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.

Modernist Writers in Special Collections

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.

Modernist works by Fitzgerald and Frost, along with Katherine Anne Porter, Djuna Barnes, T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, William Faulkner, and Franz Kafka can all be found in the Literary and Rare Books Collections in Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Maryland.

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Digital Resource: The Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven Papers

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. 

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Featured Novelist from Special Collections: Gertrude Stein

Nanowrimo bannerNaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – occurs annually every November. Each week this November, we wrote a post to celebrate the life of a novelist represented in the University of Maryland Special Collections. This is our last post for 2012, but we encourage any readers to continue their research of these fantastic writers–whether that research takes place in the Special Collections at Hornbake Library, or curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good novel, is entirely up to you!

This week’s novelist is Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874 – July 27, 1946). Novels by this prolific author include Three Lives, The Making of Americans: Being a History of a Family’s Progress,
and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Stein also wrote A Novel of Thank You, an exploration of the author’s process of writing a novel, and essay Composition as Explanation to explain the theory behind her writing.

Portrait of Gertrude Stein, with American flag as backdrop. 1935. Carl Van Vechten, photographer. Carl Van Vechten Collection, Library of Congress. (from Credo Reference)

About Gertrude Stein:
(From ArchivesUM and The Poetry Foundation)

  • Stein was born in Pennsylvania and lived in both California and Baltimore; however, her writing career began in Paris.
  • During Stein’s college years at Harvard Annex/Radcliffe College, she studied psychology under William James and published two research papers in the Harvard Psychological Review.
  • Stein had significant connections to the art world, and her home in Paris regularly hosted modernist writers and painters. Pablo Picasso is a frequent visitor and correspondent.
  • In The Collected Essays and Occasional Writings of Katherine Anne Porter, Porter describes Stein’s writing as  “a great spiral, a slow, ever-widening, unmeasured spiral unrolling itself horizontally. The people in this world appear to be motionless at every stage of their progress, each one is simultaneously being born, arriving at all ages and dying. You perceive that it is a world without mobility, everything takes place, has taken place, will take place; therefore nothing takes place, all at once.”

Resources about Gertrude Stein:

Papers of Gertrude Stein and Her Circle, Special Collections, Hornbake Library, UMD

First Appearances Collection, Special Collections, Hornbake Library, UMD

Caricatures of Mina Loy, Marsden Hartley, and Gertrude Stein, from the New York Tribune, November 4, 1923. From the Djuna Barnes Papers, Special Collections, Hornbake Library, UMD

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers. American Literature Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Collection. American Literature Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.