Previously Funded Projects


Reports from 2018 Projects

Dr Catherine Delano Smith (Hon. Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Historical Research, University of London)

Richard Gough’s British Topography (1780): The first reproduction of the medieval map of Britain (the Gough Map).

It is a pleasure to be able to report that the Willison Trust grant has greatly enriched Gough Map scholarship for map and book historians to an unexpected degree. Research supported by the Trust has extended the map’s relevance both chronologically and thematically, by connecting the ‘ancient map’ with the development of the facsimile—the word is first recorded for 1691 and it seems that Richard Gough’s reduced facsimile for his British Topography (1780) was the first cartographical facsimile, certainly in Britain—with a new attitude to the topographical print in contemporary learning, and with the experimental techniques of making glass negatives for photo-zincograph printing (for the Ordnance Survey) in the 1860-70s.

The unexpected diversity of our findings has meant that, although the primary task of transcribing place-names and compiling the comprehensive gazetteer of the map’s place names has been done, following-up of the new lines of inquiry is still ongoing.


(A palaeographer, Dr Katie McKeogh, was selected on interview from four applicants to transcribe and record all place-names and corrections on the printed proofs of the reduced facsimile, and appointed in February 2018 to carry out the work in Oxford independently, with occasional visits from me. It was hoped that she would complete all the tasks allocated to her (as listed in the Application) by October 2018 over the estimated 23 days. She proved an assiduous and meticulous researcher, but in the event completed only the two palaeographically most demanding and intensive tasks, those relating to the manuscript annotations and the logging of all place-names on the reduced drawing (MS 12) and the annotated proofs (MSS 13–19). She produced a database amounting to 57 printed A4 pages.   Her material has now been incorporated into the main Gough Map database, as planned, by Damien Bove (Technical Assistant in the Application). She was unable, though, to complete the other tasks assigned to her in time.  Accordingly, I asked Damien Bove to take over the outstanding work. Mr Bove has been the GMP’s Research Assistant since its inception in 2012. He is a skilled investigator and a capable user of online documentary resources.

For the additional Willison work he visited the Bodleian twice to inspect all the facsimiles, make working scans and liaise with Dr McKeogh. He visited the British Library twice to compare their copies of the printed maps with those in the Bodleian. With me, he met the Director-General of the Royal Photographic Society (Dr Michael Pritchard) when we were seeking a lead into the technical procedures of the production of the 1871 photographic facsimile and its derivatives.

Besides supervising the above, my own work is focused on the context of Richard Gough’s personal and professional (as Director of the Society of Antiquaries) interest in his medieval map, and on following up the new leads. I located Samuel Pegge’s correspondence with Gough in the Society of Antiquaries, from which I discovered that it was Gough himself (not Pegge as stated in our 2017 article) who applied the reagent that was already damaging the place-names they were trying to decipher. Having learnt from the general literature that the obliterating effect of such reagents is progressive, we propose now to see if we can recover at least some of the now illegible toponyms by using the database to facilitate a systematic comparison of their rendering in the 1770s (for Gough’s reduced engraved facsimile) with their transcription for the 1871 to 1958 facsimiles before legibility is totally lost. I have learnt much more about the engraver James Basire but who actually drew the reduced manuscript draft (MS 12) and even who engraved the copper plate (Basire himself as generally assumed, or his workshop) is still unclear. This last point involves a fresh look at all maps reproduced in the British Topography and at his signed engravings in his Sepulchral Monuments (1786). 

Outcomes of research to date

(1) A new understanding of the emergence of facsimiles as book illustration in the later 18th century and the technical processes of the production of the 1780 facsimile.

(2) An appreciation of Richard Gough’s pioneering promotion of reproductions of early maps at a time when antiquarian study began to shift (not without opposition from some at the Society of Antiquaries) from drawing objects in order to enhance the rising interest in Britain’s historical heritage, to ‘tasteful’ depictions of ‘place’ as fine views (topographical prints), and to the reproduction of ancient maps as ‘useful’ information for the learning about places in the past, Gough’s own interest.

(3) The exposition of certain peculiarities on his facsimile, such as the disproportionate lack of engraved place-names in Wales on the published version in his British Topography. The puzzle is not only that out of 74 settlement signs in Wales, 70 were not provided with a full name (many were left with a single letter or two and the usual pecked line that indicated where the name was to be engraved once deciphered), but also why Gough appears not to have corresponded with any of the admittedly few Welsh members of the Society of Antiquaries listed for the 1760s and 1770s in an attempt to discover the identity of the place and decipher its name, as he did with conspicuous vigour for Scotland and, to lesser extent, for England.

(4) The uncovering of new light on the experimental use of photography for making facsimiles of early documents in the 19th century. Most rewarding in this respect has been the study of 27 Annual Reports of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records (1846–73), which has also allowed us to see why the Gough Map of Britain was included in Vol. 3 of the Ordnance Survey’s ‘Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Scotland (1870-72) rather than the earlier volumes of the National Manuscripts of England. We can point too to the remarkable ‘editing’ of a range of details on the glass negatives (black, red, green) as well as some fanciful doctoring of place-names (London for, probably, Llandow in South Wales). We shall suggest to the Bodleian that two of its Gough Maps facsimiles might need re-cataloguing in the light of our study of their unique (as far as we know,) exemplar of the ‘rough proof’ map by R. Appel (kept as part of C16 d.40) and the transcription map (kept as part of C16 b.3) and conclusion that both are proofs from the 1871 issue. The Annual Reports have also allowed us to follow W. B. Sanders’ career and comprehend the scale of the task of editing the documents for the English and Scottish volumes and other works, and to place the commissioning of that facsimile into a wider context, that of the government’s desire both to preserve documents and to make them available to the public.

(5) From our studies to date of the integrated gazetteer of the toponyms on the original medieval map together with all variants suggested by our eighteenth and nineteenth predecessors from their reading of a less damaged manuscript than the one available to the modern student of British local history and place-names, we have been able to note:

— where toponyms appear to have been read from the facsimile rather than the original (indeed, Sanders complains that he does not have the original to hand);

—where a previous identification appears to have been accepted without recourse to the original;

—where identification of a place was made without reference to a modern map (due to shortage of time? The 1871 facsimile was made when the Ordnance Survey was supposed to be producing the second series of the 1 Inch map of Britain); for example, barnes for Barnet and abergaveni for Aberdovey;

— where no attempt has been made to read a toponym even where the letters are reasonably clear;

—and concentrations of unidentified settlements (e.g. S. W. Midlands). 

Dissemination, Publication, Impact

The unexpectedly fruitful outcome of research for the Willison Trust means that research is still in active progress. We are awaiting the formal start (if our application to the Leverhulme Trust is successful) of the second stage of the Gough Map Project before starting on drafting chapters for the projected monograph (which should, according to the Leverhulme schedule if this materialises, be in press in 2023/4). The place-name gazetteer from the Willison work is largely ready for the new Bodleian website, but this has not yet been activated; a link to this will be provided at the earliest possibility. Meanwhile, any opportunity to disseminate our findings at conferences, online, or in published notes, will be taken and the Trust informed. The breadth of our interrelated findings will mean some rewriting of the narrative of maps as book illustration in general and, most certainly, a new appreciation of the significance of the Gough Map not only in the history of Britain’s national heritage but also as part of the history of the Ordnance Survey’s nineteenth-century map production.


Dr Peyvand Firouzeh, (Max Planck Post-Doctoral Fellow, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence)

Research on several fifteenth-century illustrated manuscripts written in Persian at the Chester Beatty Library (Dublin), The British Library (London), and the Bodleian Library (Oxford).

In January 2018, I received a generous award in book history from the Willison Foundation Charitable Trust for the purpose of conducting collection research in London, Oxford, and Dublin. The research proposed falls within the framework of my new book-length project, provisionally titled Constructing Legitimacy along Sea Routes: Things and ideas between fifteenth-century Iran and Deccan India, for which I am currently supported as a Post- Doctoral Fellow in Art History by the Getty Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies. The project explores the power of objects and knowledge in motion in the eastern Islamicate world. Set in fifteenth-century Deccan India under the Bahmanids, the region’s first independent Muslim dynasty from 1347 to 1528, it focuses on image circulation and perceptions of the built environment that materialized temporal and geographical distance across the Indian Ocean. The project examines how this circulation connected the dynasty simultaneously to a pre-Islamic past and an Islamic present. My proposal to the Willison Foundation involved research into the history, provenance, and transmission of three extraordinary manuscripts held in collections of the British Library, the Bodleian Library, and the Chester Beatty Library, all of which will feature as case studies or comparative examples within my project.

I spent the whole month of September 2018 in the UK, working mainly on manuscript Or. 1403 at the British Library (a fifteenth-century copy of the eleventh-century Persian epic the Shahnama), and its relation to another fifteenth-century copy of the Shahnama of Ibrahim Sultan, Ouseley Add. 176, kept at the Bodleian Library.

Most of my time was dedicated to studying the British Library manuscript closely in preparation for a journal article. Being based in London for a whole month and having access to the manuscript (and multiple comparative examples) for several hours on a daily basis was an invaluable experience that allowed me to rethink my assumptions about this manuscript and its links to the Bodleian Shahnama. It was a fruitful research trip, the only challenge being how to divide the newly discovered material, discussed below in brief, between the article and the future book chapter. The award from the Willison Foundation covered the cost of housing in London, airfare, trains, visa fees, maintenance, and image rights for the publication of the article.

At the time of writing the proposal, I considered the British Library manuscript a Deccani object, and interpreted it as one that demonstrated how the Bahmanid court of Deccan India located itself in terms of Islamicate and Persianate modes of culture. My month-long study of the manuscript alongside several comparative examples available at the British Library shattered these certainties about the geographical attributions of the manuscript. Although previous attributions regarding the manuscript’s precise place of production and patronage remain have fallen into question, I still believe that India was either the place of production or intended audience of this Shahnama.

My preliminary aim was to examine two important interventions in the preface of this manuscript: first, the way it re-imagines the history of the epic’s production, claiming that the author, Ferdowsi (d. 1019 or 1025), journeyed to India and took refuge there; second, an uncommonly extensive and specifically India-related version of the story of the Iranian mythological king Bahman, one of the heroes of the Shahnama, and a figure from whom the Bahmanids claimed lineage. While conducting this research, my reading of the preface alongside other contemporary examples (especially the Bodleian Shahnama) has shown that these two interventions are not at all unique, contrary to what scholars have assumed in the past. Rather than directly interpreting these interventions as direct markers of the manuscripts’ origin, I have come to place them amidst patterns of reception that were current across Persianate societies and were adopted by the makers of these manuscripts depending on the socio-political and geographical circumstances in which the objects were made or for which they were intended. The Bahmanids, too, made use of these circulating narratives for their self-fashioning. In other words, I now have a bigger picture for what had always been regarded as unique peculiarities.

Alongside these developments, I focused a great deal on the paintings in the manuscript, most significantly on the frontispiece: a double-page depicting a teaching session in conjunction with a Sufi scene, regarded as a rare subject for a Shahnama frontispiece, which would conventionally represent royal feasts, battles, or enthronements. My analysis of the frontispiece in the forthcoming article, which investigates the incorporation of religious rituals into depictions of court ceremonials at the time, also opened a new avenue of research which I am hoping to develop in the book: the frontispiece showcases an interesting and nuanced way of depicting skin colours, unknown to fifteenth-century illustrations, in which the variety of skin tones is not necessarily bound to social hierarchy.

As mentioned, some of these findings on the British Library Shahnama and its relations to the Bodleian Library manuscript are discussed in an article that I have just completed. Titled “Convention and Reinvention: The British Library Shahnama of 1438 (Or. 1403)”, it will be published in a special issue of the Journal Iran in February 2019. In brief, this essay focuses on the text-image relationship in the manuscript’s preface-frontispiece set and how it would have addressed the manuscript’s possible audiences. The rest of my findings about this manuscript will be published in the book, and I am hoping that my research on the question of race, which is currently at its preliminary stage, will result in another article as well. In addition to the Iran article, I have been invited by Ursula Sims Williams, lead curator of Persian collections at the British Library, to incorporate some of my findings on MS. Or.1403 into a blog post on their “Asian and African Studies Blog”, which is currently in preparation. I have also been invited by Dr. Elizabeth Savage, lecturer at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, to speak on the British Library manuscript as a part of their Book and Print Initiative lectures on 7 February 2019.

Looking back at my proposal for the Willison Foundation Award, my questions about the Bodleian Shahnama were concentrated on the unique visual and textual interventions in this manuscript: in particular, a little-known poem written by the fifteenth-century chronicler Sharaf al-Din ʿAli Yazdi, which is inserted into the middle of epic proper alongside a double- page illustration of the court of Ibrahim Sultan, the Timurid prince, governor of Shiraz and patron of this manuscript. I interpret these interventions as an episode that can further elucidate the history of portraiture and the reception of Shahnama as an object of cultural heritage in the fifteenth century: a heritage that needed to be updated in order to remain contemporary. While these arguments still stand and have grown as I have examined the poem and the paintings more closely, the opportunity to study this manuscript together with the British Library Shahnama last fall opened more research avenues. I will be examining the preface of this manuscript, as well as the apparently subsequent restoration of a number of its paintings in India, where the manuscript travelled at some point after its completion in Shiraz in the fifteenth century. I am returning to Oxford this February to follow up these questions as I have been offered a month-long residency at the Centre for the Study of the Book at the Bodleian Libraries. As for the British Library manuscript, my findings on this Shahnama will be published as an article and part of a book chapter.

I am yet to make my way to Dublin to study the Anthology (P. 124) at the Chester Beatty Library. My initial plan was to make this journey in Fall 2018. However, a series of unforeseeable events prevented me from applying for my Irish visa in time. At the end of Summer 2018, I signed a contract to join the Department of Art History at the University of Sydney for their newly-established lectureship in Islamic Art. I will start teaching in Sydney in August 2019, and was fortunate enough to be able to negotiate a late start date for the position so that I could complete my research under the award from the Willison Foundation and the residency at Oxford. This critical research period is allowing me to compile more material for current and future articles and book chapters before I start teaching this summer. I am extremely excited about this new position, and for the opportunity to teach Islamic art in a department that never had a position dedicated to this subfield of art history. However, the complications quickly arose when applying for the work visa to move to Sydney, as well as a visiting visa for an induction week and inaugural lecture that were initially planned for late October 2018, but had to be postponed to March 2019 due to a delay in the visa process. All of this meant that I had to reschedule several research and personal trips. As such, given my upcoming residency in Oxford in February, the planned trips to Sydney in March, and the time needed to apply for an Irish visa, I have rescheduled my trip to Dublin for April 2019.


Dr Marci Freedman (Teaching and Research Assistant, University of Manchester)

Jewish Learning and Censorship in Spain, c.1550 – c.1790s.

 I am pleased to inform the Trustees that I have completed my research trip to Madrid. In my application I stated that I sought funding to undertake primary data collection using the Inquisitional archives located at the Archivo Histórico Nacional, and the Real Biblioteca Escorial. With the assistance of the Trust, I spent significant time in the archives over the course of May and June 2018 with some fruitful initial results.

The beginning of my time in Madrid was spent identifying the authors and works that would warrant further investigation. With the aid of recent scholarship by J.M. de Bujanda, I identified over 150 authors and texts to be examined more closely. I then sub-divided the long list into three categories. There are approximately 130 early modern Christian scholars who either translated or quoted from Jewish sources within their own writings. These authors and their works were then subjected to some level of censure, either through full prohibition or expurgation or, in some cases, both. A preliminary overview suggests that translations of the psalms from Hebrew, works of Cabala, Jewish theology, Hebrew dictionaries and grammars, and Jewish history all attracted censorship. This list of Christian authors is by far the longest and will be rigorously investigated at a later stage of the project.

The second list comprised only three names – these were of people who were identified as Jewish converts to Christianity. These authors’ works were censored in some form and raises the question: was the author’s conversion a contributing factor in the Inquisition’s decision to censor or expurgate the author or text? More broadly, did the Inquisition censor texts based on name alone, or was it the writings of a person which drew the Inquisition’s attention?  These are just some of the questions which arose during my time in Madrid and will be addressed as the project progresses.

The core of my research in Madrid consisted of a study of 15 Jewish authors who were explicitly named in the Indices of Prohibited Books. They range in period and genre from Josephus to the late sixteenth-century doctor David de’Pomi, and seventeenth-century printer Manasseh ben Israel. That these authors and their works are singled out in Indices published between 1583 and 1790 is remarkable. Each of the Indices is guided by a set of rules; invariably, one of the rules always pertains to books of the Jews, including the Talmud and Targum, all of which are explicitly prohibited. From this I have devised a more focused research question: if all Jewish books are prohibited under this more general rule, what is significant about these 15 authors that they warranted either more explicit prohibition, or in some cases, were permitted to be read in an expurgated form?

The above list was then taken to the Archivo Histórico Nacional (AHN) to look for the qualifications (theological decisions) which detail why a particular author or work attracted censure. Using the card catalogue (which is available neither on-line or off-site), I was able to locate some of the Jewish authors. These documents, ranging from a few paragraphs to pages and pages of text, have been ordered as reproductions to allow for a more comprehensive translation. Once this is accomplished, a fuller understanding of the material examined at the AHN will help explain how and why certain authors and works were subject to censure. In addition, this will allow a better understanding of the Inquisitorial process and how the Inquisitors reached their conclusions. Once complete, this research will form the basis for the first article of the project.

The card catalogue also listed numerous files relating to licences granted by the Inquisition which allowed individuals to read censored material. This was an unexpected discovery and an angle of research that I had not previously considered. This may shed light on who, how and why certain individuals were permitted to access otherwise prohibited material. This is yet another area which I have identified for further exploration.

The AHN cataloguing system is not as straightforward as expected, and I will seek further assistance from Spanish contacts to help me navigate the vast corpus of documents produced by the Office of the Inquisition. In particular, I will seek to contact two Spanish PhD students who are specifically working on qualifications. My time at the AHN gave me the opportunity to gain experience in using the archive, to gain a sense of what was immediately available and, most importantly, what required deeper digging to bring to light more documents regarding the Inquisition’s process of censorship.

In addition to the AHN, I conducted research at the Real Biblioteca at the Escorial. The Escorial library was established by Philip II and was one of the places where the censorship of books occurred. Again, using my list of Jewish authors, I was able to consult two works on the list. One author was Benjamin of Tudela, a twelfth-century Jewish traveller, whose narrative was translated into Latin in 1575. This edition was then censored. I was able to determine some of the censorship methods used by the Inquisition, and their effectiveness. Individual lines and smaller sections of the travelogue were crossed out with ink making the text illegible. Longer passages, however, were excised by gluing paper over the offending sections of text. The passages remained unreadable if the book were held in a normal fashion; however, if held vertically to natural light from a window with light passing through the single page, the print under the paper covering the censored passage was readable. (I was hesitant to use electric light so that I could essentially re-create the reading conditions of early modern readers.) The second text was a Latin translation of a work by Rabbi Kalonymus. Although the text was examined for expurgation in 1707, only one small passage was excised from the prefatory material: approximately 22 lines have been covered by a piece of paper. The remainder of the text is untouched. This evidence suggests that the censorship process was laborious and, at times, ineffective – and for more intrepid readers, easily circumvented. In which case, the project must now answer more fundamental questions about the Inquisition’s process of censorship and its aims , and whether Spanish intellectual culture was as adversely affected as previous historiography has suggested.

On the whole, my time in Madrid was productive in making initial headway with the project. It has helped to solidify the core research questions and has begun to uncover the textual evidence which will help answer them. The remaining funds will be used to order reproductions.

I am pleased to inform the Trust that the project has been granted a more permanent home at Northwestern University where I have been awarded a postdoctoral position in Judeo-Spanish Studies in the Department of History. I am indebted to the Trust for affording me this wonderful and fruitful opportunity and I look forward to sharing more of the project’s findings in future.


Dr Donald Kerr, (Special Collections Librarian, University of Otago, New Zealand)

The Rev. William Arderne Shoults, a 19th century clergyman book-collector.

Shoults lived a short life, dying at 48. He lived a bookish life in between his curacy appointments. He married late, and there was no issue. There was no scandal attached to his name. He was not a major book collector, and he seems to have patiently amassed his books, all without fuss. Consequentially, much of what was uncovered was contextual.

Not every book or manuscript is on-line, with holdings in New Zealand on books specifically related to 19th century English curates, 19th century Cambridge College life, Anglo-Catholicism, ritualism, and associated memoirs being somewhat sparse. To find and use these publications, and of course the manuscript materials in the various libraries, was another great bonus.

The papers of Stephen Parkinson, tutor to Shoults at Cambridge, are in St John’s College Special Collections. While they did not reveal anything specific about Shoults, they gave a great flavour of the type of content and interests Parkinson had, and which, no doubt, was passed on to a student like Shoults. In addition, Parkinson was a great hoarder and he saved a huge bank of Examinations Papers sat by students of the day, in Shoults’s case, from 1856 to 1860.

In early 1874, Shoults enrolled in a Bachelor of Divinity, sponsored by Parkinson. By June 1874, he had completed it, signing ‘B.D.’ after his name. Apart from certain procedures attached to this degree, it appears from evidence found that a printed copy of the BD was often produced, although by no means, it would seem, was this done systematically. No printed BD item was found relating to Shoults, but old card references indexed in an old catalogue cabinet at Cambridge University Library led to sighting two examples, produced in 1873 and 1875. One was a printed dissertation for the B.D. by the Rev. J Rawson Lumby entitled: ‘The History of the Creeds. 1. Ante-Nicene, 2. Nicene and Constantinopolitan, 3. The Apostolic Creed’ (1873); and the other a printed dissertation for a Doctor of Divinity by F.J. A. Hort entitled: ‘On the ‘Constantinopolitan’ Creed and Other Eastern Creeds of the Fourth Century’ (November 1875). These at least gave a good impression of the format produced, and the sort of topics undertaken by students in Divinity.

The Tait Papers at Lambeth Palace Library proved a gold mine. Not only were specifics found, but the raft of letters, documents, and printed materials relating to London parish activities, and those controversies surrounding the goings-on of the eccentric Benedictine monk Father Ignatius (Joseph Leycester Lyne) was enormously fruitful. Indeed, just by flipping through the many Tait volumes and reading the many enclosures, one realises how much unwritten history there is, and how much there is still to do.

Shoults contributed 58 erudite entries to John Julian’s massive Dictionary of Hymnology (1892). Manuscript papers belonging to Julian, his assistant James Meares, and edited proofs and notes to the second edition (1902) are in the British Library. It was hoped that there was some correspondence, or notes about Shoults’s entries. Sadly, not. Shoults never saw his work in print. In relation to Julian, I was fortunate to meet the ODNB biographer of Julian, Gordon Giles.

The student records at St. John’s College Archives proved a gold mine. Records pertaining to admission certificates, terms kept, marks in various examinations, etc, were examined. Obtaining proof of Shoults’s abilities and placement within his classes (1856-60) was especially rewarding.

The Map Department of Cambridge University Library held an auction sheet of November 1859 describing the Shoults family home at Madingley Road, Cambridge, and its close proximity to the principal colleges. Shoults did not have rooms at College; he walked back and forth from home. This aspect – which did not encourage after-hours collegiality with fellows – provides an interesting slant on Shoults, whom I suspect was a bookish loner.

Discoveries at the London Metropolitan Archives were exciting. Firstly, there were Shoults’s Ordination papers, containing testimonials from College and clergy, and job offers; first deacon, then priest. There were also registers dealing specifically with his activities as a curate at St. Peter’s, Walworth; St. Paul’s, Bunhill Row, Finsbury (now gone); St Michaels, Shoreditch; and St. Edmund the Martyr, Lombard Street, City. It was great to find evidence of his input into the local community, evidence of his work rate (especially at St Peter’s); and further information on the vicars and rectors who hired him.

While relying on indexes and key word searching, it is often valuable to trawl, somewhat serendipitously, through materials. This is what occurred at Lambeth Palace Library. Having examined key subjects in each volume of the requested Tait Papers, I trawled through the remainder of each volume. By sheer luck, I came across a manuscript reference to St. Peter’s Walworth, outlined in a specific survey on the condition of the Church and its parish. Shoults was named, albeit mis-spelt: Scholtz. The character reference given fleshed him out.

Just before I left New Zealand, I discovered that Shoults was far more associated with Father Ignatius than first imagined. Indeed, it transpired that Shoults was also known as ‘Father Cyril’ (a monastic name given to him by Ignatius), and that during the years 1870 to 1873, he was non-resident Monastery Chaplain at Father Ignatius’s monastery and convent at Llanthony, Wales.

Some years ago, the Trustees of Selwyn Theological College, who own the Shoults Collection, sold off some incunables and early printed books for cash. Accessing the sale catalogue from the Wren Library, Trinity College, enabled further identification of Shoults’s copy of Dionysius’s Works, printed in 1704.

Typically, many of the collections examined revealed nothing on Shoults, for example, the Benson and Blomfield Papers at Lambeth Palace Library. After much page-turning, they ended up as dead-ends. While this aspect is frustrating, this is as it should be. After all, adopting a scatter-gun approach to researching a minor curate who glided by unnoticed means the examination of much material. The researcher’s hope is that through the trawling through mounds of papers something is found. Fortunately for me, this is what happened. Shoults’s major ‘mark’ remains with the library he amassed.

One major failing was to advance the research into contemporary book collectors, who like Shoults, amassed theological and classical libraries. In some cases, there are printed sale catalogues extant. Time was against me in following up this aspect more fully. Importantly, the few book collectors chosen were not well-heeled ‘high-spot’ ones like Spencer or Greville. Candidates so far include the Oxford educated Joseph Mendham (1769–1856); another Oxford (University College) student, William Maskell (1814-1890), and John Mitford (1781-1859). Three others, all who gave materials to Christ’s College Library, Cambridge, have been added to the mix: the Rev. Charles Lesingham Smith (1806-1878) and his bequest of over 900 early printed books on mathematics and astronomy; the Rev. Peter Lovett Fraser (1773-1852) and his gift of over 3500 books, including many volumes of literary works in languages other than English; and William Robertson Smith (1846-1894), who bequeathed some 2000 manuscripts and printed books in Hebrew, Arabic, and other Semitic languages. Such a comparison would place Shoults within a specific collecting tradition. This work continues from afar.


Ms Jennifer Murray (Doctoral student, University of the Arts)

Manuscript-waste Fragments: Identifying the Bindings from which they were removed.

The Willison Foundation Charitable Trust supported my research for the final stages of my PhD studies. The aim of this research was to develop a new method to identify the binding (the source binding) from which manuscript-waste fragments had been removed. To date, source bindings have been identified by the shelfmark or title of the volume written on the fragment or by offsetting from the fragment found on the inner surface of the volume’s cover or the adjacent leaf of the textblock. My PhD research looks instead at the evidence on the fragment for the features and materials of the source binding and uses this to select the binding from the shelves. This method was developed by working on fragments removed from volumes in five different libraries. Thanks to the funding provided by the Willison Foundation Trust I was able to return to undertake further work in one of my case-study libraries, Lanhydrock, the National Trust’s most important seventeenth-century library. During the visits to Lanhydrock, I focused on working with endleaf guards and covers as these fragment-types had not been well represented in other libraries I had visited.

Identifying the source binding for removed manuscript-waste fragments involved

  1. analysing the binding evidence on the fragment,
  2. building up an idea from that evidence of what the source binding should look like and comparing this to the bindings in the library which were visible and accessible on the open shelves.

In the case of Lanhydrock, Stages i and ii were completed at the Bodleian Library Oxford where the manuscript-waste fragments removed from these books are now held.

Manuscript-waste fragments which were used as endleaf guards

In Lanhydrock I worked with five guard fragments. These fragments were not randomly selected but were chosen to represent bindings of different sizes made with different materials. The aim was to see if the method that had been developed was applicable over a range of bindings. In addition to pairs of fragments (that is, two fragments from the same binding), single fragments were chosen in order to determine if the evidence on one fragment would be sufficient to identify the source binding.

The following fragments were studied:

134ii, 139ii:  a pair of guards (height: 195mm, width: 55mm), sewn on four supports, with no staining from the turn-ins of the cover material, possibly indicating a parchment-covered volume.

29, 30:  a pair of guards (height: 145mm, width: 40mm), sewn on three supports, with evidence of being from a volume covered in tanned skin.

104, 105:  a pair of guards (height: 294mm, width: 104mm), sewn on four supports – with sewing evidence only from one of the guards – and with no staining from the turn-ins of the cover material.

134iii:  a single guard (height: 146mm, width: 23mm), sewn on three supports, with evidence of being from a volume covered in tanned skin.

51:  a single guard (height: 138mm, width: 55mm)), sewn on 4 supports, with good sewing evidence and a distinctive turn-in shape.

The fragment number is taken from the number of the leaf of the guardbook onto which the fragment is adhered. The width of the guard is measured from the fold to the widest stub. The height of the fragment is the basis for the calculation for the height of the binding. The number of supports and their distribution is the key to selecting bindings from the shelves.

Manuscript-waste fragments which were used as covers 

Manuscript-waste fragments which were used as covers are a different issue as in these cases what is being sought is the associated textblock which will have a new cover. In Lanhydrock, new bindings uniformly had five bands on the spine irrespective of how many sewing supports there were. This meant that the sewing evidence from the fragments was of no relevance in the selection of potential matches. There was, however, evidence for the width of the spine, and the height and width of the binding. It was not expected that the method used to identify the source bindings for manuscript-waste fragments which had been used as endleaves or guards would be easily applied to fragments which had been used as covers. For this reason, fragments which had some evidence of the title of the source volume were preferred as, in the event of a failure to identify the source binding via the method developed, it might be possible to identify the volume by other means. This would then still allow the source volume to be examined which could shed some light on the shortcomings of the method.

Four fragments were chosen and, again, these were not randomly selected but were intended to represent different cover-types (lace-attached and stitched) and different sized books. Fragments with a local connection were also selected as it was hoped that it might be possible to gain some information about whether the bindings had been made locally.

The following fragments were studied:

168:  a laced-case cover made from a fragment of a localised document (height: 189mm, width 140mm, spine width: 19mm), without turn-ins, sewn on three supports from a quarto textblock. The fragment is from a lease of a rectory in Cornwall and is from the Elizabethan period.

162:  a laced-case cover made from a fragment of a localised document (height: 187mm, width: 154mm, spine width: 37mm) with turn-ins sewn on 3 supports. The fragment is from the accounts of a bailiff in Devon and is dated 1525.

167:  a laced-case cover from a fragment of a localised document (height:  135mm, width: 95mm, spine width: 20mm), sewn on 3 supports, with no turn-ins used as a cover for an 8vo-sized textblock. The fragment is from the deed of the sale of lands in Essex and is also dated to the Elizbethan period.

52:  a cover stitched over four holes from a leaf of a fourteenth-century manuscript (height: 202mm, width; 144mm, spine width: 15mm), with no turn-ins.

Manuscript-waste fragments which were used as a comb spine lining

It was also possible to visit the Otway-Maurice Collection of St. Canice’s Cathedral Library, Kilkenny, Republic of Ireland now housed at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. This library was selected as it had an example of a comb spine lining. No spine linings were found in the Lanhydrock collection and the inclusion of this fragment type was intended to test further the method that had been developed. In contrast to endleaf or guard fragments but like cover fragments, the comb spine lining also has evidence of the width of the spine.

One comb spine lining that was made up of two fragments CK/MS/3 and CK/MS/9 was selected. Both fragments were from French documents, one dated 1590 (CK/MS/3), the other dated 1603 (CK/MS/9). They measured 360mm in height and the spine was 111 wide.  The source binding had been sewn on six supports and covered in tanned skin.

I am extremely grateful for the grant from the Willison Charitable Foundation Trust which enabled me to test further a new method for identifying the source bindings of removed manuscript-waste fragments by working with different fragment types. The final conclusions on this work will be presented in my thesis.


Dr Vaibhav Singh (Post-doctoral, Early Career Researcher and former Teaching Fellow, the University of Reading, UK)

The project examines the material production of books at the Nirnaya Sagar Press and its typefoundry in Bombay (now Mumbai).

I was able to pursue my research on the Nirnaya Sagar Press and its typefoundry through a trip to India in March 2018. Although originally the plan had been to make two trips to India, my research enquiries over the first trip revealed the limited extent of the Press’s original productions available in various institutional archives across the country. This instigated a major change in my research itinerary as it turned out that the Library of Congress, Washington DC, possessed the largest amount of relevant material, vital secondary literature, and samples of the Press’s published output. I therefore undertook a trip to Washington DC in August, instead of the second India trip initially planned. The secondary literature on the Press available at the Library of Congress was an invaluable addition to the material I could locate in India.

The most useful resources for the project on my India trip were Marathi journals and periodicals housed in a number of Bombay and Pune libraries, includ- ing the Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad Library, Asiatic Society Library, Mumbai Marathi Grantha Sangrahalaya, Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth Library, and Heras Institute. The journals and periodicals (Masik Manoranjan, Mudran Prakash, Mudran Vidya, Kesari, among others) constituted a rich – and so  far  largely unexplored – resource that included near-contemporary accounts and reminiscences of personalities associated with the Press, in addition to reports on some of the landmarks in the Press’s history. Some of the more extensive works on the Press and its founder’s life and times, however, could only be accessed at the Library of Congress. I also found out that several of the Press’s books listed on the Library’s catalogue could not be located in physical copy (having been miscatalogued), leaving the option of consulting them on microfilm only. The rarity of informational material related to the Press despite its prodigious volume of production was one of the more confounding realisations in the research process.

The most productive aspect of the research was new information on typo- graphic networks and connections across nineteenth century Bombay print culture. The connections between Jawaji Dadaji, the Press’s founder, and a long line of entrepreneurs and craftsmen, of Indian origin or otherwise, who preceded him constituted a rich line of enquiry into the development of local printing trade.

Notable entrepreneurs such as Thomas Graham who ran the American Mission Press up to 1859, and Ganpat Krishnaji, who founded his own press and type- foundry to publish Marathi-language material in 1843 had a direct bearing on the success of Nirnaya Sagar. Jawaji Dadaji was one of the best-prepared craftsmen, given his prolonged training and apprenticeship at several prominent institutions in the city. Biographical information on Jawaji Dadaji is sparse and often not entirely reliable but looking at primary source material in tandem with biographical accounts revealed that he began his career in the printing trade as a polisher of type at the age of ten. He apprenticed at the American Mission Press that had been established in 1816 in Bombay, and learnt the craft of type-cutting and casting under Thomas Graham, who later became the owner of the American Mission Press. This Mission Press had started initially by producing Marathi-language books using lithography and with a single fount of Marathi type imported from Calcutta but subsequently the press adopted typographic composition, introducing typefounding and typecasting as the mainstay of its activity. This move was largely based on the success of Thomas Graham’s experiments and exploration of new techniques for typesetting Devanagari. His method entailed the division of the overhanging and overlapping portions of Devanagari characters into smaller components, divided into upper and lower tiers: a method that came to be known as the ‘degree system’. The significance and pivotal role of American Mission presses in colonial India is another aspect that my current research highlights.

Several important innovations in the typographic composition of Indian scripts were initiated by individuals associated with American Missionary enterprise. Although I was not able to take this line of enquiry much further, investigating various American Missionary archives would be an important next step in locating new information on the development of Indian typography, and I aim to follow up on this over the next two years.

Jawaji Dadaji’s training at the American Mission Press had spanned over a decade after which he joined the Times of India Press and moved subsequently in 1862 to the newly established Indu Prakash Press. After another short stint at the Oriental Printing Press where he continued his typefounding work, Jawaji embarked on his own venture in 1864. The consequent technical mastery and proficiency demonstrated in Nirnaya Sagar’s typefounding thus derived from what was an extensive and wide-ranging experience in the field. The foundry introduced the ‘akhand’ system of composition which made use of overhanging elements extending from the body of the type – a method that reduced the complications introduced by the ‘degree’ system (i.e. large number of metal sorts that had to be tied together in a forme) by consolidating the components and retaining a simpler full body composition of the type. What A.K. Priolkar has called the ‘veritable revolution in the art of printing and type-casting’ brought about by Nirnaya Sagar consisted not only of these technical innovations, but also of an aesthetic dimension that had previously been a marginal consideration in typographically produced books. The confluence of technical skill and an understanding of typographic detail relevant to Devanagari typesetting in Nirnaya Sagar’s publications represented a significant departure from the prevalent image of crude types and rudimentary text composition in Marathi. It can be argued that it was only after the establishment of Jawaji Dadaji’s typefoundry that the typographically composed book could present a serious challenge to the lithographed book in Devanagari script, as an alternative and expedient mode of production.

My research also revealed the materiality of book production was not an isolated or incidental aspect of Nirnaya Sagar’s approach – the conformity of method, embodied in the codex book and its typographic composition, can also be recognised in the catalogue of titles published by the Nirnaya Sagar Press. The first book printed at the Press was Garud Puran in Sanskrit – a revealing choice of genre situated midway between the religious and the popular. The Press also issued Hindu almanacs (panchang) and compendia of ritual worship as its earliest productions. However, the publication of ‘sacred books’, Vedic texts, and religious works were the foundations of Nirnaya Sagar’s work. Within Jawaji Dadaji’s lifetime, the Nirnaya Sagar Press published 193 books in Sanskrit, 228 in Marathi and 15 in Gujarati & Hindi. A descriptive bibliography of this phase of the Press is in preparation, I hope to make it available online on a dedicated webpage later this year.

The texts published by the Press in its early years also provide an insight   into how deeply the Press may have absorbed notions of Orientalist scholarship. With Manusmriti in 1877 (with a Marathi translation), Kumarsambhava in 1879, parts of the Rigveda in 1880 and so on, Nirnaya Sagar could indeed have been rehearsing the selection and definition of the ‘classical’ canon and dominant texts as established by European Orientalist scholars of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This conflicting relationship could also be perceived elsewhere in the Press’s Marathi publications. With the background of several prominent entrepreneurs – including Jawaji Dadaji and Ganpat Krishnaji before him – in Mission Presses that printed all manner of works but had their raison d’être firmly situated in evangelical activity, a similar engine was conceived and made apparent in the functioning of independent, entrepreneurial presses that had a strong Hindu orientation in response. Ganpat Krishnaji had been inspired to print ‘religious books for the benefit of the Hindoos’ precisely during his time at the American Mission Press, observing the production of its evangelical literature, and Nirnaya Sagar’s publication of Hindu scriptures reflected the same approach.

The research has provided me with new resources in examining how the Nirnaya Sagar Press capitalised on the technical skill and commercial enterprise of local craftsmen to situate the typographic book as an acceptable alternative to other common modes of reproduction, making fewer concessions on a material level in relation to manuscript and lithographic production. The Press’s typographic work also fuelled broader narratives of local technical proficiency and ingenuity that were reflected in journals and periodicals that I was able to consult in India.

In all, I was able to spend a period of three weeks in Bombay and Pune, and two weeks in Washington DC to conduct intensive research for this project. The research grant gave me an excellent opportunity, as an early career researcher, to not only undertake an extended period of work across dispersed sources of information but also to establish links with researchers working on Indian print culture in India, UK, and the United States. I deeply appreciate the financial support provided by the Willison Foundation Charitable Trust’s research grant which made travel to India and the US possible, and which will define the shape that a journal article arising from this material will take (in the Journal of the Printing Historical Society). I will also be presenting a conference paper at the Royal Asiatic Society in March 2019 based on the research I carried out for this project.


Ms Lauren Weiss (PhD Candidate; Universities of Stirling and Strathclyde)

Archival research in the State Libraries of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia and Travel to Sydney to attend the SHARP conference, ‘From First to Last Texts, Creators, Readers, Agents’.

I would like to thank the Trust for generously providing funding for my two-fold project. First, I travelled to Australia for the SHARP conference in Parramatta to present my paper on Glasgow’s Literary Bonds and Literary Bonds, two online bibliographic resources for Glaswegian mutual improvement and literary societies, and Scottish and English mutual improvement society magazines respectively. The conference acted as the official launch for the two websites, which provide a considerable amount of new materials for scholars internationally working in book history and the history of reading. The discussions that arose, particularly between Martyn Lyons and Elizabeth Webby, were significant in offering new perspectives on my work, into the current state of scholarship on Australian reading communities, and the study of these groups more broadly.

Second, I travelled to Sydney to conduct archival research on mutual improvement and literary society magazines housed in the State Library of New South Wales (SLNSW). I spent five days there before travelling to Melbourne, where I visited the State Library of Victoria (SLV) to investigate the magazines in their collection. After four days in Melbourne, I decided to change my plans and return to Sydney. Having become more familiar with the historical parlance of these local groups, I discovered that by expanding and modifying my search terms, I found evidence of 10 more societies that produced magazines in the Sydney area, a good indication that more remained to be discovered.

This change of plan turned out to be fortuitous, and the additional five days in the SLNSW were quite fruitful.  A second reason for retracing my steps was the discovery that a local historian and scholar, Ken James, had recently completed work on Victoria’s mutual improvement groups. His locally published, limited-edition book, Victoria’s Mutual Improvement Societies [2016], was then currently unavailable; the library’s copy had apparently disappeared. I then contacted James. He not only provided advice, but also shared electronic copies of his work along with his enthusiasm for these groups. His book gives an overview of over 400 community groups, a surprisingly large network of ‘improving’ readers in just one area of Australia. I resolved to read James’s work in more depth later and return to those archives where materials had yet to be uncovered.

After leaving Sydney (again), I flew to Adelaide, where I spent 13 days in the State Library of South Australia (SLSA). When planning the trip, I organised it such that most of my time would be spent in this archive, as a preliminary search in TROVE (an invaluable resource for conducting research across Australia) had brought up the largest number of records for relevant materials between the three archives I intended to visit. This proved to be a good decision: even with the increase in number of magazines I discovered, it still appears that South Australia had the largest number of literary societies that produced their own periodicals.

While working in Adelaide, I came across evidence for a couple of New Zealand magazines. I decided that, as I might not have another opportunity in the foreseeable future to travel to New Zealand, to visit the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington for three-and-a-half days. I viewed the three societies’ magazines in their collection but was not successful in tracking down any additional periodicals. This was due to the shortness of time in conjunction with the different cataloguing system (as compared with TROVE) that was used. In total, this project lasted just over six weeks (5 July-17 August). When I applied to the Trust, I intended to view four magazines in the SLNSW.

As a result of my research, I discovered evidence for 25 mutual improvement and literary societies in Sydney and 17 groups across the rest of New South Wales that produced their own magazines. In my application, I wrote that I had found three magazines in the SLV. When I visited this archive, I found four societies in Melbourne that produced periodicals and six from across Victoria. In Adelaide, I planned to view eight magazines in the SLSA. By the end of my stay, I had located 12 societies in Adelaide and 45 magazine-producing groups across South Australia. In addition, I found one magazine in Canberra and one in Darwin, along with one in Tasmania. In New Zealand, while I found three societies’ magazines, it is highly likely that there are many more.

To date, I have located evidence for 116 Australian societies that produced magazines from the 1850s until 1914. I estimate that this number will rise significantly as work in this area progresses. The preliminary results are quite exciting. If James’s research gives some indication of the popularity and extent of associational culture in the southeast of Australia (i.e. the most heavily populated region of the country), more generally from about 1850 until the 1910s, clearly we are dealing with a phenomenon that is not only greatly under-investigated, but greatly under-estimated in terms of the number of groups, and in the importance and socio-cultural freight attached to them during this period. Worldwide, the current consensus seems to be that where these ‘improving’ groups did exist in the Anglophone world (at least), they were part of a short-lived, isolated phenomenon involving a relatively small number of groups. Clearly much work remains to be done in other areas in Australia (and beyond). My work on society magazines that were produced by Scottish and England as well as Canadian groups allowed me to make much more informed comparisons with Australian and New Zealand groups. While there were indeed many similarities, there were also notable differences, the most important ones being: one, the differing role of print culture in their respective cultures (which wasn’t too surprising); and, two, the influence of Australian literary societies’ unions on the production, formatting and features of the manuscript and print magazines that were being produced.

The latter was rather unexpected. Australia’s unions appear to have been more dominant than those in Britain, their influence helping significantly to shape the magazines that their member groups produced. I will expand upon these points once I have had more time to sift through the wealth of findings I collected and to investigate the leads they brought up. I will very shortly begin to disseminate the results of my research. I am currently expanding my SHARP conference paper into a co-authored article with Kirstie Blair (Strathclyde) and Michael Sanders (Manchester) to submit to Victorian Periodicals Review in December 2018.

Through the contacts I made in Australia, I will be presenting a paper at the Mechanics’ Institutes Australia 2018 3rd National Conference in Ballarat in November, at which I will discuss the global ‘improvement movement’ – a separate but related movement to the ‘Mechanics’ Institute Movement’ – and share some preliminary results from my trip. The paper will become part of the published Conference Proceedings. Next year on June 7th, I will be participating in the European conference, ‘Industrial Labour & Literary Culture in the Long Nineteenth Century’, which is being organised by the ‘Piston, Pen & Press’ research project (of which I am a part) and the Finnish Labour Museum in Tampere, and will involve academics and museum professionals from across Europe. One of the aims of the conference is to explore how the industrial working classes engaged with literary culture in the long nineteenth century in a European context. My contribution will be unique in that I can place this culture in British and Canadian as well as Australian and New Zealand contexts.

Finally, I am writing up the accumulative results of my research for publication in a monograph. This book will extend my doctoral research on manuscript magazines produced by societies in Scotland and England through a more comprehensive search in smaller, unexplored archives. It will include a chapter on Canadian magazine-producing societies and at least two chapters on Australian and New Zealand magazines, providing important new evidence for literary society culture. The book will act as a starting point for comparisons to be made trans-regionally and trans-nationally in my demonstration that these societies were part of a global network: society formation was prolific and perhaps even diasporic in nature.

Without the support of the Trust, this trip would not have been financially possible for me as a PhD student. The magazines I viewed were only available for consultation in person. Further, due to cataloguing differences, it was not always possible to determine the nature of the materials from their often short or even misleading listings: it was essential to be ‘on the ground’. Most importantly, the Trust’s funding allowed me to conduct ground-breaking research: this is the first study to investigate Australian magazines as a phenomenon per se, mutual improvement society magazines themselves being a new genre that I discovered during my doctoral research. The results of my work will advance research in the history of reading by offering a substantial amount of important new evidence about historical readers, their literary culture, reading communities, and first-hand evidence of reading experiences.


Professor Christine Woody  (Lecturer, University of Pennsylvania; Instructor, Rutgers)

Printing the Quarterly Review under William Gifford’s editorship, 1809-1824

I was able to spend the month of May in Edinburgh conducting research in the Murray Archive at the National Library of Scotland. During my time in the archive, I worked primarily with correspondence in order to assemble a timeline that tracks Gifford’s geographical displacements, establishing the pattern and rhythms in which he leaves his London publishing base. My timeline covers the full period of 1809-1826, but my findings for a few years in the late teens 1817, 1818 are somewhat thinner. By surveying the correspondence, I have been able to identify the reasons for Gifford’s displacements, tracking in particular the frequent relapses into respiratory illness and paralysis with which he struggled. Alongside this work, I have been able to establish John Murray’s more standard pattern of travelling to and from London to match the fashionable ‘season’.

The correspondence was most useful in establishing a map of the stress points in the periodical’s production and have allowed me to spotlight particular issues and articles as being deserving of more in-depth analysis as artefacts of this production pressure. My survey of proofs and drafts was helpful in enlightening me as to the general workflows of the periodicals production, and to this extent was worthwhile. However, I found that the proofs and drafts that tended to be saved were exceptional cases—for instance the Twiss proofs for “Expenditure and Influence of the Crown” (MS 42533), which were saved by John Murray because Twiss sued him for payment when he failed to publish the article. I have found that proofs of representative articles have tended to be dispersed and will therefore not play a role in the finished project.

By virtue of this research, I have been able to work on an argument that connects Gifford’s editorial practices with the conditions of illness and disability with which he contended. I presented a preliminary version of my findings, “Problems of professional readers: How the pressures of periodical production impact the practice of book reviewing in Romantic Britain – A case study of the Quarterly Review,” to the DFG-funded research group Journallitteratur during their “Interrupted Reading – Follow-on Reading: Reading Journals” conference in Germany this past September. My initial argument was well received and I am now at work on an article draft, which I plan to submit to the journal Book History.