Publishing the Left Book Club

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce the acquisition of the publishing files of Victor Gollancz Ltd relating to its influential Left Book Club (LBC), one of the first book clubs in England. Sir Victor Gollancz (1893-1967) founded the Left Book Club in 1936, nine years after he had established the publishing house that bears his name, and was knighted in 1965. The goal of the book club was to publish books for paid subscribers, who received a new title each month, in order to popularize progressive and socialist ideals and to mobilize British public opinion against Hitler and fascism. Gollancz selected titles with the help of John Strachey and Harold J. Laski. The Left Book Club was so successful in publishing and marketing new titles that by 1939 it could boast 57,000 members and 1,200 organized reading groups. Membership declined during World War II, but the book club’s influence on British politics was significant and contributed to the upset victory of Clement Attlee’s Labour Party over Winston Church’s Conservatives in the 1945 general elections. Between 1936 and 1948, when it ceased operations, the Left Book Club published more than 230 titles, including works by Frederick Allen, Léon Blum, G.D.H. Cole, Arthur Koestler, Harold J. Laski, André Malraux, Franz Neumann, Clifford Odets, George Orwell, Edgar Snow, Stephen Spender, John Strachey, R. H. Tawney, Sidney Webb, Leonard Woolf, and other authors, social scientists, intellectual émigrés, and political figures. Four boxes of Left Book Club files, organized by author and title, include correspondence, publishing contracts, and printed promotional flyers (see image below), as well as occasion materials related to later reprints and anthologies. It should be noted that Rare Books already had a collection of the Left Book Club printed books.

See the finding aid for the Victor Gollancz Publishing Files (C1617), which also includes files relating to Gollancz’s titles by Irish authors and books on Africa, race, colonialism, and related subjects. The Manuscripts Division also has the Victor Gollancz Author Files (C1467) for Miguel Ángel Asturias, Edith Sitwell, and Richard Wright. For other archives of British and American publishers and books clubs, search finding aids or contact Public Services,

Left Book Club promotional flyers

Treasures of Armenia

Armenian manuscripts have long been studied by medieval art historians for the quality of the book production, elegant script, distinctive illumination, vividly colored decoration, and original or treasure bindings (when extant). The Princeton University Library is fortunate to have a small but fine collection of Armenian manuscripts, dating from the 11th to 18th centuries. Most are in the Manuscripts Division, including those in the Garrett Collection of Armenian Manuscripts, which was part of the great 1942 donation by Robert Garrett (1875-1961), Class of 1897. Reproduced below is a two-page opening from one of Garrett’s finest Armenian manuscripts, an exquisitely illuminated Gospel Book (1449), here open to Baptism of Christ (left) and the Last Supper (right). In the 1930s, Seymour DeRicci and W. J. Wilson, Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada (1935-40), included Armenian manuscripts among western manuscripts, no doubt because of the Byzantine influence on Armenian book illumination. But other artistic and cultural traditions played a role as well.

DeRicci, vol. 1, p. 868, listed seven of Garrett’s Armenian manuscripts, and this numbering was followed decades later in a far more authoritative catalogue: Avidis Krikor Sanjian, A Catalogue of Medieval Armenian Manuscripts in the United States (1976), pp. 392-417. At the same time, Princeton was using different sequences of manuscript numbers for Garrett’s Armenian manuscripts, which were shelved them next to Princeton Armenian Manuscripts. This led to confusion about the numbering of Princeton’s Armenian manuscripts because of their inclusion in two published surveys. In the interest of clarity, what De Ricci had designated nos. 17-23 (among western manuscripts) became Garrett Armenian, nos. 1–7; followed by Garrett Armenian Manuscripts, nos. 8-14, which Sanjian had designated Armenian Supplementary Series because they were not in DeRicci. In 1993, two other Armenian manuscripts were discovered in the Garrett Collection and assigned Garrett Armenian numbers. The list below provides old and new manuscript numbers, which will also be indicated in Voyager bibliographic records.

Three other Armenian manuscripts are in the Princeton Collection of Armenian Manuscripts and two in The Scheide Library. These are also described in Sanjian, pp. 418-32. Princeton Armenian, no. 2, accessioned by the Princeton University Library in 1951, has an interesting Garrett family connection. The Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople gave this manuscript to Cleveland H. Dodge (1860-1926), Class of 1879, in New York, on 3 January 1919, in recognition of his humanitarian and philanthropic work for the Armenian people during World War I. The manuscript passed by descent to his twin sons, Cleveland E. Dodge and Bayard Dodge, both members of the Class of 1909. Bayard Dodge’s daughter Margaret married Johnson Garrett, one of Robert Garrett’s sons, in 1936. In addition to the excellent descriptions in Sanjian, a number of the manuscripts have been described in an Armenian journal Sion (July-August 1971), vol. 45, pp. 265-70; and exhibited at the Pierpont Morgan Library and described in Treasures in Heaven: Armenian Illuminated Manuscripts, edited by Thomas F. Mathews and Roger S. Wieck (1994). For additional information, contact Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts,

● Garrett Armenian MSS., no. 1. Gospel Book, Late 17th century. Formerly Garrett MS. 17.
● Garrett Armenian MSS., no. 2. Gospel Book, 1449. Formerly Garrett MS. 18.
● Garrett Armenian MSS., no. 3. Psalter and Breviary, 16th century. Formerly Garrett MS. 19.
● Garrett Armenian MSS., no. 4. Breviary, 17th century. Formerly Garrett MS. 20.
● Garrett Armenian MSS., no. 5. Hymnal, 17th century. Formerly Garrett MS. 21.
● Garrett Armenian MSS., no. 6. Psalter, 16th century. Formerly Garrett MS. 22.
● Garrett Armenian MSS., no. 7. Alexander Romance (6 illuminated leaves), 1526. Formerly Garrett MS. 23.
● Garrett Armenian MSS., no. 8. Discourses by St. Gregory the Illuminator, 10th-11th century. Formerly Supplementary Series, no. 1.
● Garrett Armenian MSS., no. 9. Gospel Book, 11th century. Formerly Supplementary Series, no. 2.
● Garrett Armenian MSS., no. 10. Astronomical text, 1774-75. Formerly Supplementary Series, no. 3.
● Garrett Armenian MSS., no. 11. Amulet Roll (Phylactery) with 11 miniatures, 18th century. Formerly Supplementary Series, no. 4.
● Garrett Armenian MSS., no. 12. Armenian Gospel miniature, 1311. Formerly Supplementary Series, no. 5 (missing since 1980).
● Garrett Armenian MSS., no. 13. Gospel Book, 16th century? Found in 1993 among Garrett Islamic MSS, Enno Littmann series.
● Garrett Armenian MSS., no. 14. Uncataloged. Found in 1993 among Garrett Islamic MSS, Enno Littmann series.

● Princeton Armenian MSS., no. 1. Menologion, 1683 (2 leaves).
● Princeton Armenian MSS., no. 2. Gospel Book, 1730.
● Princeton Armenian MSS, no. 3. Uncataloged.

●Scheide 84.16. Gospel Book, 1239. Formerly Scheide M74.
●Scheide 83.11. Gospel Book, 1625-33. Formerly Scheide M80.

Garrett Armenian MSS., no. 2, fols. 16v-17r.
Gift of Robert Garrett, Class of 1897.

Peter C. Bunnell and Modern Photography

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce that Peter C. Bunnell, McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art Emeritus, is donating most of his extensive papers to the Princeton University Library. They comprise about 110 archival boxes of materials documenting his long and distinguished career devoted to the study of modern photography. The papers include his correspondence with modern photographers, historians of photography, curators, publishers, and members of the Princeton University community. His correspondents include Ansel Adams and members of his family, Ruth Bernhard (whose papers are already in the Manuscripts Division), Alvin Langdon Coburn, Thomas Joshua Cooper, Beaumont Newhall, Georgia O’Keeffe, Paul Strand, Jerry N. Uelsmann, and others; extensive research files of printed materials and additional correspondence relating to the history of photography and particular exhibitions, much of it organized alphabetically by names of photographers; drafts and corrected typescripts for his many books, exhibition catalogs, journal articles, and other scholarly publications; lectures, lecture notes, and other teaching files; and photography by Bunnell or pertaining to him. He has also donated files for two organizations that he chaired: The Society for Photographic Education (SPE), organized in 1963, when art departments were first offering courses on photography; and the Friends of Photography, founded in 1967 by Ansel Adams and others.

Bunnell was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and was an undergraduate at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he studied with Minor White. He earned graduate degrees from Ohio University (1961) and Yale University (1965). He served as Curator of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, then in 1972 joined the faculty of Princeton University’s Department of Art and Archaeology. At Princeton, Bunnell became the first McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art. He also served as director of the Princeton University Art Museum (PUAM), 1973-78; and acting director, 1998-2000. For 30 years, Bunnell was Curator of Photography at PUAM, where he was also responsible for acquiring the Minor White Archive and the Clarence H. White Collection. He has had a long association with the journal Aperture, established in 1952 by photographers by Ansel Adams, Melton Ferris, Dorothea Lange, Ernest Louie, Barbara Morgan, Beaumont Newhall, Nancy Newhall, Dody Warren, and Minor White. He also taught at New York University, Dartmouth College, and Yale University, and has lectured widely. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain.

Bunnell is the author of the monograph Minor White: The Eye That Shapes (1989) and he edited Photography at Princeton (1998). Bunnell has published two volumes of his collected essays: Degrees of Guidance: Essays on Twentieth-Century American Photography (1993) and Inside the Photograph: Writings on Twentieth-Century Photography (2006). He edited A Photographic Vision: Pictorial Photography, 1889-1923 (1980) and Edward Weston on Photography (1983); and Aperture Magazine Anthology: The Minor White Years, 1952–1976 (2012). He was the coeditor of two Arno Press reprint series The Literature of Photography and The Sources of Modern Photography.

The Bunnell Papers will be available for research after processing. Please note: The papers donated to the Library are complemented by his recent gift to the Princeton University Art Museum of more than 30 years of his correspondence and other materials relating to its Minor White and Clarence H. White archival collections. See announcement. For more information, contact Don. C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, at

Peter C. Bunnell

Unfolding Time

Bound volumes of diaries and journals are one of most common genres in the Manuscripts Division. They are often consulted for research value as first-person, day-by-day narratives of travel, exploration, warfare, politics, academic life, and other activities. Particularly interesting are those that document historical events or trace the movement of people and ideas across geographical and cultural boundaries. A simple search of Voyager for the keywords “diaries” or “journals” and format “manuscript” identifies more than 400 individually cataloged manuscript diaries and journals in the Manuscripts Division. American and British examples are most numerous, but other areas are represented as well, generally dating from the 17th century almost to the present. In addition, a search of the Manuscripts Division’s finding aids for the keyword “diaries” or “journals” produces over 1500 hits relating to collections of personal and family papers that contain one or more diaries and journals, and occasionally constitute the entire collection.

Holdings of diaries and journals continue to grow by gift and purchase. The most significant recent addition was a series of three diaries kept by Walter Dundas Bathurst (1859-1940), which he kept as an officer of the Association Internationale du Congo (AIC), 1883-86 (C1544). These diaries relate to African colonization efforts of King Leopold II of the Belgians (r. 1865-1909) in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and to the related activities of the British journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904). Other recent acquisitions include a diary kept in 1739-40 by the French aristocrat Abraham-Guy de Migieu, who traveled through Italy with the writer Charles des Brosses (1709-77). Around 1754, additional Italian travel journals by other people (1623-64) were bound with De Migieu’s manuscript (C0938, no. 839). Reproduced below is a two-page opening from one of these diaries, containing an antiquarian’s transcriptions of ancient Roman inscriptions. Another recent 18th-century acquisition is Antonio Josef de Vera’s Spanish-language narrative a voyage to the Holy Land in 1780, Breve description de los Santos lugares de Jerusalén (C0938, no. 840).

More recent diaries and journals include a series of 22 diaries kept 1822-65 by Emily Treslove of London, who was married to Thomas Crosby Treslove (a barrister in the Queen’s Counsel and a member of Lincoln’s Inn), which provide personal glimpses into London society as well as travedls on the continent (C1544). The Treslove diaries and related papers were the gift of Bruce C. Willsie, Class of 1986. Of considerable interest for intellectual history is the recently acquired reading journal of Lidiia Andreevna, Countess Rostopchina (1838-1915), a chronological journal kept 1867-73 by a highly literate Russian woman of her readings in Russian, French, and even some English literature (C0938, no. 748). For assistance, contact Public Services, at

C0938, no. 839

Ziolkowski on Hesse

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce that Professor Theodore Ziolkowski has donated his Hermann Hesse Collection (C1618) to the Library, along with additional literary correspondence. From the time that Ziolkowski joined the Princeton faculty in 1964 as a professor of German, he has been a leading interpreter of the work of German-born author Hermann Hesse (1877-1962), Nobel Laureate in Literature (1946), who became a Swiss citizen in 1923. Ziolkowski published several books on Hesse, beginning with The Novels of Hermann Hesse: A Study in Theme and Structure (1965), as well as dozens of other books and editions on German and comparative literature. In 1969, he was appointed Class of 1900 Professor of German and Comparative Literatures, and also served as dean of the Graduate School from 1979 to 1992. Professor Ziolkowski went to emeritus status in 2001, but has remained very active in the world of scholarship.

The Hermann Hesse Collection includes eight boxes of materials on the posthumous reception of Hesse in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. Hesse was propelled to the ranks of popular icon and prophet of alienated youth with the help of English translations of celebrated works originally published in German: Demian (1923); Steppenwolf (1929); The Glass Bead Game (1943), first published in English translation in 1949 as Magister ludi; and Siddhartha (1951). Professor Ziolkowski’s collection helps trace Hesse’s American reception in everything from serious scholarly publications to the Hessomania of mass-market magazines and comics, calendars, posters, and even naming opportunities in popular culture. Some of these printed materials are annotated and accompanied by additional letters. The collection also included several autograph letters received from Hermann Hesse and his son Heiner Hesse; cards and photographs of Hesse; and Ziolkowski’s own literary and publishing files related to publications about Hesse. There is also additional literary correspondence between Ziolkowski and leading German authors, editors, and scholars. Correspondents include Heinrich Böll (and Böll family members), Friedrich Christian Delius, Hilde Domin, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Max Frisch, Günter Grass, Thomas H. Mandl, Ijoma Mangold, Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Paul Schallück, Margot Scharpenberg, and Johannes Urzidil, as well as a file of correspondence with Lebanese poet and translator Fuad Rifka, who translated Hesse into Arabic.

As soon as the Ziolkowski Collection has been organized and described, it will be available for study in the reading room of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Additional Ziolkowski papers are found in University Archives (AC402). For more information about holdings of the Manuscripts Division, Public Services at

Hermann Hesse. Undated sepia-tone photograph from the Ziolkowski Collection.

Linguists at Work

Academic researchers have long been able to rely an abundance of modern authors’ papers, publishing archives, and other manuscript collections in academic and research libraries to trace the genesis of major literary texts and study the creative process and working methods of canonical authors. Modern information abundance, academic libraries with millions of printed books and journals, and online digital access has made textual research much easier than it was for earlier generations of scholars. The field of genetic criticism, devoted to establishing texts and studying textual evolution and transmission, has worked well for canonical texts, but can work at any level and need not be restricted to literary works of the highest order. For example, the Manuscripts Division has examples of work in progress on unpublished linguistic texts, in the form of grammar books, dictionaries, glossaries, and other intercultural tools, intended to help people to master foreign languages. Evidence is preserved both in the Manuscript Division’s extensive holdings of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish manuscripts; as well as western European manuscripts in Latin, Greek, and other languages. Improvements in international travel and communications between Europe and Islamic world, beginning during the Middle Ages, had made language study increasingly important for trade, commerce, news-gathering, diplomacy, pilgrimage, religious missions, scholarship, textual transmission, and other activities. What started during the Middle Ages continued for centuries and left marks on both worlds.

One of the most fascinating recent additions to the Manuscripts Division is a rare first edition by the Stuttgart linguist and historian Hieronymus Megiser (1553-1618), Institutionum linguae Turcicae, libri quatuor (1612). It was the first European grammar book (in Latin) on Ottoman Turkish and is considered something of a landmark in Turkish studies. It was published with a dedication to the Austrian nobleman Hector von Ernau. A few years after the book was published, Johann Melchior Mader, a German linguist from Augsburg, interleaved, annotated, and expanded his copy of Megiser. Mader is known for several published works on Arabic: Oratio pro lingua arabica (1617), Grammatica arabica (1617); and Collegium arabicum (1618). Over time, Mader transformed the printed book by annotating it, then adding several hundred blank interleaved pages, to which he selectively added Ottoman Turkish words and phrases. He recorded a few Arabic inscriptions, including one translated from N.T. Romans 8:31 (“If God be with us, who can be against us?”); and then added several texts of his own, including Sententiae et proverbia Arabica and Proverbia et Sententiae Turcica in Arabic script, transliterated with accompanying Latin, Italian, and occasionally German translations. (See image below.) At some point, Mader had the much-expanded book rebound in a wrapper made from a 15th-century parchment manuscript leaf (O.T. Daniel 13, “Susannah and the Elders”). The overall impression is of a linguist at work, preparing a reference book either for personal use or as part of a future publication. Judging from the number of interleaved pages left blank, Mader never completed his work, perhaps because of the demands of his post as equerry (master of the stables) of the princes of Eggenberg, a prominent Austrian noble family, and wrote a treatise on horsemanship dedicated to his employers: Equestria, sive de arte equitandi libri duo (1621).

The Megiser-Mader volume is designated C0938, no. 835. For other examples of unpublished bilingual grammar books and dictionaries from Europe and the Islamic world, 16th to 19th centuries, one can search for manuscripts in the Princeton University Library online catalog or contract Public Services at

C0938, no 835

Documentary Films on Princeton Icons

The impact of the Manuscripts Division and other holding units within Rare Books and Special Collections can be measured in individual research visits, as recorded in Aeon circulation statistics; photoduplication, imaging, and permission requests; growing numbers of undergraduate classes and graduate seminars meeting in the department; and the many academic books and journal articles published each year with citations and acknowledgments to the department and its staff. Print and online use can also be measured in the tens of thousands of hits recorded in Google Analytics, Google Scholar, JStor, ArtStor, and DPUL (Digital Princeton University Library). Academic researchers and Princeton classes are clearly the primary users of special collections materials, including manuscripts and archives. Somewhat hidden in these measures of use are well-known documentary film makers and their researchers, who focus on iconic figures well documented in Manuscripts Division. Film makers may not be obvious among the thousands of researchers who visit the Rare Books and Special Collections Reading Room each year or contact Public Services and curators to request reference assistance, photoduplication, and digitization of audio-visual materials. Media acknowledgments are often consigned to the rolling credits.

In the last year, significant assistance was provided to several well-known documentary film makers, whose films reach large audiences beyond the academic world. Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am is a documentary film by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, also well known as a portrait photographer. It was made for the PBS series American Masters and premiered in January 2019 at the Sundance Film Festival. The film has been described as “an artful and intimate meditation on the legendary storyteller that examines her life, her works and the powerful themes she has confronted throughout her literary career.” Her years teaching at Princeton are also covered in the film. Associates of Greenfield-Sanders did considerable research for the film at Princeton using the Papers (C1491) of Toni Morrison, Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus, and Nobel Laureate in Literature (1993). Later in the spring 2019 semester, the documentary film will be viewed by students in two Princeton classes, which will be using the Toni Morrison Papers: AAS 555, taught by Professor Imani Perry; and English 414 / AAS 455, taught by Professor Autumn Womack. The film will be broadcast in the PBS American Masters series in late 2020. Another documentary film researched in part at Princeton is Hemingway, by the celebrated team of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. It is a two-part documentary film about the life and world of Ernest Hemingway. The Manuscripts Division has excellent photographic holdings on the author in the Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons (C0101), Patrick Hemingway Papers (C0066), Sylvia Beach Papers (C0108), and other collections. Hemingway is also slated for national broadcast in the PBS American Masters series in 2020.

Finally, Moe Berg is a documentary film by Aviva Kempner (Ciesla Foundation), who with her associates used the Manuscripts Division’s Moe Berg Papers (C1413) and the Neil Goldstein Collection of Working Files on Moe Berg (C1449). This will be the first feature-length documentary film about Moe Berg (1902-72), Princeton Class of 1923, who was a major league baseball player for fifteen seasons, who famously served as an American spy during World War II for the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Moe Berg will be released later in 2019. For information about any of these collections, contact Public Services:

Toni Morrison with King Carl XVI of Sweden at the Nobel ceremony in Stockholm, February 4, 1994

Photographing Communities of Color

In celebration of Black History Month, the Manuscripts Division is pleased to focus on two African American photograph albums. The photographs are in commercially produced albums, which have cardboard leaves with pre-cut slots into which album owners inserted photographs over time. The albums were bound in sturdy leather and papier-mache covers, beginning with printed title pages and an “Index to Portraits.” Owners of these albums often identified the portraits of family, friends, neighbors, and fellow Church-goers in their Sunday best. The patented photograph albums were ideal for tintypes or ferrotypes, supplemented by cartes-de-visite (albumen prints mounted on cardboard). The tintype was an early photographic process by which positive black-and-white images were made on the silver-halide collodion emulsion, added to thin lacquered iron plates and fixed with potassium cyanide. Like the daguerreotype, the tintype was a French invention that came to be widely used in the United States for formal portraits, either taken in urban studios or mobile photo booths. Tintypes became popular during the U.S. Civil War, when soldiers proudly posed in their uniforms, and continued to be used through 1900 and beyond.

The older of the two albums in the Manuscripts Division (see first image below) is the H. M. Tyndale photograph album, dating from the 1860s and 1870s (C0938, no. 511q). The blank album was manufactured by the Henry Altemus Company, at 806 Market Street, Philadelphia, under an 1863 U.S. patent. The album contains 32 tintypes and 16 cartes-de-visite, one of which bears the label of the Philadelphia photographer Joseph Fenton. All but one of the portraits are of African Americans, identified by name at the beginning of the volume. Included in the index is a certain Annie Tyndale and another person with that surname. The city had an sizable African American population since the mid-18th century, including slaves and free blacks, and there were other free communities of color in the Philadelphia area. The U.S. Census for 1870 lists a married couple named Harold and Anna Tyndale, living in Philadelphia. H. M. Tyndale cannot be identified with the best-known Philadelphian having the same surname, Hector Tyndale [i.e. George Hector Tyndale] (1821-80), a white merchant who had served as a Brigadier General in the Union Army during the Civil War. Considerable local history research will be needed to identify and firmly localize the people in the album.

The Manuscripts Division has recently acquired another African American photograph album from the Philadelphia area (see second image below). The album is from Lawnside (formerly East Magnolia), now a borough in Camden County, N.J. It is located fifteen miles southeast of Philadelphia and two miles south of Haddonfield. The album contains 21 tintypes and 2 cartes-de-visite of African-Americans, including one taken in a Philadelphia studio (Holt’s Bell Studio). Most of the images appear to date from the 1890s though the early 20th century. Abolitionists had purchased the land in 1840 for African Americans, including freed and escaped slaves. The town was one of several African American towns in New Jersey; others included Marshalltown (Mannington Township) and Timbuctoo Village (Westhampton Township). In 1926, Lawnside became the first independent self-governing African American community in the north. Even today, Lawnside’s population is nearly 90 percent African American.. The blank album, similar in style to the Tyndale album, was manufactured by William W. Harding, Philadelphia, with a printed title page (The Photograph Album). The verso of the front end paper bears an inscription in pencil, “Property of / Hannah Hicks / Charleston Ave. / East Magnolia.” She was born about 1878 and was married to Newkirk Hicks. There are tintypes of the two in the album. At a later date, a family member identified the individuals on the photographs themselves. In addition to Hicks, surnames include other Lawnside families, such as Jones, Johnson, Summers, Fawcet, and Arthur. Many were probably members of Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Lawnside.

The Tyndale album is available for study. The Lawnside album will be available after its binding is repaired. For more information, contact Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts,

Tyndale Album

Lawnside Album

Recovering Lost Manuscript Evidence

Close study of physical evidence and provenance can lead to significant insights into the history of medieval manuscripts, early printed books, and other rare or unique special collections materials. We can see this in connection with Le Roman de la rose, which was one of the most widely read, admired, and influential Old French works of literature, in some 21,000 lines of allegorical verse. It was begun by Guillaume de Lorris around 1230 and completed by Jean de Meun (d. 1305?) four decades later. So popular was Le Roman de la rose that about 300 complete manuscripts are extant, including many illuminated copies. The Manuscripts Division has two complete manuscripts of the text (Garrett MS. 126; Princeton MS. 227), as well as a fragment of a manuscript leaf and a fifteenth-century selection of handwritten extracts. The abundance of manuscript copies has allowed the work to be carefully edited with attention to the inter-relationship of textual witnesses and images. Beyond using manuscripts to establish and edit the text, researchers are interested in tracing evidence of production, provenance, and readership. Such evidence has been noted when available for about 250 manuscripts surveyed by Ernest Langlois in his book Les manuscripts du Roman de la rose (1910); and for more than 130 manuscripts included in the Roman de la rose Digital Library.

Yet evidence of this sort elusive when unreadable or lost, especially when new owners erased old inscriptions and volumes were rebound or otherwise physically modified. Fortunately, recovery of lost manuscript evidence is still possible, as we can see with Princeton MS. 227. It is a relatively recent addition to the Manuscripts Division, which understandably has received far less attention than Garrett MS. 126, the gift of Robert Garrett (1875-1961), Class of 1897. The latter is an illuminated copy dating from the mid-fourteenth century and can be viewed among Treasures of the Manuscripts Division in DPUL (Digital Princeton University Library). Princeton MS. 227 contains Le Roman de la Rose and Le testament, an Old French moralistic text by Jean de Meun, also found in Garrett MS. 126. Some of Princeton MS. 227’s provenance is well-documented. It was in the library of the French scholar Dominique Méon (1748-1829), who used it as one of his authoritative manuscripts in his edition of Le Roman de la rose (1814); and it was later manuscript no. 4363 in the library of Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872), the great English private collector of medieval manuscripts.

At some point in the manuscript’s early history, the scribal colophon at the end of Le testament (fol. 209r), below the final “Amen,” was partially erased by washing with a wet finger or rag and scraping with a knife. Whoever did this was trying to remove the scribe’s name, but erased other parts of the colophon as well. Too faint to read was the partial date, essentially a “note to self” written by the same scribe at the end of Le Roman de la rose (fol. 175v). Erased and seemingly unreadable inscriptions can be recovered and deciphered by doing digital photography under ultraviolet light (UV), a standard technique for most of the twentieth century, based on the fluorescence of light and erased iron-gall ink under a “black-light” source. This temporarily makes the erased brown ink appear darker so that it can be read or photographed. Digital photography has made it possible to enhance the UV digital images by image-processing and manipulation in Adobe PhotoShop. At one’s desk, it is now possible to increase contrast, alter colors, and reverse the written text so that it displays as white or light-colored writing against a black background. One must also extend medieval abbreviations, add apostrophes where needed, and do some conjectural reading. This involves paying close attention to parts of letters (especially ascenders and descenders), counting obliterated characters, and making educated guesses about words of equal length that work in context or follow established scribal formulas. The imaging results for the two inscriptions in Princeton MS. 227 can be seen at the end of this blog post: fol. 209r (above); fol. 175v (below).

The scribal colophon can now be transcribed in full, as follows: “Ce livre est par fini guillaume charpentier et l’escrist de sa main et fut parfait de la second jour de l’octobre l’an de grace mil ccclxxv.” The faint scribal note on fol. 175v appears to read “En xv juillet.” Reading the two scribal notes, we can see that Guillaume Charpentier completed writing and correcting the entire volume on October 2, 1375, having finished work on Le Roman de la rose about ten weeks earlier, on July 15. 1375. More can be learned using this information. With the help of a perpetual calendar for 1375, readily available online, we determine that July 15 was a Saturday and October 2 a Monday. That means that the scribe, if he had worked Mondays through Saturdays each week, only resting on the Sabbath, would have had 67 days in which to copy Le testament on 69 pages (fols. 176v-209r. However, we know that medieval scribes working on a non-deluxe manuscript like Princeton MS. 227 would have been able to copy about three pages each day. For this reason, we can be sure that Guillaume Charpentier was only working part-time on this manuscript.

Who then was Guillaume Charpentier? Ernest Langlois mentions him but only in connection with the present manuscript. Charpentier’s name does not appear among scribes identified in the six-volume Colophons de manuscrits occidentaux des origines au XVIe siècle (1963-82). However, there was a royal clerk named Guillaume Charpentier, who was active in the 1360s and 1370s in the Dauphiné of Viennois (a royal province in southeastern France), then held by the son of King Charles V (r. 1364-80). Concerning this Guillaume Charpentier, see Guvtave Dupont-Ferrier, Gallia regia ou État des officiers royaux des baillages et des sénéchausses de 1328 à 1525 (1942), vol. 2, p. 382; Anne Lemonde, Le temps des libertés en Dauphiné: L’integration d’une principauté à la Couronne de France (1349-1408) (2002), p. 138. Higher-level document clerks, public notaries, and working administrators occasionally “moonlighted” by copying vernacular literary manuscripts on a part-time basis for local patrons. There is ample evidence of this phenomenon in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in England, Italy, and other places. Someone like this royal clerk probably had sufficient writing skills to copy an entire manuscript. Still, his name is so common in France that an exact identification of the scribe is impossible at this time. Certainly, it is a matter meriting further investigation.

For more information about this or other manuscripts, contact Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, at

In Her Own Words

The chance survival of autograph manuscripts by unknown women of centuries past can help to illuminate their lives and times, innermost thoughts, and writing methods. Looking back at England in the 17th century, in addition to well-known authors such as Aphra Benn and Katherine Philips, there were obscure women writers yet to be discovered. A case in point is an abridged history of medieval England by a certain Susan Pigott (RTC01, no. 238), probably writing early in that century. Her 104-page manuscript, recently acquired by the Manuscripts Division, begins with a signed dedicatory letter to the king of England, filled with tantalizing autobiographical details. Pigott describes herself as a “poore oppressed widdowe,” with two children. Her late husband, Pigott wrote, had rendered “dutiful and dangerous services faythfully accomplished to your heighnes. And this our native countrey, in a forrayne nation, whereby he lost his life.” Since his death, perhaps two and a half years earlier, Pigott claims to have been a victim of “rare opressions and hevy injuries outrageously heaped upon me and myne agaynst all good order of law and like course of justice usual in any Christian Commonwealth.” She even mentions “secrett papers … penned from tyme to tyme” for royal use. Pigott’s signed but undated letter prefaces a summary history of the kings of England, from William the Conqueror to Henry VII. Pigott wrote and corrected her manuscript in English Secretary hands of the early 17th century, consistent with those illustrated in Martin Billingsley’s writing manual, The Pens Excellencie or the Secretaries Delighte (1618). The paper has a heraldic watermark dating from around the same year: a shield with the arms of Strasbourg and fleur-de-lys; below the shield is a terminal flourish “WR,” which in the 16th century had stood for Wendelin Riehel but continued to be used and imitated in later centuries. If Pigott’s epitome is contemporary with the script and paper, then the king in question should be James I (r. 1603-25).

Pigott describes her work as “a shorte sumanary [sic] of examples of youre majesties most noble progenitors, royall kings of this your heighnes realme sethens [i.e. since] the last conquest.” She compiled her epitome by paraphrasing (her operative word is “collected”) scattered bits of text from Raphael Holinshead (1525-80?), Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1577), a collaborative multi-volume history. Pigott only used the four volumes relating to England and added Holinshead folio references in the margins. This popular work is best known today because William Shakespeare used the 1587 second edition of Holinshead as a source of information for King Lear, Macbeth, and various history plays (such as Richard III). Yet the identity of Susan Pigott is uncertain. The Pigott surname (with variant spellings) is of Norman origin and not unusual in England. British public records identify various widowed women named Susan Pigott. Among them is one who was a plaintiff in 1578-79 in a law suit involving a certain John Walton, Richard Groffield, Thomas Southern, and others; and another who in 1658 presented the curate Elnathan Pigott (d. 1675/76) to the Church of St. Marie, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. But neither Susan Pigott can be connected with the author of the present manuscript, and more research will be needed to identify her. There is no way to know if she actually presented it to the king. What we do know is that the manuscript was in various English and Irish libraries, including those of Nathaniel Boothe, 1747; Thomas Connolly, 1860; and Frederick William Cosens, 1890. The manuscript came to the Library in desperate need of conservation treatment. The Library’s Book Conservator, Mick LeTourneaux, has now completed that work.

The Robert H. Taylor Collection of English and American Literature has two other autograph manuscripts by English women of the 17th century. The best known is My Booke of Rememberance by Elizabeth Isham (1608-54), an autobiographical work written around 1638, when she was about thirty. She was the daughter of Sir John Isham and once fianceé to John Dryden. In Isham records her fervent religious beliefs and inner thoughts, while living at Lamport Hall, her family’s Northamptonshire home (RTC01, no. 62). Isham’s manuscript has been digitized and is available online in DPUL (Digital Princeton University Library). An online edition is available from the University of Warwick. Another autograph memoir in the Taylor Collection is that of Mary Whitelocke (b. 1639), dating from the 1660s and bound in a contemporary embroidered binding (RTC01, no. 226). Whitelocke’s memoir is an intimate and detailed account of a wealthy Puritan gentry woman, whose father was a London merchant. Addressed to her eldest son, Whitelocke’s memoir encompasses her life from the time of her first marriage at age sixteen to Rowland Wilson (d. 1650), a Member of Parliament, also from a London mercantile family. Whitelocke’s second marriage in 1650 was to the prominent lawyer and politician Bulstrode Whitelocke (1605-75), with whom she had seven children. The memoir often focuses on Whitelocke’s family and domestic affairs, though discussion of public affairs and events is also in evidence, particularly in connection with her second husband’s public life. For more information, contact Public Services,

RTC01, no. 238