"A Glow of History": Acquired by C.L. Burton, Gifted to Queen's


Exhibition label text, Queen's University, 1958.


Frontispiece and title page of C.L. Burton's A Sense of Urgency, inscribed to Leonard Brockington. 

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Detail of engraved illustration and text, pages 272-273.

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Detail of decorative floral border, page 9.

T.E.L.'s Kelmscott Chaucer remained within his estate until at least the end of 1947. In a letter from late December of that year, T.E.L.'s brother, A.W. Lawrence wrote to J.G. Wilson, Manager at Bumpus bookshop, regarding the consignment of T.E.L.'s books: "As to the Chaucer, my idea (as I said in the summer) is to hang on to it for a year or two at least..." (Huntington TEL668 2).

At some point within the next decade, T.E.L.'s Kelmscott Chaucer would be acquired by C.L. Burton, O.B.E., LL.D. (1876-1961), who in turn gifted it to Queen's University in 1958.

Burton was a prominent Canadian merchant and President of Simpsons department store from 1929 to 1948. In his memoirs, A Sense of Urgency (1952), Burton described his life-long passion for books: "in my early teens, the boundless universe of books was suddenly opened to me, and I developed a passion for reading that stays with me to this day" (33).

In acknowledging Burton's gift to the university, Principal William Archibald Mackintosh referred to it as "a beautiful work of craftsmanship which will show many generations of students what fine workmanship really is, but the names of Geoffrey Chaucer, William Morris and T.E. Lawrence give it a glow of history and of the aspirations of the human soul which young people will perceive. It is a great addition to our library" (DLN 2).

"A Glow of History": Acquired by C.L. Burton, Gifted to Queen's