IES Annual Lecture in the History of the Book and Masterclass

Wednesday, 3 July 2019, Senate House (South Block), University of London

This event is generously supported by the Hilda Hulme Memorial Trust.

David McKitterick The Invention of Rare Books: Private Interest and Public Memory, 1600–1840 (Cambridge 2018)

Professor David McKitterick, FBA, is a Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge, and was the College's Librarian from 1986 to 2015. For many years he served on the editorial board of The Book Collector. His books include a three-volume History of Cambridge University Press (1992-2004), Print, Manuscript and the Search for Order, 1450-1830 (2003), Old Books, New Technologies; the Representation, Conservation and Transformation of Books since 1700 (2013) and The Invention of Rare Books (2018). He is a general editor of the Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, for which he edited the nineteenth-century volume. 

For the first time, the IES Annual Lecture will take place during the London Rare Book School. The event portfolio includes:

Masterclass + Display, 3 July 2019, 16:00-17:30

‘Five Centuries of the Nuremberg Chronicle'
Senate House Library, Seng Tee Lee Centre, 15 participants

Free (upon application, EXTENDED DEADLINE 15 MAY)


In this masterclass, Professor David McKitterick will address the reception history of the Nuremberg Chronicle, which was printed in Nuremberg in 1493 and 1497. Containing many hundreds of woodcuts that depict history from the beginning of time through the then-present day, it was the first major illustrated book. It has been prized by collectors since its publication, but its long and complex reception history is little understood. With an object-based discussion based on a pop-up display of both copies of this landmark publication in Senate House Library, Professor McKitterick will introduce 15 postgraduate students, rare book librarians, and professionals in related fields to the Nuremberg Chronicle’s production, initial reception, and history over the last 500 years. In this way, he will also introduce the object-based research skills and methodologies he lays out in his latest book, The invention of rare books (2018).

View of Ancient Rome, Nuremberg Chronicle. Reproduced by permission of the Master and Fellows, Trinity College, Cambridge

View of Ancient Rome, Nuremberg Chronicle. Reproduced by permission of the Master and Fellows, Trinity College, Cambridge.

IES Annual Lecture in the History of the Book, 3 July 2019, 18:00-19:00

‘Books for Breakfast: Mid-Victorian Collecting, Changing Tastes and Different People'
Woburn Suite, Senate House (South Block)

Free (upon RSVP)


In this lecture Professor David McKitterick will begin with a group of bibliophiles who came together in the 1850s to form a society that had much in parallel with the Roxburghe Club. In their meetings and discussions emerges a clearer picture of how changes in taste and practice affected attitudes to old books in the mid-Victorian period. 

It expands on research presented in his latest book, The Invention of Rare Books (2018). When does a book that is merely old become a rarity and an object of desire? This study covers the development of the idea of rare books and why they matter. It explores how this idea took shape in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and how collectors, the book trade and libraries gradually came together to identify canons that often remain the same today. In a world that many people found to be over-supplied with books, the invention of rare books was a process of selection. As books are one of the principal means of memory, this process also created particular kinds of remembering. Taking a European perspective, McKitterick looks at these interests as they developed from being matters of largely private concern and curiosity, to the larger public and national responsibilities of the first half of the nineteenth century.

A wine reception will take place after the lecture. Non-alcoholic options will be provided.

David McKitterick The Invention of Rare Books (Cambridge UP, 2018).


National Manuscripts Conservation Trust

This event supports the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust (NMCT). The NMCT was established in 1990 by the British Library and the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, with funding from the Office of Arts and Libraries and from private donors. The NMCT is the only UK grant-giver that focuses solely on the care and conservation of manuscripts in the UK.

Find out more information on the NMCT website