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Telling Stories

Professor of history of the book gives 2016 George Story Lecture

Campus and Community

By Janet Harron

It’s an enviable title – the professor of history of the book. And one completely in keeping with the George Story Lecture, as Dr. Story himself was a key figure behind what Professor Mary Dalton calls, “a book to break spells,” the Dictionary of Newfoundland English.

Dr. James P. Carley
Dr. James P. Carley

Dr. James P. Carley, a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, an emeritus distinguished research professor at York University, an associate fellow at Toronto’s Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, an honorary research fellow at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and professor of the history of the book, University of Kent, will deliver the 2016 George Story Lecture on Friday April 29.

His lecture, grandly entitled “‘other casualties unto which all things in this mortall life are subject’: the foundation of Lambeth Palace Library and its subsequent adventures” examines the story behind one of the world’s greatest libraries.

Richard Bancroft, one-time archbishop of Canterbury, was one of the greatest book collectors of his generation and by the time of his death in 1610 he had assembled a library of more than 6000 items. Almost 500 of the items were manuscripts, many from the religious houses dissolved by Henry VIII some 70 years earlier.

Bancroft was concerned about continuity and tried to ensure that the collection would pass ‘unto my successors and to the archbishops of Canterbury successively forever’. He also laid down stringent penalties for those who lost books. However, despite his plans, the library’s books regularly disappeared.

In his lecture, Dr. Carley will look at how and when these books disappeared, from the first great period of danger during the Commonwealth (the republican period of government in Britain between the execution of Charles 1 in 1649 and the restoration of Charles II in 1660) to a major theft in 1974.

English department associate professor Dr. Agnes Juhász-Ormsby invited Dr. Carley to Memorial to deliver the lecture.

Dr. Carley’s lecture is a timely complement to the publication of The Finest Room in the Colony: The Library of John Thomas Mullock, edited by Dr. Juhász-Ormsby and per course instructor Nancy Earle and published by Memorial University Libraries. This illustrated catalogue, which includes entries by scholars from seven different departments in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, introduces to the public Bishop Mullock’s library, the only surviving 19th-century book collection in Newfoundland and Labrador. The catalogue will be accompanied by an exhibition of Bishop Mullock’s books in the Basilica Museum and will be also available online via Memorial’s Libraries.

Dr. Carley will deliver the George Story lecture, “‘other casualties unto which all things in this mortall life are subject’: the foundation of Lambeth Palace Library and its subsequent adventures” on Friday, April 29, at 6 p.m. in A-1046. All are welcome to attend. A reception will follow the lecture and free parking is available in lot 15B.

Dr. Carley’s lecture serves as a prelude to the Newfoundland and Labrador Book History symposium which is scheduled to take place May 7 -8, 2016, in partnership with the Basilica Museum and the Newfoundland Historical Society. The symposium will take place on the St. John’s campus in room A-1043, Arts and Administration Building.


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