Mary Pollard

Mary Pollard [fam. Paul] 1922-2005; b. 5 June 1922 in Essex (England) of Anglo-Irish parents; ed. Hawnes School, nr. Bedford; studied medicine before changing to Librarianship; worked at Southlands TTC in Surrey (now Roehampton Univ.); moved to Dublin in 1957, taking a post with responsibilities at TCD Library and Narcissus Marsh’s Library [q.v.] adjacent to St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Cathedral Close; precinct of St. Sepulchre’s) in South Central Dublin; appt. Keeper of Rare Books (Old Library, TCD), 1964; maintained a lifelong association with Narcissus Marsh Library, where she enjoyed residential rights and occupied a flat in the original librarian’s house;

gave the Lyell lectures in Oxford in 1986-87, and afterwards published her Dublin's Trade in Books, 1550–1800 (Oxford 1989), to be followed by A Dictionary of Members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800 (2000); a festschrift was edited by Charles Benson as That Woman: Studies in Irish Bibliography (Lilliput 2005, 325pp.) - the title being a reference to her reputation on seeking to save the library of the King’s Inns from sale by the barristers; she made a personal collection of over 11,000 pre-1914 children’s books; hon. litt., TCD, 2001; MRIA, 2002; d. 24 June 2005.

[ The RIA Dictionary of Irish Biography entry - online - is by Charles Benson (TCD Lib.); accessed 17.09.2023.]

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  • A Collection of Prospectuses, Advertisements and Other Ephemera issued by the Dolmen Press between 1957 and 1977 (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1977) [44 in envelope].
  • with Sean Stuart Fraser O'Seanoir, 'A Great Deal of Good Verse': Commencement Entertainments in the 1680s [TCD], in Hermathena, Nos. 130 & 131 (1981) pp.7-36.
  • with C. B. L. Barr, ‘Bibliographical Note: The Historia Plantarum of John Ray’ , in Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 3:4 (Cambridge Bibl. Soc. 1962), 335-38pp.
  • Books for Children’s Pleasure, 1700-1840-1900: Catalogue of an Exhibition in Marsh's Library [July-December 1981] (1981).
  • A Dictionary of Members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800: Based on the records of the Guild of St Luke the Evangelist, Dublin (London: Bibliographical Society 2000), xlviii, 675pp., maps.
  • with by R. W. Connon, ‘Discussion on the Authorship of “Hume's” Abstract’, in Philosophical Quarterly, 27 (Jan. 1977), pp.60-66.
  • Dublin’s trade in Books 1550-1800 [Lyell lectures, 1986-87] (Oxford: Clarendon 1989), [184]pp., ills.
  • [assoc. with] Livres de France: exposition de 1500 livres français présentée par le Comité permanent des expositions du livre et des arts graphiques, Paris, et le service culturel de 'Ambassade de France en Irlande, 1972-73, Cork, Dublin, Limerick, Galway (Dublin: Dolmen Press/Cultural Service of the French Embassy 1972), 83 [1]pp.
  • foreword to James Wilbur Phillips, Printing and Bookselling in Dublin, 1670-1800: A Bibliographical Equiry (Dublin: Irish Academic Press c1998), xviii, 337pp., ills., facs. & tables.
  • ‘White Paper-making in Ireland in the 1690s’, in Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. 77, C, No. 6 (1977).
  •  'The Woodcut Ornament Stocks of the Dublin Printers 1551–1700 with lists of unsigned works identified as from their presses" (Fellowship of the Library Association; q.d.)
  • Assisted Ian MacPhail with John Millington Synge 1871-1909: A Catalogue of an Exhibition held at Trinity College Library, Dublin, on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of his Death (1959). [Listed in COPAC.]. See also an essay on bookbinding in Decantations: A Tribute to Maurice Craig, ed., Agnes Bernelle (1992).

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Toby Bernard, Paul Pollard: ‘Historian of the Irish Book Trade’, in The Independent [UK] (2 July 2005)

[...] Devoting herself full-time to Trinity, she was appointed first Keeper of Early Printed Books: an appointment that paralleled the slightly earlier creation of a keepership of the manuscripts. Like her counterpart in manuscripts, William O'Sullivan, she fought fiercely for the highest standards of cataloguing and care. Such battles hardly endeared her to blinkered administrators, but were applauded by scholars within and far beyond Dublin. So she created a department, which became an essential centre for all enquiring into the printed culture of Ireland.

With a control of mischief and invective in the tradition of Jonathan Swift and his contemporaries, she revived the squib and verse satire. The productions, on a hand press under the imprint of St Sepulchre's and (latterly) the Trinity Closet Press, will become collectors' pieces. One signalled a foray by Pollard into public controversy. In 1972, the benchers of the Dublin inn of court, the King's Inns, decided to raise money for necessary improvements (notably to their kitchens) by selling books. Paul Pollard was to the fore - with Nick Robinson, husband of the later president of Ireland, Mary Robinson - in decrying the sale. The protests were unavailing and led to "Miss Pollard - that woman!" being demonised by some within the Irish legal world.

What's a few mouldy books when the B-enchers can eat?
When our noble justiciars can gobble up Caxtons
And belch in contentment, their bellies replete?

Through her scholarship, pluck and - sometimes - bloody-mindedness, she ensured that the books in her care at Trinity were expertly catalogued, preserved and made accessible to the interested. With meagre means, she bought discriminatingly for the library, especially Irish plays and novels. On her own behalf, she collected books for children, many of which she has bequeathed to Trinity College. Locally, her exacting standards attracted young disciples, several of whom now oversee historic libraries in Dublin. [...]

Her wider renown as the leading authority of print in Ireland brought an invitation to deliver the Lyell Lectures in Oxford. The resulting book, Dublin's Trade in Books, 1550-1800 (by "M. Pollard", 1989), revealed her technical mastery of complex subjects - the laws of copyright, prices of paper and labour, volumes of imports and exports. Her numerous fresh insights into the social, cultural and confessional histories of Ireland are slowly being followed up.

In 2000 there appeared a second work unlikely ever to be superseded, A Dictionary of the Members of the Dublin Book Trade, 1550-1800. Besides being a biographical and bibliographical treasure-chest, it laid bare for the first time the structure and dynamics of a trade organisation in 18th-century Dublin - then the second city of the Hanoverians' empire. [...]

—Available online; accessed 27.09.2023.

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English Printers’ ornaments
- See Henry R. Plomer, English Printers’ Ornaments (London: Grafton & Co. 1924) - available at Gutenberg Project online; accessed 27.09.1023.),

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