MAGAZINE WINTER 2008–09 / ISSUE 2
The Paradise of Periodicals Jonathan Keates assesses their appeal
INDEXING, THE ART OF
Christopher Phipps on the value of a good index
Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám Robert Irwin on Edward Fitzgerald’s classic work
The London Library Magazine / issue 2
9 The London Library has been a direct source of inspiration for a series of Keith Coventry’s paintings. In Over my Shoulder, the artist describes the Library’s role in his working life
C ontent s 5 Editorial Letter 6 Contributors 9 Over My Shoulder Artist Keith Coventry discusses researching his latest project at the London Library
12 From the modernist machine-gun of Blast to the sober learned journal, Jonathan Keates reflects on the changing role of the magazine and periodical
11 Reading List Linda Kelly chooses the books that have inspired her
12 THE PARADISE OF PERIODICALS Jonathan Keates on the evolution of the periodical and magazine
16 EDWARD FITZGERALD: AN ENGLISHMAN IN A PERSIAN GARDEN Robert Irwin on Fitzgerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám
20 INDEXING, THE ART OF
16 On the 150th anniversary of the publication of Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, Robert Irwin describes his work in the context of the Victorian enthusiasm for Persian culture
Christopher Phipps gives an analysis of the indexer’s skills
22 HIDDEN CORNERS Penny Horlick on the Library’s important collection of archaeological and related titles
24 Members’ News 26 A SHORT WALK FROM THE LIBRARY Harry Mount takes us on an architectural tour
29 Restaurant Listings
22 Penny Horlick discusses the value to her research of the Library’s collection of archaeological and related titles, including the published works of Darwin
THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 3
FROM THE LIBRARIAN
We have been delighted with the response to the first issue of the London Library Magazine, which has been widely commended as an enjoyable read, with interesting advertising helping us to save money on our mailings. In this issue we continue the mix of Library news and articles of more general interest. Among the many significant anniversaries falling in 2009 is that of the publication in 1859 of Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. This is of particular interest here at the Library not only because Fitzgerald was himself a member, but also because in 1943 Edward Heron-Allen bequeathed his extraordinary library to us, including over 300 editions and studies of the Rubáiyát, which we keep together as the Heron-Allen Collection. Robert Irwin writes for us about Fitzgerald’s work and its context. This year will see the retirement of Sir Thomas Legg KCB, QC as Chairman of Trustees of the Library, and he writes of his time in office and arrangements for the appointment of a successor in the Members’ News section. We are most grateful to him for his dedicated service to the Library over the last seven years.
Cover Image: Cover of Wyndham Lewis’s journal Blast, issue 1, 1914.
Few visitors left alone in a room with books on the shelves can resist a surreptitious peek at what their hosts have been reading. This pleasure, minus the slight sense of guilt induced by it, may be fully indulged in this issue as Linda Kelly, Jonathan Keates and Penny Horlick introduce us to their reading and browsing. Finally, may I draw your attention especially to page 25 where you will find practical information about the building development work that will be going on throughout 2009? Do consider signing up for our email alert service, which will enable us to warn you in a timely fashion when particular areas of the building are going to be affected. There is inevitably some disruption when you have the builders in and we are keen to minimise the impact on members.
Inez T.P.A. Lynn Librarian
Published on behalf of The London Library by Royal Academy Enterprises Ltd. Colour reproduction by adtec. Printed by Burlington Press Ltd. Published 14 January 2009 © 2009 The London Library. The opinions in this particular publication do not necessarily reflect the views of The London Library. All reasonable attempts have been made to clear copyright before publication.
Editorial Publishers Jane Grylls and Kim Jenner Editor Mary Scott Design and Production Catherine Cartwright Researcher Emma Hughes
Editorial Committee David Breuer Miranda Lewis Harry Mount Peter Parker Christopher Phipps Erica Wagner
Advertising Jane Grylls 020 7300 5661 Kim Jenner 020 7300 5658 Development Office, The London Library Lottie Cole 020 7766 4716 Aimée Heuzenroeder 020 7766 4734
THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 5
Member since 2000
Keith Coventry’s work is represented in a number of public collections in Britain and America. His solo exhibition Painting and Sculptures Part I: Early Groups is on at the Haunch of Venison London, 10 December 2008–31 January 2009. Painting and Sculptures Part II: New and Recent Works will be shown at the gallery in late 2009 (haunchofvenison.com).
Member since 2005
Penny Horlick is a Research Fellow at the PADMAC Archaeological Unit, Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford, carrying out field work in Hampshire and spatial analyses using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) on Palaeolithic archaeology.
Member since 1974
Jonathan Keates is the author of acclaimed biographies of Handel, Purcell and Stendhal, as well as history and travel books on Italy. His short story collection, Allegro Postillions (1983), won both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Hawthornden Prize. He is a regular contributor to various newspapers, including the Spectator and the Times Literary Supplement.
Member since 1994
Linda Kelly’s most recent book is Ireland’s Minstrel, a biography of the Irish poet Thomas Moore (2006). She has contributed to a number of papers including the Times Literary Supplement, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Member since 1984
Member since 1995
Robert Irwin is a publisher and writer, whose books include The Arabian Nights: A Companion (1994) and Islamic Art (1997). He is a consulting editor at the Times Literary Supplement and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Harry Mount is a writer and journalist who regularly writes for a range of national newspapers including the Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Guardian. His latest book is A Lust for Window Sills (Little, Brown, 2008).
staff member 1989–2008 member since 2008
Christopher Phipps worked at the London Library for eighteen years as, serially, Membership Administrator, Reading Room Librarian, Head of Reader Services and Development Librarian, before leaving in 2008 to become a full-time indexer. In recent months he has provided indexes to, among others, major biographies of Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, Joan Collins and Hitler.
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Over My SHOULDER The London Library Magazine looks over the shoulder of British artist Keith Coventry, whose work explores the exhausted ideals of Modernism in relation to the social issues of today Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, 2005, from the ‘Echoes of Albany’ series (2003–7), by Keith Coventry.
What are you working on at the moment? Monochromatic copies of the forger Han van Meegeren’s large ‘Vermeer’ paintings. I came into the Library, went straight to the Art Room and pulled a book from the shelf at random. It turned out to be a history of the work of the master forger, and has become the basis for forty new paintings, which should keep me occupied for a year or more. What is your typical working day? My typical working day is, in a way, a typical working day: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the studio. I take a break when I feel I have done something worthwhile – but a break would only be for food. I never take a break for any other reason. What distracts you? A promising lunch or a party later that day. How do you use the Library? I go in sometimes to browse, sometimes with a very specific purpose. I take books home only if I am going there directly – I wouldn’t risk having a pile of books under one arm and a glass of red wine in the other. What are your favourite parts of the Library? I first visited the London Library about twenty-five years ago. I have a fond memory of sitting in a red chair beside a Cannon ‘Miser’ gas fire looking at
‘ I have a fond memory of sitting in a red chair beside a Cannon “Miser” gas fire looking at periodicals in the Reading Room ’ periodicals in the Reading Room. Moving into Albany in Piccadilly in 2001 gave me the perfect chance to rekindle that feeling. The Reading Room is still my favourite place in the Library – there is nowhere else as comfortable for gorging on a new book. There is something inspiring about the quiet industriousness of the other Library users. I also love the Topography section and the rolling bookcases of obscure periodicals. I rarely use the online catalogue: the labyrinthine quality of the Library, and the way books are moved around so you can never be sure of finding them again, add an element of chance to my searches. Do you ever sketch in the Library? I do sometimes sketch in the Art Room, at the table under the spiral staircase. It feels very private, overlooked only by the bust of Carlyle and that strange leaf. I have sold a number of works made on the scrap paper left for use there. The obvious
cheapness of the paper worked well with the subject I was drawing. The poor quality of copies of Raoul Dufy’s Côte d’Azur paintings made on the Library’s photocopier was the starting point of my series of Dufy Black paintings. Are there any Library books in particular that you have found useful? The Topography section of the Library provided me with Harry Furniss’s Paradise in Piccadilly: The Story of Albany (1925), a book of Edwardian sketches I used when working on a rose-tinted, nostalgic series of paintings called ‘Echoes of Albany’ (2003–7). Is there a typical London Library person? Definitely not. Is there a Library neighbour that you dread? No. But I do enjoy sitting near the soundest sleepers – they embolden me to have a little sleep myself. What is special for you about the Library? The way it looks at the moment. I hope it doesn’t change too much. I like the sense of all the ideas there waiting to be discovered. I also enjoy the fact that as far as I know I am the only artist of my generation to use the Library. It certainly is an advantageous tool to have – I think of it almost as an extra colour on my palette. THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 9
Linda Kelly, whose books include Juniper Hall and Richard Brinsley Sheridan (due to be reissued as a Faber Finds title in 2009), chooses the titles she has found most inspiring while researching for her new book The author at home, 2008.
The subject of my next book is Holland House, the unofficial centre of Whig opposition in the early nineteenth century. At a time of revolutions across Europe, its brand of aristocratic liberalism, avoiding extremes on both sides, played a major role in the achievement of electoral reform in 1832; it was also the most celebrated salon of the age. Memoirs of the Whig Party During My Time by Henry Richard Lord Holland (London 1852–4). H. England. As the nephew of Charles James Fox, the third Lord Holland came close to hagiography when writing of his beloved uncle. But his memoirs, with their firsthand sketches of the characters involved, are essential if sometimes biased reading. The Young Melbourne by David Cecil (London 1939). Biog. Melbourne. Later biographers may be more thorough, but Lord David’s evocation of Whig society draws on living memories. His mother was the great-granddaughter of Melbourne’s sister, Lady Palmerston, still retaining something of the graces, accents and characteristic turns of phrase of the Holland House circle. The Smith of Smiths by Hesketh Pearson (London 1934). Biog. Smith. The Revd Sydney Smith, with his stout figure and black Fox-like eyebrows, was almost a fixture at Holland House. Hesketh Pearson’s rumbustious biography gives us all the fun of his jokes without losing sight of his serious side. The Journal of Elizabeth, Lady Holland (1791–1811), ed. the Earl of Ilchester (London 1908). Biog. Holland. Beautiful, clever and demanding, Lady Holland could be an alarming hostess. Her journals show her in a more human guise, above all during her love affair with the young Lord Holland in Italy. Creevey, selected and re-edited by John Gore (London 1948). Biog. Creevey.
Everybody who was anybody, from Byron to Madame de Staël, from Sheridan to Talleyrand, came to Holland House. Thomas Creevey’s papers are a mine of indiscreet and fascinating gossip on the period. The Rock Pool by Cyril Connolly (London 1947). Fiction. A case of serendipity in the fiction shelves. The novel’s hero is writing a life of the banker poet Samuel Rogers, another fixture at Holland House. No one is better than Connolly at evoking characters and places, and his descriptions of Holland House and Lord Holland himself are characteristically acute.
Holland House, from Holland House by Princess Marie Liechtenstein (1874).
Byron’s Letters and Journals, ed. Leslie A. Marchand (12 vols., plus Supplement, London 1973–82, 1994). Biog. Byron. Who can resist an excuse for reading Byron’s letters, in this case those relating to Holland House where after a sticky start – he satirised the Hollands in his English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809) – he became one of their star attractions.
Glenarvon by Lady Caroline Lamb (3 vols., London 1816). Fiction. Byron’s affair with Lady Caroline Lamb began at Holland House and her hectically romantic roman-à-clef, with Byron as the fatal hero, includes a vindictive attack on Lady Holland, thinly disguised as the Princess of Madagascar. The Whig World, 1760–1837 by Leslie Mitchell (London 2005). H. England. Leslie Mitchell counts himself fortunate in having spent his entire professional career teaching and writing about the Whigs. Humorous, shrewd and affectionate, his book is the last word on the subject. Holland House by Princess Marie Liechtenstein (2 vols., London 1874) T. London. Princess Liechtenstein was the adopted daughter of the fourth Lady Holland. Holland House was destroyed by enemy action in the war; thanks to her delightful book, we still have a detailed record of the house and its surroundings. Impressions of Holland Park, photography by Gry Iverslien, Introduction by Michael Jacobs (London 2002). In 1952 the London County Council bought the ruins of Holland House and fifty-two acres of parkland to create Holland Park. Iverslien’s beautiful photographs capture its changing moods throughout the year. Titles in print are available at a 10% discount through the London Review Bookshop or online at lrbshop.co.uk See advertisement on page 8. THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 11
THE PARADISE OF
PERIODICALS Jonathan Keates reflects on the evolution of the periodical and magazine, as he explores the enticing array to be found in the racks of the Library’s Reading Room
agazine – ‘the very word is like a bell’ (John Keats). More especially if sounded in the old-fashioned way, which puts a lingering Gallic emphasis on the last syllable, rather than the more recently adopted ‘magazine’ , which sounds too impatiently neglectful of the term’s abundant imaginative possibilities. Abundance, indeed, is at the heart of the matter, since its etymology takes us back to an Arabic name for a storehouse or place of safekeeping, somewhere in medieval Cairo or Córdoba maybe, a cool, vaulted immensity full of sacks, bales and baskets. Europe, adopting ‘makhzan’ in the sixteenth century, added the more sinister association with gunpowder, rifles and the whirring chambers of a revolver. The role of the magazine in its inkand-paper form is defined by either interpretation, compendious or ballistic. As regards the latter, think of The Germ, launched by the young Pre-Raphaelites in 1850, which, though it only ran for four issues, was designed to lob a grenade into the Victorian art establishment, or of Wyndham Lewis’s Blast, the modernist machine-gun of more than half a century 12 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
Above Cover of The Germ, issue 1, January 1850. Opposite Cover of The Yellow Book, vol. 1, April 1894.
later. As for The Yellow Book, flaunting Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley amid post-Swinburnian ‘raptures and roses of vice’ , what was it but a detonator wired up to the approaching explosions, controlled or otherwise, of modernism?
Turn, on the other hand, to that godfather of the entire genre, The Gentleman’s Magazine: or, Monthly Intelligencer, launched in 1731, with a first issue scooping up everything from ‘Dr Cheselden’s intended Operation on the Drum of the Ear’ and ‘Verses on A Lady Stung by A Bee’ to shipwrecks, bankrupts and the latest spectral apparitions. It features, in addition, the world’s very first gardening column, recommending readers to dung their cucumber beds, ‘cut the Spanish Jessamine to within Four Inches of the Stem’ and plant hollyhocks, sweet williams and pinks. Inclusiveness, rather than whiz-bangs, is the keynote here, as we witness the birth of a literary form which, even at its most meretriciously glossy or ephemeral, is a dependable marker of an evolved and sophisticated civilisation. Apart from Country Life and a handful of upmarket art journals, the London Library does not do glossy, and its ephemera in the periodical line are limited to the little rack of throwaway newsletters hanging, a shade parasitically, on the L-shaped stand in the Reading Room. Since its foundation, however, the Library has been amassing or
The Gentleman’s Magazine launched in 1731, with an issue scooping up everything from “Dr Cheselden’s intended Operation on the Drum of the Ear” to shipwrecks, bankrupts and the latest spectral apparitions
rejecting magazines, and the activities of the quarterly Books Committee are often centred, for better or worse, on the various phases of a careful weeding-out process. This involves something called ‘the basket’, a sort of probation or Dantean Purgatory to which a magazine, if not damned outright for triviality, irrelevance or exorbitant expense, is sent to kick its heels for further consideration before our collective nod sends it to the Reading Room. From here, in bound form, it will eventually rise to the dimly lit region up the metal staircase beyond ‘Science & Miscellaneous’, to join the deceptively austere-looking ranks of Revue des Deux Mondes, Time and Tide and Modern Philology in the abode of the blessed. Now and then, the Books Committee members chafe and fret at the amount of time spent on choosing magazines, as opposed to pondering the more serious issue of developing the Book Collection.
We’ve so far resisted – rightly – the suggestion made a year or two ago that we should rename ourselves the Periodicals Committee. As for the magazines, however, we feel honour-bound to consider every recommendation, regardless of whether the member concerned has a personal or political axe to grind, or whether we know already that the expense per issue is eye-popping. The assumption by certain academic publishers that every major library or cultural institution has bottomless funding on which to draw may well be fallacious in the climate of a worldwide recession. It’s unlikely, though, that most of the three-figure sums for four – or sometimes just two – annual issues, prices that draw a collective ‘Ouch!’ from the Books Committee, will ever drop dramatically. Here and there a magazine will arrive as a welcome gift, or with a benevolent
reduction attached, and, more often than not, the complete series of back numbers. Some of us are nevertheless prepared to dig our heels in from time to time on behalf of material that evokes indiﬀerence or rank disgust from other committee members. I have a peculiarly protective attitude, for example, to that absorbing publication Royalty Digest, with its articles on minor German princelings and Hapsburg archduchesses, illustrated by mournful photographs of dumpy matrons with piled-up hair, seated beside their weak-chinned, moustachioed spouses outside some hideous schloss in Württemberg or Silesia, with a litter of sailor-suited oﬀspring and a general atmosphere of Almanach de Gotha vonund-zu. Is it a measure of Royalty Digest’s success with Library members that at the time of writing this article the latest issue seems to have been stolen from the Reading Room? Give it back, please: I haven’t finished reading about the last Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Minority interests like this are the Library’s lifeblood, and their reflection in the magazine racks is a major pleasure aﬀorded by the Reading Room. Were the Library executive more mirthlessly high-minded, the whole enticing array would be placed out of view in the Prevost Room or beyond a glass wall in T.S. Eliot House. Its present blatancy is, after all, subversive. They lurk there, these journals, reviews, quarterlies, monthlies, surveys and notebooks, with the apparent object of trying to stop us getting on with that great work whose publishing deadline THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 13
Even Notes and Queries, formerly a no-nonsense white, has turned a violent indigo, though the content, thank heavens, is as compulsively abstruse as ever
we long ago missed, but with which we intend to confute scholarly orthodoxy and earn ourselves three impacted pages in The New York Review of Books. When, by the way, does a mere magazine become anything so respectable as a periodical? The distinction is harder to make nowadays than it used to be, when the covers of most learned journals wore the uncompromising aspect still assumed by Past and Present and the quarterly review of critical hagiography Analecta Bollandiana, with a chaste table of contents set against a sober monochrome background of grey or pale blue. Now, as if courting some hitherto inconceivable mass market, the once demure quarterly devoted to archaeology, church monuments, Georgian architecture or Irish history must have its full-colour pictorial wrapping so as to look more selfconsciously accessible. Even Notes and Queries, formerly a no-nonsense white,
14 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
has turned a violent indigo, though the content, thank heavens, is as compulsively abstruse as ever. For the magazine junkie, whose concentration span, measured in nanoseconds, can just about manage a thirtypage article, the Reading Room becomes the equivalent of one of those Limehouse opium dens visited by Victorian novelists preoccupied with what used to be called ‘seeing life’. I recognise others of my kind, hopelessly narcotised, the terminally addicted in their scarlet armchairs with sometimes as many as six diﬀerent journals stacked beside them. So what shall the fix be this afternoon? A lethal cocktail might include the latest Philological Quarterly, with what promises to be a fascinating study of the author of Lady Audley’s Secret, entitled ‘Gendered Cover-ups: Live Burial, Social Death and Coverture in Mary Braddon’s Fiction’ . How about a dash of Regional Furniture, Volume XXI, on ‘Kentish
Clamp-Fronted Chests’? Or a seasoning of Gastronomica, to give body to the whole concoction, in the form of a sparkling culinary analysis of the great Wedding Feast at Cana by Paolo Veronese, now in The Louvre? Those in search of more consistency stick to the periodicals deriving from local history societies, with their articles on Roman villas, medieval field-systems and Elizabethan wills. Here is the York Archaeological Journal to provide us with the ultimate guarantee of local continuity to be found in a list of coins dug out of the soil around Catterick, which starts with a denarius showing the head of Mark Antony and finishes with a threepenny bit from the reign of Elizabeth II. Northamptonshire Past and Present oﬀers a singular voyage across the toponymy of the village of Peakirk, which started life – but of course you knew this – as ‘Pegecyrcan’, the church of the Saxon anchoress Pega, later canonised (thus
THE PARADISE OF PERIODICALS
Opposite, left to right: Covers of Philological Quarterly, vol. 84, no. 4, Fall 2005; The New York Review of Books, vol. 55, no. 19, December 2008; Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, vol. 79, 2007; Northamptonshire Past and Present, no. 61, 2008. Right: Cover of Gastronomica, vol. 8, no. 3, summer 2008.
surely somewhere among the numbers of Analecta Bollandiana). She was the sister of the holy hermit Guthlac of Crowland, who, when she tried to persuade him to break his daily fast by getting him to eat before sunset, became convinced she was a devil in disguise. Most of these county chronicles are robust survivors from the early twentieth century, but other magazines are made of feebler stuﬀ, and the Books Committee occasionally acknowledges an extinction or two. Where do mags go when they die? One of the Library’s less frequented reaches is the ‘Old Periodicals’ section in the basement. The rolling cases here, which the turn of a handle sets clanking and rumbling, really belong in some particularly gruesome whodunnit, where a body is found flattened between back numbers of, say, The Calcutta Chronicle and The Dial. This is the graveyard of departed hopes and blighted aspirations. What kind of readership, we might wonder, was expected for The Anglo-Saxon? Not to be confused with Lady Randolph Churchill’s later but equally short-lived Anglo-Saxon Review (to which the Library never subscribed), this was a heavily gilded and embossed essay in mid-Victorian graphic design, whose first editorial proclaimed: ‘The whole Earth may be called the Father-land of the Anglo-Saxon. He is a native of every clime, a messenger of heaven to every corner of this Planet – not yet developed to his perfection but tending thitherward. ’ With articles on ‘The Destiny and Mission of the Race’ and ‘Regeneration: By a Curate’, the whole publication reads like the obiter dicta
of Mr Podsnap in Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend. Its survival among the rolling cases is a tribute to the Library’s persistent reluctance to discard while any sort of space remains available. Hence the presence, in this print necropolis, of The Food Journal, a monthly of genuine significance, first issued as A Review of Social and Sanitary Economy in 1870. The sheer range of its contents is perhaps the reason why it sank so swiftly, after a single enterprising year. There are hair-raising exposures of adulteration (malt-sweepings in coﬀee, rags in butter, poisonous chromate of lead in sugar) alongside accounts of eating hippopotamus, improving wine by the use of electricity and the welcome arrival from America of ice-cream soda. In a Victorian context, the restless inquisitiveness displayed throughout makes a fascinating contrast with The Anglo-Saxon’s vacuous pomposity.
Several of these magazines never appeared in the Reading Room but found their way into the Library via a member’s beneficence. Our thanks to H.A. Pitman, for example, who contributed three volumes of The Photographic Quarterly, in which Dr Alfred Patterson, in 1890, posed the question ‘Retouching – Is It Immoral?’ He concluded it wasn’t, unless used for nefarious purposes. Odder, perhaps, to find a complete set of Over the Points, given by Irene Churchill, a quarterly issued during the late 1920s and 1930s by the Southern Railway, in which particular attention seems to have been paid to the beauty of the typeface and the quality of the engraved illustrations. No volumes of either journal have yet been borrowed but that, some might argue, is not the point of keeping them in the collection. A magazine full of magazines, it fulfils that classic definition by Victor Hugo of a library as implying ‘an act of faith’ . THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 15
Indexing, The Art of Christopher Phipps
Lord Campbell, the Lord Chancellor, used to say that anyone who published an interesting book without an index ought to be put to death
Lord Kilbracken, 1916
There is a close relationship between that Cinderella of the publishing world, the index, and the London Library. In 1877 the Library’s then Librarian Robert Harrison was instrumental in founding the first Index Society, subsequently becoming a Vice-President; in our own times, Douglas Matthews, Librarian from 1980 to 1993, has long been the preferred indexer of many eminent authors of history and biography. And the particular way that the Library organises its subjects on the shelves with strict observance of alphabetical order – and the stimulating juxtapositions and unlikely bedfellows that ensue – brings out the indexer’s epistemological mindset in us all. It is easy to take for granted those crucial last dozen or so pages at the back of a book, but a good index is more than a signpost or road-map for the hurried fact-seeker. Rather, 20 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
it is an epitome of the book, a distillation of the text, an alternative narrative to the author’s ordering of ideas and events, and one, for once, designed wholly for the convenience of the reader – which is one of several reasons why authors seldom make the best indexers of their own works. An author-compiled index can be easy to spot. Formidable but uninformative strings of thirty, forty or more page numbers after proper names, institutions, world wars or philosophic movements: the author can proudly recall the details each passage describes. But the reader looking for information on, say, a specific opinion of Winston Churchill’s, a particular basilica in Naples, a dispute in the Church of England, some special characteristic of fox-hunting or the Naughty Nineties, or an individual response to existentialism or Pop Art, and finding innumerable undifferentiated page numbers, some reading 135–78, will be thwarted. Those ever-unhelpful last resorts, passim and et seq., are sure signs of authorindexers at the end of their tether. Each issue of The Indexer, the international scholarly journal of indexing, presents a roll call of the good, the bad and the absent of indexes, garnered from recent book reviews in the mainstream press. It is striking, publishers should take note, how often reviewers express astonished exasperation – usually in their final
paragraph – at a good book ruined for want of a decent index. Don’t computers do it automatically now? Computers can indeed spot the occurrences of particular strings of letters in a document – and dedicated indexing software can help with reducing the drudgery of placing terms in alphabetical order – but machines are less good, as yet, at analysing a text, at identifying themes, at selecting the most appropriate term from multitudes of near-synonyms, and at discriminating between a significant mention and a trivial one. An infamous – in the world of indexers – example of acquiescing to the computer: the index to Macmillan’s Guide to Britain’s Nature Reserves (1984) includes a surprising entry on ‘mammoths’; this directs readers to the section beginning ‘This guide is a mammoth work … ’ Computers can, in short, index a book in much the same way that a wordprocessor can write one. Those in need of the necessary human component to compile a usable index should head to the Society of Indexers’ indispensable list of ‘Indexers Available’ (indexers.org.uk). Titles in print are available at a 10% discount through the London Review Bookshop or online at lrbshop.co.uk See advertisement on page 8.
Figs. 1–3: Pages from Indexers and Indexes in Fact and Fiction, edited by Hazel K. Bell (2001).
Fig. 4: The final page of J.G. Ballard’s story The Index (1977). THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 21
AN ENGLISHMAN IN A PERSIAN GARDEN ROBERT IRWIN
he Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám was first published a hundred and fifty years ago. This was the culmination of a long-running enthusiasm for Persian culture in nineteenth-century Britain. Umar Khayyam’s reputation as a poet is almost entirely the creation of three Victorian Englishmen, Edward Fitzgerald, Edward Byles Cowell and Edward Heron-Allen. Fitzgerald published his translation in 1859. At first sales languished and in 1861 the bookseller, Bernard Quaritch, put the remaining stock in the penny bargain box outside his shop in Castle Street, near Leicester Square, whereupon another Englishman, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, bought a copy, and it was his enthusiasm that was initially responsible for making the book a commercial success. Fitzgerald was not the first author to cash in on the nineteenth-century taste for fantasies in Persian settings. In 1817 Thomas Moore had published his sentimental epic IndoPersian fantasy in verse, Lalla Rookh: An Oriental Romance. Prince Feramoz (in disguise) tells four tales to a princess of Delhi who is journeying to Kashmir to be married to a prince she has never seen. Moore had done some research and he drew on William Jones and other Orientalists. But, despite the apparatus of Orientalist footnotes, there is not much feel of the true Orient in Lalla Rookh, which includes parables about the French Revolution, Napoleon and Ireland’s struggle to be free under Daniel O’Connell. Lady Holland was not so far off the mark when she told him: ‘Mr Moore, I have not read your Larry O’Rourke: I don’t like Irish stories. ’ Today Lalla Rookh is deservedly an unread classic, but at the time Moore made a lot of money from it. A few years later James Morier scored a similar success with The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan (1824). The novel relates 16 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
the chequered career of Hajji Baba, by turns a barber, a brigand, a dervish and so on. Hajji Baba’s adventures, with their numerous ups and downs, served Morier as a vehicle to write about the contemporary manners and customs of the Persians, as well as to give vent to his numerous prejudices. He patronisingly presented the Persians as innately mendacious, treacherous and cowardly. Even so, despite the Victorian arrogance, racism and hostility to Islam, Morier’s novel does have wit and pace, as well as some degree of documentary accuracy. In 1853 Matthew Arnold published ‘Sohrab and Rustum’, a poem in blank verse based on an episode in Firdawsi’s eleventhcentury verse epic, the Shahnama, about the legendary kings and heroes of ancient Persia. In Arnold’s poem, which aimed to present a classically tragic theme in an exotic setting, Rustum unwittingly slays his son Sohrab in single combat. The final lines which describe the flow of the River Oxus are particularly fine:
The longed-for dash of waves is heard, and wide His luminous home of waters opens, bright And tranquil, from whose floor the new-bathed stars Emerge, and shine upon the Aral Sea. The relationship between Umar Khayyam and the quatrains of the Rubáiyát attributed to him is tenuous. The real Umar Khayyam had a distinguished career as a mathematician and scientist in twelfth-century Persia. He also wrote on theology and published some uninspiring verses in Arabic. In his lifetime he had no reputation as a poet in Persian. It was only about a century after his death (but we do not know exactly when that was) that quatrains written in Persian began to be attributed to him. Some were definitely composed by other hands, while others may possibly have been his, but we simply have no means of knowing which quatrains, if any, are by him. There is no good evidence that he was a Sufi, and some that he was not. Nor was he, as has recently been suggested, a Zoroastrian. He seems to have been a conventionally pious Sunni Muslim. Umar’s reputation as a poet languished until the 1850s when Edward Byles Cowell (1826–1903) discovered some verses attributed to him. In 1841, while still a schoolboy, Cowell had found William Jones’s Persian Grammar (1771) in Ipswich Library and from that he taught himself Persian. Linguistic zeal was paired with piety, for Cowell thought Sufism was ‘the nearest approach to Christianity that poor fallen man can attain by his own unaided efforts’ . Later he moved on to Sanskrit studies, probably because it was more interestingly difficult, and he tried to teach his wife Sanskrit so that they would have something to talk about over breakfast. It was Cowell who taught the older man, Edward Fitzgerald, the beginnings of Persian. Fitzgerald too was enchanted by Jones’s Persian Grammar : ‘This Persian is really a great amusement to me. ’ He, in turn, introduced Cowell to his friends Alfred Tennyson and William Makepeace Thackeray. Fitzgerald also tried to get Tennyson to learn Persian, and Tennyson did make a stab at it, but his wife, fearing that it would ruin his eyesight, got him to take up badminton instead. In 1856 Cowell found a manuscript of verses attributed to Umar Khayyam in the Bodleian Library and sent a copy of these to Fitzgerald. In 1867 Cowell took up the newly-founded chair of Sanskrit studies
Opposite The first quatrain of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, translated by Edward Fitzgerald, illustrated by Frank Brangwyn (1919 edition). Top ‘The veiled prophet of Khorasan to impress Zelica’, from Thomas Moore’s Lalla Rookh: An Oriental Romance of 1817, illustrated by John Tenniel (1868 edition). Above Fitzgerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, illustration by Gilbert James (1909 edition). THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 17
in Cambridge. Despite his official post he kept up his Persian studies and became the leading Victorian interpreter of Hafiz of Shiraz. Fitzgerald believed that Britain was going to the dogs. He was a strange, shy, melancholy man with few yet intense friendships but, despite this, he still had the nerve to demonstrate the polka in front of Thomas Carlyle. He worked on his translation and reshaping of Umar Khayyam in a garden full of buttercups (which may go some way to explaining the prominence of garden imagery in the verses). Fitzgerald’s translation of his Persian original was not reverent: ‘It is an amusement to me to take what liberties I like with these Persians who (as I think) are not poets enough to frighten one from such excursions, and who really do want a little art to shape them. ’ He formed his verses as a series of reflections from dawn to dusk about life and the universe, ending in a boozy, agnostic resignation. Though much of his ‘translation’ is really an original creation, it is undoubtedly a successful one and, as A.S. Byatt put it, the poem ‘sings in the mind’ . Fitzgerald described Umar to the nomadic writer George Borrow (who had also learned Persian) as ‘an Epicurean Infidel some five hundred years ago’. Fitzgerald’s Rubáiyát was very much the product of a Victorian gentleman of leisure: ‘I have been all my life apprentice to this heavy business of idleness. ’ But Cowell was shocked by Fitzgerald’s hedonistic and agnostic remoulding of Umar, and later refused the dedication of a book on the Rubáiyát : ‘I admire Omar as I admire Lucretius, but I cannot take him as a guide. In these grave matters I prefer to go to Nazareth, not to Naishapur, ’ as he wrote to Heron-Allen. Cowell, who regarded Khayyam’s verses as having a mystical meaning,
regretted the way that Fitzgerald had run off with them. Although Cowell was hostile, Fitzgerald’s numerous fans included Algernon Swinburne, Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris and John Ruskin. In Britain and America Omar Khayyam Clubs were formed. These were refuges for gentlemen who liked drinking and composing doggerel. In 1880 Richard Burton published The Kasidah of Haji Abdu El-Yezdi. This was an ill-judged attempt to cash in on the vogue for cracker-barrel philosophy in the Oriental manner, and to use the quatrain structure to express his own credo, which was an idiosyncratic mixture of atheism and mysticism, together with a dash of his distinctively defiant swashbuckling. Edward Heron-Allen (1861–1943) was probably Fitzgerald’s most devoted fan. Heron-Allen was a solicitor with many curious enthusiasms. He took up the study of Persian poetry, and from there moved on to palmistry and from there to the history of the violin and from there to the study of formanifera seashells. Having mastered Persian, he produced a literal translation of the manuscript that had served as Fitzgerald’s base. He also collected editions of the Rubáiyát, as well as memorabilia relating to Fitzgerald. He left his collection to the London Library. (It can be found in a glass-fronted bookcase on the first floor, off the main Reading Room.) The medieval Persian verses of the Rubáiyát, thoroughly worked over by Fitzgerald, notwithstanding their Oriental tropes and imagery, spoke to the late Victorian age. Textual criticism of the Bible, as well as the researches of Charles Lyell and Charles Darwin contributed to an age of doubt in late nineteenth-century Britain. Tennyson, in his In Memoriam (1850), had succeeded in giving voice to both the intensity of his doubt and the strength of his faith:
So runs my dream: but what am I? An infant crying in the night: An infant crying for the light: And with no language but a cry. As the historian G.M. Young put it with characteristic elegance in Victorian England: Portrait of an Age (1936): ‘In Memoriam, which is nine years older than the Origin of the Species, gathered up all the doubts of Christianity, of providence, of immortality, which the advance of science had implanted in anxious minds, and answered them with the assurance of a pantheistic and yet personal faith in progress. ’ A little later, in ‘Dover Beach’ (1867), Matthew Arnold wrote of the melancholy withdrawal of the Sea of Faith. The last lines of Arnold’s poem match the melancholy resignation of the Rubáiyát, while lacking its hedonism:
Edward Heron-Allen’s book plate from the inside cover of Fitzgerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, illustrated by Abanindro Nath Tagore (1910 edition). 18 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
Ah love, let us be true To one another! For the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.
AN ENGLISHMAN in A PERSIAN GARDEN
Above Fitzgerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, illustration by Frank Brangwyn (1919 edition). Right Fitzgerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, edited by Colin White, illustration by Edmund Dulac (1976 edition). Left Fitzgerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam, illustration by Abanindro Nath Tagore (1910 edition).
Other factors helped make the British public more aware of the Orient and of Persian culture more specifically. In the nineteenth century Persian was still the language of many of the princely courts of India, and consequently there were quite a few old India hands in Britain who had mastered Persian. Moreover, in the aftermath of the Great Exhibition of 1851, with its vast displays of Oriental arts and crafts, the South Kensington Museum had been founded (rechristened the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1899). In 1893 William Morris would organise a public subscription to purchase the Ardabil carpet for the museum. The Rubáiyát also appealed to the Pre-Raphaelites and others because its medieval setting evoked a world without smog, trams, frockcoats and umbrellas. In 1884, the well-known American artist Elihu Vedder became the first to illustrate the Rubáiyát. His version owed more to the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites than it did to Persia. Thereafter, illustrated editions proliferated. A few of the artists were of first rank, among them Edmund Dulac, Jessie M. King and Frank Brangwyn. Some versions were done in an Art Nouveau or Art Deco style. Some showed the influence of Japanese ukiyo-e prints or were modelled on medieval Persian miniatures. But many versions can only be described as chocolate-box, kitsch
or pornographic. Damsels in gardens featured prominently in most pictures. The damsels were imported by the artists, while the garden was mostly the invention of Fitzgerald. The garden setting of the Rubáiyát and the illustrations of imaginary rose gardens led to a cult of the Persian garden in Britain. By comparison with Egypt, which was infested with British technical advisers, tourists and artists, few Victorians visited Persia, but those that did often brought back seeds from a rose bush that grew beside Umar’s grave, and so Persian roses flourished on English soil. Later Vita Sackville-West spent time in Persia when her husband Harold Nicolson was posted to the British Embassy in Teheran in 1925. A year later Sackville-West published a lyrical travel book, Passenger to Teheran (1926). She was at first disappointed to find nothing in Persia that corresponded to an English garden or to the luxuriant horticultural fantasies dreamed up by illustrators of the Rubáiyát. Even so, her account of the Persian garden matched the Khayyam/Fitzgerald version in one respect: ‘It is not a place where [the Persian] wants to stroll; it is a place where he wants to sit and entertain his friends with conversation, music, philosophical discourse, and poetry; and if he can watch the spring rain pouring down, so much the better . ’ THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 19
Archaeology in the London Library Penny Horlick considers Darwin’s contribution to the development of archaeological research, and the value of the London Library’s collection to her work
he London Library could be viewed very much like an archaeological excavation: trench-like in shape, with numerous horizontal layers, each layer or stratum containing a different but interesting subject. And although the Library is not organised chronologically, it seems logical that the Archaeology collection is located at the greatest depth of the six floors and numerous levels that comprise the building. The majority of archaeological books can be found in Topography in the basement, although there are other related sections scattered throughout the building, such as Evolution, located within the Science and Miscellaneous collections. The Archaeological collection covers the full time span from the origins of early Man, and there is also a significant and extensive collection of purely British archaeology, organised by region, which provides an excellent and thorough resource. This is particularly useful for looking up other relevant sites within a specific region, and includes the important British Archaeological Reports publications. In addition to the extensive book collection, the Reading Room provides an exceptional and current selection of journals and periodicals, vital for keeping up to date with recent research and theories on many archaeological subjects. They include journals such as World Archaeology, the Oxford Journal 22 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
Without Darwin’s research on the voyage of the HMS Beagle, it would have been impossible to decipher the fossil evidence representing the evolution of different species of man
of Archaeology, Revue archéologique and Minerva: The International Review of Ancient Art and Archaeology. Other related titles, such as Scientific American, often cover archaeological topics. Owing to the London Library’s policy of maintaining old titles, members have access to many early publications on archaeology, as well as the latest works. This reminds us of the value of original work, and can show how modern research has replaced or expanded upon an earlier theory. Early but significant work was carried out by those who often funded their own travels and research; for example, Sir Arthur Evans and his work on Knossos, in his The Palace of Minos: a Comparative Account of the Successive Stages of the Early Cretan Civilization as illustrated by the Discoveries at Knossos (1921–35); and Howard Carter’s work in Egypt, The Tomb of Tut-ankh-amen: statement, with documents, as to the events which occurred in Egypt in the Winter of 1923–24, leading to the ultimate break with the Egyptian government (1924). From these early excavations in Europe and the Middle East,
archaeological research progressed to Africa, the so-called ‘cradle of mankind’ . The discovery of an archaic human skull by Louis and Mary Leakey in Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania, East Africa, in 1951, sparked international interest in the origins of mankind, and in the forces of evolution that resulted in modern humans. In the field of prehistory (before the appearance of writing), there is nothing more interesting or contentious than how current theories on the origins of modern man were constructed, following the evolution of man from the higher apes. Further research has been conducted by their son and his wife, Richard and Maeve Leakey, and now their daughter, Louise. Others currently producing work in this field are also represented, including Donald Johanson, whose discovery of early human remains, Australopithecus, in the Hadar region of Ethiopia, is described in his book Lucy: The Beginning of Humankind (1981). His findings were very significant, as these hominid fossils helped us to understand how and when man began to walk on two legs. The comparatively recent application of DNA to the fossil record is in itself another powerful contribution. This has recently confirmed that Neanderthal is definitely not our ancestor, proven by the absence of Neanderthal DNA in modern populations. Instead Neanderthal died out approximately 30,000 years ago, and was replaced with a modern species, Homo erectus.
Far left Orerat, conse mincin vercincil irilisl illummo lessim duismodo do od min eugait incidunt vulput augueros augiatio ea
At the PADMAC archaeological unit at the University of Oxford, our search for Palaeolithic archaeological sites and fossil evidence is centred upon the highest levels of the chalk downs of southern England, primarily in Hampshire. Prehistoric man inhabited and/or manufactured tools at these sites, as the higher altitudes provided a safe vantage point from which to observe the migrations of red deer, a staple of their diet, and also to view approaching predators. There are two main reasons why we look for prehistoric remains in southern Britain. First, it was south of the extension of glacial ice sheets, and provided a hospitable place for man to live, and, secondly, prehistoric fluctuations in sea levels meant that, for long periods of time, Britain was joined to mainland Europe, which allowed humans to access this region from the continent. While few hominid fossils have survived in this area, because of the destructive effect of the chalk upon bones, there is other evidence, in the form of
Top Panoramic view of Olduvai Gorge, northern Tanzania, © Neil Paskin. Right Frontispiece from the leaflet for the Darwin–Wallace Celebration event on 1 July 1908 at the Linnean Society of London.
stone tools and artefacts, which confirm the presence of humans. Until the actual fossil remains are found, it will remain a mystery which species manufactured these tools with possibilities including Neanderthal, Homo erectus or Homo Heidelbergensis. Recent work on this subject of early man, both in Africa and elsewhere, is held in the Library, and includes Homo Britannicus: The Incredible Story of Human Life in Britain (2006) by Chris Stringer, and African Exodus: The Origins of Modern Humanity (1996) by Chris Stringer and Robin McKie. The year 2009 marks two hundred years since the birth of Charles Darwin, and one hundred and fifty since the publication of his On the Origins of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859). The impact of his theory of evolution on the field of archaeology is immense. Without Darwin’s research on the voyage of the HMS Beagle (1831–6), it would have been impossible to decipher the fossil evidence representing the evolution of different species of man. The theory of evolution provides a vital framework,
not only for the origins of man, but for all species, and helps to explain variations in fossils that have evolved over time, often for very specific reasons. For example, the evolution of H. Heidelbergensis to Neanderthal is thought to reflect an adaptation to a colder, glacial environment in Europe, where short, stocky bodies are able to cope with the climate; modern humans, on the other hand, are taller, less robust and more adapted to warmer climates. Of course, there have been modifications and expansions to Darwin’s original theory, but his initial work remains valid today. Furthermore, Darwin was correct when he recognised the relationship between humans and the higher apes; he even went so far as to predict that fossils of early man would be found in Africa, writing in The Descent of Man (1871): ‘In each great region of the world the living mammals are closely related to the extinct species of the same region. It is therefore probable that Africa was formerly inhabited by the extinct apes closely allied to the gorilla and chimpanzee; and as these two species are now man’s nearest allies, it is somewhat more probable that our early progenitors lived on the African continent than elsewhere. ’ The Library has an extensive collection of Darwin’s books with numerous editions of his works, located upstairs in Science, but also has many books about his life, and even more books on evolution written by a variety of authors, which followed his original work, for example Stephen Jay Gould’s book Ever since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History (1991) and Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene (1976), which incorporates Darwinian evolution with genetics. THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 23
MEMBERS’ News Retirement of
Sir Thomas Legg KCB QC has recently announced his decision to retire as Chairman of Trustees with effect from 31 March 2009: It has been a great privilege to serve the Library, first as a trustee and then as Chairman, over the last seven years. They have been extraordinarily busy years for the Library, with the acquisition and conversion to Library use of T.S. Eliot House, and the preparation of further detailed development plans to ensure the Library has the facilities, the services and the accommodation to meet the needs of successive generations of committed readers and writers – and, indeed, all those others who come to find inspiration of some kind within these walls. But the time is coming when I should make way for a successor and move on. Responsibility for the selection and appointment of a new Chair of Trustees lies with the trustees and we would like to seek expressions of interest from full members of the Library as part of the process. The role is a demanding one – unpaid and requiring a significant time commitment – but nevertheless rewarding and full of interest and I commend it to you. I should like to thank the President, Vice-Presidents, my fellow trustees, the Librarian and all the staff for their help and support during my term of office. I look forward to seeing the Library continue to prosper in the future as I revert to enjoying the pleasures of membership without the responsibilities of trusteeship.
Sir Thomas Legg KCB QC
The History of the role In the early days of the Library the roles of Chairman and President were largely combined. It was only in 1951 when the President, Lord Ilchester, resigned after twentyfive years of chairing the Committee, that the two were formally separated, reflecting the increasing complexity of the task of looking after the Library’s affairs. The roll call of past Chairmen is a distinguished one: The Hon. Sir Harold Nicolson Sir Rupert Hart-Davis Peter Calvocoressi The Hon. Michael Astor Philip Ziegler CVO
John Grigg Lewis Golden OBE JP Nicolas Barker OBE Sir Thomas Legg KCB, QC
Could you be the next Chair of Trustees? The Chair of Trustees provides overall leadership to the Library in partnership with the Librarian, so as to enable trustees and staff to work collectively for the good of the Library and towards the fulfilment of its charitable aim – ‘the advancement of education, learning and knowledge by the provision and maintenance in London of a library embracing the arts and humanities’. The person appointed needs to be able to lead the trustees in ensuring the long-term wellbeing and effectiveness of the Library, and that the Library safeguards its assets, meets its financial obligations and applies and develops its resources appropriately, functioning within the legal and financial requirements of a registered charity. The Chair of Trustees must also work as a champion of the cause and reputation of the Library, helping to raise awareness of it, retain 24 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
current members, recruit new ones and secure funds to support its capital and revenue plans, including its long-term endowment. The Chair of Trustees holds office for an initial term of three years, and a full description of the role, the commitment involved, and the qualities the trustees are seeking is available on our website at londonlibrary.co.uk/vacancies/. If you are interested, please read the details and then send an expression of interest (no more than 500 words) and a CV to Sir Thomas Legg KCB QC at The London Library, 14 St James’s Square, London SW1Y 4LG. The closing date is Tuesday 10 February 2009 (noon). Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed during February and early March and the outcome announced on the website and in a later edition of this magazine.
DEVELOPMENT PROJECT: Phase 2 2009 a challenging and exciting year Members will look back on 2009 as the year in which the full potential of the extra space afforded by T.S. Eliot House began to be realised. Until now members have heard a great deal more about this space than they have been able to see, but this is all about to change. During the last six months we have been very busy planning the next stages of the building work, which will leave us at the end of 2009 with a greatly enhanced Library. There will be an extended and redesigned Art Room, new basement storage for bound periodicals with an extra reading room fitted in under the central lightwell (releasing three floors in the back stacks for book storage expansion), much improved circulation around the building with an additional staircase and improved lift, and full integration of the old building with the new on five floors.
Inevitably, construction work brings with it some noise and upheaval, but service to members will continue throughout the year. We hope that by keeping members fully informed about each stage of the work, giving advance warning of quieter and noisier times and any temporary book relocations, we can keep disruption and irritation to a minimum. As a general rule 10 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday, and all day Saturday, will be quieter times. We hope members will check the Library’s home page for links to up-to-the-minute information and to sign up for email alerts on what’s happening when and where, or contact us regularly by phone (020 7766 4745, or 020 7766 4743) for help in planning their visits to avoid inconvenience wherever possible. Members may also like to make more use of the postal loan service.
art room temporary relocation for 2009
Temporary Reading Room RELocation: A Quiet Haven in T.S. Eliot House
The Art Room has become one of the most congested areas in the Library. Haworth Tompkins, our architects, have re-planned the room to restore its fine proportions but increase book storage space by the insertion of galleries and a seamless extension into Eliot House. To allow this work to be carried out, the Art collections, 8vo and 4to, are moving to a new open-access bookstack area recently created in the Basement, where they will be housed temporarily in rolling racking, which is eventually destined for bound periodical storage. The Art Room move will take place early in 2009, probably in mid-January. In the short period whilst the books are being moved, members should leave requests for wanted books with Reader Services staff, who will retrieve them as soon as practically possible. Once the books are installed in the Basement, members will have full access to them through a door from Topography (take the stairs at the front of the 1890s stacks right to the bottom and follow the signs). The Art collections will stay in the Basement until they move back to the new Art Room in late 2009.
CLOAKROOM MINOR CHANGES Members will also have seen some changes in the Issue Hall. We have had to turn the large cloaks area back to office space to accommodate Membership staff while their office in the ‘Admin corridor’ is in use by the construction team. By moving the photocopiers further along we have gained some additional space for coats and bags.
From 9.30 a.m. on 2 January 2009 members have been able to make use of T.S. Eliot House for the very first time. The temporary Reading Room off the Issue Hall has been replaced by the Eliot Reading Room, on the first floor of T.S. Eliot House, in an area designated eventually to be used as extra bookstacks. All existing desks and chairs have been moved over, giving twenty reader places (up from sixteen in the Ground Floor Reading Room), and WIFI and internet terminals, as well as a small collection of reference books, are available. To find the new Reading Room, members should take the lift to the second floor and follow the direction signs that lead to a Narnia-like door hidden away in the corner of Fiction 4to. Carefully stepping between the two buildings (the difference in the floor levels will be ironed out later in the year) members will find themselves on the top floor of Eliot House. They should then follow the signs and take either the lift or stairs down to the first floor, where the Reading Room is clearly labelled. Toilet facilities are available on the top- and second-floor landings. The vacated room off the Issue Hall will be temporarily partitioned to provide a construction area at the back, where preliminary works will take place for an eventual new wheelchairfriendly entrance; the front half of the room will be shelved to hold books from the Front Basement while construction of the new Periodicals Reading Room proceeds below. At the end of the year, it will return to use as a Reading Room.
We are immensely grateful to all our donors who have made these improvements possible: to many members who have given help through the Twenty-First Century Appeal, and to countless other individuals and trusts. We thank them all for their generosity. We would also like to extend to all members our gratitude for their forbearance and patience while the improvement work goes ahead in this challenging year. Future issues of the Magazine will carry reports on the progress of the project – more news soon! THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 25
A SHORT WALK FROM THE LIBRARY On this lunch-time stroll, guided by Harry Mount, the author of A Lust for Window Sills (2008), you’ll see some of the finest buildings in the country, just around the corner from 14 St James’s Square
he architectural sights begin right next door to the Library, on both sides. Number 15, Lichﬁeld House, was built by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart, the great Greek Revival architect, in 1766. Number 13 is now the Cyprus Embassy, built in 1740 by Matthew Brettingham. Note how the vertical joints of the brickwork have been painted over.
➤ Directly opposite the Library, at number 4, is Nancy Astor’s old house, now the In & Out Club (also known as the Naval & Military Club). Remodelled in 1725 after a fire, it was originally built in 1676, not long after the square was built. Planned in 1662 by Lord St Albans, St James’s Square was the earliest square in the West End. In the whole of London, only the squares of Lincoln’s Inn fields and Covent Garden are earlier. ➤
Skirting the square, head right, or south, to number 31 at the south-east corner. This is Norfolk House, home to General Eisenhower during the Second World War, where Operation Overlord was planned.
ahead of you is the Canadian War Memorial (1994) by the French-Canadian sculptor Pierre Granche, featuring a thin sheen of water rippling across a scattering of sculpted maple leaves.
➤ Turn around and then go left at the footpath that runs from The Mall to Piccadilly. On the right you’ll see Spencer House. Built in 1756–66 for the Spencers (as in Diana, Princess of Wales) by John Vardy, this Palladian palace was decorated in 1759 by that man again, James ‘Athenian’ Stuart. ➤ Next to Spencer House, at 26 St James’s Place, is Denys Lasdun’s 1958 brutalist granite and concrete tower block with bronze window frames. Soon on the right, take an unmarked passage under a building into St James’s Place. Follow the wiggling street heading back towards St James’s Street and, on the left, you’ll see Dukes Hotel, purveyor of London’s best martinis.
➤ Go back on to St James’s Street, head north and pass William Evans the gunmakers, founded in 1883. Across the street are Alison and Peter Smithson’s three mini-skyscrapers – Economist ➤ Now walk south down to Pall Mall Plaza (1959–64) – built out of porous Portland and cross over to reach number 106, the stone. The windows look across to Brooks’s Travellers Club, where the Library rented rooms when it was founded in 1841. Built in Spencer House and the Denys Lasdun building. gentlemen’s club, built in 1778 by Henry Holland, a pretty classical club likened to a small country 1832 by Charles Barry, the Travellers is entirely Italianate Renaissance in style. That belvedere on the south side house in the middle of London. was designed as a splendid Smoking Tower; now it’s just dreary bedrooms. Late Library members Anthony Powell and Hugh ➤ Now head east along Ryder Street, left up Bury Street, and then Massingberd also belonged to the Travellers. ‘There is something right along Jermyn Street. Next stop is the beautiful Wren church exhilarating about the extravagance of space,’ Massingberd said of St James’s Piccadilly (1684). The ornate altar screen, all fruit and ﬂowers, is Grinling Gibbons (1684), as are the organ case and of the club. ‘We can all walk tall in well-proportioned rooms.’ marble font. Their lunch-time concerts are worth taking in. ➤ Walk west along Pall Mall until, just before you hit St James’s Palace, there on the left is the Queen’s Chapel. This ➤ Then head back to the refuge of the Reading Room at 14 was the ﬁrst classical church in the country (1626–7) designed St James’s Square: no need to explain the history of that one. by Inigo Jones in a Palladian style appropriate to Charles I’s Catholic Queen, Henrietta Maria of France; she used it as her palladian london private chapel. You don’t have to walk far from the Library to find some exceptional examples of Palladian architecture, most notably the Queen’s Chapel (1627; see walk) and the Banqueting House ➤ Walk on past the palace’s 1532 gate house – of the classic double-towered Tudor type that also features at Eton College, (1622), both by Inigo Jones, and the palace at Horse Guards Hampton Court Palace and Lincoln’s Inn – and you’ll see an Parade by John Vardy (1753). The Royal Academy of Arts is enormous window made up of 162 rectangular panes, with little holding an exhibition of Palladio’s work this season, including pinched tops to each individual window. This is the Chapel Royal, large-scale models, computer animation, original drawings and built in the 1530s by Henry VIII. On the other side of the glass, paintings: Andrea Palladio: His Life and Legacy, Royal Academy Prince Albert married Queen Victoria, on 10 february 1840. of Arts, London, 31 January–13 April 2009 (royalacademy.org.uk). ➤ Carry on down Cleveland Row, past Selwyn House and Right Villa Saraceno, c. 1550, by Andrea Palladio. Photo: Alberto Carolo. Courtesy of the Landmark Trust. through the small pedestrian passage into Green Park. Directly 26 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
THIS SEASON’S LITERARY EVENTS FEBRUARY Martin Amis and Howard Jacobson will be in conversation on 12 February (arts. manchester.ac.uk/newwriting/events) as part of the University of Manchester’s Literature Live programme. Up for discussion is the evolution of British national identity. Can novels ever truly represent the nation? Come along and find out. This year’s Jewish Book Week (21 February–1 March; jewishbookweek.com) will open with Amos Oz and close with A.B. Yehoshua. On board are Simon Schama,* Niall Ferguson and several exciting new voices from around the world, including Paul Verhaeghen, the Belgian winner of the 2008 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. February sees the 40th anniversary of former London Library President Kenneth Clark’s BBC2 series Civilisation. The first colour documentary series ever broadcast in this country, Civilisation traced the development of Western European art, society and thought from the Dark Ages to the 1960s. To mark the anniversary,
Kenneth Clark c. 1967
Dr Jonathan Conlin* has organised Back to Civilisation: A Television Landmark at 40, a series of events that explore Clark’s broadcasting career and assess Civilisation’s legacy to today’s audiences. On 21 February, a study day at the National Gallery includes talks by David Attenborough, A.A. Gill and Simon Schama* (nationalgallery.org.uk). From 23–26 February, the Lord Civilisation Season at the British Film Institute will feature screenings of rarely seen episodes from Clark’s pre-Civilisation programmes for ITV (bfi.org.uk/whatson/bfi_southbank).
Stephen Spender would have been celebrating his 100th birthday this year. To mark the occasion, Grey Gowrie,* Tony Harrison, Seamus Heaney, Barry Humphries and Andrew Motion – all of whom knew Spender well – will be reading from his poetry and prose on 26 February (stephenspender.org). While you’re at it, why not head along to the National Portrait Gallery (npg.org.uk) too? They’ll have photographs and drawings of Spender on display from 13 January–15 July. Where better to say goodbye to winter than the Lake District? Keswick’s beautiful Theatre by the Lake on the edge of Derwentwater is the venue for the eighth annual Words by the Water (27 February– 8 March; wayswithwords.co.uk). A flock of more than 10,000 readers, writers and visiting speakers will be making their way to Cumbria for the festival, including Louis de Bernières, Lionel Shriver, Sandi Toksvig, Melvyn Bragg and Kate Atkinson. From the North to London’s South Bank Centre, whose multi-talented group of Emerging Artists in Residence will be in action at the Royal Festival Hall for one night only on 27 February. The aptly named Takeover (southbankcentre.co.uk) promises to be an extraordinary mix of new music from Ayanna Witter-Johnson, beatboxing by Nathan ‘Flutebox’ Lee and spoken word courtesy of Yemisi Blake and RIZ MC. At the Bath Literature Festival (28 February–8 March; bathlitfest.org.uk), visitors will be able to take their pick from more than 100 inspiring readings, recordings and workshops. Yasmin AlibhaiBrown will be exploring her East African roots through cookery, and Alexander McCall Smith will be in town on World Book Day to talk about his latest novel, Tea Time for the Traditionally Built. The festival is family-friendly too, with furry fairytale characters coming to life on the first day to entertain your little ones. MARCH AND APRIL Aye Write! (6–14 March; ayewrite.com) will be bringing the best of Scottish and international writers to Glasgow. Covering
fiction, non-fiction, screenwriting and graphic novels, the week-long programme is one of the most diverse on the festival circuit. Big-name speakers in previous years have included Ian McEwan,* Andrew Marr* and Maggie O’Farrell. Storytelling sessions and seminars on formalist poetry? It must be the London Word Festival (5–17 March; londonwordfestival.com), which burst onto the scene in 2008 with an opening season that featured Monica Ali, Toby Litt, Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip. Expect more of the same this year, as some of East London’s unique venues (including an original Victorian music hall) play host to writers, actors and stand-up comedians. Iain Sinclair will be popping into the London Review Bookshop (lrbshop.co.uk) on 11 March to read from Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire. A personal record of the part of London in which he has lived for forty years, the book uncovers traces of those who once passed through the area, including Joseph Conrad, Samuel Richardson and Jean-Luc Godard. Expect illuminating digressions, anecdotes and a generous Q&A session. The unstoppable rise of the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival (29 March–5 April 2009; sundaytimes-oxfordliteraryfestival. co.uk) looks set to continue this year, as hundreds of writers pack out the city. Highlights include Mario Vargas Llosa,* who will be giving the very first Chancellor’s Lecture in the Sheldonian Theatre; the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who will be speaking on Englishness; and David Starkey* talking about Henry VIII. P.D. James will speak at the opening dinner in Christ Church’s Great Hall, and there will be three residential writers’ workshops during the same week on fiction writing, children’s writing and poetry. *Current Library member
30 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE