30 high quality books from nearly 3 centuries, annotated by their writers and readers including an American Presidential biography annotated by the subject’s mother; a British Prime Minister’s school text; dramatic prompt copies, review copies, books annotated for radio adaptation, a massively corrected proof by a popular novelist, an opera annotated by a leading tenor and books owned and annotated by writers such as Laurie Lee, Noel Coward and George Mackay Brown. (PLEASE REQUEST A FULL CATALOGUE LISTING OF ALL 30 BOOKS)
Since the publication of Roger Stoddard’s Marks in Books the study of annotated books has become a major strand of research for historians of the book. This collection gathers together a body of annotated books each of which speaks differently of the possibilities of reader interaction with a printed text. A full description of the collection, item by item, is available on request. But amongst these books can be found texts which have been adapted by actors and screenwriters in preparation for their performance, with every dramatic pause and booming thunderclap noted; books annotated by famous authors and poets, including Laurie Lee, Alasdair Gray, and George Mackay Brown and a biography of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, carefully annotated by his devoted mother. There are works on everything from ancient architecture to spiritualism into which critics, both professional and amateur, have inserted their own thoughts and opinions; and serious tomes in which the notes of conscientious scholars reveal their ongoing attempts to augment, clarify, and advance the academic conversation around their subject. From the manuscript accounts of a Regency gentlemen scattered through a pocket almanac, to a musical score adapted by an acclaimed operatic tenor, the collection demonstrates how annotated texts reveal intimate and evocative insights into past lives both famous and ordinary, capturing vivid vignettes of ephemeral past moments. In this sense, annotated books can be seen as forming one of the most powerfully human versions of the book itself. Indeed, by their preservation of human thought and feeling, all books can be conceived of as part of a preserved life, but here, through the interjections of other owners, we find further voices – further lives – contained within each volume, offering us a messier but far more intriguing insight into our past and present selves.