I was intrigued by Louis James blog (13/2/19) regarding ‘The Catacombs of Paris’, GWMR’s only known play. As I live in Herne Bay and the Templeman Library at the University of Canterbury is close by, I arranged to view the manuscript and was shown into the Special Collections viewing room. A small notebook lay on a pillow. The book would easily fit in the pocket of a jacket. The 36 pages showed signs of decay and the binding had failed for the first half of the book and was tight for the latter. I was given two small weighted strings so I could gently hold these double pages flat for photographing with my iPad. I asked about copyright, as the manuscript is from the collection of Arthur Williams (1844-1915), who was a prolific actor. I was told that as long as it was used internally for the Reynolds Society and not for publication it would be allowed.
I am photo editing to improve the clarity of the ink penned words and then will copy into digital text. I have saved the images in colour, and also in black and white. The monochrome seems to increase the clarity for reading the text. I have attached examples. One has the colours inverted in my attempts to decipher an intriguing message in faded pencil on the first page, which seems to be from Arthur Williams. I have attached an example of my efforts to make it readable. My guesses are here in italics that it says, ‘ This was given to me by Reynolds who started my collecting more than 60 years ago.‘ I will ask advice from the Templeman for how to make the pencil more readable.
Arthur Williams died aged 71 so the reference to 60 would have made him 11 when he started his Collection.
The curator of the Special Collection at the University said she would like to be kept informed of any developments.