Bibliographical Society

Annual Letter 2023

March 6, 2023

Dear Fellow Members,

The Society’s 74th Annual Meeting will be held on Friday, March 24, 2023, at 4:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the Harrison/Small Special Collections Library. Following a brief business meeting, the Society and the UVa Library will launch an exciting new digital publication, the Modern Library Bibliography, 1925-1959, by Gordon B. Neavill. As with volumes of Studies in Bibliography, the work will be available world-wide and without charge through the Society’s website,

Neavill’s landmark work chronicles the history of the most important American reprint series of significant works of literature and thought published in the twentieth century. It includes an exhaustive bibliography of first printings and major bibliographical variants of each title published in the series during its most prolific and profitable period. A demonstration of the new website will include a talk entitled “Handsome, Durable, and Inexpensive: The Modern Library, 1925-1959,” by Society Vice President David Vander Meulen. Council member David Whitesell is preparing an exhibit of important Modern Library publications from the UVa’s Library’s collection to accompany the talk. Our meeting is once again a part of the Virginia Festival of the Book which offers a wonderful variety of book-related events from March 16 through March 26. We hope many of you will want to participate in other Festival events (

In the business part of the meeting, two items need to be voted on by the membership:

  • The Council proposes an amendment to the Society’s By-laws changing the number of members of the BSUVA Council from seven to “up to and including nine.”
  • Council member John Unsworth, whose term ends with this meeting, has agreed to stand for re-election to another three-year term. Mr. Unsworth is Dean of Libraries at UVa and Professor of English. His wise advice on an array of issues facing the Council and his steadfast support over the last seven years have been invaluable.

The BSUVA Secretary is happy to receive email votes on either of these items at

At the meeting we will be announcing the winners of the eleventh round of Battestin Fellowships. These fellowships are named in honor of the late Martin Battestin, professor of English at UVa, and his wife Ruthe, an Honorary Councilor, who has made extraordinary contributions of many kinds to the Society. The fellowships provide summer support of $3500 to UVa graduate students who are working on bibliographical or textual projects in UVa libraries. The fellowship selection committee consisted of Michael Suarez, G. Thomas Tanselle, and David Whitesell.

The Society has once again this year donated $15,000 to Rare Book School to fund five BSUVA Scholarships to Rare Book School. We also made the final payment on our latest commitment of $10,000 to fund purchases on bibliographical history by the UVa Library’s Special Collections department.

Since our last annual meeting, work has progressed on several publications. Most notably, in June the Society published G. Thomas Tanselle’s Books in My Life, an autobiography and a study of the rationale and practice of book collecting. In a review in the journal Manuscripts (Vol. 74, no.4), William Butts calls it “a book from a leading collector, bibliographer and textual critic that you want to savor like a fine cappuccino, to mull over like a Henry James novel, to contemplate up close like a Vermeer painting.” Another work of Mr. Tanselle’s, Descriptive Bibliography, published by the Society in 2020, was reprinted in December when the first print run had sold out. Work continues on vol. 61 of Studies in Bibliography, as well as on a two-volume edition of essays by Paul Needham on paper and Gutenberg Bibles.  All the society’s publications are available from Oak Knoll Books, at a 10% discount for BSUVA members who identify themselves as such (

I want to give special thanks to our Vice President and editor, David Vander Meulen, and his assistant, Elizabeth Lynch, for their extraordinary work in editing and producing the Society’s publications, splendidly maintaining the Society’s great tradition of publishing Studies and important monographs. I also want to express gratitude to Anne Ribble, our Secretary-Treasurer, for her efficient handling of the Society’s day-to-day business. And it gives me great pleasure to thank all the members of the Council as a group for their loyal service to the Society: Terry Belanger, Karen Parshall, David Seaman, John Unsworth, David Vander Meulen, and David Whitesell.

On behalf of the Council, I thank all members of the Society for the ongoing support that makes our programs possible, and I send you best wishes.


John T. Casteen