Eccles Centre News

group (large)

Prof. Philip Davies; Catherine Eccles; British Library CEO Roly Keating; Matthew Barzun, US Ambassador to the United Kingdomn; Viscount and Viscountess Eccles

May 2015 Douglas Bryant Lecturer, Matthew Barzun

At the Twentieth Annual Douglas W. Bryant Lecture entitled, “Magna Carta, 1776 and All That,” Ambassador Matthew Barzun reflected on the link between the Magna Carta and whiskey, based on the method by which the drink is made. A complex process, with deceptively simple ingredients, whiskey takes time to mature and produces strikingly different results depending up on the raw materials used and the geography within which it is produced. The Ambassador argued that Magna Carta and its legacy, in the rule of law and political freedom, can be viewed in the same way especially as it has influenced the UK and the US.

Eccles Centre Writers in Residence

The joint winners of the 2016 Eccles British Library Writer in Residence Award are William Atkins, author and editor and Alison MacLeod, novelist and short story writer. Each of the winners is awarded £20,000 and will use the British Library’s collections as research during their residency which started in January 2016.

William Atkins will be researching a new travel narrative exploring the Western concept of the desert using journeys through the American West and other continents. Alison MacLeod will be researching her new novel which is inspired by the 1960 trial of Penguin Books, where the publisher was taken to court for publishing Lady Chatterley’s Lover.  The story will take place in London and the USA.

Awards for Eccles British Library Writer in Residence 2013

Andrea Wulf, the Eccles British Library Writer in Residence 2013 has won numerous awards for her book The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt, The Lost Hero of Science. The book was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize 2015 and is shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Non–Fiction 2016. It was also chosen as one of the 10 Best Books of 2015 in the New York Times and recently won the Biography Award in the 2015 Costa Book Awards.

Breslauer Lectures

In 2004, the distinguished book dealer and collector Bernard H. Breslauer bequeathed a generous endowment to the ATBL for the acquisition of rare books.  To honor the memory of Dr. Breslauer, the ATBL has established a lecture series in his name.  This series has become an annual event in cooperation with The Grolier Club, a locus of serious bibliophiles and collectors.  With the British Library as their cornerstone, these lectures incorporate a transatlantic bibliophilic theme.

The following lectures have been published into booklets, available for purchase for $25 for non-members, and $12.50 for ATBL and Grolier Club members. Please email atblus[at] or call 718-623-0933 to purchase a booklet.

  • 2014  Sarah E. Thomas, Transatlantic Perlustrations: Observations on Two Great Libraries, the Bodleian and the Harvard Library
  • 2011  Baroness Blackstone, From Bones to Bytes: The Development of our Great Libraries
  • 2010  Robert Darnton, The History of Books and the Digital Future
  • 2009  William J. Zachs, Re-Collecting Donald and Mary Hyde: Untold Stories from Their Private Archive
  • 2008  David Alan Richards, The Books He Left Behind: A New Bibliography of Rudyard Kipling
  • 2007  David J. Supino, Collecting Henry James: A Translatlantic Journey
  • 2006  Roger E. Stoddard, B.H.B. in Retrospect

Beloved Board Member Dies

LisavonClemm Headshot ATBL

It is with great sorrow that we mark the passing of our longtime Board member Lisa von Clemm. She passed away peacefully at home on March 3, 2016. Beloved widow of Michael, treasured mother of Stefanie and Charlotte, dearly loved mother-in-law of Will, and devoted and adored grandmother of Oliver, Louie, and Welles.

Her husband Michael served as Trustee of the ATBL first. Lisa then took up his service and was an enthusiastic host of ATBL cocktail parties and a tireless representative at the British Library. She will be missed.

London Memorial Service on Monday, June 27th, 2016 at 3pm
St. George’s Church, Aubrey Walk, London, W8 7JG

Wellesley Memorial Service on Thursday, July 28th, 2016 at 3pm
St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 79 Denton Road, Wellesley, MA 02482

ATBL Meets the Prince of Wales

David Redden, President,  Seana Anderson, Executive Director, and Trustees of the ATBL were invited to the opening of the Magna Carta Exhibition at the British Library on March 12, 2015.  David and Seana, as representatives of the ATBL, were presented to HRH Charles, the Prince of Wales, to receive acknowledgement of ATBL’s $56,000 in support of the Exhibition.  A video from Bill Clinton was played and thanks extended to The New York Public Library for its loan of Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence; and to The US National Archives for its loan of the Delaware copy of the US Bill of Rights, both displayed in the UK for the first time ever.

Magna Carta Exhibition

 Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy

MagnacartaMarking the 800th anniversary of the granting of Magna Carta, the British Library held a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition exploring the history and significance of this globally-recognized document.

When granted by King John in 1215, Magna Carta was a practical solution to a political crisis, but in the centuries since it has become a potent symbol of liberty and the rule of law. This exhibition takes us on a journey from its medieval origins to the modern uses of Magna Carta.

The British Library, as the custodian of two original Magna Carta manuscripts, drew on its rich historical collections to bring to life a story that remains relevant today. Also on display was Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten text of the Declaration of Independence (on loan from the New York Public Library), and an original copy of the US Bill of Rights (on loan from the Library of Congress), together with other key documents and artifacts.

Opened March 13 and closed September 1, 2015.

Spring Library Trips

ATBL New York City Library/Museum Visits

American Museum of Natural History

b10715216_4In April a group of ATBL guests visited the AMNH’s Special Collections Library. This visit was a part of the ATBL’s NYC Library/Museum Special Collection Visitation Series. The ATBL group viewed rare selections from the AMNH’s archives which represent one of the world’s outstanding natural science special collections.

In addition to exquisite natural history and botanical illustrated books, Tom Baione, Harold Boeschenstein Director, Department of Library Services, showed them an original page from Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, early photos of the AMNH building structures, scarce AMNH diorama drawings, and antique maps.

New York Academy of Medicine

t-ny academ medicine-1The second visit in April was to the Coller Rare Book Room of the NYAM.  Arlene Shaner, Acting Curator and Reference Librarian for Historical Collections, and Dr. Lisa O’Sullivan, Director, Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health, showed us the science and medical library opened in 1847 that was first used only by physicians, and which is now open to the public.

In a gorgeously renovated rare book room with UV protected glass, shades, climate control and restored cork flooring, ATBL members saw Andreas Vesalius’ De Humani Corporis Fabrica from the 16th century by Andreas Vesalius, referred to as the founder of modern human anatomy.  NYAM has the last re-inking and printing of the wood blocks for this work before they were destroyed by bombing and fire.  They also saw the first set of George Washington’s lower jaw made of hippo ivory and real teeth by Dr. John Greenwood, a fellow of the NYAM; the first culture medallion awarded to Sir Alexander Fleming which contains a penicillin sample; and the first piece of medical printing ever done in New York.

New York Botanical Garden

Botanic GardensThe final spring trip was a beautiful May day at the NYBG, hosted by Susan Fraser, Director, International Plant Science Center, Mertz Library.   ATBL members took a trolley around the Garden which was in full bloom, then visited the Haupt Conservatory with a gorgeous horticultural exhibition featuring an evocation of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in Seal Harbor, Maine; and the current exhibit Six Groundbreakers Great American Gardens & the Women who Designed Them at the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Rotunda.

Stephen Sinon, Head of Archives, showed us exquisite and rare books on botany, horticulture and landscaping, including plants, herbs, cookery, and medicines from as early as 1190.  The botanical illustrations were marvelous.   The library assists visiting scholars and graduate fellows whose investigations involve innovative interdisciplinary approaches to areas such as landscape architecture, garden design, urban planning, history of science, art history, cultural anthropology, and environmental studies.

2014 Chairman’s Council Trip to London and Paris

London June 1-3

t-BL Trip Members 2014Ruth Robinson, Board Member, hosted the start of this year’s trip on Sunday, June 1 with a cocktail reception at her flat on Sloane Street.  Dr. Susan Whitfield and Dr. Phillip Davies of the British Library joined the ATBL participants.

The group toured Dr Johnson’s House off Fleet Street with Deputy Curator Celine Luppo McDaid.   The librarian Sarah Cusk was available to answer questions and show us a facsimile of Dr. Johnson’s famous Dictionary.  Ms. Cusk is currently involved in a project at Lincoln College, Oxford and is continuing to catalogue works in the House with a view to building on the existing English dictionaries which Johnson referred to when compiling his own.

Lunch was at the Royal Garden Hotel Park Terrace Restaurant overlooking Kensington Palace.  After the meal guests walked through the Garden for tea and cakes in The Orangery, followed by a Georgians Tour of the Palace with Dr. Lee Prosser, Curator of Historic Buildings, Royal Historic Palaces.  Lisa von Clemm, who was waiting to meet up with the group, spied Prince William out walking with Prince George.

The day concluded with Christine and Michael Zuromskis’ hosting a reception at their flat in London.

Tuesday, June 3 at The British Library

2014-06-02 17.40.56-1

Frances Brindle, Director of Audiences, and Joanna Wells, Head of Individual Giving, welcomed guests and gave an overview of work at the BL for the past yearRobert Brodie, Conservation Team Leader, then gave a tour of the Conservation Centre items currently being conserved.  Guests divided into two teams to see close at hand how to guild manuscripts and conserve/preserve works.

Mark Walton, Welcome Team Manager, then led a tour of the newly refurbished Sir John Ritblat Treasures of the British Library Gallery, including the Lindisfarne Gospels, Beowulf, da Vinci’s notebook, the Diamond Sutra – the world’s earliest dated printed book – and the Codex Sinaiticus – the earliest compete copy of the New Testament.

redden-blackstone-keatingChairman Baroness Blackstone and Chief Executive Officer Roly Keating joined us for pre-lunch drinks and luncheon in the Board Room, along with curators and administrative staff.

The afternoon started with a tour by Adrian Edwards, Lead Curator Printed Historical Sources and Co-Curator of exhibit “Comics Unmasked:  Art and Anarchy in the UK,” one of the most popular BL exhibits with 25% of the visitors being new to the library and also significantly younger than those to the previous Georgian exhibition.

Kathryn Johnson, Curator of Theatrical Manuscripts, then brought out items being considered to loan to the Folger Library for the Shakespeare 400th anniversary exhibition in 2016.

Then down to Fleet Street where Simon Eccles, ATBL Board member and Chairman of the St Bride Foundation, gave us a tour of the building and current exhibit.  Built in 1891 as an educational institute and social center, St Bride Foundation provides theater, youth theater, and educational outreach; and is the only library in the UK entirely devoted to the history of printing and allied crafts.

Paris June 4 – 6

t-bnf globeWednesday guests traveled by Eurostar to Paris, registered at their hotels, and met for an informal dinner.

Thursday morning Kara Lennon-Casanova, Director of Development, Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF), and her assistant Catherine Brial, welcomed us at the Francois Mitterrand site and introduced us to the  Head of the Digital Library Arnaud Beaufort who gave us an extensive tour of the virtual and physical technologies of “Gallica,” the magnificent online library.

Bruno Racine, Chairman and CEO of the BnF, was our gracious host at lunch where Joanna Wells from the BL, got a chance to interact with her counterparts in development at the BnF.

Due to traffic with President Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and others in Paris to celebrate the end of World War I, the group took the Metro to the Richelieu site which was under extensive renovation, including the magnificent Reading Room, alas.  However, Barbara Brejon de Lavergnee and her husband guided participants on a delightful private tour of French drawings of the 17th century.

runoThe group was then treated to an exquisite and extended show and tell by Isabelle Le Masne de Chermont (director of the Manuscripts department) in the stunning Galerie Mazarine and Chambre de Mazarin.  They saw the Evangile dit de Hurault, the Biblia Sacra dite Bible de Saint-Louis, the Concilium Toletanum; several examples of the Roman de la Rose digitized in Gallica, and the Vie de Sainte Catherine d’Alexandrie.

t-bnf isabelleJuliette Jestez, Deputy Librarian, the Bibliotheque historique de la Ville de Paris, welcomed guests Thursday morning at the house/mansion/hotel/museum containing maps, books and prints of Paris.



BHVP2Lunch at Le Café Maley overlooking the Pyramid at Le Louvre nourished and sustained attendees for a walk across La Seine to visit Bibliotheque Mazarine, the oldest public library in France.  Yann Sordet, Director, went out of his way to show rare and valuable treasures of the library, as well as the adjoining chapel/legislative chamber.  The visit to Paris was over too soon and those remaining finished the trip at the neighboring Café des Beaux Arts, hoping to return to Paris.t-BM Group