Tag Archives: Book History

J. A. Szirmai

The staff at Ashgate who worked with J. A. Szirmai, author of The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding (1999), were sad to hear that he died on the 2nd December 2014 at the age of 89.

Professor Szirmai spent twenty years in medical research and became a Professor of Medicine before making a name for himself as a professional bookbinder (some of his work can be seen here) and eventually turning to scholarship in the history of binding techniques.

His name has become virtually synonymous with his great reference work The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding, which covers the evolution of binding from the introduction of the codex two thousand years ago to the close of the Middle Ages. The many kind words from reviewers across the globe – a small selection of which can be read below – are testament to Szirmai’s great and lasting impact on the scholarly world.

‘All book historians owe Dr Szirmai an enormous debt of gratitude for having written it.’    The Library

‘A book literally without peer’    Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America

‘Szirmai deserves our indebtedness for a magisterial work which constitutes a milestone in the field of the archaeology of the book, qualifying the author as the first true archaeologist of the binding structure.’    CAB Newsletter

‘Reading it, and then trying to describe it to another person is like trying to describe the Grand Canyon to someone who has never seen it: in the end, you can only say, “You had to be there to understand.”’    Abbey Newsletter

‘The most important single contribution to the history of bookbinding to appear for many decades’    Guild of Booksellers Newsletter

Our sincere condolences to his wife, Mia, and to his family, friends, and those that have been influenced by his extraordinary scholarship.

SHARP conference, Helsinki 2010

We’re disappointed not to be attending this year’s SHARP conference in Helsinki. It looks like it will be a very good conference and, of course, Book History is a subject close to Ashgate’s heart.

The SHARP conference organisers have taken care to provide extra ways for people to follow the conference whether they are attending or not. You can follow the conference on Twitter (the hashtag is #sharp10), keep up to date through Facebook, Visit the Flickr page or, of course, visit the conference website.


New books – Literary Studies, History of the Book

Literary Studies

Forms in Early Modern Utopia: The Ethnography of Perfection   Nina Chordas, University of Alaska Southeast, USA

Gender, Sexuality, and Material Objects in English Renaissance Verse   Pamela S. Hammons, University of Miami, USA

Kipling’s Children’s Literature: Language, Identity, and Constructions of Childhood   Sue Walsh, University of Reading, UK

Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth   Margaret P. Hannay, Siena College, USA

The Poetics and Politics of the American Gothic: Gender and Slavery in Nineteenth-Century American Literature   Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Shakespeare and the Just War Tradition   Paola Pugliatti

Humanities Reference

The History of the Book in the West: 400AD–1455: Volume I   Edited by Jane Roberts and Pamela Robinson, both at Institute of English Studies, University of London, UK

The History of the Book in the West: 5-Volume Set   Series edited by Alexis Weedon, University of Bedfordshire, UK


New books – History, Variorum, Book History


The Cultivation of Monarchy and the Rise of Berlin: Brandenburg-Prussia 1700   Edited by Karin Friedrich, University of Aberdeen, UK and Sara Smart, University of Exeter, UK

Feud, Violence and Practice: Essays in Medieval Studies in Honor of Stephen D. White   Edited by Belle S. Tuten, Juniata College, USA and Tracey L. Billado, Seton Hall University, USA

New in paperback  The Gesta Tancredi of Ralph of Caen: A History of the Normans on the First Crusade   Translated by Bernard S. Bachrach, University of Minnesota, USA and David S. Bachrach, University of New Hampshire, USA

Pauper Capital: London and the Poor Law, 1790–1870   David R. Green, King’s College London, UK

State and Financial Systems in Europe and the USA: Historical Perspectives on Regulation and Supervision in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries   Edited by Stefano Battilossi, Universidad Carlos III Madrid, Spain and Jaime Reis, Universidad de Lisboa, Portugal


China and the Birth of Globalization in the 16th Century   Dennis O. Flynn, University of the Pacific, USA and Arturo Giráldez, University of the Pacific, USA

Humanist Biography in Renaissance Italy and Reformation Germany: Friendship and Rhetoric   James M. Weiss, Boston College, USA

Book History

The History of the Book in the West: 1455–1700: Volume II   Edited by Ian Gadd, Bath Spa University, UK

The History of the Book in the West: 1700–1800: Volume III   Edited by Eleanor F. Shevlin, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, USA

The History of the Book in the West: 1800–1914: Volume IV   Edited by Stephen Colclough, Bangor University, UK and Alexis Weedon, University of Bedfordshire, UK

The History of the Book in the West: 1914–2000: Volume V   Edited by Alexis Weedon, University of Bedfordshire, UK

Geographies of the Book   Edited by Miles Ogborn, Queen Mary University of London, UK and  Charles W.J. Withers, University of Edinburgh, UK