National Sporting Library Is Hosting Fellowship Scholar


(Monday, April 9, 2007 7:24 AM EDT)

The late John H. Daniels was one of the National Sporting Library's greatest benefactors, donating about 5,000 books to the collection.

One of his greatest desires was for scholars to use the collection for research and to produce new academic material.

Elizabeth Tobey will help fulfill his wish, becoming the first recipient of a fellowship in his name.

“I was very excited about receiving the fellowship, because I've been coming to the library for six years to do research,” Tobey said in a recent interview. “They also have a wonderful staff here, so I was very excited to work with them.”

Tobey started the year-long fellowship in January, and will complete two major projects. First, she will develop and market the fellowship program, and work on attracting potential fellows to the library.

She also will translate a 16th-century, 228-page Italian text by Frederico Grisone titled “Gli Ordini di Cavalcare” (“The Rules of Riding”) and make it available to the public on the National Sporting Library's Web site.

Grisone's text is on the sport of dressage, horse training that centers on obedience and precision of movement. It is often referred to as “horse ballet.”

“I hope this is something people will be interested in reading,” she said. “Some of the things he talks about are still practiced today.”

Tobey speaks Italian and will do the initial translation, but she has enlisted the help of Italian professor Frederica Deigan, from the University of Maryland, to edit and help with more complex sections.

Grisone's Italian is similar to Shakespeare's English, and is sometimes difficult to understand for modern Italian speakers.

Tobey has an undergraduate degree in art history from Smith College and master's and doctoral degrees in the same subject from the University of Maryland.

For her master's thesis, she researched the stable of the Gonazaga family in Renaissance Mantua (“The Sala dei Vacalli of Palazzo Te: Portraits of Champions”) and her doctoral dissertation (“The Palio in Italian Renaissnace Art, Thought and Culture”) was on the Palio horse race held in annually Siena. She recently gave a very well-received lecture on the famous race.

“Liz is an absolute joy,” said library president Nancy Parsons. “We have received letters from [lecture] attendees saying it's the best event they've ever attended at the library. She is a star.”

Horses, riding and racing have been Tobey's lifelong love, and were her focus in art history.

She started riding at 9 years old in her hometown of Hingham, Mass., and grew her interest through books like “The Black Stallion” and “Misty of Chincoteague.”

“Books have always been instrumental in my love of horses,” Tobey said, “and I've ended up at a library filled with horse books!”

The deadline to apply for next year's fellowship is Sept. 30. Scholars interested should contact Elizabeth Tobey at or by phone at (540) 687-6542, ext. 25.

Elizabeth Tobey holds a Sienese ceramic espresso cup decorated with the emblem of the Tartuca Contrada, one of the neighborhood groups that participates in the Palio race. The cups were loaned by Jacqueline B. Mars.
(Photo by Kristen Armstrong)

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