Celebrating Women’s History Month with Selections from Literature and Rare Books!

A new exhibit case featuring works by women writers is now on display outside the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library!

Taken from the literature and rare book collections in Special Collections and University Archives, these books represent a variety of genres and styles; from the popular girl detective adventure Nancy Drew #1: The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene to the powerful poetry of Baltimore native and abolitionist Frances Ellen Watkins.

Included in the exhibit are the landmark works of mother and daughter Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelly. Wollstonecraft wrote the highly influential, early feminist work A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects (1792). 26 years later, her daughter Mary Shelly penned the horror classic Frankenstein (1818). An early 1796 edition of A Vindication of the Rights of Women is on display alongside a WWII armed services edition of Frankenstein.

Also included is Katherine Anne Porter’s collection of short novels, Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939). The eponymous story is an account of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, which Porter herself was stricken with while working as a reporter in Denver, Colorado. Special Collections and University Archives is home to the Katherine Anne Porter literary archive.

Two works by artist/author Djuna Barnes are also featured: Ryder (1928), and Nightwood (1936), one of the first works of lesbian literature. Special Collections and University Archives is also home to the Djuna Barnes literary archive.

Works by Anaïs Nin, Lucille Clifton, Emily Dickinson, Zora Neale Hurston, Kau Boyle, Virginia Wolf, Flannery O’Conner, Gertrude Stein, and Louisa May Alcott are also on display.

Stop by the Maryland Room to view this colorful and diverse selection of works by women authors. Interested in exploring more works by women? Check out literary special collections, housed in Hornbake Library, or contact us!

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Katherine Anne Porter Correspondence Project: An Introduction

“She always kept things secret in such a public way.”

Katherine Anne Porter, “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” (1930)

        Katherine Anne Porter’s description of Cornelia, daughter of the titular Granny Weatherall, is apt considering the tensions between Porter’s own private and public personas. Porter, too, was a secretly-public person – she was forthcoming with information about her life and experience, though she sometimes elaborated on the facts, exaggerating details or creating new information.  The reality of her life became mysterious, as Callie Russell Porter became the Katherine Anne Porter who captivated the literary communities of which she was a part. In the margins of Katherine Anne’s books in Hornbake Library’s Porter Room, there are even notes from Katherine Anne’s sister, Gay, that call attention to the points at which Katherine Anne’s stories depart from or obscure the source material of her own life.


Katherine Anne Porter with hair down in garden, Mixcoac, Mexico. Back inscription: “Ophelia in Mixcoac, March 1931.”
Katherine Anne Porter Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Maryland Libraries

Porter’s 1930 story, “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall,” served as my personal introduction to Porter, but it is her 1939 collection of short novels, Pale Horse, Pale Rider, that sealed my appreciation of her work. The three short novels – “Old Mortality,” “Noon Wine,” and the titular story – take the reader from the shadows of the old moneyed South, to a Texas farm, to war-weary and flu-ridden Denver. What is most striking about Porter is her ability to cut to the bone with language. “Granny Weatherall” is a stream-of-consciousness story, stylized to read as a string of dying thoughts, regrets, and potentially hallucinations. Porter’s short novels are sharp, each imbued with a touch of mystery themselves – what is the truth about Aunt Amy’s hemorrhage? What was hidden in the Swede Helton’s past? How did Adam feel as he met his fate, alone?

“Day at Night: Katherine Anne Porter, novelist and short story writer.” For more video and radio interviews of Porter, visit the University Libraries’ Digital Collections.

Porter’s stories, short novels, and sole novel, 1962’s Ship of Fools, leave readers entranced by her language and enticed by her mysteries. Fortunately, the Katherine Anne Porter Correspondence Project has been at work digitizing Porter’s copious correspondence, held in Hornbake Library’s Special Collections and University Archives, as her correspondence is as literary as her fiction. Since its work began in 2012, the project has published two phases worth of Porter’s correspondence. Phase 1 centers Porter’s relationships with her family, most importantly her sister Gay. Phase 2 focuses on Porter’s literary relationships and correspondence with personal friends. Porter’s social circle ranged widely, as she maintained friendships with Flannery O’Connor, Glenway Wescott, Cleanth and Tinkum Brooks, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, and Josephine Herbst, to name just a few. Phase 3 shifts gears yet again, and includes letters related to publishing, agents, and financial and legal matters.


Katherine Anne Porter portrait with typewriter and Juniper (kitten). 1946, Santa Monica, California.
Katherine Anne Porter Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Maryland Libraries.

The most recent phase, Phase 3, features the largest batch of correspondence to be digitized yet, with a total of 2,433 items. The contents of these items range widely – from newspaper clippings with annotated notes sent to her late-in-life lawyer, E. Barrett Prettyman, to long letters sent to her longtime friend and agent Cyrilly Abels (who also served as managing editor of Mademoiselle magazine). The aim of the Correspondence Project is to make accessible the wealth of correspondence and records that Katherine Anne maintained throughout her rich life. There is a scholarly thrill to the ability to peek behind her fiction and become acquainted with Katherine Anne through the rhythms of her friendships, the reports and contracts with her editors. Though many Katherine Anne Porters exist in the archives of twentieth century American literature, now there is the opportunity to openly, publicly assess on what grounds the myths of Katherine Anne are founded, and which myths are embellished or misunderstood. We’re excited to continue making more of Katherine Anne’s correspondence available on a digital platform, and we look forward to the new avenues this material makes available for scholarship on Katherine Anne’s life and works.
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Jeannette Schollaert is a graduate assistant in Special Collections and University Archives who works with the Katherine Anne Porter Correspondence Project. There, she assists with compiling and organizing metadata and contributing to the Project’s online exhibitions. She is pursuing a PhD in English, and her research focuses on twentieth century American women writers and ecofeminism.

Celebrating Black Authors and Poets in Special Collections

To celebrate Black History Month, a new exhibit is on display in Hornbake Library highlighting black authors and poets from our literary collections in Special Collections and University Archives!

On display are landmark 20th century literary works by Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Alex Haley, W.E.B. DuBois, Chester Himes, John A. Williams , and Richard Wright. Also included in the exhibit is poetry by Langston Hughes, Lucille Clifton, and Ted Joans.

Ranging from signed first editions (Invisible Man, Ellison) to popular trade paperback editions (If He Hollers Let Him Go, Himes), these titles offer a glimpse into the wide variety of African American literature and poetry in our collections.

Also on display is a rare edition of Negro Anthology, edited by activist Nancy Cunard. Published in 1934, Negro Anthology is a collection of poetry, historical studies, music, and other writings documenting Black culture of the era. Artists represented in the book include Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston.

Visit Hornbake Library to view these impressive works of literature in person, or visit us online to explore more titles in our literary collections.

Have any questions? Contact us!

Special Collections Celebrates #FrankenReads

Special Collections and University Archives is joining the campus -wide celebration of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with a FrankenReads exhibit in the Maryland Room!

Looking to get into the Halloween spirit? Visit Hornbake Library to view modern illustrated editions of Frankenstein on display, including a pocket-sized Armed Forces edition distributed to soldiers during World War II and editions featuring the artwork of Barry Moser and Lynd Ward.

Step further into the Mary Shelley’s world and explore works by her and fellow writers of the Romantic Era. Included in the display are two first editions of John Polidori’s The Vampyre, a short novel that had it’s beginnings at the same gathering Shelley began telling the story of Frankenstein.

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Also on exhibit are works by Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Don’t forget to visit more libraries at the University of Maryland, including Architecture, Art, STEM, Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, McKeldin Library, and Library Media Services for more Frankenreads fun! Visit the Frankenreads @ UMD website for all the events, exhibits, and Frankenreads news.

To explore more works of Romanticism and other literary treasures in Literature and Rare Books collections at Hornbake Library, check out our Literary Research in Special Collections guide.

Visit Hornbake Library to learn about our holdings or contact us for more information.

Newsletter of the Katherine Anne Porter Society – May 2017

Newsletter of the Katherine Anne Porter Society – May 2017

Special Collections and University Archives is home to the Katherine Anne Porter papers and other related collections. The Newsletter of the Katherine Anne Porter Society features updates on Porter activities at the University of Maryland Libraries, articles, meeting summaries, announcements of conferences and literary prizes, and other updates relevant to Porter’s life and work.

Learn more about the Katherine Anne Porter Society online.

Remembering E. Barrett Prettyman

On November 4, 2016, E. Barret Prettyman Jr. (1925-2016) passed away. He was a well-known attorney with an impressive legacy that spans international relations, civil rights, literature, and more. He also holds an interesting connection to American author Katherine Anne Porter and the University of Maryland.

You care about Prettyman if you care about important Supreme Court cases like Brown versus Board of Education, the landmark case that desegregated public schools, and for which Prettyman served as on the advisory council for in 1954. You care about Prettyman if you care about the 1962 release of American prisoners taken during Bay of Pigs crisis during which Prettyman successfully negotiated with then Cuban President Fidel Castro for their return and safe release. You care about Prettyman if you are at all concerned with the House Ethics committee, the First Ammendment, and the death penalty. Over the course of his long legal career, Prettyman became heavily involved with all of these areas of the legal system. The obituaries in the Washington Post and New York Times illustrate his storied career and commitment to the legal system.

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Portrait of Prettyman inscribed to Porter: “For Katherine Anne, With happy memories of lovely, relaxed, and fiery reminiscent afternoons of good talk in the best of company, and with love, Barrett”

As the one of the repositories of Prettyman’s personal papers, Special Collections and University Archives at UMD holds not only the documents that reveal Prettyman’s legal Continue reading

Special Collections Opens Their Doors

This semester we hosted an Open House for University staff and displayed some of the interesting material found within our collection.

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Three of these items came from our literary collection and included an early edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an inscribed copy of Mark Twain’s Sketches, New and Old, and a 1794 edition of A Vindication of the Rights of Women. These early editions provided insights into the times in which they were produced through their format, inscriptions or by the significance of their ownership. Much can be learned by looking at original copies of common works.

students_400If you would like to talk to us about using our collections for your own research or to support your instruction, please let us know. We often work with faculty and look forward to the opportunity to get to know you and your students.

Research queries to askhornbake@umd.edu
Instruction support queries to lcleary@umd.edu

A Vindication of the Rights of Women

A Vindication of the Rights of Women

Mark Twain's Sketches, New and Old

Mark Twain’s Sketches, New and Old

Versions of a book from manuscript through various publications

Versions of a book from manuscript through various publications

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