Director’s Choice is out! This is the first popular book dedicated to items in Senate House Library’s collections – other publications have been academic and text-based. Director’s Choice is generously illustrated and is an attractive general introduction to some of the more unusual holdings – printed and archival items which are rare, quirky or both. Some are old favourites and frequently exhibited, such as a copy of Das Kapital inscribed by Karl Marx and Caxton’s second printing of The Play of Chess (1483); others rarely make an appearance, such as The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, a best-seller when it appeared in 1789. The design on the back cover is a manuscript note by the 19th-century mathematical historian Augustus De Morgan on his copy of John Leland’s Commentarii de Scriptoribus Britannicis (1709), beginning: ‘This book has never had a good name’ – not, we hope, a verdict to be transferred to Director’s Choice.
Director’s Choice is a personal selection of favourite items. Which one of the thirty do you like best? Is there a book or manuscript in the accompanying exhibition (which includes items from the long list for the selection in the book) which would have been in the book had it been your choice? Would you have liked to feature anything you have come across in the LIbrary that is in neither the book nor the exhibition?