Leiden: Officina Elzeviriana, 1627 (i.e. 1630). Second edition. 24mo. Engraved frontispiece + 282,  pp. Late 17th-century polished calf (minor wear to extremities), double gilt fillets around sides, four raised bands on spines all enclosed within double gilt fillets, second compartment lettered direct, the others with a small gilt sunwheel, edges sprinkled red. Three blank leaves at the front, five at the end. Very good. Item #3647
This copy of Elzevir's compendium of early writers on Scotland and Ireland was owned by one of the first "modern" women mechanical engineers: Elsie Keary (1890-1971), whose name is now but a footnote in history, but nonetheless is mentioned in the 100 Milestones for Women in Engineering website:
"1910: Rachel Parsons is the first woman to take the Mechanical Sciences Tripos at Cambridge University. The sisters Elsie and Eily Keary follow in her footsteps. All three enter Newnham College." 1917: "Eily Keary is the first woman to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society. She is researching aeronautics at the William Froude National Tank at the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, Middlesex, where she stays for 14 years." Henrietta Heald ("Magnificent Women and Their Revolutionary Machines," 2020), notes that "During the war (i.e. WWI), Elsie Keary worked in a technical role at one of the handfull of government aircraft factories."
Elsie Keary also appears in "The Turning Tide: A Brief History of Women in Maritime Engineering": "Women have been making waves in the arenas of modern maritime engineering and shipbuilding for well over two centuries. The beginnings of the representation of women in these sectors are spearheaded by women from privileged backgrounds in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, namely Isabella Elder, Blanche Thornycroft, Katherine and Rachael Parsons and Eily and Elsie Keary" (SOURCE: Carenza Murray, Making Waves: The Forgotten Voices of Women in Maritime Engineering in Scottish Museums, online).
Commander Mark Barton explains: "Rachel Parsons and Elsie Keary went to Newnham College, Cambridge to study mathematics and mechanical sciences. Rachel was there from April 1910 to 1912. Elsie for Autumn 1910 until 1913. They were the first women ever to do so. At that stage Cambridge would not allow them to sit the final exams and so they did not graduate. Eily arrived in 1912-15 and was allowed to graduate." (SOURCE: "100th Anniversary of the First Female Naval Architect," in: The Naval Engineer, Autumn/Winter 2019, Vol. 6, Edition no. 3, p. 38, note 3.
In 1926 Elsie's exotic illustrations for the Exeter "Rubaiyat" were published by Sydney Lee, with just acclaim. Whereas her "oriental" designs are extremely accomplished, they are the only book illustrations by Elsie Keary that we have been able to trace.
It is almost certain that the present Elzevir volume was given to her by Edward Heron-Allen (1861-1943), editor of the London 1898 Rubaiyat which featured illustrations by Ella Hallward. Heron-Allen was a polymath who formed a large collection of Elzevirs in which appear his own specialized "Bibliotheca Elzeviriana" bookplates; these allowed him to indicate bibliographical references to Willems, Berghman, and Rahir, as well as prices paid, etc. Elsie Keary (or Heron-Allen himself?) removed Heron-Allen's name from the top of the bookplate, and replaced it with "Elsie Keary, M.A." Our volume seems to be the only recorded artifact that would attest to Elsie's interest in early printed books. Certainly it connects two Rubaiyat enthusiasts of the early 20th-century, for which see Garry Garrard, "Edward Heron-Allen: A Polymath's Approach to FitzGerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam" (in: FitzGerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: Popularity and Neglect, ed. Adrian Poole et al., 2012, Chapter 8).
The "M.A." which follows Elsie Keary's name is significant. She was at Newnham College from 1909 to 1913. At that time Cambridge University did not allow women to sit for their exams, and therefore she was not able to secure a degree. But in 1921, the University began to award women "titles of degrees," which were effectively degrees in name only: women were still not able to participate in University governance (and other privileges). In 1925 Keary was awarded a Master of Arts degree retroactively (we are grateful to Frieda Midgley of Newnham College for this information). On the title-page of the 1926 Exeter "Rubaiyat," she gives her name as "Elsie Keary, M.A." Evidently the degree she earned was meaningful to her, even if it was recognized in name only.
Elsie Keary was born in Wandsworth (greater London); after leaving Cambridge she married Charles J. Stewart (in 1922), and they resided in West Sussex. Stewart died in 1925; apparently they did not have children. In 1930 she married Edward Newman Fuller (1888-1969), WWI aviator who rose to the rank of Lieut.-Col. R.F.C. (he was also a noted rugby and cricket player). The couple resided in Hilsham (near Eastbourne), East Sussex, where they lived until the end of their days.
THE TEXT: Part I (pp. 5-144) contains chapters by Buchanan and others on Scottish history, geography, economics, etc. Part II (pp. 145-274) contains similar chapters on Ireland, most of them by Camden. The present 1630 edition is a copy of the 1627 edition, featuring the same engraved title-page dated 1627, but with "1630" appearing on the verso of the final leaf.
Willems 287 (note). Rahir 252. CATALOGUER'S NOTE: We are grateful to Tom Leaky for providing an image of the unaltered Heron-Allen bookplate in his collection.