This month we received a welcome addition to our collection of Glyndebourne Festival programme books 1952-1981. Our new accession brings the collection up-to-date. The Glyndebourne Festival of operas takes place annually at Glyndebourne Manor House, near Lewes, East Sussex. The first festival was organised in 1934 by John Christie who owned the house and had a specially built theatre installed. The opening performance was Mozart’s ‘Le marriage of Figaro’ which launched a six week season.
Each programme contains fascinating articles about the season’s operas and composers. The Glyndebourne Festival Society was formed in 1952 to take over the financial management of the event from Christie. More recent programmes include updates about its activities which include community and educational projects. Tours around the UK take Glyndebourne’s operas to thousands of people a year. The programmes are lavishly illustrated and the artwork, photography and advertisements show changes in society and culture over the years.
Malcolm Quin (1854-1945) was a positivist philosopher who became an independent Catholic Priest. Positivism is a philosophical theory which holds that people’s definite knowledge comes from sensory experience which they interpret using logic and reason. A recent accrual to our Malcolm Quin Collection contains five letters and six Christmas cards from Quin to a Mr Robertson, dated 1906 to 1927. In each card Quin included one of his own poems on a seasonal theme.
Quin and Robertson had a lively intellectual discussion on positivism, Catholicism and Darwinism in their correspondence. They debated in particular the views of two positivists, the philosopher Richard Congreve (1818-1899), and the trade union advocate Henry Crompton (1836-1904).
Robertson sent Quin a copy of Susan Liveing’s book ‘A nineteenth-century teacher, John Henry Bridges’ (1926). Bridges was a positivist philosopher and medical inspector. Commenting on the book, Quin wrote to Robertson that Liveing faced an ‘almost insuperable obstacle’ in being a woman writing about a man! Somewhat grudgingly he acknowledged she ‘has gone a long way towards overcoming it’.