Archive for the 'John Overholt' Category

If you can’t say something nice…

I don’t know much about this little clipping I found in the back of a copy of Mrs. Piozzi’s Anecdotes, but I think it’s safe to say the author was not a fan of Johnson.

Character of Dr. Johnson, Written After His Death

A Bard, whom Apollo had never inspir’d;
A Courtier, who scribbled just as he was hir’d;
A Critic, thro’ caprice and prejudice blind,
And virtuous, because to no vices inclin’d;
An implicit Believer, because he ne’er doubted,
And a Writer, because he could not live without it.
In conduct a Bear, conversation a Clown,
A Friend to no country excepting his own.
An Author inflated with pride and bombast;
A Bigot, in trammels confin’d to the last;
A Dupe to the Church, and a slave to the Priest:
In learning a Pedant, in manners a Beast.

Public Advertiser poem

UPDATE 03/08/10

My thanks to Professor James Woolley of Lafayette College for suggesting that this poem is perhaps an imitation of a 1731 blast aimed at Sir Robert Walpole (questionably attributed to Jonathan Swift).

With favour and fortune fastidiously blest,
He’s loud in his laugh, and he’s coarse in his jest;
Of favour and fortune unmerited, vain,
A sharper in trifles, a dupe in the main;
Achieving of no thing, still promising wonders.
By dint of experience improving in blunders;
Oppressing true merit, exalting the base.
And sell1ng his country to purchase his place;
A jobber of stocks by retailing false news;
A prater at court in the style of the stews ;
Of virtue and worth by profession a giber;
Of juries and senates the bully and briber.
Though I name not the wretch, you all know who I mean—
Tis the cur-dog of Britain, and spaniel of Spain.

Published in:John Overholt |on November 19th, 2009 |Comments Off on If you can’t say something nice…

Mary Hyde’s Wilde side

via the Exlibris email list:

The Collector as Artist: Lady Eccles and Oscar Wilde.

John Stokes

Monday 11 January 2010 at 18.00 at the British Library Conference Centre 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB.

Taking Lady Eccles’ magnificent donation of material relating to Oscar Wilde and his circle to the British Library as its example, the talk will explore the ways in which the creativity of the collector can, in turn, inspire the imagination of the scholar.

Mary, Viscountess Eccles (1912 – 2003), was one of the foremost collectors of her time, amassing an outstanding wealth of material relating to Wilde which she bequeathed to the British Library. The Eccles Collection of Oscar Wilde comprises almost 2,000 items, including manuscripts (correspondence, works, etc.) printed books (amongst them a number of presentation copies and books from Wilde’s own library) and a wide range of ephemera. This talk celebrates the completion of the cataloguing of the collection which is now available through the Library’s online catalogues.

John Stokes is Emeritus Professor of Modern British Literature in the Department of English at King’s College London. Together with Dr Mark Turner, also of King’s College, he is now editing Wilde’s journalism for the Oxford English Texts edition of the Complete Works.

The talk will be followed by a drinks reception.

Attendance is free, but please register your name with Teresa Harrington at the British Library.

Published in:John Overholt |on November 18th, 2009 |Comments Off on Mary Hyde’s Wilde side

Last chance to see

I’ve given several tours of the Hyde Collection exhibition since it opened in August, and HCL News has just done a story about the last of these, accompanied by a picture in which you can see me attempting to point out something without putting smudgy fingerprints on the display case. That’s a good time to remind those of you in the Boston area that the exhibition will be closing here on November 14th. Don’t despair if you can’t make it, however; the new and improved version will open at the Grolier Club in New York on December 9th, with extra things I didn’t have room for here at Houghton.

Published in:John Overholt |on November 5th, 2009 |Comments Off on Last chance to see

Johnson at 300 at Yale

My colleague Kathryn James’s exhibition on Johnson and Boswell, “Really As It Was: Writing the Life of Samuel Johnson” will be on display at Yale’s Beinecke Library until mid-December, and has an excellent online version as well. The Beinecke is of course the home of the tremendous Boswell Papers collection, much of which has been digitized.

Published in:John Overholt |on October 26th, 2009 |Comments Off on Johnson at 300 at Yale

A new member of the family

Today we unveiled the newest blog at Houghton, the aptly named Houghton Library Blog. Alongside the Catablog and the Modern Books and Manuscripts Blog, the new blog will cover new acquisitions, events, and interesting discoveries throughout the all the departments at Houghton.

Published in:John Overholt |on October 23rd, 2009 |Comments Off on A new member of the family

Peyraud rundown

You’ll need to have access to the journal Eighteenth-Century Studies to read it, but Maureen Mulvihill’s report on the Paula Peyraud sale, at which we made a number of purchases, is now online.

UPDATE: The PDF of the report is now available here.

Published in:John Overholt |on October 16th, 2009 |Comments Off on Peyraud rundown

Just wild about Mary

My fellow Mary Hyde enthusiast Jerry Morris has just posted a great story about finding a used copy of Bate’s biography of Johnson with a triple play of Johnsonian provenance, in a rather out-of-the-way place. In addition, he’s posted scans of some photos of Mary, including a scandalous photo I’d never seen before. Who knew the future Viscountess Eccles was such a wild youth!

Published in:John Overholt |on October 13th, 2009 |Comments Off on Just wild about Mary

Johnson on the air

In honor of the tercentenary, BBC Radio 4 is airing a series of programs on Samuel Johnson, including a dramatization of Boswell’s Life, and an appreciation of Johnson by current London mayor Boris Johnson. Act now, because the programs will stay on the website for only a week after they air.

Published in:John Overholt |on September 9th, 2009 |Comments Off on Johnson on the air

A very successful symposium

There’s a nice article in the new Harvard Gazette about our just-completed symposium Johnson at 300, and it provides me with an opportunity to thank all of those who contributed to making it so tremendously enjoyable and productive, most especially my colleagues Tom Horrocks and Peter Accardo, who worked tirelessly to bring it to fruition.

Published in:John Overholt |on September 3rd, 2009 |Comments Off on A very successful symposium

A Monument-al grand opening

Two very big pieces of news today: both the physical and virtual versions of my exhibition A Monument More Durable Than Brass are open to visitors today. If you can, come by our Edison & Newman room anytime Houghton Library is open to see some of the collection’s greatest treasures in person. If you’re interested in Samuel Johnson, it’s an experience not to be missed.

If you can’t make it, however, be sure to check out the online version of the exhibition for a close-up look at all the books, manuscripts, letters, and artifacts on display.

This is my first, and just Houghton’s second, online exhibition, so please send your feedback to me at I’m very proud that we’ve managed to have the online exhibition open simultaneously with the physical one, and I want to thank Enrique Diaz of the Harvard College Library Office of Communication for all his hard work, and for his beautiful and elegantly functional design.

Published in:John Overholt |on August 26th, 2009 |Comments Off on A Monument-al grand opening

The new catalog is here!

I just had the great pleasure of opening the first carton of the published catalog for my exhibition, and it’s a pretty sharp-looking publication if I do say so myself. It won’t officially go on sale from Harvard University Press until February, but if you happen to be coming to the symposium, there will be copies for sale at the opening reception for the very reasonable price of $35. It’s 124 pages, lavishly illustrated in color, and features, in addition to the exhibition items, an essay on Johnson by Harvard Professor James Engell and on the Hydes by William Zachs.

Catalog dust jacket

Catalog Cover

Catalog title page

You’d probably have to be a cataloger to understand my excitement, but this means I’m going to get my own Library of Congress authority record!

Published in:John Overholt |on August 21st, 2009 |Comments Off on The new catalog is here!

One longs to say something

I’ve mentioned before our substantial collection of books annotated by Johnson’s friend and biographer Hester Thrale Piozzi. I’m tremendously pleased that Harvard’s Open Collections Program will be digitizing a number of volumes from that collection as part of a project on readers and evidence of their reading. The collection is still in development, but the first of Mrs. Piozzi’s books to be digitized (and also one of the most interesting) is now available.

Hester Piozzi and James Boswell were rivals for Johnson’s attention during his life, and for his legacy after his death, so it’s particularly interesting to read her often combative annotations to Boswell’s Life of Johnson. All four volumes have been digitized in high resolution from cover to cover, and I hope they’ll be of great use to scholars and students around the world.

Vol. 1
Vol. 2
Vol. 3
Vol. 4

Of course, if you’d like to visit this set in person, don’t forget that you can do so in my exhibition A Monument More Durable Than Brass: The Donald & Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson, opening August 26th.

Published in:John Overholt |on August 19th, 2009 |Comments Off on One longs to say something

In a fortnight’s time…

Just a reminder that we’re just two weeks away from the opening of our exhibition A Monument More Durable Than Brass: The Donald & Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson (make sure you click on the arrows on the right) and our symposium Johnson at 300. You can read more about the latter in this just-published story from HCL News.

Published in:John Overholt |on August 13th, 2009 |Comments Off on In a fortnight’s time…

Our newest addition

I’m hoping to post a few more details here when I have more time, but for now, take a look at this news brief on our new acquisitions from the sale of the Paula Peyraud Collection at Bloomsbury Auctions in New York last month. It even includes a picture of yours truly, although perhaps in not the most graceful of poses.

Published in:John Overholt |on June 2nd, 2009 |Comments Off on Our newest addition

Sam Loves LA

One of the first major Johnson exhibitions of the tercentenary year is now open at the Huntington Library. Guest curated by Johnson scholar O.M. Brack, the exhibition draws on the collections at the Huntington and the outstanding private collection of Loren and Frances Rothschild. Sadly, I won’t get a chance to see this myself, but if you’re in the area between now and September 21st, I urge you to stop by.

Published in:John Overholt |on May 26th, 2009 |Comments Off on Sam Loves LA