Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Frederick Rolfe and Vincent O'Sullivan - A Slight Ex-libris Connection

There are some little piece of paper that can really connect us to the past. In this case, a somewhat battered ex-libris plate from St Mary's College, Oscott. At the time this bookplate was in use, two of the great names of the 1890s were both in residence, one as a schoolboy, the other as a seminarian and teacher. St Mary's was, and remains, a Roman Catholic seminary, but in the late 1800s it had a school for catholic boys as well as a full-blown seminary for training men for the priesthood. Sometimes the seminarians acted at teachers in the boys' school. So It was here that Frederick Rolfe (soon to be styling himself Baron Corvo and writing astonishingly baroque fiction) was, for a brief time before being asked to leave, a seminarian and, at the same time a teacher to Vincent O'Sullivan whose morbid musings on art and life would go on to fill such an important place in the corpus of the 1890s. Whatever book this came from in the college library may well have passed through the hands of one or both of them!

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