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Rare Book & Manuscript Library
January 2016 RBML "E-News"
In this issue:
February 3rd "No. 44 Society" Meeting at 3 p.m. in RBML
"Virginia Woolf, Her Circle, and the Hogarth Press" A Talk by Herbert Marder

Join us for a conversation with Herbert Marder, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Illinois, about Virginia Woolf and her circle, as well as the activities of the Hogarth Press. Using items from the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Professor Marder will speak about the history, content, and influence of Woolf's works.

Herbert Marder is the author of, among other titles, The Measure of Life: Virginia Woolf's Last Years (Cornell, 2000).

All are welcome!


(Left: The cover of Poems, by T. S. Eliot. Printed and published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf's Hogarth Press in 1919. Fewer than 250 copies were printed. RBML class number: 811 El4poem.).

Printed on Ice!
RBML Acquires Broadside Printed on the Thames in the Winter of 1683-84
Tim Bobbin and the press pirates 


During the winter of 1683 to 1684, London's Thames river froze to the depth of nearly a foot and a party ensued.

The Great Frost Fair on the ice (which lasted from late December into the first week of February) featured all sorts of activities, from nine pins and horse-drawn boat rides to bear-baiting and beer gardens.

It also had a tent where printers plied a chilly trade.

This scarce broadside (only nine copies recorded in British and American institutions) instructs a would-be painter of the scene to "spread a large canvas" and mentions the visit of the monarch Charles II and the sidelined watermen, who "loudly cry and baul, / Louder than Lawyers in Western-hall."

Charmingly, it also contrasts this joyous emptying of the city onto the ice to the sad exodus of its inhabitants during the great fire of 1666.

 An unusual occurrence in recorded history, it has been 201 years since the last Frost Fair on the Thames.


"O, Put me in thy books!"
Spring 2016 Exhibition to Commemorate the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare's Death by Focusing on Shakespeare's Fictional Lives


William Shakespeare created some of the greatest characters in literature, but in the 400 years since his death, he has also never stopped appearing, anew, as a fictional character himself.

The exhibition will offer insights into the many fictional portrayals of Shakespeare, from the early seventeenth century, when he often appeared as a “ghost” at the start of productions of his plays, to Victorian bardolatry (as G.B. Shaw called it—though he participated in it as well!), to twenty-first-century novels and films in which this one man plays many parts. Additionally, an online annotated bibliography will explore Shakespeare's lives as imagined by such writers as David Garrick, Rudyard Kipling, Isaac Asimov, Neil Gaiman, and many others.

O, Put me in thy books! is a collaborative project with The Elizabethan Club at Yale University, Shakespeare’s Globe in London, and Durham University. Look for reading groups, film showings, a sonnet-slam, workshops on writing with a quill, a puppet show in which Shakespeare appears, and, of course, a campus-wide birthday/deathday party for the Bard (a few days before his birthday) on April 20, 2016.

The exhibition opens February 5, 2016 and closes April 22, 2016.

Successful Grants Leverage Proust and RBML Digital Collections
Curator Szylowicz Co-Authors Two Important Grants

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been awarded a new research grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to explore the benefits for users of linked open data (LOD) for digitized library special collections. Timothy Cole, mathematics librarian in the University Library and coordinator for library applications within the Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship (CIRSS) at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS), will serve as principal investigator. Myung-Ja “MJ” Han, metadata librarian, and Caroline Szylowicz, Kolb-Proust librarian and curator of rare books and manuscripts, will serve as co-principal investigators.

The project will use as its test bed three digitized special collections curated by the University Library's Rare Book & Manuscript Library—the Motley Collection of Costume and Theatre Design, the Portraits of Actors, 1720-1920 Collection, and the Kolb-Proust Archive for Research. These collections are representative of the image-based and text-based special collections being digitized by many academic libraries. As Szylowicz notes, “these three collections, although focused on seemingly different topics, belong to the same cultural universe. It will be very interesting to make these cultural connections more visible, and more easily navigable for users and researchers.”

A core challenge of the research will be to transform the rich, traditional library resource descriptions that have been created for these collections over time into LOD. By transforming library descriptions into linked open data and re-envisioning user-facing services, the team hopes to integrate these collections more broadly with library general collections and with other relevant resources on the Web. In doing so, this project will engage and work directly with scholars to assess how they currently utilize the above collections, and how LOD can enhance the usefulness of these collections.

More information can be found at the project website:

The second grant has been awarded by the University's Campus Research Board. It funds the initial work on a digital edition of the letters of Marcel Proust (1871-1922), the celebrated French writer widely read throughout the world. This large-scale, collaborative undertaking will bring together researchers and institutions from the United States and France. The Kolb-Proust Archive in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library is a key actor in this project: its collection of over 1,200 Proust letters is the largest in the world.

The overall project is not a mere digitization of the existing paper edition (published from 1970 to 1993), which is highly valuable but outdated. The long-term goal is to produce a new and updated edition, observing rigorous scholarly protocols. The new digital edition will 1) integrate unpublished Proust letters, which continue to be discovered, 2) feature digital images of letters, 3) present new transcriptions, verified against original documents, 4) update the editorial framework and notes, and 5) include English translations.

Congratulations to Caroline and her co-authors!

Gwendolyn Brooks@100: the Centennial Celebration
Looking for Stories and Photos of Gwendolyn Brooks

As part of our upcoming 2017 centennial celebration of the life and work of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks, we are looking for anecdotes and stories from people who met or were inspired by her for inclusion in our Brooks@100 website/exhibition.  

Brooks traveled all across the U.S., but particularly throughout Illinois, inspiring young and old alike. Did you meet her? Did you take a picture? Your personal story can help shape a broader portrait of Brooks, the Illinois poet laureate from 1968 to 2000.

To share your story or photos, send them to Eva Miller at The Library is spearheading a statewide celebration of the 100th anniversary of Brooks's birth with events across the state and exhibitions at local and Chicago area venues. You can help by being a part of it!

Spring 2016 Events
  • February No. 44 Society Meeting, February 3rd, 3 p.m. in RBML
    "Virginia Woolf, Her Circle, and the Hogarth Press," a talk by Herbert Marder
    Herbert Marder taught English literature and rhetoric at the University of Illinois. He is the author of The Measure of Life: Virginia Woolf's Last Years (Cornell University Press, 2000).
  • February 24th, 4 p.m. at the Spurlock Museum
    “Frederick Schwatka: Illinois’s First Arctic Explorer,” a talk by RBML Curator Adam Doskey
    Doskey's talk is part of the lecture series for the Spurlock Museum's 2015-2016 exhibition “North of the Northern Lights: Exploring the Crocker Land Expedition 1913-1917.” He will discuss the career of Galena, Illinois-born Arctic Explorer Frederick Schwatka and the interesting story of how his library came to the University of Illinois.

  • March No. 44 Society Meeting, March 2nd, 3 p.m. in RBML
    "The Printing History of the Cherokee Nation," a talk by Frank Brannon
    Frank Brannon is an instructor at the University of Alabama and also proprietor of the SpeakEasy Press.

  • April No. 44 Society Meeting, April 6th, 3 p.m. in RBML
    Poetry Reading by Laurence Lieberman
    Lieberman is Emeritus Professor in English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Former Editor in Poetry at the University of Illinois Press, he has published fourteen books of poetry and three books of criticism. His latest book of poems, "Divemaster: Swimming with the Immortals," is published by Sheep Meadow Press (Dec. 2015).

  • April 20th, 3 p.m. in RBML
    Shakespeare's Birthday Celebration!

  • May No. 44 Society Meeting, (place and time to be announced)
    "Setting the Jewel in the Crown"
    A presentation of Rare Book Library designs by UIUC architecture students supervised by Professor Vidar Lerum.