Special Collections & Archives Blog

In the 'Rare Book of the Month' Category...

Life in the West of Ireland, by Jack Butler Yeats (1912)

Friday, August 3, 2012 4:04 pm

Jack Butler Yeats (1871-1957) is considered by many to be the most important Irish artist of the 20th century. Like his brother, the poet William Butler Yeats , Jack Yeats was a key figure in the Celtic Revival movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Jack Yeats is best known for his long and prolific career in the visual arts, but he also wrote novels, essays, and plays.  A profound attachment to the land and people of Ireland is evident in all of his work.

1912 first edition of Life in the West of Ireland

Jack was the youngest child of Irish artist John Butler Yeats and his wife Susan Pollexfen. The Yeats family were Anglo-Irish Protestants from County Sligo, Ireland, but Jack Yeats was born in London, where his father had moved the family after giving up a law practice to pursue his artistic ambitions. John Yeats had some success as a portrait artist, but the family suffered chronic financial difficulties. When Jack was eight years old he was sent to live with his maternal grandparents in Sligo on the northwest coast of Ireland, where he remained for the next eleven years. When he returned to London in 1887, Jack entered art school and began his career as a professional artist and illustrator.

Frontispiece illustration for Life in the West of Ireland

Jack began his career as an illustrator and cartoonist for popular English magazines and newspapers. He also provided artwork for cards and publications of his sister Elizabeth Yeats’s Cuala Press. In 1910 Jack and his wife moved back to Ireland and settled there permanently.

Jack Yeats once remarked to Thomas MacGreevy that “No one creates… the artist assembles memories.” Yeats’s memories of the Sligo of his childhood are the subject of Life in the West of Ireland, a volume of line drawings, watercolors, and reproductions of oil paintings  published in 1912.

Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections holds two copies of the first edition of Life in the West of Ireland. One is a presentation copy from Jack Yeats to Augusta, Lady Gregory.

Inscription by Jack Yeats

Lady Gregory was a folklorist, playwright, and monumental figure in the Irish Literary Renaissance. She advised and encouraged many of the most important Irish writers and artists of the time, including both William and Jack Yeats.  Jack sent her a copy of Life in the West of Ireland in December 1912 as she was embarking on a tour of the United States.

Manuscript note from Jack Yeats laid into the ZSR copy of Life in the West of Ireland

Life in the West of Ireland is an affectionate but unsentimental portrait of a way of life that was disappearing in the early 20th century. Yeats’s illustrations document the everyday life of inhabitants of towns like Sligo.

From an early age Jack Yeats had an interest in theater and spectacle. Many of the illustrations in Life in the West of Ireland depict popular entertainments– circuses, fairs, and stage melodramas.

Later in his career Jack Yeats turned more to oil painting. Several of his paintings are reproduced as black and white plates in Life in the West of Ireland.

The first edition of Life in the West of Ireland included 150 copies of a special limited edition.

Limited edition (left) and regular first edition (right), both published by Maunsel & Co.

ZSR Special Collections holds copy 30 of the limited edition, with an original color sketch of a circus clown.

Sketch by Jack Yeats for the limited edition of Life in the West of Ireland

Wake Forest’s copies of the inscribed first edition and the limited edition were purchased by the library in 1972 and 1974 respectively. They are part of the extensive collection of Irish Literary Renaissance materials in ZSR Library’s Special Collections. This collection includes most of Jack Yeats’s published works, along with near-complete collections of the works of W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, and many other important Irish writers. ZSR Special Collections also holds the archives of Liam Miller and his Dolmen Press, which was the successor to the Cuala Press and publisher of many important works of Irish literature in the second half of the 20th century.

The American Star, 1817

Thursday, June 28, 2012 3:11 pm

Two hundred years ago this month, the War of 1812 began. This three-year conflict with Britain was, as one recent commentator observed, “the Jan Brady of American conflicts for good reason: not only was it book-ended by two vastly more significant wars, but its causes weren’t sexy, its conclusions were muddy, and its most famous battle took place after peace was declared.”

But one thing historians agree on is that the War of 1812 was instrumental in forging a national identity for the still-new United States. Public enthusiasm for the music and poetry of the war persisted long after ratification of the Treaty of Ghent ended the conflict in 1815. So when Richmond bookseller and publisher Peter Cottom brought out a second edition of his popular American Star songster in 1817, the small volume, subtitled A Choice Collection of the Most Approved Patriotic & Other Songs, contained a large number of songs celebrating American victories in the recent war.

The most famous of these is found on page 4

Francis Scott Key wrote the text of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in September 1814 while witnessing the British attack on Baltimore’s Fort McHenry. Shortly thereafter it was published as a broadside, set to the music of the popular tune “To Anacreon in Heaven“. The 1817 edition of The American Star is one of the earliest appearances of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a collection of songs.

Many lesser-known songs from the War of 1812 are included in The American Star. Several of them, like the “Song” pictured above, are set to the same tune as Key’s lyrics.

Over half of the songs in the volume have nationalistic themes. Some celebrate specific battles or war heroes:

General William Hull is actually best known for his embarrassing surrender of Detroit to the British in August 1812.

The British navy’s unprovoked attack on the USS Chesapeake in 1807 was one of the events that led the U.S. to declare war.

The battle of Lake Erie, fought in September 1813, was one of the largest naval engagements of the war and an important victory for the U.S.

U.S. forces led by Andrew Jackson defended the newly acquired Louisiana territory from a British invasion in the battle of New Orleans, the last major battle of the war.

Other songs in the collection are more generally patriotic. This one, by poet Samuel Woodworth, celebrates the role of the printing press in a democratic society:

The rest of the songs are largely popular ballads of the time, many from the musical theater. The subtitle of one called “Nobody Coming to Marry Me” asserts that it was “sang [sic.] by Mrs. Poe, with unbounded applause, at the New-York Theatre.”

Mrs. Poe was the young actress Elizabeth Arnold Poe. Deserted by her husband, she attempted to support her three small children by a career onstage before her very early death. Her second son, Edgar, became one of the most important American authors of the 19th century.

ZSR Library’s copy of The American Star was donated to the Wake Forest College Library sometime in the 19th century. It remained in the circulating collection until 2011.  The book has been heavily used and inexpertly repaired, and it is missing its title page.

Even as a new book, the small volume would not have been visually impressive. The second edition of The American Star was printed on poor quality paper and cheaply bound, an inexpensive book intended for a wide audience. Its publisher, Peter Cottom, traded mostly in almanacs, practical handbooks, and a few legal documents (he is known to have supplied Thomas Jefferson with reading material). The American Star was popular entertainment for citizens of the still evolving United States. It may not be pretty, but it is a valuable artifact from the nation’s formative years.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle (1892)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 2:52 pm

Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) was a man of many talents and many interests, but he is best known as the creator of the world’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Conan Doyle published his first story in 1879, while he was a medical student at the University of Edinburgh. After completing his studies, Conan Doyle made repeated attempts to establish a medical practice. He was not a great success as a doctor, which had the benefit of giving him plenty of spare time to continue his writing career. By 1891 he had given up medicine entirely and was supporting his family (a wife and two small children) solely by his writing.

Detective fiction was a fairly new genre when Sherlock Holmes made his first appearance in “A Study in Scarlet,” published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual for 1887. A second Holmes story, “The Sign of the Four,” appeared in Lippincott’s Magazine in 1890. Both stories were also published as individual volumes.

But it was the July 1891 publication of “A Scandal in Bohemia” in The Strand magazine that made Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle household names.

The Strand, July 1891

The Strand, a new venture from publisher and entrepreneur George Newnes, was a popular magazine aimed at a middle-class family readership. Its issues included a variety of fiction and nonfiction pieces.

From the first issue of The Strand

Conan Doyle observed that the “disconnected stories” common in magazines of the time did not particularly inspire reader loyalty. But an ongoing serial story presented problems of its own: readers who missed one issue might lose the plot and become uninterested. Conan Doyle posited that

Clearly the ideal compromise was a character which carried through, and yet instalments [sic.] which were each complete in themselves, so that the purchaser was always sure that he could relish the whole contents of the magazine. I believe that I was the first to realize this, and “The Strand Magazine” the first to put it into practice. . . . Looking round for my central character I felt that Sherlock Holmes, whom I had already handled in two little books, would easily lend himself to a succession of short stories. [Memories and Adventures, 90]

Strand editor Greenhough Smith agreed, and he requested a series of six Sherlock Holmes stories. They were hugely popular and were a major factor in the new magazine’s becoming highly successful. The stories were published in The Strand between July 1891 and June 1892. Immediately thereafter they were reprinted as a separate volume entitled The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

The book was a large volume, bound in bright blue with prominent gold lettering and an illustration that was a facsimile of a Strand Magazine cover. It was clearly intended to catch the eye of a potential buyer scanning a bookseller’s stalls, and to reinforce the connection with the magazine.

First edition of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The book version included the illustrations created by Sidney Paget for the magazine installments. Conan Doyle approved of the illustrations, although he initially thought that Paget had made Sherlock Holmes a bit too handsome. It was Paget who created the now-iconic image of Holmes in his long coat and deerstalker hat.

Illustration by Sidney Paget from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The publication of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes established Conan Doyle as an author of note. In an interview in The Bookman (May 1892) he was asked “how on earth he had evolved, apparently out of his inner consciousness, such an extraordinary person as his detective Sherlock Holmes.” Conan Doyle replied that

[I]f you please, he is not evolved out of any one’s inner consciousness. Sherlock Holmes is the literary embodiment. . . of my memory of a professor of medicine at Edinburgh University [Dr. Joesph Bell], who would sit in the patients’ waiting-room. . . and diagnose the people as they came in, before they had even opened their mouths. He would tell them their symptoms, he would give them details of their lives, and he would hardly ever make a mistake. ["A Talk with Dr. Conan Doyle", 50]

Dedication page from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Dr. Bell himself, the model for Sherlock Holmes, reviewed The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for The Bookman (December 1892). Bell praised Conan Doyle’s skill as an author and confirmed the link between the diagnostician and the detective:

The precise and intelligent recognition and appreciation of minor differences is the real essential factor in all successful medical diagnosis. Carried into ordinary life, granted the presence of an insatiable curiosity and fairly acute senses, you have Sherlock Holmes as he astonishes his somewhat dense friend Watson; carried out in a specialised training, you have Sherlock Holmes the skilled detective. [79]

Bell also noted that the stories had been collected in a “handsome volume,” but he observed that “Had the handsome volume been divided into two, it would not have been so heavy to hold.” [81]

Bell was not the only reviewer to remark on the physical appearance of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. A less sympathetic writer for the National Observer and British Review (29 October 1892) published an “interview” with Sherlock Holmes himself, in which the fictional detective is highly critical of his creator. Conan Doyle in this account is a money-grubbing hack, “a man of few scruples. . . striving, like all his class, to make ‘copy’ where he can.” And Holmes deduces this from looking at a copy of The Adventures:

You see this book is large and expensively brought out; moreover it is issued by a publisher who caters for the million. Hence it is clear that a very large sale is anticipated. Why? Because the book is supposed to contain a popular element, and that popular element is myself. Now, it follows that Dr. Doyle must have heard of me, through Watson or the police; that he saw I should suit his game (which was money); and having invented spurious stories about me that he hit upon a publisher similarly unscrupulous. [606-607]

The huge popularity of the Sherlock Holmes books provoked something of a backlash from critics like the one from the National Observer. The late 19th century saw a deluge of books and magazines like The Strand which were aimed at a middle and working-class readership who had more leisure time and disposable income than previous generations. The literary elite was alarmed by this incursion of commerce into the realm of art. And Arthur Conan Doyle himself was not immune to this view. Although he was entirely unapologetic about writing for a popular audience, he also had no illusions about the Sherlock Holmes stories being taken seriously as literature. Conan Doyle was far more invested in his works of historical fiction (and later nonfiction histories), telling his Bookman interviewer “That is the only work I really fancy.”

Two of Conan Doyle’s many works of historical fiction

After the great success of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle wrote a second series of Holmes stories for The Strand. Twelve stories appeared between December 1892 and December 1893. The were collected into a volume called The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, published in January 1894.

Conan Doyle intended this to be Sherlock Holmes’s last outing. In the last story, “The Final Problem,” Holmes and his arch-nemesis James Moriarty plunge to their apparent deaths over the Reichenbach Falls (Conan Doyle got the idea during a family holiday in the Alps).

Sherlock Holmes fans were outraged. “They say that a man is never properly appreciated until he is dead,” Conan Doyle later observed, “and the general protest against my summary execution of Holmes taught me how many and how numerous were his friends.” [Memories and Adventures, 94]

Conan Doyle eventually relented, publishing “The Hound of the Baskervilles” (which supposedly took place before Holmes’s death) in 1901, and finally bringing Holmes back to life (apparently he had faked his fatal plunge over the falls) in 1903. Conan Doyle published more than 30 additional Sherlock Holmes stories before his own death in 1930.

Over a century later, Sherlock Holmes is still the most famous detective in the world. The audience for the original stories and for new adaptations is as enthusiastic today as it was in the 19th century. It would appear that Sherlock Holmes really is immortal.

The Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections copies of the first editions of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes are from the library of Charles Babcock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1590), by Theodor deBry, Thomas Hariot, and John White

Monday, April 30, 2012 8:15 pm

Secotan priest

Secotan priest

In 1590 the Frankfurt printer and engraver Theodor deBry published a folio edition of Thomas Hariot’s Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia with engraved illustrations based on John White’s watercolor paintings. DeBry’s engravings were the first images of indigenous North Americans that most 16th century Europeans had ever seen.

debry8

Thomas Hariot, a scientist, and John White, an artist and cartographer, had journeyed to North America in 1585 as part of Sir Walter Raleigh’s attempt to found an English colony in the new world. Hariot and White were charged with providing an accurate description, in words and images, of the geography, native peoples, and natural resources of the new world.

Raleigh and his associates wanted to encourage settlement in the Virginia colony in order to stake an English claim to compete with the Spanish and French conquests of much of North and South America. Accordingly, Hariot’s account emphasizes the abundant resources and generally friendly Indians that he encountered in Virginia.

debry3

John White created the first accurate map of the Virginia coast.He also painted watercolor images of the Indians he encountered, documenting their clothing and tools, religious and social rituals, agricultural methods, buildings, ships, and weapons.

Village of Secotan

Village of Secotan

Hariot and White returned to England in 1586 and delivered their accounts to the colony’s backers. In 1587 another group of English colonists set out for Roanoke, with John White as appointed governor of the colony. Also in this group were White’s daughter Eleanor and her husband Ananias Dare, future parents of Virginia Dare. The settlement did not fare well: food supplies ran low, and White was sent back to England for provisions the next autumn. When he finally returned in 1590 the Roanoke settlement had been abandoned and the colonists had disappeared.

Meanwhile in England Thomas Hariot’s account of his experiences, titled A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, had been published as an individual quarto and as part of Richard Hakluyt’s extremely popular compendium of travel literature, Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation (1589). Hakluyt’s book contained no illustations, however, and in 1590 he contracted with Theodor deBry, a skilled engraver and printer, to publish a deluxe volume of Hariot’s work along with illustrations based on White’s paintings.

DeBry’s edition was the first volume in a series of travel narratives –Collectiones Peregrinationum in Indiam Orientalem et Indiam Occidentalem (1590-1634)– for which he became famous. Accounts of European exploration and conquest of the Americas, Africa, and Asia were hugely popular in the 16th and 17th centuries. And DeBry’s Briefe and True Report has many features typical of the genre. Although ZSR’s copy is in Latin, DeBry also published editions in Hariot’s original English as well as Dutch, German, and French. Latin was still the language of international scholarship in 16th century Europe– but travel accounts were written by soldiers and adventurers, not academics. At the beginning of the century, nearly all printed material was in Latin; by 1600 a shift was underway toward publishing in the vernacular languages.

Title page from the 1588 London quarto edition of Hariot's Briefe and True Report (openlibrary.org)

Title page from the 1588 London quarto edition of Hariot’s Briefe and True Report (openlibrary.org)

The 16th century also saw the beginnings of an empirical approach to science and history. Instead of relying on classical and church authority, naturalists and explorers recorded their first hand observations of the new lands and cultures they encountered. Thus the early modern travel narrative set itself in opposition to classical works of cosmography.

In many ways Thomas Hariot’s narrative and John White’s images typify this new approach. And deBry from his very title page makes it obvious that he is charting new territory. Instead of the classical figures who usually inhabited the ornate architecture on such pages, DeBry’s book features White’s Algonquian Indians. The new world literally replaces the old on the book’s first page.

debry1

Despite the flood of firsthand travel narratives, 16th century Europeans were still influenced by the ideas of classical authors. In particular, images based on Pliny the Elder’s descriptions of the monstrous races from lands beyond the known world held firm sway over the imaginations of many Europeans.

Monstrous inhabitants of lands beyond Christendom (from the ZSR copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1498)

Monstrous inhabitants of lands beyond Christendom (from the ZSR copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1498)

John White and Theodor deBry’s Indians– exotic but dignified and definitely human– provided one of the first correctives to these mythical images.

A chief woman of Pomeiooc and a young girl (Hariot identifies the girl's doll and rattle as gifts of the English)

A chief woman of Pomeiooc and a young girl (Hariot identifies the girl’s doll and rattle as gifts of the English)

DeBry’s engravings reproduce White’s paintings with reasonable accuracy. But a comparison of the paintings and engravings makes clear that deBry felt free to make some alterations. He added multiple perspectives to the depictions of several figures. He also filled in White’s spare backgrounds, and he altered the human figures, giving them more European facial features and the defined musculature typical of figural illustrations of the time.

John White’s original drawing “The Flyer” (from the British Museum)

debry7

Theodor deBry’s version of “The Flyer”

DeBry also includes some additional images at the end of the volume–John White’s rather fanciful depiction of ancient Picts. For readers steeped in classical learning these images had obvious connotations: they were a reminder that for the Greek and Roman authors, the ancestors of deBry’s European readers were the barbarian races.

debry10

A Pictish warrior. White’s original painting is even more striking, since the figure is covered in bright blue body paint.

The 1590 first edition of this volume is part of the ZSR Special Collections Americana collection. These materials were purchased between 1938 and 1943 with matching funds from the Wake Forest College Board of Trustees and the Tracy W. MacGregor fund.

A Curious Herbal, By Elizabeth Blackwell (1739)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 3:37 pm

A genteel English woman of the 18th century had few resources to fall back on if her husband proved unable to support her financially. A girl’s education generally emphasized elegant accomplishments like drawing, music, and fine needlework, rather than practical skills. So when Elizabeth Blachrie Blackwell’s neer-do-well husband landed in a London debtor’s prison in 1736, leaving her with a baby to support, few would have blamed her if she had abandoned him and gone back to her parents in Aberdeen. But Blackwell was more resourceful than most.

Elizabeth Blackwell was skilled at drawing, and her husband Alexander, who had once worked as an unlicensed physician, was knowledgeable about the medicinal properties of herbs and plants. They came up with a plan to produce a new Herbal – a book with illustrations and descriptions of various plants.

Herbals had been important reference works since ancient times. They were widely circulated as manuscripts and, with the advent of printing, as books. Many herbals existed in England in the early 18th century, but Elizabeth Blackwell realized that there was a need for a new guide that included many species of plants discovered in the Americas.

 

In her entry for the “Coco-nut” (i.e. Cacao) tree, Blackwell observes that “The Kernels of the Nuts is what we make the Chocolate of, which is now so much used for Food; being accounted nourishing, restorative, fatning & provocative.”

In 1736 Blackwell took lodgings nearby the famous Chelsea Physic Garden. This botanical garden on the bank of the Thames was founded in 1673 as a nursery for medicinal plants and a training ground for botanists and apothecaries. The garden cultivated many species of plants imported from all over the world, including the Americas. Blackwell drew illustrations of the various plants cultivated there, then wrote descriptions of their attributes and medicinal properties in consultation with her husband and other experts and reference works. After receiving encouragement from Sir Hans Sloane and Dr. Richard Mead for some preliminary drawings, Blackwell undertook to create a comprehensive, illustrated guide to the plants in the garden.

Blackwell created the original drawings and watercolors, then engraved the illustrations on copper plates. An unusual feature of her herbal is that the entire pages are engraved- text as well as illustrations. Blackwell also hand-colored the plates for some copies of her publication.

A Curious Herbal was published first in parts. Between 1737 and 1739 Blackwell published four plates per week, for an eventual total of 500 engraved illustrations.

In 1739 publisher John Nourse printed two large folio volumes containing all 500 of Blackwell’s engravings. ZSR Library owns a copy of this first collected edition.

Alexander and Elizabeth Blackwell negotiated favorable terms with their publisher. And with the endorsement of many well-known physicians and scientists, the book sold well.

With profits from A Curious Herbal Elizabeth Blackwell was able to pay off her husband’s debts and free him from prison (Alexander did not reform his ways, however, and was executed in 1747 for his participation in a Swedish political conspiracy). Elizabeth died in 1758. But her book, the first English herbal by a woman, remained popular and was reprinted several times throughout the next two centuries.

 

 

The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, by Charles Dickens (1836-37)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 4:26 pm

The author’s object in this work, was to place before the reader a constant succession of characters and incidents; to paint them in as vivid colours as he could command; and to render them, at the same time, life-like and amusing.

Charles Dickens

In February of 1836 the young publisher William Hall dropped in unannounced on Charles Dickens at his lodgings in Furnival’s Inn. The firm of Chapman and Hall wanted to hire the 24-year-old author to provide narrative for a new serial publication featuring illustrations by the popular caricaturist Robert Seymour.

Dickens had begun to make a name for himself as “Boz”, the author of satirical newspaper and magazine pieces. But for Chapman and Hall his narrative was of secondary importance to Seymour’s depictions of lower and middle-class Londoners engaged in sporting pastimes typically associated with the landed gentry. The young Dickens, however, had other ideas.

First part of The Pickwick Papers, April 1836

The serial was titled The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club and was “edited by Boz”. Chapman and Hall published it in monthly issues beginning in April 1836 with part 1 and ending in November 1837 with a double issue containing parts 19 and 20. The first booklet, cheaply bound in green printed paper wrappers, contained four illustrations and about 20 pages of narrative. The monthly parts were priced at an affordable 1 shilling each.

Dickens was not, as undergraduate legend has it, paid by the word, but rather by the issue. His starting salary at Chapman and Hall was about £14 per month.

The first part of The Pickwick Papers was not a commercial success. Dickens’s narrative was disjointed and hastily written, and his characters– Samuel Pickwick and his motley assortment of friends and followers– were not yet well developed. Dickens’s relationship with Seymour was strained and became more so when, at a meeting arranged by the publishers, he criticized the illustrations for the second part. The hypersensitive and mentally unstable Seymour committed suicide the next day.

Illustration by Robert Seymour

After the loss of their illustrator, Chapman, Hall, and Dickens reevaluated their plans for the publication. They decided to continue, but with Dickens’s narrative as the driving force, and with the number of illustrations in each issue reduced from four to two. R.W. Buss was hired to illustrate the third part, but he proved unsatisfactory. For the fourth part, young illustrator named Hablot Knight Browne was brought in. He soon adopted the pseudonym Phiz and embarked on a fruitful collaboration with Dickens.

Illustration by “Phiz”

The fourth part also introduced the character of Sam Weller, Pickwick’s comic manservant, who proved key to the development of Dickens’s story. The popularity of the serial took off, and by the end of the year the publishers had all they could do to keep up with demand for current and past issues of The Pickwick Papers. The relative cheapness of each issue meant that even working-class readers could afford to buy them.

Serial fiction was a new form of publication in the 1830s. Newspapers and magazines often featured installments of sensational stories, but novels were typically published as triple-deckers– three volumes published simultaneously– for the convenience of lending libraries. Pickwick was the first serially published work of fiction to gain widespread popularity, amongst a more socially and economically diverse group of readers than had ever been seen in Britain before.

ZSR Library’s 19 separately issued parts of The Pickwick Papers, from the Charles Babcock collection

Publication in parts did present certain challenges to the author, which Dickens described in the Preface to the first book edition of Pickwick.

The publication of the book in monthly numbers, containing only thirty-two pages in each, rendered it an object of paramount importance that, while the different incidences were linked together by a chain of interest strong enough to prevent their appearing unconnected or impossible, the general design should be so simple as to sustain no injury from this detached and desultory form of publication, extending over no fewer than twenty months. In short, it was necessary — or it appeared so to the author — that every number should be, to a certain extent, complete in itself, and yet that the whole twenty numbers, when collected, should form one tolerably harmonious whole, each leading to the other by a gentle and not unnatural progress of adventure.

The experience of a 21st century student who encounters Dickens in a thick volume (perhaps with scholarly footnotes) is vastly different from that of the Victorian reader eagerly awaiting the next monthly installment of an exciting story! Dickens published most of his later novels in installments, and it was in the writing of Pickwick that he learned and mastered the form.

By 1837 Dickens had become so famous that when he had to delay the May issue following the death of his sister-in-law, his readers became distraught. The author had to address their concerns in a note in the June issue.

The popularity of Pickwick opened up a new source of revenue for its publishers: advertising. The first few issues featured only Chapman and Hall book notices on the back cover. But later issues contained “Pickwick Advertisers”– thick pamphlets advertising all manner of goods and services.

As the serial publication neared completion, Chapman and Hall began to advertise their single-volume edition of Pickwick.

The “new work” advertised was Nicholas Nickleby, which Chapman and Hall would begin publishing in serial form the next spring.

First edition of Pickwick as a single volume, 1837

Pickwick proved as popular in book form as it had in parts. ZSR Library’s copy of the first edition has the signature of the English artist Thomas Leeson Rowbotham, who apparently opted for the half-morocco-with-marbled-edges option for the binding of his volume. It was donated to the Wake Forest College library early in the 20th century and has clearly seen some enthusiastic use.

February 7, 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’s birth. The author whose career was launched by The Pickwick Papers remains beloved by readers worldwide two centuries later.

 

Winnie-the-Pooh, by A. A. Milne (1926)

Monday, December 19, 2011 4:41 pm

Alan Alexander Milne (1882-1956) never intended to be a children’s author. A former editor at Punch magazine, Milne was by 1924 a successful playwright and author of several volumes of essays and poetry for adults. When he announced to his editors (at Methuen in London and Dutton in New York) that his next manuscript was a book of children’s poems, they were skeptical. But When We Were Very Young was an immediate bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic. The publishers reprinted the book four times in November and December of 1924.

Note from dust jacket flap, first edition

Punch illustrator Ernest H. Shepard provided the “decorations.”

First edition, 1924

The bear who would become famous as Winnie-the-Pooh made his first appearance (as Edward Bear) in the poem “Teddy Bear.”

Milne took his craft seriously, observing that

The practice of no form of writing demands such a height of technical perfection as the writing of light verse. . . When We Were Very Young is not the work of a poet becoming playful, nor of a lover of children expressing his love, nor of a prose-writer knocking together a few jingles for the little ones, it is the work of a light-verse writer taking his job seriously even though he is taking it into the nursery.
Autobiography, 282

Although his English-nursery parlance can strike modern readers as a bit twee, Milne’s depiction of childhood is not sentimental. He later wrote that he sought to strike a balance between conveying the “artless beauty… innocent grace… [and] unstudied abandon of movement” of young children while also recognizing their “lack of moral quality, which expresses itself…in an egotism entirely ruthless” [Autobiography, 283].

Two years later Milne brought out a volume of stories about Winnie-the-Pooh and other stuffed animals from the collection of his young son, Christopher Robin.

Title page from first American edition (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1926)

Milne’s publishers this time anticipated the demand for his book, and they ordered two sets of electrotype plates from which to print. The first American edition included 200 signed and numbered large-paper copies, of which Wake Forest’s is number 137.

The foibles of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, Rabbit, and Kanga and Roo were told with wry humor that captivated readers young and old. Milne later confirmed that all of the animals except for Rabbit and Owl were based on actual toys. The originals are still on view at the New York Public Library. The illustrations for Pooh, however, were actually based on a teddy bear named Growler, which belonged to Shepard’s son Graham.

Winnie-the-Pooh was indeed wildly popular, and Milne followed it in 1927 with another book of verse, Now We Are Six. Pooh makes an appearance in one of the poems, “Us Two.”

From the first edition of Now We Are Six (London: Methuen & co., 1927)

The animals of the Hundred Acre Woods also appear in several illustrations.

The next year Milne published another volume of stories about Pooh and friends, The House at Pooh Corner, which introduced the character of Tigger.

From the first edition of The House at Pooh Corner (London: Methuen & co., 1928)

The House at Pooh Corner (1928) was Milne’s last work for children. He returned to writing plays, essays, and novels for adults. But none of Milne’s other writings approached anywhere near the popularity of Pooh. Literary critic Alison Lurie contemplated Pooh’s lasting renown on the fiftieth anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh‘s publication, wondering “why this mild story about a group of English toys should have almost instantly become, and remained for 50 years, an international classic- probably the best-loved children’s book of the 20th century.” She concludes that

In spite of their apparent simplicity, “Winnie-the-Pooh” and its sequel, “The House at Pooh Corner,” tell a story with universal appeal to any child anywhere who finds himself, like most children, at a social disadvantage in the adult world. What Milne has done is to turn this world upside down, so that Christopher Robin becomes the responsible adult, while everyone around him has turned into toys or animals, inferior in both size and authority.

In later years Milne resented being pigeonholed as a children’s author.

I wrote four ‘Children’s books,’ containing altogether, I supposed, 70,000 words–the number of words in the average-length novel. Having said good-bye to all that in 70,000 words, knowing that as far as I was concerned the mode was outmoded, I gave up writing children’s books. I wanted to escape from them as I had once wanted to escape from Punch. . . . In vain. England expects the writer, like the cobbler, to stick to his last.
Autobiography, 286

Milne once complained that critics viewed all of his subsequent work through the lens of Pooh and Christopher Robin:

As a discerning critic pointed out: the hero of my latest play, God help it, was ‘just Christopher Robin grown up.’ So that even when I stop writing about children, I insist on writing about people who were children once.
Autobiography, 287

But Milne’s protests were indeed for naught. His children’s books, with their enduring appeal both for children and for people who were children once, have made Winnie-the-Pooh his legacy.

Illustration from the first edition of Winnie-the-Pooh

The books in Z. Smith Reynolds Library’s A.A. Milne collection were acquired from a variety of sources. The signed and numbered first edition of Winnie-the-Pooh was part of publisher Lynwood Giacomini’s collection, which was purchased by the library in 1976. When We Were Very Young came from the Charles Babcock collection and also has the bookplate of Dickens bibliographer John C. Eckel. Other volumes were purchased by the library.

References

Alison Lurie. “Back to Pooh Corner.” Children’s Literature 2 (1973): 11-17; “Now We Are Fifty.” New York Times Book Review (14 November 1976).

A. A. Milne. Autobiography. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1939.

John R. Payne. “Four Children’s Books by A. A. Milne.” Studies in Bibliography 23 (1970): 127-139.

Magnalia Christi Americana, by Cotton Mather (1702)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 5:00 pm

I WRITE the Wonders of the CHRISTIAN RELIGION, flying from the Depravations of Europe, to the American Strand: And, assisted by the Holy Author of that Religion, I do, with all Conscience of Truth, required therein by Him, who is the Truth it self, Report the Wonderful Displays of His Infinite Power, Wisdom, Goodness, and Faithfulness, wherewith His Divine Providence hath Irradiated an Indian Wilderness.

These opening lines of Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana set the tone for his epic and exhaustive account of 17th-century Puritan New England. Running to nearly 700 pages in printed form, the Magnalia includes biographical sketches of civic and religious leaders, a history of Harvard College, arguments over church polity and discipline, descriptions of the threats and hardships (Indian attacks, Roger Williams, witches, Anne Hutchinson) endured by the Puritan faithful, and many accounts of the signs and “wonders” experienced by the colonists as evidences of God’s direct intervention in human affairs. For Mather, human history was merely a manifestation of the epic struggle between God and the forces of evil. The Magnalia is, Michael P. Winship observes, “the last great document in the orthodox providential tradition” [74].

Cotton Mather (1663-1728) was the third generation of a dynasty of Puritan ministers in North America. His grandfathers, Richard Mather and John Cotton, were prominent ministers and founders of the New England colony. His father Increase Mather was also an important religious leader, minister of Boston’s Second Church, President of Harvard College, and the colony’s official envoy to the English monarchs James II and William and Mary. Cotton, the eldest son, was from a young age acutely conscious of the family expectations. After receiving degrees from Harvard and the University of Glasgow, Cotton Mather joined his father in ministry at Second Church in Boston.

Map of New England included in the first edition of the Magnalia Christi Americana

In 1693 Cotton Mather recorded in his diary that in July of that year he “formed a Design, to endeavour, THE CHURCH-HISTORY OF THIS COUNTREY.” Encouraged by his fellow-clergy, Mather says that he set himself “to cry mightily unto the Lord, that if my Undertaking herein might bee for His Glory, Hee would grant mee His Countenance and Assistance in it. (However, I did not actually begin this Work, till the latter End of the year.)” The young Rev. Mather worked on his “Church-History ” (as he always referred to it) for the next four years. Finally in August of 1697 he records in the diary a special thanksgiving for “the singular Favour of the Lord unto mee, in upholding, and assisting mee, to finish my CHURCH-HISTORY.”

Mather had published many sermons and small pamphlets with the local Boston printers. But a work the size of the Magnalia was beyond the capabilities of any printing operation in North America. If his manuscript was to be published, it would have to be sent to London. This was not a small undertaking. Since Mather likely had no extra copy of his lengthy manuscript, he did not want to send it across the ocean unaccompanied. It was not until June of 1700 that Mather recorded:

I this Day put up my Church-History, and pen down Directions about the publishing of it. It is a work of near 300 sheets; and has lain by me, diverse Years, for want of a fitt Opportunity to send it. A Gentleman, just now sailing for England, undertakes the care of it; and by his Hand I send it for London. O my Lord Jesus Christ, lett thy Good Angels accompany it!

The gentleman in question was Mather’s friend Edward Bromfield, who delivered the manuscript to Rev. John Quick, a Presbyterian minister and friend of Increase Mather. But London publishers were skeptical about the rather unwieldy manuscript. Mather worked himself into a state of great anxiety about it, but finally in June 1701 he heard from Bromfield that a sympathetic printer, Robert Hackshaw, had been found who was willing to finance the publication. In fact Hackshaw offloaded the printing, along with a large stock of inferior paper from his warehouse, onto another publisher, Thomas Parkhurst.


Mather finally saw a copy of his published work on 30 October 1702. He “sett apart this Day, for solemn THANKSGIVING unto God, for His watchful and gracious Providence over that Work.” But he could not help being somewhat disappointed in the final product. The folio volume was indifferently printed in two columns on cheap paper, and it was riddled with errors. Mather included an errata sheet in some of the copies sold in North America, but most copies remained uncorrected. Some of Mather’s critics took him to task for errors that were in fact the fault of his printer.

From Mather’s Life of John Eliot, a description of Eliot’s Indian missions and the second edition of his Algonquin Bible

The Magnalia Christi Americana received a mixed reception on both sides of the Atlantic. Many readers praised it, but others thought the work was outdated in both style and substance before it was even published. And indeed, many of the “wonders” that Mather recounted as evidence of God’s providence would be explained away by the next generation as natural phenomena.

Mather’s style was not the “plain” Puritan idiom admired by future literary historians, but a very late Baroque style– wordy, ornamental, studded with metaphor and with classical and Biblical allusions. Many of his contemporaries accused him of being overly pedantic, and later readers tended to agree. Writing in the North American Review in 1818, William Tudor famously described the Magnalia as “a chaotick mass of history, biography, obsolete creeds, witchcraft, and Indian wars, interspersed with bad puns, and numerous quotations in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew which rise up like so many decayed, hideous stumps to arrest the eye and deform the surface.”

The Magnalia Christi Americana was not published again until 1820, when it appeared in its first American edition. American writers of the mid-19th century in particular had a love/hate relationship with the Magnalia. Hawthorne, Poe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and many others borrowed Mather’s source material as they formed a mythology of America’s origins. But they tended to see Mather as at best quaint and credulous, and at worst an example of all that was wrong with the Puritan forefathers– most notably the vanity, religious intolerance, and misogyny that led to the Salem witch trials debacle.

An unbiased reading of Mather’s work suggests that this is not quite fair. In the accounts of the Salem events in particular, Mather comes across in the Magnalia as a bit defensive but also genuinely conflicted.

Excerpt from Mather’s Life of William Phips, describing the situation in Salem

Mather was not unaware of the changing intellectual currents of his day. He had a keen interest in the new pursuit of natural science: he considered giving up the ministry to study medicine at one point, and he campaigned for controversial smallpox inoculation during an outbreak in Boston. But he remained firmly committed to the theological outlook of his grandfathers, the first generation of New England Puritans. This tension is evident in Mather’s sprawling, messy, flawed, but fascinating book. The Magnalia is, as Kenneth Murdock observes in his introduction to the 1977 scholarly edition, “a completely idiosyncratic document, one which none of Mather’s contemporaries could, or would, have written.”[46]

Wake Forest’s copy of the first edition was part of the library of Charles Babcock, which was donated to the University in the 1970s. It also bears the bookplate of Charles Bruce, (1682-1747). Viscount Bruce’s amassed a large personal library, the catalog of which was published in 1733, one of the first published catalogs of private libraries in Britain.

References

Bercovitch, Sacvan. “New England Epic: Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana”, ELH Vol. 33, No. 3 (Sep., 1966), pp. 337-350.

Mather, Cotton, and Kenneth Ballard Murdock. Magnalia Christi Americana: Books I and II. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1977.

Warren, Austin. “Grandfather Mather and His Wonder Book” The Sewanee Review Vol. 72, No. 1 (Winter, 1964), pp. 96-116.

Winship, Michael. Seers of God: Puritan Providentialism in the Restoration and Early Enlightenment. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.

Formulation : Articulation, by Josef Albers (1972)

Friday, October 14, 2011 12:33 pm

If one says “Red” (the name of a color)
and there are 50 people listening,
it can be expected that there will be 50 reds in their minds.
And one can be sure that all these reds will be very different.

Josef Albers, Interaction of Color (1963)

 

The artist Joseph Albers (1888-1976) was born in Germany and began his career as an art teacher, painter, and printmaker. In 1920 he enrolled in the new Bauhaus School in Weimar, where he studied under color theorist Johannes Itten and began to formulate his own theories about the perception and interaction of color. Albers eventually joined the Bahaus faculty and remained there until the Nazis closed the school in 1933. He and his wife, the artist Anni Fleischmann Albers, left Germany for Asheville, North Carolina when Black Mountain College offered Albers a teaching post. While at Black Mountain Albers became influential in the American art world as an artist, color theorist, and art teacher . He remained at the college until 1949, when he left to become head of the Design Department at Yale.

Color remained Albers’s main preoccupation in both his art and his teaching. He emphasized the changeable nature of color, demonstrating how color perception is affected by light, shape, motion, and juxtaposition of other colors. In 1963 he published Interaction of Color, in which he set forth his ideas about the teaching of color theory and provided plates, many of them interactive, for use in classroom settings.

Formulation : Articulation, a collection of 127 silkscreen prints of Albers’s works, was published in 1972. Albers himself selected the works and arranged their order.

The preface to Formulation : Articulation states that

The concept of this publication is the realization rather than the reproduction of the essential ideas in Josef Albers’ works. . . . No attempt has been made to present the work in chronological order; rather, for each portfolio the artist has placed the folders in a sequential order so that they may be seen and examined for their interaction. . . .

Albers collaborated with Yale colleagues Norman Ives and Sewell Sillman to design the book and produce the silkscreens, a process which took nearly two years. The finished product, published by Ives and Sillman in cooperation with Harry N. Abrams, consists of the plates and a booklet of notes by Albers, all contained in two large portfolio cases.

Below is a sampling of images from Formulation : Articulation, with Albers’s notes on each print or set of prints.



I : 25

From oil of 1940, Bent Black. On tiptoe and pendant between points.

 

I : 26

Repeated and not repeated.

II : 8

ON MY HOMAGE TO THE SQUARE

Seeing several of these paintings next to each other makes it obvious that each painting is an instrumentation of its own.
This means that they are all of different palettes, and therefore, so to speak, of different climates.
Choice of the colors used, as well as their order, is aimed at an interaction- influencing and changing each other forth and back.
Thus, character and feeling alter from painting to painting without any additional “hand writing,” or so-called texture.
Although the underlying symmetrical and quasi-concentric order of squares remains the same in all paintings — in proportion and placement — these same squares group or single themselves, connect and separate, in many different ways.
In consequence, they move forth and back, in and out, and grow up and down and near and far, enlarged and diminished. All this, to proclaim color autonomy as a means of a plastic organization.

II : 18

A rare palette for a Variant in six colors. See the color interaction, particularly the illusionary transparencies within the grays.

 

II : 19

A quartet within an Homage to the Square which permits and deserves reversal — and, although reversed, the two remain twins.

Two original paintings by Albers– one of which is part of hisHomage to the Square series –are on view through December 31 at Reynolda House Museum of American Art as part of the special exhibit Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Z. Smith Reynolds Library’s copy of Formulation : Articulation is number 705 of 1000 copies printed. It was purchased by the Special Collections Department in 1986.

Select bibliography of works by and about Josef Albers in the ZSR Library collection:

Albers, Josef, and Francois Bucher. Despite Straight Lines. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1961.

Albers, Josef. Interaction of Color. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1963.

Albers, Josef., and Casa Luis Barragan. Homage to the Square: Josef Albers. Mexico, D.F.: Casa Luis Barragan, 2009.

Danilowitz, Brenda., Josef Albers, and Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. The Prints of Josef Albers: A Catalogue Raisonne, 1915-1976. New York : [Lanham, Md.?]: Hudson Hills Press in association with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, 2001.

Pakay, S., Weber, N. F., Albers, J., Albers, A., et. al. Hudson Film Works (Firm), & WMHT (Television station : Schenectady, N. (2006). Josef and Anni Albers: Art is everywhere. [Hudson, NY]: Hudson Film Works.

 

 

Lenardo und Blandine, illustrated by Joseph Franz von Goez (1783)

Friday, September 30, 2011 10:53 am

Joseph Franz von Goez’s 1783 adaptation of Lenardo und Blandine “in 160 impassioned designs” may be the world’s first graphic novel.

Based on a ballad by German poet Gottfried August Bürger , Goez’s book tells the story of doomed lovers Lenardo and Blandine in a series of captioned copper etchings.

Bürger’s poem is itself based on Boccacio’s tale of Ghismonda and Guiscardo. In both versions a young woman is promised in marriage to a nobleman. However, her betrothed soon discovers that she already has a lover. The girl’s father kills the lover, after which the distraught daughter goes mad and dies.

Bürger’s poem was popular in 18th century Germany, inspiring works of art and theatrical adaptations. A musical melodrama based on the poem was staged in Munich in 1779, with a score by Peter Winter. The director and librettist was Joseph Franz von Goez.

Goez’s illustrations were based on the theatrical version of Lenardo und Blandine. The melodrama makes a few adjustments to Bürger’s poem , mostly to make the title characters more sympathetic. In Goez’s version the lovers are secretly married and Lenardo is a faithful courtier to Blandine’s father the king.

Whether or not Goez’s book is the first graphic novel, it is a fascinating record of an 18th century theatrical performance.

As the story begins, Blandine’s fiance witnesses her tryst with Lenardo and vows revenge.

The lovers, meanwhile, are grieved to have to part as morning approaches.

Parallels with stories of other doomed lovers are abundant. Here Blandine insists that the bird Lenardo hears is a nightingale, not a swallow, herald of the morning.

Lenardo, as it turns out, was right to feel a sense of foreboding. After he leaves Blandine, he is killed by her father the king.

That evening Blandine wonders why Lenardo does not come to her as he had promised.

She is visited by three mysterious messengers, bearing in turn a bloody, broken ring…

…an urn containing the dead Lenardo’s heart…

…and a letter accusing her of infidelity.

Blandine goes mad…

…and soon dies of grief.

The king is left to mourn his dead daughter and repent of his rash actions.

Wake Forest’s copy of Lenardo und Blandine was purchased by the library in 1964.


Categories
ABCs of Special Collections
Collection News
Digital Projects
Exhibits
General
News & Events
Preservation
Rare Book of the Month
University Archives
What Are You Working On?
Tags
a day in the life of a librarian American Indians American Revolution archives Arthur Conan Doyle Baptist book repair workshops botany Charles Dickens Christmas detective fiction Documentary Film Elizabeth Blackwell Engraving Gerald Johnson Harold Hayes herbal home movie day illustrations Ireland James Joyce John Charles McNeill John White Laurence Stallings LIB260 Maya Angelou medieval manuscripts poetry preservation mold programs Rare Book of the Month Rare Books Roanoke Rockwell Kent Shakespeare Sherlock Holmes Special Collections Strand Magazine Theodor deBry Thomas Hariot Travel Narratives Venice W.J. Cash wake forest Writers' Lives
Archives
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
December 2009
November 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
October 2008
September 2008
July 2008
April 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
Subscribe
Entries
Comments

Powered by WordPress.org, protected by Akismet. Blog with WordPress.com.