The Rare Book Collection joins in the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of William Butler Yeats by posting this portrait of him from Mosada: A Dramatic Poem, his first separately published work. The drama had appeared in the June 1886 issue of the Dublin University Review; the twelve-page pamphlet in wrappers, a reprint by Sealy, Bryers, and Walker, followed in October. As William Michael Murphy notes in his book Prodigal Father: The Life of John Butler Yeats (1839-1922), it was W.B’s father, a painter, who “insisted on including as [the pamphlet’s] frontispiece a pencil portrait by himself of the author, preferring this to ‘a picture of some incident in the play,’ as had been planned at first. In the sketch Willie wears a fuzzy beard, which his father had urged him to grow.
“The volume had little sale. Papa and Willie gave copies away liberally. One reached the hands of an English Roman Catholic priest who had recently come to Dublin, Gerard Manley Hopkins.” (p. 146) As Murphy recounts, the great poet politely refrained from expressing his negative opinion of the work to the elder Yeats.
The RBC’s copy of Mosada is one of three identified by bibliographer Allan Wade as bound with a thicker paper, unlined. While we cannot boast a provenance for our copy that includes Gerard Manley Hopkins, former owners known to us are New York editor and noted folk art collector Cyril I. Nelson and renowned British bookman Anthony Hobson.
This first separate publication is one of the rarest items in the RBC’s extensive Yeats Collection, a gift of the Hanes Foundation as the University Library’s five millionth volume. The RBC continues to add to the Yeats Collection as opportunities present themselves.
A week ago, on Thursday March 20, some two hundred Library supporters gathered in the FedEx Global Education Center’s Peacock Atrium for a reception and viewing of UNC-Chapel Hill’s seven millionth volume, Juan Latino’s first book, the first book of poetry in a Western language published by an individual of Sub-Saharan African descent.
After much joyous socializing, the crowd moved into the Nelson Mandela Auditorium, where University Librarian Sarah Michalak welcomed the audience and spoke about the significance of Latino’s book for UNC-Chapel Hill. And then Borden Hanes formally presented the volume to Chancellor Carol Folt as the gift of the Hanes Foundation in memory of his father, University benefactor Frank Borden Hanes, Sr.
Following Chancellor Folt’s acceptance on behalf of the University, Curator of Rare Books Claudia Funke had the great pleasure of introducing the evening’s speaker, Professor Michael A. Gómez, who gave a masterful address, “Juan Latino and the Dawn of Modernity.”
The public program concluded with closing remarks from Sarah Michalak and the distribution of a beautifully printed keepsake edition of Professor Gómez’s lecture.
There were further festivities at Wilson Library, where the book will be on public view through April 17 and live thereafter in perpetuity in the Rare Book Collection. Sevenis indeed a lucky number!
We make one final post for Black History Month on this last day, and an exciting post it is. The University Library has just announced that its seven millionth volume—to be presented by the Hanes Foundation on March 20—is a copy of the first book by Renaissance humanist Juan Latino, widely considered to be the first person of sub-Saharan African ancestry to publish a book of poetry in a Western language. The rare and important 16th-century imprint will become a part of the Rare Book Collection. Read more about Latino and his book in the library news release. And join us for the viewing, presentation ceremony, and a lecture by Professor Michael A. Gómez at the FedEx Global Education Center.
The Cambridge University Library has just mounted Printing Colour in Tudor England, a display informed by the research of Munby Fellow of Bibliography Dr. Elizabeth Upper. The exhibition traces the history of color printing in England from its earliest example, the Book of Hawking, Hunting, and Heraldry (1486)—also referred to as the Book of St. Albans, after its place of printing—through the sixteenth century.
The Book of St. Albans is certainly well known here at UNC, as the Rare Book Collection acquired a copy in 1974 as the University’s second millionth volume. The RBC copy was featured in the Meaningful Marks: Image and Text and the History of theBook exhibition at Wilson Library in 2011. And this past semester the artistically significant rarity made an appearance for Professor Tatiana String’s course “Art and Culture in Tudor and Stuart England.”
The Book of Hawking, Hunting, and Heraldry is the first printed English sporting book and the first English printed armorial, as well as the first English book to employ color printing—most interestingly, in the heraldry section. Heraldic symbols became widespread in Europe in the thirteenth century. They were certainly an effective means of visual communication in a preliterate society, particularly in warfare, serving as they did to announce loyalties. Color was of course integral to the power of armorial designs, as the woodcut illustrations in this volume demonstrate. That’s the Tudor coat of arms, bottom right, on the page above.
Millionth volumes are a grand tradition at UNC-Chapel Hill, thanks to the John W. and Anna H. Hanes Foundation. Our millionths are always very special single volumes or book collections that promote ongoing conversation, like the Book of St. Albans. We look forward to celebrating another millionth volume—the seventh—on March 20, 2014. Stay tuned to our blog for further details.
In the RBC’s outstanding W. B. Yeats Collection—given by the Hanes Foundation as UNC-Chapel Hill’s five millionth volume—there are extensive materials relating to the Irish playwright J. M. Synge. Among these are first, early, and theater editions of the plays he wrote for Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, including the controversial Playboy of the Western World.
That drama is about one Christy Mahon, a young man who flees home after killing his father with a loy (or shovel). He finds refuge in a Mayo village, where the locals laud him as a romantic hero for the story of his patricide—until his father shows up.
The Yeats Collection is rich in ephemeral items related to The Playboy of the Western World and the riots it inspired. The Abbey Row is one example of a satirical account that features caricatures of Synge, Yeats, and others.
This coming Sunday, June 16th, at 2 p.m, Wilson Library’s own Emily Kader will be speaking about a comedic adaptation of Synge’s acclaimed work, Tennessee Playboy, at the Triad Stage in Greensboro, North Carolina. For more information on the performances, which begin tonight, June 14th, and Ms. Kader’s talk, see the Triad’s website.
Do introduce yourself to Emily if you’ve read this blog post and are at the event!