Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2016 Issue

Old Books / New Editions. Part III of III. New Work on Margaret Cavendish’s "The Blazing World" (1666; 2016)

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Welcome to this third and final installment in my Guest Series on new editions of 17th-century women writers. This last essay discusses an extraordinary figure whose writings are a rich weave of interests, from feminism, politics, and education, to astronomy, astrology, and cosmography. This is none other than the remarkable Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (c1623-1673), a writer of many qualities who took English literature to a whole new level. She owned a telescope. She collected optical lenses. She designed her own (lavish) couture. Her visit to the new London Royal Society in 1667 was a sensation. Confident in her abilities and certain of “a glorious Fame”, she published under her own name and her record of publication (plays, poetry, essays, letters, prose fiction, autobiography) was substantial. She described her manuscripts as “paper Bodies”, living things creating “a great Blazing Light” after her death. (An expanding cohort of advocates would say: Yea, she was right!) Her masterpiece and signature work is an astonishing futuristic text, The Blazing-World (London, 1666, 1668), considered the first-ever science fiction novel written and published by a woman writer. It is now available in a new edition for 21st-century readers, prepared by Sara H. Mendelson, a respected scholar on Cavendish and a former president of the Margaret Cavendish Society. Fasten your seatbelts, Duchess Margaret will take you right out of this world. < Click here for essay > 


Posted On: 2016-12-14 03:17
User Name: mairin111

13th December 2016
Auburn Hills, Michigan
Posting for F. Abramson, Auburn Hills, MI.
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May I thank Rare Book Hub and M. Mulvihil for this fascinating series, especially the last piece on the unusual Duchess of Newcastle. I am not a collector, nor a scholar, but I am interested in editing an anthology on early women chemists. The editorial methodologies discussed in this series are like a gift to me, like a how-to graduate seminar. So my thanks to all of you. The essays are beautifully constructed and richly informative. Keep up the good work, everyone ~ F. Abramson, Auburn Hills, MI. 13th December 2016.
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Posted On: 2016-12-14 17:42
User Name: mairin111

Posting for Ann M. Bogle, Writer, Minneapolis.
Via Skype. 14th December 2016.
http://annbogle.blogspot.com
http://fictionaut.com/users/ann-bogle
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As I posted last evening on the esteemed Margaret Cavendish Society List: This essay, with its photographic (illustrative) display, is so enticing. It completely excites me to discover this imaginative 17th-century woman writer and to now have a chance to know more about her special ('galactic') book. I have now read a few pages, finding it genuinely enjoyable & informative, but not in an antiquated way, not in a way that fails to achieve the level of men writers of Cavendish's era: not at all! The Duchess's "fantastical" novel seems readable, approachable, endearing...a classic. So our thanks to Maureen Mulvihill & her host, Mr McKinney, for admirable dedication & commitment in getting up this superb guest series. Clearly, a service to scholars planning editions, and to editors at publishing houses, as well. Best of the season, everyone, AMBogle, Writer, MN.
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Posted On: 2016-12-14 19:50
User Name: alice185

Many thanks for this beautifully done essay, with its wonderful opening anecdote. The whole series has been a great source of information on current work in the field. Alice Browne.


Posted On: 2016-12-14 22:37
User Name: mairin111

Posting for June Harrison, Photographer, Manhattan.
Via Skype. Wednesday, December 14, 2016.
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What a readable, almost leather-bound, tour de force! Your entire series, Maureen, is so beautifully presented and detailed. And useful (useful!) to scholarly editors & publishers.
All three essays are lively and lovely. You really kept up the momentum, too -- brava! And that Duchess of Newcastle, what an 'original'. She sounds like a rock star of her day. I'm sure she was entirely 'galactic' & 'over the Moone'. Best regards to you & Rare Book Hub for holiday cheer. Keep in touch, love how you keep up the standards. Shall watch for that fabled Cavendish Star tomorrow night (Dec 15), shooting through the sky, all the way from Welbeck Abbey, Sherwood Forest. How enchanting. Thank you for this essay & the others. Thrilling!
June Harrison, Photographer / NYC.
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Posted On: 2016-12-15 00:50
User Name: mosher

I thoroughly enjoyed your "Galactic Duchess" essay. The attending gallery of images is wonderful and your essay is so well organized. Congratulations on presenting this material to the world via Bruce McKinney's site which introduces Sara Mendelson's 21st century edition of Cavendish's THE BLAZING-WORLD. Literary contributions by women deserve more and frequent treatment, and especially noteworthy is that Margaret Cavendish's work is a first science fiction novel both written by and published by a woman writer. The work deserves this new debut for the modern age. -- Philip R. Bishop, member ABAA, ILAB, IOBA, and the Grolier Club.


Posted On: 2016-12-16 04:27
User Name: mairin111

15th December 2016.
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Greetings, all ~
A note of thanks to the many colleagues, associates, friends, and RBH subscribers who posted a Comment on my recent Guest Series. It's been a heady three-month whirl, and a mighty good one, with strong affirmative response from many quarters. Bruce McKinney and Mike Stillman at RBH have been remarkable hosts & caring stewards of my work. And because the last installment in the Series, my Cavendish essay, was posted 12 days late, owing to delays with images & permissions, it lost exposure; but it will be re-announced to RBH subscribers on January 1st, for an extended viewing (and, of course, my three essays will continue to be accessible on the site). Among my Guest Series commentators, special thanks to: Alice Brown, PhD, Brooklyn, who faithfully posted on all three essays; and to the following respected specialists: Isobel Grundy, PhD, Alberta, CA; Ann Waldron, MD, Reno, NV; Felix de Villiers, Verona, Italy; Beverly E. Schneller, PhD, Nashville, TN; Hermann Real, PhD, Muenster, Germany; Mona Scheuermann, PhD, Chicago; Dan Heldridge, San Francisco; Ann M. Bogle, Minneapolis; Margaret Mulvihill, London; Mary Ann Mulvihill-Decker, NY; Alice Blueglass, Sarasota, FL; Lorna Clark, PhD, Ontario, CA; Mary Finn, NYC; June Harrison, NYC; a few others I've yet to meet; and most recently, Philip R. Bishop, Ephrata, PA, whose Mosher Press is an inspiration < http://www.thomasbirdmosher.net/ >. My affectionate thanks to each of you. And now, this evening of 15 December, let us look skyward for the special Margaret Cavendish Star.
Smiles & a wave,
Maureen E. Mulvihill, 2016 Guest Writer.
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Posted On: 2016-12-18 12:39
User Name: davidbarry

Beautifully written, how very fortunate are we to have such a writer, scholar and one of the nicest people I am so lucky to call a friend.
We truly need more people in this world like Maureen.

David Barry, Bookbinding Conservator


Posted On: 2016-12-19 18:20
User Name: mairin111

P.S. to my thank-you note, above:

And hearty thanks, as well, to David Barry, Griffin Bookbinding LLC, St Petersburg, Florida,
for the generous Comment. Mr Barry has been the Conservator of my old timers
since 2011; and thanks to his good eye & judgment, my collection of rare & special
books has never looked better. And he's a courteous sort, too, which goes a long way
with me. A few years ago, David was a guest speaker at the invitation of the Florida Bibliophile Society; he gave a demonstration on book restoration, at his shop in St
Petersburg ~ 'twas an SRO event. David Barry is a bookman in ye olde Welsh character! And he made a stunning contribution to my "Pulter" and "Cavendish" essays. A valued associate, indeed.
Counting my blessings this holidays season,
Maureen E. Mulvihill / 19th December 2016.
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Rare Book Monthly

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