Event – Detail

Virtual Speaker Series
March 9 at 6:00 PM
Bibliography, Bibliomania, and Bibliophilia in the Nineteenth Century
Denise Gigante

Drawing on her latest work, Book Madness: A Story of Book Collectors in America, Denise Gigante will introduce the English essayist Charles Lamb as the Patron Saint of Book Collectors. It will show how Lamb and his fellow essayists Leigh Hunt and William Hazlitt helped make bibliography a literary art and set them in the larger context of book mania at the time. It will introduce his contemporary, the bibliographer Thomas Frognall Dibdin, whose own bibliomania was on display in his writings, and the Ur-bibliomanic to whom Dibdin dedicated his work, Richard Heber. Lastly, it will compare bibliomania to the related phenomenon of bibliophilia, with its focus on book-association, as the sentimental art of collecting relics and works of sentimental value. The sale of sixty old and battered books from Charles Lamb’s library in New York in 1848 was the keynote example of that phenomenon in the United States in the nineteenth century, and the beginning of a (particularly American) trend in collecting association copies of books.

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Denise Gigante is the Sadie Dernham Professor of Humanities at Stanford University. Her most recent book, Book Madness: A Story of Book Collectors in America, tells the story of bibliophilia and book collecting in mid-nineteenth-century America when the country’s major libraries were being assembled. Research for the book was made possible by fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Bibliographical Society of America, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University. She is working to complete The Mental Traveller: A Blakean Pilgrimage through Medieval and Renaissance Iconography, based on her Clarendon Lectures at Oxford University in 2020 and due to be published (with 125 color illustrations) by Oxford University Press. She co-editing The Cambridge History of the British Essay, a fifty-chapter study of the essay genre for Cambridge University Press to be released 2023-24. Among her other published books is The Keats Brothers: The Story of John and George (Belknap, 2011).


Non-member price: $5.00
This event is free to Athenaeum members.
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