Rare Book School Announces Inaugural Lecture by Kenneth W. Rendell

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Charlottesville, VA – Rare Book School is pleased to announce that Kenneth W. Rendell and Shirley McNerney have generously endowed an annual lecture on the importance of original manuscripts and rare books to human understanding. The Kenneth W. Rendell Endowed Lecture at the Rare Book School will focus on the connection that collecting rare books and manuscripts offers to people and events of the past, our shared human history, and the intellectual thrill and emotional pleasures of collection. This lecture series will highlight the roles of collectors, librarians, and dealers, not only in preserving human history, but also in providing insight and insight into the present and the future.

Ken Rendell is the owner of Kenneth W. Rendell II, Inc. Founded in 1959, Ken’s company specializes in historical letters, documents and manuscripts. Famous for exposing forgeries such as Hitler’s Diaries, Mormon Forgeries and Jack the Ripper’s Forged Diary, Ken has published and been interviewed extensively on these and many other collection development topics, to counterfeits, World War II, Western America and manuscripts. Ken is also the founder of the International WWII Museum in Boston. As a philanthropist, Ken has a long history with Rare Book School. He was a founding supporter and served on the board of trustees of Columbia University’s Rare Book School and continued his support after moving to the University of Virginia. Last year also marked Ken and Shirley’s major gift of the Forged Handwriting Detection Collection to the Grolier Club, as well as the endowment of an annual lecture to the Club: the Rendell Lecture on the Importance of original manuscripts to understand the thoughts, intentions, and personalities of historical figures.

“It is an honor to hold in your hands and read the original manuscripts and rare books that have influenced, if not created, our history and our culture,” observed Rendell. “The personal thrill and excitement is often overshadowed by the intellectual experience of these glimpses into human history. My personal collections, which begin with an extensive collection of the ancient world, books and manuscripts concerning creativity, music , the philosophy, causes and consequences of World War II, and a very large and important collection of Western Americana are a great source of inspiration, stimulation and excitement for me. My reason for founding this series of lectures is to highlight highlight collectors who share my enthusiasm for collecting Collecting original manuscripts and rare books is not only intellectually stimulating, it is very exciting!

Starting this year, the Kenneth W. Rendell Endowed Lecture will be held annually in Charlottesville, Virginia at the University of Virginia, alongside the Rare Book School Summer School. The inaugural lesson is scheduled for Monday, June 13 at 5:30 p.m. ET in the Dôme de la Rotonde room. The conference is free and everyone is welcome. Beverly Rogers will present “Victorian Connections: Books and Stories”.

At a Bonhams sale in 2018, Rogers made the closing bid on a first edition of John Donne’s collected poems (1633) in original calfskin. It first belonged to a chaplain. From him it passed to William Smith, Member of Parliament, and then to Smith’s great-granddaughter, Barbara Leigh Smith, later Madame Bodichon.

Bodichon was an artist, suffragist, and pioneer in women’s education. All sorts of scholars frequented his salons, notably his friend, George Eliot. Donne’s poems offered solace to Eliot during her visit, for on the opening blank sheet, in her characteristic hand, she listed her ten favourites. It’s a connection like this, a covenant made manifest by the material object, that excites Rogers to collect rare books.

Rogers’ Library represents a representative sample of Victorian literature as it was originally published. It illustrates the wide range of bookbinding styles, from downright drab elegance to the elegance of the Arts and Crafts period, and it demonstrates the variety of options for reading fiction available to a growing middle class in the Britain of the Nineteenth century. Better still, the collection calls to be seen and touched and to tell stories that go beyond the text – stories that reveal relationships and stories that would be lost without the artifact.

Rogers’ adventure began with an airplane reading called Used and rare: travels in the world of books. It brought him a lot of fun and stimulating studies. It also brought her to Rare Book School to share stories of adventures, friendships, and chance discoveries that found her along the way.

Beverly Rogers is president of the Rogers Foundation, which provides college scholarships, sponsors initiatives to adequately fund Nevada schools, recognizes educators, and provides a platform for local artists to flourish. She holds a master’s degree in English and serves on the advisory boards of the Black Mountain Institute and the Lied Library at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. Rogers’ passion for all things bookish gave him the opportunity to teach at UNLV, encourage writers, and organize public book lectures and exhibitions of his rare book collection. She describes herself as a champion of leaders.

A recording of this talk will be available after June 13 on the Rare Book School website (rarebookschool.org), YouTube and iTunes or your favorite podcast delivery system (search “Rare Book School”).


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