Columbia Library columns (v.34(1984Nov-1985May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



Jump to page:

Table of Contents

  v.34,no.3(1985:May): Page 29  

The House of Books Collection

A Bequest and a Gift



OUIS HENRY COHN and 1 had thought that the
autumn of 1930 would find us livinc; in France. In-
-i^ stead, the events of October 1929 dictated that in
September 1930 we would be starting House of Books, Ltd. in
New A'otk City." AA'ith these brief, spare remarks, Alarguerite A.
Cohn began her preface to the firm's fiftieth anniversary cata¬
logue, a characteristically modest statement of the founding of a
business that would become during a half century a highly per¬
sonal and seemingly indispensible force in the New A'ork book

AVhen she died in August 1984, as the result of an accident on a
London street (she was in England on her annual book-buying
trip), Margie, as she was called by her many friends among col¬
leagues and collectors on both sides of the Atlantic, left by bequest
to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library the book stock and
files that remained in the shop's premises on East 56th Street. The
four thousand books and pamphlets and the two thousand pieces
of ephemera and manuscript material that comprise this far-reach¬
ing bequest reflect the American and British fiction and poetry
of the twentieth century, favored by collectors of contemporary
literature, that were the specialties of House of Books, which
Margie managed on her own with distinction and individuality
after her husband's death in 1953.

Nearly all of the significant \\riters of the period, and espe¬
cially those of the post AA orld AA'ar II generation, were repre¬
sented on her sheb'es. These consisted not only of such major
writers as T. S. F.liot, Robert Frost, and AA'illiam Faulkner, but
also those whose books are eagerh" avaitcd by readers as they are

  v.34,no.3(1985:May): Page 29