Mary Wilson Carpenter
Mary Wilson Carpenter, professor emerita of English at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, is the author of George Eliot and the Landscape of Time: Narrative Form and Protestant Apocalyptic History; Imperial Bibles, Domestic Bodies: Women, Sexuality, and Religion in the Victorian Market; Health, Medicine, and Society in Victorian England; along with many articles on feminist criticism. Her recent interest focuses on nineteenth-century family Bibles.
Carpenter’s paper, “From Treasure to Trash, or, the Uses of Nineteenth-Century ‘Family Bibles,’” contends that family Bibles have now largely lost their status as treasures and are often disregarded by librarians and researchers, Carpenter challenges current scholars to question why these Bibles were so cherished in their own time and why they became, in the twenty-first century, so much trash.
The Pronouncing Edition of the Holy Bible: containing the Authorized and Revised versions of the Old and New Testaments: arranged in parallel columns, giving the correct pronunciation of every proper name contained in the Bible: complete concordance, marginal references, chronological tables, a history of ancient biblical manuscripts with fac-similes of the same, the earliest printed editions of the Bible, a history of the revision of the Bible, etc. [Philadelphia: A. J. Holman & Co., 1900?, c1890].
This family Bible belonged to the Burkhardt family of Pennsylvania and includes family information entered in the family register section.
According to the registry, Charles C. Burkhardt was born on 4 September 1868 in Glensavage, Pennsylvania, and his wife, Emma R. Burkhart, was born on 22 August 1872 in Fair Hope, Pennsylvania.
The family Memorandum page is followed by a Family Temperance Pledge page. The pledge reads:
Believing it to be better for all we the undersigned solemnly promise by the help of God to abstain from the use of all intoxicating drinks as a beverage.
However, the pledge bears no signatures.
Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning owned a rather unique set of “Family Bibles,” which included editions in English, Greek, Latin, and Italian.
The Holy Bible, containing the Old Testament and the New : Translated out of the Original Tongues, and with the former translations diligently compared and revised, by His Majesty's special command. London: Printed by George Eyre and Andrew Strahan, 1822.
This volume, formerly thought to be part of the Brownings' Library, bears this inscription on an end paper: "Mary Browning from her truly affectionate sister Louisa Jany. 1st 1831." Mary (1805-1864) and Louisa Browning (1807-1887) were half–sisters of Robert Browning, Sr., father of the poet Robert Browning. The Bible also includes a handwritten prayer opposite the inscription.
Il Nuovo Testamento di Nostro Signor Gesu Christo, Secondo la Volgata. Tradotto in Lingua Italiana da Monsignor Antonio Martini. [S.l.]: R. Clay, 1846.
This volume was a gift to Robert Weideman Barrett Browning (1849-1912), known as “Penini” or “Pen,” the only child of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, from his aunt, Arabella Moulton-Barrett (1813-1868), Elizabeth’s younger sister. The Bible is part of the Brownings’ Library and bears inscriptions on the flyleaf: "Robert Weideman Barrett Browning from dearest Arabel London 1855." and beneath this in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s hand, "written by Penini / Paris, 1856."
Hē Kainē Diathēkē = Novum Testamentum Graece / cura Leusdenii et Griesbachii. Glasguae: Andreas et Jacobus Duncan ; Londini: Law et Whittaker, 1817.
This two-volume New Testament in Greek belonged to Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s younger brother Septimus Moulton-Barrett, called “Sette” (1822-1870), the eleventh child and seventh son of the family. Both volumes are inscribed on the front free endpapers by Charlotte McIntosh, a close friend of the Barrett family, "Septimus Barrett/from C.M." As with most young English gentlemen of the period, Sette would have begun his study of the Greek language at an early age.
Novum Jesu-Christi Testamentum: Cum Indice Evangelorum et Epistolarum quae in Ecclesia, Dominicis et aliis Festis diebus leguntur. Limoges: Chez Martial Ardant, 1812.
This vellum-bound New Testament in Latin was a gift to Robert Browning from his mother, Sarah Anna Browning (neé Wiedeman) (1772-1849), whose religious inclinations and teaching exerted a strong and lasting influence upon the poet. She attended the York Street Independent Chapel at Walworth for many years.
This volume, part of the Brownings’ Library, bears the inscription "Robert Browning" on both the title-page and the back free endpaper. At the bottom of the title-page Browning added, "my mother's handwriting and gift. Robert Browning." Under the inscription at the back of the book the poet also wrote, “(my mother’s writing RB)." On the back of the title page are four faces drawn in brown ink.
Vetus Testamentum ex Versione Septuaginta Interpretum: Juxta Exemplar Vaticanum, ex Editione Holmesii et Lamberti Bos, cum Præfatione Parænetica Joannis Pearson. Londini: Impensis Thomæ Tegg et fil, 1837.
Part of the Brownings’ Library, this volume, Genesis through 2 Kings of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament, contains inscriptions in an unknown hand inside the front cover, noting that Joseph Barber Lightfoot, Bishop of Durham, “had a mean opinion of the Septt. Version.” It also contains some underscoring and marginal notes in the text.
The Texas Collection, another special collection on the campus of Baylor University, recently acquired a group of historic documents, including the family Bible belonging to the Parker family. Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped by the Comanche Indians in a raid on their fort near Groesbeck, Texas. Read more about the Parkers at the Texas Collection’s blog on the subject.
- Exhibition Text by Melinda Creech