3-5 November 2017, the Treasures of the Skaryna Library Exhibition

In 2017 the world celebrates the 500th anniversary of Francis Skaryna’s Belarusian Bible and the beginning of East Slavonic book printing. To mark this occasion, the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum in London will hold an exhibition.

The exhibition will include rare Belarus-related manuscripts and printed books dated from 1495, including:

  • a fragment of the Skaryna’s original edition of the First Book of Kings, 1518;
  • a copy of the Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, 1588 (3rd ed.);
  • a manuscript of the Belarusian Tatar Tefsir (in the Arabic script), copied in 1725;
  • some 16th century maps from the Library’s fine cartographic collection.

The Treasures of the Skaryna Library

Programme

Friday 3 November 5pm-8pm

  • the opening of the exhibition and presentation of the highlights from the Skaryna Library collection of the rare books and manuscripts;
  • readings from Skaryna in Old Belarusian, Modern Belarusian and English;
  • a tour of St Cyril’s Belarusian Religious and Cultural Centre;
  • refreshments.

Saturday 4 November

  • 1pm-5pm exhibition open.

Sunday 5 November

  • 1pm-4pm exhibition open.

Address 37 Holden Road, London, N12 8HS United Kingdom

Download the invitation

The 500th anniversary of the Skaryna Bible

In 1517, Francysk Skaryna published a book of Psalms in the Old Belarusian language. It was one of the first to use the Cyrillic script. Only two years later, he had translated large swathes of the Bible.

This year, the world celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Skaryna Bible and the Belarusian book printing. These links are dedicated to the anniversary.  Continue reading

The First Anthology of Belarusian Poetry in English: Sponsors and Censors

For 57 years, from 1948 to 1985, UNESCO published its Collection of Representative Works, a series of books aiming to popularise major works of world literature written in lesser-known languages by translating them into more widely-used ones, particularly English and French. In 1971, the first anthology of Belarusian poetry in English appeared in this series. The book, Like Water, Like Fire: an Anthology of Byelorussian Poetry from 1828 to the Present Day, was jointly sponsored by UNESCO and the National Commission for UNESCO of the Byelorussian SSR, and published by the London imprint George Allen & Unwin.


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Arnold McMillin: The Francis Skaryna Library as Experienced by a Long-time User

I first visited the Library, then housed on the first floor of Marian House in 1963, soon after I had started doctoral work on the history of the Belarusian (then known to my supervisor, Professor Robert Auty, as White Russian) literary language in the 19th century. At that time there was a true Belarusian community in Finchley, with four houses, a number of priests, and many post-war emigrants and their children. Before long the ebullient Guy Picarda, was sent by the priests, who had somehow heard of my research interest, to see who I was and to invite me to visit the Library.

Prof McMillin, Guy Picarda and boys from the school managed by Fr Alexander listen to Professor Reginald de Bray, 1960s

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How the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library was established

Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library in London was founded in 1971 and has developed the largest collection of Belarus-related publications in Western Europe. Nowadays, it is the only library outside Belarus to collect exclusively in the field of Belarusian studies and its collection is the most comprehensive in this field in Western Europe. This extract from the book “Ceslaus Sipovich: the first Belarusian Catholic Bishop in the 20th century (1914-1981)” by Alexander Nadson tells its story. Continue reading

An Unparalleled Authority on the History of Belarusian Literature

Prof Arnold McMillin

Photo by Alexandra Belookaya

On 21 June Prof Arnold McMillin will celebrate his 75th birthday. Until he retired in 2006, he was a Chair of Russian Literature at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. He is particularly well known and loved for researching Belarusian literature. Prof McMillin is the author of the first English-language history of Belarusian literature, published in 1977. Since then, he has remained an unrivaled authority on the subject in the English-speaking world. His academic achievements are also a great witness to the work of small community-run libraries in Britain. Continue reading