Tomi Ungerer Retrospective at NYC’s Drawing Center

Tomi Ungerer, Untitled, 1961
Tomi Ungerer, Untitled, 1961 (drawing for The Three Robbers). Collage of cut paper, gouache, and marker on paper, 11 3/4 x 9 1/4 inches. Image courtesy of the Children’s Literature Research Collection, Free Library of Philadelphia.

Tomi Ungerer is one of those multi-talented artists who, while known to many, is never quite known for the same thing. To some, he is a graphic artist whose commercial art for newspapers and magazines in the 1950s-60s was fresh and thought-provoking, while others appreciate the erotic drawings that raised quite a stir upon publication. For most, however, Ungerer’s fame is greatest as a children’s book author-illustrator. In The Three Robbers (1961), Moon Man (1966), The Beast of Monsieur Racine (1971), and many others, he was chipping away at a new kind of children’s literature, something more imaginative and less conventional, that influenced the likes of Maurice Sendak and Shel Silverstein. “No one, I dare say, no one was as original. Tomi influenced everybody,” said Sendak. (more…)

Coffin of Miguel de Cervantes Possibly Found

Miguel de Cervantes, image credit Wikipedia

One of literature’s great burial mysteries may have been solved this past weekend when archaeologists searching for the remains of Miguel de Cervantes – the author of Don Quixote – uncovered a casket with the author’s initials.

The casket was discovered inside an alcove in the crypt at the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid.

“Remains of caskets were found, wood, rocks, some bone fragments, and indeed one of the fragments of a board of one of the caskets had the letters ‘M.C.’ formed in tacks,” said forensic anthropologist Francisco Etxeberria at a news conference on Monday. (more…)

Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest–

TSL_S_03-thumb-500x548-8011Since 1883, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island has set the standard for pirate tales, igniting a passion that has endured ever since. The morally ambiguous Long John Silver, the fearsome ship The Jolly Roger, even Davy Jones’s locker have entered our collective imaginations. The swashbuckling adventure was originally published with illustrations by N.C. Wyeth, and those images of bloodthirsty pirates seeking booty are forever intertwined with Stevenson’s story.

As iconic as those images are, The Folio Society felt it was time to give the book an update, and with an eye to exquisite craftsmanship and design, the London-based publishing house has just released a sumptuous collector’s edition of Treasure Island. Introduced by British children’s book author Michael Morpurgo, this version includes new illustrations by Virginia native Sterling Hundley. From his studio outside Richmond, Hundley spoke with me about the challenges of tackling a project where an illustrator’s work is so associated with a particular book. (more…)

100 Treasures of The Rare Book Reserve at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Catalog cover for Éloge de la rareté
Catalog cover for Éloge de la rareté: Cent trésors de la Réserve des livres

If anyone really needs an excuse to go to Paris, here’s one for you, bibliophiles: through January 31, The Bibliothèque Nationale de France is hosting an exhibition showcasing one hundred of its treasures. The world’s oldest national library is also one of the largest, with fourteen million items in its repository.  Designating the most exceptional would be Sisyphean. Instead, curator Jean-Marc Chatelain limited his scope to the 11,000 materials that entered the Rare Book Reserve between 1994 to 2014. (In 1995, the BnF opened its massive Mitterrand location in the 13th arrondissement with 248 miles of storage space, giving the acquisitions department room to feather the nest.) (more…)

Dominic Winter to Auction Previously Unknown C.S. Lewis Letter About Joy

  Dominic Winter Auctioneers in Gloucestershire will auction off a delightful, previously unknown C.S. Lewis letter about his interpretation of joy. The letter, discovered tucked into a used book, reveals the author’s view of the emotion: “…real joy… jumps under one’s ribs and makes one forget meals and keeps one (delightedly) sleepless o’nights.” The letter, addressed to an unidentified “Mrs Willis,” was written in August of 1945. The auctioneers have not been able to find out any further information about … Continued

The Tale of Beatrix Potter

The stories of Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter Rabbit are beloved worldwide, and their creator mined her own childhood experiences with wildlife as inspiration. Beatrix Potter lived in a typical upper-class family in London, where governesses attended to her schooling and she interacted little with her parents, both of whom were preoccupied with their own artistic talents and social groups. Her governesses recognized her talent early, and nurtured it. Soon the young girl was drawing her own illustrations for cherished … Continued

The Great Omar: The Jewel of Sangorski & Sutcliffe

Sangorski & Sutcliffe is an extremely well-known bookbinding firm. Founded in London in 1901, they are especially known for their sumptuous bindings. (You can learn more about Sangorski & Sutcliffe and see examples of their work in our gallery). The practice of binding books with exquisite jeweled bindings was popular in the Middle Ages, but Sangorski & Sutcliffe resurrected the craft. Their books were bound in intricately inlaid multicolored leather, and often set with real gold, jewels, and semi-precious stones. Their most famous work was The Great Omar … Continued

Einstein’s letter of support for Marie Curie

Marie Curie, 1903 Image credit, Wikipedia

“Simply don’t read that hogwash, but leave it for the reptile for whom it has been fabricated”

A number of Einstein’s correspondence is being translated into English and shared in both paperback  and online.

In Volume 8: The Berlin Years: Correspondence, 1914-1918 was found a note that Einstein sent to Marie Curie, encouraging her to ignore her detractors and continue her course.

By the time that this letter was sent to Marie Skłodowska Curie, she had already been awarded a Nobel prize in Physics, become the first female professor at the University of Paris, and then awarded a Nobel prize in Chemistry. Those accomplishments, however, were often overshadowed by a press fixated on her gender, religious views, and her nationality – these being the source of the slander and insult that Einstein addressed in his letter, which you can read below:

Herbals Outperform at German Auction

A two-day auction of rare books by the German firm Ketterer Kunst on Monday and Tuesday this week realized impressive prices for herbals. All the herbals on offer at auction sold above estimates, sometimes by significant amounts. (Images and more text) (more…)

First Folio Found in French Library

First Folio Shakespeare
[Image of First Folio Table of Contents from Wikipedia]
This week already saw the discovery of a famous lost Kerouac letter.  Now we can add a previously unknown First Folio to the tally.

Shakespeare’s First Folio – containing 36 of his 38 known plays and printed in 1623 – is one of the most valuable books in English literature. It’s also one of the most closely inventoried. Of the 800 copies thought to have been originally printed in the 17th century, 233 are believed to still exist today. And now we can add the 234th to the list.

This particular First Folio has lain dormant in the library of Saint-Omer, an obscure French town near Calais, for over two hundred years.

Medieval literature expert and librarian Rémy Cordonnier stumbled across the book while searching for items to use in a planned exhibition of Anglo-Saxon authors. (more…)