Events & Exhibits - Fall 2000

Library and Gallery to Present Second Part of Leahy Rare Book Exhibit

Weinberg Memorial Library and the University Art Gallery are pleased to announce a joint exhibit of rare books from the Edward R. Leahy collection. The exhibit will run from 4 November 2000 until 2 February 2001. Edward Leahy is a 1968 graduate of the University and has recently completed a term as chair of the Board of Trustees. He began collecting books while in law school at Boston College during the late 1960s. In the past three decades he has assembled a spectacular collection of rare books ranging in date from 15th century early printed books through significant items of the 20th century. His collection focuses on five main areas: Early Printed Books; English Literature (including a specific emphasis on Samuel Johnson/James Boswell and Charles Dickens); Elaborate Early 20th-century Bindings and Modern Illuminated Manuscripts (already exhibited in the Heritage Room this past winter); Horror and Fantasy Literature; and Children's Literature (especially A. A. Milne and Beatrix Potter).
 
Because of its size, approximately 150 books, the exhibit will be displayed in two areas. Current plans are to exhibit Early Printed Books and English Literature up to Samuel Johnson in the University Art Gallery. This group of books includes some of the larger items in the collection.
 
The phrase "Early Printed Books" typically signifies books printed between the invention of printing by Johann Gutenberg in about 1454 and approximatel 1600  Books printed between the invention of printing and 1501 are also called incunabula. During this period the features that w connect with the book, such as a title page, page numbers, and an index, were developed. Mr. Leahy's collection contains some important and physically impressive books from this period including the Nuremberg Chronicle, the most extensively illustrated 15th century book, early editions of St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and four early Bibles. Edward Leahy's collection of English literature is even more impressive. His collection contains first editions of John Milton, the Second and Fourth Folios of Shakespeare, a stunning copy of Thomas Gray's An Elegy Wrote in a Country Churchyard, and other works by British authors.
 
Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby on display
 
The remainder of the books will be exhibited in the Heritage Room. Mr. Leahy has one of the best collections by and about Samuel Johnson (perhaps best known for his Dictionary of the English Language) and James Boswell in private hands, including a unique collection of seven copies of James Boswell's The Life of Samuel Johnson. The collection of The Life of Samuel Johnson includes a copy inscribed twice by Boswell, a copy with Johnson's unexpurgated remarks on marital infidelity (one of only five known copies in the world), a copy with an exquisite Cosway binding, and other copies of bibliographical and historical importance.
His collection includes an impressive group of titles by Charles Dickens. Many of Dickens's stories were originally published as a monthly series. Mr. Leahy has acquired some of Dickens's best-known novels, such as Nicholas Nickleby, in these "parts."
 
The exhibit will feature a choice selection of Mr. Leahy's Horror and Fantasy books, such as first editions of Frankenstein and Dracula as well as Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy and a recently published edition of Frankenstein in a gripping binding.
Finally, a portion of Mr. Leahy's collection of children's literature will be exhibited. The collection includes first editions of the Winnie the Pooh books autographed by author A. A. Milne and illustrator E. P. Shepard; these books contain additional ink drawings by Shepard.  Edward Leahy has a spectacular collection of Beatrix Potter books, 25 of which are housed in a custom-made book box that will also be on exhibit.
 
A catalog of the exhibit is being prepared. Many of the books will be illustrated, some in color, and the catalog will contain physical descriptions of the books as well as historical and biographical information about the books,authors, printers, and publishers.
 
Mr. Leahy will make a presentation on the exhibit on Sunday, November 18th, at 4 pm in the University Art Gallery.
 
Michael Knies
Pride, Passion, Promise: Experience Our Jesuit Tradition