ABCs of Special Collections: N is for…

We are back again, and this time with the letter:

First letter

The letter “N,” taken from the signature of Anais Nin. ((PS3527 .I865W5 1942. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Image by Anne Causey))

N is for Nature

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s influential essay “Nature,” published in 1836, is the foundational document for the Transcendentalist Movement. In “Nature,” Emerson set forth his belief that God can be found in all aspects of nature, and that only by studying nature can man understand his relationship to the universe. The essay greatly influenced Henry David Thoreau, Branson Alcott, Margaret Fuller, Walt Whitman and many others.

Contributed by George Riser, Collections and Instruction Assistant.

Autographed engraving of Ralph Waldo Emerson (MSS 6248. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Image by Petrina Jackson)

Autographed engraving of Ralph Waldo Emerson (MSS 6248. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Image by Petrina Jackson)

Emerson's book Nature, 1836. (PS1613 .A1 1836. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Image by Petrina Jackson)

Emerson’s Nature, 1836. (PS1613 .A1 1836. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Image by Petrina Jackson)

Detail of the inscription from Emerson to his mother on the endpapers of Nature. (Image by Petrina Jackson)

The inscription from Emerson to his mother on the endpapers of Nature. (PS1613 .A1 1836. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Image by Petrina Jackson)

N is for Natural Bridge

In 1774, a 31-year-old Thomas Jefferson purchased 157 acres of property in Rockbridge County, Virginia from King George III for 20 shillings (approximately $40 today).  The natural rock formation became as popular as Niagara Falls to visitors from around the world as they stood marveling at the “bridge” twenty stories above them and peering into the caves, thirty-four stories below them.  Jefferson built a log cabin on the property, declaring Natural Bridge to be “the most Sublime of nature’s works.”

Contributed by Donna Stapley, Assistant to the Director

Table of contents of Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, 1785.  This copy belonged to the Marquis de Lafayette. (F230 .J4 1785. Photograph by Donna Stapley).

Table of contents of Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, 1785.  Natural Bridge falls under the topic, “Mountains.” This copy belonged to the Marquis de Lafayette. (F230 .J4 1785. Photograph by Donna Stapley).

 The description of the Natural Bridge in Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia starts on page ()


The first two pages of the description of Natural Bridge in Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia. (F230 .J4 1785. Photograph by Donna Stapley)

Page , of Notes on the State of Virginia, which ends the description of the Natural Bridge.

Page 40 of Notes on the State of Virginia, which ends the description of Natural Bridge. (F230 .J4 1785. Photograph by Donna Stapley)

Fanny Lecky Paxton's painting of the Natural Bridge, Virginia, 1893. (MSS 8251. Photograph by Donna Stapley).

Fanny Lecky Paxton’s painting of Natural Bridge, Virginia, 1893. (MSS 8251. Photograph by Donna Stapley).

N is for Nick of the Woods

Although educated as a physician, Robert Montgomery Bird pursued a literary career. In the 1830s, Bird wrote for the theatre, creating many of his plays expressly as vehicles for the actor Edwin Forrest. After a dispute with Forrest, Bird turned from playwriting to fiction; ironically, this move ensure his work a lasting place in the American theatrical tradition. In the novel Nick of the Woods; or, The Jibbenainosay, Bird conceived of an eighteenth-century Kentucky frontiersman who avenges the death of his family at the hands of the Indians. It was successfully adapted as a melodrama for the stage by Louisa H. Medina in 1838, and was produced widely for many decades. Other adaptations of this novel appeared on stage, such as one by George Washington Harley that survives in our collection in manuscript form.
Contributed by Margaret Hrabe, Reference Coordinator

(Taylor 1837 .B57 N5 v.1. Lillian G. Taylor American Bestsellers  Image by Petrina Jackson)

Nick of the Woods, or, The Jibbenainosay: a tale of Kentucky by  the author of “Calavar,” “The infidel,” 1837. (Taylor 1837 .B57 N5 v.1. Lillian G. Taylor Collection of American Bestsellers. Image by Petrina Jackson)

(Image by Petrina Jackson)

Title page of the corrected manuscript of George Washington Harley’s adaptation of Nick of the Woods; or, Kentucky in ’82., ca. 1838.  (MSS 7459-a. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Image by Petrina Jackson)

First page of Act 1, Scene 1 of

First page of Act 1, Scene 1 of George Washington Harley’s adaptation of Nick of the Woods; or, Kentucky in ’82., ca. 1838.  (MSS 7459-a. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Image by Petrina Jackson)

(Image by Petrina Jackson)

Nick of the Woods, a Drama in Three Acts by Miss . H. Medina.  New York: Samuel French, 1856.  (PS 1099 .B5 N5 1856. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Image by Petrina Jackson)

N is for Anais Nin (1903-1977)

Anais Nin is best known for her extensive life-long diaries  and her erotica (Delta of Venus, Little Birds). The daughter of two musicians, she lived a quintessentially Bohemian life in Paris and San Francisco. Married to two men at one time, she did not divorce the first husband until the IRS discovered her two identities.Nin materials appear in our extensive Henry Miller collections; the two had a well-known affair. In a 1958 letter held here, she asks famous Beat photographer Harry Redl to retake her picture because he’s not captured her “luminosity.” When publishers refused her book Winter of Artifice, she bought her own press and printed 500 copies in 1942.

Contribution by Anne Causey, Public Services Assistant

Photograph of Anais Nin on the cover of Realism and Reality (PS3527 .I865R3 1946. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Image by Anne Causey)

Photograph of Anais Nin on the cover of Realism and Reality, 1946. (PS3527 .I865R3 1946. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Image by Anne Causey)

Cover of the Diary of Anais Nin, vol. 6, 1966 (PS3527 .I865 Z5 1966. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Image by Anne Causey)

Cover of the Diary of Anais Nin, vol. 6, 1966 (PS3527 .I865 Z5 1966. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Image by Anne Causey)

Anais Nin's incription to Edward in her book The House of Incest. (PS3527 .I865H6 1936. Image by Anne Causey)

Anais Nin’s incription to novelist Edward Dahlberg in her book The House of Incest, 1936. (PS3527 .I865H6 1936. Image by Anne Causey)

Nin's self-published Winter of Artifice (PS3527 .I865W5 1942. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Image by Anne Causey)

Nin’s self-published volume, Winter of Artifice (PS3527 .I865W5 1942. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Image by Anne Causey)

We look forward to seeing you again in couple weeks when we feature the letter “O.”  Bye for now!

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