In The News: Jane Austen’s ‘The Watsons’

Saved for the Nation: Bodleian acquires last Austen manuscript

The Bodleian Libraries have acquired at auction the autograph draft manuscript of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel The Watsons. The last major Austen manuscript to have been in private hands, The Watsons is the most significant Austen item to have come to the market in over twenty years.

Another exciting story from the UK of a manuscript that can now remain accessible to researchers and tourists alike.  I’m sure all the Janeites in the world are thrilled to hear about the Bodleian’s acquisition of the manuscript of the unfinished The Watsons.  I am sure a great deal of new research into how Jane Austen created her novels will come out of this, and the news that it will be put on display this fall makes me jealous I won’t make it to Oxford to see it!

In The News: The Cuthbert Gospel

British Library seeks £9m to buy oldest book in Europe

Library launches appeal to purchase 7th-century Cuthbert Gospel, which it has had on loan since 1979.

A £9m appeal has been launched by the British Library to buy the oldest intact book in Europe, a palm-sized leather-bound copy of the gospels buried 1,300 years ago in the coffin of Saint Cuthbert…

I don’t think it will shock anyone to know that this story makes my heart smile and that I am super excited that the book will reside part of the year in Durham, where it was discovered in St. Cuthbert’s tomb.  It’s an exciting opportunity for the British Library to acquire another British national treasure for the enjoyment and education of all.

When I shared the link with my mother, she commented on how surprised she was that in the photograph the librarian holding the book was not wearing gloves.  That got me thinking about wearing gloves and what the rules are.  I don’t claim to know what the generally-accepted practice is — in my experience of working with manuscripts at libraries in Oxford, London and other UK libraries, I never had to wear gloves.  This seemed odd to my mother, but since the librarians of the Duke Humfrey’s Library didn’t require me to wear gloves when handling my beloved fourteenth-century MS Digby 166, I never stopped to think about why I wasn’t wearing gloves or whether I should be.

I suppose the exact whys, wherefores, theories, and debates will be something I study at the iSchool.  Until then, this article on misconceptions about white gloves from Between the Covers brings up some good points, many of which I agree with (loss of dexterity is due to gloves is a MAJOR annoyance for an iPhone-a-holic like me, and the primary reason why the only gloves I wear are Brora’s fingerless cashmere wristwarmers).