Updates to the William Addison Dwiggins collection Finding Aid

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.

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Finding Aid Update for the Carolyn Davis collection of Louisa May Alcott

As we come back from winter break, you may be looking for something to keep you in the holiday spirit.  Well there’s no better place to look than the Carolyn Davis collection of Louisa May Alcott!  You can now view and request individual items from this collection through the updated finding aid, making it easier than ever to access these timeless stories. 

The Carolyn Davis collection of Louisa May Alcott contains numerous editions of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, including everything from a first edition copy of the novel, a Danish translation, an edition from 1995, and more!  Seeing how Little Women has been interpreted throughout time and across countries can allow you to experience this classic story in new ways.  The Carolyn Davis collection also contains other works by Alcott such as Hospital Sketches and Rose in Bloom and works about Alcott and her family.

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The Shelleys, Godwins, and Wollstonecrafts in Literature and Rare Books

What do anarchism, science fiction, women’s rights, and Romanticism have in common?  One family!  William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, and Percy Shelley wrote in different genres but the writings of all four continue to provoke thought and provide enjoyment centuries later.  You can learn more about this fascinating family by viewing their works in Hornbake Library’s Literature and Rare Books collection!

William Godwin was a British philosopher, novelist, and a radical critic of British government and society in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Godwin was a proponent of utilitarianism and anarchism, and many of the radical critiques of these schools of thought can be found in his writings.  For example in St. Leon: A Tale of the Sixteenth Century Godwin ponders the value of the aristocracy and questions what truly makes people free.

In 1797, Godwin married Mary Wollstonecraft.  Like Godwin, Wollstonecraft was an author and philosopher.  Wollstonecraft is best known for writing a Vindication of the Rights of Women,  a work that was highly influential on the early women’s rights movement.  In Vindication, Wollstonecraft argues that a lack of education, rather than inherent differences due to sex, is what prevents women from achieving the same things as men.  You can find both the 1794 edition and the 1796 edition in the Literature and Rare Books collection.

Godwin and Wollstonecraft had one daughter, Mary.  Wollstonecraft died shortly after Mary’s birth and Mary was raised by her father and step-mother.  At age 16, Mary met the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.  Percy, despite his aristocratic birth, was a follower of Godwin’s radical political views.  Despite the fact that Percy was already married, the two fell in love and fled along with Mary’s stepsister, Claire, to Switzerland.

In Switzerland, Mary would write Frankenstein, her best known work. Hornbake has several fascinating editions of Frankenstein such as a specialty edition given out to the armed forces during World War II and an edition featuring engravings from the acclaimed artist Lynd Ward.

While Frankenstein is what Mary is most well known for, she continued to write in a variety of genres after it was published.  Her novel Lodore follows a widow and her daughter as they struggle to find their way in a patriarchal culture after the death of her husband.  Mary also wrote a travel narrative, Rambles in Germany and Italy in 1840, 1842, and 1843.

Mary’s literary output also included editing her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley’s works after his passing.  Mary edited volumes of Percy’s poetry that were published in 1824, 1839, 1840, 1854, and 1892.  Hornbake’s Rare Books collection also includes works that were published before Shelley’s death such as Posthumous Fragments of Margaret Nicholson, The Revolt of Islam: A Poem, in Twelve Cantos, and Rosalind and Helen: A Modern Eclogue: With Other Poems.

Writings by Wollstonecraft, Godwin, and the Shelleys are only a portion of what Literature and Rare Books has to offer.  For more information about our holdings contact us!

Katherine Anne Porter & the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, Part II, “Pale Horse, Pale Rider”

Katherine Anne Porter was a young, aspiring writer when she contracted influenza during the 1918 pandemic in Denver, Colorado. Her case was so severe she was essentially given up for dead before making a surprising, albeit slow recovery. Read more about her experiences in “Katherine Anne Porter and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Part I, The Influenza Pandemic in Colorado”. Shortly following her recovery, Porter moved to New York and began her professional writing career. By the 1930s, she waswell on her way to becoming an established author, publishing, among others, the short stories “Maria Concepcion” (1922) and “Flowering Judas (1930).

Katherine Anne Porter portrait, circa 1934-1935. Katherine Anne Porter papers, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Maryland Libraries.

Pale Horse, Pale Rider

Nearly two decades after surviving the 1918 influenza pandemic, Porter drew upon her experience for the short novel “Pale Horse, Pale Rider”. First published in 1938, it is a tragic, surreal, and striking portrayal of facing death during both a pandemic and a period of American history that was already dominated by the immense death and devastation of the First World War.

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Katherine Anne Porter & the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, Part I: The Spanish Flu

“I think of my personal history as before the plague and since the plague.” 
– Katherine Anne Porter to Alfred Crosby, 13 June 1975

An unknown illness, shortage of hospital beds, fever induced hallucinations, and growing fear about a contagious and deadly plague. All of these frightening realities take place against the backdrop of young love and the First World War in Katherine Anne Porter’s “Pale Horse, Pale Rider.” “Pale Horse, Pale Rider”  tells the story of trauma and survival during the 1918 Influenza pandemic. A masterfully written short novel woven with poetic and, at times, surreal prose, “Pale Horse, Pale Rider” is also a personal story for Porter, recalling her experience contracting the illness in Colorado in October 1918. With striking similarities to the current pandemic, it is a beautiful, complex, and intimate glimpse into the experience of making it through the other side of a pandemic and the First World War.

Portrait of Katherine Anne Porter taken in early spring, Texas, 1918. Katherine Anne Porter papers, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Maryland Libraries.

In the years leading up to the 1918 influenza pandemic, Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980) had already faced a tumultuous life. Born in Texas, she was largely self taught and moved often with her family following the deaths of her mother and grandmother in 1892 and 1901 respectively. She was married and divorced three times, briefly worked as a movie extra in Chicago, taught children in a Dallas hospital, and wrote for several newspapers. Although she had begun writing, she had yet to publish her work in earnest.

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