Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to Build the World's Greatest Library
Author: Edward Wilson-Lee
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
“Like a Renaissance wonder cabinet, full of surprises and opening up into a lost world.” —Stephen Greenblatt “A captivating adventure…For lovers of history, Wilson-Lee offers a thrill on almost every page…Magnificent.” —The New York Times Book Review Named a Best Book of the Year by: * Financial Times * New Statesman * History Today * The Spectator * The impeccably researched and vividly rendered account of the quest by Christopher Columbus’s illegitimate son to create the greatest library in the world—“a perfectly pitched poetic drama” (Financial Times) and an amazing tour through sixteenth-century Europe. In this innovative work of history, Edward Wilson-Lee tells the extraordinary story of Hernando Colón, a singular visionary of the printing press-age who also happened to be Christopher Columbus’s illegitimate son. At the peak of the Age of Exploration, Hernando traveled with Columbus on his final voyage to the New World, a journey that ended in disaster, bloody mutiny, and shipwreck. After Columbus’s death in 1506, the eighteen-year-old Hernando sought to continue—and surpass—his father’s campaign to explore the boundaries of the known world by building a library that would collect everything ever printed: a vast holding organized by summaries and catalogues, the first ever search engine for the exploding diversity of written matter as the printing press proliferated across Europe. Hernando restlessly and obsessively amassed his collection based on the groundbreaking conviction that a library of universal knowledge should include “all books, in all languages and on all subjects,” even material often dismissed as ephemeral trash: song sheets, erotica, newsletters, popular images, romances, fables. The loss of part of his collection to another maritime disaster in 1522—documented in his poignant Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books—set off the final scramble to complete this sublime project, a race against time to realize a vision of near-impossible perfection. Edward Wilson-Lee’s account of Hernando’s life is a testimony to the beautiful madness of booklovers, a plunge into sixteenth-century Europe’s information revolution, and a reflection of the passion and intrigues that lie beneath our own attempts to bring order to the world today.
The fascinating history of Christopher Columbus’s illegitimate son Hernando, guardian of his father’s flame, courtier, bibliophile and catalogue supreme, whose travels took him to the heart of 16th-century Europe’ Honor Clerk, Spectator, Books of the Year
Young Columbus and the Quest for a Universal Library
Author: Edward Wilson-Lee
Publisher: William Collins
The fascinating history of Christopher Columbus's illegitimate son Hernando, guardian of his father's flame, courtier, bibliophile and catalogue supreme, whose travels took him to the heart of 16th-century Europe' Honor Clerk, Spectator, Books of the Year This is the scarcely believable - and wholly true - story of Christopher Columbus' bastard son Hernando, who sought to equal and surpass his father's achievements by creating a universal library. His father sailed across the ocean to explore the known boundaries of the world for the glory of God, Spain and himself. His son Hernando sought instead to harness the vast powers of the new printing presses to assemble the world's knowledge in one place, his library in Seville. Hernando was one of the first and greatest visionaries of the print age, someone who saw how the scale of available information would entirely change the landscape of thought and society. His was an immensely eventual life. As a youth, he spent years travelling in the New World, and spent one living with his father in a shipwreck off Jamaica. He created a dictionary and a geographical encyclopaedia of Spain, helped to create the first modern maps of the world, spent time in almost every major European capital, and associated with many of the great people of his day, from Ferdinand and Isabel to Erasmus, Thomas More, and Dürer. He wrote the first biography of his father, almost single-handedly creating the legend of Columbus that held sway for many hundreds of years, and was highly influential in crafting how Europe saw the world his father reached in 1492. He also amassed the largest collection of printed images and of printed music of the age, started what was perhaps Europe's first botanical garden, and created by far the greatest private library Europe had ever seen, dwarfing with its 15,000 books every other library of the day. Edward Wilson-Lee has written the first major modern biography of Hernando - and the first of any kind available in English. In a work of dazzling scholarship, The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books tells an enthralling tale of the age of print and exploration, a story with striking lessons for our own modern experiences of information revolution and Globalisation.
Don Hernando Colon se distinguio como jurisconsulto, cosmografo, viajero, bibliofilo y contribuyo en gran manera a establecer y guardar las tradiciones de su familia. Esta obra revela otro de sus talentos, el historiador de una vida que parece legendaria, ya que en ella se juntan a las mas grandes hazanas y glorias los mayores infortunios.
Richard Stonley has all but vanished from history, but to his contemporaries he would have been an enviable figure. A clerk of the Exchequer for more than four decades under Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I, he rose from obscure origins to a life of opulence; his job, a secure bureaucratic post with a guaranteed income, was the kind of which many men dreamed. Vast sums of money passed through his hands, some of which he used to engage in moneylending and land speculation. He also bought books, lots of them, amassing one of the largest libraries in early modern London. In 1597, all of this was brought to a halt when Stonley, aged around seventy-seven, was incarcerated in the Fleet Prison, convicted of embezzling the spectacular sum of £13,000 from the Exchequer. His property was sold off, and an inventory was made of his house on Aldersgate Street. This provides our most detailed guide to his lost library. By chance, we also have three handwritten volumes of accounts, in which he earlier itemized his spending on food, clothing, travel, and books. It is here that we learn that on June 12, 1593, he bought "the Venus & Adhonay per Shakspere"—the earliest known record of a purchase of Shakespeare's first publication. In Shakespeare's First Reader, Jason Scott-Warren sets Stonley's journals and inventories of goods alongside a wealth of archival evidence to put his life and library back together again. He shows how Stonley's books were integral to the material worlds he inhabited and the social networks he formed with communities of merchants, printers, recusants, and spies. Through a combination of book history and biography, Shakespeare's First Reader provides a compelling "bio-bibliography"—the story of how one early modern gentleman lived in and through his library.