Ed Maggs was again our lead writer, this time with a tour of Mark Samuels Lasner’s collection of Max Beerbohm’s fantastically witty not-quite cartoons – more, one would say, character sketches in paint. Look at the one for George Bernard Shaw and you’ll find not the nice old white-haired polymath we remember from photos but a type of devil with his forked tail folded over his arm. ‘Death by Qwerty’ was the ingenious title of Michael Knies’s piece on how the invention of the typewriter (derived from the sewing machine) gave many women a purpose to their lives outside the home and killed, almost overnight, the art of penmanship in the USA. Another superb treatise on alchemy from Anke Timmermann was followed by the first instalment of a four-part series on the great eighteenth-century scientist, Carl Linnaeus, and the Linnean Society of London. The Society’s collection is on the left under the archway as you approach the Royal Academy and is open to the public by appointment. Andrew Lawson described Ravilious’s ‘High Street’ (1938) to show ‘How Things Were’ (to which one can only exclaim, Indeed!), and Robert Harding entertained us with a history of the library of London’s Travellers Club. After a short article on a row between Hemingway and Sherwood Anderson and a long article on the ‘Anthology’ of Stobaeus, we finished with ‘God’s Librarian’, a riveting piece on one of the few chained libraries that still exist in parish churches, in this case the Trigge Library at St Wulfram’s in Grantham. As usual, a feast for the intellect!
As usual, we have something for everyone plus all the gossip in News & Comment, a round-up of the latest book auctions, Book Reviews and, for once, no obituaries. Hooray for that!