June 5, 1996
Don McKenzie and David McKitterick after the lecture
To a packed lecture theatre in Oxford's English Faculty,
Barry Bloomfield, Chairman of the McKenzie Trust, began his
Bloomfield: We come here this evening to hear a lecture by David
McKitterick, "Printers in the Marketplace", but before that, I'm going
to delay you for a few moments, so please bear with me while I explain
to you how this lecture came to be. It's a sort of explication de lecteur.
It is the first lecture - public annual lecture - to be sponsored by something
called the McKenzie Trust. Now the McKenzie Trust has two aims. It is to
establish an annual public lecture, delivered at Oxford University by a
distinguished scholar on the history of the book, scholarly editing, bibliography
and the sociology of texts - this is the inaugural lecture. And it is to
establish the D.F McKenzie Prize for excellence in teaching as an annual
reward in recognition of distinction for teaching in this University.
Now it is, as our honorand will have gathered by now [laughter],
to commemorate the life and achievement (and that doesn't mean that he
is any danger of conking out! [laughter]) of Donald Francis McKenzie.
And it was a concerted effort by his friends, his colleagues, his pupils,
and his ex-pupils - and these are not mutually exclusive categories, I
The ordinary festschrift, while it clutters up the library shelves,
is very worthy piece of work but it does get forgetten and it does get
superseded. And it is not our intention - the progenitors of the McKenzie
Trust - that this will happen in this case - we want it to go on.
I should say here that this is not an Oxford-centred effort alone. Support
has come from the United Kingdom generally, from Schools of English, from
societies, from associations - both here, and in the United States, and
in the "Far Antipodes", as W. Grace [?] might have said. (I'm sure Don
would appreciate that reference!) It has been widely supported, and it
would not have escaped the percipient textual critics in this room that
today is the fifth of June in which Don joins the Old Age Pensioners club!
[Laughter] We will not sing "Happy Birthday" to Don, but I trust
that we will congratulate him after this lecture!
We have much to congratulate him on. He has published an enormous amount
of work - we all use his laboriously-compiled Stationers' Company's Apprentice
Registers, his analyses of the annual statistics of printing in this country,
his Panizzi lectures, his history of Cambridge University printing. I think
the Panizzi lectures were a particularly groundbreaking effort - they roused
enormous hostility in the United States! [Laughter] The other one
- the one I always remember - was "Printers of the Mind" in Studies
in Bibliography - the first offensive in the enemy's camp, as you might
say! But it was again something which reminded us that bibliographers,
looking for commas and press figures and so on, should get their noses
up out of the books occasionally, look at the records and look at the people
who actually produced the books. Don, by his teaching achievement here
and by his general effervescence, has imported humanity back into bibliography
- to our mutual benefit.
This Trust has proceeded hugger-mugger up to now, surreptiously going around
putting the arm on people, extracting money from here, and all the rest
of it - but I should like you to know that our indefatigable and indispensable
secretary Michael Suarez, who is lurking around the room somewhere, tells
me that in less than ten weeks campaigning we have reached more than £11
000, which is quite sufficient to keep the lecture and the prize going.
As complacent chairman - like the Shogun I send the Daimyos out with the
maruding Samurai to ravish the countryside and bring in the loot - we are
very optimistic now we go public that we will get to £25 000 by the
end of the year. We shall not object if at the conclusion of the business
you press money upon either of us! [Laughter] But if you can persuade
other people to press money on us we should be doubly gratefully. We have
been supported not only by persons but also by institutions, Departments
of English and other bibliographical societies.
What else have I got to say? I don't need to say much about Don; I shall
say a little bit about him. I can always remember Giles Barber saying to
me once about Tom Tanselle's writings, "He's shot all the game!". If you
look at Don's record - he's been Professor of Bibliography and Textual
Criticism, he was Sandars Reader in Bibliography at Cambridge, he was the
inaugural Panizzi lecturer at the Britsh Library, he has been President
of the Bibliographial Society, he's a gold medallist of the Bibliographical
Society, he's a Fellow of the British Academy, honorary member of the Bibliographical
Society of America and numerous others, a Marc Fitch prize-winner, etc.
etc. I won't say he has actually won all the prizes, but we have
been very very lucky in having him here in this country, and the aim of
the Trust is to commemorate that achievement.
All it remains for me now to do is to introduce our speaker, David McKitterick,
and his lecture.
He's an honest librarian, as it were, gone wrong. [Laughter] But
he is inching back into librarianship as Fellow and Librarian of Trinity
College, Cambridge. Last year he was elected Fellow of the British Acdemy.
He has numerous publications. He is a Cambridge-based specialist. He is
Vice-President of the Bibliographical Society, President of the Cambridge
Bibliographical Society, adviser to the Central Council on the Care of
Churches, a trustee of the Wordsworth Trust - a very busy man indeed and
we are very lucky to have him here today and please welcome him as the
inaugural McKenzie Trust lecturer. [Applause]
Dr David McKitterick then began his lecture (full text not given here)
with the following remarks:
I think perhaps we ought to thank everybody in the audience for keeping
a secret. The only person who was under particular pressure was Christine
[pictured with Don on right] but somehow even she managed to stall
the questions which came home day by day as Don tried, not without not
some percipience, to work out exactly was going to happen...
McKenzie: It failed! [Laughter]
Dr McKitterick's lecture dealt with the History of Cambridge University
Press in the eighteenth and nineteenth century - and so, drew, both in
subject and in approach, on much of Professor McKenzie's own work on the
Press. He also mentioned in passing that Professor McKenzie's Cambridge
PhD on the University Press has only been read three times in the past
twenty years - perhaps because it is some three times fatter than its neighbours
on the shelves.
All the text has been based on transcripts from tape recordings
of the opening remarks by Barry Bloomfield.
The lecture itself was not recorded or transcribed.
The images are © Ian Gadd.
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