Le Roman de la Rose

Collections - Posted 15-11-2021

In 1922 the Library purchased over 6,000 books and 150 manuscripts which had been collected by Francis William Bourdillon (1852-1921), poet, scholar and bibliographer from Midhurst in Sussex. The collection includes many mediaeval French texts and early illustrated books. One of the highlights of the collection is 23 editions of Le Roman de la Rose published before 1550. This is an allegorical poem about romantic love, begun in about 1230 by Guillaume de Lorris and completed around half a century later by Jean de Meun.

The editions include beautiful wood engravings. In one of the Library’s copies, printed in 1531, they have all been coloured by hand.

The Library continues to add to this collection, and recently purchased an edition of Le Roman de la Rose which we did not already hold. The edition was published in Paris in 1538. The copy is bound in two volumes, and in gold on the covers are the arms of Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour (1721-1764), member of the French Court and mistress of King Louis XV. The volumes contain extensive manuscript notes, possibly in Madame de Pompadour’s own hand, suggesting that she read the text in detail.

Timothy Cutts
Rare Books Librarian

This post is also available in: Welsh


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