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Tolkien’s annotated map of Middle-earth discovered inside copy of Lord of the Rings

Source: Guardian

finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge in the last 20 years

Perhaps the finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge…

A recently discovered map of Middle-earth annotated by JRR Tolkien reveals The Lord of the Rings author’s observation that Hobbiton is on the same latitude as Oxford, and implies that the Italian city of Ravenna could be the inspiration behind the fictional city of Minas Tirith.

The map was found loose in a copy of the acclaimed illustrator Pauline Baynes’ copy of The Lord of the Rings. Baynes had removed the map from another edition of the novel as she began work on her own colour Map of Middle-earth for Tolkien, which would go on to be published by Allen & Unwin in 1970. Tolkien himself had then copiously annotated it in green ink and pencil, with Baynes adding her own notes to the document while she worked.

Blackwell’s, which is currently exhibiting the map in Oxford and selling it for £60,000, called it “an important document, and perhaps the finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge in the last 20 years at least”.

It shows what Blackwell’s called “the exacting nature” of Tolkien’s creative vision: he corrects place names, provides extra ones, and gives Baynes a host of suggestions about the map’s various flora and fauna. Hobbiton, he notes, “ is assumed to be approx at latitude of Oxford”; Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University.

The novelist also uses Belgrade, Cyprus, and Jerusalem as other reference points, and according to Blackwell’s suggests that “the city of Ravenna is the inspiration behind Minas Tirith – a key location in the third book of the Lord of The Rings trilogy”.

“The map shows how completely obsessed he was with the details. Anyone else interfered at their peril,” said Sian Wainwright at Blackwell’s. “He was tricky to work with, but very rewarding in the end.”

The notebooks reveal that Hobbiton is on the same latitude as Oxford

The notebooks reveal that Hobbiton is on the same latitude as Oxford, and imply that the Italian city of Ravenna could be the inspiration behind Minas Tirith. Photograph: Blackwell’s Rare Books

Correspondence between Tolkien and the late and acclaimed illustrator Baynes, who also worked on books for CS Lewis, as well as Baynes’s unpublished diary entries, gives further details about the sometimes thorny relationship between the two. On 21 August 1969, Baynes describes a visit to Tolkien and his wife in Bournemouth, “to chat about a poster map I have to do – he very uncooperative”.

The author later apologies for having “been so dilatory”, and a later lunch sees the author “in great form – first names and kissing all round – and pleased with the map”.

Henry Gott, modern first editions specialist at Blackwell’s Rare Books, said the map was “an exciting and important discovery: new to scholarship (though its existence is implied by correspondence between the two), it demonstrates the care exercised by both in their mapping of Tolkien’s creative vision”.

“Before going on display in the shop this week, this had only ever been in private hands (Pauline Baynes’s for the majority of its existence). One of the points of interest is how much of a hand Tolkien had in the poster map; all of his suggestions, and there are many (the majority of the annotation on the map is his), are reflected in Baynes’s version,” said Gott. “The degree to which it is properly collaborative was not previously apparent, and couldn’t be without a document like this. Its importance is mostly to do with the insight it gives into that process.”

Blackwell’s is selling a range of works by Baynes, who died in 2008, aged 85, including a range of her original signed drawings from the Narnia books.

This article was amended on 23 October 2015. The map was not found by a Blackwell’s Rare Books specialist, but found in a book handed into the shop. This has been corrected.


Stanley Gibbons launches rare books index

By: Nia Williams


Stanley Gibbons Investments has launched a rare book index measuring the value of 30 first edition 20th Century classics.
The index will help guide investors and collectors looking to build a rare book portfolio as part of a long-term investment strategy.

The index of first editions includes Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale and Live and Let Die, which are valued at £24,000 and £8,000 respectively; J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, valued at £65,000; while F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is the highest at £247,000. George Orwell’s Animal Farm has experienced significant value growth according to auction data, rising from £190 to £5,100.

Overall the index has shown 398% growth, an 8.8% annual growth for the last ten years.

“As an authority in the collectibles market, Stanley Gibbons aims to help guide and provide access for investors who are looking to diversify some of their wealth into alternative assets,” said Keith Heddle, managing director of Stanley Gibbons Investments.

“While the index may cause households to start examining their collections, it is important to understand that in order to be investment grade these books must be of a certain condition, have the ‘dust jacket’ still intact and have a particular history and rarity associated with them. That said, they can give immense pride of ownership as well as strong capital growth potential.

“There is a book in everyone and this resonates with investors.”

The rare books index follows the now established rare stamps and coins indices, which Stanley Gibbons says demonstrates these collectibles to be one of the most reliable, long-term ‘buy and hold’ alternative assets for investors looking for portfolio diversification and low volatility.

Over the past 10 years, the GB250 Index, which tracks the performance of the top 250 traded, investment grade British stamps, recorded a CAGR of 11.4%. The GB200 coin index, charting the performance of 200 rare British coins, showed a CAGR of 12.75% without a drop in that time.


Utrecht University’s rare book of psalms included on Unesco heritage list


The Ultrecht Psalter

The Ultrecht Psalter

A richly illustrated book of psalms, which is part of the Utrecht University library, has been included on the Unesco Memory of the World register.

The Utrecht Psalter was made in or close to Reims in 830 and includes 150 psalms and 16 Bible verses illustrated in what experts say was a ‘revolutionary’ manner for the time.

It will be on show at the Catharijne convent museum in Utrecht for a month and viewed digitally.

Dutch items on the documentary heritage list include the original Diary of Anne Frank, the archives of the VOC (‘Dutch East India Company’) and Marx’ scheme for his Communist Manifesto and his notes on Das Kapital, which were partly written in the Netherlands.


Exhibition Delves Below Deceptively Simple Surface Of Hemingway’s Prose

Source: NPR

Ernest Hemingway revises For Whom The Bell Tolls, in Sun Valley, Idaho, in November 1940.

Ernest Hemingway revises For Whom The Bell Tolls, in Sun Valley, Idaho, in November 1940.
Robert Capa/International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos

In 1938, Ernest Hemingway made a recording to promote the publication of The Fifth Column, his play about the Spanish Civil War written while he was covering the conflict for American newspapers in 1937.

“While I was writing the play, the Hotel Florida, where we lived and worked, was struck by more than 30 high-explosive shells,” he said. “So if it is not a good play, perhaps that is what is the matter with it. If it is a good play, perhaps those 30 some shells helped write it.”

It’s classic Hemingway: simple declarative sentences about rising above the heat of battle in the face of death.

A new exhibit, 54 years after Hemingway’s death, tells a different story. Declan Kiely, curator of “Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars” at New York’s Morgan Library, says, “So much of his great writing is about failure. It’s about weakness. It’s about fear.”

The first manuscript in the show — and perhaps the rarest — is four pages on Red Cross stationery handwritten in a Milan hospital in 1918 by a teenage Hemingway wounded during World War I. It’s the writer’s first story to feature his alter ego, Nick Adams. Here, he is a badly injured soldier who falls in love with a nurse, then takes his own life.

Kiely notes that it has many hallmarks of the Hemingway style, including pared-down dialogue, brief descriptions and an arresting first paragraph: “Nick lay in bed in hospital where from outside came the hysterical roar of the crowd walking through the streets.”

A teenage Hemingway on crutches while recovering in Milan, Italy, in September 1918.

A teenage Hemingway on crutches while recovering in Milan, Italy, in September 1918.
The Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

The story has no title. It was never published and, until now, it’s never been displayed.

But it contains the raw material for one of Hemingway’s most celebrated novels, A Farewell to Arms. He wrote 47 different endings for the novel before settling on the one he liked.

“That is all there is to the story,” reads one of the four endings on display at the Morgan Library. “Catherine died and you will die and I will die and that is all I can promise you.”

“It doesn’t get much bleaker than that,” Kiely says.

Alongside the alternate endings are the first two pages of the first draft of A Farwell to Arms. Kiely notes the multiple revisions until the “absolutely beautiful, poetic, haunting beginning of the novel” starts to take shape for the very first time: “In the late summer of that year, we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and a plain to the mountains.”

Hemingway worked hard to write prose that looked so simple, says Sandra Spanier, a Hemingway scholar at Penn State University and editor of the author’s collected letters, being published in 17 volumes.

“I think that what’s valuable about this exhibit is that we can see the inner workings, we kind of see behind the curtain the tapestry with all the knots and flaws showing — but see how he worked his way into, I think, perfection in certain cases,” Spanier says.

"Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars," an exhibit at New York City's Morgan Library, includes items ranging from the author's dog tags to original manuscript pages.

“Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars,” an exhibit at New York City’s Morgan Library, includes items ranging from the author’s dog tags to original manuscript pages.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum /The Morgan Library & Museum

The exhibit — which includes handwritten first drafts, outtakes, letters, notebooks and photos — lays out Hemingway’s papers in chronological order: handwritten drafts of his early stories; the first two chapters he cut from his 1926 breakthrough novel, The Sun Also Rises; and the letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald convincing Hemingway the chapters had to go.

Hemingway saved everything and, miraculously, almost everything is intact, says curator Declan Kiely.

Hemingway wrote 47 endings for his novel A Farewell to Arms before settling on one. Here, the first page of a handwritten Farewell manuscript.

Hemingway wrote 47 endings for his novel A Farewell to Arms before settling on one. Here, the first page of a handwritten Farewell manuscript.
Reprinted with the permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

The papers survived multiple transatlantic voyages and the Cuban revolution in 1959. A month after Hemingway’s death in 1961, Mary Hemingway — the author’s fourth wife — returned to Cuba, packed up his belongings and shipped them to Tampa, Fla., via shrimp boat. They bounced between Tampa and New York, where they stayed until 1972, when they were donated to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. They’ve been in storage there for four decades.

But Hemingway might not have been so thrilled about the show at the Morgan. He gave written instructions that his letters should never be published — his wife waited 20 years after his death before agreeing.

He never kept a journal, he put all his experiences into his stories and he didn’t like to talk about himself, as he made clear in the brief acceptance speech he recorded when he won the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature.

“I have spoken too long for a writer,” he said. “A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it.”


Belarusian Journalist Svetlana Alexievich Wins Literature Nobel

Source: NPR
October 08, 2015 7:05 AM ET
By: Colin Dwyer

Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich, during the ceremony for the German Book Trade Peace Prize, which she won in 2013.

Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich, during the ceremony for the German Book Trade Peace Prize, which she won in 2013.
Daniel Roland/AFP/Getty Images

Investigative journalist Svetlana Alexievich has been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature, the Swedish Academy announced Thursday. Alexievich is the first writer from Belarus to win the prize.

Alexievich won “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time,” according to the citation for the award.

‘Voices From Chernobyl’: Survivors’ Stories

On her personal website, Alexievich explains her pursuit of journalism: “I chose a genre where human voices speak for themselves.” Fittingly, Alexievich prefers to leave the stories to her many interviewees, letting eyewitness accounts shed an unsettling light on tragedies like World War II, the Soviet-Afghan War and the disaster at Chernobyl — an investigation that has been read aloud in excerpts on All Things Considered.

For that work, Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, Alexievich interviewed hundreds of people touched by the massive 1986 nuclear meltdown, which spread radioactivity on the wind across much of Eastern Europe.

“All of my books consist of witnesses’ evidence, people’s living voices,” she told the Dalkey Archive Press. “I usually spend three to four years writing a book, but this time it took me more than ten years.”

In an interview following the announcement, the Swedish Academy’s permanent secretary, Sara Danius, elaborated on the decision.

“For the past 30 or 40 years, she has been busy mapping the Soviet and post-Soviet individual,” Danius said. “But it’s not really about a history of events; it’s about a history of emotions.”

If you’re new to Alexievich’s work, Danius added, she recommends beginning with War’s Unwomanly Face — a history the Soviet women who fought as soldiers in the Second World War.

A photo taken on October 8, 2004 in Oslo shows the Nobel Peace Prize medal. Belarusian author Svetlana Alexievich, who won the Nobel prize for literature on Thursday, has drawn international acclaim with her emotional accounts of the Chernobyl disaster and World War II based on witness accounts. PHOTO | AFP

A photo taken on October 8, 2004 in Oslo shows the Nobel Peace Prize medal. Belarusian author Svetlana Alexievich, who won the Nobel prize for literature on Thursday, has drawn international acclaim with her emotional accounts of the Chernobyl disaster and World War II based on witness accounts. PHOTO | AFP

It has been quite a long time since a nonfiction writer won the Nobel. Not since the heady days of Bertrand Russell and Winston Churchill, over half a century ago, has an author won for a career of work primarily in nonfiction. Alexievich’s prize breaks that long dry spell.

The 67-year-old is the 112th writer — and 14th woman — to win the prize. She will receive her medal at a ceremony on Dec. 10.

Read excerpts of Voices from Chernobyl.


Mold Is Threatening Boston Public Library’s Rare Books

Source: Smithsonian
By Erin Blakemore

Mold Is Threatening Boston Public Library’s Rare Books

As spores are found in the stacks, it’s time to battle a fuzzy foe

card catalog
Card Catalog
(Fred de Noyelle/Godong/Corbis)

Exposure to mold can have health consequences for humans. But mold can hurt books, too. Fine Books and Collections’ Nate Pedersen reports that a recent outbreak at the Boston Public Library is creating a health hazard for 500,000 rare books — and a real hassle for librarians.

It started with spores, writes Pedersen: After discovering mold on a medieval manuscript and other rare books, the staff of the Boston Public Library’s Rare Books Department decided to close the facility for five to ten weeks as they assess and address the problem — and hand-examine over 500,000 rare books.

Construction at the library could be to blame, reports The Boston Globe’s Andrew Ryan. Library staff tells Ryan that renovations that make it difficult to control the internal temperature of the collection and a recent bout of humidity seems to have contributed to the mold problem. Now, writes Ryan, outside consultants armed with industrial-strength dehumidifiers are at work determining the extent of the problem and attempting to dry out the facility.

Mold is one of the top enemies of archivists, who must protect fragile materials from spores that can lay waste to frail paper and irreplaceable objects. Worldwide, archivists and librarians regularly trade strategies for spotting and remediating mold, which preservationist Sandra Nyberg calls a “distinctly icky” fuzzy foe.

Boston’s collection isn’t the first to struggle with mold in its manuscripts. In 2007, the University of Illinois and Urbana-Champaign’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library suffered from a mold outbreak after a spike in humidity — one that took eight months to address. The process, which library staff described as “harrowing and exhausting,” may be similar to the one Boston Public Library staff are about to undergo. One staffer tells Ryan that the war against mold is “a constant battle” — but one BPL is committed to fighting.

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The Drinkable Book – Water is Life

Given the fact that you are on this site, it is safe to assume you are interested in books. A new “Book” has recently been developed that will change the lives of hundreds of thousands of folks around the world by providing them with safe drinking water and teaching them about safe sanitation methods in their native languages. I am a contributor and strong proponent of this program and encourage you to do the same. This is a real game changer. Be sure to be a part of it…

Water Is Life Book - Donate Today!

Water Is Life Book – Donate Today!

The Drinkable Book

In partnership with Dr. Theresa Dankovich from Carnegie Mellon, WATERisLIFE introduced The Drinkable Book, the first-ever manual that gives safe water tips and serves as a tool to kill deadly waterborne diseases by providing the reader with an opportunity to create clean, drinkable water from each page. We are working on a variety of languages, teaching methods and ways to share the message through training, storytelling and discussions in communities worldwide where there is a desperate need. The book can provide a user with clean water for up to four years.
WATERisLIFE has introduced a campaign to move into full production of The Drinkable Book, and with your help, we can distribute the books as part of WATERisLIFE’s integrated water, sanitation and hygiene program to save lives and transform communities, as well as make the books available for global partner distribution.

WATERisLIFE is working on production funding, and our plan is to begin global distribution of The Drinkable Book in early 2015. Contact to learn more about The Drinkable Book availability and global partner distribution.




Book Collecting 101

Book Collecting 101, rare books, bibliophile

Source: Campden FB


This is a rather large excerpt from an excellent article on book collecting and book collectors. I strongly suggest you follow the link next to Source to read the article in its entirety.

For almost a century people had walked through the library of one New England family every day without ever really thinking about the books on the shelves. Over generations a large collection of antique books had been accumulated, but had mostly remained in the library of the main family home.

“It was my great-grandfather’s collection,” says the Massachusetts-based bibliophile, who chose to remain anonymous so that he could speak freely about his family’s collection. “When I was in my early thirties I remember flicking through them and having the sudden realisation that they represented hundreds of years of thought.”

Over the course of a summer weekend’s browsing, he quickly began to realise the significance of collection – both in terms of value and personal meaning.

“Our family business was originally in manufacturing and our great-grandfather – the founder – had quietly amassed a considerable collection of rare books about our industry. Some were first editions – many of them signed by the authors. Quite a few of them dating back to the 1700s. Our family had either never known about the collection or forgotten over the generations.”

The great-grandson, then working in the family office and now pursuing his own interests, felt drawn to the collection and began collecting himself. He began by cataloguing the library, finding out along the way that it wasn’t insured for anything near its real value. He has since built on the collection considerably, keeping faithful to the same initial theme as his forebear.

“Caring for the same books as he did makes me feel much closer to my great-grandfather. I think it makes me more respectful of the legacy he created,” he says. “Building the collection further gives me great personal satisfaction and a feeling I am continuing that legacy.”

How then do books compare as a collectible? What is the market in first editions and rare books like? Can books be acquired for reasonable prices, or are they as astronomical as art?

One for the books
Based in New York, Thomas Lecky heads up the books and manuscripts department of auction house Christie’s. He was a literature major in school and was always fascinated with books.

In any given year, Lecky might see several centuries of history pass across his desk, from a range of fields as diverse as children’s literature, scientific texts, medieval manuscripts, French comics, or literary classics.

In his first year at Christie’s, Lecky was contacted by an adviser who was working with a descendent of John Quinn, a renowned lawyer and collector in the late-19th and early-20th century. Quinn’s descendent had in his possession a hitherto unknown manuscript of a section of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

“The manuscript had been passed down through the family, yet no one else knew that it existed. It was a great ‘working’ manuscript, showing Joyce diligently changing, revising, and moulding his language. It was exciting to see this ‘lost’ manuscript.”

In 2001, Lecky was fortunate to be a part of the Christie’s team that handled Jack Kerouac’s manuscript for On The Road. “This is a touchstone piece of American literary history. To see it so informally for the first time in a casual situation was humbling.” And last year his team sold George Washington’s annotated copy of the Bill of Rights. “It was a true privilege to work on it.”

In the book world, certain sales resonate more than others. The Cornelius Hauck collection was one such collection. The bibliophile had come from a German-American family of brewers that had called Cincinnati home since the mid-19th century. Between 1924 and his death in 1967, he amassed a collection of almost 4,000 books and manuscripts, dating from as early as the first century BC, all celebrating the book as an object, and containing many unique examples.

In 2006, Christie’s received an inquiry from the Cincinnati Museum Center seeking to sell the Cornelius Hauck ‘History of the Book’ collection, as it was known. “The names and titles on the list they initially sent to us weren’t much to go on. They weren’t necessarily that interesting texts, either.” But as Lecky read through further, and when he and his colleagues at last flew out to Cincinnati to view the collection, his reserved manner turned to quiet excitement.


UVA Rare Book School Director Nominated to National Council on the Humanities

Source: NBC29 –


Michael Suarez. Photo by Terry Doran, courtesy of

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Aug. 6, 2015 — President Obama last week nominated Michael F. Suarez, director of the Rare Book School and University Professor at the University of Virginia, to serve on the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The council comprises 26 distinguished private citizens appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, with each member serving staggered six-year terms. Suarez is one of four nominees.

Suarez, director of the Rare Book School since September 2009 and also a Jesuit priest, holds four master’s degrees (two each in English and theology) and a D.Phil. in English from the University of Oxford. Before coming to U.Va., he held a joint appointment at Fordham University and as a fellow and tutor in English at Campion Hall at Oxford.

He teaches in U.Va.’s Department of English and has written widely on 18th-century English literature, bibliography and book history. He delivered the annual Lyell Lectures in Bibliography at Oxford earlier this year. He was invited by U.Va. students to deliver a “Last Lecture” and participate in the student-organized Flash Seminars several years ago.

Since 2010, Suarez has served as editor-in-chief of Oxford Scholarly Editions Online. His recent books include “The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume V, 1695-1830” (Cambridge University Press, 2009), co-edited with Michael Turner; and “The Oxford Companion to the Book” (Oxford University Press, 2010), a million-word reference work co-edited with H. R. Woudhuysen. “The Book: A Global History,” also co-edited with Woudhuysen, came out in 2013. In 2014, Oxford University Press published his edition of “The Dublin Notebook,” co-edited with Lesley Higgins, in the “Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins.”

Suarez has held research fellowships at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

About Rare Book School

Rare Book School provides continuing-education opportunities for students from all disciplines and levels to study the history of written, printed and digital materials with leading scholars and professionals in the fields of bibliography, librarianship, book history, manuscript studies and the digital humanities. Founded in 1983, the Rare Book School, a not-for-profit educational organization, moved to U.Va. in 1992.