Conference and Exhibitions Mark Sir Walter Raleigh Anniversary at University Libraries

August 24, 2018

Sir Walter Raleigh has been called “the best hated man in the world,” “the greatest Renaissance man in England” and “Fortune’s tennis ball.” Four hundred years after his death, the adventurer, soldier, poet and courtier—who was executed October 29, 1618—continues to fascinate.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s University Libraries will join worldwide remembrances of Raleigh by holding a scholarly conference and presenting two exhibitions at the Wilson Special Collections Library.

Raleigh 400: A Conference on Sir Walter Raleigh Four Hundred Years After His Death” will take place at Wilson Library September 6 – 8, 2018. The conference is open to the public but is geared to a scholarly audience.

“All states have creation myths and Sir Walter Raleigh is part of North Carolina’s” said Bob Anthony, curator of the North Carolina Collection at Wilson Library and one of the conference organizers.

This scholarly conference is open to the public. General audiences may enjoy the opening reception and maps lecture on September 6 and the dinner on September 7 at the Carolina Inn. Dinner speaker Anna Beer of Oxford University will discuss “Raleigh’s Two Elizabeths”—the queen who was his patron and Raleigh’s wife, Bess.

Registration for the free conference and for the dinner ($50 per person) is required by August 28.

The conference is co-sponsored by the University’s Program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

Exhibitions: “Histories of the World” and “Sir Walter Uncloaked”

Opening with the conference and on view to the public will be two exhibitions at Wilson Library.

Histories of the World: Global History in the Age of Discovery” will explore the genre of historical scholarship from the late-fifteenth century through the mid-seventeenth century, a transformative time in Europe’s conception of the global past. It will be open through January 6, 2019.

The exhibition draws on the Rare Book Collection and North Carolina Collection, both at the Wilson Special Collections Library, including select items from the University Libraries’ Sir Walter Raleigh Collection. Elizabeth Ott, Frank Borden Hanes Curator of Rare Books at Wilson Library, said that the collection is both rare and significant.

“Nearly every work in it is a scarce work,” she said. “These are items held only by a few libraries.”

Among the materials in the Raleigh Collection and in the exhibition is Sir Walter Raleigh’s own History of the World (1616), composed during his imprisonment in the Tower of London.

The North Carolina Collection Gallery will provide a lighthearted look at the historical figure with the exhibition “Sir Walter Uncloaked: The Man, the Myths, the Legacy,” on view through January 31, 2019.

Visitors will learn about key events in Raleigh’s life and view depictions of him in popular culture, including cartoons, romance novels, children’s books, currency and tobacco memorabilia.

Both exhibitions are free and open to the public. They may be viewed during Wilson Library’s regular hours of operation.

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