Aspects of Book Culture in Early Modern England
Thomas Anthony Birrell (1924-2011) was a man of many parts. For most of his working life he was Professor of English Literature in the University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands, where he was famous for his lively, humoristic and thought-provoking lectures. He was the author of some very popular literary surveys in Dutch, one of which - a history of English literature - has had seven editions so far. However, first and foremost he was a bibliographer and a book historian. The present collection contains fifteen of his book-historical articles, two reviews and one published version of a lecture for the illustrious 'Association Internationale de Bibliophilie'. The lecture - with a wealth of illustrations - about the British Library as the 'Custodian of the Unique' gives one a sense of Birrell's ability to present an audience with a complicated topic in comprehensible, but not simplified, terms. The reviews serve as a statement of principle of how to tackle the subject of 'English readers and books' and the standards that ought to apply. The articles demonstrate Tom Birrell's in-depth knowledge, dedication and scholarship. He once said that he felt that he could have talked to the 17th-century London booksellers on an equal footing and his work convinces one that they would have enjoyed these conversations. Aspects of Book Culture was edited by Birrell's former pupil, colleague, friend and fellow-bibliographer Jos Blom.