Alice – still looking good at 150

OLS Pol 739 portrait

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written in 1865 by the mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898) under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. The story of the title character’s fall down a rabbit hole, the strange creatures she meets and the odd circumstances in which she finds herself have made this fantasy one of the most popular children’s books ever written.

The first print run, of 2,000 copies, was suppressed because John Tenniel, the illustrator, objected to the ‘disgraceful’ print quality and fewer than 25 of these withdrawn copies survive. A new edition was released in time for the Christmas market the same year, but carrying an 1866 date. Trinity’s copy is at shelfmark Press K.3.7.
Press K.3.7 title
Such is the popularity of Alice that it has never been out of print and a number of different artists have illustrated Carroll’s text over the years in a variety of styles, including:
OLS Pol 732 p11 facsimile


The author himself in his manuscript of Alice’s adventures under ground, which he subsequently developed into Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. This facsimile (right) is in the Pollard Collection at shelfmark OLS POL 732.


Gall.20.d.8 Nursery p15


Sir John Tenniel (1820-1914), the principal political cartoonist for Punch magazine, whose serious drawings showed the essence of Victorian society and whose animals and fantasy images were equally clever. The nursery Alice (left), with enlargements of his original drawings, is at shelfmark Gall.20.d.8.


Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), one of the leading illustrators of his time, particularly of mystical books or those on magic or legends. Towards the end of his life he began oil painting and stage design. Shelfmark: 73.c.51 (right)

73.b.48 Robinson



Charles Robinson (1870-1937), who came from a family of artists but could not afford to take up the place he won at the Royal Academy. Shelfmark: 73.b.48 (left)

75.ff.61 G SoperGeorge Soper (1870-1942), a keen amateur naturalist and botanist as well as engraver, water-colourist, wood-engraver and illustrator. Shelfmark: 75.ff.61 (right)

181.r.28 E Soper



and his daughter Eileen (1905-1990), who had no formal art training but studied with her father and exhibited at the Royal Academy aged only 15. She is best known for her illustrations of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. Shelfmark: Juv 181.r.28 (left)

75.rr.43 Tarrant



Margaret Tarrant (1888-1959), daughter of the painter Percy Tarrant, remembered primarily through calendars and greetings cards which often, today, still carry her water-colours or pen-and-ink drawings. Shelfmark: 75.rr.43 (right)



The story has been translated (as early as 1869 into French and German),


continued, both by Lewis Carroll and by other authors,

and even used as advertising material!

Click on any image to enlarge it.

We got visitors!

The Department was delighted to host the Masters Students from the Literature and Publishing Group (NUIG) on their recent trip to Dublin. Led by Dr. Rebecca Barr the group also visited the Royal Irish Academy and Marsh’s Library. It was interesting to learn from Dr. Barr that the taught course includes a module on book history and early modern print and manuscript cultures. As well as the working though the modules the students are also responsible for the publication of the annual edition of ROPES: review of postgraduate studies. Busy people! The trip to the library included a tour of the Old Library by Anne- Marie Diffley (Visitors Services) and a presentation by Shane Mawe on the role of the Library with a display drawn from the collections.


750 years of Dante

Durante degli Alighieri, usually known simply as Dante, was born in Florence, probably in 1265. He held various political posts and was among the White Guelphs exiled in 1302. An amnesty was offered in 1315 but Dante refused it as it involved a heavy fine and public penance. He died in 1321, never having returned to his native city and was buried in Ravenna. Florentines eventually came to regret his absence – an empty tomb was built in 1829 in the hope of repatriating his remains and in 2008 the city council finally passed a motion rescinding his sentence.

Dante wrote some of his works in Latin, as was the custom of the time, but he was also among the first to write in the vernacular, leading to his soubriquet ‘Father of the Italian language’. His best known work is the epic poem Commedia, later called by Giovanni Boccaccio Divina (The Divine Comedy), which is in three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso and tells of Dante’s journey through the three realms of the dead. Commedia (original spelling Comedia) has been translated into numerous languages in the original ternary rhyme, in free verse and in prose. It is universally recognised as a literary masterpiece.

The images here are from Trinity College Library’s two earliest editions of Commedia which are in the Quin Collection of early continental printings. Quin 51 was printed at Foligno in 1472, the first ever printed edition, and Quin 52 in Venice in 1502. Quin 51 has a beautifully illuminated initial page and the printer has left space for an illuminated initial at the start of both Purgatorio and Paradiso which were never completed; a P has been lightly written into Purgatorio but there is just a blank space where the L of ‘La’ should be in Paradiso.

Due to the light levels, these incunabula cannot be displayed in the Berkeley foyer. Instead, there is currently a modern, limited edition, English version of Paradise on display there opposite a 1757 illustrated Italian edition.
BLU case
Trinity College Dublin, in conjunction with other Irish institutions, is marking the 750th anniversary of Dante’s birth with a reading of the entire CommediaInferno in Dublin on 28th November, Purgatorio in Cork on 4th December and Paradiso in Trinity on 11th December. See details here.

Never judge a book … by its shelfmark!

Title page of "Le franc discours ..." (1602)

Title page of “Le franc discours …” (1602)

We recently received a request from a reader to consult our copy of Le franc discours. A discourse, presented of late to the French King … (1602). The work is an English translation of a political publication by the French lawyer Antoine Arnauld (1560-1619). Our 1872 Printed Catalogue recorded the shelfmark as DD.ll.47. We were puzzled, however, when we retrieved the book as it contained a different work printed in 1599, Apologia societatis Jesu in Gallia, ad … Henricum IV

Title page of "Apologia societatis Jesu in Gallia, ad ... Henricum IV …" (1599) Shelfmark: G.n.51

Title page of “Apologia societatis Jesu in Gallia, ad … Henricum IV …” (1599)

In such cases we usually turn to the annotated copy of the Printed Catalogue, held here in the Department of Early Printed Books, to look for any notes that might suggest a new location. In this instance, however, we couldn’t find any clues. Almost at a dead end, we decided to perform one more search in the Printed Catalogue, this time for the 1599 work that we were already holding in our hands. This led us to another shelfmark, G.n.51, and to our relief we found the title we had originally sought sitting in the other’s place on the Long Room shelves.

The two bindings side by side.

Holding the two books side by side it became apparent how the mix-up had occurred. Both volumes had been repaired by an external binder in late 1958. The binder had mixed up the two shelfmarks and incorrectly tooled the new rebacked spines. The books were then reshelved in each other’s spots on opposite sides of the Long Room, where they remained for the next 57 years. We will shortly send both volumes to our own Preservation and Conservation Department to have their spines retooled so that they can finally return to their rightful places after a gap of over half a century!

Make your vote count!

Our sister blog Changed Utterly- Ireland and the Easter Rising has been shortlisted for the Blog Awards Ireland! We are shortlisted in two categories ‘Best Art and Culture’ and ‘Best Educational & Science’ Blog.cropped-1916TCDb

We are absolutely delighted but now need your help as the finalists are decided by public vote. If you like what we do with Changed Utterly, please consider voting for us.

To vote for us in the ‘Art and Culture’ category please click here, and tick Changed Utterly.

To vote for us in the ‘Educational and Science’ category please click here and tick Changed Utterly.

Voting opened on 7 September and remains open for two weeks. We are up against stiff competition from some other fantastic blogs and would really appreciate your support.

With many thanks

Shane, Estelle and the Changed Utterly team

George Rose: the original Mrs. Brown

OLS B-6-426_1_WEB

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.

OLS B-7-203_1_WEB

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.

Front cover of binding

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.