Compared to the illustrious
collectors in this exhibition, Edward Gwynn and Myles
Blomefylde are "nobodies." We know very little about their
personal lives and nothing about what motivated them to build their private
libraries. Gwynn is imagined to be "one of those mildly eccentric
bachelors who have done so much for English book collecting." Until
1973 Blomefylde was confused with William Blomfild, an alchemist and perhaps
a relative. But here we celebrate Gwynne and Blomefylde as Bookmen, rather
am Myles Blomefyldes Booke" fol. 1 in STC 2970
Myles Blomefylde (1525-1603)
[Bible. N.T. Epistles and Gospels
] The espistles and gospells
with a brief postyl vpon the same from Aduent tyll Lowe sonday
Richard Banks, [1542?]
Myles Blomefylde left a trail of endearing markings to help us identify
his books. He was fond of using red ink, usually wrote his name or initials
on title pages, added marginal notes, and frequently marked passages with
a cross in the shape of a flower. Blomefylde preserved a number of important
texts, mostely late medieval plays and popular religious drama. The
espistles speak to us boldly, announcing "I am Myles Blomefyldes
Gwynn (d. ca. 1645)
Shakespeare. [Nine quartos]. London, printed [by William Jaggard] for
T[homas] P[auier], 1600 [i.e. 1619].
Gwynn's copy of the Pavier quartos was a landmark acquisition for Mr.
Folger and remains a volume of enormous importance to Shakespeareans.
A.S.W. Rosenbach called it "the finest Shakespeare volume in existence,"
and reasoned it belonged in the finest Shakespeare collection in the making,
so offered it to Mr. Folger, who purchased it in 1919 for $100,000. It
is the only complete copy known of the first attempt at a collection of
Shakespeare's plays. It is in its original 17th-century binding, with
Gwynn's hand-stamped name on the cover.