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Library Lives

A Constellation of Books and Objects from the Rylands

Stella Halkyard

Foreword by Alberto Manguel

Cover of Library Lives by Stella Halkyard
Categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Art, British, LGBTQ+, Women
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Hardback (244 pages)
(Due Sep 2024)
£25.00 £22.50
  • Description
  • Author
  • Reviews
  • Library Lives: A Constellation of Books and Objects From the Rylands plots the lifelong love affair between one particular bookworm and the John Rylands Library in Manchester, its collections drawn from every corner and period of the textual and meta-textual world. How do we read – and what can we read from – a potsherd, a locket, a fragment of papyrus, a gorgeously illuminated medieval manuscript, an envelope, a seemingly ordinary book?

    Stella Halkyard, one of the library’s erstwhile archivists, tells the life stories of some of this great library’s previously unsung treasures and provides radical new readings for a few of its acclaimed gems. In a sequence of idiosyncratic and often playful short essays she celebrates the resonance of these objects and their ability to tell stories that range across time and place, from the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, to John Donne’s shroud, eighteenth-century Chinese papermaking, Elizabeth Bishop’s letters, plastic surgery in sixteenth-century Italy, the lining of Walt Whitman’s hat, and Delia Derbyshire’s wartime gas mask. Selected from Halkyard’s popular ‘Pictures from a Library’ and ‘Archive Corner’ features published in PN Review over the last two decades, these essays have been brought together for the first time and put into productive dialogue with each other.
    Stella Halkyard studied English at the University of Newcastle, History of Art at the University of Manchester, and Archive Studies at the University of Liverpool. Since 1991 she has worked as the Modern Literary Archivist at the John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester. ... read more
    'Halkyard is a formidable critic and her aesthetic preferences are enriched by profound observations.'

    Alberto Manguel
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