Here’s an insight into week one of the London Rare Books School (LRBS). Aislinn Kelly, English major at University of North Florida, examines History of Book Illustration. 

“When the ‘History of Book Illustration’ students returned to Senate House Library on Friday, the other London Rare Books School students commented on our long absence from the library. Other than the reception at Maggs Bros.—a wonderful event where many contact details and brilliant research ideas were exchanged—we had not been seen since Monday. We had been exclusively at the Victoria & Albert Museum, attending seminars that habitually ran over into the late afternoon.

The ‘Judith’ illustration from the Recueil Crozat

At first, I regretted missing the chance to explore the Senate House Library collection, especially the Crofton Collection of little books, which had caught my attention during Dr Karen Attar’s opening address to the school. But that regret quickly faded as I experienced the seminars and singular opportunities that Elizabeth James and Rowan Watson organised for the book illustration students, from Dr Julia Walworth’s standout seminar on emblem books to the practical printing demonstration at the londonprintstudio—where lithography and etching become physical realities rather than abstract concepts—to the final, very engaging lecture on illustrated children’s literature. Of the numerous illustrated books that we viewed in the conference room of the National Art Library, a few stand out: it was amazing to hold the miniature William Blake prints, which were a great contrast in size, printing method, and content from the oversized Recueil Crozat; and I could hardly believe my luck when I was able to page through Faust and see Delacroix’s illustrations in person rather than on a classroom projector.

Aislinn Kelly with the Recueil Crozat

I know that as I continue my studies and use the extensive bibliography provided by James and Watson, I will recall and continue to appreciate those hours spent in the V&A looking at books both well-known to me and obscure.”

We would like to thank Aislinn for her kind words on LRBS this year.