The staff of the Bentley Rare Book Gallery are beyond thrilled to (re)start our blog, Bentley’s Miscellany, and share our thoughts with you on all things bookish. My name is Dr. Julia Skinner–I’m the new Rare Books Curator for the Bentley, and someone you’ll see on this blog pretty regularly.
I just received my PhD in Information Studies from Florida State University, and I also come equipped with a Library and Information Studies Master’s and a Center for the Book Certificate from University of Iowa (as well as a BA in Psychology!) I love doing research, teaching, and working with the community, and I’m thrilled to apply my experience to my work here. You can learn more about me and the research I do on my blog.
Why Bentley’s Miscellany?
The name of our blog rolls off the tongue, but you might be wondering if there’s a story behind it. The Bentley Rare Book Gallery is named after Fred Bentley, Sr., a successful lawyer from Marietta, Georgia and passionate collector of art and books….and the man whose initial donation of rare books started our collection in the 1980s. One of the sets of books he donated is called Bentley’s Miscellany, which was given to him as a gift by his wife. Mr. Robert Williams, the founder of the Bentley and its first curator, and currently our curator emeritus, has many great stories about the early days of the Bentley, some of which we’ll be featuring here.
Bentley’s Miscellany was a monthly literary magazine released by publisher Richard Bentley beginning in 1837, with Charles Dickens as its first editor. It included contributions from many beloved authors, and is credited for introducing American audiences to British authors such as Edgar Allen Poe and Herman Melville. Our set of Bentley’s Miscellany includes 68 volumes (some of them are duplicates), beautifully bound in cloth and stamped with gold. The magazine was published until 1868, when a different publisher merged it with Temple Bar.
We may not be quite as eloquent as some of the contributors to Bentley’s Miscellany in times past, but we’re just as enthusiastic about sharing our work, and we’re very excited to show you all the great things going on in the Bentley. We love to hear from readers and book enthusiasts, so make sure to comment, follow us here and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!