“Upon the Wild Waves” — a new exhibition opens in the Long Room

"The Children of Lir" illustration ©PJ Lynch 2014 from "The Names Upon The Harp" by Marie Heaney, published by Faber

“The Children of Lir” illustration ©PJ Lynch 2014 from “The Names Upon The Harp” by Marie Heaney, published by Faber

A new exhibition has opened in the Old Library, Trinity College Dublin: “Upon the wild waves: a journey through myth in children’s books” explores some of the varying ways in which writers and illustrators have used myth down through the centuries to engage and excite younger readers. From Thomas Godwin’s “Romanae historiae anthologia” (1648) to “Hagwitch” (2013) by the contemporary Irish writer and illustrator Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, the exhibition serves as a celebration of the wealth of children’s literature held in the Library.

Myths from around the world are represented in this display, although there is a particular emphasis on English-language books and on tales from Irish authors. The exhibition includes sections on Biblical, Classical, Norse, Arthurian and Irish myths. It is clear from all the works displayed that myths have always had an important role to play in providing guidance to children on how to deal with the great problems of life, as well as offering ways of understanding the past, present and future, and of explaining the inexplicable.

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The exhibition was prepared by Dr Pádraic Whyte, co-director of the Masters programme in Children’s Literature at the School of English, TCD. It will be on view in the Long Room until April 2015.

An online version of the exhibition is available here.

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu at 200


Le Fanu port

As part of the Le Fanu at 200 celebrations, Trinity College will host the Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu Bicentenary Conference on 15th- 16th October 2014. To coincide with the event, the Library is planning a small Le Fanu exhibition in the foyer of the Berkeley Library. Delegates will be able to view a selection of Le Fanu’s works including Uncle Silas: a tale of Bartram-Haugh – first published 150 years ago this year.

Green Tea

‘Green tea’ (London, 1929) Illustrated by Edward Ardizzone

The display will also include In a glass darkly (1929) illustrated by Edward Ardizzone. The work contains two notable eerie stories ‘Carmilla’ and ‘Green tea’. The passing of Le Fanu’s wife Susanna in 1858 had a profound effect on him and it is suggested that it led to a reappraisal of his religious faith. ‘Green tea’ illustrates the influence of the theologian Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) and the otherworldly teachings of the Swedenborgian church on his writings.

Le Fanu TCD

Le Fanu’s entry in ‘Alumni Dublinenses’ (Dublin, 1935)

Le Fanu entered Trinity College in 1832 where he was joined by his brother, William, one year later. The brothers were deemed ‘country-list men’ and as such, could spend much of their time being tutored by their father in their home place Abington, Co. Limerick. His time in Dublin was spent mixing with cousins and fellow members of College Historical Society. He later studied law at the King’s Inns and was called to the bar in 1839. Le Fanu’s first work ‘The ghost and the bone-setter’  appeared in Dublin University Magazine in 1838. He was to remain a regular contributor to the magazine up until 1869 and strengthened his connections further by becoming proprietor and editor in 1861. The 1860s was to prove a prolific period for Le Fanu, commencing with the publication of The house by the churchyard in 1863 in book form.

Intaglio Printmaking Illustrated

Catherine McDonagh from the cataloguing department has prepared this month’s display in the Berkeley foyer, which features illustrations originally produced using intaglio printing techniques.

In intaglio printing, incisions are etched or impressed into a steel or copper plate. Ink is then applied to the plate and sinks down into the incised areas. The surface of the plate is wiped so that the ink only remains in the incisions and a print is taken. There are a number of methods that can be used to make these incisions. This exhibition looks at etching, engraving, aquatint, mezzotint, and photogravure techniques.

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On display are 4 examples of illustrations, the originals of which were printed using different intaglio techniques. In the print “A horse frightened by a lion”  George Stubbs used a mixed method of engraving which lies somewhere between aquatint and mezzotint, giving a tonal quality to the work. Francisco Goya used a variety of intaglio printmaking techniques in his series of prints “The Disasters of the War“. Etching and engraving can be seen in the line work while aquatint is used for the tonal areas. Photogravure illustrations are utilised in the successful author/illustrator collaboration between Irish novelist Lord Dunsany and English artist Sidney Sime “Time and the Gods” which inspired later authors and artists in the fantasy genre. The skill of graphic artist M.C. Escher is evident in the very dark and very light tones side by side in “Eye“. He mastered the technically difficult tonal engraving process of mezzotint to achieve this exact tone.

Many thanks to Catherine for her work in preparing this exhibition!


A Day Spent In Dublin

Now in its ninth year, Culture Night will see 38 regions, towns and cities on the island of Ireland showcase exciting historical and cultural events. This year sees events planned in the Old Library and Long Room Hub. Devoting time to exploring Dublin is nothing new, as outlined in this humorous poem from 1747.

A day spent in Dublin, 1746-7 Shelfmark: Press A.7.20 no. 7

A day spent in Dublin, 1746-7, Shelfmark: Press A.7.20 no. 7


The annotations reveal the main protagonist as Lady Margaret Barrymore and the poem cheerfully describes her day, beginning with a hearty breakfast before a journey to town – taking in some culture along the way. We will return to Lady Margaret and her husband Thomas Crosbie, M.P. for Dingle and former High Sheriff of Kerry, in a future blog post.

The annotations also help to identify other individuals omitted by the anonymous composer. Reference is made to 18th century socialite Eleanor Palmer (Ambrose) and Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th earl of Chesterfield, the latter of whom Samuel Johnson describes as ‘a wit among lords and a lord among wits.’ In 1746 Chesterfield returned to England leaving Ambrose in search of a husband. In 1751 she married Mayo politician Roger Palmer and lived out her years in Henry Street until her death in 1818.

Other characters are not as easy to identify. ‘Or a new Manuscript of Maurice’ may well refer to a letter from Barrymore’s relation Sir Maurice Crosbie, whose correspondence is among the The Crosbie Papers in the National Library of Ireland and here in Trinity.

Does the line ‘My chair to Church, and next to Bindon’ refer to a work by Francis Bindon or actually to the portrait artist and architect himself?

Easier however is the reference to David Garrick, ‘Garrick sure’s the Prince of Players’. Garrick spent the early part of 1746 in Dublin managing and acting in Smock Alley with Thomas Sheridan and it was here, famously, that he first played the role of Hamlet.

Please get in touch if you can identify any of the other characters referred to in this work. Who for instance are Hogan and Grogan? Who or where was Rice’s?

Happy Days! Stanley E. Gontarski Beckett Library now available in EPB

happy days

S.E. Gontarski: Beckett’s Happy Days: A Manuscript Study (Colombus, OH, 1977) Shelfmark: OLS L-10-771

As Beckett scholars and enthusiasts gather at Trinity College Dublin for the 2014 Samuel Beckett Summer School, the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections is delighted to make another significant collection of Beckett holdings available to researchers – the Stanley E. Gontarski Beckett Library.

This working library of the renowned Beckett scholar was part of a major acquisition of Samuel Beckett papers and manuscripts purchased from Professor Gontarski in March of this year. It comprises a comprehensive collection of critical works on Beckett, and includes internationally published scholarship not previously held in Trinity Library. There are also examples of Beckett works in a variety of languages – Polish, Hebrew, Japanese and more – and some inscribed first editions of his original works.

The Stanley E. Gontarski Beckett Library is a fine addition to the Beckett holdings in EPB and complements the Con Leventhal Collection which was catalogued earlier this year. The availability of these collections strengthens Trinity College Library’s position as a leading academic destination for Beckett research and enhances the College’s teaching capacity in Beckett studies.

For anyone with an interest in Beckett’s works, the Beckett Summer School has organised a public programme of events on the 13th and 14th of August. These talks and performances aim to give audiences a rare insight into the life and works of Samuel Beckett.

Ireland’s dead enigma: Francis Ledwidge

To coincide with the visit of the World War I Road Show to Trinity College on Saturday 12 July, there are new exhibits in the Berkeley Library foyer and the Ussher Orientation Space.

The Berkeley display case contains two holdings related to the war poet Francis Ledwidge. Born into a poor, rural family in Slane, Co. Meath, Ledwidge had to leave school at the end of the primary cycle to help earn money for his family – his father having died when he was five years old. From the age of thirteen he worked as a farm labourer and began to write poetry. His writing came to the attention of Lord Dunsany, who gave him great encouragement and wrote an introduction to each of his three volumes of poetry including Last songs which is now on display. Described as ‘our dead enigma’ by Seamus Heaney, Ledwidge held strong nationalist views with the events of the Easter Rising having affected him greatly. He fought with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and was killed at Flanders on 31st July 1917. In Two songs and Una Bawn, Ledwidge describes the way he felt when called to fight in the War.

The second exhibit shows the entry for Francis Ledwidge in Ireland’s memorial records 1914-1918. In July 1919, the Irish National War Memorial Trust was set up to establish a permanent memorial to the Irishmen killed in the First World War. A national fund-raising campaign generated donations of £42,000, of which about £5,000 was spent on collecting the records of those who had died and publishing their names in a monumental eight-volume work. The volumes were printed by Maunsell & Roberts in Dublin in a limited edition of one hundred copies, and the stained-glass artist Harry Clarke was commissioned to design decorative borders for each page, which are repeated throughout the volumes.

Ireland's memorial records

Ireland’s memorial records 1914-1918, Dublin: 1923

The World War I theme continues with a display of Irish fiction by Collection Management in the Orientation Space. Works on show by Sebastian Barry, Frank McGuinness and others, encompass the political climate of the time and the emotions of guilt and duty felt by the protagonist and their families. Equally illustrated by the authors are stories of friendships, love, lost ones and disjointed families against the backdrop of the continental and home divide.



“Blast” at 100


“Blast” 1, 1914. Shelfmark: OLS X-2-126 no. 1

The avant garde journal Blast was first published on 2 July 1914, on the eve of the First World War. It marked the emergence of Vorticism, a modernist British art movement which paralleled other European art movements such as Futurism in Italy and Expressionism in Germany. Edited by Wyndham Lewis, who also wrote much of the text and provided illustrations as well, the two issues of this short-lived periodical encompassed the different areas of painting, design, sculpture, poetry, prose and drama, as well as reproducing the text of the Vorticist ‘Manifesto’ in its first issue. The second and last issue was entitled ‘War number’ and appeared on 15 July 1915. As exemplified by the bright, puce cover and bold typography of issue 1, Blast was experimental in both content and visual design and can be seen as a predecessor to later ventures in modernist print and visual culture. Apart from Lewis himself, contributors to Blast included the writers Ezra Pound, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, T.S. Eliot and Ford Madox Ford as well as illustrators such as Helen Saunders, Jacob Epstein, Frederick Etchells and C.R.W. Nevinson.

"Blast" 2, 'War number', 1915. Shelfmark: OLS X-2-126 no. 2

“Blast” 2, ‘War number’, 1915. Shelfmark: OLS X-2-126 no. 2

The Italian Futurist journal "Lacerba", 15 July 1914. Shelfmark: PER 80-413

The Italian Futurist journal “Lacerba”, 15 July 1914. Shelfmark: PER 80-413











The Department of Early Printed Books and the School of English are marking the centenary of Blast with a small exhibition in the Long Room, coinciding with a one-day symposium, “BLAST at 100” which takes place in the Trinity Long Room Hub on 2 July. An online version of the exhibition is also available on the Library website.


C.R.W. Nevinson: The roads of France (London, 1918?). Shelfmark: 22.aa.8 no. 17