Tue, 29 September 2009
What’s the difference between a First Edition, a Fine Press Edition and an Artists’ Book? Joshua and Phyllis Heller work with me to help define the boundaries.
The two of them established Joshua Heller Rare Books, Inc. in Washington DC, in 1985. The company specializes in “contemporary fine printing and beautifully illustrated books, the Private Press Movement, modern fine bindings, and books about books. [Their] much admired catalogues, illustrated in full color, are distributed to a national and international list of clients.”
Joshua has lectured widely in the United States and Canada on the art of the book. He helped organize the Art of the Contemporary Book Conference at Ohio State University in 1991, and has: contributed articles on the Private Press Movement to journals such as Fine Print and Imprint; and curated exhibitions of South African botanical artist Elise Bodley, both for the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Audubon Society; he also proposed the first Washington Artists’ Book Fair – now a biennial event; and organized the first ever exhibition of fine modern bindings at the Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington DC in 2003.
I met the Hellers at their home in Washington, D.C. recently. Please listen here to our conversation
Tue, 22 September 2009
John Bidwell is Astor Curator of Printed Books and Bindings at thePierpont Morgan Library, before which he was Curator of Graphic Arts in the Princeton University Library. He has written extensively on the history of papermaking in England and America.
The Printed Books and Bindings collection at the Morgan contains works spanning Western book production from the earliest printed ephemera to important first editions from the twentieth century. Holdings encompass a large number of high points in the history of printing, often exemplified by a lone surviving copy or a copy that is perfect in every way. Areas of strength include incunables, early children’s books, fine bindings, and illustrated books.
Yolande de Soissons in Prayer
The collection is founded upon acquisitions of Pierpont Morgan, who sought to establish in the United States a library worthy of the great European collections. Among the highlights are three Gutenberg Bibles, works by Lord Byron, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, John Ruskin, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, and William Morris, and classic early children’s books. The Carter Burden Collection of American Literature, a major 1998 gift, strengthens the Morgan’s twentieth-century holdings with authors such as Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Vladimir Nabokov, Gertrude Stein, and Tennessee Williams.
I talk here with John Bidwell about the collection, what it contains, how it was acquired.
Copyright © 2009 by Nigel Beale.
Tue, 15 September 2009
Charles H. Cameron as King Lear (1872) / print by A.L. Coburn, ca. 1915, Photo by
Shakespeare wrote Hamlet before James l came to the throne. Events in the play reflect many of the real world concerns that Englishmen had about being ruled by a foreigner. At the play’s end, Denmark’s line of rulers is extinguished, and a foreigner (Fortinbras) takes the throne. James was married to Anna of Denmark, some feared that if he were to attempt a military takeover, he might call on the forces of his brother in law Christian IV of Denmark.
King Lear was written after James’s succession. At the start of the play Lear is firmly established as king of a united Britain. This reflected James’s wish to be ruler of a fully united kingdom. In fact he approached Parliament, without success, in 1607 in hopes of securing a closer political union.
The names of the Dukes in King Lear are taken from real life. James had recently made his sons Henry and Charles the Dukes of Cornwall and Albany respectively. In the play Albany is an honest man who realises too late the evil doings of his relatives. Once aware, he works to restore natural order. At the end, hope for the monarchy rests with him, Albany from Scotland, who is free to reunite the fractured kingdom. In this he represents what James wanted to achieve with his succession.
Listen here as Prof. Joseph Khoury, from St. Francis Xavier University, and I discuss the themes of succession and the divine right of kings in Hamlet and King Lear.
Thu, 3 September 2009
Crime novelist Denise Mina is the author of a trilogy of novels set in Glasgow: Garnethill (1998), which won the Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey Memorial Dagger; Exile (2000); and Resolution (2001).
Sanctum (2002), is the story of a forensic psychiatrist, convicted of killing a serial killer. The Field of Blood (2005) is the first in a new series, the second in the series, The Dead Hour, was published in 2006, and the third, Slip of the Knife, in 2007.
Mina also writes short stories, one of which, ‘Helena and the Babies’ from Fresh Blood 3 (1999), won the Crime Writers’ Association Macallan Short Story Dagger. Two short stories and a play, Hurtle (2003), have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Her latest play is Ida Tamson. Her lastest novel is Still Midnight (2009).
We met recently in Ottawa where Mina was the international guest of honour at Bloody Words, Canada’s national mystery conference. Our conversation cuts a wide swath across the socio-political (alcoholism, the accurate depiction of mental illness, the courage of the mentally ill) the psychoanalytic (detective stories as re-enactments of the primal act) and the technical (cozy endings, realistic puzzles); please listen here: