Twelfth Annual Rylands Poetry Reading: Rowan Williams

Tags

, , ,

Fran Baker writes:

This year’s Rylands Poetry Reading was delivered by a poet who is probably better known to many of us in another of his roles. Rowan Williams was the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury until his retirement in 2012, and he is now Master of Magdalene College Cambridge. Although he has been a published poet for many years, it was only this year that he joined the list of Manchester-based Carcanet Press.

Rowan Williams delivering the Rylands Poetry Reading.

Rowan Williams delivering the Twelfth Rylands Poetry Reading.

His reading opened on a seasonal note with the poem ‘Advent Calendar’. However, Williams dislikes being labelled as ‘a religious poet’, preferring to be ‘a poet for whom religious things matter intensely’ – and that was evident in the wide-ranging subject matter of the poems he went on to read and discuss. These included work from his new Carcanet collection, The Other Mountain, a number of his earlier works, and some of his translations of work by Welsh writers.

It was one of our best attended readings to date, and the Q&A session at the end was particularly lively, prompting discussion about poetry and translation; the influence of the Welsh language on Williams’s work; musical settings of his poetry; poetry and religion; and his admiration for the work of David Jones and Vernon Watkins.

Williams was a compelling speaker, and probably felt more at home in the church-like surroundings of the Historic Reading Room than many of our visiting poets.

Rowan Williams and Michael Schmidt, Managing Editor of Carcanet Press.

Rowan Williams and Michael Schmidt, Editorial and Managing Director of Carcanet Press. Image copyright © Fergus Wilde.

All for just £2!

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

This advertisement from student newspaper the Mancunion gives a glimpse of what the University of Manchester’s Christmas Ball promised in thirty years ago. Music, Panto, Raffle and more at £2 a ticket!

This advertisement from student newspaper the Mancunion gives a glimpse of what the University of Manchester’s Christmas Ball promised in thirty years ago. Music, Panto, Raffle and more at £2 a ticket!

Out of place in a stable?

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

This image is from a mid-thirteenth century English missal (a prayer book) created in memory of Henry of Chichester in the scriptorium of Salisbury Cathedral. It shows Mary suckling the newborn Jesus, lying in a bed that would surely have been out of place in a stable!

This image is from a mid-thirteenth century English missal (a prayer book) created in memory of Henry of Chichester in the scriptorium of Salisbury Cathedral. It shows Mary suckling the newborn Jesus, lying in a bed that would surely have been out of place in a stable!

‘An entirely miraculous and supernatural event’

Tags

, , , , ,

This extraordinary image of the Nativity is an engraving by William Bell Scott after William Blake’s painting (now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art). Bell Scott was fascinated by Blake’s design, which he described as depicting ‘an entirely miraculous and supernatural event.’

This extraordinary image of the Nativity is an engraving by William Bell Scott after William Blake’s painting (now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art). Bell Scott was fascinated by Blake’s design, which he described as depicting ‘an entirely miraculous and supernatural event.’

Fairy Tales for Christmas!

Tags

, , , , , ,

This volume by Arthur Rackham was recently retrieved for an archaeology seminar, but the images were just too seasonal to by-pass for the blog. Rackham has illustrated scenes from the fairy tale world. They convey a sense of joy and wonder, but not in a sanitized twee sense, many of these images are laced with the macabre and sinister. They consist of goblins, giants, elves, fairies and other grotesque and fantastic creatures, many of these stories are now familiar to us as Christmas Pantos.

Jack

Jack and The Bean Stalk.

 

Arthur Rackham’s Book of Pictures (R141905) is held in the Alison Uttley Collection and is the 331st copy from a run of 1030. Rackham is widely regarded as one of the leading illustrators from the Golden Age of British book illustration, which encompassed 1900 until the start of the First World War.  Ian Rogerson discusses Rackham’s fairy tale illustrations in the newly published Riches of the Rylands.

 

Merry Christmas!

Santa Claus

Santa Claus

History of the Book MA Students on jokes and the excitement of Christmas

Tags

, , , , ,

MA History of the Book Students Izzy and Jenny with Collection Care Manager Caroline Checkley-Scott in The John Rylands Library's conservation studio

MA History of the Book Students Izzy and Jenny with Collection Care Manager Caroline Checkley-Scott in The John Rylands Library’s conservation studio

Hello! We’re Izzy and Jenny, both MA students at the University of Manchester taking the History of the Book course this semester. The course is run jointly by the University and John Rylands Library, so we’ve had all our seminars this term in the inspiring Christie Room, as well as making a trip to the medieval library at Chetham’s School of Music. As part of our course we’re both completing projects on individual manuscripts: Izzy is working on a 15th century medical manuscript, Jenny a 17th century miscellany. Both are very unusual; written in many hands, with some pages missing or even upside down.

To help us find out more about our manuscripts, particularly the binding and other physical features, Collection Care Manager Caroline Checkley-Scott and Collection and Research Support Manager John Hodgson kindly met with us last week in the Rylands Conservation Lab. The session was extremely useful in illuminating some of the significant issues of our manuscripts, as well as offering us some answers to the queries and questions we’d been forming in our research. We had the chance to look at our texts under the lab’s high-tech equipment, while Caroline was able to show us a demonstration of different informal bindings. We were definitely glad to have made a visit to the lab this semester, even if we were interrupted by a rogue fire alarm! Our research has certainly benefited as a result.

During her work Jenny unearthed a testament to a child’s Christmas in the 16th century; we thought it would be nice to share it with you as the festive season draws in.

English MS 410

A Lawyor is like a Chrismas box who ovor looses ho gifts’ writes a child in English MS 410

‘A Lawyor is like a Chrismas box who ovor looses ho gifts’ writes a child in English MS 410, celebrating the Christmas season with a touch of festive mirth. In this unpretentious octavo volume, a child has been given a page to tell jokes and has written out a selection of his favourites in his best handwriting. This single page is perhaps evidence how a family miscellany was built; a process of gathering together a community’s favourite witticisms, jokes and sayings to create a notebook that commemorates a group of people reading and writing together. This child’s Christmas joke, written in neat if childish script, is typical of a manuscript full of people’s “best work” and serves to add a personal touch to what is, unfortunately, an anonymous text. To read this light-hearted entry alongside to some of the more sophisticated, serious quotations, is to remember that reading and writing was a communal activity in this period, and to shed light on the more popular, jocular tastes of readers living in the age of Jonson, Shakespeare and Donne. Even if the punchlines have lost some of their force since 17th century (or perhaps I just don’t have a Renaissance sense of humour), this page allows us a peak at childhood joys that have remained the same over the centuries: jokes, and the excitement of Christmas.

Anthem for Christmas

Tags

, , , , , ,

http://enriqueta.man.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/44n8eg

Have you been Carolling over the weekend? This page of a musical manuscript from our Non-Conformist collections is an example of a nineteenth century anthem for Christmas.

Mr Fezziwig’s Ball

Tags

, , , , , ,

As Christmas parties fill up December, here’s a Victorian take on a festive evening - Mr Fezziwig’s Ball from Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. This print by John Leech is from an 1844 edition of Dickens’ still popular Christmas ghost story (first published in 1843).

As Christmas parties fill up December, here’s a Victorian take on a festive evening – Mr Fezziwig’s Ball from Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. This print by John Leech is from an 1844 edition of Dickens’ still popular Christmas ghost story (first published in 1843).

December delights

Tags

, , , , , ,

An angel appears to the shepherds outside Bethlehem, announcing the birth of Jesus.

An angel appears to the shepherds outside Bethlehem, announcing the birth of Jesus.

December is upon us, so it is a good opportunity to think about advent-related images in the Rylands collections. I’m Naomi Billingsley, a PhD candidate at the University of Manchester, and about this time last year I was looking through various books of engravings (my PhD is about William Blake’s religious images) and was struck by the number of Nativity-related subjects which got me thinking about the idea of showcasing seasonal images throughout December.

As I began to think about this more, I found that I had to be quite creative to find a variety of images so that we didn’t send up with lots of Nativity scenes! Throughout December, we’ll be sharing a selection of seasonal images from the collection which include different subjects and which come from different types of objects in the collections.

In this image, our first Advent posting, an angel appears to the shepherds outside Bethlehem, announcing the birth of Jesus. It is from an early sixteenth-century Book of Hours – a prayer book – which is richly decorated with miniature paintings like this one.

Naomi Billingsley, University of Manchester

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,148 other followers