Friday, February 7, 2014

The Rowfant Club

The Rowfant Club’s season has been in full swing now since September when we begin our Friday Lunch series.  These lunches are followed by a talk from a member of the club and a question period, and we have heard from members on subjects ranging from the last Nobel Prize for literature to Paris history to the history of graphics in publishing. And as the bleak mid-winter surrounds us with its gray days and sometimes bitterly cold nights, we look forward to Wednesday evenings at our fireplace before dinner and the subsequent move into Rowfant Hall.

These traditions have been part of Rowfant’s life and the lives of its members for generations.  While such events may seem less than exciting to many others, to us they are the raison d’être of the club. For it is books and bookishness that knits this club’s members into a kind of biblio-family. And we look forward now to another tradition as old as the Rowfant Club itself: Candlemas. This is our annual meeting and always held on Groundhog’s Day.  It is the evening during which we eulogize members who have passed on in the previous year and cap their candles. The evening continues with the election Fellowes to our governing Council. 

Visitors to our 122-year-old house may notice a distinct lack of what is now everywhere else ubiquitous—television sets in every corner, people on cell phones, and an often complete absence of books. At Rowfant, book cases dominate the walls and conversations can reach a level of excitement that many people might find odd.

Book collecting and reading, book appreciation and study, literary adventures and writing are some of the contact sports of the Rowfant Club.  Our passion for excellence in all areas of the study and production of books remains our central cause. In mid-December we held our annual book auction to raise funds for our library. As always, it was a spirited evening of competitive bidding for various books and objects, including a ceramic Cowan Pottery Rowfant candlestick.

As 2014 progresses, we look forward to another year of bookish events and speakers from around the world who will join us in our passion for the exciting topics around the world of books.  The Rowfant Club’s essence is summed up in a portrait of Erasmus on a wall in the club house. It quotes the great humanist, “When I have money I buy books. If there is any money left, I buy food.”

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