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Dear Reader

Mad March Hare

We’re all mad for books and paper By Rebecca Rego Barry

Editor Rebecca Rego Barry

One of my favorite book titles is Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac by Eugene Field. The one I own is not a first edition, but it’s an 1896 edition in a still vibrant green cloth, with deckled edges, and a unique bookplate. In it, Field discusses the pleasures and perils of his passion for books. Similarly, Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust and our own Nick Basbanes’ A Gentle Madness call attention to what Field’s brother dubbed “that incurable mental infirmity.”

Many of the book people featured in our March issue are also among the afflicted. Dard Hunter, America’s preeminent papermaker, was absolutely devoted to the art of book-making. Only a bibliomaniac, or perhaps in this case, a papermaniac, would build a mill powered by a water wheel in order to make paper the seventeenth-century way. Hunter was indeed a fascinating man.

In an excerpt of Katherine Wolff’s recent book, Culture Club, we get a sample of the bibliomania that infected three young men as they attempted to create the Boston Athenaeum collection.

Undoubtedly, we are all fanatical about books. From fine press publishers like Bruce Howard, featured in the digest section, to book dealer Chris Lowenstein and her devilishly good Dante catalogue, to all the collectors who purchased the rare maps, first editions, cartoon art, and political ephemera that Ian McKay so skillfully reports on this month. But at least we’re all at the tea party together.

Enjoy!

Rebecca

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Rebecca Rego Barry is the editor of this magazine.