front cover of A Dance Through Time
A Dance Through Time
Images of Western Social Dancing from the Middle Ages to Modern Times
Jeremy Barlow
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2012
A knees-up at the county fair. A duo of dancing ogres. A celebratory circle dance at London’s Piccadilly Circus. All of these lively scenarios feature in this enchanting survey of dance illustration throughout the centuries. But what can these vibrant—and often irreverent—images reveal to us about the history of dance and our changing attitudes toward it over time?
Drawing on a range of materials from the Bodleian Library, including manuscripts, visual art, dance cards, and invitations to balls, A Dance Through Time explores the imaginative ways in which artists and illustrators have responded to the challenge of creating a sense of movement. Social dancing reveals a dynamic tension between decorum and disregard, and for centuries artists have conveyed this in a highly stylized manner that makes use of curved forms to mimic gracious gestures and angular lines to represent those deemed showy or uncouth. Here, each illustration is carefully analyzed for what it shows us about the behavioral expectations of the time.
Lavishly illustrated, this book takes readers on a captivating journey through the changing fashions in European dance—from the waltz to the cha cha to the unbridled energy of rock and roll—providing ample insight into its history and colorful imagery.


front cover of Designing English
Designing English
Early Literature on the Page
Daniel Wakelin
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2017
Early manuscripts in the English language included religious works, plays, romances, poetry, and songs, as well as charms, notebooks, and scientific documents. Given this vast array, how did scribes choose to arrange the words and images on the page, and what visual guides did they give early readers to help them use and understand each manuscript?

Working beyond the traditions established for Latin, scribes of English needed to be more inventive, using each book as an opportunity to redesign. Surveying eight centuries of graphic design in manuscripts and inscriptions, Designing English focuses on the craft, agency, and intentions of scribes, painters, and engravers from the Anglo-Saxon to the early Tudor periods. The book examines format, layout, and decoration, as well as bilingual manuscripts and oral recitations, weighing the balance of ingenuity and copying, imagination and practicality, behind early English book design. With over ninety illustrations, drawn especially from the holdings of the Bodleian Library, Designing English gives a comprehensive overview of English books and other material texts across the Middle Ages.

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The Devil's Dictionary
Ambrose Bierce
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2018
Ambrose Bierce, journalist and former soldier for the Union army in the Civil War, began writing satirical definitions for the San Francisco Wasp in 1881, and later for the San Francisco Examiner, launching a journalistic career that would see him liked and loathed in equal measure and earn him the title of “the wickedest man in San Francisco.”

A contemporary of Mark Twain, Bierce brought his biting humor to bear on spoof definitions of everyday words, writing deliberate mistranslations of the vocabulary of the establishment, the church, and the politics of his day, and shining a sardonic light on hypocrisy and deception. These columns formed the beginnings of a dictionary, first published in 1906 as The Cynic’s Word Book, which stopped at the letter L, and five years later as a full A–Z text known as The Devil's Dictionary. More than one hundred years later, Bierce’s redefinitions still give us pause for thought: interpreting reporter, for example, as “a writer who guesses his way to the truth and dispels it with a tempest of words”; un-american as “wicked, intolerable, heathenish”; and politics as “the conduct of public affairs for private advantage.” This timely new edition of Bierce’s irreverent and provocative dictionary is the perfect gift for misanthropes and word lovers alike.

front cover of Dole Queues and Demons
Dole Queues and Demons
British Election Posters from the Conservative Party Archive
Stuart Ball
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2011

Bold amalgams of graphic design, psychology, and art, election posters have remained unsung—and sometimes even maligned—since their inception at the beginning of the twentieth century. Through a careful selection from among the more than seven hundred posters in the Bodleian Library’s Conservative Party Archive, this lavishly illustrated volume charts the evolution of the election posters created by Britain’s Conservative Party.

Organized chronologically and by political period, each chapter begins with a brief introduction highlighting the major themes of the period as well as the specific issues individual posters were designed to engage. Together, the chapters demonstrate the changing fashions in and attitudes toward advertising, political ideology, and standards of acceptability in the election poster, and they offer fascinating insight into the strategies of the Conservative Party up to the present day. Rounding out the discussion is a foreword by advertising tycoon Maurice Saatchi, who discusses the posters from a communications and design perspective.
At a time when the new media seems poised to put an end to more traditional forms of mass communication, Dole Queues and Demons offers a timely retrospective of an enduring feature of the British electoral landscape.

front cover of The Domestic Herbal
The Domestic Herbal
Plants for the Home in the Seventeenth Century
Margaret Willes
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2020

In the seventeenth century most English households had gardens. These gardens were not merely ornamental; even the most elaborate and fashionable gardens had areas set aside for growing herbs, fruit, vegetables, and flowers for domestic use. Meanwhile, more modest households considered a functional garden to be a vital tool for the survival of the house and family. The seventeenth century was also a period of exciting introductions of plants from overseas, which could be used in all manner of recipes.

Using manuscript household manuals, recipe books, and printed herbals, The Domestic Herbal takes the reader on a tour of the productive garden and of the various parts of the house—kitchens and service rooms, living rooms and bedrooms—to show how these plants were used for cooking and brewing, medicines and cosmetics, in the making and care of clothes, and to keep rooms fresh, fragrant, and decorated. Recipes used by seventeenth-century households for preparations such as flower syrups, snail water, and wormwood ale are also included. A brief herbal gives descriptions of plants both familiar and less known to today’s readers, including the herbs used for common tasks like dyeing and brewing, and those that held a particular cultural importance in the seventeenth century. Featuring exquisite colored illustrations from John Gerard’s herbal book of 1597 as well as prints, archival material, and manuscripts, this book provides an intriguing and original focus on the domestic history of Stuart England.


front cover of The Douce Apocalypse
The Douce Apocalypse
Picturing the End of the World in the Middle Ages
Nigel Morgan
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2006
One of the finest of all medieval apocalypse manuscripts, the Douce Apocalypse was part of a series of illuminated texts that brought St. John’s apocalyptic visions to life. 

Now the manuscript—created sometime between 1250 and 1275—reaches an entirely new audience at the hands of noted scholar Nigel Morgan. The Douce Apocalypse explores the manuscript’s royal patronage, looks at its fascinating imagery, and examines its significance in light of contemporary prophecy. The commentary is accompanied by lush, full-color illustrations.

As Morgan relates, the Douce Apocalypse is especially enlightening because of its unfinished nature. A few of its images remain incomplete—and such absences give insight into the artist’s painstaking techniques of drawing, gilding, and painting. The second volume in the Treasures from the Bodleian Library series, The Douce Apocalypse will convey both the beauty of the original and the enduring fascination of its contents.

front cover of Dr Radcliffe's Library
Dr Radcliffe's Library
The Story of the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford
Stephen Hebron
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2014
The Radcliffe Camera is one of the most celebrated buildings in Britain. Named for the physician John Radcliffe—who directed a large part of his fortune to its realization at the heart of the University of Oxford in the early eighteenth century—the circular library is instantly recognizable, its great dome rising amidst the gothic spires of the university.
Drawing on maps, plans, photographs, and drawings, Dr Radcliffe’s Library tells the fascinating story of the building’s creation over more than thirty years. Early designs for the Radcliffe Camera were drawn by the brilliant architect Nicholas Hawksmoor, who conceived the shape so recognizable today: a great rotunda topped by the University of Oxford’s only dome. From there, it would take decades to acquire and clear the site between the University Church of St Mary’s and the Bodleian. After Hawksmoor’s death, the project was taken on by the Scottish architect James Gibbs who refined the design and supervised the library’s construction.
Published to accompany an exhibition opening in November at the Bodleian Library, Dr Radcliffe’s Library tells the fascinating story of the making of this architectural masterpiece.

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