Monday, 16 July 2012

Historically my public speaking engagements have been noted for their rarity, but there has been a string of them in the past few weeks – my excuse for being so slow with this blog entry. First was a talk to the Friends of the Cathedral Library in Hereford, on the subject of how facsimiles are made. The talk coincided with an exhibition of Folio facsimiles at the Library which was an enormous help, since I was able to illustrate my points with the books themselves, and of course the Mappa Mundi in particular. The exhibition was loaned by Margaret Flint, one of our most dedicated collectors – it was extremely generous of her to put her precious copies on display and thus share her pleasure in them with others. The following week, the Japan Foundation invited us to launch our limited edition of Japan, described and illustrated by the Japanese, at their London headquarters. The main speaker was Sebastian Dobson, a specialist in the history of photography in Japan, who gave a fascinating account of the story behind this remarkable book. For my part, I related some of the unusual problems we had encountered along the way, such as the big differences in colouring between one copy and the other. I also drew attention to one of the less celebrated but interesting features of the book, the pictorial initial capitals which start every chapter.  Here for example are three variant Ts.   A prize-giving evening for the second annual Book Illustration Competition took place last week. Quentin Blake kicked off the proceedings with an account of the activities of House of Illustration, our partners in the event. I said my bit about the judging, then the main speaker was Marina Warner, who was extremely eloquent about Angela Carter’s work, and in particular The Bloody Chamber which was the competition set book. Then she presented the prizes, culminating with a bottle of champagne for the winner Igor Karash – whose illustrations will now be published in The Folio Society edition of the book. I really enjoyed the evening – veterans such as David Gentleman, Quentin and John Vernon Lord rubbing shoulders with eager students still at art college.   Last of these public appearances was a couple of nights ago, when we launched the Leaves from a Psalter by William de Brailes at the home of the original leaves, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. As well as brief speeches and Q&A we showed the short film we’d made about the facsimile – which you can see here. We displayed a set of framed copies of the facsimile, and it was gratifying to overhear more than one member refer to them as the originals. So I’ve had my fill of public speaking for the time being, and its good to get back to ‘real’ work. Here are some of the lovely tailpieces for Just so Stories which Niroot dropped in the other day.

My request for information on books printed with coloured text has unearthed several others. Here is a complete (I hope) list of those suggested to date: The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski The Dictionary of the Khazars: a lexicon novel by Milorad Pavic (Spanish Edition) Purple and Black by KJ Parker Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore Gould's Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan The Bible – with Jesus’s words printed in red I feel an idiosyncratic little collection in the offing. Finally, belated congratulations to Peter Barber, Map Librarian at the British Library, and the moving spirit behind several of our Limited Editions, who was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Jubilee Honours List.