Previous

11. Literature

Next






190a.  Homer (fl. 9th or 8th century BCE?).  Iliad [Book 2.433-452]. Papyrus fragment, Greek: Ist Century BCE-early Ist Century CE. RBML, Col. inv. 517b, P. Col. VIII 196

190b.  Homer (fl. 9th or 8th century BCE?).  Odyssey [Book 12.384-390]. Papyrus fragment, Greek: IIIrd Century-IInd Century BCE. RBML, Col. inv. 201c1, P. Col. VIII 200

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library houses Columbia's extraordinary collection of 2000 papyrus fragments. The fragment to the right from the Odyssey is Columbia's earliest Homeric fragment, dating from between the third century to the second century BCE.

Most papyrus finds are non-literary texts, but among the literary pieces, Homer is the most frequently represented author. Fragments of the Odyssey are much less common than those of the Iliad, being outnumbered four to one.

(Iliad) Purchased from M. Nahman through H. I. Bell, 1930 ; (Odyssey) Purchased from Dr. Askren through H. I. Bell, 1924




191.  La Mort le roi Artu. Manuscript on palimpsested parchment and paper, 94 leaves,. Northeastern Italy, 14th century. RBML, Western MS 24

This Arthurian romance is an amalgam of contradictions, proof of the divide between today's world and the world that produced the manuscript. Its 19th-century owner was the famous bibliophile, Baron Horace Landau, a representative of the Rothschild banking house in various cities across Europe. It must have been Landau who had the book bound by one of the foremost Florentine binders, G. Berti, in a sumptuous purple morocco binding with inlays of gilt-patterned green morocco at the corners, and gilt dentelle on the turn-ins. Clearly, the codex was highly valued by its aristocratic owner. But in its day, the book was a casual way to pass the time: a fairy tale, in the vernacular, partially copied on cheap second-hand parchment (the underlying text seems to be a notarial register from the province of Vicenza), and partially copied on poorly sized paper; even the effort to provide good penwork initials petered out after the first four gatherings. The book provoked confusion in today's scholars, as well: it was registered as French in origin, according to the too-simple logic that its language declared its place of birth.

Bequest of Prof. Roger Sherman Loomis, 1968




192.  Homer (fl. 9th or 8th century BCE?).  Ilias; Ulyssea; Batrachomyomachia; Hymni xxxii. Venice: Aldus and Andreae Asulanus, 1517. RBML, Plimpton Collection

The two volumes of this heavily annotated copy of Homer's works in Greek belonged to Philip Melancthon, the chief figure in the Lutheran Reformation after Martin Luther. Melancthon used it in his lectures to his pupils in 1518 in Wittenberg and presented it to Martin Luther, who may also have made some of the annotations. Melancthon began teaching at the University of Wittenberg in 1518, and it was there that he met Luther and formed with him a warm personal relationship, which, but for the years 1522-1527, lasted until Luther's death. Melancthon taught Greek and Latin literature and was a popular lecturer, frequently drawing more students than the much admired Luther.

Gift of George Arthur Plimpton, 1936




193.  Edmund Spenser (1552?-1599).  Colin Clouts Come Home Again. London: Printed for William Ponsonbie, 1595. RBML, Samuels Collection

This pristine copy of Edmund Spenser's allegorical poem Colin Clouts Come Home Again, once owned by the poet Frederick Locker-Lampson, came to Columbia with the library of Jack Harris Samuels. Samuels received his Masters in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia in 1940, and from then until his sudden death in 1966 amassed a library of nearly three thousand first editions covering over four centuries of English and American literature.

Bequest of Mollie Harris Samuels, from the Library of Jack Harris Samuels, 1970




194.  Valerius Maximus (fl. 20 CE).  Facta et dicta memorabilia. Manuscript in Castilian, on paper, 292 leaves. Spain, middle of the 15th century. RBML, Lodge MS 13

Rarely in recounting the story of a medieval translation are we allowed a glimpse of its people and its movements, such as we have here. Valerius Maximus composed a gossipy, moralizing book, full of instructive examples, arranged by a particular vice or virtue, such as Anger, Cruelty, Bravery, Gratitude. His Latin was translated twice into Catalan, and, at the end of the fourteenth century, one of the Catalan translations was turned to Castilian. The Catalan writer's name is well known–Antoní de Canals–, but only the present manuscript and one in Seville contain the name of the man who brought the text from Catalan to Castilian: Juan Alfonso de Zamora, a Castilian emissary to the court of Aragon in Barcelona. In the early 1420s Juan Alfonso dispatched his newly finished work to Don Fernando Díaz, archdeacon of Niebla and Algeciras, who apparently corrected the language, but also seems to have been responsible for adding a gloss. The Archdeacon's gloss–based on the Latin commentary of one Brother Lucas–sometimes is written out separately from the text), and sometimes is incorporated into the text. This copy of the Facta et dicta memorabilia is bound with bevelled wooden boards in contemporary blind stamped brown morocco; there are remains of green cloth on the fore edge strap closing to a clasp on the lower board; the spine, however, is repaired.

Purchased with funds bequeathed by Gonzalez Lodge, 1958




195.  John Milton (1608-1674).  Letterbook. Manuscript, 54 leaves, after 1659. RBML

This letterbook comprises a series of transcripts of 156 Letters of State by Milton, mainly in Latin, but including ten in English known from no other source. There are also other writings by him, including a draft entitled "Proposal of certain expedients for ye preventing of a civill war now feard, and ye settling of a firm government," as well as treatises, apparently by other authors, probably used by Milton in his official work as Latin secretary to Cromwell. The "Proposal" was unknown until the letterbook was purchased for Columbia by Nicholas Murray Butler in 1921. The transcripts of letters are almost certainly in the hand of the amanuensis who signed the Paradise Lost contract; Milton had been blind since 1652. The manuscript belonged to the great English collector, Sir Thomas Phillipps, as well as to Bernard Gardiner, Warden of All Soul's College and keeper of the Archives of Oxford University who, in 1703, kept his accounts and other records in the back of the volume.




196.  Phyllis Wheatley (1753-1784).  Poems on various subjects, religious and moral. London: Printed; Philadelphia: Re-printed, Joseph Crukshank, 1786. RBML

This is the first American edition of the first book of poems by an African-American and the first substantial work by an African-American to be published in this country. Although the English edition is common, there are only seven known copies of the American edition.

Purchased on the Charles W. Mixer Fund, 1983




197.  Hornbook mould, 18th century?. Wood, England? RBML, Plimpton Hornbook No. 6

George Arthur Plimpton (1855-1936) used a hornbook image on his bookplate, and he collected hornbooks, such as this one that could have been used to make such delightful things as gingerbread hornbooks. It was the perfect emblem for his collecting interests. Education through books was also his profession, he having joined the text book publishing firm of Ginn & Company in 1881, and serving as its chairman from 1914 until 1931.

Gift of George Arthur Plimpton, 1936




198.  Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830).  Portait of George Gordon, Lord Byron. Oil on canvas mounted on composition board, (29.8 x 25.4 cm.) Office of Art Properties

Sir Thomas Lawrence was one of the finest portrait painters of his generation in Europe and the last English inheritor of the legacy of van Dyck. The dress and accessories of Lawrence's sitters were chosen, as were his settings, with particular regard to the age and concerns of the sitter. Lawrence himself dictated the colour and texture of the material and he responded to the challenge of depicting it with an enthusiasm rarely found among earlier English portrait painters, such as Reynolds, who delegated such chores to drapery painters. In this portrait of Lord Byron (1788-1824), the poet is shown in his dashing youth, capable of swimming the Hellespont (today the Dardanelles), as he did in 1810.

The painting is one of more than sixty portraits of English authors given to Columbia by Dr. Calvin H. Plimpton, who had been president of Amherst College and of the American University of Beirut. The collection had been assembled by his father, George Arthur Plimpton, the noted publisher of text books. Both father and son delighted in quizzing visitors about the identity of the sitters. Dr. Plimpton remarked that having a "visual impression...of these authors...increases our enjoyment and even understanding of their writings."

Gift of Dr. Calvin H. Plimpton, and his mother Anne Hastings Plimpton, to the George A. Plimpton Collection (RBML)




199.  Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851).  Frankenstein, or, the modern Prometheus. London: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones, 1818. RBML, Samuels Collection

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was the daughter of William Godwin, a political theorist, novelist and publisher, and Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women. In 1814, she and Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was already married, fell in love and fled to Europe. During the summer of 1816, while visiting Lord Byron at his villa on Lake Geneva, Byron challenged each of his guests to write a ghost story. In response, Mary began writing what became Frankenstein, in rivalry with Byron's fragmentary "Vampyre." In December of that year, Mary and Percy were married, two weeks after his first wife committed suicide by drowning. Rescuers had taken Harriet Shelley's body to the receiving station of the London Society, where various methods, including artificial respiration and electric shock, were tried, but to no avail.

Frankenstein was inspired by the science of the day, including the work of the Italian physician Luigi Galvani, who investigated the electrical properties of living and dead matter. As Mary Shelley wrote of her talks with Byron and Percy Shelley, "Perhaps a corpse would be reanimated; galvanism had given token of such things."

Bequest of Mollie Harris Samuels, from the Library of Jack Harris Samuels, 1970




200.  Alexandra Vereshchagina (1810-1873).  Autograph album. Mixed media, ca. 1830. RBML, Bakhmeteff Archive, Lermontov Collection

A set of three Russian salon albums filled with autograph poems and original drawings, some of which can be attributed to the famous poet Mikhail Iurievich Lermontov, author of a well-known novel, A Hero of Our Time. According to the Russian tradition those albums were passed on from one generation to another. Two of these albums belonged to the Vereshchagin family, Lermontov's closest friends during his Moscow years. The third album belonged to Varvara Lopukhina, a portrait of whom is included in this volume. Apparently, Lermontov met Varvara Lopukhina around 1827 and fell in love with her. Unfortunately, she didn't share his feelings. Hurt by her "betrayal" (she married Mr. Bakhmeteff in 1835), he later portrayed her in Princess Ligovskaia and other novels as a weak and deceitful lady.

Purchased from the von Hugel Family, 1935




201.  William Pratt (1822-1893).  Daguerreotype portrait of Edgar Allan Poe. Daguerreotype photograph, (10 x 7.5 cm.) Richmond, Virginia: Pratt's Gallery, September 1849. RBML

William Pratt opened the Virginia Sky Light Daguerrean Gallery in Richmond in 1846, seven years after the daguerreotype was introduced into the United States. As Pratt related the history of this portrait to the St. Louis writer Thomas Dimmock, Poe had never fulfilled a promise he had once made to pose for Pratt until writer and photographer encountered one another on the street in front of the latter's shop in mid-September 1849. Poe, arguing that he was not suitably dressed, was coaxed upstairs and photographed. The image shows a man, as disheveled as he claimed to be, with a haggard face which betrays the steep decline in his emotional and physical condition; Poe died in Baltimore three weeks later. The enterprising Pratt held a patent on a daguerreotype coloring process, used to impart the faint flesh tone to Poe's face and hand.

Bequest of Mrs. Alexander McMillen Welch (Fannie Fredericka Dyckman Welch), 1951




202.  Harper &Brothers.  Contract between Herman Melville and Harper & Brothers for "The Whale," [Moby Dick]. Manuscript, 2 pages, signed by Allan Melville for Herman Melville, New York, September 12, 1851. RBML, Harper & Brothers Papers

The records of Harper & Brothers, dating from 1817 to 1929, along with the pre-1974 records of its successor, Harper & Row, came to Columbia in 1975. Included in the archive are contracts, ledger books, copyright records, correspondence and publishing records of some 240 American and British authors. Also in the gift was Harper & Brothers own archive of 2,700 of their publications. In addition to this contract for "The Whale," the Harper & Brothers Papers also contains contracts for Herman Melville's Mardi, Omoo, Pierre Redburn, Typee, and White-jacket. Mardi, Omoo and Typee are signed by Melville; the others are signed by his brother Allan Melville.

Gift of Harper & Row, 1975, 1989, 1990




203.  Walt Whitman (1819-1892).  Leaves of Grass. Brooklyn, New York: 1855. RBML

The Moncure D. Conway copy of the first edition, first issue, of Leaves of Grass is autographed by Whitman on the title-page. Laid into the volume is the holograph letter from Whitman to Conway, July 21, 1870, stating that "a verbatim copy of Emerson's note" is being sent. The note referred to, copied entirely in Whitman's handwriting, also accompanies the volume; it is Emerson's well-known letter of July 21, 1855, in which he praises Leaves of Grass in the highest terms and greets Whitman "at the beginning of a great career." Moncure D. Conway (1832-1907), a Virginian by birth, gave up the ministry because of his anti-slavery pronouncements. He did his most important work as an editor in Boston, where he conducted The Dial and The Commonwealth.

Gift of Solton and Julia Engel, 1957




204.  Stephen Crane (1871-1900).  Maggie, a Girl of the Streets, a story of New York, by Johnston Smith. New York: 1893. RBML

Stephen Crane was born in Newark, New Jersey, on November 1, 1871, as the 14th child of a Methodist minister. He started to write stories at the age of eight and at sixteen he was writing articles for the New York Tribune. Crane studied at Lafayette College and Syracuse University. After his mother's death in 1890 - his father had died earlier - Crane moved to New York, where he lived a bohemian life, and worked as a free-lance writer and journalist. While supporting himself by his writings, he lived among the poor in the Bowery slums to research his first novel.

Crane's first novel, Maggie, A Girl of the Streets, is the tale of a pretty, young slum girl driven to brutal excesses by poverty and loneliness. Crane had to print the book at his own expense, borrowing the money from his brother. The novel's sordid subject, its air of relentless objectivity, and its sense of fatalism have led some historians to claim it as the first American naturalistic novel, a claim supported somewhat by Crane's statement that he intended it "to show that environment is a tremendous thing in the world and frequently shapes lives regardless." The novel is original in its conception, and remarkable in both the brilliance of its method and the vitality of its language. Stephen Crane died of tuberculosis at the age of 28.

Gift of the heirs of Wilbur F. Crane and from the libraries of Jonathan Townley Crane and Wilbur Crane




205.  Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935).  The Yellow Wall Paper. Boston: Small, Maynard & Company, 1899. Barnard College, Overbury Collection

Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote "The Yellow Wall-Paper" as an article that first appeared in the New England Magazine in January, 1892, and was reprinted in this separate edition seven years later. It tells a largely autobiographical story of a woman who has a nervous breakdown after childbirth, is confined by her physician and husband in order that she have complete rest, is driven mad by hallucinations of a woman imprisoned behind the wallpaper in her room, and who frees herself by tearing down the paper.

After attending the International Socialist and Labor Congress in England in 1896 as one of the few female speakers, Gilman returned to the United States and published Women and Economics, reviewed by the Nation as "the most significant utterance on the subject since Mill's Subjection of Women." Her argument did not blame men, but pointed to a gradual change in society from a time when the sexes were equal to a time when women had become economic slaves. Despite recognition of her theories in the early years of the 20th century, she was largely forgotten until Women and Economics was republished in 1966, placing her in the line of important people in the history of women's rights.

Bequest of Bertha Van Riper Overbury, 1963




206.  Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967).  Notes and rough drafts. Autograph manuscript, 77 pages, 1906. RBML, Siegfried Sassoon Papers

Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves and Edmund Blunden were the surviving British poets of World War I, among the much longer list of those, such as Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg, who were killed. In addition to the manuscript drafts and typescripts of two volumes of Sassoon's autobiography, The Old Century and Seven More Years (1938) and The Weald of Youth (1942), Columbia owns thirteen volumes of his early notebooks. These contain drafts of over two hundred poems for the period 1894 until 1909, from age eight to twenty-two. This volume contains four of the poems that appeared in his first book, Poems, 1906.




207.  Gertrude Stein (1874-1946).  Tender Buttons, Objects, Food, Rooms. New York: Claire Marie, 1914. Barnard College, Overbury Collection

Tender Buttons, Gertrude Stein's fragmented rendering of familiar objects recreated in the cubist mode, was her first independently published work, following her self-published Three Lives (1909) and Portrait of Mabel Dodge at the Villa Curonia (1912). Carl Van Vechten, Stein's loyal supporter from the time of their first meeting in 1913 until his death in 1964, had recommended that she offer Tender Buttons to his friend Donald Evans. He had just started his own press, named for Claire-Marie Burke, and issued the following in an advertising brochure: "Claire Marie believes there are in America seven hundred civilized people. Claire Marie publishes books for civilized people only. Claire Marie's aim, it follows from the premises, is not even secondarily commercial."

Bequest of Bertha Van Riper Overbury, 1963




208.  Virginia Woolf (1882-1941).  Two Stories. London: The Hogarth Press, 1917. RBML

Virginia Woolf, novelist, critic, and essayist was born on January 25, 1882, the daughter of Julie Duckworth and Sir Leslie Stephen. In 1912 she married political theorist Leonard Woolf. Her first novel The Voyage Out was well received. Throughout her life she had suffered from deep depression and debilitating headaches. In 1913 she attempted suicide. Partly for therapeutic reasons she and Leonard Woolf bought a hand press and taught themselves typesetting. From this they set up The Hogarth Press in 1917, which was run from their home, Hogarth House, in Richmond, south west London. The first publication was Two Stories with a story from each of them, The Mark on the Wall by Virginia and Three Jews by Leonard. The Hogarth Press published work by other modern writers including Katherine Mansfield, T. S. Eliot, Maxim Gorky, Christopher Isherwood, Robert Graves, and E. M. Forster. Virginia Woolf is considered to be among the most important English novelists.




209.  Manfred B. Lee (1905-1971) and Frederic Dannay (1905-1982).  The Roman Hat Mystery: A Problem in Deduction. Typescript, carbon, with autograph manuscript notes in pencil by Frederic Dannay, 292 pages, [1929] RBML, Frederick Dannay Papers

"Ellery Queen" was "born" in 1928 when the two Brooklyn-born cousins, Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee, themselves both born in 1905, decided to enter a mystery-novel contest sponsored by McClures magazine. The rules required that entries be submitted under a pseudonym and the cousins, believing that readers would remember an author if the name also appeared throughout the book, chose Ellery Queen because it seemed unusual and memorable to them. Dannay and Lee were familiar with choosing pseudonyms; they had each changed their names, from Daniel Nathan and Manford Lepofsky, as young men. Just before Dannay and Lee were awarded first prize for their submission, McClures went bankrupt, but the story, The Roman Hat Mystery, was published in 1929 by the Frederick A. Stokes Company, thus launching the career of Ellery Queen. The creation of a detective who was also a writer of mystery stories proved to be extremely popular, and Ellery Queen eventually amassed a reported 120 million readers.

The typescript of The Roman Hat Mystery is inscribed on the title page by Dannay: "This is the only carbon-copy of the original typescript of ‘The Roman Hat Mystery' still in existence. The original typescript, and all other carbon copies, were destroyed.-Ellery Queen 12/22/41." It and the majority of Columbia's Ellery Queen papers were given by Frederic Dannay's sons, Richard and Douglas. Their gift also included the files of Ellery Queens Mystery Magazine, containing some 4,600 manuscripts submitted to the magazine over a period of 40 years, nearly all with Dannay's manuscript corrections.

Gift of Richard and Douglas Dannay, 1985 & 1987




210.  Hart Crane (1899-1932).  The Bridge. Typescript with autograph corrections, 99 pages, ca. April-September 1929. RBML, Hart Crane Papers

Hart Crane began work on The Bridge, his most ambitious work, in the early 1920s. Obsessed by what he called America's postwar vertigo, he envisioned the work as an epic "synthesis of America and its structural identity." The Bridge was first published by Harry and Caresse Crosby at their Black Sun Press in Paris in 1930. This working typescript for their edition contains notes and corrections in the hands of the Crosbys, as well as that of the author. Among its nearly two thousand items, the Hart Crane Collection contains two complete typescript versions of the poem and the extant drafts of the individual pieces which make up the larger work, as well as the letters of agreement with Horace Liveright for the American publication of both White Buildings and The Bridge.

Purchased on the Frederic Bancroft Fund




211.  Alexei Remizov (1877-1957).  Deed (Gramota). Ink and gouache on paper, (20 x 26 cm.) Paris, April 24, 1932. RBML, Bakhmeteff Archive, Nikolai Vasilievich Zaretskii Papers

Russian modernist writer, Alexei Mikhailovich Remizov, did not belong to any particular movement. During his long and prolific literary career (1902-1957) he always experimented with old and often forgotten Russian words and expressions trying to revitalize the language. As a true Modernist, Remizov cultivated paradox and myth in life and writing. In 1908 he created a secret literary society "The Great Free Order of the Apes" (with its acronym Obezvelvolpal) ruled by the King Asyka. Remizov himself was a permanent Scribe of the Order and later invented its own Charter and personally designed hundreds of Deeds (Gramotas). In his designs he often used the Glagolitic letters (Old Slavonic alphabet). His literary game, started as a pure joke, later became a favorite entertainment for many famous Russian intellectuals such as Ivan Bunin, Nikolai Berdiaev, Vasilii Rozanov, Lev Shestov, Alexei Tolstoy and others.

Purchased from Nikolai Vasilievich Zaretskii, 1954-1957




212.  René Bouchet.  Portrait of Bennett Cerf. Charcoal on paper, (38 x 33.5 cm.) RBML, Bennett Cerf Papers

Bennett Cerf was born in 1898 in Manhattan and graduated from Columbia University with a degree in journalism. In 1925 he acquired the Modern Library with Donald Klopfer, providing the foundation for Random House Publishing. "I've got the name for our publishing operation. We just said we would publish a few books on the side at random. Let's call it Random House." Two years later the Random House colophon made its debut. Cerf was part of the vanguard of young New York publishers who revolutionized the business in the 1920s and 30s. He died in 1971.

Gift of Phyllis Cerf Wagner and the Cerf Foundation, 1975-1984




213.  James Joyce (1882-1941).  Ulysses. Paris: Shakespeare and Co., 1930. RBML, Book Arts Collection

This copy of the eleventh printing of James Joyce's Ulysses was imported by Random House and seized as pornographic by United States Customs in New York on May 8, 1933. The District Attorney marked the objectionable passages, such as the heavily marked pages in the Ithaca episode, to prepare the government's case for use in the now famous court proceedings. In his decision, made on December 6, 1933, Judge John M. Woolsey recognized that the intent of the work was not pornographic, and that the test for obscenity could not be the presence of isolated obscene passages, but the effect of the work in its entirety. The result of the decision was to permit Random House to publish Ulysses, on January 25, 1934, without legal risks; and the long range consequence was the eventual publication in the United States of other controversial works by authors such as D. H. Lawrence and Henry Miller.

Gift of Bennett Cerf, 1935




214.  Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977).  Untitled Poem, Album. Paris, February 1937. RBML, Bakhmeteff Archive, Sergei Viktorovich Potresov Papers

This autograph album covers the years 1906-1913 and 1917-1948, respectively, and has entries by Konstantin Balmont, Ivan Bilibin, Ivan Bunin, Vladimir Nabokov, and Maximilian Voloshin among others. It has been assumed that the initiator and keeper of the album was Sergei Potresov, Russian émigré writer and critic who used the pseudonym of Sergei Iablonovskii. Most of the epigrams, poems, drawings, and designs in the album are on white standard pages. Some drawings and other entries have been glued onto the pages of the album.

Nabokov's untitled poem was written in 1935 in Berlin and was first published in Paris in 1952. Right above his entry Nabokov wrote "My dear Sergei Viktorovich, I can't recall any of my poems about Blok, so I decided to include my favorite poem."

Purchased from Maria A. Berman, 1960




215.  Rockwell Kent (1882-1971).  Ceramic cup, saucer, plate from the "Moby Dick" pattern. Ceramic dinnerware set. Vernon Kilns, Los Angeles, 1939. RBML, Rockwell Kent Collection

Kent produced three patterns for dinnerware manufacture between 1938 and 1940. The "Moby Dick" pattern uses designs of whaling ships and whales different from the Kent drawings in the famous edition of the Melville novel published in 1930. It was issued in a twelve-piece set.

Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Alfred C. Berol, Dan Burne Jones, Corliss Lamont, and Mrs. Arthur Hays Sulzberger, 1971




216.  Cornell Woolrich (1903-1968).  Night Has a Thousand Eyes. Typed manuscript, carbon, with autograph corrections, 372 pages, ca. 1945. RBML, Cornell Woolrich Papers

Cornell George Hopley-Woolrich was born in New York City on 4 December 1903, the son of Genaro Hopley-Woolrich, a civil engineer and Claire Attalie Tarler. After his parents divorced, Woolrich spent his early years with his father traveling through Mexico and Central America, before moving back to New York City at the age of twelve to live with his mother. He attended Columbia University intermittently between 1921 and 1926 but never graduated.

Of all his major novels, Night Has a Thousand Eyes , published in 1945 under the new pseudonym George Hopley, is the one most dominated by death and fate, and in it Woolrich depicts the terror that is generated by knowing the exact moment and nature of one's death. By the mid 1940s Woolrich was regarded as the premier American suspense writer. After a stroke rendered him unconscious, he died on 25 September 1968, less than two and a half months short of his sixty-fifth birthday. He left his estate of some $850,000 to Columbia University to establish a scholarship fund for journalism in his mother's memory. He also left his papers and his copyrights to the Columbia University Libraries.

Bequest of Cornell Woolrich, 1968




217.  Gwendolyn Brooks (1917 - 2000).  Annie Allen. New York: Harper, 1949. RBML, Pulitzer Prize Papers

Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize. This is the copy that was sent to the Pulitzer Prize Committee. She was awarded the 1950 poetry prize for this book, a verse narrative pairing the mythic imagery of a young woman's hopes and dreams with the realities of her life as a black woman.

Gift of the Pulitzer Prize Committee, 1950




218.  Ralph Ellison (1914-1994).  Working notes and outline for Invisible Man. Typed manuscript, 9 pages, 1952. RBML, Random House Papers

Invisible Man is one of the great novels of American literature and perhaps the most profound sociological exploration of African-American culture ever written in novel form. In this hand-corrected typescript submitted to Random House, Ellison discusses the concept of invisibility as applied to the novel as follows: "First a couple of underlying assumptions: "Invisibility", as our rather strange character comes in the end to conceive it, springs from two basic facts of American life: From the conditioning which often makes the white American interpret cultural, physical, or psychological differences as signs of racial inferiority" and "the great formlessness of Negro life wherein all values are in flux." In these working notes Ellison discusses the predicament of the Negro in American life, a person who must act logically in a predicament which is not logical. Life for the Negro in the world and word of Ellison is either tragic, absurd, or both.

Gift of Random House, Inc., 1970




219.  Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961).  Autograph letter, signed to Daniel Longwell, 3 pages,. San Francisco de Paula, Cuba, July 6, 1952. RBML, Daniel Longwell Papers

Daniel Longwell (1899 - 1968) began his distinguished career as an editor at Doubleday, supervising the publication of books by Edna Ferber, Ellen Glasgow and other writers. In 1934, he joined the staff of Time, Inc., becoming one of the founding editors of Life magazine, and serving as chairman of its board of editors from 1946 until his retirement in 1954. In this letter, written from the Finca Vigia, his beloved house in Cuba, Hemingway tells Longwell how important it is for him to have The Old Man and the Sea published in Life where people who could not afford to buy the book would be able to read it, adding, "That makes me much happier than to have a Nobel prize." The work appeared in the issue of September 1, 1952. Hemingway would receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954, "for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style."

Gift of Mrs. Daniel Longwell, 1969




220.  Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997).  Howl (for Carl Solomon). Typescript with autograph corrections, 7 pages, January 1956. RBML, Carr Papers

Ginsberg graduated from Columbia College in 1948, traveled widely, and held a number of jobs, ranging from floor-mopper in a cafeteria to market researcher, before writing Howl, now recognized by many as the most significant of the Beat Generation poems. Ginsberg enclosed this typescript in a letter to Lucien Carr, in which he called attention to the "new style, long lines, strophes." Howl is a violent lament of the destruction by society of the poet's generation, and both the style and content clearly demonstrate that the poem follows in the tradition of Walt Whitman. The first edition, preceding Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Books publication, was mimeographed, and Ginsberg sent a copy to his former English professor Mark Van Doren, now in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library's Van Doren Papers.




221.  Dawn Powell (1896-1965).  Charts & Casts & Notes for Golden Spur. Autograph manuscript, on folder paper, March 1958. RBML, Dawn Powell Papers

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library is the principle repository of the papers of novelist and playwright Dawn Powell, the gift of Elizabeth T. Page and the ongoing gift of Tim Page. Among the papers are drafts and working notes for her novel The Golden Spur. These include this chart that she began in March, 1958, showing how she kept track of characters, places, spots and episodes for the work, such as: "Cassie Bender, gallery. Would have had a tea-room in another age," and under "Spots:" "Hotel Le Grand. Golden Spur Cafe. Supermarket. Wash. Sq. Park."

Born in Mount Gilead, Ohio in 1896, Dawn Powell ran away from an abusive stepmother when she was thirteen and settled with her unconventional aunt in nearby Shelby, Ohio. "Auntie May," a divorcée, owned a home near the railroad depot, made lively by Powell's cousins, Auntie's lover, and passing strangers who stopped for meals. Encouraged by her aunt to further her education, Powell begged a scholarship to Lake Erie College for Women. There she wrote and performed in plays and edited the Lake Erie Record, a campus quarterly, which often contained her playful yet pessimistic stories. In 1918, Powell moved to New York City. She married Joseph Gousha, Jr., a Pennsylvania-born poet turned ad man, and the couple had a son, Jojo. They settled in Greenwich Village. Powell loved her bohemian neighborhood and the Manhattan nightlife that she spent alongside friends John Dos Passos, Edmund Wilson, E. E. Cummings, and others from the literary scene.

Powell set her fiction in the small Ohio towns of her youth and later, most successfully, in familiar New York neighborhoods and cafés. Though dogged by Gousha's drinking, Jojo's probable autism, financial strain, and her own struggles with alcohol, illness, and depression, Dawn Powell managed to write sixteen novels, nine plays, and numerous short stories and reviews. She died in 1965. Powell's wicked sense of humor, keen ear for dialogue and human sense of pathos pervade her barbed, shrewd fiction about mid-century Americans in Manhattan and Ohio. Her remarkable diaries, published in 1995, were hailed by the New York Times as "one of the outstanding literary finds of the last quarter century." Columbia University's holdings include her personal and professional correspondence, drafts of her plays and novels and her diaries.

Gift of Tim Page, 2002


Previous

 

Next

MAIN    REPRODUCTIONS COMMENTS COLUMBIA LIBRARIES