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La Femme Bibliophile
Female Book Collectors
in An Age of Bibliomania
Title page of The bibliomania : or, Book-
madness; containing some account of the
history, symptoms and cure of this fatal...
Portrait of Sophia
Banks by Nathaniel
Hone I Source:
National Gallery of
Ireland.
Male Collectors:
• Formed homosocial gro...
"The New Woman may develop
into a genuine book-lover; it
is certain that the old one will
not. The Chinese article of
beli...
"You think wrong!—I have as much soul as you,—and full as much heart!"
- Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre
The Femme Bibliophiles...
David Pearson’s Framework for Studying Private Libraries
Contents
Acquisition
Design and Storage
Motivations
Destruction a...
Subject Percentage of
Collection
Religion 3%
Jurisprudence 1%
Philosophy
(Including Science)
9%
Arts 3%
History (including...
Lady Frances Vernon Harcourt(1805-1872)
Subject Percentage of
Collection
Religion 8%
Jurisprudence 0%
Philosophy
(Includin...
Lady Sydney Morgan 1778-1859
Subject Percentage of
Collection
Religion 3%
Jurisprudence 1%
Philosophy
(Including Science)
...
"Oh the happy, splendid and
spiritual hours I have passed
with this book in my hands-with
Him beside me - and all that
was...
Frances Mary Richardson Currer1785-1861
Subject Percentage of
Collection
Religion 14%
Jurisprudence 2%
Philosophy
(Includi...
Frances Mary Richardson Currer1785-1861
Currer’s Bookplate. Source:
http://anguslibraryandarchive.blog
spot.co.uk/2012/06/...
• [regarding books in the Heber sale]"most valuable to many
Bibliomaniacs, but not much in my style of books"
• "Moderate ...
What Did I Learn?
• Female book collectors of this
period are interesting.
• Collect one thing, collect lots of
things.
• ...
Where do we go from here?
• Further research into the listed
collectors
• Digitally reconstructing Currer’s
library
• Subs...
Questions?
lucysaintsmith@gmail.com
@LucySaintSmith
Questions?
lucysaintsmith@gmail.com
@LucySaintSmith
Questions?
lucysaintsmith@gmail.com
@LucySaintSmith
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La Femme Bibliophile: Female book collectors in an age of bibliomania - Lucy Saint-Smith

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Presented at LISDIS 2015, Saturday 15 November 2015.

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La Femme Bibliophile: Female book collectors in an age of bibliomania - Lucy Saint-Smith

  1. 1. La Femme Bibliophile Female Book Collectors in An Age of Bibliomania
  2. 2. Title page of The bibliomania : or, Book- madness; containing some account of the history, symptoms and cure of this fatal disease, in an epistle addressed to Richard Heber, esq. / By Thomas Frognall Dibdin, F.S.A. 1809. Source: http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/pwp/browse.php ?p=001 "Bibliomania is the term of Art used for the particular phenomenon of the late 18th century to the early 19th in which very rich men spent unfeasibly large sums of money on books which they had no interest in reading“ Caroline Murray, ‘Bibliomania’, Cambridge Library Collection Blog, 2013 1775-1830 – The Age of Bibliomania
  3. 3. Portrait of Sophia Banks by Nathaniel Hone I Source: National Gallery of Ireland. Male Collectors: • Formed homosocial groups • Eroticised their books by comparing them to women or binding them in women’s clothing • Positioned books against women Women as collectors Female Collectors: • Were seen to collect decoratively, sentimentally, not understanding the true value of what they had • Had their collections subsumed into the contents of the household • Were excluded from institutions and social groups
  4. 4. "The New Woman may develop into a genuine book-lover; it is certain that the old one will not. The Chinese article of belief that women have no souls has, after all, something in its favour." W. Roberts The Book Hunter in London William Roberts – Foremost Expert on Female Collectors? Front cover of The Book Hunter in London / by Williams Roberts 1895. Source: https://www.adelaide.edu.au/library/special/min or/hague/
  5. 5. "You think wrong!—I have as much soul as you,—and full as much heart!" - Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre The Femme Bibliophiles Frances Mary Currer Richardson (1785 -1861) Portrait by John James Masquerier. 1807. Source: North Craven Building Preservation Trust. Lady Frances Vernon Harcourt (1805-1872) Portrait by Henry Collen. 1839. Source: Artnet Lady Sydney Morgan (1778-1859) Portrait by René Théodore Berthon. Source: National Gallery of Ireland. ? Miss Margaret Bothwell Drummond (1795-1862)
  6. 6. David Pearson’s Framework for Studying Private Libraries Contents Acquisition Design and Storage Motivations Destruction and Loss
  7. 7. Subject Percentage of Collection Religion 3% Jurisprudence 1% Philosophy (Including Science) 9% Arts 3% History (including Geography) 43% Literature 41% Physical Feature Number of Books On Large Paper 75 In Black Letter 3 Proofs on Normal Paper 2 Proofs on India Paper 17 Manuscripts 28 Language Make-Up of MBD's Collection Latin French English Spanish Italian German Chinese Location PrintedEngland Scotland France Ireland Italy Other European Locations 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Non-Dated 16th Century 17th Century 18th Century 19th Century Date Printed Miss Margaret Bothwell Drummond (1795-1862)
  8. 8. Lady Frances Vernon Harcourt(1805-1872) Subject Percentage of Collection Religion 8% Jurisprudence 0% Philosophy (Including Science) 18% Arts 12% History (including Geography) 44% Literature 17% Physical Feature Number of Books On Large Paper 3 In Black Letter 0 Proofs on Normal Paper 0 Proofs on India Paper 4 Manuscripts 0 Location Printed England Scotland France Germany Italy Other European Locations Outside of Europe 0 20 40 60 80 Non-Dated 16th Century 17th Century 18th Century 19th Century Date Printed Language Make-Up of FVH's Collection Latin French English German Italian
  9. 9. Lady Sydney Morgan 1778-1859 Subject Percentage of Collection Religion 3% Jurisprudence 1% Philosophy (Including Science) 9% Arts 3% History (including Geography) 43% Literature 41% Physical Feature Number of Books On Large Paper 4 In Black Letter 0 Proofs on Normal Paper 0 Proofs on India Paper 1 Manuscripts 1 Language Make-Up of SM's Collection Latin French English Greek Italian German 0 20 40 60 80 Non-Dated 16th Century 17th Century 18th Century 19th Century Date Printed Location Printed England Scotland France Ireland Italy
  10. 10. "Oh the happy, splendid and spiritual hours I have passed with this book in my hands-with Him beside me - and all that was sublime in nature and art around me. Alas, alas! &c. 1845, Sept. 3d.“ -- Annotation in Lady Morgan’s copy of Itinerario Istruttivo di Roma, 1819. Lady Sydney Morgan 1778-1859
  11. 11. Frances Mary Richardson Currer1785-1861 Subject Percentage of Collection Religion 14% Jurisprudence 2% Philosophy (Including Science) 8% Arts 4% History (including Geography) 45% Literature 28% Physical Feature Number of Books On Large Paper 301 In Black Letter 84 Proofs on Normal Paper 50 Proofs on India Paper 17 Manuscripts 23 Language Make-Up of FMRC's Collection Latin French English Spanish Italian Other 0 20 40 60 80 Non-Dated 15th Century 16th Century 17th Century 18th Century 19th Century Date Printed Location Printed England Scotland France Germany The Netherlands Other European Locations
  12. 12. Frances Mary Richardson Currer1785-1861 Currer’s Bookplate. Source: http://anguslibraryandarchive.blog spot.co.uk/2012/06/leading- female-book-collector.html Lithograph of the Library at Eshton Hall. Source: A Catalogue of the Library Collected by Miss Richardson Currer at Eshton Hall / by Charles James Stewart and Frances Mary Richardson Currer. 1833. Photos of the same room today. Source: http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for- sale/property-31438870.html> [Accessed 1st of July 2014].
  13. 13. • [regarding books in the Heber sale]"most valuable to many Bibliomaniacs, but not much in my style of books" • "Moderate notoriety is by no means desirable for a woman" • [in response to Dibdin's request for her portrait for his Reminiscences] "I don't doubt the Book will be an amusing one - and to have the Portraits of Gentlemen in it is very proper, but I don't think it would be pleasant for me to be in the Gallery - the only Lady- so very conspicuous!" • " I must feel flattered by all you are pleased to say of me, though I am perfectly sincere when I tell you I had rather it had been less laudatory - I feel I don't deserve it & I fear others will be of the same opinion. The more Euphemia keeps her veil down, the better, or she may chance to be laughed at.“ • "with regard to me I have no objection to the dedication - I have only one request of matter & that is that as little may be said as possible - to do otherwise would only bring evidence to ill natured remarks upon me." Frances Mary Richardson Currer1785-1861
  14. 14. What Did I Learn? • Female book collectors of this period are interesting. • Collect one thing, collect lots of things. • The display’s the thing. • Family is important. • It’s not what you know, it’s who.
  15. 15. Where do we go from here? • Further research into the listed collectors • Digitally reconstructing Currer’s library • Subscription publishing • Book collecting amongst more typical women
  16. 16. Questions? lucysaintsmith@gmail.com @LucySaintSmith
  17. 17. Questions? lucysaintsmith@gmail.com @LucySaintSmith
  18. 18. Questions? lucysaintsmith@gmail.com @LucySaintSmith

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