After our fabulous Women’s issue (Spring 2019), much praised in all quarters and beyond, we returned to our usual general theme. Leading the way was London’s premier bookseller, Ed Maggs, describing the collection of America’s premier collector, Mark Samuels Lasner. Here’s Mark on Rare Books: ‘Like academia but better, with real books and money, and crime and sex added.’ This is good stuff: two witty men batting ideas and knowledge between each other. Then came Anke Timmermann’s second essay on Alchemy in Britain, which deals with Sir Hans Sloane, and Eric Mouillefarine on his bookplates. Quite apart from what he writes, it’s worth the price of a subscription to The Book Collector just to see the sensational photo of Eric reading to his granddaughter! Nick McBurney tells us the story of a Glasgow publisher who made money from printing miniature Qur’ans, after which Steve Enniss, from the Harry Ransom Centre in Austin, Texas, lays out for us the history of Seamus Heaney’s earliest editions in the Festival Publication series that ended with Mackay Brown’s Twelve Poems in 1968.This will have broken new ground for most of us, as did the piece by Sandro Jung on that underrated eighteenth century dilettante and virtuoso, William Shenstone (1714-63). Shenstone was an important figure in the history of landscape gardening: his parks, just outside Birmingham, have recently been restored and opened to the public.
After this Richard Owen revealed (‘The End of Obscenity’) that W H Smith ceased to stock Lady Chatterley’s Lover because so many copies were being stolen off the shelves they were making a loss and Lotte Hellinga talked with her customary authority on the afterlife of the great Aldus Manutius.
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!