New Exhibit: A Tale of Fine Wenches: the Women of The Ladies’ Almanack

“Now this be a Tale of as fine a Wench as ever wet the bed…”

Ladies Almanack, 1928

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are celebrating Djuna Barnes’ female focused comedic satire Ladies Almanack

Ladies Almanack was published in 1928 while Barnes was living as an expatriate writer/artist in Paris. She originally wrote it to entertain her partner Thelma Wood, who had been hospitalized. As such, the bawdy humor and absurdist parody almanac is full of inside jokes and references to Barnes’ and Wood’s lesbian (with the exception of Mina Loy) social circle of fellow modernist writers, artists, socialites, and literary women. 

A new exhibit in Hornbake Library A Tale of Fine Wenches: the Women of The Ladies’ Almanack puts the spotlight on Djuna Barnes and the real women who inspired uproarious drama within Ladies Almanack.  On display are a selection of items from the Djuna Barnes papers, including books, photographs, and correspondence that explores the relationships between these women, varying from platonic to romantic. 

Ladies Almanack features a plethora of particularly scandalous women, whose unique vices reference various women, including Natalie Clifford Barney, Mina Loy, Jane Heap, Margaret Anderon, and Gertrude Stein. Characters also appear based on Romaine Brooks, Janet Flanner, Solita Solano, Elisabeth de Gramont, and Dolly Wilde. Together, these women represent a thriving literary and artistic community living in Paris during the 1920s and 1930s.

These women often met at Natalie Clifford Barney’s Parisian salon, which at the time was a popular place among writers and authors to discuss literature and art. Barnes characterizes Barney’s Almanack persona as an aged proprietor of the feminine arts, emphasizing her role as a mentor to the many women who visited her salon. Among these women, Djuna Barnes and Thelma Wood, and Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap were romantically involved. Barnes and Wood’s tumultuous decade-long relationship inspired Barnes’ novel Nightwood, and Anderson and Heap co-edited The Little Review, a literary magazine infamous for featuring works by prominent modernist writers and the first appearance of James Joyce’s Ulysses in a serial format. 

To explore more, visit  Special Collections and University Archives in Hornbake Library to view the Djuna Barnes papers and works by other modernist writers.  

If you have more questions about items in Hornbake’s collections contact us!

Exploring Modernism in Literary Special Collections

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the publication of Ulysses in 1922, we are highlighting modernist literary works in the rare books collections in Hornbake Library.

James Joyce (1882-1941): Born in Dublin, Joyce was an Irish novelist and short story writer whose notable works include Finnegans Wake (1939), Dubliners (1914), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Ulysses. Joyce is most noteworthy for his experimental use of language and exploration of new literary methods, such as interior monologue and his use of a complex network of symbolic parallels. You can find works by Joyce including Ulysses first edition, first appearance, and other works such as Pomes Penyeach, Dubliners, Finnegans Wake, Exiles, and The mime of Mick, Nick, and the Maggies, a fragment from Work in progress in the rare books collection.

Other notable modernist writers in the archival collections include:
Djuna Barnes (1892-1982): Barnes was an avant-garde American artist, writer and noted journalist. She is best known for her novel Nightwood (1936), a classic modernist work and a groundbreaking novel often cited as the first modern lesbian novel. Her satirical Ladies Almanack (1928) is a cleverly fictionalized and humorous take on Barnes’s social circle in the lesbian salons of Paris in the 1920s. She also published Ryder (1928) and The Antiphon (1958) among other works of fiction. You can explore Barnes’s literary archive, including her writings, artwork, personal library, and personal correspondence in the Djuna Barnes papers.

Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980): An American author and journalist, Porter is known primarily for her short stories and novel, Ship of Fools (1962). Her short story “Pale Horse, Pale Rider” fictionalizes her experience almost dying during the 1918 Influenza epidemic. She was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1966 for The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter (1965). You can explore her literary archive, including writings, photographs, and personal library in the Katherine Anne Porter papers. Her correspondence has been digitized and made available online in Katherine Anne Porter: Correspondence from the Archives: 1912-1977.

Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874-1927): A German-born avant-garde poet and artist associated with the Dada movement, Von Freytag-Loringhoven was known for her flamboyancy and sexual frankness. She published her poems in The Little Review alongside chapters from James Joyce’s Ulysses. She was also a longtime friend of Djuna Barnes. You can explore her writing in the Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven papers.

Additional modernist writers that can be found in the literary archives are Isabel Bayley, William Faulkner, Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway, Frances McCullough, Hope Mirrlees’ papers which contain correspondence with T.S. Eliot and Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Ferdinand Reyher, Gertrude Stein, James Stern and Glenway Wescott.

You can also find works by many modernist writers in the rare books collection, such as: T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Djuna Barnes, Bertolt Brecht, Katherine Anne Porter, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemmingway, and Virginia Woolf

Two notable collections include:

For more, explore our Guide to Modernist Writers in Special Collections Libguide.

If you have any questions about our Literature and Rare Books collections please contact us. Follow us on social media (@hornbakelibrary) for behind the scenes updates!

Victoria Vera, Candidate for Master of Library & Information Science, University of Maryland.

New Exhibit: 100th Anniversary of James Joyce’s Ulysses

We’re celebrating the centennial of the publication of James Joyce’s seminal modernist novel Ulysses (1922) with a new exhibit featuring materials from Literary Special Collections at UMD!

A new exhibit on display outside the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library highlights the first appearances of Ulysses serialized in the literary magazine The Little Review and the subsequent obscenity trial that led to the branding of Ulysses as a banned book.

The Little Review was an avant-garde American literary magazine founded by Margaret Anderson that rand from 1914 – 1929. It developed into a highly influential literary magazine, publishing the works of many notable modernist artists including Djuna Barnes, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Elsa Von Freytag Loringhoven, and T.S Eliot. The motto printed on the front covers reads “Making no compromise with the public taste.”

In March 1918, The Little Review began publishing excerpts of James’s Joyce’s Ulysses. The magazine continued the serialization of the lengthy novel, breaking up chapters, or episodes, into smaller installments for several years. The first 13 episodes, and a portion of episode 14 appeared in The Little Review before the trial halted publication. The July 1920 issue of The Little Review featured Ulysses chapter 13, the “Nausicaa” episode, which came under fire for it’s highly metaphorical description of sex and masturbation. It was at that time the editors of The Little Review, Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, were charged with distributing obscene material. Joyce went on to publish his full length novel in 1922 due to the efforts of publisher Sylvia Beach in Paris.

In August of 1920, one month after the appearance of the “Nausicaa” episode in The Little Review, John Sumner of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, issued a warrant to the the editors of The Little Review, Anderson and Heap, claiming the magazine violated the Comstock Act of 1873 due to the episode’s obscenity. Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap commented throughout the trial in the magazine:

“Mr. Sumner seems a decent enough chap . . . serious and colourless and worn as if he had spent his life resenting the emotions. A 100 per cent. American who believes that denial, resentment and silence about all things pertaining to sex produce uprightness.”

jh “Art and the Law”, The Little Review. Vol. 7, no. 3, p. 7

In February of 1921, Anderson and Heap, were found guilty of circulating obscene material; forcing them to discontinue publishing Ulysses and pay a $100 fine total ($50 each). In the September 1920 and January 1921 issues of The Little Review, Anderson and Heap continued to voice their support of Ulysses and James Joyce. In “An Obvious Statement (for the millionth time)” Anderson writes: “James Joyce has never written anything, and will never be able to write anything, that is not beautiful”.

Explore more editions of James Joyce’s Ulysses and additional Modernist authors that appeared in The Little Review in our literary special collections.

“Get Out the Vote” Spotlight – Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Let me make the songs for the people, 
Songs for the old and young;
Songs to stir like a battle-cry
Wherever they are sung.


Not for the clashing of sabres
For carnage nor for strife;
But songs to thrill the hearts of men
With more abundant life. 

Let me make the songs for the weary,
Amid life’s fever and fret,
Till hearts shall relax their tension,
And careworn brows forget. 


Let me sing for little children,
Before their footsteps stray,
Sweet anthems of love and duty,
To float o’er life’s highway. 


I would sing for the poor and aged,  
When shadows dim their sight;
Of the bright and restful mansions,  
Where there shall be no night. 


Our world, so worn and weary,  
Needs music, pure and strong,
To hush the jangle and discords  
Of sorrow, pain, and wrong. 


Music to soothe all its sorrow,  
Till war and crime shall cease; 
And the hearts of men grown tender  
Girdle the world with peace.

Songs for the People. By Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was an abolitionist, women’s rights activist, and acclaimed poet born in Baltimore in 1825. Born to free parents and orphaned at three, Watkins was raised by her maternal uncle Rev. William Watkins, an abolitionist and civil rights activist, and his wife Henrietta. She was educated at her uncle’s school, the Watkins Academy for Negro Youth.

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New Resource: Libguide on LGBTQ Writers and Artists in Special Collections

Hornbake Library’s Literature and Rare Books collection contains many excellent works by LGBTQ writers and artists.  If you would like to learn more about works by LGBTQ people in Literature and Rare Books but aren’t sure where to start, we have the solution.  Exploring Hornbake’s holdings from LGBTQ writers is easier than ever with our new subject guide, LGBTQ Writers and Artists in Special Collections!

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Literature and Rare Books Spotlight: Kathleen Tankersley Young

One popular way that people observe Women’s History Month is by reading works written by women.  If you’re looking for more ways to celebrate women in literature why not learn more about women in publishing?

One woman who took part in the publishing industry was Kathleen Tankersley Young.  Young was an African-American poet and editor at the time of the Harlem Renaissance.  In 1929 Young, in collaboration with Charles Henri Ford and Parker Tyler, published Blues: A Magazine of New RhythmsBlues was a literary magazine that contained contributions from noted modernists such as Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams.  Blues can be found in the Serials series of the Authors and Poets collection.

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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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New Resource: Black Writers and Artists in Special Collections

Literature and Rare Books in Special Collection and University Archives is a rich resource of works black artists and writers. Explore these items in our new subject guide on Black Writers and Artists!  

Non-fiction writing by black authors covers a wide variety of topics, including pamphlets on politics, racism, activism, and culture in our African American and African pamphlet collection. The subject guide also highlights fiction ranging from children’s books by Chinua Achebe to literary masterpieces by writers such as James Baldwin.  Contributions of black artists and printers to other parts of the bookmaking process, such as illustrators like Cledie Taylor and black owned presses like the Broadside Press, are also included.

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New Resource: Science Fiction Pulp Magazines Finding Aid

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!

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New Resource: Girls’ Series Finding Aid

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.

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