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Francis, Sir Frank Chalton (1901–1988) knight, museum director and librarian
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Letter from F. C. Francis to W. W. Greg

The British Museum.—Answers questions about The English Schoolmaster (1580) and refers to McKerrow’s books and papers.

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Transcript

The British Museum, London, W.C.1
4 Nov. 1942

Dear Greg,

Had your letter been here half a day later The English Schoolmaster {1} would have been on his way to more desirable quarters! {2} Thank goodness, all the case books will soon be got away.

It does contain Psalms. Here is the list of them

  1. Psalm 119, pt 1 & 2, in prose in “Cranmer’s” version. [Next came Proverbs, c. 4, in the Geneva version.] {3}

  2. Psalms 1, 4, 50. vv. 1–11, 51. vv. 1–10, 67, 104. vv. 1–9, 112, 113, 120, 126, 148. vv. 1–6, all in Sternhold and Hopkins[’] version. {4}

It seems odd to find the two different prose versions being used. But the whole book is a curious and interesting one.

I hope to be able to let you have proofs for the Jubilee volume soon; but I am still awaiting an† vital contribution {5}.

I am glad to know that you have a note ‘on the stocks’!

You would have been mildly interested in the suggestions propounded in the paper by O. M. Willard, which I read at the last meeting of the Society. It is an attempt to work out statistically a relation between the size and number of original editions of pre-1640 books and the numbers of surviving copies. The whole thing is rather flimsy, but it does at any rate make one cock a more wary eye at the records of copies both in STC and elsewhere.

Yours sincerely
F. C. Francis.

P.S. I started on a brief list of McKerrow’s books, last week end; but it is still doubtful if Mrs McKerrow wants to sell. She feels, I think, that she doesn’t want to do any thing which the boys may regret later. But many of the books are only useful to a specialist.

P.P.S. I am mildly interested in Charles Crawford; is there much known about him? McKerrow has some of his MS. notes.

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Letter-head of The Library. Francis’s name appears below the word ‘Editor’, with the address shown.

{1} Presumably Le maistre d'escole Anglois, or The Englishe Scholemaister, by Jacques Bellot (1580) (STC (2nd ed.) 1855).

{2} Greg had presumably asked that the book should not be evacuated out of London.

{3} The square brackets are in the original.

{4} Greg has written in pencil in the margin ‘Day’s’ followed by an indistinct word.

{5} See Oliver M. Willard, ‘The Survival of English Books Printed before 1640: a Theory and some Illustrations’, The Library, 4th series, xxiii. 171–90.

† Sic.

Letter from F. C. Francis to Amy McKerrow

81 Marsh Lane, London, N.W.7.—He and his family hope to see Colin while he is at St Albans, and he has asked a friend to visit Malcolm. The Press still expect to print R. B. McKerrow’s small book (‘Elements of Bibliography’), but not before the end of the war. Would like to check a point in the corrected copy of Printers’ and Publishers’ Devices. His family had a pleasant Christmas.

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Transcript

81 Marsh Lane | London NW7.
2 January 1942.

Dear Mrs McKerrow,

A happy new year to all three of you!

Kitty has told you how delighted we all were that Colin got safely through the Anatomy. We shall look forward to seeing him while he is at St. Albans and to having him back in the family occasionally. Will you pass this message on to him? I saw my friend Pafford a day or two ago. I find he is some little way away from Malcolm, but I did ask him again to do what he could to see him and he has promised to do so.

My main purpose in writing this letter is to tell you that I have been in touch with R. W. Chapman about that little book of Dr. McKerrow’s. It appears that they are not hoping to print before the end of the War, but that the whole transaction is on a regular basis and that they are expecting to publish the book. It remains, I think, if you would still like me to see to the final details, to go through the MS. making the alterations in the general form, which Dr. McKerrow apparently agreed on. I should like sometime to see the original MS. to see any corrections that have already been made. I may say that it would give me great pleasure to be associated in such a task.

I should like sometime to see the corrected copy of the “Devices”—or perhaps Colin could look for me to see if any device had been added for Hugo Goes of York? That is the present reason for wanting to see it. Dr. Scholderer has discovered such a device and he wishes to know if his discovery has been anticipated.

We have had a very pleasant Christmas—indeed it is still going on for the children! Parties galore! They have all enjoyed this christmas† more than any before, I think. I expect it is because they are now all able to take part in games and in the general excitement. We were all out in Christmas afternoon and evening with Dr. Bell’s family and to the family’s great excitement stayed the night! I do hope you had a pleasant time. You would enjoy having your house to yourselves and having Colin with you. Was Malcolm able to get home?

We shall look forward to seeing you again soon and we shall expect a visit from Colin as soon as he can manage it after reaching Hill End.

With our love

Yours ever
Frank.

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† Sic.