When you read something, whether it’s a blog post, a newspaper, or a novel the odds are that you are focused on the content of the text you are reading. But have you ever paid attention to the appearance of words on a screen or a page?
One artist whose work highlighted the art of book design, the arrangement of text, and lettering is William Addison Dwiggins, one of the most influential figures in typography. Dwiggins’ typefaces were stylized and geometric, breaking away from the more antiquarian inspired typefaces of his predecessors. In addition to his typography work, Dwiggins designed and illustrated books. If you would like to learn more about Dwiggins take a look at the William Addison Dwiggins collection finding aid which has been recently updated to allow requests for individual items! The collection includes works by and about Dwiggins, as well as books he designed.
Whether it is novels like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, major franchises like Star Trek, or recent television series like Lovecraft Country, science fiction is one of the most popular and profitable genres in pop-culture. And now you can discover science fiction among the Literature and Rare Books collections in Special Collections and University Archives! You can now explore the stories which have influenced the genre, and take a look at our new finding aid for the Howard and Jane Frank Collection of Science Fiction Pulp Magazines!
For decades girls’ series books like the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories have been entertaining and inspiring readers of all ages. However there are many other girls’ series books such as the Dana Girls Mystery Stories or the Cherry Ames Nurse Stories. If you want to learn more about Hornbake’s collection of girls’ series books take a look at the finding aid for the Rose and Joseph Pagnani Collection of Girls’ Series Books. To learn more about the collection and girls’ series books in general be sure to visit our online exhibit Girls’ Series Books Rediscovered: Nancy Drew and Friends or our Flickr albums on Nancy Drew and other Girls’ Series books.
For years, works by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Robert Frost have been staples of high school English classes across America. While The Great Gatsby and “The Road Not Taken” may now be regarded as classics, modernism, the literary movement that Fitzgerald and Frost participated in, was originally considered to be a disruptive force against the literary establishment.
Happy National Poetry Month! As we celebrate some of our favorite poets, it’s also an opportunity to discover someone whose poetry you may not have read before.
One poet worth examining is the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874-1927), the avant garde German poet. Von Freytag-Loringhoven was a woman of many talents. In addition to her work as a poet, von Freytag-Loringhoven was an artist who was active in the Dada movement, which rejected logic and reason in favor of absurdity.
While we’re self-quarantining, one thing many of us have been looking for to pass the time is a good book! If you’re looking for something to keep you company while social distancing, or to read to the family, you may want to find a copy of The Little Prince, the classic novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. First published 77 years ago (April, 1943) in France, it is a beautiful and heartwarming story that continues to be a favorite for the young, old, and everyone in between. If you don’t own a copy of the book, you can also find a film adaptation streaming on Netflix. Although The Little Prince was originally written as a children’s book, its themes of love, loneliness, and friendship have made it popular with readers of all ages.
Before Special Collections and University Archives closed to the public, our Literature and Rare Books staff received a generous donation of over 50 editions of The Little Prince published all over the world, translated in 38 languages! It’s a wonderful addition to our collections, covering topics ranging from book history to modernist literature.
If you’re a fan of a good hardboiled detective novel, make sure you stop by the Maryland Room to check out our new exhibit on Chester Himes! Inspired by the 2019 AHPA annual conference hosted by UMD, “One Press: Many Hands: Diversity in the History of American Printing”, the exhibit displays the work of one of America’s most intriguing crime novelists.
Born in Jefferson City, Missouri, Chester Himes (1909-1984) began writing and publishing short stories while serving a 25 year sentence for armed robbery in Ohio Penitentiary in the 1930s. His first novel If He Hollers Let Him Go was published in 1945.
Himes moved to Paris in the 1950s, where he was celebrated in literary circles alongside fellow expatriate writers Richard Wright and James Baldwin. While in Paris he began writing pulp detective novels, including the popular Harlem Detective series, and achieved critical acclaim. In 1958, he was awarded France’s most prestigious prize for crime fiction, the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, for The Five-Cornered Square (alternate title for For Love of Imabelle).
Himes wrote pulp fiction and protest novels that confronted issues of systemic racism in America. His unique style of noir fiction combined violence, anger, humor, absurdity, social realism, and gritty drama into an entertaining and unflinching portrayal of prejudice and corruption.
Lauded in Europe, Himes found less critical success in America, where his works were frequently published in paperback editions featuring lurid, provocative, and visually striking imagery. The cover art of these inexpensive paperbacks reveal the unique marketing of pulp fiction titles.
In response to the cover of the Dell paperback edition of Run Man Run, Himes wrote: “If it is necessary to put this type of cover… on this book in order to sell it to the American people, the American people are really and truly sick.”
Himes passed way on November 12, 1984 in Moira, Spain. Decades later, his works still provides enjoyment and debate. To see the unique and classic pulp fiction cover art featured in many American editions of Himes’ work, stop by the Maryland Room room the next time you are in Hornbake Library.
Explore more literary collections held at Special Collections and University Archive here!
Also, make sure you check out the exhibit by the entrance to the Maryland Room, Women in Print, highlighting the work of women binders, illustrators, and book artists!
Today is Labor Day, and political, religious, and community leaders will give speeches to commemorate the day. For labor leaders, it’s an opportunity to appeal to the working class. Every working person is affected in some way by state and federal labor laws, and bargaining agreements that set wages and benefits at their place of employment. Striving to establish workers’ rights and to improve them has been a common cause of the labor movement since the late 19th century, marked by the formation of the American Federation of Labor in 1886 and by federal approval of Labor Day as a national holiday in 1894. Continue reading →