July 2013 Archives

This week I am at the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School taking a week-long course called Provenance: Tracing Owners and Collections, taught by David Pearson. Topics include “inscriptions, paleography, bookplates, heraldry, bindings as provenance evidence, sale catalogues, tracing owners, and the recording of provenance data in catalogues” -- in other words, absolutely fascinating stuff, and a lot of it. I intend to write up a better report once the rigorous week comes to a close, but for now, perhaps an answer to a question posed today during a discussion of bookplates. What was the first American bookplate? Sources report that the 1642 bookplate of Massachusetts printer Stephen Daye (printer of the Bay Psalm Book) was the first. Finding an image, however, proved more than a quick Google search away. So classmates--and interested readers--is this the first American bookplate?

Screen shot 2013-07-30 at 10.40.08 PM.pngAccording to The Bookplate Annual for 1921, which is where I pulled this image from, “The general consensus of opinion is that it is indeed the bookplate of the Cambridge printer.” (No matter the spelling difference; as we are learning this week, that was very fluid in the 17th c.) However, is it not truly a book label since it was printed and not engraved or etched as bookplates generally are?
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For over twenty years, the National Library of Somalia has been a bombed-out ruin.  Located in Somalia’s destroyed capital city, Mogadishu, the remnants of the library now shelter a few families trying to scratch out a living. But a cautiously optimistic think-tank in Somalia (the country’s first) has partnered with a Congressman from Minnesota to begin the process of restoring the library.

The plan, issued by the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies under the directorship of Zainab Hassan, calls for the reconstruction of a four-story library in Mogadishu. The new library will carry books in Somali, Arabic, and English.  The project caught the attention of Congressman Keith Ellison who represents a Minneapolis congressional district with a significant population of Somali refugees. Ellison visited Somalia in February and, upon his return, launched an initiative to ship a large quantity of English books to Somalia to help supply the new library.

Several months later Ellison’s project received enough donations to pack 22,000 books into a 40 ft shipping container that left for Somalia in late June.

Somalia’s coalition government managed to re-take the entirety of Mogadishu from the Al-Shabaab militants in 2011.  The city has since seen a rapid resurgence in construction and building efforts spearheaded by money coming into the country from the Somalia diaspora. 

The reconstruction of the National Library would be a significant cultural victory for the Somalians and a unifying symbol for the entire country. The books sent by Congressman Ellison and his supporters will be a welcome contribution to the process.

View of Mogadishu’s ruins from 2007 is from Wikipedia.
Last summer Larry McMurtry took the antiquarian book world by the horns when he auctioned off 300,000 volumes from his Archer City warehouses. While we all waited and watched (or bid, or cried), filmmakers Mathew Provost and Sara Ossana (daughter of McMurtry’s screenplay-writing partner, Diana Ossana) of Studio Seven7 Films turned their cameras on the “dealers, collectors, teachers, and lookers-on from across the country, queued up outside of Booked Up’s building 4.” Focusing on McMurtry’s legacy as a rare book scout and dealer, Books: A Documentary seeks to tell “the story of the American Antiquarian book trade, its past, present and future.” But the Rhode Island-based filmmakers need additional funding to finish what they have started. Taking their project to Kickstarter, the team is hoping to raise $50,000 over the next few weeks in order to complete post-production. View the trailer:



Let me say this in conclusion (and disclosure): I feel the crowd-sourcing fatigue as much as anyone else, and I can count on one hand the projects I have helped to fund on either Kickstarter or indiegogo, but I am proud to say that I have pledged to this project, and I look forward to seeing the documentary in our local cinema soon. The campaign ends on August 18.
bookermania.jpgEarlier this week, the Man Booker longlist was announced. This prize, which comes with a $58,000 check, is one of the world’s top literary awards; to be eligible, a novel must have been published originally in English by a living author who is a citizen of the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland, or Zimbabwe. Thirteen titles will now vie for shortlist status before the prestigious prize is finally conferred. Here is the longlist:

Tash Aw - Five Star Billionaire
Eleanor Catton - The Luminaries
Jim Crace - Harvest
Eve Harris - The Marrying of Chani Kaufman
Richard House - The Kill
Jhumpa Lahiri - The Lowland
Alison MacLeod - Unexploded
Colum McCann - TransAtlantic
Charlotte Mendelson - Almost English
Ruth Ozeki - A Tale for the Time Being
Donal Ryan - The Spinning Heart
Colm Tóibín - The Testament of Mary

On the heels of that announcement, The Morgan Library announced a fall exhibit on the history of the Booker. Bookermania: 45 Years of the Man Booker Prize will showcase proofs, printed books, manuscripts, artworks, letters, and promotional material. That exhibit opens on Sept. 13.

Photo by Graham S. Haber, via The Morgan Library online.  
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Jane Austen will be the new face of the Bank of England’s £10 note. The announcement, issued yesterday by Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, puts an end to a heated campaign from petitioners hoping to see more women - besides the Queen - featured on British currency.  Austen will replace Charles Darwin, who has graced the £10 note since the early 2000s.

The new £10 note will prominently feature the classic portrait of Austen drawn by her sister Cassandra.  It will also include images of her writing desk and quills at Chawdon House, where she lived, her brother’s home Godmersham Park, where she often visited, and a quote from Miss Bingley in Pride and Prejudice: “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”

The Bank of England came under a firestorm of controversy when it announced earlier this year that Winston Churchill would replace Elizabeth Fry on the £5 note in 2016.  Fry and Florence Nightingale were the only two women to have appeared on Bank of England currency since it started including historical figures in the 1970s.  Feminist blogger Caroline Criado-Perez quickly launched a Change.org petition and accompanying campaign that threatened to take the Bank of England to court for discrimination under the 2010 Equality Act.  The petition attracted over 35,000 signatures.

The Bank of England’s Jane Austen announcement was greeted favorably by the campaigners.  The Bank also announced that it will undergo a review of its selection measures in the hopes of increasing the diversity of historical figures displayed on its currency.

The new £10 note will first be issued in 2017.
Stoker.jpgBack in May, in a review of The Bookman’s Tale, I complained that the closer one is to the rare book trade, the harder it can be to enjoy fiction based on antiquarian books and manuscripts. But hope springs eternal, so here I am to tell you about Royce Prouty’s debut novel, Stoker’s Manuscript, a re-telling or sequel of sorts, to Bram Stoker’s classic vampire tale.

By way of plot, we open with antiquarian book and manuscript dealer Joseph Barkeley (“low volume and high margins,” he tells us), who is called to authenticate the original draft manuscript for Stoker’s Dracula. (Such a manuscript does indeed exist, having surfaced in a Pennsylvania barn in the 1980s. It is owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.) An anonymous Romanian buyer then employs Barkeley to purchase and deliver the document to the legendary Castle Bran. Once there, Barkeley realizes he is dealing with the devil. To avoid impalement, he must decode messages hidden in the text and locate the secret burial site of Dracula’s bride.

Prouty’s style is more storyteller than trained novelist, so while he excels at plot and tone, his sentences could have had more finesse. His descriptions of Romanian history, geography, and lore add much to the tale. Those who have enjoyed Elizabeth Kostova’s novel, The Historian, or even, say, Matthew Pearl’s The Dante Club, will find themselves on common (unhallowed) ground -- a thriller with enough literary references to keep both the bookish and the bloodthirsty amused. 
Love letters to one of the original Bright Young Things will be published in a forthcoming 42-volume edition of the complete writings of Evelyn Waugh.  Waugh’s grandson, Alexander, a self-described “obsessive researcher” unearthed many love letters thought to have been destroyed by Teresa “Baby” Jungman, a socialite of 1920s London, and the great unrequited love of Evelyn’s life. Alexander interviewed Jungman shortly before her death at the age of 102 in 2010.

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“She appears in the Evelyn Waugh biographies, but not nearly as importantly as she should do because she refused to be interviewed,” Alexander told The Guardian. “I interviewed her. It was the first time she’d ever talked about Evelyn Waugh.”

In the course of their discussion, Jungman casually mentioned a basket of love letters from Evelyn sitting in her bedroom.  She freely offered the lot of letters - primarily written in the 1930s -  to Alexander.

“They’re extraordinary,” Alexander told The Observer. “They show a tender side of Evelyn Waugh that’s never been seen before. He was wildly in love with her.”

That love was unrequited. Jungman, who was the likely inspiration for Lady Julia Flyte in Brideshead Revisted, rejected Evelyn’s marriage proposal in 1932.  Evelyn was so depressed he fled to Morocco, where he cranked out one of his classic works, A Handful of Dust.

Teresa Jungman, and her sister Zita, were both prominent members of the Bright Young People floating around 1920s England, notorious for their parties, pranks, and elaborate treasure hunts that took participants all over London. The sisters were famously photographed by Cecil Beaton.  Jungman attracted a variety of suitors drawn from the ranks of the British aristocracy but refused all advances until a Scottish military officer swept her off her feet in 1940.

The first volume of the forthcoming complete writings of Evelyn Waugh will be published in 2016 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the author’s death.


shindlerlist.jpgAn original, 14-page typewritten list of the Jewish people Oskar Schindler saved during the Holocaust is for sale on Ebay, with a starting bid of $3 million. The paper, dated April 18, 1945, contains the names of more than 800 men. The List was the subject of the 1982 Booker Prize-winning book by Thomas Keneally and the 1993 Academy Award-winning film. According to the auction listing, the document comes from the family of Itzhak Stern, Schindler’s accountant (played in the movie by Ben Kingsley). Only three other such documents are known, all in institutional collections.

The anonymous seller is based in Israel. Eric Gazin of Auction Cause and Gary Zimet of Moments in Time are handling the auction.

Bidding ends on July 28. Interested bidders must be pre-approved.

Image via ArtDaily.

Book Chat with Leonard Marcus

Last week I had the opportunity to speak with Leonard Marcus, considered by many to be the leading authority on the history of children’s books in America. He has written dozens of books, from biographies to histories to collections of interviews with authors and illustrators. 


2013 has been busy for Mr. Marcus -he wrote an article about Maurice Sendak for the current issue of Fine Books & Collections Magazine, curated the current exhibit at the New York Public Library dedicated to children’s books, and has a biography on Randolph Caldecott slated for publication next month. During our hour-long conversation we discussed these and other topics circulating in the children’s book world. Below is part one of our conversation.  

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photo credit: Elena Seibert



What prompted you to put together this exhibit at the NYPL at this point in time?

The Library contacted me. They decided to do a show on children’s books because the last one they had done was in the 1980’s. A generation of children had come and gone, and the library felt that another exhibit was past due. 


I think the library has changed in many ways - and so have many other cultural institutions. There is a greater interest in making rare materials accessible to the public, not just in the literal sense of putting them on display, but presenting them in a way that’s less intimidating than in the past. 


I think of the Metropolitan Museum and the first time I went there as a teenager. There was this atmosphere of reverence, and that has since changed. All cultural institutions, as a matter of survival, I think, are making the public feel more welcome and relaxed in the presence of their treasures. So the hope for us was to put together an exhibit that gives people ways of connecting with the books in a meaningful way. 


Have you noticed this trend of accessibility in other institutions where you’ve put on exhibits? 

Well, I’m very involved with the Eric Carle Museum- I’m on the board of trustees - and I think that having a museum dedicated to children’s books is a sign in itself of a break with tradition. In the past, museums would not have considered children’s book art worthy of exhibition. Certainly not anything contemporary - perhaps old Victorian books that had acquired a certain patina. The Carle is dedicated to contemporary art that, to some extent, presents itself as museum for people of all ages. It makes provisions for the very young who might want to sit on a bench and be read to, or go into a room and create their own art. That is indicative of a shift of how museums view themselves and their role in society. 


Does this also reflect a shift in the way parents read and share books with children?  

I think that parents today belong to the best-educated generation in the history of the world, so I think they are very book-conscious. They’re also more aware of how books are made and perhaps their children are as well. Now artists and writers and can be encountered at story hours, museums, bookstores. 

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Some parents, I think, are eager to expose their children to a wide range of books, it’s a way of encouraging children in their own creativity. One of the hallmarks of Eric Carle, who works primarily in collage, is that he creates the kind of art children do when they are in preschool. One of the unspoken messages of Eric Carle’s art is that, his work is not too different from art that children might create on their own. 


That approach reminds me of what Mo Willems and Hervé Tullet spoke about during a recent talk at Books of Wonder in Manhattan

Mo Willems is all about making art that children can do themselves. It’s about demystification. I think that’s a really big theme in the museum world right now, and especially with my exhibit at the NYPL, the goal is to take things off the pedestal and to make people feel that, when we’re talking about culture, we’re talking about ownership, and that everyone can partake in it. 

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Some books on display at the NYPL were quite scary - the Grimm books, for example - and some contemporary parents might say ‘I’m not going to read that to my child.’ Yet on the flip side, there exists a genre of violent vampire and zombie books that many parents share freely with their middle-years children. Do you notice any sort of disconnect, or are we watering down children’s literature? 

Well some are for it, some abhor it. One good thing about the present is that there is such a range of books available. On the one hand we have a deeper awareness of child psychology than was reflected in the books published for children one hundred years ago. Fifty years ago there was still a desire to shield children from the darker parts of life. Then there are people like Maurice Sendak who really brought a new and frank insight into the equation, which had an impact on books of all kinds.


On the other hand there are intense commercial pressures brought about by the fact that publishers have consolidated, as well as booksellers. There is a rush for the lowest common denominator - the least offensive book that will appeal to the greatest number of people.  So those pressures work against each other. Sometimes one wins out, sometimes the other does. I think that defines the current situation. I see a lot of very safe books, certainly when you look beyond the book world into the film world, such as with Disney, where the financial stakes are so much greater, to come up with something that’s palatable rather than emotionally satisfying.  


Parents must fit in here somewhere. 

I think parents need to know that it’s their responsibility and it can also be a great pleasure for parents to be involved in their children’s reading. There’s been some tendency to leave book choices to the experts, or alternatively to leave the child with a handheld device and then leave the room let the child to fend for himself or herself. That’s perhaps the worst of all choices, because, in my opinion, the book you choose matters, the experience you have of the book matters even more. And for a young child, that experience needs to include an adult who can mediate the story, and assessing it with a loving attachment.


You don’t sound like you are against the use of technology, rather in favor of its judicious employment.

I’m not against technology, but it’s no substitute for a parent. And in certain respects, paper books function more effectively than e-books do. I think that these are two art forms that are going to both develop and each will put pressure on the other to do better at what it can do best. A Kindle, for example, can’t change its format. Every picture book has to be exactly the same size to fit in the screen, and that is a real problem for creator of picture books, whereas the trim size and other physical aspects of the book have always been considered expressive elements. But that’s not to say that some brilliant person couldn’t take an e-book - which is really a form of animation - and do something on an aesthetic level that someone working in a picture book format could only dream of doing. 

There’s more! Read the rest here 

We recently interviewed E. Richard McKinstry, Library Director at Winterthur Museum, about Charles Magnus, the 19th century lithographer, and the subject of McKinstry’s new biography out now with Oak Knoll Press.


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Let’s start with a basic intro: Who was Charles Magnus?

Charles Magnus was a printer and storekeeper who was active in New York City for the last 50 or so years of the 1800s. He was born in Elberfeld, Germany in 1826 and came to the United States in 1848 possibly as a result of the political upheavals in Europe at the time. Magnus was always regard as a mapmaker, first because of a momentous project, his Commercial Atlas of the World, and then because he published so many other maps. But, he also issued what we today call paper ephemera: songsheets, illustrated letterheads, greeting cards (especially comic valentines), puzzles, games, decorated envelopes, bird’s eye views of cities, prints, and so on. And, he published a few books. Magnus supported the Union during the American Civil War through his imprints. He may not have created different products during the war, but he certainly adapted what he printed to promote the North. Envelopes became patriotic in nature and lettersheets and songsheets featured battle scenes and wartime songs. Gradually, Magnus turned his energies to storekeeping. At least I think so because his recorded imprints became fewer and fewer as the century progressed.

Was Magnus a trained lithographer when he emigrated?  Or did he take up lithography after his arrival in the United States?

He took up the business after he arrived in the United States. Elsa Amberg, one of his granddaughters, wrote that she thought her grandfather worked as a salesman for a silk firm in Elberfeld before he left for America, Elberfeld being a center of the German silk industry. Elsa also said family lore suggested he may also have been employed making playing cards. I don’t think Magnus ever worked on a lithographer’s stone himself. He was more of an agent, promoter, and storekeeper, employing workers to create the products he sold. 

Did Magnus maintain a connection with Germany?

With Germany, Europe, and with a German speaking public in the United States. Magnus credits European illustrators on some of his works, for example. In addition, he sold a child’s A-B-C book, Comic Picture Book, whose words were in French and which may have originally been a European publication. Magnus likely added his imprint to the front cover. Evidence suggests that Magnus’s commercial atlas was published cooperatively with George Philip and Son, an English firm. Magnus advertised in America in German language newspapers, issued prints with captions in German, and advertised his products on his own prints using the German language. Magnus published likenesses of German-Americans (engineer John Roebling and Civil War soldier Major-General Franz Sigel, for example). Finally, one of his products was geared to a German audience, a German Head Line Copy Book “in eight numbers, known to be the best series, introduced and adopted in most of the German High Schools.”

How large was his business in its heyday?

How I wish I knew. Magnus’s account books and other business records have not survived, and I haven’t even seen a Magnus invoice. Because Magnus published thousands of items during the Civil War, his business was undoubtedly larger in the early 1860s than at any other time. In 1889, twenty-five years after the war, R.G. Dun, the credit rating firm, noted that Magnus ran a small business--whatever that meant--without yielding much of a profit and that he claimed it was worth $50,000, a figure Dun judged high. At the end of his career, in 1900, in an official report New York State’s factory inspector stated that Magnus employed on the average ten males and one female who contributed sixty hours of labor, presumably each week they worked.

Does Magnus have any distinguishing characteristics in his work?  Can you tell a Magnus piece of ephemera from another piece of late 19th century ephemera?

Not reluctant to credit himself, Magnus usually signed his work, which is the obvious giveaway. He also reused the same illustration on different products, so if someone sees an image once, he or she shouldn’t be surprised to run across it again, perhaps many times. After viewing so many Magnus products, it is fairly easy for me to identify them even if his credit line doesn’t appear. Songsheet and lettersheet layouts vary little, for instance, and their images follow patterns. Some of Magnus’s products are quite good, but many are run of the mill I suspect because he printed large quantities of copies rapidly for quick sale.

What are some of your favorite pieces of ephemera printed by Magnus?

In a sense, I still look forward to seeing my favorite. Even though my book has now been published I continue to be on the watch for his work. For imagery, my favorites are cityscapes. Although I was raised in a rural village in northern New Jersey and now live in a small town in southeastern Pennsylvania, I have always been drawn to urban scenes. I especially like pre-20th century architecture. Considering Magnus’s work where text takes over, my favorites are his songsheets. Historians studying the history of American music would do well to consult them.

How is Magnus viewed by scholars and collectors today?  What is his legacy?

Two thoughts about researchers: Through prints especially, Charles Magnus together with his contemporaries have provided resources that illustrate urban, suburban, and rural imagery that would have been lost to time if they had not been in business. And because Magnus’s products appealed to large audience, anyone interested in art for the masses should be drawn to Magnus. For collectors: In the marketplace, Magnus items are still relatively inexpensive, so anyone interested in building a collection of his works can do so with modest investment. On eBay, for example, some of his pieces sell for less than twenty dollars. Of course, with the publication of my book, his appeal--and prices for his imprints--might increase.

A new exhibit will soon be getting off the ground--literally­-- at The Morgan Library and Museum. This Friday marks the opening day of The Morgan’s annual Summer Sculpture Series exhibit. This year’s featured artist is Monika Grzymala, a Berlin-based sculptor who has created a massive hanging work made mostly from paper.


jpgGrzymala’s suspended sculpture, Volumen, celebrates paper “as the ‘pictorial carrier’ employed by artists, writers, and composers to express human creativity.” Volumen is constructed from thousands of sheets of handmade paper that are linked together with bookbinder’s yarn. Some of these sheets feature printed images of autographed manuscripts from The Morgan’s own collection, including works by Franz Schubert, Jane Austen, and Peter Paul Rubens.

 

Volumen will hang in The Morgan’s sunny glass-enclosed Gilbert Court. “The time it takes to hang every element from the ceiling” may prove to be the greatest challenge to overcome before opening day says the exhibit’s curator Isabelle Dervaux. If all goes accordingly, however the end result will be stunning. As the light in Gilbert Court changes throughout the day so too will Volumen’s appearance to visitors. Interestingly, Volumen’s name not only hints at its grand size, but also the role illumination will play in its display.

 

The Morgan Library recently explained to Fine Books that Monika Grzymala was chosen as the Series’ featured artist not just because of her use of paper, but also for her “conception of sculpture as drawing in space.” Grzymala will give a lecture on her exhibit’s opening night, and Volumen will be on display until November.

 

Image Courtesy of The Morgan Library & Museum and Monika Grzymala

 

framed.JPGCall it the ultimate in book preservation or the fuller realization of the book as a work of art, or the inevitable resting place for the codex -- a framed first edition. The Jones Brothers, a luxury book boutique in London, unveiled this week a line of framed books. The collectible books are protected behind UV-blocking glass and sealed in to prevent dust from accumulating. Inside the frame, the book sits on a tightly suspended acid-free ribbon to hold it in place, thus ensuring no harm to the book.

Charlie Jones of The Jones Brothers said the first set is just reaching completion. The booksellers were commissioned by a client who wanted a complete Ian Fleming collection in frames. “We tend to work on commissions rather than hold too much stock,” Jones told me by email. “[We] will source a book and frame it for someone. This is because both the book and the framing style can be very personal choices.” He added that they are also working on a framed open music book in a large gilt frame.

Pictured here is a first edition of Fleming’s Goldfinger set on black boards with a chrome frame. It goes for £3,500 ($5,295).

Image courtesy of The Jones Brothers

This week, the British Library announced that for three days in 2015, they will kick off a year long 800th anniversary celebration for the Magna Carta by bringing together the last four surviving original copies of the document for the very first time.

King John of England signing Magna Carta on Ju...

King John of England signing Magna Carta on June 15, 1215, at Runnymede; coloured wood engraving, 19th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Clair Breay, a medieval manuscripts curator at the British Library, recently said, “The Magna Carta is the most popular item in the Library’s Treasures gallery, and is venerated around the world as marking the starting point for government under the law. Bringing the four surviving manuscripts together for the first time will create a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for researchers and members of the public to see them in one place, and will be a fantastic start to a year of celebrations.”


The Magna Carta is considered an integral part of the British Constitution. It was presented to, or rather forced upon, King John of England by rebelling nobleman after years of high taxes and failed wars. The Magna Carta stipulated that King John was required to follow English law just as his subjects were. Many copies of the charter were made and sent across the English kingdom. Today, two original copies survive in the British Library, and both Lincoln and Salisbury Cathedral hold an original copy.

 

The British Library’s full press release can be read here.

Back in March, we wrote about the new literary prize sponsored by the Folio Society in London.  Dubbed “The Folio Prize,” the award - and its accompanying £40,000 purse - will go each year to the “best English language fiction from around the world.”

Today, the Folio Prize announced this year’s panel of judges.  Michael Chabon, bestselling author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, will serve as the sole American voice on the five member panel, which also includes Lavinia Greenlaw, Sarah Hall, Nam Le, and Pankaj Mishra.

Chabon said about the award, “Great literature respects no borders or boundaries, and it’s a thrill to be a part of the first literary prize designed to honor that crucial disrespect.”

The judges are all members of the invite-only Folio Prize Academy, an exclusive body composed of writers and critics from around the world.  The judges are chosen by drawing lots until the panel consisted of no more than three people of the same gender, with three judges from Britain and two from other countries.

The judges will begin with a longlist of 80 books that have received the highest scores from the other members of the Folio Prize Academy.  The judges will then select a shortlist of eight titles to be announced in February 2014.  The winner will be revealed at a ceremony in London, in March 2014. 

CCalling.jpgHave you got a first edition of Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling? If so, you’re in luck! The Sunday Times of London revealed yesterday that the debut detective novel was not, in fact, written by a former Royal Military Police investigator but instead by mega-bestselling author, J. K. Rowling. The book was published this spring in the UK by Sphere, part of Little, Brown Book Group, and in the US by Mulholland Books, also an imprint of Little, Brown. It received rave reviews, unlike the novel Rowling published under her own name last fall, The Casual Vacancy.

According to the Times, Cuckoo’s Calling had only sold about 1,500 copies in the UK before Rowling’s secret was discovered by a reporter who was tipped off on Twitter. Now the book is flying off the shelves. A spokesman for Waterstones, one of England’s biggest bookselling chains, told the Washington Post that they had only a handful of copies of The Cuckoo’s Calling scattered around the country when the news broke, and they prompted sold out. Both Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com were out of stock by the end of the day. The New York Times reported that a second printing with an amended author biography has already been ordered, but it is surely the first printing that will be important to collectors.

Image via MulhollandBooks.com
The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP) is holding its annual conference in Philadelphia next week, from the 18th-21st. This year’s theme is “Geographies of the Book,” and the special collections tours (Rosenbach, UPenn, Library Company, etc.!) and book history programs/panels sound phenomenal. If you’re near Philly, I hope you’ve registered to attend.  

We’re proud that two of our contributors are presenting papers, as well. On July 19th, Brooke Palmieri, a bookseller with Sokol Books in London, will present “Blitzkrieg Books: Moving, Selling, and Saving Rare Books in World War II.” She will also chair a panel on the book in the Cold War. On July 20th, Mitch Fraas, Bollinger Fellow for Library Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania’s Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, will showcase his digital project, “Expanding the Republic of Letters: India and the Circulation of Ideas in the Late Eighteenth Century.” Mitch will also chair a panel on reading and empire. 
Gregory Gibson is the proprietor of Ten Pound Island Book Company, an ABAA firm based in Gloucester, Mass.  He is also the author of three books of non-fiction and, as of earlier this year, a crime novel entitled “The Old Turk’s Load.” We recently caught up with Gibson about his new novel over e-mail:

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Tell us a bit about “The Old Turk’s Load;” how you came to write it and what it’s about.
 
I started the book when I was in the Navy, in 1969. In its first iteration it was 18 1/2 single spaced pages. My sailor buddies liked it, so I kept working on it. Almost got it published by Pyramid, a big pulp house, in the 1970s. But they informed me the world was not ready, and probably never would be, for an alcoholic detective hero. I wrote and published other, non-fiction works, but kept going back to the detective novel and trying to make it viable. Finally I had most of the parts in place, and it was like, “OK. I’ve gotta do this before I die.” And I finished it. Then I issued it myself as a pseudo pulp, with lurid cover art, yellowed paper, and cramped typesetting, etc., and sent it to friends for Christmas. Otto Penzler of the legendary Mysterious Press read it, liked it, and bought it. He asked me if I had another one. I said, “Yeah. It’ll be ready in forty years.”

What authors are your influences? And do you collect any of them?
 
Hammett, Chandler, and James M. Cain (“Mildred Pierce” might be the perfect novel), of course. Also Frederick Exley, Elmore Leonard (especially dig his Westerns!), John Collier, Flann O’Brien, Joseph Mitchell, A. J. Liebling, Nick Tosches, Charles Olson, John Berryman, “Richard Stark,” and many, many others. I own copies of many of their works, but I do not, in any other sense, “collect” any books except reference books - the tools of my trade. Being an antiquarian book dealer, I feel I’d be in competition with myself if I collected the stuff I’m trying so desperately to sell. Just don’t have that collector’s itch, I guess.

Your book jacket bio says about you that “in his imagination he inhabits an undiscovered Raymond Chandler novel somehow set in Manhattan in the Summer of Love.”  So, I’m curious, what’s your favorite Chandler novel?
 
Well, that’s jacket fluff for you. To be honest, they all run together. I remember the voice more than the plots. But I guess I’d say “Farewell My Lovely” because of Anne Riordan and the red headed kid. They give Marlowe a new dimension.

Other book dealers that have written fiction tend to feature bookish detectives or bookish plots.  “The Old Turk’s Load” has neither.  Is that a purposeful decision?  Are there any tie-ins between working in the antiquarian book trade and writing a crime novel like this one?  
 
Not much purposeful. I just don’t particularly care for biblio-mysteries (with the exception of Bernie Rhodenbarr and those low lifes in Iain Sinclair’s wonderful “White Chapell, Scarlet Tracings”). I think the book element tends to drag that sub-genre back to the English drawing room, a place I have little interest in.  For me the big tie in between the antiquarian trade and hard boiled crime novels is life on the road. The book trade, as I practice it, involves a lot of travel, and that sometimes includes chancey motels, bars and eateries, and the (sometimes) wonderful, strange characters who inhabit them. 

“The Old Turk’s Load” is your first foray into fiction, after writing several non-fiction books.  Did you always want to be a novelist - or was it a more recent decision?
 
I have always admired Hammett, Chandler, and James M. Cain, and writing an homage was the best way I could find to express my admiration. Maybe I could find a way to express that admiration again, I don’t know... I tend to think of myself as a writer  - a story teller - rather than a “novelist.” Memoir and non-fiction serve that story telling function just as well, and in some respects they do a better job at it.

Stewart O’Nan described “The Old Turk’s Load” as a “neo-noir that just zips along.” Noir is a sub-genre that I really enjoy, but tends to evade definition. What does noir mean to you?  Would you describe “The Old Turk’s Load” as noir?
 
I like “neo-noir,” a term I never noticed before I started reading my own reviews. Sounds like we’re inventing something interesting, doesn’t it? But seriously, life is hard, and bad stuff happens, and the reasons are always more complex than we would wish. When we speak of these matters in a frank, energetic, colloquial manner, we sound “hardboiled.” I think this is a distinctily American address, and I find it uniquely suited for talking about life in today’s world. So, yeah. I hope the Turk is noir, and hardboiled, too.

So, what’s next?  Are you working on another novel?  Another non-fiction book?
 
For the past three years I’ve been working on a book about a remarkable American character called John Ledyard. (You can look him up.) The book involves an old man known as “I” on a long walk, retracing one of Ledyard’s earliest journeys, thinking about America then and America now, and where “I” fits in all this. It’s a non-fiction novelistic memoir. So there you are.

You can purchase “The Old Turk’s Load” online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Indiebound.

Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 9.36.30 PM.pngMore than twenty years ago, antiquarian bookseller Helen Younger of Aleph-Bet Books in New York published an article called 100 Years/100 Books: High Spots of Collectible Children’s Literature. Recently, she decided to revamp that list to reflect today’s collecting market. Her essay, From Peter (Slovenly) to Potter (Harry), in our current summer issue is complemented by her new list, which leads with the 1848 English-language edition of English Struwwelpeter and closes with the 1997 first edition of the first Harry Potter book. Here are some of my favorites from the list:

1868-9 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Two volumes, Boston: Roberts.

1908 Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. London: Methuen.

1928 Bambi by Felix Salten. NY: Simon & Schuster. First U.S. Ed.

1942 Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

1952 Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. NY: Harper Bros.

1963 Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. NY: Harper & Row.

1970 Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Cleveland: World.

See the full list HERE.

Image courtesy of Aleph-Bet Books. 
If you are a Jane Austen fan - or if you are married to a Jane Austen fan - you will undoubtedly have watched this classic scene from the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice when Mr Darcy - played by Colin Firth - emerges soaking wet from an impromptu swim in the lake on his Derbyshire estate:


That star-making moment - which, incidentally, was not actually in the novel - has been immortalized in the form of a Mr. Darcy statue that debuted recently in the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, London. The larger-than-life statue will tour the UK before its final installation in Lyme Park, Cheshire, the location of the original film shoot.

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The 12 foot fiberglass statue was built to celebrate the launch of “Drama,” a new British television station. The Mr-Darcy-in-the-lake scene topped a poll conducted by the station of favorite television drama moments.

Mr Darcy temporarily joins the pantheon of other fiction inspired statues in London, including Sherlock Holmes in Baker Street, Paddington Bear at Paddington Station, and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.

[Photo by Taylor Herring, available under a Creative Commons license]
Typhoon.pngWhen the incomparable Joseph Conrad collection of the late Stanley J. Seeger goes to auction later this week in London, this complete working manuscript of Typhoon is expected to make the biggest splash. Heralded as “the most important Conrad manuscript remaining in private hands,” it shows the author’s extensive revisions on nearly every page. Sotheby’s believes it will realize something in the range of $500,000-750,000.

The Typhoon manuscript was last on the market at Sotheby’s New York in 1990, when Seeger paid $170,000 for it. Over the course of fifty years, Seeger doggedly sought out first editions, manuscripts, letters, and proofs by Joseph Conrad. Now that collection is for sale in two parts, with part one commencing on July 10 with 193 lots. Some of the highlights include a rare 1902 letter in which Conrad discusses the character of Kurtz in Heart of Darkness, a presentation copy of The Mirror of the Sea to Henry James, and page proofs of the first edition of Nostromo: A Tale of the Seaboard, presented by Conrad to his literary agent.

In a press release last month, Peter Selley, Sotheby’s senior specialist in books and manuscripts, commented, “This is the greatest single author collection pertaining to a modern writer to come to auction within living memory. The collection has been quietly but assiduously assembled with great care and devotion--typical of the late Mr Seeger--over a period of many decades. I have been lucky enough to have been involved in some small degree at various stages of this during my professional career, but now, seeing the library entire for the first time, can truly appreciate the extraordinary depth and range of this collection, encompassing not only the sole remaining working autograph manuscripts by Conrad in private hands but a series of outstanding presentation and association copies, annotated proofs and rare editions.”

Image via Sotheby’s.com. 

Our series profiling the next generation of antiquarian booksellers continues today with Jason Rovito, proprietor of Paper Books in Toronto.


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How did you get started in rare books?


Nausea. I was working on my dissertation and not feeling particularly pleasant about academic life. And medieval Bologna charmed me. Especially the scenery of the early university--with professors and students conducting their business in rented brothel rooms, while the Papacy plotted to build some spectacular academic palace, at the centre of which was an anatomy theatre, with its lecturer’s chair supported by two flayed statues. Within all this, I started paying attention to the booksellers, and to the ways in which they supplied the material that allowed this academic drama to play out. (Rather than sell full manuscripts, they tended to rent out individual quires; an early form of the packet-switching model that built the Internet). Blah blah. When Atticus Books announced that it was retiring its bricks-and-mortar, and there were bookcases and shop-stock to be had, I applied for academic leave and opened up an upper-floor scholarly shop and seminar space. As a business, the project was totally unsustainable (to be kind). But it got me handling books to pay rent. And I was able to stay afloat long enough to find my way to CABS (thanks to a scholarship from Foreseeing Solutions). CABS was a total revelation and I started to appreciate that a rare book is much more than just an expensive (non-rare) book. Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out my way into the trade.

 

When did you open Paper Books and what do you specialize in?


The “Paper Books” shtick started last Spring, while being evicted (more or less) from my first open shop. To raise money for the move, I needed to launch a crowd-funding campaign, but I didn’t want to play the charity card. Since I was in the process of developing a new website, I figured I’d link the two projects together by hijacking the language of subscription: i.e. “subscribe to paper books, to add depth to your screen.” I still think that this hybrid style of retail can work (inbox as foyer). But I realized after CABS that my skill-set isn’t suited for retail, and that my time would be better spent working on quotes, catalogs, and fairs. It’s been almost a year of fumbling around in transition. But I think I’m almost ready to confess as “Jason Rovito, Bookseller.” It’ll be my third name and hopefully the hardest one to shake off.


As for specialization--it’s something I’m still rather anxious about. I’ve known for a while that I’m interested in the nineteenth-century, especially as something that almost happened. But every time I try to further narrow the focus, something from the periphery catches my attention (likely because the cost-of-entry at the periphery is much lower). My latest intuition is that I should just embrace this anxiety as a bibliographic tool, and become known as “that guy who’s really anxious about the nineteenth-century.” For starters, that’s got me trying to catalog nineteenth-century myth, with keywords like [Commercials], [Hygiene], [Weekend], [White Collar], and [Wireless].


What do you love about the book trade?


Its ethics. It doesn’t always happen (by a long stretch), but it’s possible that a single deal in the book trade can bring value to everyone involved: the creators, the created, the sellers, the buyers, and the dealers. And I don’t mean that in a high-horse kind of way; ethics can be really pleasurable. The friendships that emerge at CABS are great examples of what’s possible from a trade that (at its best) doesn’t involve zero sum games; where a part of the profits can be shared, especially through meals, drinks, and conversations. In 2013, I’m not sure that many other jobs can offer the same health benefits.


Favorite rare book (or ephemera) that you’ve handled?


Deutsche Menschen by Detlef Holz (one of the pseudonyms of Walter Benjamin). It was my first year in the trade and I was fortunate to be brought-in on an impressive estate; the reconstituted library of a Jewish exile from Nazi Europe. As the junior dealer, I was supposed to box-up and haul-off the hundred-plus boxes of common books. But I was also invited to pull aside a handful of rare books before other dealers arrived. I’d selected eight books that I could afford to make offers on, including this pseudonymous work of Benjamin’s, which was published in Switzerland and specifically designed to be smuggled into Germany (which it was, successfully, until the censors got wise to the second printing). As I was packing haul-off boxes into the rental van, an employee for an institutional library arrived in the driveway, said hello, and asked whether I was the grandson. I said no, I’m a local bookseller. He quickly darted into the house. When I got back inside, my pile of books had been reduced from eight to two; one of the two being the Holz (smuggled once again).


What do you personally collect?


Booksellers’ catalogs, IOUs, road trips. Stories, mostly injury-related; really tall fish.


On your website, you mention that collecting is a “social activity.” Could you elaborate on this idea?


I guess the basic idea is that, unless you collect dust, you never just collect as a solitary individual. But that’s probably an all-too-obvious point for collectors themselves, since they primarily interact with society whilst collecting. And so, by definition, the activities that build their collections are necessarily social. But probably even more social are the abstract decisions that inform what (or whether or how) to collect in the first place. An iTunes library is still a library, and an e-reader is nothing more than a digital collection of texts; it’s just that the collecting is being filtered through the social parameters of the screen, rather than through paper-based media.


Which is maybe why the bookseller--rather than the collector or the librarian--is often the only actor within this system without a salary. I.e. when money starts to dry up in the trade, it’s the bookseller who’s motivated (by survival) to stress the social nature of collection and the social consequences of any changes to how we collect as a society. Paper-based collections are built through curiosity, conviviality, and travel (amongst other social things). And the bookseller is the first to suffer when these values can no longer pay rent. Blah blah (chirps this canary).


All that aside: I’ve never been much of a reader. As a kid, I used to withdraw bags of dinosaur books from the library, shut them up in my closet, and return them three months overdue. So this “collection” angle helps me sleep at night.


Thoughts on the present state and/or future of the rare book trade?


I think it’s fair to say that this is a period of adaptation. But I’m sure the trade will remain familiar enough. Private collectors will continue to be fascinated by their particular fascinations, even if they work with auction houses and search engines in a more direct fashion than before. And libraries will continue to collect what they don’t have, as long as they continue to be granted budgets with which to do so. (And maybe, in that sense, the politics of austerity will have more of an impact on the book trade than digital technologies.) Urban landlording, through rent inflation, seems to have shrunk the cashflow-margins that most bookshops relied upon; so I’m skeptical that any one city can support more than a handful of open shops at a time. And that makes the pop-up model--whether through fairs or markets or bars or sidewalks--potentially more relevant to those who might not have considered it before. (Although the schlepping is a barrier to entry; says the one with bad shoulders.) It’ll be interesting to see how this change in retail models will effect browsing traditions, especially in terms of sections and depth of stock; when you don’t have an affordable ten-year lease in your back pocket, it’s harder to develop a German History or Theatre section.


But it’s also likely that the trade will expand into rather unfamiliar territory--perhaps in search of some of the dollars that have been diverted elsewhere (to rents and cell-phone contracts). By now, on the everyday level, the screen has supplanted paper as popular medium, so that--strangely--non-rare books have themselves acquired some degree of rarity. I.e. when you happen to come across someone who’s reading a book, and you compare her to someone who’s palming a screen, it’s now obvious that the book isn’t only providing her with information, but it’s also producing a particular posture in her, and a certain mode of attention. A number of booksellers--in their own styles--seem to be hunting for the value within this strangeness (i.e. Heather O’Donnell’s bees or D. Anthem’s zombie-vaccine). But this probably isn’t all that different from Rosenbach hyper-linking the steamship with the auction house; the tradition of the trade is entrepreneurial, which is a source of real (and non-sentimental) inspiration.


Any upcoming fairs or catalogues?


For this summer, I’m working with colleagues to carve out a weekend curiosity shop from the front of our shared office space. I thought I’d already sworn off retail (twice), but it’s a good group of people involved, and the location has promise. If I can settle into a rhythm, I’m also hoping to issue a digital catalog on Charles H. Kerr & Company. It’ll be the fourth--and likely last--catalog that I design with the subscription service Mailchimp. Past examples (like Withdrawn) have generated great feedback. But it’s just pure windmills trying to compete for screen-attention with (free) gossip & pornography. For the autumn I’m working to publish my first print catalog, on those nineteenth-century myths I’d mentioned before. But the material never seems to want to sit still long enough.

AstorPlaceVintage.jpgTo say that this novel had me at its title would be silly, but the title does say it all: Manhattan with historical flair. I anticipated something like Jack Finney’s Time and Again and From Time to Time--indeed Stephanie Lehmann’s Astor Place Vintage is even peppered with historical photos à la Finney--and I was not at all disappointed. This evocative and charming novel succeeds in taking readers on two journeys through New York, one set in the modern workaday world of vintage clothing dealer, Amanda Rosenbloom, who finds a diary sewn into a fur muff, and the one she “reads,” written by career-minded shopgirl Olive Westcott in 1907.

When Amanda is called to appraise some clothing in the apartment of 98-year-old Jane Kelly, she makes an important discovery among the mod A-lines and mid-century cocktail dresses. An old trunk with Edwardian-era garb hides the century-old diary of a 20-year-old woman named Olive. Against her better judgement, Amanda makes a deal on the dresses and pockets the diary. Unmarried and childless at 39, Amanda is beginning to search for something more in life than a married boyfriend, a struggling business, and rampant insomnia. To that end, she visits a hypnotist and starts reading Olive’s diary. Some odd things begin to happen; she isn’t exactly haunted by Manhattan’s past, but her life begins to mirror Olive’s in disquieting ways.  

Olive began writing in September of 1907, having just moved to Manhattan with her father, a manager at the Woolworth’s on 34th Street. The upwardly mobile Olive enjoys many luxuries and yet has a burgeoning feminist streak. (She even buys herself a book on the female body since no one has bothered to provide her with the basics.) She eschews marriage and instead hopes to pursue a career as a department store buyer. When tragedy strikes, Olive relies on willpower and ambition to succeed in a city full of binding corsets, foul tenements, and, for many ladies of her station, a woeful lack of sex education.

Lehmann deserves much credit for bringing history alive in Astor Place Vintage (Touchstone/S&S; original trade paperback, $16), allowing Amanda the opportunity to stumble upon the buildings where Olive lived, shopped, and ate, in their modern context. The two narratives effortlessly braid together, each with its own tensions and well-developed characters, and each a welcome sight when I removed the bookmark and read well beyond my bedtime. 
Dr. William S. Peterson, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Maryland, has written a new biography about Ethel Reed, “one of the most elusive figures in the history of American graphic design.”  The book, entitled “The Beautiful Poster Lady: A Life of Ethel Reed,” is out now with Oak Knoll Press. I recently interviewed Dr. Peterson over e-mail:

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So, let’s start at the beginning -- who was Ethel Reed?

She was a Boston poster artist who achieved international recognition in the 1890s when she was only twenty-one. This happened to her almost overnight, and newspapers and magazines were soon describing her as the foremost woman graphic designer in America. I decided to write a biography of her because her posters (and book illustrations) are so distinguished -- but also because her personal life was so mysterious. She was a woman of many secrets.

Was she trained or self-taught as a designer?

Very early in her life she fell under the influence of Laura Coombs Hills, a Newburyport artist, and took some lessons from her. Later, in Boston, she also studied briefly at the Cowles Art School, but I think it would be accurate to describe her as largely self-taught. She always claimed that her work was spontaneous and intuitive. In an interview published in 1895, for example, she said, “I’m afraid you will think me an unaccountable sort of person, for all I can say is that when I have an idea I simply sit down to the paper, and the drawing and colour come to me as I proceed.”

What characteristics distinguish her work?

Her contemporaries noticed immediately that there was some resemblance to Aubrey Beardsley’s work. In almost all of her posters there is a solitary female figure, often brooding over a book, with a billowing gown and, in the background, enormous, almost menacing flowers. Ethel Reed’s women seem to be in a meditative mood, but at the same time they are subtly erotic figures.

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What are some of her more famous pieces or contributions?

She first caught the attention of the public with a series of posters for the Boston Sunday Herald in the the spring of 1895, and for the next two years she was much in demand among Boston publishers. She did a lot of work during that period, especially for Copeland & Day and Lamson, Wolffe. My personal favorites are a poster she produced for a novel by Albert Morris Bagby, Miss Träumerie, and the poster and illustrations for Gertrude Smith’s The Arabella and Araminta Stories. Then, after she moved to England, she contributed some very interesting illustrations to the Yellow Book.

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I understand that Ethel was almost as famous for her personal glamour as for her design work. Could you tell us a bit more about that? Was she a fashion trendsetter?

From 1895 onward the American press was filled with gossip about her, and then in January 1896 she visited Washington, D.C., for a poster exhibition and met Frances Benjamin Johnston, a local photographer of considerable reputation. Johnston took a series of very striking pictures of her in a glamorous black dress, and thereafter, whenever a journalist approached Ethel Reed, she supplied copies of those photographs, which were then published across the continent. I think we would describe her today as a media celebrity. I found it interesting that much of this promotion of her public image came from Ethel Reed herself.

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After 1896, Ethel disappeared from public view.  What happened?  Why did she stop designing?  Where did she go?

In the spring of 1896, following a collapsed engagement, she sailed for Europe and led a somewhat wandering life thereafter. She visited France and Germany, lived in Ireland for two years, and eventually settled down in London (where, as I said before, she did some work for the Yellow Book). Meanwhile she had a succession of lovers, bore two children by them, and in 1903 married an English army officer, but the marriage fell apart immediately -- on the honeymoon, no less. In her final years she sank into poverty and obscurity and died of an overdose of sleeping tablets in 1912. There is no simple answer as to why she was unable to relaunch her artistic career in London, but it is worth noting that she became an alcoholic, was addicted to several drugs (including opium), had an extraordinarily turbulent love life, and frequently complained of depression and poor health. In other words, she struggled with a lot of burdens. Why she, in effect, made herself invisible to the public and to her old Boston friends is ultimately a mystery, and I do not claim to have solved it, but at least I have been able to reconstruct, for the first time, the hidden years in London.

How is Ethel Reed viewed by collectors and scholars today? What has been her legacy?

She still has a considerable reputation as a poster artist: her posters continue to sell at high prices, and art historians nowadays regard her as one of the leading figures of the poster revival in the United States, France, and Britain at the end of the nineteenth century. As I wrote in my biography, “The Ethel Reed girl, redolent of the fin de siècle, remains a recognizable feminine type in our cultural memory.”

You can order a copy “The Beautiful Poster Lady: A Life of Ethel Reed” from Oak Knoll Press. Peterson also maintains a blog about Ethel Reed.

Images from Peterson’s blog and used with his permission.

RobbenShakespeare-Folger.jpgOn view at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., this summer is the well-worn copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare signed by Nelson Mandela. The Robben Island Shakespeare, so named for the jail off the coast of South Africa where Mandela spent eighteen years as a political prisoner, is just an ordinary collection of the Bard’s plays, although it is covered in colorful Diwali cards (part of its disguise as a Hindu bible). The book was owned by Mandela’s fellow inmate, Sonny Venkatrathnam, who circulated the book to prisoners--among them Mac Maharaj, Raymond Mhlaba, Billy Nair, and Govan Mbeki--asking them to note their favorite passages. Between 1975 and 1978, thirty-three prisoners signed the book.

Mandela-Folger.jpgMandela signed his name in Julius Caesar (Act 2, scene 2, lines 32-37):

Cowards die many times before their deaths:
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear,
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come. (2.2.32-7)

This marks the book’s first visit to the U.S. A Book Behind Bars: The Robben Island Shakespeare will be on exhibit at the Folger through Sept. 29.
 
Images Courtesy of The Folger Shakespeare Library.
 
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