The Tyndale Exhibition in America (continued)

New York

Let There Be Light, the British Library's Tyndale exhibition, a display of Tyndale's printed books and background material, with commentary, of which I am curator, moved on from California (see Journal 6) to open in New York Public Library on 22 February 1997. I understand that senior officers of the British Library went to New York and used the occasion of the opening to re-launch the American Friends of the BL. I found that I was not to be invited, nor even kept in touch: in response to my queries, I eventually learned from a fax from NYPL on 15 April that the exhibition was being a success, with about 1,200 visitors a day, six days a week. It closed, I believe, on 17 May.

[See the account by Mary Clow of the New York exhibition, on page 55.]

On Easter morning, 30 March, Tyndale was honoured by being the subject of a short television feature as part of CBS Sunday Morning programme, which is seen in every part of the United States.

Washington DC

In the first days of June 1997, the exhibition moved to Washington DC, where it will stay until 6 September.

The three massive buildings of the Library of Congress ('the world's largest library') stand, white and very impressive, on the Hill, close to the Capitol itself. The Library was founded largely on the personal collection of Thomas Jefferson, to be a resource on all possible subjects for Congressmen, who still have their own private access-as if British MPs could stroll across a couple of quiet leafy roads to slip by a private door into the British Library. One of these immense structures, the Jefferson Building, built in the 1880s and 1890s in the manner of the Italian Renaissance. was re-opened in May 1997 after a centenary restoration that had lasted twelve years. The astonishing interior decoration can now be seen properly. When carpets, cubicles and false ceilings were removed, startlingly beautiful marble floors, decorated walls and lofty mouldings were revealed, made again in detail as they had been when the building opened a hundred years ago. In the North Great Gallery beside the Great Hall, the Let There Be Light exhibition was beautifully laid out.

I was there in time to help with the final assembly, and take a posse of eager Docents round as it was being finished. The Library of Congress Staff are enthusiastic. In particular the librarian in charge, the efficient and perceptive Carroll Johnson, was a joy to work with. I had been told that, by a Congressional law, the Library has to include half of its own holdings in any visiting exhibition, and this control has been handled by Carroll with tact and skill. Suzanne Salgado from the Visitor Centre saw at once the potential interest and, with her boss Terri Sierra, set things going for the larger world. Jill Brett of Public Relations arranged for me a long interview with the Washington Post.

There were two special occasions. The opening of the Exhibition on the evening of the 4th June was indeed a time to remember. An invited audience (in which it was a special pleasure to welcome Mrs Bonnie Matles, the American Secretary of the Tyndale Society) sat in a long, high, newlyrevealed painted room in the evening sunshine and heard an interesting speech of welcome from Dr James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, who was replied to by Dr Brian Lang, Chief Executive of the British Library. Dr John Cole, Director of the Centre for the Book, then introduced David Scott Kastan of Columbia University, New York, who gave a wellreceived lecture entitled 'The Noyse of the New Bible': Religion and Politics in Henrician England. Dr Cole then introduced me, and I spoke on William Tyndale: Courage and Genius behind the English Bible, a talk which included readings from Tyndale. As I spoke, I could see next door the dome of the Capitol building. The reception afterwards was the occasion for many questions to me about Tyndale: there is clearly acute interest. It was particularly important to me to have with me Dorothy, my wife, who had managed to arrive from England (because of airline vagaries, via Paris) ten minutes before the event began.

On Friday 6th of June Dorothy and I were invited to the British Embassy for a luncheon with HRH the Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. At a reception on the terrace of the Residence. Prince Philip moved informally among the guests. The Ambassador, Sir John Kerr, in his speech after lunch spoke of the Marshall Plan (of which that day was the fiftieth anniversary) and made a point of mentioning the Tyndale exhibition. Later in the afternoon. Prince Philip arrived at the Jefferson Building, and I had the privilege of taking him round the Let There Be Light display. He showed genuine interest. He paused for some time, asking keen questions, in front of the two surviving copies of the 1526 New Testament. Tyndale's Pentateuch, Anne Boleyn's personal copy of the 1534 New Testament (superbly displayed) and the autograph letter from Vilvoorde. He lingered over the last case, a contrast between the pocket-size, 'user-friendly'. 1557 Geneva New Testament (carrying forward most of Tyndale) and the forbiddingly large, black-letter lectern Bible of the first edition of 'AV', the 1611 King James Bible-nearly all of which is still Tyndale.

Over tea in Dr Billington's room, Prince Philip was shown more of the manuscript treasures of the Library of Congress, and again spoke informally to us: he was presented with a copy of my Yale UP edition of Tyndale's 1534 New Testament (a copy of my biography was later presented to him). His Private Secretary, Brigadier Miles Hunt-Davis, asked me to sign a personal copy for his wife (Brigadier Hunt-Davis's wife. that is. not Her Majesty the Queen). Prince Philip left at 5.00pm for the airport and England.

Between other engagements in the next few days. I was able from time to time to slip unobserved into the exhibition and, as I had done in Bloomsbury and Pasadena, quietly note the special attentiveness of visitors to the story of Tyndale and to his work. The world is waiting to know more of this great man, so long neglected. The Tyndale Society has a special challenge ahead, to continue to try to do what we can to right some of the great wrong that has been done to him.

David Daniell

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