Eadweard Muybridge and Animal Locomotion

In 1878, the photographer Eadweard Muybridge proved that while in motion all four legs of a horse could be mid-air at once. His discovery caused a public sensation as this rapid motion could not be discerned by the human eye. By creating a completely new system of high-speed photography, Muybridge had effectively ‘frozen time’. Muybridge’s most ambitious publication, Animal locomotion :an electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of animal movements, 1872-1885 (Phililadelphia,1887) is now available for consultation in the Early Printed Books reading room. For this work, Muybridge created 781 motion studies using the sophisticated equipment that he had developed. He could take up to 36 images of a single act; such as walking, jumping, wrestling, knitting or lying on the ground and reading.

Animal locomotion, plate 637

Animal locomotion, plate 637

At the time, Muybridge’s work gave him celebrity status, he travelled throughout America and Europe giving public lectures which were a mix of education and entertainment using his motion study images. He projected and animated the images using a device that he invented called the zoopraxiscope. His images and influence have had a far reaching effect in popular culture. Today they are considered to be part of the genesis of cinema.

The photographs were reproduced for publication using the collotype printing process. Invented in the 1850s, this planographic printing process utilises a printing surface created from reticulated gelatin. The publication method of Animal Locomotion was novel. It was possible, of course, to purchase the complete publication. However, many subscribers choose to make a selection of 100 plates at a cost of $1 per plate, which was then issued in a portfolio. Therefore, the Trinity Library copy of publication has the potential to be unique.

Animal locomotion, plate 655

Animal locomotion, plate 655

Unfortunately the portfolio which contained the complete 100 plates and title page is no longer extant rendering the printed plates vulnerable. The conservation treatment required to make the collection available was recently completed by Austin Plann Curley, a visiting student from Winterthur-University of Delaware Art Conservation Program and involved cleaning, repairing, documenting and collating the plates. A storage enclosure was custom-made in order to make the collection available to readers and preserve and protect this fascinating publication for future scholarship.

- Andrew Megaw MA, Senior Conservator of Books

What where? Beckett Display in the Berkeley Foyer

IMG_20141112_171959This year Trinity College Library has made great advances in acquiring and making available significant collections of Samuel Beckett material, most recently with the acquisition of the Hayden Collection of Beckett correspondence. In the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections two excellent Beckett collections have been catalogued and are available to consult in the EPB reading room. The Con Leventhal Collection, which contains primarily Beckett authored material from throughout his career including many inscribed first editions; and the Stanley E. Gontarski Beckett Library, which contains a comprehensive collection of Beckett criticism as well as many foreign language editions of Beckett’s writing. Several items from both collections are now on display in the Berkeley foyer.

From the Leventhal Collection you can see “Our exagmination round his factification for incamination of Work in progress” which features Beckett’s first published essay; a rare first edition of his prize winning poem “Whoroscope”; and a copy of “Molloy” inscribed to Ethna MacCarthy, an early crush of Beckett’s who went on the marry his friend Con Leventhal. The Gontarski Beckett Library is strong in theatrical and international content with the Evergreen Review literary magazine featuring “Ohio impromptu”; and “Wierność przegranej” a collection of Polish translations of Beckett essays also on display.


“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.