Special collections on their travels

Senate House Library has a strong track record of lending items from its collections to exhibitions in the UK and abroad. Today is a good day to highlight this aspect of our work, when one loaned item returns from Spain while another leaves us for a more local venue.

Our copy of Edward Young’s The Complaint, and the Consolation, or, Night Thoughts (1797), illustrated with intaglio copper-plate engravings by William Blake, returns today from Madrid, where it has been on display at the Fundacion Juan March since October last year in their exhibition ‘Treasure Island: British Art from Holbein to Hockney’.

As we welcome back Young and Blake so we send off our copy of a trial edition of Alfred Tennyson’s Idylls for inclusion in the ‘Medievalist Visions’ exhibition which begins tomorrow in the Weston Room of the Maughan Library at King’s College London, running until 22 May. While visually less impressive than the sumptuously-illustrated, handsomely-bound and large format Complaint, our Tennyson, well under half the size, without illustrations, and in a drab paper binding, is the rarer item. It contains four trial idylls (The Birth of Arthur, The Holy Grail, Sir Pelleas, and The Death of Arthur ) bound in with Strahan’s 1869 reprint of the Idylls of the King to form an edition projected by Tennyson but never published. The variant readings between the trial idylls in our volume and the texts as first published in the 1870 Holy Grail and Other Poems are substantial. Our copy is made more interesting by the presence of corrections in Tennyson’s own hand to both the trial printings and the previously published Idylls; and that binding may be drab but it’s also the original.

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