Book Review The Wormsley Library. The Maurice Betteridge collection.
I have written a few times about discoveries in the bindery, finding historically important items hidden in books that are being rebound or in bindings or tools. Just last week I saw a piece about the State Library Bindery, and small photo of a reused piece of manuscript in the spine of a book.
I have been reading this book about the Wormsley Library. It took me a while to get to it. It’s the Library of Sir Paul Getty and knowing a little of the history of his father, I didn’t want to read it. But after his father passed, I think the children did use some of the wealth for public good so I started to read it. It’s a selected list of bindings used in an exhibition, and featured as much on the bindings as the works content.
What a surprise then to see item 1 of the exhibition.
The Earliest English Manuscript? I would have added surviving manuscript but it’s a delight . It is from Historica Ecclesiasticus (the History of the Church) written by Eusebius Pamphili. A work I am familiar with in the English translation, and I can see a modern copy on the shelf in front of my desk. From the mid seventh century ( 1640-1650) and is most of leaf 2 and 9 of the first 10 leaf section of the Eusebius, damaged by trimming which removed part of the text. It was found as a wrapper binding of a sixteen century work, discovered in 1984. Can you imagine the joy of finding such a piece while setting about cleaning up the other minor manuscript.