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FROM SWEATY SOCKS TO SHAKESPEARE: THE SECRET LIFE OF PAPER

3:00pm-4:20pm on Saturday 9 April

Times shown are in GMT (UTC +0) up to the 26th March. For events on or after 27th March times are in BST (UTC +1).

Fitzwilliam Museum, Seminar Room, Trumpington Street, CB2 1RB

Have you ever thought about where your books come from, and where they go? This event explores the longer life of paper, in which books – and literature – play only a fleeting role. Enjoy a talk on the secret life of paper from Dr Georgina Wilson, followed by a chance to meet the Fitzwilliam Museum’s book and paper conservators, and an opportunity to see a special selection of material from the Museum’s manuscript sand printed book collections, from medieval to modern.

In the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, paper was made from hempseed which was spun into linen, worn as petticoats and socks, and only then pulped down into paper. Printed texts had an afterlife beyond reading and writing, as paper was used to stuff pipes, wrap food, cover wounds, and shape clothing.

The materials of ‘literature’, rather than operating in a lofty cultural stratosphere, were bound up with the stuff of the world.
Early modern readers and writers were alert to the rich life of paper, and this talk will look at one example in particular: The Adventures of a Quire of Paper, printed in 1779. Quire is told from the point of view of paper, which transforms from a thistle into linen and then into paper. The narrator tells satirical, scandalous stories about its owners who range from royalty, to aspirational writers, to the downtrodden rag-pickers who make paper. Quire gives a glimpse of the secret life of paper which extends beyond the writing desk into the past and future – including the museums where 300 year old paper sheets continue their stories in the hands of conservators.

Following the talk, join the Fitzwilliam's team of book and paper conservators for a closer look at paper as a support material for writing, drawing and printing, and learn about the range of approaches we use to conserve it in the Museum.
To demonstrate the varied uses of paper in manuscript and print, Curator Suzanne Reynolds will also present a selection of material from the museum’s collections, from medieval to modern.

Booking email address: tickets@museums.cam.ac.uk

Telephone number:
+44 (0)1223 333 230

Booking/Registration is: REQUIRED

Additional Information

Age: Adults
Format: Talk, Workshop
Timing: In person
Cost: Free
Event Capacity: 30
Theme: Discovery
Accessibility: Hearing loop, Lift, Step-free access, Accessible toilet
Image copyright: The Fitzwilliam Museum

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Timing: 
Live Stream
In person
Format: 
Talk
Age: 
All Ages

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