Bibliographical Society

Annual Letter 2016

 February 19, 2016

 Dear Fellow Members,

The Society’s sixty-ninth annual meeting will be held on Friday, March 18, 2016, at 4:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the Harrison Institute / Small Special Collections Library. Following a brief business meeting, we will hold another in our series of programs featuring short papers by current Virginia graduate students who are working in the general area of bibliographical and textual studies. The program will consist of the following three speakers (listed here with their topics):

Laura All: Editorial Errors in Expletives

Nora Benedict: Borges as Bibliographer

Samuel Lemley: The Printing History of the Acta Eruditorum for October 1684

Following the papers, there will be a reception in the rooms of Rare Book School on the first floor of Alderman Library.

In the business part of the meeting, preceding the talks, the winners of the Battestin Fellowships for this year will be announced, and the prizes in the Society’s biennial student book-collecting contest will be awarded. The Battestin Fellowships are named in honor of Martin Battestin, professor of English at UVA who died last year, and his wife Ruthe, a literary scholar and long-time member of the Society’s Council, who has made extraordinary contributions of many kinds to the Society. The aim of the fellowships is to provide summer support for research in the UVA library by graduate students who are working on bibliographical or textual projects. The fellowship selection committee consists of Michael Suarez, David Whitesell, and me.

This year’s book-collecting contest is the fifty-first that the Society has sponsored–making Virginia’s the fifth oldest of the approximately fifty such collegiate contests in the United States. Winners will receive cash prizes and gift certificates from local booksellers. The first-place winner will also receive a scholarship generously donated by Rare Book School, providing a tuition-free opportunity to take one of RBS’s renowned courses. And the first-place winner will be eligible to participate in the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest. In addition, all contestants will be invited to attend an informal talk on book collecting by David Whitesell, curator in the Small Special Collections Library. Selections from the winning collections will be on display in a case on the first floor of Special Collections during the Virginia Festival of the Book (of which our meeting is a part) and for several weeks afterward. I wish to express the Society’s gratitude to Ruthe Battestin for chairing the contest committee and overseeing all the details that the contest involves; toDavid Whitesell and Fred Ribble, the other two contest judges; to David Whitesell again for his willingness to give a talk to the contestants; to the local booksellers who have contributed prizes; to Michael Suarez for the Rare Book School scholarship; and to Anne Ribble for designing the contest poster.

Our meeting, as I mentioned, is part of the Virginia Festival of the Book. This year’s Festival, the twenty-second, runs from March 16 through 20, and its roster of programs can be seen on its website, at We hope that many of our out-of-town members will find more reasons to come to Charlottesville at that time because there will be many events to attract them.

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 Since our last annual meeting, an impressive new volume of Studies in Bibliography, the fifty-ninth, has been published. David Vander Meulen, its exemplary editor, has again drawn on an international group of contributors, who come from Belgium, China, England, and Scotland, as well as the United States. Their fourteen contributions deal with material from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century and involve textual theory, bibliographical analysis, printing history, manuscript studies, attribution of authorship, book history, and autobiography. In preparation are two volumes of collected essays by Paul Needham and a volume of John Bidwell’s essays. And Gordon B. Neavill’s bibliography of the Modern Library, which will be a major contribution to publishing history, will be added to our substantial list of electronic publications in the near future. Each new volume of Studies is distributed by the University of Virginia Press, and the Society’s Secretary-Treasurer has a limited supply of most earlier volumes. All of the Society’s other available publications in printed form can be ordered, at a 10% discount, from Oak Knoll Books (

I want to give special thanks to our vice president and editor, David Vander Meulen, and his assistant, Elizabeth Lynch, for the remarkable devotion and care they bring to the editing and production of the Society’s publications; the Society’s great tradition of publishing Studies and important monographs is being superbly maintained. I also want to express our enormous gratitude to Anne Ribble, our Secretary-Treasurer, for her thoughtful and efficient handling of the Society’s day-to-day business, which includes the fellowship competition. And it gives me great pleasure to thank all the members of the Council as a group for their loyal service to the Society: Ruthe Battestin, Terry Belanger, David Seaman, David Vander Meulen, and David Whitesell.

On behalf of the Council, I thank all of you for your support. I look forward to seeing many of you at the annual meeting, and I send best wishes to you all.

Yours sincerely,

G. Thomas Tanselle