This year’s Anthony Davis Book Collector Prize was jointly won by Lucy Vinten-Mattach and Musa Igrek, who also won the 2018 ABA national prize for a student book collector.
The winning book collections by Musa Igrek and Lucy Vinten-Mattach are currently on display in the Seng Tee Lee Centre (in the Special Collections/Sterling Library Reading Room) on the 4th floor of Senate House Library until 23 November 2018.
Musa Igrek’s collection ‘Secretly Funded Books’ contains books generated by Britain’s Information Research Department (IRD). Established in 1948, the British Labour Government’s Foreign Office created a secret unit named the Information Research Department and gave it the task of promoting Western democracy, in particular Social Democracy, combating Communism and Communist ideas and promoting the ‘British way of life’. The IRD supported the publication, in both English and translation, of works by such well-known writers and intellectuals as George Orwell, Bertrand Russell, Stephen Spender and Arthur Koestler. Musa explains his collection ‘Divine Power’:
“I started to put together a collection of the IRD’s forgotten books; small pocket-sized books which were distributed worldwide through British embassies, libraries, bookshops and 'special friends'. Within Britain, more than 100 titles appeared across the areas of politics, philosophy, economics, and current affairs, published by the seemingly independent houses of Ampersand, Batchworth Press, Phoenix House, and Bodley Head, all with the covert and undisclosed support of the IRD. They are important historical documents, which show how the state produced and used books to sustain its power and used them to influence public opinion.”
The personal is political
Lucy's Vinten-Mattach's collection of books and manuscripts about household management dated 1760-1960, shows that 'the personal is political', providing fascinating insight into women's history through the lens of the home. Lucy writes:
“The books date from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries and encompass subjects on all aspects of running a household -- books of accounts, of cleaning, cooking, child-rearing, brewing and home medicines. All the books in this exhibition with a known author were written by, and aimed at, women. The illustrations in particular are telling about the place of women in society and afford glimpses of larger social movements of their time. One aspect I love about my collection is detecting patterns of use: for instance where recipes have been amended, a previous owner has written household hints onto a flyleaf, or grease-stains show which pages contained the most-used recipes.”
Entry to the Anthony Davis 2018 display is FREE and open during Special Collections opening hours until 23 November 2018.