Wednesday, November 23, 2016

278. A.S. Byatt Visits Ricketts Exhibition and Book Room of Museum Meermanno

Last Thursday, the writer A.S. Byatt visited The Hague as part of a Dutch tour. Next December, she will receive the Erasmus Prize in the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, and in the build-up to that ceremony, a number of activities have been organized, including an interview.

A visit to Museum Meermanno, the House of the Book in The Hague, was scheduled for the afternoon of 17 November. After a refreshing lunch in the former kitchen of this mansion turned museum, and an introduction on the history of its collections by Rickey Tax (acting director), Mrs. Byatt - Dame Antonia Susan Duffy - was shown the long book room on the first floor.

A.S. Byatt in Museum Meermanno, 2016
[Photo: Ineke Oostveen]
The same afternoon a Dutch translation of her new work, Peacock & Vine. Fortuny and Morris in Life and at Work (2016) was to be launched at the British Embassy in The Hague. As a surprise, the museum proudly showed her a complete collection of William Morris's Kelmscott Press in a book case manufactured by Morris's workshop.

Kelmscott Press book case, Museum Meermanno
[Photo: Ineke Oostveen]

A.S. Byatt and Peter John Duffy, with Paul van Capelleveen and Shanti van Dam
in front of the Kelmscott Press book case, Museum Meermanno, 2016
[Photo: Ineke Oostveen]
Obviously, the writer who had recently studied the life and fabric designs of Morris was pleasantly surprised to see all his books together in a matching case. One of the books was handed to her, John Ruskin's The Nature of Gothic. She has quoted a few phrases from this book in her own Peacock & Vine.

A.S. Byatt holds a Kelmscott Press edition of The Nature of Gothic,
Museum Meermanno, 2016 [Photo: Ineke Oostveen]
Of course, the edition of Chaucer's tales was also presented to her, along with some smaller books.

Paul van Capelleveen, A.S. Byatt and Peter Gordon Duffy,
with Chaucer's works, Museum Meermanno, 2016 [Photo: Ineke Oostveen]
After this, Byatt also visited the small exhibition about Charles Ricketts where she was delighted with the drawings and stories. 

It was wonderfully rewarding to show the books and exhibits to an author who visibly enjoyed the objects and surroundings, and who thanked us for these 'revelations'.

A.S. Byatt, signed copy of Peacock & Vine (2016)


Charles Ricketts’s Mysterious Mother
By J.G.P. Delaney and Corine Verney

Design: Huug Schipper|Studio Tint, The Hague
48 pages, full colour, illustrated, including a photograph of Charles Ricketts as a boy never published before
Edition: 100 copies

Price: € 40,- (including handling and international postage). Price in Europe: € 35,-.

To order copies please contact
Paypal payments accepted (

Select Europe or International