One of the best parts of older books, in my opinion, has always been the possibility of finding things wedged in between the pages: sometimes used as an impromptu bookmark, some stuffed there to hide, some shuffled in by accident. There’s just something a little bit magical about it. I was recently rearranging my bookshelves (alphabetically by author of course, which had fallen to disarray since our big move), when I happened across a call to arms from my best … Continued
Guyanese author E.R. Braithwaite has passed away at the venerable age of 104. Braithwaite is best known for his award-winning novel To Sir, With Love. This autobiographical tale tells of his time as a schoolteacher in the East End of London. The book was made into a film starring Sidney Poitier and the singer Lulu. His writings mostly dealt with the difficulties of being a black man with a classical education in a world full of discrimination. Braithwaite joined the … Continued
By Nate Pedersen Sir Edward Cazalet, the step-grandson of prolific British author P. G. Wodehouse, has loaned Wodehouse’s personal archive to the British Library. For the first time ever, the Wodehouse archive is now available for public viewing. Cazalet actively collected the Wodehouse material ever since PGW died in 1975. The archive spans over a century of material, from 1900 until 2005, and includes manuscript drafts and notebooks related to Wodehouse’s fiction and nonfiction. Also included are material related to … Continued
By Rebecca Rego Barry As literary artifacts go, this one evokes childlike delight: an ivory cup-and-ball toy that once belonged to Jane Austen is headed to auction at Sotheby’s London on December 13, where bids are expected in the £20,000-30,000 ($25,000-37,000) range. The game, also known as bilbocatch, was a popular pastime for the Austen family. As Jane herself wrote to her sister in October of 1808: “We do not want for amusement: bilbocatch, at which George is indefatigable; … Continued
By Barbara Basbanes Richter The mantra for major exhibitions of 2016 seems to be, “go big or go home:” there’s Boston’s Beyond Words multi-venue extravaganza, the Getty’s impressive Alchemy of Color installation, and in 2017, look to the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., which will showcase nearly one-hundred drawings, posters, paintings, and prints spanning the career of French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901). Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque is the first solo staging in the United States of Lautrec’s art … Continued
by Rebecca Rego Barry
Five months before John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, he penned a letter to J. D. Burch, the son of a Maryland innkeeper, regarding something he left behind with a stagecoach driver. Booth is cryptic about what exactly the item is, writing, “You know what I had to take from my carpet-bag. It’s not worth more than $15, but I will give him $20 rather than lose it, as it has saved my life two or three times.” (more…)
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It’s time for All Hallow’s Read again, that magical time of year when we give the gift of fright!
If you haven’t yet heard about it, All Hallow’s Read is a month-long celebration of the horror genre (for the adults) and spooky stories (for the kids). The idea is, whether it’s a beautifully-wrapped Stephen King novel to your spouse, a dog-eared copy of Frankenstein you abandon on a park bench with the inscription “Take Me!” on a Post-It Note, or anything in-between, that we all take the time to give each other scary books. (more…)
By Rebecca Rego Barry
An archive of approximately ninety letters written by Civil War solider John W. Grosh and by members of his family, has surfaced at a San Francisco auction house.
Grosh, a Pennsylvanian, enlisted in the Union Army in 1861 and died two years later while a prisoner of war in Virginia. As described by PBA Galleries, which will auction the lot of letters on October 20, the archive covers Grosh’s camp life in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Tennessee “with much detail on barracks life, the drudgery and disease, the food, vermin, and other afflictions, the money used by the troops, excursions into towns, with occasional action, and a few false alarms.”
Here is Grosh writing to his mother in 1862: “I suppose you have heard all about the great battle of ‘Chaplin Heights,’ and I need not therefore attempt a description. Well, I was in it and came out safe again, but 24 of our company were not so fortunate. One was killed on the spot and the rest wounded… We fought about 3 hours, the bullets whizzing past our ears faster than we could count them. We suffered much for want of water there was not a drop to be had, the rebels had it all in their possession. Our artillery had not as much as to swab the cannon and one of our gunners had both his hands blown off while loading…” (more…)