Episode 6: Daryl Green, Magdalen College Old Library

Listen to the podcast recording here:

Living Libraries Episode 6 Daryl Green ILiving Libraries
00:00 / 45:38

In this, the final episode of the Living Libraries podcast, we visited Daryl Green in Magdalen College’s Old Library.

Daryl first talks us through his journey of becoming a librarian. He came to the UK in 2006 to do a master’s degree in Medieval Studies, and started working part time at York Minister’s Cathedral Library. Daryl then moved back to the states to complete his librarian qualifications, before being offered a job in St Andrews, Scotland. After working there for six and a half years, he then moved to work in Magdalen College.

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Daryl explains that Magdalen College was founded in 1458, in the old buildings of the Hospital of St John. The Old Library has been used as a library space since the 1480’s, and it was originally a chained library until 1797/8, when the library was largely rearranged. The current library is a reimaging of the space as it would have appeared in the 1820’s. 

Magdalen’s library collection, Daryl explains, started with William Waynflete's collection of books and significant funds and lands. Magdalene, unusually, started buying books from early on its history, rather than solely relying on the collections of its fellows.

Daryl first shows us a book which belonged to John Goodyear, an estate manager and botanist. Helpfully, Goodyear often records various financial details about his book buying and restoration. Trevor’s Herbal, the book Daryl shows us, was printed in 1526 in London, and contains many woodcut illustrations of different plant types.  

The next book Daryl shows us is from the collection of Arthur Throckmorton. He bequeathed any books that his wife did not want, so the college received many books written on the continent. The book Daryl describes is a first edition of Nicolaus Copernicus’ De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), which was immediately placed on the list of banned books issued by the Catholic Church.

John Foxe’s copy of William of Malmesbury’s History of the English Church is the final manuscript which Daryl discusses in this section. The manuscript contains the hundreds of glosses added by Foxe, which were later used to write his Book of Martyrs.

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The Wild Card(s):

Daryl took his Wild Card nomination literally, showing us a draft of Oscar Lady Windemere’s Fan, which was later renamed A Play About A Good Woman. The college is now focussing on collecting Wilde’s materials from after 1920.

His second (cheating) wild card is not a book, but  the shoe and buskin of William Waynflete, which probably dates to the 1470’s. It is one of the finest examples of surviving fifteenth century textiles.

Librarian’s Choice:

Daryl decides to cheat once again in this section.

His first choice is Peter Apian’s astronomical calculator Astronomicum Caesareum, printed in 1540. The book contains two volvelles, one which indicates the meridian of any heavenly body, the other calculates where you might see a heavenly body in any given place, at any given time.

Daryl’s final choice is a 1456 manuscript written in Cambridge. The manuscript contains the name of the scribe, and a note asking the reader to remember him.

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This recording can be listened to in isolation, or you can scroll through the pictures of the objects and locations we're discussing below.