Breslauer IV Lecture on Samuel Johnson Draws Big Crowd to ATBL-Grolier Event

Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson

William Zachs, a scholar on 18th-century English and Scottish literary figures, delivered the ATBL’s fourth Bernard H. Breslauer Lecture on December 9th before a standing-room-only audience at New York City’s Grolier Club.

Dr. Zachs’ subject – “Untold Stories in the Donald  & Mary Hyde Collection of Samuel Johnson and His Circle” – coincided with the opening at the Grolier Club of the Houghton Library exhibition, A Monument More Durable Than Brass, commemorating the 300th anniversary of Johnson’s birth.  The late Mary Hyde Eccles bequeathed her remarkable Johnson collection to Harvard University and the Houghton in 2004.

William Zachs

William Helfand (Grolier Club), William Zachs, William Stonemen (Dir. Harvard's Houghton Library) and William's father Henry M. Zachs

Dr. Zachs, aided by a power-point screening, entertained the crowd of ATBL and Grolier Club members with personal tales on how the Hyde’s acquired and expanded their collection, from Mary Hyde’s early passion and scholarship to the Hyde’s’ purchase of the collection in the 1940s and its growth, under Mary Hyde Eccles’ stewardship, into the greatest privately held collection of Samuel Johnson works.

As Mary, Lady Eccles, she and her second husband David, Viscount Eccles, established and endowed the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library.  David Eccles was a founding chairman of the American Trust; Mary Eccles was a longtime member of the ATBL Board of Trustees.

Dr. Zachs is an American based in Edinburgh for the past twenty-six years.  He has written and lectured widely on the Scottish Enlightenment and on literary icons like Robert Burns and James Boswell.  He received his Ph.D. from Edinburgh University.  He is a member of the Grolier Club and the Chairman’s Council of the American Trust for the British Library.

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