It’s not every day that you find a rare edition of Handel’s Messiah in your library but I’m delighted to say that we have one at New College Library! This recently catalogued pamphlet from our Special Collections appears to be the first printing in England, and second edition overall of the libretto of Handel’s Messiah (The first edition was in Dublin.) It is also the first edition printed in England by six years. According to Elizabeth Lawrence, EUL Assistant Rare Books Librarian, “The oratorio was first performed in Dublin in 1742, and then again in London in March 1743. The publication we have, the libretto, known as the ‘word book’, was published to sell at the theatre, so the audience had half an idea what was going on. There are no copies of this edition currently on ESTC.”
Look, there’s a libretto in the library!