande’.  Q. is clearly the Queen, and M. is harder to fathom, but might be the Duke of Monmouth (see below).

Any remaining doubts about authorship were dispelled as soon as I compared the diary with the ones discovered in 1925. The binding, handwriting and even historic damp damage were alike in all the volumes. There were even memoranda cross-referenced from the ‘new’ volume to the others.

Warcup-diary-entry-1679

Entry from Warcup’s 1679 diary in Rawl. Alm. 201. Warcup is exasperated at the scepticism shown towards evidence of a Popish Plot offered by the notorious Titus Oates whom Warcup was all too ready to believe.

Warcup’s later diaries have long been established, thanks to Feiling and Needham’s extracts, as a major source for proceedings in the Popish Plot. Although the recently discovered diary covers a perhaps less interesting phase of Warcup’s career, it is nevertheless a valuable document. It contains a mixture of London and Oxfordshire entries. Warcup’s career began in London where he was he was a JP, and he had connections with Shaftesbury, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The London sections include much court gossip and records meetings with courtiers. For example, in November 1670 Warcup describes an encounter with the Duke of Monmouth and the Prince or Orange:

“At the Dukes Play house. D.M. led An to her coach. We were at Lincolnes Inn Revels. M. there spoke to us, & at 7 next morne, Prince of Orange, Mon. & Ld Rochester came & danced & caused Pitts & his son fidlers to play before our doore, and threatned to fire Pitts his house.

Sunday night at Court, and well receved by all the Court from high to low. Abt 2 of the clocke came the same company without musicke. Mon. drove the coach; all swore rashly. Mon. prest them to silence, becaus where they were. I feare some outrageouse act.”

As already mentioned, there is a 1673 West Country diary which describes the process of selling rights to trade in wine to various merchants in Bath, Bristol and other West Country towns. Otherwise, much of the diary is taken up with Oxfordshire matters.

 

Warcup and Northmoor

The memorial to Sir Edmund Warcup, who died in 1712, is in the church at Northmoor, Oxfordshire. I made a visit on Boxing Day intending to take a photograph of his monument for this blog post, but unfortunately the parish has not managed to resist the temptation to use Warcup’s rather fine monument as a table, and I found it piled high with kneelers, parish newsletters and other bits and pieces. It seems that Edmund Warcup has not only been neglected by the Bodleian! I carefully moved a large and heavy folding table leaning up against one side to take a picture of the rich stonework.

Northmoor-church-Warcup-monument-detail

Side of Sir Edmund Warcup’s memorial, Northmoor church

The church has other very interesting remains from the late Stuart period, including a west gallery said by Pevsner to have been erected in the 1690s. At one end is a 1701 inscription bearing the name of Richard Lydall, with a wonderful verse carved into it:

Northmoor-church-west-gallery

‘Richard Lydall gave a new bell/ And built this bell loft free/ And then he said before he dyed/ Let ringers pray for me/ 1701’

‘Rude, undecent & violent’ disputes

The charming rural idyll that this may conjure up is destroyed when one discovers the nature of the relationship between Lydall and Warcup. Richard Lydall appears in Warcup’s diary in rather contentious circumstances. There are two  memoranda dated March 1672 [New Style], and signed by E. Warcup, R.W. (his brother Robert) and others. The first states that Richard Lydall before witnesses ‘declared he never saw the circle libell but in Mr Henry Martins hands, & that he (HM) only shewed it to him (RL)’. There follows a rather cryptic statement from Lydall that

“he & Mr Martin were at Westchester the last Whitsuntide when Mrs Martins mounds & the colledges were pulled up”.

The second memorandum provides more enigmatic clues about this incident. Now Lydall admits that the wrtiting of the superscription on this ‘circle libell’ was very like his own, and

“that he beleived there were 40 foote and 20 horse out at Whitsuntide last when the mounds were pulled up, that he was out with a brome in his hand that night, that hee sawe the 2 libells with the prints of gates over them in the hands of Wm Bedford, Wm Bedwell, & at the parsonage”.

Worse still, the libel was shown to many persons, and Mrs Martin’s maid, among others, had read it.

This obscure reference must surely relate to a dispute between various Northmoor farmers and Warcup about enclosure of common land in the parish. A decree in Chancery, 1672 (C78/1264, very fortunately scanned and published on a website hosted by the University of Houston) outlines the whole case, and names the people mentioned in the memoranda in Warcup’s diary. ‘Mrs Martins mounds and the colledges’ must refer to some kind of boundaries that might have been destroyed in protest about the enclosure. The Chancery decree which was drawn up just a few months after the incident, certainly enjoins the parties to erect new mounds and fences:

“all the new mounds & fences to bee made betwixt party & party from Gaunt house & Stanlake Broad to Babliocke hythe as alsoe from master Hewes his plott adjoyning to West Mead & soe downe to Northhurst … shall bee ditched & throwne up…”

The ‘college mounds’ must have belonged to St John’s College, Oxford, landowners in the parish and one of the parties to the decree. It would appear that Warcup was enclosing fields and ran into dispute with his neighbours, and that the libel somehow related to that. The decree is extemely lengthy and lays out the rights and obligations of all parties in the formation and use of the enclosed lands. According to A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 13, Bampton Hundred (Part One), Warcup acquired Northmoor manor in 1671. His diary for 1671-1672 is almost entirely taken up with aspects of the Northmoor enclosure, with notes of meetings and accounts of expenditure. The memoranda about the ‘circle libell’ appear at the end of this sequence. On 5 March 1672 Warcup had noted in the diary that William Bedford admitted having seen the ’round libell’.

Warcup’s feud with Lydall continued beyond 1672. In MS. Rawlinson D. 384, fols. 44ff  we find a copy of a suit of Richard Lydall and Frances Fairebeard, widow, both of Northmoor, against Edmund Warcup, concerning his exclusive right to seats in the aisle of Northmoor church, heard in the church courts in Oxford. The document runs to nearly fifty pages and includes sworn depositions of many Northmoor parishioners, a number of whom appear in the Chancery decree mentioned above, and in the memoranda about the ‘circle libell’. The case reveals that there was no love lost between Warcup and Lydall.  It seems that Warcup’s right to the pew had been established by an earlier ruling, but Lydall resented the pretensions of this newcomer to the parish. The court document states that

“there was a doore or doores with a locke or lockes & wainscott partition or some other fence erected & sett up to secure the use & right of the said isle to him the said Edm. Warcupp & his family”

Lydall was charged that he, or others appointed by him

“didst on or about the thirteenth day of November last past [1677] (being a day appointed by his most sacred Majesty for a publick fast) breake downe the doore with lock partition or fence of the said isle in a rude undecent & violent manner contrary to the order & decree of thy lawfull Ordinary [the Bishop’s representative in the Church court].”

Furthermore,

“after the said breaches and defects were repaired & mended at the proper costs & charges of Edm. Warcupp .. you the said Rich. Lydall not being content with thy misdemeanours … (but persisting therein & adding thereunto) didst on or about the 17 day of November last past (being a Sunday) againe breake downe the aforesaid fence & doore … & after that thou or some other by thy direction … didst alsoe place two stooles or other seates in the said isle & didst thereupon seate thy selfe & wife or some other on thy part & behalfe, to the great disturbance of the said Edm. Warcupp Esqr his Lady & family …”

 

warcup-v-lydall

MS. Rawl. D. 384, fols. 44ff – Lydall attacks Warcup’s pew

 

Have you seen this manuscript?

I am clearly not the first person to have seen Warcup’s diary in [octavo] Rawl. 439, but the lack of any record of it in either our printed book or our manuscript catalogues suggests that I am probably the first to have recognised it as such. If anyone has found or used the diary before, or is aware of any citation of it in a book or article, I would be interested to hear from you.

Index of Chandra Shum Shere manuscript collection now digitized

Chandra Shum Shere1On 20th December, the Bodleian’s Clay Sanskrit Librarian, Dr. Camillo Formigatti, was pleased to be able to announce the launch of a complete digital version of the Index Catalogue of MSS. Chandra Shum Shere by T. Gambier Parry, revised and completed by E. Johnston. This small project was made possible by a generous grant from the Max Müller Memorial Fund.

The PDF files are available on the Finding Aids – Oriental Manuscripts & Rare Books: South and Inner Asia webpage of the Oxford LibGuides website. They are listed under the section Sanskrit. Dr. Formigatti has prepared a set of three different files:

• Index Catalogue of MSS. Chandra Shum Shere vol. 1 (A-Tarpaṇa)
• Index Catalogue of MSS. Chandra Shum Shere vol. 2 (Tarpaṇa-Muktāvalī)
• Index Catalogue of MSS. Chandra Shum Shere vol. 3 (Muktāvalī-Haumikaprāyaścitta-Modern Indian Languages)

Each file is available in two different resolutions: the first for fast internet connections and fit for printing, the second for slower internet connections and to be displayed on-screen. All files are provided with bookmarks for easy navigation.

We hope this basic navigation tool will help all manuscript lovers to find their way through the thousands of manuscripts in this valuable collection.

A ‘happy and fruitful’ relationship: Seretse Khama in the Oxfam archive

The recent release of ‘A United Kingdom’, a film about the inspiring true story of Sir Seretse Khama, the first president of Botswana, and his British-born wife, Ruth, got us thinking about Oxfam’s links with the country.

Director Amma Asante’s film opened the BFI London Film Festival in October, and tells how Khama, who was chief-in-waiting of the Bamangwato people of Bechuanaland (later Botswana), met Ruth Williams, an office clerk, while studying law in London in the 1940s. Despite opposition to their interracial marriage from the British Government, apartheid South Africa, and initially, tribal elders in Bechuanaland, Khama went on to to be the democratically-elected premier of his country, overseeing its independence in 1966, and a long period of economic growth and development.

In 1961, Oxfam took a significant leap forward with the appointment of T.F. (‘Jimmy’) Betts, ex-colonial servant and brother of the Labour politician, Barbara Castle, as its first resident ‘Field Director’, tasked with managing its development programme in Southern Africa. Previously, local voluntary agencies were entrusted to oversee the use of Oxfam funds, supported by occasional visits from Oxford staff. In 1962, one of Oxfam’s largest grants to that date – £90,000 – was allocated to work in the three British High Commission Territories of Bechuanaland (Botswana from independence in 1966), Basutoland (Lesotho from 1966), and Swaziland. The programme in Bechuanaland included repair work on water catchment dams to alleviate the effects of drought, training of farmers in modern techniques, and other agricultural initiatives. Over the course of the 1960s, Oxfam invested around £500,000 in the country, nearing £1 per head of population.  Khama’s regard for Oxfam and vice versa is revealed in two letters that we are currently cataloguing. The first, dated 24 June 1974, by Oxfam’s Director, Leslie Kirkley, informs Khama that after over ten years of collaboration, Oxfam feels that the time has come for it to concentrate its efforts “in other parts of the world where the problems are more intractable”. Kirkley praises the progress and achievements made by Botswana and Khama’s “concerned and enlightened leadership”. He also comments on the importance that the work in Botswana has had for Oxfam:

“Botswana has, and will continue to have, a special significance for Oxfam, as it was there that we began to practise our role as a long-term development agency and the experience gained has been of invaluable help to us as we have extended our activities to other parts of the world and constantly adjusted our thinking and policies over the years.”

Oxfam Archive, Bodleian Libraries

Oxfam Archive, Bodleian Libraries

 

Khama’s reply, dated 7 August 1974, expresses thanks to Oxfam for its work in Botswana, undertaken during the course of a “happy and fruitful” relationship, noting:

“We shall always be extremely grateful to Oxfam for the assistance which you have been giving us over the years. We have by no means solved all of our problems, but we have at least made significant progress in a number of fields, and much of the credit for this must go to Oxfam.”

Oxfam Archive, Bodleian Libraries

Oxfam Archive, Bodleian Libraries

 

Three photographs recently donated to the archive show the Khamas and Jimmy Betts in 1964, visiting a community centre in Serowe, Bechuanaland, built with Oxfam’s assistance.

Jimmy Betts and Ruth Khama inside the community centre. Photo credit: Hugh McIntosh. (Oxfam Archive, Bodleian Libraries)

Jimmy Betts and Ruth Khama inside the community centre. Photo credit: Hugh McIntosh. (Oxfam Archive, Bodleian Libraries)

 

Jimmy Betts and Seretse Khama outside the community centre. Photo credit: Hugh McIntosh. (Oxfam Archive, Bodleian Libraries)

Jimmy Betts and Seretse Khama outside the community centre. Photo credit: Hugh McIntosh. (Oxfam Archive, Bodleian Libraries)

 

Jimmy Betts and Ruth Khama with others (unidentified) in the library of the community centre. Photo credit: Hugh McIntosh. (Oxfam Archive, Bodleian Libraries)

Jimmy Betts and Ruth Khama with others (unidentified) in the library of the community centre. Photo credit: Hugh McIntosh. (Oxfam Archive, Bodleian Libraries)

‘A United Kingdom’ is currently in cinemas.

Thai Manuscript Conservation Association Workshop at the Bodleian

On 14th and 15th December staff from Bodleian Special Collections and Digital Library Systems and Services welcomed representatives from the Manuscript Conservation Association of Thailand. Delegates included Mr. Boonlert Sananon, President of the MCA, Mr. Boonlue Burarnsan, Vice President of the MCA, and Mrs. Phatchanun Bunnag, Registrar of the MCA.

P1010035_resize

During the first day of the workshop delegates discussed the latest developments in TEI /XML cataloguing standards for Thai manuscripts at the Centre for Digital Scholarship. On the morning of second day of the workshop the delegates visited the Conservation workshop. This was followed by a lecture by given Mr Saneh Mahapol, from the Fine Arts Department of the Ministry of Culture on the conservation of palm leaf books in Thailand.

The workshop ended with delegates helping the library to identify and make basic TEI descriptions of uncatalogued Thai manuscripts in the Bodleian’s collection.

P1010075_resize

‘We used to correspond’: the letters of Barbara Pym and Philip Larkin

A reading of the letters of Philip Larkin and Barbara Pym by Oliver Ford Davies and Triona Adams, with an introduction by Anthony Thwaite, OBE.

Date: 10 December 2016, 6.00pm – 8.00pm

Venue: Blackwell Hall, Weston Library, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BG

When Philip Larkin first wrote to Barbara Pym in 1961 it was the minor poet approaching the celebrated novelist. While their literary fortunes were to change dramatically the correspondence and the friendship remained steady over nearly 20 years. Highly entertaining, fascinating and often deeply moving, the Pym-Larkin letters tell the story of an extraordinary relationship between two very different characters united in their passion for the written word and of fall and rise of a literary career.

Tickets cost £20, including refreshments.

To book please contact the Friends of the Bodleian Administrator on 01865 277234 or at fob@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Further details at http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/bodley/friends/fob-events/2016/we-used-to-correspond

A Mughal Hunt Manuscript shown as the Artist Intended

One of the joys of working for the Bodleian is the capacity of manuscripts to surprise. During the final preparations for The hunt in Mughal India exhibition , I was asked to look at the mount of one of the manuscripts for display (MS. Ouseley Add. 171, f. 6r). The 1947 mount tightly framed the miniature, which is painted in subdued greens and browns. When folded back from the miniature, the artist’s border of warm pink and gold was revealed, bringing the whole composition to life. It was a pleasure to give permission for the old mount cover to be removed so the picture could be displayed as the artist had originally intended it to be seen.

ms_ouseley_add_171_6r

ms_ouseley_add_171_6r_after

A further hidden masterpiece that cannot be shown in the exhibition is the reverse of the painting of the nobleman hunting with a decoy blackbuck (MS. Douce Or. b. 3, f. 29r), which is covered with exquisite calligraphy. The relationship between the calligraphic panel and the painting has yet to be fully researched.

ms_douce_or_b_3_29r

The hunt in Mughal India exhibition runs until the 8th of January and is open to the public. Readers at the Bodleian Oriental Institute Library can also see an associated exhibit of modern printed books relating to the theme of the Mughal hunt.

oil_mughal_hunt

First catalogue of the Bodleian’s own historic archive now online

Today sees the online publication of the first catalogue for the Bodleian’s own organisational archive – ‘Library Records’. This archive is a unique and valuable resource which provides evidence of the activities of the Bodleian throughout its 400 year history. To this day, the Bodleian remains one of the foremost cultural institutions in the world and the archive is of particular interest to researchers considering the history of libraries and librarianship, scholarship and the transfer of knowledge, the study of the book, and manuscript studies.

The Library Records collection includes papers concerning Library finances, the construction and repair of buildings, the acquisition and cataloguing of collections; correspondence with donors, depositors and enquirers; and records of readers’ admission and book orders.

Treasures from the Library Records collection include the earliest known ‘reader’s card’ from 1613/14 and an admission register signed by Iris Murdoch and Philip Larkin, 1940.

Image of earliest known Bodleian reader's card

Library Records c. 1693
Located amongst the collection of Bodleian papers made by Bodley’s Librarian, Falconer Madan this small slip of paper gave Henry Barkley of All Souls College, Oxford permission to use the Bodleian Library. It was signed by the Registrar of the University, Thomas French, on 17 February 1613/14, and a note was added in the Library to record that Barkley was admitted as a reader the same day.

Bodleian Admissions Register signed by Iris Murdoch and Philip Larkin, 1940.

Library Records b. 521
An example of a Bodleian Admissions Register signed on the 17 October 1940 by Iris Murdoch of Somerville College and Philip Arthur Larkin of St. John’s. Despite the privations of the Second World War scholarship continued and the Bodleian remained open. Other records in the archive detail the Library’s contribution to the war effort and document Air Raid Precautions undertaken, accounts of collections taken on deposit from other institutions and lists of books removed for safekeeping to Avoncliff.

Theo Boorman and Oliver House

 

 

Georgian Manuscript Treasures on Display

aak_029, 17/1/03, 2:38 pm, 8C, 5022x7594 (1839+1550), 100%, afn bent6stops, 1/50 s, R13.8, G29.5, B46.9

Visitors to the Weston Library on Wednesday 19th October will have the opportunity to see two 17th century manuscripts of Shota Rustaveli’s epic poem, which will be on display to accompany Dr. Nikoloz Aleksidze’s lecture ‘Come, let us sit for Tariel’: The story of The Man in the Panther’s Skin. This 12th century work was dedicated to Queen Tamar, Georgia’s greatest ruler, and to this day remains a monument of Georgian national identity. The two manuscripts that will be on show were added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in 2014 as part of a joint nomination made with Georgia’s National Centre of Manuscripts. Registered lecture goers will also have the chance to view the manuscripts from 5pm in the Blackwell Hall before the start of the talk at 5.30pm.

 

Donation of Georgian Books for the Wardrop Collection

Dr. Nikoloz Aleksidze, who organised the recent Oxford University colloquium Medieval Georgian Heritage in Turkey, has been instrumental in securing a significant donation of Georgian books to help extend the collection of reference materials available to scholars working with the Wardrop collection.

IMG_3177resize

The colloquium featured an impressive display of publications on the manuscripts, heritage and culture of Georgia, which had been donated by the Korneli Kekelidze National Centre of Manuscripts, the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia, Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia and Buba Kudava of Artanuji Publishing. These donations have now come to the Bodleian, which has one of the finest collections of Kartvelain material outside of Georgia built on the nucleus of books, manuscripts and archives donated by the Wardrops.

IMG_3182resize2

The Wardrop Collection was formed by Sir Oliver Wardrop, who was the United Kingdom’s first Chief Commissioner of Transcaucasus in Georgia, 1919-21 and his sister Marjory, who, after teaching herself Georgian, was the first person to make an English prose translation of the Georgian National epic, The Knight in the Panther’s Skin.  After Marjory’s early death in 1909, the Marjory Wardrop Fund was founded for the encouragement of Georgian studies and from 1910, through this fund, the Bodleian became the beneficiary of all Marjory Wardrop’s papers, books and manuscripts. They were supplemented by further donations from Sir Oliver until his death in 1948. The library has continued to build on this foundation ever since.

Over the coming months, Dr. Aleksidze will be writing a series of guest blogs which will highlight items from the collection and in the autumn he will commence a series of lectures at the Weston Library focusing on the extraordinary legacy of the Wardrops.