George Rose: the original Mrs. Brown

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Mrs. Brown’s visits to Paris, [1868]. Shelfmark: OLS B-6-426 no.1

As a former curate in Camberwell, South London, George Rose (1817-1882) may not suggest the most obvious connection to the successful Brendan O’Carroll character, Agnes Brown. However, after leaving the Church of England in 1855, Rose underwent a major career change and began to adapt and produce a number of plays for the stage under the pseudonym Arthur Sketchley.

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Mrs. Brown at Margate, [1874]. Shelfmark: OLS B-7-203

His big breakthrough came with his fictitious character Mrs. Brown, whose monologues first appeared in Fun magazine on 20 May 1865, one year before Routledge began to issue the works in book form. Running to over 30 volumes the series was a major success. As with the 21st century Mrs. Brown, Rose’s creation was from a working class background and addressed her audience in a humourous and colloquial fashion. Tackling the current topics of the day, titles such as Mrs Brown on the new liquor law (1872) and Mrs Brown on Home Rule (1881) gives an idea of the broad subject matter. Success in print form prompted Rose to return to his artistic roots and tour music halls and theatres globally, delivering Mrs. Brown monologues.Unfortunately in his later years Rose became massively overweight and died suddenly on 11 November 1882.

The Library of Trinity College Dublin holds four titles in the series – ‘Mrs. Brown’s visits to Paris’, [1868]; ‘Mrs. Brown in London’ [1869]; ‘Mrs. Brown on the battle of Dorking’, [1871] and ‘Mrs. Brown at Margate’, [1874].

The tale of Mr Warne

Front cover of binding

Beatrix Potter: “The tale of two bad mice” (London and New York, 1904) Shelfmark: OLS POL 2971

This summer marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of Frederick Warne & Co., the well-known publisher of children’s books. Here in the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections we hold several hundred of Warne’s publications with over a third of them belonging to the Pollard Collection, a collection of more than 10,000 children’s books.

The firm was established in late June 1865 at Bedford Street, Covent Garden by Frederick Warne (1825-1901). At a young age Warne had joined his elder brother in the bookselling business of their brother-in-law, George Routledge, and in 1851 became a partner in his publishing firm. Warne later set up his own company with partners Edward J. Dodd and A.W. Duret and the firm expanded to New York in the 1880s. The publishing house issued a number of popular series of reprints in both fiction and non-fiction. They also published editions of works by celebrated children’s authors and artists and utilised the skills of the leading London colour printer Edmund Evans.

Opening featuring two nursery rhymes with Greenaway's illustrations

Kate Greenaway: “Mother Goose or The old nursery rhymes” (London and New York, [ca 1887-1905?]) Shelfmark: OLS POL 1534

We have marked the anniversary with a small display of Warne’s publications which will be on view until mid-September 2015 in the exhibition case in the foyer of the Berkeley Library. Included are children’s books illustrated by Kate Greenaway and Randolph Caldecott and by the author most associated with the firm, Beatrix Potter. Next year, in fact, will mark another significant anniversary, 150 years since the birth of Potter on 28 July 1866.

Potter's illustration of Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit

Beatrix Potter: “The tale of Mr Tod” (London and New York, 1912) Shelfmark: OLS B-9-904

Potter first wrote the story of Peter Rabbit in 1893 in a picture letter to the child of a former governess. Following rejection by six publishers (including Warne), The tale of Peter Rabbit was issued privately by the author in December 1901. The following year Warne reconsidered and published the first commercial edition. Thus began a collaboration between author and publisher which saw the publication of twenty-three small format Peter Rabbit books.

Dating Warne’s children’s publications can often prove problematic. Toy book publishers at that time often collected together and reissued a group of works previously published separately, usually in time for Christmas and seldom dated. The copy of Caldecott’s picture book included in the display is a typical example. Library accession dates or provenance information can sometimes help to suggest a possible date. In the case of our copy from the Pollard Collection (at OLS POL 684) the clue comes from an inscription on the endpapers from a mother to her child, Rupert S. Thompson, from Surrey, dated Christmas 1899.

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Angelica Selby: “In the sunlight: a tale of Mentone” (London and New York, 1892) Shelfmark: OLS B-14-303

Taking note of the changes over time in a publisher’s imprint can also narrow down a likely date and Chester W. Topp’s bibliography, Victorian yellowbacks & paperbacks, 1849-1905 (Denver, 1993-2006) is a useful resource. Warne was a prominent issuer of yellowbacks, paperbacks and cheap cloth issues of children’s literature and volume 4 of Topp’s work is indispensable in building a picture of his output in this area.

Frederick Warne retired in 1895 leaving the firm in the hands of his three sons, Harold, Fruing and Norman. Norman, the youngest, became Potter’s editor but died suddenly from leukaemia in 1905 only four weeks after he and Beatrix had become engaged to be married. Potter continued publishing her ‘little books’ with the firm and, having no children of her own, bequeathed the rights to her published works to Norman Warne’s nephew, Frederick Warne Stephens, after her death. In the 20th century the firm introduced its famous Observer’s books series of handy pocket reference guides (we hold several hundred of them here in the Library). The company was acquired by Penguin Books in 1983 and later this year the publisher is issuing a celebratory volume, Classic nursery tales: 150 years of Frederick Warne.

Back in business again

The Reading Room in Early Printed Books and Special Collections is now open again after a two-week closed period. Staff were busy over the fortnight with an audit of the collections, relocation of material and general housekeeping tasks. Also, the upgrade of our fire detectors was timed to coincide with the closure – as you can see from the image this was not a simple task! Please see our opening hours here

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A fruitful enterprise

Elizabeth Blachrie was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, early in the eighteenth century but eloped with her doctor cousin, Alexander Blackwell, to London amidst doubts as to the veracity of his medical qualifications. Here, Alexander worked for a printing firm for a short time before setting up his own print shop. However, as he had not served an apprenticeship, he was fined heavily for breaking the trade rules and ended up in a debtors’ prison. In order to make ends meet, Elizabeth came up with the idea of creating a new herbal – a description of plants and their medicinal uses – to include more exotic, unfamiliar plants as well as those found in Britain.

Having a not inconsiderable talent as an artist, she would herself draw the images, make the copper engravings and colour the printed pictures and her husband would provide the Latin names and the medical information. Supported by a number of eminent physicians and aided by horticulturalists and visits to the Chelsea Physic Garden, Elizabeth produced a two-volume work containing 500 plates, which was published in London, the first volume in 1737 and the second in 1739. It was a great success, enabling her to secure Alexander’s release.

Blackwell’s Herbal was subsequently translated into German by Christoph Jacob Trew (1695-1769), a doctor – Head of the Medical Association – and botanist with a passion for books, who also added more information to the descriptions with a view to producing a five-volume set. The drawings were corrected according to the recent teachings of the Swedish botanist, zoologist and physician Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778); Nikolaus Friedrich Eisenberger (1707-1771) re-engraved the plates; a sixth volume was also added and this edition was published between 1750 and 1773.

Trinity College Dublin Library acquired this work (Shelfmark: Fag.GG.3.5-10) in 1802 as part of the Fagel Collection. This collection consists of around 20,000 items amassed by several generations of the Dutch Fagel family. Many of the family held high public office in Holland but during the Napoleonic wars they had to flee the country and their library was sold by Christie’s auction house. It is the largest private Dutch library still intact in the world. On display in the foyer of the Berkeley Library at the moment are the red rose (rosa rubra) in Vol.I and columbine (aquilegia) in Vol.V.

W.B. Yeats and the Cuala Press

Celebrations are taking place around the country this week to mark 150 years since the birth of the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, on 13th June 1865 in Sandymount in Dublin. We in Trinity College Library Dublin have a particular reason to celebrate as our holdings in the Department of Early Printed Books & Special Collections include important collections of material relating to the Cuala Press, the Irish private press where many of Yeats’s works were first printed.

Prospectus: “The Dun Emer Press” ([Dundrum, 1903]) Shelfmark: Press A Cuala ARCH Box 49A no.1

Prospectus: “The Dun Emer Press” ([Dundrum, 1903]) Shelfmark: Press A Cuala ARCH Box 49A no.1

The Cuala Press, originally the Dun Emer Press, was founded in Dundrum, Co. Dublin, in 1902 by Evelyn Gleeson and Yeats’s sisters Susan and Elizabeth (known as Lily and Lolly), as part of the Dun Emer Industries. The printing part of the Industries was renamed the Cuala Press after the Yeats sisters separated from Evelyn Gleeson in 1908, setting up their business at a cottage in Churchtown, just a mile away from the original premises in Dundrum. There, Elizabeth was in charge of the printing workshop while Susan continued with the embroidery work she had been doing at Dun Emer.

W.B. Yeats was closely involved with the activity of the Press from the time of its foundation. He acted as its literary editor, thereby ensuring that works of many of the leading Irish writers of the time were published by it. Several of his own books were among these. Indeed, the first book printed at the Dun Emer Press was his collection of poetry, “In the Seven Woods”, which included the first version of his play “On Baile’s strand”. This was followed by further books of poetry, essays and autobiographical works, such as “Reveries upon childhood and youth”, printed in 1915 and in which he described aspects of his life up to the deaths of his maternal grandparents in 1892.

W.B. Yeats: “The fiddler of Dooney” (Dublin, [c. 1942]) Shelfmark: Press A Cuala ARCH Box 12 no.23

W.B. Yeats: “The fiddler of Dooney” (Dublin, [c. 1942]) Shelfmark: Press A Cuala ARCH Box 12 no.23

Some of Yeats’s poems were also reprinted in the Cuala Press’s series of prints which usually combined a poem with an illustration. Shown here is a mock-up of the Cuala Press print of Yeats’s poem ‘The fiddler of Dooney’, from his 1899 collection “The wind among the reeds”, with an illustration by George Atkinson, R.H.A.

 

A selection of items relating to W.B. Yeats and the Cuala Press, from the collections of Trinity College Library, is currently on display in the Long Room of the Old Library.

In Tune at Dublin Castle

One of the aims of the ‘In Tune’ exhibition in the Long Room in 2013-14 was to draw scholarly attention to some of the significant music resources in our collections. It is therefore gratifying to learn that one of the more obscure items in the exhibition piqued the interest of a prominent musician, and has led him to mount what may be the first performance of this piece since its original outing in 1711.

John Sigismond Cousser, 'The Universal Applause of Mount Parnassus' (Dublin, 1711) Shelfmark: P.hh.16 no. 1

John Sigismond Cousser, ‘The Universal Applause of Mount Parnassus’ (Dublin, 1711)
Shelfmark: P.hh.16 no. 1

Peter Whelan is a music graduate of TCD (2000), and is now an internationally-acclaimed bassoon soloist and ensemble musician. In the Chapel Royal at Dublin Castle at 1.00pm on Friday 12 June he will direct his Ensemble Marsyas in the first modern performance of ‘The Universal Applause of Mount Parnassus’, a serenata by John Sigismond Cousser written to celebrate the birthday of Queen Anne at Dublin Castle on 6 February 1711.

Ensemble Marsyas

Ensemble Marsyas

Cousser (1660-1727) was the first significant European composer to settle in Ireland. Born in Pressburg (now Bratislava), he studied in Paris with Jean-Baptiste Lully before holding musical appointments in various parts of Germany. He moved to London in 1704 and then to Dublin in July 1707.

Between 1708 and 1727 Cousser composed an ode or serenata each year in honour of the reigning monarch’s birthday, usually performed at Dublin Castle. In almost all cases the music for these odes has been lost, so the word-books, several of which are preserved in TCD’s collections, provide the only remaining evidence of their content. Uniquely, the music for the 1711 ode does survive (in the collection of the Bodleian Library, Oxford), and this has enabled the performance by Ensemble Marsyas as part of the KBC Great Music in Irish Houses Festival.

An event not to be missed!

– Roy Stanley, Music Librarian

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