Anarchy and Beauty: William Morris and his Legacy by Fiona MacCarthy

Anarchy & beauty: William Morris & his legacy, 1860-1960Anarchy & beauty: William Morris & his legacy, 1860-1960

MacCarthy, Fiona, author; National Portrait Gallery (Great Britain), publisher

William Morris (1834-96) regarded beauty as a basic human birthright. In this fascinating book, which accompanies a major exhibition, Morris’ biographer Fiona MacCarthy looks at how his highly original and generous vision of a new form of society in which art could flourish has reverberated through the decades.

In 1860 Morris moved into the now famous Red House at Bexleyheath in Kent. Here his ideas found practical expression in its decoration, undertaken with the help of his artistcraftsman friends Edward Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown and Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Anarchy & Beauty at the National Portrait Gallery is the tie in exhibition which explores the life and ideas of the great Victorian artist, writer and visionary thinker through portraits, personal items and fascinating objects, many of which are on public display for the first time,. This major exhibition illustrates Morris’s concept of ‘art for the people’ and highlights the achievements of those that he inspired.

Curated by acclaimed author and biographer Fiona MacCarthy, the display features original furniture and textiles designed and owned by Morris as well as the work of his contemporaries including Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones. These are innovatively showcased alongside remarkable books, jewellery, ceramics and clothing by craftspeople such as Eric Gill, Bernard Leach and Terence Conran, demonstrating how Morris’s legacy continued into the twentieth century, influencing radical politics, the Garden City movement and the Festival of Britain in 1951.



Europeana celebrates 500 years of the printed book

prayerbook500 years ago, the first book was printed and to commemorate this,  Europeana (Europeana enables people to explore the digital resources of Europe’s galleries, museums, libraries, archives and audiovisual collections) has created a virtual exhibition together with the National Library of Latvia.

“The printed book changed the world by first changing its readers. During the period 500 years ago, the nature of the book was undergoing important changes. With the development of printing technology, books became cheaper, more convenient to read and accessible to a wider audience; books became the messengers of religious and social change.

1514 vividly characterises the age of great change: the end of the Renaissance and the blossoming of humanism, culminating in the Reformation. This virtual exhibition provides you an opportunity to examine the books published in that particular year across Europe, revealing the cultural richness and diversity of the age.

The books can be explored in the English or Latvian exhibition.

The Private Life of Print: the use and abuse of books 1450 – 1550

An ink blot on a 1470 edition of the Historiae Romanae DecadesA  new exhibition at the Cambridge University Library running from 24th October 2014 until 11th April 2015 celebrates the use and abuse of the first western printed books by their owners. More information in this film

On a winter’s day in 1482 a scholar had an embarrassing disaster, see left, leaving a blood-red blot of ink on the pristine page of a valuable book.

He then compounded his crime by confessing, adding a note in the same red ink still legible after 532 years. On the desecrated page of the Historiae Romanae Decades, printed in Venice in 1470, he wrote: “Ita macula” – this stain – “I stupidly made on the first of December 1482.”

The owner of another fabulous volume, the Book of St Albans – a gentleman’s guide to heraldry, hawking and hunting that, in the 1480s, was the first colour printed book in English – did worse adding a little rude drawing to the bottom of a page.

Many of the printed books going on display have hand-painted pictures, or gold leaf decoration, added to make them more beautiful. However, others have been inscribed, scribbled or doodled on by generations of owners, some more illustrious than others.

Carol Ann Duffy has written a poem to celebrate the exhibition


Wikipedia to be a book?

103px-Wikipedia-logo-v2.svgThe English version of Wikipedia is huge and consists of more than 4 million articles.

A small team of developers who work on the open source book tool for Wikipedia at PediaPress think that the best way to experience the size of Wikipedia, which is truly huge, is by transforming it into the physical medium of books.  (Pedia Press is the official print on demand partner of the Wikimedia Foundation and is coincidentally based in Mainz, the city where Gutenberg started the printing revolution more than 500 years ago. Over the last five years  thousands of books have been created from Wikipedia content).

Their plan is to print the complete English Wikipedia in 1,000 books and display them at a public exhibition.  Containing the most volumes and edited by the largest number of contributors, the printed edition would be a work of record breaking dimensions. It would also honour the many volunteers who have created Wikipedia in just over ten years.

What it will look like

The complete English Wikipedia will fit in approximately 1,000 books with 1,200 pages each. All volumes will have continuous page numbers, so the last article could as well be on page number 1,193,014.

Details of the exhibition

The books will be exhibited at Wikimania London in August 2014 the annual conference of the Wikipedia community to be held at the Barbican Centre. The conference and exhibition are open to the public. If there is sufficient interest, they would love to send the exhibition on a tour around the globe after Wikimania and like to donate the edition to a big public library. ‘To later generations this might be a period piece from the beginning of the digital revolution.’

Love Arts Festival

Lovearts Festival Logo croppedThe Love Arts festival is back and in it’s third year. The festival is organised by the Leeds And York NHS Trust and it’s aim is to get people thinking and talking about mental health and to reduce the related stigma.

The festival starts on Tuesday with a launch event at The Light Shopping Centre, The Headrow, Leeds. Go along to get your hands on the festival brochure and find an event that appeals to you. There is so much choice there will be something that floats your boat whether that be an art exhibition, a comedy performance, a music event or a trip to the theatre.

Leeds Libraries are very pleased to be supporting the festival again this year and we are hosting several events for the festival in our libraries. Central Library will be the home of a brand new exhibition capturing the unheard voices of the people who used, visited and worked in the now closed psychiatric asylum, High Royds. Come along to the launch event on the 7th October to hear live stories from people telling their stories of mental health and how mental health treatment has moved on since the doors closed.

Cul-de-sac Theatre will also be presenting their award winning production, ‘Telling Lives’ at Central Library on Monday 14th October. This was devised using stories and photographs of patients in the great asylums of northern Britain, including High Royds, Prestwich and Lancaster Moor. The play is set on the eve of the First World War and poses questions as to who is mad, who is sane, who’s the healer and who the victim?

We did, of course have to host a literature event at one of our libraries and we are very pleased to be welcoming Sai Murray and Desiree Reynolds to Chapel Allerton Library on Wed 9th October. Sai will be introducing us to his debut poetry collection, Ad-Liberation and perfoming pieces from it. Desiree will read extracts from her novel ‘Seduce’.

The festival looks like it is going to be fabulous and to make sure you don’t miss out on anything have a look at the festival website,

Writing Britain Exhibition and Events

We have been very busy here working on an exhibition that will be shown in Central Library between 4th December and the 30th January. Leeds was chosen as one of four cities outside of London to hold a Writing Britain exhibition in partnership with the British library.

Writing Britain: Leeds celebrates the use of our Yorkshire landscape in literature. Explore works from our library collections and items from the British Library as well as viewing new material from a group of young people working on the project.

We have had such a good time putting the exhibition together, picking works of fiction and poetry to share with you and working with the young poeple to produce their work has been fantastic. We are also hosting a number of events while the exhibition is on; you can join us to make mini books like the Brontes, hear contemporary authors talk about creating a sense of place with their work or enjoy a Yorkshire tea while hearing about the Brontes. Further details of the events and the exhibition can be found here.