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The legacy of Enriqueta Rylands

How does print connect Manchester and Venice?

Free entry

Tour a neo-Gothic masterpiece



2015 at The John Rylands Library

The Year Ahead

Our fascination with the printed word heralds the start of our exhibitions, as we celebrate the legacy of Aldus Manutius – pioneer of the pocket book. We take a darker turn in the summer, as we use our stunning setting and collections to unravel the mysteries of the Gothic world.

Merchants of Print: from Venice to Manchester 29 January to 21 June

Our popular tours, activities and workshops are back to inspire, engage and entertain. We’ve got fun family events, interactive creative workshops and memorable tours for everyone, including budding photographers and collection enthusiasts. For many visitors, the building is everything. Over the following pages, Creative Tourist’s Susie Stubbs pays tribute to the woman who made this unique, award-winning experience happen. So, when you need to escape the bustle of central Manchester, why not drop in and take a look – entry is free.

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Print enthusiasts unite. Our flagship spring exhibition celebrates the legacy of Aldus Manutius – pioneer of the pocket book. See pages 8-11. Later-Day Saints 23 January to 28 June What would medieval saints make of our modern world of celebrity and material culture? Later-Day Saints features humorous and wickedly original interpretations from local artist Alan Birch. See page 13.

@TheJohnRylands /thejohnrylands rylandscollections. Register for e-newsletters and information about forthcoming events and exhibitions:

Darkness and Light: Exploring the Gothic 17 July to 20 December Delve into the excitement and mystery of the Gothic, featuring architecture, literature, films, fashion, music and more. See page 12.

Front cover image: St John Gospel Fragment (see page 13).



The Library

The Library

The John Rylands Library A legacy born of devotion

In a city full of historic greats, what makes The John Rylands Library unmissable? Susie Stubbs delves into its history and discovers a good reason: the devotion of a woman named Enriqueta. Manchester has an enviable collection of fine historic libraries to make it a bibliophile’s dream. But chief among kings is surely the library described as one of the “world’s greatest,” a neo-Gothic construction of extraordinary architectural imagination and an institution that holds a collection spanning five thousand years: The John Rylands Library.

an astonishing array of works. Beneath its sandstone exterior shelters over a million books, maps, manuscripts, visual materials and archives, part of a collection that spans almost every civilization and belief system and almost every format ever used for written communication – from ancient Babylonian clay tablets to modern-day emails.

Its charms are many, none more so than how it came to be. The Library’s story tells in miniature the tale of industrial Manchester.

Or look at the architecture. Modelled on an Oxford college library, the building took nine years to build, and while the glorious, rib-vaulted interiors are undeniably impressive, the Library’s architect also brought in all mod cons.

A self-made man, cotton manufacture, breathtaking wealth, private ambition and public philanthropy: this is a place that possesses all the ingredients of a very Victorian success story. Or take its collection. Part of The University of Manchester Library, it holds

Basil Champney’s triumph was in creating a building that felt impressively ancient, yet contained dust-proof bookcases, a fire-resistant structure, electric lighting and air circulation. It was a library designed to stand the test of time – although a £16.8 million redevelopment in 2007 has helped too.

A woman of substance Yet, what’s arguably most fascinating about The John Rylands Library is the woman behind it. The Cuban-born, third wife of Manchester’s most successful cotton manufacturer, Britain’s richest woman and the first to be granted the Freedom of the City of Manchester, Enriqueta Rylands was an intelligent, well-travelled counterpart to her shy, St. Helens-born husband. When John Rylands died in 1888, Enriqueta decided there could be no finer memorial to that devout industrialist than a library in his name. Thus, the Library was built in his honour, but it was Enriqueta who shaped the Library we know today. During its construction she began collecting books – and quickly spent more on the written word than she had on bricks and mortar. In 1892 she paid almost as much as she had for the entire building for a collection of 40,000 volumes that once belonged to the Earl of Spencer. Nine years later, she made another huge purchase – this time spending £155,000 on a remarkable group of illuminated manuscripts and works on paper, palm-leaf, bamboo and even bone and copper – and thus, the Library became, in Enriqueta’s words:

“a place of pilgrimage for the lover of rare books.” With works ranging from Elizabeth Gaskell’s archive to an original Gutenberg Bible, it’s safe to say that the library Enriqueta built remains true to that aim. It is undoubtedly a sanctuary for lovers of rare books. It is also a place that fulfils Enriqueta’s (and perhaps also John’s) broader cultural and philanthropic ambitions too.

The Library speaks of Manchester’s history and its place within the civilized world, and it speaks to everyone. 4


The Library

The Library

Enriqueta’s Masterpiece Creating a visual feast was of the utmost importance to Enriqueta Rylands. No expense was spared in lavishly decorating the Library; from the Gothic vaulting to the Art Nouveau light fittings. The result is an experience to behold.

Gothic Detailing

The John Rylands Library is home to one of the world’s richest and most unique collections to represent human knowledge – around 1.4 million items spanning over five thousand years and derived from all corners of the globe. Our treasures cross wide-ranging themes including religion and faith, world literature and print, and scientific and medical discovery. We hold many printed books and manuscripts, archives, photographs, maps and visual materials. But we don’t stand still. As human knowledge progresses, the Library continues to acquire new material and conduct research with world-renowned experts to ensure our representation of human knowledge advances.

The ample and imposing original entrance and main staircase has been described as ‘one of the most interesting Gothic spaces of the 19th century’. The beautiful carvings on the stonework feature foliage, birds, dragons, bats, monkeys and mythical creatures, as well as the red rose of John Rylands’ beloved home county of Lancashire.

In keeping with the founding spirit set by Enriqueta Rylands, the Innovation Fund (IF) harnesses the transformative power of philanthropy. IF helps to purchase and digitise new materials, increase participation and support the research of The John Rylands Research Institute. Further details: www.manchester.

Caring for Our Collections With so many ancient artefacts made from fragile paper, papyrus, and even animal skin, great care is taken to ensure their future.

Dominating the original entrance to the Library, a statue of three figures, Theology Directing the Labours of Science and Art.

The Historic Reading Room Perched 30 feet above street level, and presided over at either end by striking marble statues of John and Enriqueta Rylands, the famous Historic Reading Room is the Library’s centrepiece and one of the finest of any library in the world. This fantastic neo-Gothic space has a soaring, cathedral-like feel, with small alcoves nestled on each side for personal study that would make Harry Potter feel at home. 6

The Library Today

Innovation Fund

Our conservation experts use delicate and intricate techniques to repair and restore precious items. We provide specialist advice and equipment to minimise unnecessary handling, and we store items in humidity – and temperature-controlled rooms to ensure they survive for many centuries to come.

Digitising Our Collections For items too delicate for permanent display, we’re using 21st century imaging techniques to ensure they still have pride of place. Our ambitious digitisation programme seeks to provide online public access to our Special Collections, as well as using digital material to deliver new teaching and research opportunities – indeed, many of our early printed books, archives and manuscripts are now freely available online. Further details: www.manchester. 7

What’s On

What’s On

Merchants of Print

Our showcase exhibition of 16th century books to celebrate the legacy of print merchant Aldus Manutius sheds light on Renaissance scholars – and Mancunian collectors. Susie Stubbs takes a closer look.

29 January to 21 June

from Venice to Manchester

Have you heard of Aldus Manutius? Unless you happen to be a scholar of 16th century printing, the answer is probably not – yet the next time you crack open the latest paperback, pause and give thanks to this pioneer of pocket-sized print. Aldus Manutius set up the Aldine Press in 1494, a Venetian venture dedicated to publishing Greek and Latin classics. And while at first glance the books appear to be simple prints of well-known texts, the Aldine Press was in fact a publishing house that revolutionised the book trade and, hundreds of years later, influenced the collectors and the cultured of industrial Manchester – as this exhibition at The John Rylands Library sets out to show.

Highly portable, Aldine editions became sought after by diplomats who could afford to put them in their back pocket.

Aristotle, Opera (1495-98), Spencer 22939, Vol. 5. Fol. 1v-2r


Opening page of Bucolica, with arms of the Pisani family, from Virgil (1501), Spencer 3359. Fol. a2r

The reason the Aldine Press was so influential seems to be down to Aldus’ remarkable attention to detail. He created his own typefaces, for example, commissioning Francesco Griffo to produce a range of fonts to better suit the Aldine books – with the end result so successful that some of them, including the compact italic typeface and the Roman font created for the 1495 edition of De Aetna (the basis for Monotype’s Bembo, a 20th century serif font), are still going strong. 9

What’s On

What’s On

Aldus wasn’t content solely to tinker with type, however, and he also set about improving other aspects of book design. The Aldines were produced in special editions, some printed on parchment and with elaborate bindings, or were illustrated by beautifully executed woodcuts. They were all stamped with the Aldine Press logo: the image of a dolphin wrapped around an anchor. It was a brand that became synonymous with high quality publishing, to the extent that fake Aldines were peddled across Europe. But what really made the Aldine editions so popular was their size. Aldus Manutius created the Octavo: small, pocket-sized books that bear a resemblance to the modern paperback. Highly portable, they became sought after by the sorts of well-travelled diplomats and courtiers who could afford to put them in their back pockets.


The origin of the Aldine editions is a fascinating story, but what connects this 500 year-old Venetian press to Manchester? The answer to that question, like so many others, lies with the Industrial Revolution, because it was then, with their newly acquired wealth and a powerful desire to show themselves as members of a cultured elite, that Manchester’s cotton magnates became active bibliophiles. So it was that in 1892 Enriqueta Rylands, the widow of Manchester’s most successful cotton manufacturer, put in a bid for the entire collection of books amassed by the second Earl of Spencer. At a stroke she gave to Manchester the largest collection of Aldine editions in the world – some of which is on display today.

Cicero, De Philosophia Prima Pars (1546), R213666 (Christie 33 c 12). Title page

The Aldine brand became synonymous with high quality publishing, to the extent that fake Aldines were peddled across Europe.

Musarum Panagyris (c.1489), Spencer 20927. Fol. a2r

Illustration of mythical beast from Sannazaro, Arcadia (1514), Spencer 7595

It’s fascinating that something as ordinary as a simple paperback can have an extraordinary past. And, thanks to a convoluted journey that leads from Venice to the mills and magnates of Manchester, we’re happy to demonstrate how the humble pocket print is far from just pulp fiction.

Richard Copley Christie and Aldus Manutius from stained glass window, Christie Building, The University of Manchester

It’s a journey that leads from Venice to the mills and magnates of Manchester. 11

What’s On

What’s On

Darkness and Light:

Exploring the Gothic 17 July to 20 December

Darkness falls at The John Rylands Library this summer for an exploration of all things Gothic. Susie Stubbs steps into the unknown. Standing inside The John Rylands Library, it is hard to ignore the enduring appeal of the Gothic. The Library is, after all, one of the city’s best examples of neo-Gothic architecture, that building style so inspired by medieval grandeur. But the appetite for all things Gothic stretches way beyond Victorian architecture – and, as this exhibition reveals, can encompass everything from ghost stories and literature to medical illustrations, fashion, sub-culture and the burning of books.

“I think we are all secret Goths. It’s something that fascinates people,” says Visitor Engagement Co-ordinator, Liza Leonard. This fascination is certain to be taken to another level when the exhibition takes over the whole of the Library; from films screened in the Historic Reading Room (silent horror movie Nosferatu is on the cards, complete with a live musical accompaniment) to photographs in the atrium. Gothic will be everywhere. Collection displays explore subjects as diverse as advances in medical science (which helped fuel Victorian fears of Frankenstein-like experimentation) to classic literature. A copy of 1796 novel, The Monk: A Romance, considered to be one of the finest Gothic horror novels ever written, is included.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the exhibition is the examination of the role of women within the Gothic movement – how Jane Austen alluded to it in one of her novels (displaying more than a working knowledge of the genre), or why Enriqueta Rylands ordered all of her private papers to be burned after her death. “The author, Rosie Garland, is helping with this part of the exhibition,” says Liza. “She is interested in the secretive nature of the women involved in the Gothic scene.” With a lively and interactive programme of exhibition events (including Halloween), Darkness and Light is a comprehensive affair – and, if Liza is right in her claim that we are all, at heart, lovers of the dark and brooding, is sure to be a popular one too.

Later-Day Saints 23 January to 28 June Our ancestors often relied on their beliefs to make sense of their world – is there an equivalent in our modern world of celebrity and material culture? Later-Day Saints brings the medieval cult of saints into the contemporary world, offering a snapshot of modern life with a hint of humour. Local artist Alan Birch draws inspiration from objects of popular fascination and obsession, including Kindles, pit bulls and the Olympic torch, to present a print series of contemporary saints.

What’s the Weather Like Today? 12 March to 28 June The weather is never far from our conversations in Manchester, but what impact does it have on us? Drawing on the Library’s rich and diverse collections, this display invites us to think about how the weather affects our mood, our language and the way we see the world around us.

Noisy Bodies 1 October to 20 December Linking art with science, Noisy Bodies presents drawings inspired by biomedical imaging of the human body. Manchester-based artist Daksha Patel responds to ‘noisy’ signals in digital visualisation technologies, and explores how the process of drawing may reposition our understanding of the human body. 12

Rylands Gallery The Rylands Gallery features displays that explore our collections and also share the history of our home city of Manchester. Nestled in the Gallery is one of the oldest known pieces of New Testament in the world, the St John Gospel Fragment, which attracts visitors from around the world.


Plan your visit

Tour and Explore

Plan your visit

Become a Reader The Library hosts a variety of tours and services to give you a closer experience of the stunning setting and unrivalled collections.

In keeping with Enriqueta’s aspirations for The John Rylands Library, today anyone over the age of 18 is welcome to become a reader. Access to the collections is free of charge and we can advise readers on how to use the book and archive catalogues. For registration details, please contact Reader Services on 0161 275 3764, or visit library/ourservices

Introductory Tour: Get the Essentials

Conservation Studio Tour: Restoration in Action

This half-hour tour is a great way of discovering the building and learning more about its history.

Find out how we care for our precious collections with this special opportunity to see our conservation team at work.BE

These tours take place every Wednesday and Friday at 3pm. Just turn up early and claim your place.

Treasures: In Closer Detail

Explorer Tour: A Peak Behind the Scenes

Take a closer look at precious items from our collections. Every third Thursday of the month at 3pm. BE

Have you ever wondered where a Library door leads or what really goes on behind the scenes? This is your chance to discover the hidden world of the Library.BE

Unusual Views: Capture the Magic This special tour for photography enthusiasts of all abilities guides you to viewpoints you wouldn’t normally see, perfect for capturing some neo-Gothic images to add to your portfolio.BE


Bitesize Talk These occasional free, drop-in lunchtime events last just 15 minutes, but give you the chance to find out about our exhibitions or parts of our collections.BE

For capacity reasons, booking is required for all tours except our regular Introductory Tour. To book a tour: telephone 0161 306 0555 or email


Tour bookings: telephone 0161 306 0555 or email

Collection Encounters The John Rylands Library has an enormous collection of books, manuscripts, maps and archives, which is Designated by the Arts Council England as being of national and international importance. We’ve put together some intriguing collection encounters to inspire, surprise and delight. For further details: rylands


Plan your visit

Participate and Engage

Plan your visit

The Library provides a vibrant all-year-round programme of activities, events and exhibitions – including a range of workshops for schools and colleges.

Whimsical Wednesday Workshops Keen to learn a new craft or refresh something you’ve not done for a while? These drop-in sessions are the perfect midweek opportunity to dip your toes into a creative activity, in a relaxed environment.

Monthly print demonstration

Doctor Who Sleepover

Family-Friendly Activities We welcome families into the Library and run a dedicated programme of activities and events.

Join the Action The Library’s stunning setting regularly houses unique events for local and national exhibitions and festivals, including the Manchester Literature Festival, the Manchester Science Festival and Asia Triennial Manchester.

During school holidays, craft activities are available, and throughout the year, we run activities for you and your child (or grandchild!) to discover something together. Our permanent dragon trail is also something to look out for. Grumbold the Library Dragon loves living in The John Rylands Library, but he still doesn’t know everything about the building and the books. Can you help him to find out some surprising facts? All our events are free and suitable for children aged 6 to 12, with an accompanying adult. For information about the latest activities:

Visit rylands to find out what we have planned for 2015.

Third Thursday Lates From 5pm

For information about the latest activities: or telephone 0161 306 0555. 16

Unable to visit us during our normal opening hours? No problem! Every third Thursday each month, the Library doors stay open until 6.45pm, giving you the chance to soak up the atmosphere in a wholly different light, usually with a musical performance in the Reading Room.

Learn Together event


Plan your visit

Café and Shop Café Rylands Whether you are working, shopping or visiting the Library, Café Rylands is a great choice for refreshments. Our freshly prepared menu features delicious snacks, savouries and beverages, including a children’s selection. Check out our daily specials – made using the finest seasonal produce from local suppliers – and don’t miss our range of ethically traded teas and coffees.

Library Shop The John Rylands Library shop offers unique merchandise to suit every budget. We delight in seeking out unusual gift items and producing bespoke merchandise inspired by the Library’s marvellous collections. Look out for our range of cards, books and other items which we are regularly updating.

Riches of the Rylands Book For the very first time, The John Rylands Library is proud to showcase 150 rare and precious items from our Special Collections. Featuring stunning photography, plus insight from worldleading experts across 13 fascinating chapters, Riches of the Rylands is the perfect souvenir for you, or the art and history enthusiast in your life. Purchase your copy from The John Rylands Library gift shop. 18

Plan your visit

The Library is a magical dining and shopping hideaway amidst the bustle of central Manchester – choose delicious refreshments in Café Rylands or find collection-inspired gift ideas in our shop.

Getting Here

Situated on Deansgate, in the heart of Manchester, The John Rylands Library is easily accessed by road, tram, train and foot.

The John Rylands Library 150 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3EH 0161 306 0555 rylands

Public Opening Times Monday 12.00 – 5.00 Tuesday 10.00 – 5.00 Wednesday 10.00 – 5.00 Thursday 10.00 – 5.00 Friday 10.00 – 5.00 Saturday 10.00 – 5.00 Sunday 12.00 – 5.00 The Library will be closed on Good Friday (3 April), Easter Sunday (5 April) and selected days throughout the Christmas period. Check the website for details.

Directions The Library is located on Deansgate in the heart of Manchester. The city centre is accessible by all forms of public transport. The nearest Metrolink tram stops are St Peter’s Square and Victoria. The nearest bus stops are in St Peter’s Square and Albert Square. The easiest way to reach the Library from Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria railway stations is via the free Metro-Shuttle buses. Car parking is available at the NCP car parks on Watson Street, New Quay Street and Blackfriars Street. Follow the signs from Deansgate. Disabled visitors who require car parking should contact Visitor Engagement on 0161 306 0555 for further information.

Access The modern entrance wing provides level access with power-assisted doors and accessible toilet. There is lift access to all public areas of the building except the Historic Entrance Hall and the Historic Toilets. Assistance dogs welcome. The Library is a great place to take photographs, so do bring your camera. Restrictions apply to some items on display.

Register for e-newsletters and information about forthcoming events and exhibitions:


We recently asked visitors to describe their John Rylands Library experience:



Interactive Dark Exciting




Inspirational Grand Unique


Mysterious Fun

How will you describe it?

Designed by Epigram 0161 237 9660

Friendly Welcoming

The John Rylands Library Visitor Guide 2015