Saturday, January 19, 2013

"plenty of musty stuff..."

From: The History Blog

“[...] 'In the deeply unemployed winter of last year,' said Sammy Jay, the twenty-three-year-old grandson of Douglas Jay, 'my step-grandmother Mary had kindly given me an occupation in sorting through my late grandfather’s political papers for Oxford’s Bodleian Library archives.' With an interest in Romantic literature, Douglas Jay had collected, as Sammy said, 'plenty of musty stuff from the nineteenth century.' Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Dickens lined the shelves of Douglas Jay’s library, as well as works by his contemporaries. There were some nice copies of books presented to him by poets like Louis MacNeice, Stephen Spender, and Cecil Day-Lewis. 'Nothing at all,' Jay continued, 'could have prepared me for the little volume lying at an angle in the corner of the top shelf.' He almost passed it over but instead grabbed it and flipped it open. Inside was an inscription – 'To Lord Byron, from the author.'
     'It took me awhile to adjust to the magnitude of the find,' said Jay.
     Sammy Jay is a bibliophile in his own right who collects Romantic association copies and ephemera and is now employed at Peter Harrington Rare Books in London. So he knew what to do: he took the book to Richard Ovenden, deputy librarian at the Bodleian Libraries, to authenticate Mary Shelley’s signature. Ovenden was positive."
— Jonathan Shipley, Fine Books & Collections
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