The Plume Lecture

The Plume Lecture was established in 1975 by the Trustees of the Library, at the instigation of the Rev. Arthur Dunlop, to commemorate the life of Dr. Thomas Plume (1630 -1704) with a public lecture, held annually in the month of November. Speakers have been drawn from a wide range of disciplines, such as medicine, art, history, science and astronomy to reflect Plume’s own broad interests and the varied nature of the Library.

2021 – Libraries in the Age of Thomas Plume: Fragility and Perseverance

by Professor Andrew Pettegree and Dr Arthur der Weduwen

Thomas Plume was one of the great English collectors of the seventeenth century. Although he was not unusual in bequeathing his collection to his hometown, the longevity of his library was exceptional. In this lecture, Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen place the Plume Library in this wider context: securing its future in an age when other institutional libraries struggled for survival, and parish and city libraries were often smaller collections than those of private collectors. This lecture will demonstrate the essential and underrated part that private collecting has played in the development of the library; and reflect upon the inherent fragility of the institutional library, in Plume’s time as in every age.

Andrew Pettegree, FBA is Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews and Director of the Universal Short Title Catalogue. He is the author of over a dozen books in the fields of Reformation history and the history of communication including Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion, The Book in the Renaissance, The Invention of News, and Brand Luther: 1517, Print and the Making of the Reformation.

Arthur der Weduwen is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of St Andrews and Deputy Director of the Universal Short Title Catalogue. He researches and writes on the history of the Dutch Republic, books, news, libraries and early modern politics. He is the author of Dutch and Flemish Newspapers of the Seventeenth Century, The Bookshop of the World. Making and Trading Books in the Dutch Golden Age (co-authored with Andrew Pettegree) and two books on early newspaper advertising in the Netherlands.

The Library: A Fragile History, is published by Profile on 14 October.

7 pm, 23 October 2021 at the United Reformed Church, Market Hill

Please book seats in advance: / 01621 854850. Free entry; donation box available.

Copies of The Library: A Fragile History will be on sale, together with the recent Plume biography: Dr Thomas Plume (1630-1704): His life and legacies in Essex, Kent and Cambridge.

2020 – No lecture

2019 – Nineteenth and twentieth century first edition literature.

by Neil Pearson President of the Independent Libraries Association.

2018 – Setting up libraries in the long seventeenth century

by Giles Mandelbrote, Librarian and Archivist, Lambeth Palace Library.

2017 – Seventeenth-Century Saturday Kitchen, or Hanna Woolley’s Recipes for Queen-Like Living Every Day

by Dr Lisa Smith, Lecturer, Department of History at the University of Essex, Co-editor, The Recipes Project

2016 – The Idea of a University in the Age of Thomas Plume

by Dr Richard Serjeantson, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge University

2015 – The Church of England and the Home Front 1914 – 1918: Civilians, Soldiers and Religion in Wartime Colchester

Dr Robert Beaken parish priest of St Mary the Virgin, Great Bardfield and St Katharine, Little Bardfield in Essex

2014 – Cancelled

2013 – The Hidden Universe Revealed   

Robert C. Kennicutt, Jr. FRS, Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy and Head, School of the Physical Sciences, University of Cambridge.

2012 – The Libraries of the National Trust

Mark Purcell, Libraries Curator, the National Trust

2011 – Censuses and surveys and the rise of the Information State, 1500-2011

Professor Edward Higgs, Graduate Director of the History Department, Director of the Centre for Historical Census and Survey Research, University of Essex

2010 – Witchcraft and Witchcraft Beliefs in England During the Lifetime of Thomas Plume, 1630-1704

Dr. Alison Rowlands, Senior lecturer in European history and Director of the Centre for Local and Regional History The University of Essex

2009 – Why do we need so many old books? The value of the Plume Library in the modern world

Dr David Pearson, Director of Libraries, Archives & Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London

2008 – “The Culture of Place-Making” – The Role of the Arts in Shaping Identity and Building Communities

Roy Clare CBE, Chief Executive of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council

2007 – John Evelyn: Living for Ingenuity

Gillian Darley

2006 – By Permission of Heaven: The Story of the Great Fire of London

Adrian Tinniswood

2005 – Time Team St. Osyth Revisited: Documents and Buildings

Dr Christopher Thornton and Brenda Watkin

2004 – The Two Pepys

Claire Tomalin

2003 – Nautical tales from the archives: exploration and charting in the 16th and 17th centuries

Sarah Tyacke, Chief Executive of the National Archives

2002 – Mad about Travel

Michael Palin

2001 – Survival in Solitude

Terry Waite

2000 – No Lecture.

1999 – The Radical Tradition

Rt Hon. Tony Benn, M.P.

1998 – The 17th Century Time Machine: antiquarians and the discovery of the past

Professor Graham Parry

1997 – The Essex World of Thomas Plume

John Walter, Director of the Local History Centre, University of Essex

1996 – Robert Boyle and the Origins of Modern Science

Professor M. Hunter, Birkbeck College

1995 – Painting in Britain in Thomas Plume’s Day

Composite of lecture posters
Composite of lecture posters

Professor L. Herrmann

1994 – The Excavations at the Roman Town Heybridge

M. Atkinson

1993 – A Peculiar Collection: the Library of Westminster Abbey

Dr Tony Trowles, Librarian

1992 – 3rd Lord Rayleigh, Victorian Scientific Genius

B. Gruhn & A. Humphrey

1991 – To the Edge of the Universe

Professor A. Boksenberg, Director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory

1990 – Dr Plume & the World of Collecting

Frank Herrmann

1989 – Medical Practice in 17th & 18th Century Essex

Dr M. Neave

1988 – If Books could speak: Tales of the Old Town Library

Dr J. Blatchly, Librarian, Ipswich Town Library

1987 – Behind the Scenes at the BBC

Derek Robinson, BBC Engineering Information Department

1986 – Thomas Hooker: Father of American Democracy

Revd Deryck Collingwood

1985 – Pepys the Collector

R. Latham, Librarian, Pepys Library

1984 – The World of Books

Miss Christina Foyle

1983 – Exploring the Universe

Professor James Ring, Imperial College

1982 – Honey & Wormwood: the voice from the Pulpit in Dr Plume’s Day

V. Gray, Essex County Archivist

1981 – The Intentions of Thomas Plume

Dr W. J. Petchey

1980 – Dr Plume’s World of Science

Dr Ludmilla Jordonova, Essex University

1979 – Facts at your Fingertips

John Laidlaw, Librarian, Post Office Research Centre

1978 – Life without Gravity – Man’s Future in Space

Dr Heinz Wolff

1977 – Aircraft, Birdflight & Radar

Sir Eric Eastwoood

1976 – Stars & the Universe

Professor Martin Rees, Plumian Professor

1975 – Radio Waves

George Millington, FRS

Maldon, Essex, England

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