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 opening remarks:

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 may say.

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while it clutters up the library shelves, is very worthy piece of work but it does get forgetten and it does get superseded.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:

 McKitterick: 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]

 McKitterick: Good!

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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