Researching the 1918 Flu Epidemic in Virginia

In 1918, a new strain of influenza swept around the world. Before it was done, it had killed approximately 30 million people. In the United States at least 750,000 died in only a few months—the equivalent today of almost 2.5 million.  When the epidemic arrived in Virginia, 25% to 30% of the population caught the virus and thousands died, including six U.Va. students and a nationally known faculty member.

Addeane Caelleigh is researching the epidemic in Virginia.  When she retired recently from the School of Medicine, she immediately began work in archives and libraries, including the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library and the Historical Collections archive in the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library.  “I’ve long been interested in how communities respond in extreme situations, such as natural disasters and epidemics,” she explained.

Addeane uncovered emotionally powerful manuscripts here in Special Collections, including handwritten letters about family experiences with the disease and official documents about U.Va.’s response to the crisis. She also found a photograph of George F. Ferguson, M.D., an African-American physician in Charlottesville who cared for many during the epidemic.


Dr. George F. Ferguson poses with his children in this family portrait by Charlottesville photographer Rufus Holsinger taken a few years after the flu crisis, in 1922. (MSS 9862, available online).

Notably, Addeane is among the first researchers to have the opportunity to view a UVA Hospital admissions ledger for 1915-1919, where she can track the diagnoses—and deaths—of patients from around the region.


On the left are diagnosis entries in the hospital ledger from 1917, before the influenza outbreak. On the right, an entry from 1918, showing starkly the epidemic’s impact on the community.

Until recently researchers could not use the ledger because of restrictions imposed by the Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), which protects the confidentiality of patient information. In 2014, Congress allowed an exception for historical research, and Ms. Caelleigh has collected invaluable data about hospital patients with influenza, helping to expand understanding the epidemic in Virginia. Studying issues of the Daily Progress, which is available digitally through UVA Libraries, enables her to reveal details of the community’s responses.

Overall, her research is building a picture of both the epidemic and the community’s responses. “Interestingly, as deadly as the epidemic was locally and nationally, it seems to have dropped out of sight in local memory,” she noted. Her research adds an important understanding of how a major event can unite a community.

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On View Now: Sisters of the Press: Radical Feminist Literature, 1967-1977

This week we are pleased to feature a post by graduate student Kelly Fleming. Kelly is a Ph.D. candidate in English and a curatorial assistant in Special Collections. She writes for us here about her first solo exhibition.

The word “feminist” is lit up in bright lights these days, and not just thanks to Beyoncé. Celebrities use their place in the spotlight to complain about the gender wage gap. Young women wear t-shirts with a crowned Ruth Bader Ginsburg, emblazoned with the words “Notorious RBG.” Students, unprompted, use the word “intersectional” in my classroom, deploying a piece of feminist terminology that was coined the year I was born.

Fifty years ago, in 1966, when Betty Friedan and other feminists formed the National Organization of Women (NOW), their statement of purpose declared, “The purpose of NOW is to take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men.” While we still need to work toward a “truly equal partnership” in this country, feminism has become mainstream. In fact, it has hit mainstream society with such force and such flare that there is debate about the rise of a new wave, as well as new names: “pop feminism” and “marketplace feminism.” At least in part, we are living out Friedan’s dream in this very moment.

Yet in this moment, we are at risk of forgetting the women who wore the word “feminist” like a medal of honor into battle. Perhaps because they did not want to be part of “mainstream” American society, the achievements and work of radical feminists are the most often forgotten. “Sisters of the Press: Radical Feminist Literature, 1967–1977” is an attempt to shed light on this particular history of feminism.

Radical feminists took the second-wave feminist mantra—the personal is political— and made it into a lifestyle. Because they believed that American society was underpinned by a patriarchal system stretching back centuries, they sought to destroy its institutions, hierarchies, and beliefs. To work within the system was to be complicit in the oppression of all American women by men, a fact that the “mainstream” feminist movement, epitomized by NOW, would not formally acknowledge. As a result of this conviction, radical feminists did more than just join consciousness-raising groups. They formed collectives, they lived in non-hierarchical all-female communities, and they dispensed plastic speculums for personal use. But more than anything else, they wrote. They penned scathing critiques in easily disseminated materials, such as manifestos, periodicals, pamphlets, petitions, and flyers, that circulated to sisters nationwide and that provided the basis for radical action.

Smash Sexism

Detail from the February/March 1973  issue of the radical feminist periodical, Off Our Backs.  (HQ1101. O34 v.3 no.6)

While these radical feminists texts may not be as famous as Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949), or Betty Friedan’s The Feminist Mystique (1963), their clear, concise messages still inspire change today. I am not alone in having read the Radicalesbian’s essay, “Woman-Identified Woman,” during my undergraduate studies, and imagine my excitement (which was effusive), when I found that we had Rita Mae Brown’s personal copy, complete with editorial marks, in the archives.

Woman Identified Woman

Shown here is  last page of the essay, with the signatures of co-founder Rita Mae Brown and other members of the Radicalesbians. (MSS 12019)

Another item in the exhibition that I know has impacted women today, and women at UVA in particular, is a letter from a feminist group called the Women’s Alliance. UVA did not admit female undergraduates until 1970 and only did so then because it was court mandated. In response to the “traditional sex stereotyping” female students continued to see in UVA classrooms, the Women’s Alliance demanded in 1977 that the university hire more female faculty members and create a women studies’ program. Even though radical feminists wanted to tear down institutions, their arguments did transform one institution, the university, from within. The UVA Women’s Center and the Women, Gender & Sexuality Program are the result of their efforts.

Women's Alliance Letter

The letter the Women’s Alliance sent to UVA President Hereford, regarding their petition for a women studies program, which reached nearly 3,000 signatures.  (RG-2/1/2.791)

“Sisters of the Press” may not be as powerful as Beyoncé standing in front of the word “feminist” at her concert, but it will remind of us of the women who were feminist before it was cool.

“Sisters of the Press” is on view through August 31st in the First Floor Gallery of the Harrison/Small Building. Come take a look!

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Shakespearean Insults: The Editorial Edition

Recount, O Muse, the editors who fell during the epic battle for Shakespeare’s words three centuries ago. Pope, that poetic genius, was blinded by Shakespeare’s meter; Theobald, may he rest in peace with his dictionaries, died of dulness; Johnson, the father of our language, was cut to the core by the Bard’s vulgar words; and Malone, the lone Irishman, lost his ear. In this, the battle of Shakespeare editions, each editor thought he was victorious. But alas! they all cried “huzzah!” too soon, for each editor soon felt the perfectly timed twist of the rhetorical knife or the slap of a rhetorical glove.

In all seriousness, over the course of the eighteenth century, editors battled with each other over the words of Shakespeare. The complicated work of editing Shakespeare began in earnest, arising from both the Enlightenment spirit of scholarship and a growing recognition of Shakespeare’s importance. Each editor sought to claim the “true” Shakespeare. Yet before the days of the First Folio’s renown (which Samuel Johnson first suggested editors use in 1765), editors typically used their predecessor’s editions as their base texts. They did not start with early folios or quartos, which were difficult to locate. For various reasons, each editor asserted the rightness of his own edition of Shakespeare, and as a result, each edition was met by equally strong criticism. Perfecting the noble art of the insult, editors padded their own editions with criticisms of their predecessors. In a few cases, they were so fired up they wrote entire books dedicated to explaining how their predecessors were wrong.

Our current exhibition, Shakespeare by the Book, has an entire section entitled “We Quarrel in Print: Editing Shakespeare.” Alongside books, it features a listicle of our favorite editorial insults from the eighteenth century, mined from the footnotes and the books in the exhibition. Read on to see the list in its entirety!

Editorial Insult Wall

Editor William Warburton on Nicholas Rowe’s 1709 edition of Shakespeare (1747):

A Wit indeed he was; but so utterly unacquainted with the Business of Criticism, that he did not even collate or consult the first Editions of the Work he undertook to publish; but contented himself with giving us a meagre Account of the Author’s Life, interlarded with some common-place Scraps from his Writings.

Editor Lewis Theobald on Alexander Pope’s 1725 editing of a passage in Hamlet (1726):

[N]o Body shall perswade me that Mr. Pope could be awake, and with his Eyes open, and revising a Book, which was to be publish’d under his Name, yet let an Error, like the following, escape his Observation and Correction.

Theobald's Shakespeare Restor'd

Lewis Theobald’s Shakespeare Restored is a  book entirely dedicated to criticizing Pope’s edition of Shakespeare.

Editor William Warburton on Lewis Theobald’s 1733 edition of Shakespeare (1747):

Mr. Theobald was naturally turned to Industry and Labour. What he read he could transcribe: but, as what he thought, if ever he did think, he could but ill express, so he read on; and by that means got a Character of Learning, without risquing, to every Observer, the Imputation of wanting a better Talent.

Editor William Warburton on Lewis Theobald’s 1733 edition of Shakespeare (1747):

Mr. Theobald was naturally turned to Industry and Labour. What he read he could transcribe: but, as what he thought, if ever he did think, he could but ill express, so he read on; and by that means got a Character of Learning, without risquing, to every Observer, the Imputation of wanting a better Talent.

Critic Thomas Edwards in a satirical “supplement” to William Warburton’s 1747 edition of Shakespeare (1748):

Poor Shakespear! your anomalies will do you no service, when once you go beyond Mr. Warburton’s apprehension; and you will find a profess’d critic is a terrible adversary, when he is thoroughly provoked: you must then speak by the card, or equivocation will undo you. How happy is it that Mr. Warburton was either not so attentive, or not so angry, when he read those lines in Hamlet,

Give me that Man
That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him
In my heart’s core; aye, in my heart of heart—

We should have then perhaps heard, that this was a way of speaking, that would have rather become an apple than a prince.

Alexander Pope satirizing the voice of Lewis Theobald in The Dunciad, who pays homage to the goddess Dulness with his edition of Shakespeare (1728):

Here studious I unlucky Moderns save,
Nor sleeps one error in its father’s grave,
Old puns restore, lost blunders nicely seek,
And crucify poor Shakespear once a week.
For thee I dim these eyes, and stuff this head,
With all such reading as was never read;
For thee supplying, in the worst of days,
Notes to dull books, and Prologues to dull plays;
For thee explain a thing ‘till all men doubt it,
And write about it, Goddess, and about it.

Samuel Johnson first on Alexander Pope’s 1725 edition of Shakespeare…

This was a work which Pope seems to have thought unworthy of his abilities, being not able to suppress his contempt of the dull duty of an editor. He understood but half his undertaking.

…and then on Lewis Theobald’s 1733 edition (1765):

Pope was succeeded by Theobald, a man of narrow comprehension and small acquisitions, with no native and intrinsick splendour of genius, with little of the artificial light of learning.

Critic William Kenrick on a footnote in Samuel Johnson’s 1765 edition of Shakespeare (1765):

Had our editor nothing to offer better than this? And hath he so little veneration for Shakespeare, as so readily to countenance the charge against him of writing nonsense? Did you, Dr. Johnson, ever read the scene, wherein this passage occurs, quite through?

Critic Joseph Ritson on Edmund Malone’s 1790 edition of Shakespeare (1792):

But it is not the want of ear and judgement only of which I have to accuse Mr. Malone: he stands charged with divers other high crimes and misdemeanors against the divine majesty of our sovereign lord of drama; with deforming his text, and degrading his margin, by intentional corruption, flagrant misrepresentation, malignant hypercriticism, and unexampled scurrility. These charges shall be proved—not, as Mr. Malone proves things, by groundless opinion and confident assertion, but—by fact, argument and demonstration. How sayest thou, culprit? Guilty or not guilty?

Critic John Collins accusing George Steevens of bribing the printers to show him proof sheets so he could plagiarize Edward Capell’s 1768 edition of Shakespeare (1779):

You will then find, my Lord, a regular system of plagiarism, upon a settl’d plan pervading those later editions throughout, and that,—not [Doctor Johnson’s] former publication, as one would naturally suppose, but—Mr. Capell’s, in ten volumes, 1768, is made the ground-work for what is to pass for the genuine production of these combin’d editors, and is usher’d to the world upon the credit of their names…But I cannot help observing, —that such injustice, as requir’d the united efforts of effrontery and falsehood to conceal it, amounts to a full acknowledgement of the superior worth of the person injur’d, and is an undeniable argument of as much indigence on the one hand as of abundance on the other.”

Editor Thomas Caldecott on the whole lot of his predecessors, in a review of Thomas Bowdler’s Family Shakespeare (1822):

In spite of the national veneration universally felt for our great bard, he has been subjected, amongst us, to a series of more cruel mutilations and operations than any other author who has served to instruct or amuse his posterity. Emendations, curtailments, and corrections (all for his own good) have been multiplied to infinity, by the zeal and care of those who have been suffered to take him in hand. They have purged and castrated him, and tattoed and be-plaistered him, and cauterized and phlebotomized him, with all the studied refinement, that the utmost skill of critical barbarity could suggest. Here ran Johnson’s dagger through, “see what a rent envious Pope has made,” and “here the well-beloved Bowdler stabbed:” while, after every blow, they pause for a time and with tiresome diligence unfold the cause why they that did love him while they struck him, have thus proceeded.

If you would like to see more editors behaving badly, come see Shakespeare by the Book in person. The exhibition runs through December 31st 2016, with the Folger Shakespeare’s Library’s First Folio making its appearance for the month of October.

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Mining the Ores of Breece D’J Pancake’s Life and Works

This week’s post is contributed by two visiting undergraduate researchers, Megan Flanery and Hunter Walsh, who traveled all the way from Southern Georgia University to examine our Breece D’J Pancake manuscript collection. They represent a growing demographic of Special Collections researchers, and one that we value deeply here at UVA: undergraduates with an understanding of the importance and value of archival research. Thank you, Megan and Hunter, for sharing your experience with us here on the blog!


My colleague, Hunter Walsh, and I are both fourth-year undergraduate students at Georgia Southern University, and we will be graduating in the fall of this year. We were first introduced to Breece Pancake’s short story collection in 2014, when we studied his text under the direction of Dr. Olivia Carr Edenfield during her course on the American short story. Although we approach Pancake’s fiction from very different angles, both Mr. Walsh and I will present our undergraduate capstone projects on Pancake’s work. Our archival work at The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library has broadened our understanding of Pancake’s short, yet accomplished life. Our ultimate goal is to shed light on Breece Pancake, an under-appreciated Appalachian author, and we hope to bring new perspectives to the limited critical conversation that surrounds his fiction.

, Megan Flanery is 21 years old and currently a senior at Georgia Southern University. Here, she will earn a BA in English with a minor in Philosophy, and she plans to continue her studies by attending graduate school at East Carolina University. The focus of her scholarship is American literature, particularly that of the twentieth century. She enjoys reading the works of authors such as Sherwood Anderson, Ernest Hemingway, J.D. Salinger, Eudora Welty, Raymond Carver, Cormac McCarthy and, especially, Breece Pancake.

Originally from Michigan but now a Georgia resident, Megan Flanery is 21 years old and currently a senior at Georgia Southern University. Here, she will earn a BA in English with a minor in Philosophy, and she plans to continue her studies by attending graduate school at East Carolina University. The focus of her scholarship is American literature, particularly that of the twentieth century. She enjoys reading the works of authors such as Sherwood Anderson, Ernest Hemingway, J.D. Salinger, Eudora Welty, Raymond Carver, Cormac McCarthy and, especially, Breece Pancake.


Megan and I uncovered a countless amount of material. We found family photographs, postcards, interviews, and even personal letters from and to Breece Pancake. For me, these are all extremely interesting artifacts and sources that have really molded my study of Pancake’s work. The material I recovered has shed new light on his personal life and his relationships. Since I am interested in the family unit in Breece Pancake’s short fiction, this research has really opened up my reading. Breece’s biographical accounts of his life and his own admission to incorporating true elements into his writing offered even more insight into the familial relations in his writing. This was my first time doing archival research and I cannot thank the University of Virginia and Professor John Casey enough for allowing me this opportunity. The staff at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library were friendly and a tremendous support as well.

Hunter Walsh is an English major and Writing minor. He hails from Bristol, Virginia and is recipient of the 2015 Powell Award for Fiction Writing. His paper, “The Family in the Life and Works of Breece D’J Pancake,” examines the life and writings of Breece D’J Pancake. It documents Pancake’s personal experience with family and isolation, while highlighting these themes, via his experiences and perceptions, in his short fiction.

Hunter Walsh is an English major and Writing minor. He hails from Bristol, Virginia and is recipient of the 2015 Powell Award for Fiction Writing. His paper, “The Family in the Life and Works of Breece D’J Pancake,” examines the life and writings of Breece D’J Pancake. It documents Pancake’s personal experience with family and isolation, while highlighting these themes, via his experiences and perceptions, in his short fiction.

One of the most useful documents we unearthed is a catalog of the real sites and locations that have been included in Pancake’s work, written by his mother, Helen Frazier Pancake:

Box 1 of MSS10975-e, folder 5, holds a document titled “The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake – Locations and Sites,” written by Helen Pancake, Breece’s mother. The various sites, of which Pancake was well-acquainted, reveal how Pancake weaved his own memories into his fiction.

“The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake – Locations and Sites,” written by Helen Pancake, Breece’s mother. The various sites, with which Pancake was well-acquainted, reveal how Pancake weaved his own memories into his fiction. (MSS 10975-e 1.5)

My thesis is centered on memory and the negative effects of rumination and obsessive nostalgia; therefore, my research on Pancake’s own life has been crucial to understanding the ways in which memories affected him. His last letter, written to his major professor, Dr. John Casey, is filled with memories that Pancake was fixated upon:

Box 1 of MSS10975-a, folder 5, holds Breece Pancake’s last piece of correspondence. Shown here is the signature line, where he thanks the recipient, UVA’s Henry Hoynes Professor of Creative Writing John Casey. In the body of tje letter, he lists the various dates of the significant, yet traumatic, events that weighed on him. Two weeks after this letter was composed, Breece took his own life.









Although our study of Pancake’s life was dejecting at times, it allowed us both to appreciate Breece Pancake as a person, and not just as a writer. For now, our findings will be applied to some aspects of his fiction to highlight Pancake’s vexing themes; however, I plan to use this wealth of information to compose eventually a book-length study of Pancake’s life and works.



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The 51st U.Va. Student Book Collecting Contest

Winners of the 51st U.Va. Student Book Collecting Contest: Nora Benedict (at left) and Isaac May (at front), with contest judge David Whitesell. (Photo courtesy of David Vander Meulen)

Winners of the 51st U.Va. Student Book Collecting Contest: Nora Benedict (at left) and Isaac May (at front), with one of the contest judges David Whitesell. (Photo courtesy of David Vander Meulen)

Since 1948 the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia has been pleased to sponsor a book collecting contest open to all U.Va. students. Originally held annually, and now biennially, the contest offers all students a chance to showcase their personal book collections, and to win substantial cash prizes as well. To enter, students submit a list of items in their collection along with a short essay describing its contents and their objectives in forming the collection. Judges consider collections on the basis of coherence of focus, method of collecting, progress made in creating the collection, and the quality of the explanation of the collection’s focus. Collections are not judged on dollar value or size. The first place winner receives a $500 cash prize and a $1,295 scholarship covering the entire tuition for a Rare Book School course; the winner is also eligible to enter this year’s National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest. Prizes of $300 and $175 are awarded for second and third place respectively. This year ten local booksellers have also contributed gift certificates, which are distributed among the contest winners.

Selections from Nora Benedict's winning entry, "Argentine Publishing and the Many Faces of Jorge Luis Borges."

Selections from Nora Benedict’s winning entry, “Argentine Publishing and the Many Faces of Jorge Luis Borges.”

At the BSUVA’s annual meeting, held on March 18 in the Auditorium of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, winners of the 51st U.Va. Student Book Collecting Contest were announced. First prize was awarded to Nora Benedict, doctoral candidate in the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, for her entry, “Argentine Publishing and the Many Faces of Jorge Luis Borges.” Isaac May, a doctoral student in the Department of Religious Studies, was awarded second prize for his entry, “Collecting and Preserving Anglo-American Quaker Publications.”

Highlights from Isaac May's entry, "Collecting and Preserving Anglo-American Quaker Publications"

Highlights from Isaac May’s entry, “Collecting and Preserving Anglo-American Quaker Publications”

The Small Special Collections Library is pleased to partner with the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia in mounting an exhibition of highlights from the winners’ collections. The exhibition will remain on view in the first floor hallway leading to the Special Collections reading room through April 28.

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Now Open: Reading between the Lines of Jacob Lawrence’s Struggle Series

From 1954 to 1956, at the height of the McCarthy Era and at the time the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education launched the modern Civil Rights movement, Jacob Lawrence painted thirty history paintings encompassing the period from the American Revolution to early westward expansion. Thirteen of the resulting panels from the series, Struggle…from the History of the American People, are currently on display at UVA’s Fralin Museum of Art (September 3 –June 5, 2016).

Lawrence wanted to portray “not only the struggle and contribution of the Negro people, but also…the rich and exciting story of all the people who immigrated to the New World and contributed to the creation of the United States.” His colorful, dynamic, and highly symbolic imagery, paired with titles that are often quotations from historical documents, recasts familiar historical subjects and invites new understandings about the foundation of our country.

In conjunction with this exhibition, the Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library is pleased to host a small exhibition featuring speeches, maps, drawings, and books that directly inspired or are historically related to Lawrence’s artworks. Original items from our collectionsare juxtaposed with reduced facsimiles of eight Struggle panels. Six of the panels shown in the Small Library exhibition are on view in their original form at the Fralin.

Like the larger Fralin project, this exhibition was organized by Professor Elizabeth Turner, whose graduate students have spent the last few months combing our collections to find the most salient historical counterparts to Lawrence’s paintings. Graduate students in Art History Chloe Downe and Elyse Justice made the final item selections and composed the layouts and label text.


Shown here is a map of the Battle at Yorktown alongside Lawrence’s panel depicting a fallen British redcoat.


Above Lawrence’s panel, which illustrates the death of Crispus Attucks during the Boston Massacre, is a rare period newspaper account of the event.


This Lawrence panel shows the British troops and Shawnee warriors, including Tecumseh, at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. The hand-colored broadside above it illustrates the Battle of the Thames in 1813, the last battle between Tecumseh’s warriors and General William Henry Harrison’s trooops.


IMG_5338For a new perspective on American history and Lawrence’s works, come see Reading between the Lines of Jacob Lawrence’s Struggle  through May 2016 in the First Floor Gallery.

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Three Elizabeths: Shakespeare Criticism by Women in the Eighteenth Century

Our current exhibition at the Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library, Shakespeare by the Book, focuses on the history of Shakespeare as a book. As a result, the exhibition showcases mostly male editors and publishers until we reach the twentieth century. (Hannah Whitmore, our widow publisher of The Merchant of Venice, is a notable exception.) However, this is not to say that women were not involved in building Shakespeare in the early modern era. In fact, it is said that the first critical essay ever written on Shakespeare was by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, in 1664. In the eighteenth century, a number of other female critics published works on Shakespeare, some of which are held here in the Small Library.
Elizabeth Montagu
Out rush’d a Female to protect the Bard,
Snatch’d up her Spear, and for the fight prepar’d:
Attack’d the Vet’ran, pierc’d his Sev’n-fold Shield,
And drove him wounded, fainting from the field.
With Laurel crown’d away the Goddess flew,
Pallas contest then open’d to our view,
Quitting her fav’rite form of Montagu.
The stanza above is how David Garrick, famous Shakespearean actor, characterized Elizabeth Montagu on the occasion of the Shakespeare Jubilee in 1769, the same year that Montagu’s An Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespeare was published. Montagu is perhaps best known for being “Queen of the Bluestockings,” a group of women who held a literary salon where they engaged in “rational conversation.” Her essay on Shakespeare is an important moment in Shakespearean criticism. This Bluestocking had the audacity to “protect the Bard” from the famed French critic Voltaire, and from her good friend, Samuel Johnson, whose preface to his edition of Shakespeare (1765) she felt neglected Shakespeare’s genius. In her essay, Montagu emphasizes Shakespeare’s understanding of human nature and his genius despite his lack of education.


Montagu’s essay sold exceptionally well: it went through seven editions and was translated into French and Italian. Shown here are first English and Irish editions. (PR 2975 .M7 1769, PR 2975 .M7 1769a)

Significantly, Montagu calls the playwright “Our Shakespeare” almost immediately in her preface. What follows is an apotheosis of William Shakespeare. As if warring with all of France and not just Voltaire (whose terrible translations she ridicules), she defends Shakespeare for not following all the rules of classical drama, declaring that his plays are more natural for their irregularities than the artificial plays of the French. Additionally, she is one of the earlier critics to take his history plays seriously, arguing that they are excellent vehicles for moral instruction, which, in her view, is the aspiration of all drama. Unlike many of the male editors represented in our exhibition who tried to “fix” or find the “true” Shakespeare, Montagu understands that Shakespeare’s dramatic irregularities are what make him a genius.
Elizabeth Griffith
Another Elizabeth picked up the “spear” and rushed out to protect Shakespeare a few years later: Irish playwright, novelist, and actor Elizabeth Griffith. Griffith debuted on the stage as Juliet at Dublin’s Smock Alley theatre in 1749, eventually specializing in tragic roles like Cordelia and Ophelia. Inspired by Montagu’s work on Shakespeare’s genius, she set out to defend his morals in The Morality of Shakespeare’s Drama Illustrated (1775). Griffith wanted to illustrate a system of “social duties” that Johnson claimed could be culled from Shakespeare’s plays in his preface: “I have ventured to assume the task of placing his Ethic merits in a more conspicuous point of view, than they have ever hitherto been presented in to the Public.” She contends that Shakespeare’s plays are effective because the morals arise naturally out of the play’s action and his characters are so attuned to human nature that audiences promptly grasp the lesson.


Note that unlike Montagu’s Essay, Elizabeth Griffith’s title page lists her name. (PR 3007 .G7 1775)

Griffith’s emphasis on the naturalness of Shakespeare’s characters brings us to her radical reading of drama. Like Montagu, she also defends Shakespeare from Voltaire, who criticizes Shakespeare for breaking from the classical unities of time, place, and action. In response, Griffith invents a fourth unity: character. For her, Shakespeare’s consistency in character is more important than whether his plays take place in one day or in one place because character is what makes the plays, as well as morals, succeed. Griffith’s work, moreover, is radical in its own right: she is the first woman ever to emend Shakespeare’s plays. While her work is not an edition, she includes passages with her own textual alterations and she explains Shakespeare’s language in her own footnotes. When coupled with her popular plays and novels, it should come as no surprise that this work earned her a spot next to Elizabeth Montagu in the famed portrait, “The Nine Living Muses of Great Britain” (1779).

The Nine Living Muses of Great Britain by Richard Samuel, oil on canvas, 1778

The Nine Living Muses of Great Britain by Richard Samuel, oil on canvas, 1778. Elizabeth Montagu is on the right, wearing a red cape with a cup in her hand. Elizabeth Griffith is seated on the right in white with a hand on her cheek. (NPG 4905: Image courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Creative Commons Licence).

Elizabeth Inchbald
Our last Elizabeth is an author, playwright, and actor who was perhaps a little too outrageous to be considered one of the nine living muses of Great Britain, but she and Shakespeare have that moral condemnation in common. Elizabeth Simpson ran away from home at the age of nineteen to become an actor despite having a stammer and no place to go. After marrying fellow Catholic actor Joseph Inchbald, she eventually made her stage debut as Cordelia to her husband’s Lear in 1772. Not only did she continue to act in Shakespeare’s plays for some time (she acted in the production of The Merchant of Venice represented in the Hannah Whitmore edition in our exhibition), she also began to write her own plays: Lovers’ Vow features prominently in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814). Yet today, she is best remembered for her novels, particularly A Simple Story (1791).

After her reputation was well established, publisher Joseph Longman asked Inchbald to write prefaces to The British Theatre, a collection of plays in twenty-five volumes, five volumes of which were Shakespeare’s plays (1806–1809). It is for this work that Inchbald has been labeled Britain’s first professional theater critic. Like Montagu and Griffith, she argues for Shakespeare’s morality in her prefaces, but notably she traces his morality and his realism to the way he mixes vice and virtue in some characters. In her analysis of Shakespeare’s morals, she also offers commentary on contemporary social mores, as in her preface to I Henry IV:
This is a play which all men admire , and which most women dislike. Many revolting expressions in the comic parts, much boisterous courage in some of the graver scenes, together with Falstaff’s unwieldy person, offend every female auditor; and whilst a facetious Prince of Wales is employed in taking purses on the highway, a lady would rather see him stealing hearts at a ball, though the event might produce more fatal consequences.
In addition to her hint about the problems of the sexual double standard here (“more fatal consequences”), we also see Shakespeare described in terms of performance (“auditor”). Inchbald’s prefaces are the first critical works to appreciate the theatrical as well as literary value of Shakespeare. She even criticizes some of her editorial predecessors for not addressing the role of performance and the pleasures we glean from Shakespeare’s language. Unlike the other Elizabeths, who mostly focused on morality and genius, Inchbald was condemned for daring to be a female critic: as her male biographer, James Boaden, wrote, “there is something unfeminine, too, in a lady’s placing herself in the seat of judgment” (1833).


These beautiful bindings of the first edition of Inchbald’s British Theatre feature her name in equal prominence with the subject of the books. (PR 1243 .I4 1808, v.1-5 shown)

As the works of all three Elizabeths shown here intimate, Shakespeare’s education was closer to their own than it was to Voltaire’s or Johnson’s. His work and success, like theirs, trespassed social and moral boundaries. Shakespeare’s rise to “genius” glimmered with the possibility of their own fame.

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New Exhibition Now Open: “Fearsome Ink”

Part of the exhibition, "Fearsome Ink: The English Gothic Novel to 1830," on view through Mat 28.

A portion of the exhibition, “Fearsome Ink: The English Gothic Novel to 1830,” on view through May 28.

Some readers will know that the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library possesses what is considered the world’s finest collection of English Gothic novels. From approximately 1765 to 1830 English readers eagerly embraced a new genre of “Gothic” fiction: typically set in medieval times, imbued with Gothic sensibilities, and frequently invoking the supernatural, its passionate and vividly delineated characters endured untold horrors of the imagination and scourges of the flesh. Ever since, this profusion of what one might term “fearsome ink” has profoundly influenced the world’s literary and popular culture.

A Gothic precursor and Shakespeare source: Matteo Bandello's tale of the ill-fated lovers of Verona, Romeo and Juliet, in French translation. Matteo Bandello, Histoires tragiques. Paris: Gilles Robinot, 1559. (Gordon 1559 .B3)

A Gothic precursor and Shakespeare source: Matteo Bandello’s tale of the ill-fated lovers of Verona, Romeo and Juliet, in French translation. Matteo Bandello, Histoires tragiques. Paris: Gilles Robinot, 1559. (Gordon 1559 .B3)

The nucleus of U.Va.’s collection was formed by British bibliographer Michael Sadleir and enlarged by U.Va. graduate student Robert K. Black, who donated the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction to U.Va. in 1942. Since then the collection has grown steadily through purchase and gift. In 2012 the French scholar Maurice Lévy—who five decades earlier had mined the Sadleir-Black Collection for his dissertation—generously gave to U.Va. a superb collection of Gothic fiction in French translation: the Maurice Lévy Collection of French Gothic. Highlights from these two collections are now on view in the exhibition “Fearsome Ink: the English Gothic Novel to 1830.”

Oh, the horror! A hand-colored, engraved frontispiece to an early 19th-century "shilling shocker," or chapbook adaptation of a Gothic novel.

Oh, the horror! A hand-colored, engraved frontispiece to an early 19th-century “shilling shocker,” or chapbook adaptation of a Gothic novel.

“Fearsome Ink” explores the English Gothic novel as a publishing phenomenon as well as a literary genre. It seeks to situate the English Gothic novel in international context; probe its potential for research in such areas as literary history, the history of publishing and reading, and book illustration; and profile the collectors responsible for building U.Va.’s magisterial holdings. Highlights include 16th– and 17th-century precursors of Gothic literature; contemporary German “shudder novels”; French translations of English Gothic novels; early American attempts to write Gothic fiction suited to American audiences; parodies of Gothic fiction; strikingly illustrated popular chapbook versions of Gothic novels; copies owned (and presumably read) by “persons of quality”; and battered circulating library copies read by the majority of contemporary readers.

Original manuscript contract, signed by Ann Radcliffe, for her bestselling the Mysteries of Udolpho (London: G.G. and J. Robinson, 1794). Radcliffe's novel commanded the princely sum of 500 British pounds from publisher George Robinson. (MSS 1625)

Original manuscript contract, signed by Ann Radcliffe, for her bestselling novel, The Mysteries of Udolpho (London: G.G. and J. Robinson, 1794). Radcliffe’s novel commanded the princely sum of 500 British pounds from publisher George Robinson. (MSS 1625)

On March 25-26, U.Va.’s Department of French is sponsoring a related conference, “The Dark Thread: From histoires tragiques to Gothic Tales.”

G5“Fearsome Ink” will remain on view through May 28 in the first floor gallery of the Small Special Collections Library.

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Open Now!: Shakespeare by the Book

This year, libraries, museums, theaters, and universities across the globe are marking the four-hundredth anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death by celebrating his life and works. In our small corner of the world here at UVA, the Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library is making its own unique contribution to the festivities with the exhibition, Shakespeare by the Book: Four Centuries of Printing, Editing, and Publishing.

Few literary works have been preserved, transformed, or reinvented in print as often as the plays of William Shakespeare. From the First Folio to YOLO Juliet, this exhibition of over one hundred items shows how shifting assumptions, expectations, aesthetics, and needs have determined what it means to print Shakespeare “by the book.”

All Gallery The exhibition is broken up into three “acts.” The first, “Scarcity & Excess,” investigates the tension between the very few extant texts of Shakespeare’s work from the seventeenth century and the many variants that exist in the volumes that do survive. Highlights include the Library’s First Folio fragment of Much Ado About Nothing and Love’s Labour’s Lost (1623) and our quarto of King Lear (1619). As part of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s First Folio tour, a complete First Folio will join the exhibition for the month of October.

The Handmade Book

Folio editions printed around the same time as the first two Folios of Shakespeare, including two books printed at the same printing house as the First Folio, reveal some of the characteristics of English printed books in the 1620s and 1630s.

The second act, “We Quarrel in print,” traces how editors have transformed the text of Shakespeare  at two key moments: the eighteenth century  and the mid-twentieth century. In the latter period, UVA English Professor Fredson Bowers and UVA English Ph.D. Charlton Hinman played a pivotal role in Shakespearean scholarship. Highlights include landmark editions of Shakespeare, two videos about Bowers and Hinman’s contributions to bibliography, our research into a minor–but majorly interesting–edition of Shakespeare from the 1780s, and a “listicle” of the best editorial insults by the first generations of Shakespeare editors.

Shown here is Lewis Theobald’s book-long attack on Alexander Pope’s edition of Shakespeare, Shakespeare Restored.

The final act, “Friends, Romans, countrymen” explores the myriad ways Shakespeare has been transformed for a variety of audiences in the modern era, from the child to the bibliophile. Miniature books abound in this section, as do gorgeously illustrated editions of Shakespeare’s plays. Blinking beautifully over this section of the exhibition will be our famous watch ticking out Sonnets 18 and 130 in Morse code.

Shown here are photographs of famous Shakespearean actors whose performances also inspired textual editions of the Bard.

Shown here are photographs of famous Shakespearean actors alongside books associated with them.


One of more almost 150 miniature volumes of Shakespeare in the exhibition. This example is from the 1904 Ellen Terry edition of Shakespeare.

Other highlights include images from the monumental Boydell Shakespeare and a how-to-collate Shakespeare workstation.

Our miniature Boydell Shakespeare Gallery with prints of Shakespeare's The Tempest, Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, and King Henry VI, Part Two.

The exhibition includes a feature on how technology of the mid-twentieth century allowed editors to compare copies of Shakespeare’s works with greater accuracy and speed. While we pay a great deal attention to Charlton Hinman’s collating machine, we have installed a more user-friendly Lindstrand Comparator in the gallery so visitors can try to compare two pages themselves. It takes a bit of time to see comfortably through the lenses, but soon you will see variants pop off the page! Come check it out.

The exhibition runs through December 31st 2016, with the Folger Shakespeare’s Library’s First Folio making its appearance for the month of October. A public reception will be held on Friday February 26th from 5–7 PM. All are welcome and encouraged to attend!

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Patron’s Choice: Exploring the Gannaway/Ganaway Family Roots

This week, we are pleased to feature a guest post from researcher Brenda Fredericks. Mrs. Fredericks is an independent scholar researching her family’s genealogy. She spent number of days studying the David Molloy Gannaway Papers.

My trip to the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library on October 22, 2015 was one of great anticipation. Six months prior, I did an internet search and found that this institution had in its holdings original letters of Burrell Gannaway, a former resident of Buckingham Count, VA. This man was the enslaver of my husband’s ancestors.

These ancestors are the family of celebrated African American Photographer, King Daniel Ganaway. My husband Tim is his great-grandson. Note: The spelling of the last name differs between the slave owners and the African Americans. The slave-holding family uses Gannaway, while the African American family members use Ganaway.

I was perplexed as to how or when we would be able to make the trip to the library. Most of my time off from work is used to care for Tim, who has been a bladder cancer patient for the last two years. After visiting the website and learning there were more than 1,000 documents on the Gannaway family held at this library, I knew we had to make the trip. These letters could possibly give us a window into the world of our ancestors.

On September 29th, I was among 300-plus employees who were laid off from my company. There was severance pay attached to the lay-off. While others fretted about their disposition, I smiled. We had just been given our opportunity to come to Virginia!

The Gannaway family settled in Albemarle and Buckingham Counties in the 1700’s. They were prominent in the communities where they lived and owned quite a number of slaves. John Gannaway III and Martha Woodson Gannaway were the parents of Burrell as well as six other children.

As I set at one of the tables in the library, I knew this would be a day I would never forget. Box after box was brought out to me, containing letters, accounting records and deeds, belonging to the Gannaway family. At first my hands shook as I picked up each one. What is the likelihood that an African American in 2015 would one day hold in her hands the original documents of her ancestors’ enslavers?

The first item that caught my attention was a list of slaves.

Slave List, add call number

Slave List, David Molloy Gannaway papers. (MSS 3784). (Photo by Brenda Fredericks)

Here they were! These are our people and possibly other slaves who were related to them. Judy, America, Bob, Amy and Tom would ultimately make their way to Murfreesboro, TN where Burrell Gannaway and his married sister Mary Molloy relocated around 1814. The thought came to my mind that they were more than likely separated from family. This means that their descendants are still separated from our family to this day.

There was a value given to each slave. Although it was a reality during slavery to place a value on African Americans, my mind simply cannot process this information. Nevertheless, the names on this list were some of the same names found in Burrell Gannaway’s estate inventory when he died in 1853.

As I continued to browse through the documents, I came across accounting records that concerned a mill in Buckingham County referenced to as the Curdsville Mill. I knew about this mill from other historians’ research. Enslaved people likely supposedly built this mill, which is located on the Willis River.

Slave Hire document

Slave hire document, David Molloy Gannaway papers, ca. 1836-1840s. This document records the names of slaves being hired out to work at Curdsville Mill (MSS 3784). (Photo by Brenda Fredericks)

I also noted from this document that Woodson was also hired out to Gannaway and Parish Co. The name Parish was one I was familiar with. I knew from old newspaper articles that this family had been in business with the Gannaways in Virginia, and here was the proof.

My husband and I later drove to Curdsville and found the ruins of this mill!

Tim need last name

Tim Fredericks holding a remnant of Curdsville Mill, 2015. (Photo by Brenda Fredericks)

Remains of the mill.

Remains of Curdsville Mill, 2015.

Of course any letter that Burrell wrote is of keen interest to me.  In a March 1834 letter, he explains his political views to his brother Theodorick (Gravel Hill):

“I am for measures best for the Republic and for myself on this subject I am pointed and my mind made up. I am in favor of our union and all and every measure calculated to perpetuate the union.”

This letter along with others found at the State Library in Richmond show a transformation from an ambitious southern planter to a man beaten by illness, disease, loss of family members and bad crop seasons. He ultimately turns to his faith in God which gives him peace and hope.

Burrell Gannaway had been dead for 12 years when the Civil War ended in 1865. However, he must have left an indelible mark on his friends and business associates because they gave assistance to his former slaves. Daniel Gannaway, the grandfather of King Ganaway, purchased a merchant bond in 1872 and opened a grocery store on the town square in Murfreesboro. Remember those old Virginia business partners by the name of Parrish? They sold land to our Ganaways near the family store. King Daniel’s father and grandfather built a large family home on this land that stood there until the 1950’s.

After the war, Burrell’s congregation, First Baptist Church of Murfreesboro, sold their old church building to the former slaves to start their own church. Some of these slaves were our Ganaways. They had attended services with Burrell where he was a founding members and one of the first deacons. King Daniel’s paternal and maternal grandmothers were Church Mothers of the African American First Baptist congregation.

By no means is Burrell Gannaway the hero of this story. The man I’ve come to know in his letters would not want that credit. It is the God who Burrell wrote about and his relative Annie M. Gannaway who preserved these letters and donated them to this institution who are heroes!

Brenda Fredericks

Independent Researcher Brenda Fredericks

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