21 November 2018

The speaker at the Bibliographical Group on Tuesday 20th November was Dr. Dylan Foster Evans, a native of Tywyn with family connexions in Aberystwyth, who is now Head of the School of Welsh at Cardiff University. The title of his lecture, held in the Drwm at the National Library, was Sir John Prise of Brecon and his Commonplace Book. Sir John Prise (1502?-1555) held several important offices during the reign of Henry VIII, including being Secretary of the Council in Wales and the Marches. He was involved in the dissolution of the monasteries, during which he acquired a number of valuable books and manuscripts, including the earliest Welsh manuscript, the Black Book of Carmarthen. He was also the author of Yn y Lhyvyr hwnn, the first book printed in the Welsh language, and Historiae Britannicae Defensio, a defence of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account of Welsh history. The National Library held an exhibition about him in 2015.The commonplace book, now held at Balliol College, Oxford, is Sir John’s manuscript collection of personal notes, selections from Welsh literature, wisdom and religious texts, a bardic grammar and short comic narratives (some of which have been considered unfit for publication!). Together these throw valuable light on a figure who played an active part in Welsh political and religious life during the period of the Protestant Reformation and the so-called “Acts of Union”..

21 October 2018

The Bibliographical Group began its 2018-19 programme on Tuesday 16th October, when Dr. Nicolas Bell, Librarian of Trinity College, Cambridge, spoke on The Welsh Martial: A Bibliographical Excursion with John Owen. Our speaker began by telling us that John Owen was the most widely published Welsh poet before Dylan Thomas and probably the most widely published British poet before the 19th century. He was proud of his Welsh upbringing, calling himself “Cambro-Britannus”, but wrote only in Latin epigrams.Dr. Bell’s interest in Owen began as a result of the recent donation of a large collection of editions of his works to the Wren Library at Trinity College. Born in 1563/4, John Owen was the son of the Sheriff of Caernarvonshire. After periods in Oxford, Monmouthshire and Warwick, he settled in London and made a career as a professional epigrammatist, publishing his first anthology in 1606. He was patronised by some of the leading political figures of the day, including Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (the elder brother of Charles I), who died before he could accede to the throne. Amongst Prince Henry’s childhood schoolbooks at Trinity is a book of epigrams in John Owen’s handwriting.The speaker went on to show images of a number of editions of Owen’s epigrams from the 17th to 19th centuries, printed in various countries, including translations into several European languages. Some contain the bookplates of famous collectors, while others have been expurgated because of their anti-Catholic content. Dr. Bell concluded that this forgotten Welshman deserves renewed study.

1 May 2018

The Aberystwyth Bibliographical Group would like to thank the Oxford Bibliographical Society for a grant of £350 towards the costs of running the Gregynog Symposium in 2017.

23 March 2018

The Aberystwyth Bibliographical Group held its A.G.M. in the National Library on Tuesday 20th March. Dr. Lionel Madden stood down at the meeting after twelve years as Chairman, and Dr. David Stoker was elected as his successor. As a token of the Group’s thanks, an extract was presented to Dr. Madden from The Misfortunes of Elphin by Thomas Love Peacock, specially printed for the occasion by Huw Ceiriog Jones, a member of the Group’s committee, at Gwasg Nant y Mynydd. Flowers were presented to Mrs. Madden.

The speaker for the evening was Bill Hines, formerly Assistant Director for Information Services at the University of Wales Aberystwyth. In a sequel to a talk given to the Group in 2015, he spoke on Politicians, Princes and Prelates: More Rambles around the Hugh Owen Library Stacks. The illustrated lecture was the result of the speaker’s continuing research into the provenance of rare books in the University Library, focusing in particular on politicians, royalty and churchmen. These ranged from a 1572 Bible with the binding stamp of Anne of Denmark, Electress of Saxony, to a volume with the bookplate of William Wilberforce.After the meeting, the Group entertained Dr. and Mrs. Madden to dinner at Medina in Market Street. 

The next event will be a visit to the Old Stile Press in Monmouthshire in early June.

20 February 2018

THE Octagon at St Paul’s Methodist Centre was filled almost to capacity for the Bibliographical Group meeting on Saturday, 17 February. The speaker was Prof Bill Bell, who is Professor of Bibliography at Cardiff University.. His illustrated lecture entitled ‘What did Tommy Read?’, based on the findings of Prof Bell’s forthcoming monograph, explored the reading habits of troops on the Western Front in the First World War. There is a great deal of evidence for the range of literacies and tastes among British troops at the time as well as a number of uses to which the printed word was put. The supplies from home were not always suited to Tommy’s taste, and were not always received in predictable ways. As the War progressed, the authorities at home attempted to accommodate the needs
of soldiers as they came to recognise that provision of reading matter was essential to troop morale. All the same, effects did not always live up to expectations.

The meeting was preceded by coffee at St Paul’s. Following a lively discussion after the lecture, the group entertained the speaker to lunch at the Pier Brasserie.The next meeting will be the AGM in the National Library on Tuesday, 20 March, at 6.30pm, after which Bill Hines will speak on ‘Politicians, Princes and Prelates: More Rambles’ around the Hugh Owen Library Stacks.

28 November 2017

THE Bibliographical Group met at St Paul’s Methodist Centre on Tuesday, 21 November, when the speaker was Dr David Stoker, a former lecturer in the Department of Information Studies at Aberystwyth and a member of the group’s committee.The title of his lecture was The Cheap Repository Tracts in Britain, Ireland and America, 1795-1830.The Cheap Repository Tracts scheme was instigated in 1795 by Hannah More to counteract the influence of popular street literature then circulating, and especially the growing influence of Thomas Paine.The lecture was accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation showing images of many of the tracts and their striking woodcut illustrations.Dr Stoker also brought a selection of the tracts from his own collection for the audience to look at afterwards. Members then entertained the speaker to dinner at the Marine Hotel.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, 16 January, in the National Library, when Prof Matthew Jarvis will speak on English-Language Poetry and the London Welshman Magazine, 1959-1970.

28 October 2017

THE Aberystwyth Bibliographical Group began its programme for 2017-18 with a meeting at St Paul’s Methodist Centre on Tuesday, 24 October.After some initial technical problems had been solved, members enjoyed an illustrated lecture on Provenance revisited by Dr David Pearson, former director of culture, heritage and libraries at the City of London Corporation.The speaker’s book Provenance Research in Book History was first published nearly 25 years ago, and he has been working on a revised edition which is due to be published next year.Dr Pearson spoke about the various types of provenance information found in books: marginal annotations, manuscript notes on endpapers, bookplates, personalised book bindings.Opinions were divided in the audience as to whether one should annotate one’s own books, but it was generally agreed that historical annotations in books are valuable for research and should be recorded.Libraries have been recording provenance information in their catalogues for decades, and much progress has been made in the past 25 years, thanks in part to technical advances, but much remains to be done.After the meeting, members entertained the speaker to dinner at Medina in Market Street.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, 21 November, when Dr David Stoker will speak on The Cheap Repository Tracts in Britain, Ireland and America, 1795-1830.