3 MAY 2022
James Raven (Cambridge), ‘Monsters, Myths and Methods: Writing a Global Book Biography of Erik Pontoppidan’s Det første Forsøg paa Norges naturlige Historie (1752-3) [ The Natural History of Norway (1755)]’
This presentation explores the possibilities and pitfalls of researching a book biography or life-cycle of a book, from its writing, printing and publication to its reception and legacy. The subject is Det første Forsøg paa Norges naturlige Historie by Bishop Erik Pontoppidan published in 1752-3. It was translated into German and published, also in Copenhagen, a year later. A year after that the work was translated into English and published in two grand folio volumes in London as The Natural History of Norway. The size and format of these richly illustrated editions vary greatly; they represent materially and linguistically different forms of production that were met with varying popularity and reception. The book was sought by institutions and readers all around the globe. By examining archival notes, reviews and annotated surviving copies, including those bought by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia, by the Maharajah of Tangore in India, and by scholars, writers, clerics and institutions in St Petersburg, Hesse, Kraków, Glasgow, Oxford, Westminster, Charleston and many dozen more, we can determine how Pontoppidan’s pioneering scientific and historical ‘verification’ methods were received and the part played by different languages, translations, typographies, engraved images and material book forms. But there is also a significant twist to this history of writing, production, circulation and reception. Pontoppidan, for all his insistence on verifiability, included long sections on the sightings of kraken, or sea monsters, with notes on contemporary observations and images of the creatures (many drawn from earlier works on Scandinavian myth, such as Olaus Magnus, and repeated by great early modern naturalists). As a result, this book biography also investigates why his observations of mermaids and mythic creatures gained credibility within Enlightenment natural science (even applauded a century later in Moby Dick), and remembered, with direct reference to Pontoppidan, in reports of later sightings of sea monsters in newspapers, diaries and various publications in Ireland, Italy, the Unites States, India, Singapore, and many more besides.
Topic: MEMS/Stationers 4: Global Book Biography
Time: May 4, 2022 04:00 PM London
Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 870 5350 6632
25 JANUARY 2022
To mark Burns night, we look at the story of Burns’s first publication in London by Stationer Thomas Cadell (1742–1802).
6 JANUARY 2022
After the turmoil of the last couple of years, you may be wary of making travel plans for next summer. But you can still expand your horizons, with these exciting summer schools run by the University of London's Insitute of English Studies.
6 JANUARY 2022
We're excited to announce that the Stationers' Company Archive is partnering with the Universities of Durham and Newcastle to offer a fully funded research opportunity into early modern apprentices in the print trades. Our project, The Importance of Youth in the Early Modern Economy: Apprentices and their peer-networks, 1605-1800, has been approved for Collaborative Doctoral Award funding by the AHRC’s Northern Bridge Consortium.
4 AUGUST 2021
This day in the archive: 4th August
On the 4th of August, 1772, William Blake was bound as an apprentice to the engraver James Basire. Blake, of course, went on to become one of the most important visionary artists and poets in England. Basire's story is less well-known, but as a Stationer, a leading engraver of his day, and a significant early influence on Blake, it's worth telling here.
26 JULY 2021
This day in the archive: 26th July
On 26th July 1678, an unusual entry was recorded in the Stationers' Register. It's the wording of an affidavit form, to be completed by two witnesses who 'doe severally certifie and make oath that the corps of the person of ... late of the parish of ... was not put in, wrapt or wound up or buried in any shirt, shift or shroude made or mingled with flax, hemp, silke, haire, gold or silver, or other then what is made of sheepe's woll onely.' The affidavit goes on to specify that the coffin must also be lined in wool.
5 JULY 2021
This day in the archive: 5 July
Luke Hansard, printer to the House of Commons, was born on the 5th July 1752. An exceptionally successful printer who established a thriving family business, he joined the Stationers' Company as a Liveryman in 1799. He endowed two charitable bequests, one for 'needy printers over the age of 65', the other for a 'neatly bound Church of England prayer book' to be given to every youth bound at the hall. He also ensured that all three of his sons were apprenticed through the Company. Two generations later, his grandson, Thomas Curson Hansard II served as Master to the Stationers' Company in 1886. It was Thomas who presented the Company with Samuel Lane's portrait of Luke, which now hangs in the Court Room of Stationers' Hall.
2 JUNE 2021
This day in the archive: 2 June
On the 2nd of June 1656, Nathaniel Ponder was apprenticed to the bookseller and Stationer Robert Gibbs. Ponder went on to have an eventful career in publishing. He oversaw the publication of several nonconformist works of divinity and political pamphlets. His dissenting views sometimes brought him into conflict with the authorities, and he was notoriously imprisoned for publishing a seditious work by Andrew Marvell. Today, he is best remembered as the publisher of The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
20 MAY 2021
This day in the archive: 20 May
On 20 May 1609, a bookseller named Thomas Thorpe entered for his copy 'a booke called Shakespeares sonnetts'. The sonnet, imported to England from Italy during the Renaissance exchange of ideas, was popularised by Elizabethan poets such as Sir Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser. Within the sonnet's formal constraints, Shakespeare introduced ideas and imagery which subverted the conventions of Elizabethan love poetry. ‘My mistress’ eyes,' declared Sonnet 130, 'are nothing like the sun’.
11 MAY 2021
This day in the archive: 11 May
22 APRIL 2021
Our next Archive Evening will be a virtual event on Monday 26 April at 6pm. For more details, and to register, go to our events page at: https://www.stationers.org/events/detail/5994.
To support the event, we have created an online exhibition, which you can view here: https://www.stationers.org/company/archive/print-profit-and-people-an-exhibition
Hope you can join us for what promises to be a fascinating evening!
22 MARCH 2021
We're delighted to anounce a forthcoming series of online discussions, organised by the University of Newcastle's Medieval & Early Modern Studies Research Group in conjunction with the Stationers' Company Archive.