Critical Edition of the Private Diaries of Robert Proctor. The Life of a Librarian at the British Museum

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Robert Proctor will always be remembered among bibliographers for two things: for his rearrange¬ment of the incunabula in the British Museum in what has become known as ‘Proctor order’, based on the way in which printing spread in its early days; and for the mystery which continues to surround his death. In 1899 he started to keep a private diary, and this lasted until his death in 1903. One of the volumes is missing, but the remaining three are edited and published for the first time here.


“The diaries offer a unique opportunity to share almost five years of the life and work of a scholar at the turn of the nineteenth century. Such an opportunity is rarely available. Fully annotated, as John Bowman is presenting it, it gives a new depth of dimension to the work Proctor has left us.” – Dr. Lotte Hellinga, Fomerly Deouty Keeper, The British Library

“John Bowman’s editorial work is impeccable and entirely in keeping with the highest scholarly standards to which Proctor himself would have adhered. The transcription is meticulous and notes are included with each day’s entry to elucidate their content.” – David Pearson, University of London Research Library Services

"Bowman was well qualified for this task, which he has carried out to a very high standard. ... All in all a very interesting read." -- Brian Hillyard, National Library of Scotland

"... this is the first time the full text has been edited. The amount of work Bowman has undertaken must not be underestimated. ... a remarkable diary, and Bowman's own remarkable undertaking in making it comprehensible to a modern readership." -- Prof. Emily Dourish, Cambridge

Table of Contents

Foreword by John Goldfinch, Head of Incunabula, British Library
Note on the text
The commentary
Abbreviations Used in the Commentary
Volume 1: 1 January 1899–3 March 1900
Volume 2: 4 March 1900–16 July 1901
Volume 4: 29 August 1902–28 August 1903
ISTC Index to Incunabula
General Index

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