The staff at Ashgate who worked with J. A. Szirmai, author of The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding (1999), were sad to hear that he died on the 2nd December 2014 at the age of 89.
Professor Szirmai spent twenty years in medical research and became a Professor of Medicine before making a name for himself as a professional bookbinder (some of his work can be seen here) and eventually turning to scholarship in the history of binding techniques.
His name has become virtually synonymous with his great reference work The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding, which covers the evolution of binding from the introduction of the codex two thousand years ago to the close of the Middle Ages. The many kind words from reviewers across the globe – a small selection of which can be read below – are testament to Szirmai’s great and lasting impact on the scholarly world.
‘All book historians owe Dr Szirmai an enormous debt of gratitude for having written it.’ The Library
‘A book literally without peer’ Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America
‘Szirmai deserves our indebtedness for a magisterial work which constitutes a milestone in the field of the archaeology of the book, qualifying the author as the first true archaeologist of the binding structure.’ CAB Newsletter
‘Reading it, and then trying to describe it to another person is like trying to describe the Grand Canyon to someone who has never seen it: in the end, you can only say, “You had to be there to understand.”’ Abbey Newsletter
‘The most important single contribution to the history of bookbinding to appear for many decades’ Guild of Booksellers Newsletter
Our sincere condolences to his wife, Mia, and to his family, friends, and those that have been influenced by his extraordinary scholarship.
We’re disappointed not to be attending this year’s SHARP conference in Helsinki. It looks like it will be a very good conference and, of course, Book History is a subject close to Ashgate’s heart.
The SHARP conference organisers have taken care to provide extra ways for people to follow the conference whether they are attending or not. You can follow the conference on Twitter (the hashtag is #sharp10), keep up to date through Facebook, Visit the Flickr page or, of course, visit the conference website.
Forms in Early Modern Utopia: The Ethnography of Perfection Nina Chordas, University of Alaska Southeast, USA
Gender, Sexuality, and Material Objects in English Renaissance Verse Pamela S. Hammons, University of Miami, USA
Kipling’s Children’s Literature: Language, Identity, and Constructions of Childhood Sue Walsh, University of Reading, UK
Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth Margaret P. Hannay, Siena College, USA
The Poetics and Politics of the American Gothic: Gender and Slavery in Nineteenth-Century American Literature Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Shakespeare and the Just War Tradition Paola Pugliatti
The History of the Book in the West: 400AD–1455: Volume I Edited by Jane Roberts and Pamela Robinson, both at Institute of English Studies, University of London, UK
The History of the Book in the West: 5-Volume Set Series edited by Alexis Weedon, University of Bedfordshire, UK
The Cultivation of Monarchy and the Rise of Berlin: Brandenburg-Prussia 1700 Edited by Karin Friedrich, University of Aberdeen, UK and Sara Smart, University of Exeter, UK
Feud, Violence and Practice: Essays in Medieval Studies in Honor of Stephen D. White Edited by Belle S. Tuten, Juniata College, USA and Tracey L. Billado, Seton Hall University, USA
New in paperback The Gesta Tancredi of Ralph of Caen: A History of the Normans on the First Crusade Translated by Bernard S. Bachrach, University of Minnesota, USA and David S. Bachrach, University of New Hampshire, USA
Pauper Capital: London and the Poor Law, 1790–1870 David R. Green, King’s College London, UK
State and Financial Systems in Europe and the USA: Historical Perspectives on Regulation and Supervision in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries Edited by Stefano Battilossi, Universidad Carlos III Madrid, Spain and Jaime Reis, Universidad de Lisboa, Portugal
China and the Birth of Globalization in the 16th Century Dennis O. Flynn, University of the Pacific, USA and Arturo Giráldez, University of the Pacific, USA
Humanist Biography in Renaissance Italy and Reformation Germany: Friendship and Rhetoric James M. Weiss, Boston College, USA
The History of the Book in the West: 1455–1700: Volume II Edited by Ian Gadd, Bath Spa University, UK
The History of the Book in the West: 1700–1800: Volume III Edited by Eleanor F. Shevlin, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, USA
The History of the Book in the West: 1800–1914: Volume IV Edited by Stephen Colclough, Bangor University, UK and Alexis Weedon, University of Bedfordshire, UK
The History of the Book in the West: 1914–2000: Volume V Edited by Alexis Weedon, University of Bedfordshire, UK
Geographies of the Book Edited by Miles Ogborn, Queen Mary University of London, UK and Charles W.J. Withers, University of Edinburgh, UK