Wednesday, October 16, 2013

116. Reading Ricketts

Recent book historical research has come up with new tools that can be of use to researchers in many other fields. A fine example of this is the Reading Experience Database (RED) about reading in Britain from 1450 to 1945. This open-access database, launched in 1996, is housed at The Open University and contains over 30,000 records drawn from published and unpublished sources, such as diaries, memoirs, surveys and court records.

UK Red logo
Searching for Ricketts yields four entries, all about one reading experience. The quote is based on The Diary of Virginia Woolf, volume V, 1984, p. 252. 

On Sunday 17 December 1939 she wrote: 'We ate too much hare pie last night; & I read Freud on Groups [...] I'm reading Ricketts['s] diary -- all about the war the last war; & the Herbert diaries & ... yes, Dadie's Shakespeare, & notes overflow into my 2 books.'

Woolf was reading Self Portrait, Taken from the Letters & Journals of Charles Ricketts, RA that had been published only a fortnight earlier on 7 December 1939.

The database has separate entries for each book mentioned by Woolf, and they contain details about the reading experience, the reader, the book (not including the date of publication) and the source information. One can browse by reader, author and reading group. Ricketts as a reader has not yet been processed. His diaries are the perfect source for this. Woolf is not mentioned in Ricketts's published diary notes that were selected by Thomas Sturge Moore for Self Portrait.

This is the UK RED; other REDs are in preparation for Australia, Canada, The Netherlands, and New Zealand. Obviously, a lot of work is involved in gathering the data, so volunteers are requested to come forward. 

The introduction tells you how to contribute to RED UK, and specifically says: 'Anyone interested in working on a particular individual who lived in or visited Britain during the period 1450-1945 and who left letters, diaries, annotated books, autobiographies etc. which contain references to their reading should get in touch with one of the RED directors listed below. Follow this link for a list of famous readers whose experiences have not yet been entered into the database'. RED is looking for volunteers to work their way systematically through such materials in order to record evidence of reading.'