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2002 articles 1979 articles

Some hitherto unpublished Panizziana from Italy

George De F. Lord


THE municipal library in the quiet and elegant city of Reggio Emilia is a hitherto unexplored treasurehouse of unpublished Panizzi material. It was at Reggio that Antonio Panizzi spent four years at the ginnasio and met Gaetano Fratuzzi, the retired Professor of Rhetoric and librarian at that library, who first introduced him to what would turn out to be his life's work. In contrast to those Italian libraries that are named after a local illustrissimo, even though they do not possess any document by or about him, the Biblioteca Municipale A. Panizzi contains a wealth of Panizziana, ranging from a school essay in Panizzi's hand, the only surviving example of Panizzian juvenilia, to Panizzi's personal papers from his British Museum days which are for the most part in manuscript. Some of these Panizziana include original alternative plans for the British Museum Reading Room proposed by Panizzi and the architect Sydney Smirke, manuscript memos from Panizzi and George Baker - one of the building contractors - concerning points of construction and design of the Reading Room, proofs of the invitations to the breakfast to celebrate the opening on 2 May 1857, Panizzi's evidence before the Select Committee on Building (in manuscript), letters to Panizzi from Gladstone, Disraeli, Palmerston, and other important figures of the day, and Panizzi's personal scrap-book which contains cuttings from newspapers and other publications in which views, opinions and criticisms of the Reading Room are expressed.

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