Anonymous - The Magical Library of Harry Price (272.0 Kb)
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An Exhibition of Books, Archives and Artefacts from the Collection of a Psychic Investigator and Ghost Hunter.This exhibition celebrates the treasures in the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature, one of the largest, most well-known and diverse collections in the University of London Library. Recently, major cataloguing and retrospective conversion of the printed books, archives and artefacts has been carried out on the Library, thanks to generous funding from the Vice-Chancellor's Development Fund. Work on this project ... More >>>
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An Exhibition of Books, Archives and Artefacts from the Collection of a Psychic Investigator and Ghost Hunter.
This exhibition celebrates the treasures in the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature, one of the largest, most well-known and diverse collections in the University of London Library. Recently, major cataloguing and retrospective conversion of the printed books, archives and artefacts has been carried out on the Library, thanks to generous funding from the Vice-Chancellor's Development Fund. Work on this project is well advanced, and this exhibition is mounted to mark the milestone of the completion of cataloguing printed material and to reveal treasures in the Library, many on view for the first time, to new audiences.
The collection of Harry Price (1881-1948), the publicist of psychical research, developed from a childhood collection of conjuring books into a collection of materials for the cultural history of attitudes to the occult that is unique in the United Kingdom. Although its holdings are strong from the early modern period onwards, they are indispensable for the history of psychical research and spiritualism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1937, it contained 4,376 books, 5,343 pamphlets and 725 volumes of periodicals, with extensive holdings comprising ephemera, press cuttings, manuscripts, film, photographs and slides recording the investigative activities of Harry Price and his associates. The printed collection has since been enlarged from a modest endowment and many gifts to approximately 14,000 volumes, and is growing steadily each year. To give an indication of the date range covered by the collection, an estimated 225 books and pamphlets were published between 1600 and 1699 and a further 325 between 1700 and 1799.
"Anonymous" of course means "without a name" and is used when the author is not known--or sometimes, when a story develops out of an oral tradition over generations with possibly many storytellers contributing to and revising the tale before it is finally written down and becomes literature.
A notable amount of ancient and medieval literature is anonymous. This is not only due to the lack of documents from a period, but also due to an interpretation of the author's role that differs considerably from the romantic interpretation of the term in use today. Ancient and Medieval authors were often overawed by the classical writers and the Church Fathers and tended to re-tell and embellish stories they had heard or read rather than invent new stories. And even when they did, they often claimed to be handing down something from an auctor instead. From this point of view, the names of the individual authors seemed much less important, and therefore many important works were never attributed to any specific person.