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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Christmas Greetings from Special Collections

Celebrate the holidays with these yuletide selections from Special Collections and University Archives!

Our Robert Frost Collection includes beautifully printed and designed Christmas Cards, also known as chapbooks,  featuring poetry by Robert Frost.  Printed by the Spiral Press, the idea for these cards began in 1930 not by Frost, but the founder of the Spiral Press Joseph Blumenthal. With’s Frost involvement, a new card was published annually until 1962. While not all overtly Christmas-themed, the poems have Frosts’ unmistakable rural charm.

Many notable authors and poets looked for inspiration in Christmastime, from the humorous to the introspective. Works by Ernest Hemingway, Ogden Nash, T.S. Eliot, H.L. Menken, Louisa May Alcott, and many more can be found in Special Collections and University Archives.

Looking for something more classic? The Kelmscott Press, a fine printing press started by English author and socialist WIlliam Morris (1834-1896), printed a wonderful edition of ‘Good King Wenceslas‘, illustrated by Arthur J. Gaskin. Also in our Rare Book collection is a copy of ‘The Night Before Christmas’, printed in 1899. This edition, issued by famed New York City Bookshop Brentanos, is illustrated by J. C. Chase.

Visit the Maryland Room in when we re-open on January 4th and explore more from our collections!


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.