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

Arnold McMillin: “When Belarusians came, they started with the library”

Prof. Arnold McMillin is dearly loved for his enormous contribution to studying and popularising Belarusian literature, for supporting the Belarusian community in Britain and Belarusian Studies as an academic field; as well as for his warm character and ingenious humour. Despite the fact that Prof. McMillin has been interviewed on dozens of occasions, in Belarus and other countries, we felt that one particular topic has always been overlooked in those conversations: his relationship with the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum. In the following interview we have attempted to fill that gap.

Prof Arnold McMillin

Photo by Alexandra Belookaya

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