Events Calendar

In Search of Barnett: Shakespeareana

Thursday, July 15, 2021
4:00 pm
Old multicolour man in hat

The Public Humanities at Western, Faculty of Arts & Humanities, Western Libraries, and the Words Festival are pleased to present:

Scott Schofield & Blake Robertson: "In Search of Barnett: Towards a Reconstruction of the John Davis Barnett Collection of Shakespeareana"

In 1918, the Stratford Ontario Grand Trunk Railway Engineer, public intellectual, and avid book collector, John Davis Barnett, donated his private library of more than 42,000 books to the University of Western Ontario. The vast majority of the collection can still be found in Western’s Special Collections, Main Library Stacks, and Storage Facilities and the list of books are recorded in Barnett’s hand over a series of accession books. Accession book number one, dated 1899, includes Barnett’s enumerated listing of titles from his Shakespeareana collection. Spanning nearly sixty pages and divided over numerous subsections, the accession book includes primarily eighteenth- and nineteenth-century titles with a smaller selection of seventeenth and early twentieth-century works. In short, it represents one of the largest, if not the largest private collection of Shakespeareana in Canada for its time.

Over the past year we have attempted to reassemble Barnett’s Shakespeareana collection through a careful examination of the accession book, the online catalogue, and when possible, through access to the more than 1100 surviving books. This talk will offer a retrospective account of the processes, challenges and results of this work over the last year with special attention given to Barnett’s collecting and classification system as well as his special interest in unique copies. We will also discuss the digital potential for organizing, mapping and visualizing this rich dataset.

Joshua D. Lambier
Joshua D. Lambier

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