‘The Unicorn and the Fencing Mouse’ is an exhibition of 33 books selected from the thousands in our collections in which readers or owners wrote, doodled, sketched or scribbled. The original library rules of 1713 obliged readers to sign an undertaking not to ‘take away, change ... deface, tear, cutt, Scribble on ... maim, abuse, rend or make imperfect any Book belonging to this Library.’ It is, then, ironic that more and more of those who come to read in Marsh's do so because they are interested in the marks left in the books by previous generations of owners and readers. These marks provide evidence of the ways in which men and women engaged with a range of different texts in early modern Europe.
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Exhibition curated by Maria O’Shea
Maria O’Shea graduated in History and Politics from the University of Limerick in 2006, and received her MA in History from UL in 2008. In the following year she gained an MA in Library and Information Studies from UCD. Until 2019 she was the rare books cataloguer in Marsh’s Library, managing the Reading Room and overseeing the highly successful Visiting Research Fellowship scheme. She now holds a post as Assistant Keeper in the National Library of Ireland.
Online version curated by Arantxa Mejía del Río
Arantxa Mejía del Río is studying for her bachelor’s degree in History at the University of Oviedo, Spain. Mejía’s principal interest is Modern History and specifically the Age of Enlightenment. She is completing her dissertation in the legislation of Philip V against gypsies in Spain. In early 2020, she held a cultural heritage internship at Marsh’s Library which included digitisation of this exhibition.
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