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The Society for Renaissance Studies held is biennial conference at The University of Manchester last week, expertly organized by Dr Jerome de Groot from English & American Studies. On Monday and Tuesday delegates were treated to a series of tours of the John Rylands Library, led by Julianne Simpson, who showed a variety of exceptional Renaissance books and manuscripts.

On Tuesday Prof. Steve Milner and Dr Guyda Armstrong led another workshop for around twenty delegates, with Julianne and I also in attendance. Items shown included the Roxburghe copy of the Valdarfer Boccaccio of 1471; the Landino 1481 edition of Dante’s Divina Commedia; a vellum copy of the 1482 Ulm edition of Ptolemy’s atlas, Cosmographia; Pietro Bembo’s own copy of the Aldine Petrarch, printed on vellum and richly illuminated (1501); and the ‘missing’ volume of the celebrated Colonna Missal, which the Library purchased last year.

As the pictures indicate, delegates were simply astonished that the Rylands Library holds such Renaissance treasures, and we hope that many will return to undertake further research on the collections.

Guyda Armstrong commented: “The Rylands close-up gave us the opportunity to show some of our lesser-known (and very well-known) treasures to an audience of international Renaissance experts. I was particularly excited to be able to present some sixteenth-century English translations from the Italian, which had been discussed in the conference panels, and in so doing, locate this international collaborative research activity within the University’s collections.”

John Hodgson