On the website openculture.com, blogger Josh Jones has posted a description of the so-called Victorian Blood Book that was acquired by Evelyn Waugh and added to his collection. It now resides in the Harry Ransom Center’s Evelyn Waugh Collection at the University of Texas and much of it is available online at this link provided on openculture.com. Here’s an excerpt from the post:
The novelist, the Ransom Center notes, “was an inveterate collector of things Victorian (and well ahead of most of his contemporaries in this regard). Undoubtedly the single most curious object in the entire library is a large oblong folio decoupage book, often referred to as the ‘Victorian Blood Book.’”
Waugh deeply admired Victorian art, and especially “those nineteenth-century enemies of technology, the Pre-Raphaelites,” writes [Charles] Rolo. Still, like us, he may have looked upon scrapbooks like these as bizarre and morbidly humorous, if also possessed by an unsettling beauty. (One 2008 catalogue described them as “weird” and “rather elegant but very scary.”) More than anything, they resemble the kind of thing a goth teenager raised on Monty Python and Emily Dickinson might put together in her bedroom late at night. Such an artist would be carrying on a long “cherished tradition.” […]
The “Blood Book”‘s actual title appears to have been Durenstein!, which is the Austrian castle where Richard the Lionhearted was imprisoned. Assembled from hundreds of engravings, many by William Blake, it apparently depicts “the spiritual battles encountered by Christians along the path of life and the ‘blood’ to Christian sacrifice.” The “blood” is red India ink. The quotations surrounding each collage, according to the Garland family “are encouraging one to turn to God as our Saviour.” […]See a full scanned copy of the “Victorian Blood Book,” and download high-resolution images, online at the University of Texas, Austin’s Harry Ransom Center.