The blog goes bilingual!: Borges, libros y bibliografía

This week we are pleased to feature a post from Nora Benedict, who will receive a Ph.D. in Spanish this Saturday. Nora’s research for her dissertation, “The Fashioning of Jorge Luis Borges: Magazines, Books, and Print Culture in Argentina (1930-1951),” serves as the inspiration for her exhibition in our First Floor Gallery,  open through July 7, 2017.

Nora has been a constant presence here in Special Collections for many years as a researcher, a Bibliographical Society Fellow, a Rare Book School staff member tasked with working in our stacks to prepare materials for classes, and as a graduate assistant to staff member Heather Riser.  Thanks, Nora, for all you’ve done for the library–and for providing us with your blog entry in two languages! (To read Nora’s post in English, scroll to the end of the Spanish version.)

Borges, libros y bibliografía

Casi tres cuartos de siglo después de la primera publicación de sus laberintos vertiginosos y bibliotecas sin límites en Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges y sus libros siguen despertando el interés de ambos investigadores y aficionados. Como la mayoría de las personas que pasan por la Universidad de Virginia, descubrí su Borges Collection por casualidad. Aparte de la experiencia inverosímil de tocar e hojear los manuscritos y cartas escritos por Borges mismo, lo que más me llamó la atención de la colección en sí es el nivel de completitud. Desde un punto de vista bibliográfico, todo lo que hay en la colección sirve, de manera ideal, para cualquier tipo de investigación textual. Además de los manuscritos valiosos y periódicos raros, hay por lo menos una copia de cada edición de cada libro que Borges publicó durante su vida (¡en algunos casos hay más de una copia de ciertas obras que son aún más raras que los manuscritos!). En cierto sentido, es el lugar perfecto para estudiar la evolución de su proceso de escribir desde los manuscritos hasta las primeras y posteriores ediciones.

Dado que he pasado la mayor parte de cinco años estudiando todo el contenido de la colección, siempre me encanta hablar de los tesoros maravillosos que se pueden encontrar aquí, lo cual generalmente lleva a varias personas a preguntarme cómo estas cosas llegaron a la Universidad de Virginia. Me pregunté eso también cuando vi, por primera vez, los manuscritos originales de Fervor de Buenos Aires, copias prístinas de la revista mural Prisma y dibujos impresionantes en la mano distinta de Borges. Dicho eso, de pronto aprendí que la presencia de esta colección en la Universidad de Virginia tiene sentido por varias razones. En primer lugar es su vínculo con la fortaleza sobresaliente de las colecciones especiales de la universidad: la historia y literatura americana. Sin lugar a dudas, no se debe restringir esta categoría a las obras norteamericanas, sino hay que extenderla lógicamente a la producción cultural de todas las Américas. Junto a esta conexión bien clara, también veo la historia de la bibliografía en la Universidad de Virginia y el estudio del libro como objeto como elementos esenciales para entender la decisión de incluir a estos materiales en las colecciones de Virginia a causa de que se puede seguir e identificar cualquier cambio textual dentro de una obra (ya sea verbal o la presentación física de un texto).

“Las Kenningar” se publicó por primera vez en una revista literaria. Borges lo imprimió de nuevo unos años más tarde con Francisco A. Colombo, un impresor de lujo. (PQ7797 .B635 H62)

Mi exhibición, “‘Armar páginas, corregir pruebas’: Jorge Luis Borges as Author, Editor, and Promulgator,” recurre a las investigaciones para mi tesis doctoral sobre Borges y sus roles diversos dentro de la industria editorial en Buenos Aires. También hace hincapié en los tesoros menos conocidos de la colección en la universidad y las posibilidades para investigaciones futuras. Además de escribir prosa y poesía espléndida, a Borges le interesan los aspectos técnicos de la producción de libros, periódicos y revistas literarias. Desde un momento muy temprano en su carrera literaria estaba muy involucrado en corregir pruebas y aún armar páginas para las varias obras que escribió o editó.

Para mí lo más difícil de ser curadora de esta exhibición fue seleccionar un número limitado de cosas y crear una narrativa lógica que interesaría a expertos en Borges y, a la vez, a estudiantes que no sepan nada de él. Finalmente visualicé tres categorías vinculadas que ilustrarían cómo Borges navegó elegantemente las formas públicas y privadas de la escritura: Autor, Editor, Promulgador. Más específicamente, cada una de las cajas explora un rol distinto que Borges tenía en la industria editorial porteña durante los años 1930 y 1940 con el fin de enfatizar su impacto en los cánones literarios y los estándares educacionales. “Autor” presenta una selección de las colecciones de ficción y no ficción de Borges como Ficciones, El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan y Historia universal de la infamia.

“Editor” demuestra las conexiones arraigadas que Borges tenía con la forma física del libro a través de unos ejemplos de las obras publicadas con sus dos editoriales (ficticias), la Editorial Destiempo y la Editorial Oportet & Haereses.

“Un modelo para la muerte,” una parodia desconcertante del género detectivesco, se publicó bajo un seudónimo de Borges y Adolfo Bioy Casares, B. Suárez Lynch, con su editorial ficticia, la Editorial Oportet & Haereses.(PQ .B635 M56 1946)

 También incluí dos manuscritos originales de Borges que hacen hincapié en sus vínculos bien fuertes con otras editoriales y su trabajo frecuente de escribir prólogos para las obras de otros autores.

“Promulgador” destaca su trabajo editorial, a veces bajo cuerda, en traducir, editar y prologar para varias editoriales argentinas.

Borges empieza a introducir obras extranjeras al público argentino a través de sus reseñas literarias en el periódico “El Hogar.” (PQ7797 .B635 H62)

Borges empieza a introducir obras extranjeras al público argentino a través de sus reseñas literarias en el periódico El Hogar.

A pesar de que esta exhibición presenta un número limitado de materiales que hay dentro de la colección más grande, mi deseo es proveer un bosquejo provocativo de uno de los muchos caminos de investigación inexplorados dentro de su jardín de senderos que se bifurcan.

“Borges, Books, and Bibliography”

Nearly three-quarters of a century after the first appearance of his dizzying labyrinths and limitless libraries in Ficciones, Borges and (his) books continue to pique the interest of scholars and aficionados. Like most, I first encountered the University of Virginia’s Borges Collection by happy accident. Aside from the incredible experience of leafing through manuscripts and letters written by Borges himself, what struck me most about the collection was its extreme level of completeness. From a bibliographical standpoint, the holdings are ideal for any type of textual investigation. In addition to the rich manuscripts and rare periodicals, there is also at least one copy of each and every edition that Borges ever published throughout his lifetime (in some cases there are multiple copies of works almost as rare as the manuscripts!). In a sense, it is the perfect place to study the evolution of his writing process from manuscript to first edition to subsequent editions.

Having spent the better part of five years “under grounds” with the collection’s holdings, I’m always eager to talk about the unique treasures that one might find here, which, more often than not, leads others to ask, time and time again, how these items ended up at UVA. I, too, wondered this when I first laid eyes on original manuscripts from Fervor de Buenos Aires, pristine copies of the rare Prisma mural magazine, and incredible drawings in Borges’s distinctive hand. That said, I soon discovered that the presence of this collection at UVA makes perfect sense for a number of reasons. First is its link to the university’s largest collection strength, American history and literature, which should not be restricted to North America, but must logically extend to all of the Americas. Alongside this clear connection, I also see the university’s rich history of bibliography and the study of the book as object as crucial to understanding the decision to make UVA the home for these materials since they easily allow scholars to trace and identify any changes in a work (whether it be in wording or in the physical presentation of the text).

“Las Kenningar” was first published in a literary magazine before Borges had it printed separately by Francisco A. Colombo, a fine press printer. (PQ7797 .B635 H62)

My exhibition, “‘Armar páginas, corregir pruebas’: Jorge Luis Borges as Author, Editor, and Promulgator,” draws heavily on my dissertation research surrounding Borges and his various roles within the Argentine publishing industry, and it also speaks to the lesser-known strengths of the UVA collection and the potentials for future investigations. In addition to crafting superb prose and poetry, Borges was interested in the technical production of books, magazines, and literary journals. From early in his career he was deeply involved with correcting proofs and even setting type.

For me the hardest challenge of curating this exhibit was selecting a limited number of items and creating a logical narrative that would speak to Borges experts as well as students that have never heard of him. I eventually landed on three linked categories that would seamlessly illustrate his graceful navigation of private and public forms of writing: Author, Editor, Promulgator. More specifically, each of these three cases explores a different role that Borges held in the Argentine publishing industry during the 1930s and 1940s, in an effort to emphasize his impact on literary canons and educational standards.

“Author” presents a sampling of Borges’s collections of fiction and non-fiction such as Ficciones, El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan and Historia universal de la infamia.

“Editor” explores Borges’s deep-seated engagement with the physical form of the book with samplings from his two unique (fictitious) publishing houses, the Editorial Destiempo and the Editorial Oportet & Haereses.

“Un modelo para la muerte” a perplexing parody of the genre of detective fiction, was published under Borges’s and Bioy Casares’s joint pseudonym, B. Suárez Lynch, by their fictitious publishing firm, the Editorial Oportet & Haerese. (PQ .B635 M56 1946)

I’ve also included two original manuscripts that speak to his connections to other publishing houses and his writing of prologues for other authors’ works.

“Promulgator” highlights Borges’s behind-the-scenes editorial work in translating, editing, and prefacing works for various Argentine publishing firms.

Borges slowly began to introduce foreign works to Argentine readers through initial reviews in the magazine “El Hogar.” (PQ7797 .B635 H62)

While this exhibit features just a small number of items from the larger Borges collection, my hope is that it provides a thought-provoking snapshot of one of the many avenues of unexplored investigation into this writer’s garden of forking paths.

 

 

 

 

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More Popular than an Astronaut!: Faulkner and Venezuela, Part 1

This week, we are pleased to feature a guest post by Ethan King, one-time Special Collections graduate student assistant, who is now pursuing his Ph.D. in English at Boston University. Ethan takes a strong interest in Faulkner, and has generously written for us about Faulkner’s fascinating later-life work as a cultural ambassador, a subject featured in our current exhibition, Faulkner: Life and Works.

In the last of his four U.S. State Department-sanctioned missions as a cultural ambassador, William Faulkner ventured abroad to Venezuela in the spring of 1961, completing a busy itinerary rife with press conferences, public discussions, and cocktail parties designed to, as Hugh Jencks explains in his “Report to the North American Association on the visit of Mr. Faulkner,” “strengthen and improve relations between the people of the two countries” (MSS 15242). The materials regarding Faulkner’s visit to Venezuela, written and compiled by members of the North American Association (N.A.A)., esteemed Venezuelans, Americans living in Venezuela, and Faulkner himself, are housed in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. They form a compelling time capsule, containing evidence of the diverging geopolitical visions of Faulkner and the State Department during the Cold War, as well as Faulkner’s eminence as a global writer and figure.

A case from our exhibition with documentation of Faulkner’s trips across the Globe, including his heavily stamped passports, photographs of encounters with citizens of various nations, and official U.S. government reports on his activities.

Having already traveled under similar governmental auspices to Brazil in 1954, Japan in 1955, and Greece in 1957, Faulkner accepted the invitation to Venezuela reluctantly, citing his growing frustration with political gerrymandering, and perhaps feeling the potential inefficacy of such a trip:

Please excuse this delay in answering the letter of invitation from the North American Union of Venezuela [sic]. I had hoped that the new administration by that time would have produced a foreign policy. Then amateurs like me (reluctant ones) would not need to be rushed to the front.

Although much of the correspondence leading up to Faulkner’s departure in March of 1961 bespeaks his discomfort with the foreign policy of the State Department, it also suggests his respectful acquiescence to the duty he had been prescribed. On the one hand, he declares to his mistress Joan Williams in a dynamic letter from January 1961,

the State Dept is sending me to Venezuela, unless by that time the new administration will have created an actual foreign policy, so that they wont need to make these frantic desperate cries for help to amateurs like me who dont want to go, to go to places like Iceland and Japan and Venezuela to try to save what scraps we can.(MSS 15314)

On the other, he writes to Muna Lee, the Office of Public Affairs adviser in Washington and the key mediator between Faulkner and the N.A.A.,

please pass the word on that I dont consider this a pleasure trip, during which Faulkner is to be tenderly shielded from tiredness and boredom and annoyance. That F. considers it a job, during which he will do his best to serve all ends which the N.A.A. aim or hope that his visit will do.” (MSS 7258-f)

The formal occasion for Faulkner’s trip was the Sesquicentennial of Venezuelan Independence, and the North American Association had been assisted in its preparations by three of Venezuela’s leading writers: Rómulo Gallegos, Arturo Uslar Pietri, and Arturo Croce. In addition to meeting these writers, Faulkner spoke at length with the President of Venezuela, Rómulo Betancourt, at an official luncheon. Not succumbing to a harrying schedule, Faulkner made sure he was available to all who wanted to speak with him, and as Joseph Blotner declares in his biography of the author, “his efforts did not go unappreciated by a group of journalists who had called him ‘el hombre simpático.’ […] Some of the reporters began calling him simply ‘El Premio,’” for being a recipient of the Nobel Prize” (688). While local papers covered Faulkner’s visit in great detail, Venezuelan radio and television coverage of his visit were orchestrated by the U.S. Information Service: they produced a film documenting his visit and delivered several news bulletins to eight radio stations, keeping the listening audience informed at all times of Faulkner’s whereabouts and activities. That the local media did not produce these radio and television broadcasts might suggest that the N.A.A. saw the trip as an opportunity not solely to “strengthen and improve the relations between the people of the two countries,” but to extend U.S. political and artistic supremacy in Latin America.

The official report written by Hugh Jencks for the N.A.A. situates Faulkner’s trip in the cultural context of the Cold War:

The cultural leaders of Venezuela, many of whom are pre-disposed to take an anti-U.S. attitude on all international issues, include writers, artists, newspaper commentators (particularly those connected with El Nacional), educators and people in government. The group also includes many on-the-fencers. Its members tend to agree with the Communist tenet that the United States is grossly materialistic, with no cultural achievements. To bring a literary figure of the stature of Faulkner to Venezuela was an effective refutation of this view. (MSS 15242)

Jencks goes on to write, “The leftist extremists, who certainly would have exploited the visit for anti-U.S. attacks if they felt they could have made hay, remained silent. Mr. Faulkner’s evident popularity was too great for them to make the pitch” (MSS 15242). Commenting on and exaggerating Faulkner’s popularity amongst the Venezuelans, Charles Harner declares in his report “Evidence of Effectiveness, Faulkner vs. Astronaut” that “As far as PANORAMA, the leading daily newspaper of Maracaibo, is concerned, William Faulkner’s visit to the second largest city of Venezuela was more important than Russia’s success in launching a man into space” (MSS 15242). Harner’s declaration springs from the fact that the newspaper granted Faulkner and Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin equal print space, allotting Faulkner the portion above the fold. With passages such as these, one cannot help but read the U.S. official reports of his trip as containing calculated embellishment and sanctimonious self-congratulation and as espousing American exceptionalism rather than a genuine interest in cultural interchange.

Faulkner with a child in Venezuela (MSS 15242).

Faulkner, in contrast to U.S. officials, made bona fide attempts to generate cultural exchange during his trip, cherishing his discussions with university students over the highbrow cocktail parties with political elites; delivering his acceptance speech for the Order of Andrés Bello, the country’s highest civilian decoration, in Spanish (a language he was only starting to learn); expressing an earnest desire to experience all Venezuelan food and in his words, “saborear el vino del país.” Further, he refused housing with Americans living in Venezuela, indicating that he did not want the trip to be a “shabby excuse for two deadhead weeks with [his] North American kinfolks and their circle.”  He reserved his autograph signing for locals: he writes to Muna Lee before the trip,

If possible, I would prefer to avoid being asked for autographs by Anglo-Americans, since the addition of my signature to a book is a part of my daily bread. I intend, and want, to sign any and all from Venezuelans and other Latin Americans who ask. (MSS 7258-f)

Faulkner’s attentiveness to the tenets of his trip (i.e. exercising a willingness for dialectical, rather than unidirectional, cultural construction) rewarded him upon his return to Virginia with, among other things, Spanish copies of the works of Armas Alfredo Alfonzo and Rómulo Gallegos, sent and inscribed by both authors.

Perhaps most importantly, after being profoundly touched by seeing his works printed in translation and by interacting with a foreign readership knowledgeable of and influenced by his work, Faulkner felt it necessary to use his literary status to implement a program through which Latin American books could be translated into English and published in the United States. In this way, Faulkner’s trip to Venezuela planted the seeds of what would become the William Faulkner Foundation’s Ibero-American Novel Project, a Project that, as Helen Oakley explains in her essay “William Faulkner and the Cold War: The Politics of Cultural Marketing,” “played a vital ideological role in the unfolding drama of Faulkner’s relationship with Latin America.” The Foundation’s statement regarding the project is as follows:

Many novels of the highest literary quality written by Latin-American authors in their native languages are failing to reach appreciative readers in English-speaking North America; and accordingly the William Faulkner Foundation, at the suggestion of William Faulkner himself, is undertaking a modest corrective program in the hope of contributing to a better cultural exchange between the two Americas, with an attendant improvement in human relations and understanding. (MSS 10677)

However, as Faulkner died soon into the Project’s infancy, the Project ran into a host of challenges and difficulties created by the market forces of the United States. In my next post, I will cover in more detail the Ibero-Novel Project, as well as the political and cultural struggles that led ultimately to its failure.

Keep your eyes peeled for Part II, coming soon!

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On View Now: “The Aviator: Remembering James Rogers McConnell”

When students arrive at UVA, they learn about Thomas Jefferson, the Rotunda, and the academical village through the art and architecture on grounds. In between Alderman, Clemons, and the Special Collections libraries, there is a sculpture of a winged man, leaping into the sky, called “The Aviator.”  In their rush to classes, students often pass by the statute without noticing. However, “The Aviator” is an important part of UVA’s history. It is a memorial to alumnus James Roger McConnell, who served in the American Ambulance Corps and the Lafayette Escadrille in France during the World War I. A new exhibition at Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library commemorates McConnell’s legacy and serves as tribute to his brief life. The exhibition tells the story of the real person behind “The Aviator”: the man who gave his life in a brutal war that left 17,000,000 dead and that radically transformed international politics.

A 1937 image of The Aviator, with the UVA Chapel in the distance on the right. The sculpture has been somewhere near its present site since it was first placed in 1919 (University of Virginia Visual History Collection).

McConnell matriculated at UVA in 1907. He spent two years in the College and one in the Law School, withdrawing at his father’s request in the spring of 1910 to enter business. While at Virginia, he led what appears to have been a dazzling social life. He was a member of Beta Theta Pi, Theta Nu Epsilon, O.W.L., T.I.L.K.A., the New York Club, and the German Club. He was King of the Hot Foot Society (precursor to the Imps); Editor-in-Chief of the yearbook, Corks and Curls; Assistant Cheer Leader; and founder of the Aero Club.

In 1915, McConnell left his position as a land and industrial agent for a small railroad in North Carolina to enlist in the French service. Through the spring and summer of that year he drove for Section “Y” of the American Ambulance, in the thick of the fighting on the Western Front around Pont-à-Mousson and the Bois-le-Prêtre. He was cited for conspicuous bravery and awarded the Croix de Guerre. He was one of many young men from UVA who served the French in the early years of the war.

McConnell was given a Croix de Guerre for his bravery while driving ambulances on the Western Front. This particular Croix de Guerre was awarded to UVA alumnus George Brasfield, who also served in the Ambulance Corps (Section 516).

In 1916, McConnell left the Ambulance Corps to join the Lafayette Escadrille, a newly formed flying corps of Americans serving under French military command. He completed his flight training in February of that year and participated in the squadron’s first patrol in May. Later, he would take part in aerial actions during the great German offensive at Verdun in June and the Allied counteroffensives in July and August, with the symbol of UVA’s Hot Foot secret society on the side of one of his planes.

McConnell used his UVA education to urge the United States government to join the war. He published articles and letters about the Ambulance Corps, the Lafayette Escadrille, and the sacrifices of allied forces in The Outlook and The World’s Work. Later, his articles and letters were gathered into Flying for France, a book that joined the stream of popular war volumes appearing in American bookstores for readers of all ages. McConnell’s articles in The Outlook and Flying for France are some of the many treasures in the exhibition.

Shown here is a copy of The Outlook containing McConnell’s articles on the Ambulance Crops and the Lafayette Escadrille.

March 19, 2017 marked the one hundredth anniversary of McConnell’s death. On that day in 1917, McConnell was shot down by German enemy planes as he flew a patrol mission high in the clouds above France. He was last seen by a fellow pilot as they split up to battle German planes they encountered on patrol. When his plane was discovered, it had crashed at full throttle. Several bullets were found in his body, and it was likely he died before the plane hit the ground. His body had been stripped of identification and valuables by the time it was discovered by the French, but a piece of his airplane’s fabric fusilage was recovered, and appears in the exhibition. McConnell was the last American of the famed Lafayette Escadrille to die in combat before the United States entered the war on April 6 of that year.He was the first of sixty-four men from the University of Virginia to give their lives in World War I.

The exhibition features artifacts from McConnell’s time in the ambulance corps and the flying corps, as well as a section on monuments and memorials to his and UVA’s service to the French cause. The exhibition will be on view from until May 30th.

One of the two galleries of materials on display.

 

 

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Patron’s Choice: Letters from Liberia and American Postal Policy

This week we are pleased to feature a guest post by Christy Pottroff, who was in residence at the library last year as a Lillian Gary Taylor Visiting Fellow in American Literature, Mary and David Harrison Institute. Christy is an Andrew W. Mellon Dissertation Fellow in Early Material Texts at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. candidate in English at Fordham University. Her dissertation is entitled “Citizen Technologies: The U.S. Post Office and the Transformation of Early American Literature.” Thanks so much to Christy for sharing with us her experience studying in our marvelous collections of letters from Liberia.

In 1833, Peyton Skipwith and his family set foot on African soil for the first time. After enduring decades of slavery in the United States, the Skipwith family was eager to start a new life in Liberia. But, after a harrowing fifty-six day journey across the Atlantic Ocean, they soon discovered the conditions were much more difficult than they had been led to believe. The Skipwiths endured disease, harsh climate, inadequate supplies, and conflict with local African tribes–experiences chronicled in a small collection of letters held at the University of Virginia Special Collection Library. These letters, addressed to the Skipwiths’ former owner General John H. Cocke, are at times relentlessly hopeful and at other moments filled with despair. This dissonance between hope and despair is in many ways representative of Liberian Colonization.

[Life Membership Certificate for American Colonization Society], ca. 1840. Certificate. American Colonization Society Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

In the first half of the nineteenth century, progressive Southern slaveholders founded the American Colonization Society to promote the resettlement of free-born and formerly enslaved African Americans to West Africa. This strategy emerged, largely, because white reformers could not imagine the viability of a racially diverse society post-slavery. Most African Americans, however, did not support the colonization plan. The United States was their home and they wanted to work toward justice rather than emigrate. Despite the controversy, the American Colonization Society began sending African Americans to West Africa in 1822 where they established Liberia. By 1867, over 13,000 free African Americans, including the Skipwiths, had emigrated to Liberia through the American Colonization Society.

Each new Liberian had deep roots in the United States; many left behind friends and family they would never see again. And yet, despite the strong ties between Liberia and the United States, very few letters passed between the two countries. The Skipwith letters housed at the University of Virginia Special Collections Library are special indeed.

Letter from Peyton Skipwith in Monrovia, June 25th 1846. Cocke Family Papers (MSS 640). Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. Topics covered in the portion shown here are his wish for more farming knowledge and  for books other than the Bible, which is widely available.

The dearth of letters between Liberia and the United States is curious. In the middle decades of the nineteenth century, the United States postal system delivered more letters than ever before, and an increasing number of those letters were from countries across the globe. The U.S. Post Office Department facilitated international mail by entering into bilateral postal treaties that guaranteed easy and inexpensive communication and commerce beyond the nation’s borders. In 1851, the United States maintained postal treaties with every country in Europe. The Postmaster General was proud to report new treaties with Algeria, Hong Kong, St. Kitts and Nevis, Beirut, and many more.

The United States did not enter a postal treaty with Liberia until 1879 (when Liberia was admitted to the newly established Universal Postal Union). Despite the special relationship between the two countries in the first half of the nineteenth century, there was no standardized way to send a letter between them. Liberia did have a rudimentary postal system, though its origins and development are difficult to track. In the 1850s, the Liberian government entered into postal treaties with Great Britain, France, and Germany. It was through these roundabout channels that the existing Liberian letters to the United States traveled. As a contemporary American Colonization Society member writes:

Great Britain…sends a weekly line of steamers to the Western Coast of Africa, which touch at Liberia. In fact, by a postal treaty, the mails between Liberia and America go by these steamers, and then by the British steamships between England and the United States!

This roundabout mail channel between the U.S. and Liberia meant that letters were twice as expensive (as they needed postage in two different postal systems) and were at much greater risk for delay, loss, or misdelivery.

Advertisement for mail transport in The New York Herald, November 12, 1844. (Source: Readex Early American Newspapers Database. Accessed: October 23, 2016)

For Peyton Skipwith and his family, the absence of a postal treaty had great consequences. They left behind their homeland, friends, and family–and had no reliable way to communicate with loved ones left behind. One of the most striking things about the Skipwith family letters is the frequent reference to lapses in communication. In an 1835 letter, Peyton writes “This is the third letter that I have wrote to you and have received no answer.” And a year later, he expresses frustration because “I write by almost every opportunity but cannot tell how it comes to pass that only two of my letters have been received.” Later, in 1839, he writes “Reverend Colin Teague should have brought [your letter] to me but he did not reach his home but died…which was a great disappointment to me…I am always anxious to hear from you all.”

Top:  Letter from Peyton Skipwith to John Hartwell Cocke, June 25, 1846. John Hartwell Cocke Papers 1725-1949 ( MSS 640, etc. Box 117).  Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.
Center: Letter from Switzerland, via France, to U.S. Schaefer Collection. (Source: Frajola Philatelist. Accessed: October 23, 2016. http://www.rfrajola.com/sale/RFSaleP6.htm)
Bottom: Letter from Judy Hardon to Howell Lewis, Dr. James H. Minor, and Frank Nelson, February 27 1858. Letters From Former Slaves of James Hunter Terrell Settled in Liberia. 1857-1866 (MSS 10460, 10460-a). Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.

The absence of any American-Liberian postal treaty is perplexing. Both countries had entered into other postal treaties during the period, and the United States was sending mail steamers across much greater distances for postal purposes. This unsettled postal state was most likely the result of an ideological problem.

The same rationale for sending free African Americans to Liberia likely permeated into contemporary international postal policy. Free people of color were thought to threaten the stability of slave society, and their proximity to enslaved Americans was considered dangerous. A single letter cannot collapse geographical distance, but it can do a great deal to shrink ideological distances. With a postal treaty, new Liberians would have had the freedom to send letters to free and enslaved friends and family members in the United States. They could have shared ideas, money, or other resources with privacy, dispatch, and ease. The thought of regular correspondence between free and enslaved African Americans is very likely what kept the United States Post Office Department from opening up any reliable public channel of communication to and from Liberia.

The absence of an American-Liberian postal treaty did not solve a real problem; the likelihood of conspiratorial international communication between African Americans was quite slim. Instead, the treaty’s absence created countless problems for the Skipwiths and their fellow Liberian emigrants. Peyton, for example, tried in vain to send a letter to his brother George before his death. Another Americo-Liberian, William Douglass, desperately sought $50 that had been lost in transit between Liberia and the United States (worth over $1,300 in today’s currency). Without a reliable international postal treaty these instances of lost letters and impossible communication were dishearteningly common. In light of these institutional barriers, that these letters from Liberia ever arrived at the University of Virginia Special Collections Library is itself a small miracle.

 

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On View Now: “Jorge Luis Borges: Author, Editor, Promulgator”

We are pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition in the First Floor Gallery, curated by Nora Benedict, a student assistant in Special Collections. Nora is a PhD Candidate in Spanish-American Literature and Analytical Bibilography, and has recently defended her dissertation on Jorge Luis Borges. Nora’s work concerns Borges’s publishing history, and we were thrilled to have her curate an exhibition on many of the items she studied while researching in our deep Borges holdings. Here are just a few images of the exhibition to tempt you. Also, keep an eye out for an upcoming in-depth post by the curator herself.

 

Nora (in red sweater) tours a Spanish class through her exhibition on opening day–entirely in Spanish. [Blogger’s note: it’s hard enough to do an exhibition tour in your mother tongue. We were suitably impressed!]

The exhibition runs through July 7, 2017. Come on by and take a look!

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Staff feature: On curating “Faulkner: Life and Works”

This week we feature a guest post from George Riser, special collections staff member and one of the curators of our current exhibition, “Faulkner: Life and Works.” George was responsible for the “Works” portion of the show, and we asked him if he would reflect on the experience.

Last spring, I was asked to participate in the upcoming exhibition, Faulkner: Life and Works, and I accepted with enthusiasm and some trepidation. For I knew Faulkner’s reputation as one of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century would mean that he is as well one of the most scrutinized. I was charged with displaying the nine holograph manuscripts of Faulkner’s novels the University of Virginia Library holds, as well as dedicating exhibition cases to poetry, to short stories, and an array of ancillary materials — letters, drawings, early drafts, and commentary that relate to each novel, story, or poem displayed. And there was an incredible wealth of material from which to choose at the University of Virginia Special Collections — “an obscenity of riches,” as former curator Joan Crane once noted.

On display in George’s section of the exhibition: Faulkner’s list of acquaintances who might be interested in “The Sound and the Fury” (MSS 6271).

While working on the label text for these works, I thought about the affinity I felt for these stories and novels, and for the hundreds of characters that populate Mr. Faulkner’s fictional county of Yoknapatawpha and his town of Jefferson. And I knew that part of the appeal for me came from a familial connection to the geography and the people of Faulkner’s Mississippi.

My grandfather, Conrad McRae, was born in 1897, the same year as William Faulkner, and grew up in Brandon Mississippi, about two hours south of Faulkner’s hometown of Oxford. They both had connections to the railroads — my grandfather as a ticket agent and conductor, Faulkner through his paternal great-grandfather, who started one of the first railroad lines in Mississippi. I have imagined Faulkner riding the train to, say Clarksdale, my grandfather taking his ticket as he strolled down the aisle, and I’ve wondered if they might have passed each other on the back streets of Memphis on their way to seek out bootleg whiskey during the dry Prohibition era.

My grandfather’s people, the McRaes, came to Mississippi in a wave of nineteenth-century Scotch-Irish immigrants, the same as Faulkner’s McCaslins and MacCallums, and it was no stretch to see members of my extended family fitting quite snugly within the pages of any number of his stories, poems, and novels. As I was growing up, we spent three weeks each summer in Mississippi, and I got to know many of my “Faulkner” relatives — my mother’s Uncle Dick in his falling-down shack back in the remote pine forests east of Jackson, or Uncle Cap, the wall-eyed bachelor who raised goats and lived with his sister, Maggie, who kept a few cows and a henhouse full of laying hens, (a few who had taken up residence on her back porch). And there were many others, as my extended family included a number of would-be Compsons and Snopes, Sartorises and Bundrens, and I sometimes wondered if I too, though now far-flung, might still be considered a Faulkner descendant. And then the realization — we all are.

The romantically torn first page of the manuscript for “A Rose for Emily” (MSS 6074).

“Faulkner: Life and Works” runs through July 7 in the Harrison-Small main gallery. To learn more please visit https://faulkner2017.lib.virginia.edu/

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John O’Brien’s Literature Incorporated Wins the Louis Gottschalk Prize

It is one thing to write a book. It is quite another for that book to receive widespread acclaim from one’s peers, as is the case with Literature Incorporated: The Cultural Unconscious of the Business Corporation, 1650-1850, the most recent work by John O’Brien, NEH Daniels Distinguished Teaching Professor in U.Va.’s Department of English. Literature Incorporated has been awarded the Louis Gottschalk Prize, presented annually “for an outstanding historical or critical study on the eighteenth century” by the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies.

One need not be aware of the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United or of Mitt Romney’s statement that “corporations are people” to benefit from a close reading of Literature Incorporated. Its subject is the corporation, “an abstraction that gathers up a long history of institutions and practices as varied as city governance, guild organization, state-sponsored colonial exploration, money lending, insurance, slave trading and university funding.”  Its method is to trace the trope of incorporation in a wide range of Anglo-American texts, including “economic tracts, legal cases, poems, plays, essays, novels, and short stories.” And its goal “is to discover some of the ways in which language has ‘repeated’ the influence of the corporation to us, given it form in our imaginations.”

The U.Va. Library is proud to have earned a place in the book’s Acknowledgements. Indeed, most of the works discussed in Literature Incorporated (and many more that inform and amplify its arguments) can be found in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. Here is a modest selection, which we invite you to come explore in more depth.

King as corporation, comprised of the bodies of his subjects. Detail from the engraved title page to Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (London, 1651). (E 1651 .H658; Tracy W. McGregor Library of English Literature)

Literature Incorporated begins with Thomas Hobbes’ work of political theory, Leviathan (1651). Its famous engraved title page “offers an image of incorporation, of the people of a realm incorporated into the sovereign.” Although Hobbes viewed private corporations as potential rivals to government, O’Brien shows how Alexander Hamilton and John Marshall, among others, appropriated Hobbes’ language in support of corporations.

The Carolina Company’s vision for its American colony, drafted in large part by John Locke. The Two Charters Granted by King Charles IId to the Proprietors of Carolina (London, 1698). (A 1698 .G746; Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History)

Among the earliest English corporations were entities such as the Carolina Company, chartered by the sovereign to promote colonial settlement and trade. The philosopher John Locke was instrumental in developing the English mercantilist system, and O’Brien traces Locke’s crucial role in drafting the company’s Fundamental Constitutions (1669; final edition 1698), in which the Carolina proprietors envisioned the society they hoped to establish in the New World. Indeed, Locke’s empiricist philosophy permeates the document.

Frontispiece and title page to an early edition of Richard Steele’s The Conscious Lovers (London, 1735). (PR3704 .C66 1735)

Another such company, the South Sea Company, was at the heart of one of the greatest financial bubbles of all time, the South Sea Bubble of 1720. The speculative frenzy and resulting financial crash can be traced in many contemporary literary works, such as Sir Richard Steele’s play, The Conscious Lovers (1720). To the familiar plot lines of marriage and mistaken identity Steele added innovative complications concerning property rights. Steele also found himself accused publicly, through his involvement with the Drury Lane Company, of creating a theatrical equivalent of the South Sea Bubble to unfairly inflate the play’s ticket prices.

Tobias Smollett on why a novel needs a “principal personage,” from The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom (London, 1753). (PR33694 .F54 1753 v.1)

The 18th century also saw the rise of insurance companies, which offered protection from risk and the fickle winds of divine providence. O’Brien demonstrates how contemporary English fiction’s “well-known investigations of risk and reward look different when they are read in the context of insurance history.” A perfect example is Tobias Smollett’s Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (1751), in which the plot is driven by Peregrine’s involvement with two different insurance policies. O’Brien also invokes Smollett’s famous statement, in the preface to The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom (1753), that a novel requires “a principal personage to attract the attention, unite the incidents, unwind the clue of the labyrinth, and at last close the scene by virtue of his own importance.” In O’Brien’s words, the protagonist of a novel “resembles the corporation itself, a prosthetic person who helps bring the broader organization of a specific kind of economic activity into representation.”

Frontispiece to The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (London, 1789). (CT2750 .E7 1789; Gift of Mrs. Emily D. Kornfeld)

During the late 18th century, the London Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade waged a successful abolitionist campaign. O’Brien traces how “the society became a corporate voice that found itself emulating the very entities that it sought to attack,” for example, through its frequent use of an emblem featuring a supplicatory slave on bended knee. However, one key abolitionist publication—The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (1789)—deliberately separated itself in form and content from this corporate voice, instead establishing itself “as a kind of corporate representative [of] ‘the African.’”

Beginning of Edgar Allan Poe’s story, The Gold-Bug, which leads off his Tales (New York, 1845). (PS2612 .A1 1845 copy 3; Gift of D. N. Davidson)

Literature Incorporated concludes with a discussion of Anglo-American literary responses to the fiscal and banking crises of the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s. In particular, O’Brien offers a close reading of The Gold-Bug, the lead-off story in Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales (1845) and his most popular with contemporaries.

And to wrap up: hold the date! Another recent recipient of the Louis Gottschalk Prize—David Hancock, Professor of History at the University of Michigan—will deliver this year’s Thomas Jefferson Foundation Lecture on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. His talk, “The Man of Twists and Turns: Personality, Portrait & Power in the Re-Shaping of Empire,” concerns the 2nd Earl of Shelburne, the British prime minister who helped negotiate an end to the American Revolution. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and the U.Va. Library.

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Collaborative Curation: Cori Field on Student Exhibitions

This week, we are pleased to feature a guest post by Cori Field of the Women, Gender & Sexuality Program. Cori is an exceptional colleague who really “gets” what an exhibition can do for her students. We are so lucky to have worked with her on the exhibition described below.

The “Sounds and Silences of Black Girlhood” exhibition resulted from a remarkable collaboration between undergraduates in the Women, Gender & Sexuality Program and Library staff. Finding archival sources by and about black girls is difficult even for professional historians because most collections are organized around the concerns of white adults. Undaunted, UVA students eagerly stepped up to the challenge. With the help of Molly Schwartzburg, Holly Robertson, and Erin Pappas, they identified a wide range of materials in Special Collections related to the global history of black girlhood, researched the significance of those items, and designed a compelling exhibit focused around the core themes of identity, resistance, and voice. In addition to curating the exhibit, they wrote longer articles about each item.

A screenshot of the blog that accompanies the exhibition. We encourage visitors to check it out to see the students’ hard work.

 

The key to this project was advanced planning. When I first decided to teach an advanced undergraduate seminar on the “Global History of Black Girlhood,” I met with Molly Schwartzburg to ask if it would be possible to produce a public history project from materials in Special Collections. Molly eagerly embraced the idea, volunteered her time, and most importantly, advised me on how to structure assignments so that students could complete the separate components of an exhibit on time. This early consultation enabled me to write an effective syllabus structured around the final project.

Because WGS is an interdisciplinary program, I knew most students in the seminar would not be historians and would likely be unfamiliar with archival research. To further complicate matters, sources on black girls are often hidden in larger collections and difficult to locate. It was therefore essential to provide students with some preliminary guide to relevant sources. The best resource was the expertise of Molly, Edward Gaynor, and other staff who pointed to numerous collections with promising material. Over the summer, Angel Nash, a Ph.D. student in the Curry School, worked with Edward and Molly to identify more sources and construct a bibliography of archival holdings at UVA related to black girlhood. By handing out this bibliography on the first day of class, I was able to give students the information they needed to hit the ground running.

Molly then met with class to discuss strategies for locating other types of sources. This became a history lesson in itself as students discussed the changing language of race and the complications of searching for people categorized variously as African, Negro, colored, African American, or black. Molly helped students to think about how different types of sources—for example, eighteenth-century travelogues, nineteenth-century wills, or early twentieth-century photographs—might prompt different types of research questions. Finally, she helped students figure out how to pursue their own interests by studying the past.

The best part came next as students went into Special Collections. Within two weeks, everyone in the class had identified a primary source that interested them and developed a plan for further research. The range of sources was amazing. For example, Nodjimadji Stringfellow found a 1820 memoir by a British official stationed on the Gold Coast. Dhanya Chittaranjan located a deed from a planter who presented his young granddaughter with the gift of an enslaved girl—”Martha Jane about six years old.” Diana Wilson, Emma McCallie, and Ivory Ibuaka all picked very different photographs from the Jackson Davis Collection. Lucas Dvorscak focused on a 1972 children’s book that retold the story of Alice in Wonderland with a black protagonist.  Samantha Josey-Borden found an original edition of Ntozake Shange, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf. Other students found sources exploring black girls’ labor; resistance to sexual violence; creativity; and political organizing.

Some of the curators of the exhibition at the opening celebration with their instructor, Cori Field (far right).

The next challenge was to combine these materials into a coherent exhibit. Once again, Molly provided guidance, encouraging students to begin with the exhibition space. We went to the exhibition hall, looked at the cases, and talked about how different items might fit. We then returned to the seminar room and discussed organizational strategies. Students quickly rejected a geographical or chronological approach and decided to organize the exhibit around key themes—but what themes? Together, students brainstormed ideas, eliminated some, voted for others and grouped their items into three broad categories of identity, resistance, and voice. They also thought about the physical properties of the items themselves and came up with the idea of enlarging two particularly striking images and hanging these on the wall as the entry to the exhibit.

Two of the three exhibition cases that make up the exhibition.

The next challenge was locating secondary sources that would provide some historical context for every student. The subjet liaison for WGS, Erin Pappas, consulted with the whole class and then worked with individual students facing particularly difficult challenges. Some students who initially thought they couldn’t find any relevant information experienced the thrill of locating material, as when Erin helped Emily Breeding find information about the Lynchburg NAACP at Emory University. A quick call to Emory produced the information Emily needed for her article.

Condensing all of the information students had found into succinct labels was the greatest challenge of the course. Students were shocked to realize how little can be said in 150 words. Through multiple drafts, rigorous peer editing, and feedback from Molly and Holly, students all succeeded in crafting labels that draw the viewer in to the exhibit without providing too much detail. Writing longer articles enabled students to develop their insights in more detail for the accompanying blog.

Throughout this course, the students worked incredibly hard both on their own projects and on their thoughtful contributions to the collective project. I have never seen undergraduates edit each other’s work with such care and insight. The knowledge that this work mattered, that the exhibit would be available to the general public and visiting scholars, inspired a level of commitment and mutual support that is truly rare—in undergraduate seminars and in workplaces more generally. The students learned important skills in managing a complex project, working with others, and contributing to a shared product. At moments, they got incredibly frustrated, but then pulled together and took the project to a higher level. It was a true joy to be involved in this project.

Visitors interact with the blog on an iPad and peruse the artifacts on display during the exhibition opening party.

“The Sounds and Silences of Black Girlhood” will be on view in the first floor gallery at the Harrison-Small building through March 24, 2017.

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MLK Day Special: Black Girlhood Exhibition is now open!

We are so pleased to announce that our latest mini-exhibition, The Sounds and Silences of Black Girlhood, is now open. This exhibition was coordinated by Cori Field and curated by her students in her class last fall, “Women and Gender Studies 4559: A Global History of Black Girlhood.” It was a real pleasure working with these talented and driven students.

This exhibition is associated with two events that are open to all:

  • Final Friday Exhibition Opening, hosted by the students!: Friday, January 27, 2017, Harrison Small First Floor Gallery
  • The Global Black Girlhood Conference, which is taking place in the Harrison Small Auditorium March 17-18. Details at the conference website.

Below are some tantalizing images of the exhibition. Come by the gallery and check it out! The exhibition runs through March 24.

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Researching William Butler Yeats in Special Collections

(Note: This is the second of three posts by students enrolled this past Fall in ENNC 3240: Professor Andrew Stauffer’s course in Victorian Poetry. The three students–Heather Jorgenson [read her post here], Ann Nicholson, and Eva Alvarado–elected to participate in a U.Va. Library “Libratory.” Originally proposed by the University Library Committee, and coordinated by Chris Ruotolo, Director of Arts and Humanities for the U.Va. Library, a Libratory is a one-credit library lab attached to selected courses each academic term. Participating students work with their professor and a librarian to undertake a course-related research project involving extensive use of library materials. Heather, Ann, and Eva spent considerable time in Special Collections studying books and manuscripts by a Victorian poet of their choosing. Then each prepared a 20-minute class presentation accompanied by a special exhibition of selected Special Collections materials. They have kindly agreed to share their experiences here. In this post, Ann Nicholson discusses her work on William Butler Yeats.)

As a supplement to Professor Stauffer’s Victorian Poetry class, I had the opportunity to work in the Special Collections Library, where I conducted research on William Butler Yeats, one of the poets that we discussed in class.

My first approach to exploring Special Collections was to look for differences between the “Irish Yeats” and the “English Yeats,” for he moved back and forth between England and Ireland throughout his life. Yeats was born in Sandymount, Ireland on June 13, 1865, and he was proud of his Irish heritage, which is reflected in his early writings, such as The King’s Threshold (1904), a play written for the Abbey Theater in Dublin. Although this play was both published and performed in Ireland, the two editions found in Special Collections were not published in Dublin, but rather by the Macmillan Company in New York and London—showing Yeats’ ability to reach a wider audience beyond simply the people of Ireland.

Front cover of William Butler Yeats, The Tower (London: Macmillan, 1928) (PR5904 .T6 1928)

Front cover of William Butler Yeats, The Tower (London: Macmillan, 1928) (PR5904 .T6 1928)

Another work published by Macmillan and found in Special Collections is The Tower, Yeats’ first major collection as a Nobel Laureate after receiving the Nobel Prize in 1923. The title refers to the Thoor Ballylee, a Norman Tower that Yeats purchased and restored in 1917, and where he spent his summers until 1928. Thomas Sturge Moore, an English poet, artist, and long-term friend and correspondent of Yeats, created the cover design. On the light green cloth cover there is a gold woodcut-style image that portrays Thoor Ballylee and its reflection in the water.

A typical Cuala Press title page. (PR5904 .W5 1917)

A typical Cuala Press title page. (PR5904 .W5 1917)

Characteristic Cuala Press typography: a page from W. B. Yeats, The Wild Swans at Coole (Churchtown: Cuala Press, 1917) (PR5904 .W5 1917)

Characteristic Cuala Press typography: a page from W. B. Yeats, The Wild Swans at Coole (Churchtown: Cuala Press, 1917) (PR5904 .W5 1917)

I was particularly interested in finding books published by the Cuala Press, the printing press founded and operated by Yeats’ sister Elizabeth in Dublin. The books printed by the Cuala Press are distinguished by their uniform specifications, such as Caslon Old Face 14-point size font, 22-centimeter height, and blue-grey Ingres paper for the binding. Another characteristic of these books is the use of red ink, such as for the unicorn device found in The Wild Swans at Coole (1917) in Special Collections. This image of a sleeping unicorn was drawn by Robert Gregory, an Irish artist. Another image of a unicorn can be found in Last Poems and Two Plays (1939). An exception to these specifications is On the Boiler (1939), which is a political essay written by Yeats and printed commercially in Dublin by Alex Thom and Co., Ltd. for the Cuala Press. There is a drawing by Jack B. Yeats on the front cover.

An image of a sleeping unicorn, drawn by Robert Gregory, appearing in W. B. Yeats, The Wild Swans at Coole (Churchtown: Cuala Press, 1917) (PR5904 .W5 1917)

An image of a sleeping unicorn, drawn by Robert Gregory, appearing in W. B. Yeats, The Wild Swans at Coole (Churchtown: Cuala Press, 1917) (PR5904 .W5 1917)

Another unicorn image, from W. B. Yeats, Last Poems and Two Plays (Dublin: Cuala Press, 1939) (PR5900 .A3 1939)

Another unicorn image, from W. B. Yeats, Last Poems and Two Plays (Dublin: Cuala Press, 1939) (PR5900 .A3 1939)

Front cover of W. B. Yeats, On the Boiler (Dublin: Cuala Press, 1939) (PR5904 .O6 1939)

Front cover of W. B. Yeats, On the Boiler (Dublin: Cuala Press, 1939) (PR5904 .O6 1939)

One of Yeats’ poems that we had discussed in class was “When You Are Old,” and so, I was also hoping to find books in Special Collections that contained this poem. In addition to finding it in multiple sources, including The Macmillan Company’s Poems (1895) and T. Fisher Unwin’s Early Poems and Stories (1925), I discovered that Special Collections also has an autograph manuscript. I also noticed discrepancies between the different publications of the poem, which sparked another area for me to explore.

A manuscript of the poem "When You Are Old," written and signed by William Butler Yeats sometime during the 1930s, per the printed address. (MSS 4243)

A manuscript of the poem “When You Are Old,” written and signed by William Butler Yeats sometime during the 1930s, per the printed address. (MSS 4243)

Yeats wrote the poem “When You Are Old” following the rejection of his marriage proposal by the beautiful actress Maud Gonne in 1891. The poem first appeared in The Countess Kathleen and Various Legends and Lyrics, which was published in 1892 by T. Fisher Unwin in London, and reprinted in 1893 by Roberts Bros. in Boston. In both publications the poem stands alone as an uncollected work. However, the lyrics were revised and collected under the title “The Rose” before the first edition of Yeats’ Poems was published 1895 by T. Fisher Unwin. Yeats again revised the poem for the 1899 edition of Poems. Poems was reprinted again in 1901, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1913, 1919, and 1920 with no revisions made to “When You Are Old.” In the prefaces to the 1912 and 1920 editions of Poems, Yeats writes that “he ha[s] not again retouched the lyric poems of my youth,” thus the 1901 text of the poem “When You are Old” became the standard version. This can be further confirmed in other publications of the poem, such as Macmillan and Co’s Early Poems and Stories (1925), which contains the same version of the poem.

Original version of the poem, "When You Are Old," as it appears in W. B. Yeats, Poems (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1895) (PR5900 .A3 1895)

Original version of the poem, “When You Are Old,” as it appears in W. B. Yeats, Poems (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1895) (PR5900 .A3 1895)

The autograph manuscript in Special Collections of “When You Are Old” lacks a date, but it contains a telephone number in the top left corner and the address Riversdale, Willbrook, Rathfarnham, Dublin—the address of Yeats’ last Irish home that he signed the lease for in July 1932. He lived at this home with his wife, George, and two children Anne and Michael, and it was also the setting for his last meeting with Maud Gonne in the summer of 1938. In addition to Yeats’ home address being an indicator of time, letters written by Yeats on the same stationery can help confirm the date of the manuscript. For example, there is a manuscript currently located at the National Library of Ireland that is a 1935 correspondence between W.B. Yeats and Lennox Robinson. Furthermore, another factor used in determining the manuscript’s date is the text itself, for it is the standard version.

Revised version of the poem, "When You Are Old," as it appears in W. B. Yeats, Collected Works in Verse and Prose (Stratford-on-Avon: Shakespeare Head Press, 1908) (PR5900 .A3 1908 v.1). Note the changes in the last stanza.

Revised version of the poem, “When You Are Old,” as it appears in W. B. Yeats, Collected Works in Verse and Prose (Stratford-on-Avon: Shakespeare Head Press, 1908) (PR5900 .A3 1908 v.1). Note the changes to the last stanza; the same changes appear in the manuscript (shown above).

Above are images of the poem “When You Are Old” as it appears in Poems (1895), in The Collected Works in Verse and Prose (1908), and in the manuscript (post-1932).

― Ann Nicholson

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