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News Release — January 15, 2000

Nicholas Basbanes to Give 5th Annual Pforzheimer Lecture

Nicholas A. Basbanes, author of A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books (Henry Holt and Company, 1995), will give the 5th annual Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Lecture at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center. Basbanes's talk, "Among the Gently Mad," recounts tales of book collecting throughout history and is filled with humorous and fascinating accounts of the famous and anonymous in pursuit of what they held most dear -- books.

The lecture will be held on Monday, February 7 at 6 p.m. in the fourth floor auditorium of the Ransom Center. The Center is located on the northeast corner of 21st and Guadalupe streets. The event is free and open to the public.

Nicholas A. Basbanes has written extensively on bibliophilism and is a book collector himself. A Gentle Madness, now in its sixth printing, received wide praise and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1996. According to best-selling author Scott Turow, "Nick Basbanes makes you love books, and the collectors he writes about, and the volume in your hands," while The New York Times remarked that, "A Gentle Madness is an impressive achievement...and is compulsory for anyone seriously interested in books or curious about the manic nature of collecting." Bas banes is currently completing work on Lions at the Gate: A Continuum of Book People, Book Places, and Book Culture, to be published in the fall of 2000.

The Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Lecture at the Ransom Center is an annual lecture series featuring a prominent authority on bibliography, book arts, libraries, and related topics.

The Carl H. Pforzheimer Library was acquired by the Ransom Center in 1986. The Library was formed by Carl H. Pforzheimer, a New York investment banker and bibliophile who died in 1947, from acquisitions he made primarily in the 1920's and 1930's. One of the world's most important collections of English literature, it comprises over 1,100 volumes and about 250 groups of letters and manuscripts that represent the foundations of English Culture.

In addition to the first book printed in the English language--William Caxton's translation of Raoul Le Fevre's Recuyell of the Historyres of Troye (1475--the Pforzheimer Library includes all four folio editions of the collected works of Shakespeare; three copies of the 1611 King James Bible, rare works by Chaucer, Marlowe, Jonson, Spenser, Bacon, Donne, Milton, and other eminent British literary figures from the 15th through the 17th centuries; and the first printed translation in English of works by Aristotle, Cervantes, St. Augustine, Montaigne, and Seneca, among others.

In 1978, the Ransom Center acquired the Gutenberg Bible from the Pforzheimer Library, one of only five complete copies in the United States. It is now on permanent display at the Center.

Since the arrival of the Pforzheimer Library to the Ransom Center, the library has been used by scholars from all over the world, and the books from the collection have been displayed in numerous exhibitions.

Past speakers in the Pforzheimer Lecture series include Anthony Hobson, Colin Franklin, David S. Zeidberg, and William B. Todd.

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Alyssa Morris
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