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As SHARP president Shef Rogers states in his welcome letter, SHARP News has historically been a stimulating resource for book history reviews, updates, and bibliographies. We want to ensure this website continues and expands this tradition by becoming a thriving space for community and scholarly research. Toward that goal, we’re thrilled to announce that we have just hired a new team of editors to revitalize and bring forth new voices and ideas to our community. Please subscribe to receive our updates!

Image of Seated man taking dictation from BL Royal 10 E IV, f. 307

Call for Submissions: SHARP in the Classroom

SHARP News is developing a new division for writing about book history pedagogy. SHARP in the Classroom will provide tools for teaching book history as well as reflections on pedagogical practices and reviews of resources. It is our intent that this body of work will help veterans of and newcomers to book history teach across our field of knowledge. See this page for our call for submissions and to add your name to our list of reviewers.

Cover page of The Earliest Dutch Imposition Manual: A Facsimile of the Manuscript “Overslag-Boek” by Joannes Josephus Balthazar Vanderstraelen

Frans A. Janssen, ed., The Earliest Dutch Imposition Manual: A Facsimile of the Manuscript “Overslag-Boek” by Joannes Josephus Balthazar Vanderstraelen

Apprentice typographers learned the trade on the job; instruction manuals were wasted on them. That such books were made all the same is owing to “the relative small number of the most educated and ambitious master printers and overseers” (Janssen, ed. Wardenaar, 11). One such man was Joannes Josephus Balthazar Vanderstraelen from Antwerp who, in 1784–5, wrote an instruction manual explaining how to place type for different formats into the forme in the correct manner.

Cover for Island of Blue Dolphins, featuring an image of an indigenous woman

Sara L. Schwebel (ed.) and Scott O’Dell, Island of the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Readers Edition

It’s surprising that one of the most important children’s books of the twentieth century has only recently started receiving the critical attention it deserves. Sara L. Schwebel’s excellent Complete Readers Edition offers a significant contribution to a growing body of book histories about classic children’s literature texts and their impacts on generations of readers. Used by countless American K-12 schools and public libraries from the 1960s onward, O’Dell’s historical fiction robinsonade about the real-life Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island, Juana Maria, has been seen as a critical multicultural, feminist young adult text despite some very real concerns about historical accuracy, vanishing Indian tropes, and racism.

Cover image for The Country House Library featuring a photo of a large private library

Mark Purcell, The Country House Library

Following work at the Bodleian Library, Mark Purcell became responsible for libraries in the care of the British National Trust, and he is now in the research-collections department at Cambridge University. With this background, and with his own scholarly focus on private and country-house libraries, he was eminently qualified to write this fine book. It has more than 225 illustrations, many of them in color.

The Hymnal Cover showing title and author

Christopher N. Phillips, The Hymnal: A Reading History

Phillips divides the book into three sites of social reading: the church, the school, and the home, primarily in English society of the 18th and 19th Century. The church was a place of social identity where hymns were sung. James Martineau, a British Unitarian compiler and hymnist, recorded in his hymn book the dates that hymns were sung. In schools, the hymn book was a way of teaching reading to children. The hymn, “When I Can Read My Title Clear” was one of the most popular family hymns that helped children to read (106). The home was the place of the “private hymnbook” (185). A title such as Hymns for Mothers and Children traveled from one family to another because of its large size and many illustrations. Today, we would probably call this a coffee table book. Phillips points out that his chapters may be read separately or chronologically to give a sense of history.