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Literature


Charles Dickens

The Mystery of Edwin Drood. London: Chapman and Hall, 1870. Bound with: Jackson, Henry. About Edwin Drood. Cambridge: At the University Press, 1911.
Gift of Charles M. Oliver and James Oliver

British novelist Charles Dickens (1812–1870) died of a stroke in June of 1870, leaving his final work The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870) unfinished and a true mystery, as Dickens left behind very little in the way of a potential ending. This first edition of Edwin Drood has been re-bound and “extra–illustrated,“ a practice in which a book was augmented with illustrations, manuscripts, and other documents intended to complement the text in the much the same way that conventionally printed illustrations would. This copy features twenty-three additional leaves of illustrated plates, including original water colors. An additional title page–itself a watercolor — has also been inserted, as have an autograph letter by the illustrator and a typescript by Robert Langdon on the novel. The result is a mass–produced book which has been rendered into an entirely unique edition. This volume is part of the library of book collector and bibliographer William A. Oliver, whose extensive collection includes works by and about Victorian authors such as Dickens and Thomas Love Peacock.

Robert A. Wilson

Bibliographer, collector, author, and bookseller Robert A. Wilson (b. 1922) was the proprietor of The Phoenix Book Shop, a renowned New York book shop and center of literary activity, particularly associated with writers of the Black Mountain School and the American Beat poets from 1962 until it closed in 1988. Wilson provided encouragement and support, both artistic and financial, to many of the authors who frequented his shop and with whom he formed lifelong friendships.

Phoenix Book Shop

Catalogue #4, circa 1950s
Gift of Andy McKay

An early catalog of the Phoenix Book Shop, prior to Robert Wilson’s acquisition of the store in 1962. According to Wilson’s memoir Seeing Shelley Plain, the previous owner Larry Wallrich’s first catalog began at number 50 “because [he] didn’t want to look like a beginner by calling it number 1” (Wilson 7).

Michael McClure

“Grahhr grooooooooooooor nyarr garhooooooosh rose.” Privately printed, 1963
Gift of Robert Wilson

Copies of this small broadsheet were given away by the author as tickets at American poet Michael McClure’s readings in San Francisco and at the University of California at Berkeley in 1963.


Marianne Moore

Letter to Robert Wilson, May 25, 1960
Gift of Robert Wilson

Wilson initially wrote to Moore in 1959 asking her to sign publications for him. In this letter, Moore playfully admonishes Wilson for paying the return postage to “save [her] time,” and includes a silver certificate and a stamp. The letter also discusses the June 1946 “Clowns, Elephants, and Ballerinas” issue of Dance Index and its effect on Moore.


Ezra Pound

A Draft of XVI Cantos of Ezra Pound: For the Beginning of a Poem of Some Length. Paris: Three Mountains Press, 1925. With publisher’s prospectus, [April 1924].
Gift of Robert A. Wilson

American expatriate poet Ezra Pound began writing his epic poem, the Cantos, in 1915. He continued writing and revising the Cantos throughout his life, with numerous publications of the work in progress. The edition on display, the 1925 Draft, was the first time that the Cantos were compiled into book form. The last of the Cantos were published in 1968, with the final edition amounting to 117 sections, although even this was never presented as a definitive edition. According to the publisher’s prospectus for this draft, Pound sought to create a “poem of epic length” which would represent “the whole consciousness of its time.” The Three Mountains Press edition of XVI Cantos was intended to present this work in a format which the publishers believed worthy of the text.

Ed Dorn

Letter to John Wieners, September 1958
Gift of Richard Gold

This letter from American poet Edward Dorn (1929–1999) to fellow Black Mountain writer John Wieners (1934–2002) demonstrates their close personal and literary friendship. Wieners struggled with substance abuse and mental anguish over the course of his life, which led to periods of institutionalization in 1959, 1969, and various times in the early 1970s. The letter from Dorn expresses his concern for Wieners’s wellbeing and financial situation, as well as Dorn’s trust in Wieners’s opinion of his work. On the verso of Dorn’s enclosure of “Report from Washington: March” is a handwritten draft of a letter from Wieners to “Charles” [likely American poet Charles Olson] in which he discusses his journal literary Measure.

Angus Wilson

English novelist and biographer Angus Wilson (1913–1991) began writing as a therapeutic remedy for a nervous breakdown he suffered toward the end of World War II, during which he worked as a code breaker. Wilson’s late debut into fiction was well received. His novels, including Hemlock and After (1952), Anglo Saxon Attitudes (1956), Late Call (1964), and As If By Magic (1973), are known for their satiric commentaries of post–World War II British society. Wilson produced an immense body of work that includes plays, biographies, and short stories.

Angus Wilson

Letter to Sandra Kent, February 20, 1969
Gift of Sandra Kent Harris

Sandra Kent Harris was an undergraduate at Leicester University when she wrote to Angus Wilson regarding her dissertation and the “wild garden” theme in his work. In his long reply, Wilson discusses characterization and English and European culture in his novel No Laughing Matter (1967).

Tony Garrett

Letters to Jay Halio, May 12 and 23, 1990
Gift of Jay Halio

Professor emeritus of the University of Delaware English department Jay Halio had established a working relationship and later a friendship with Angus Wilson in the early 1960s while working on a volume on the author, Angus Wilson (1964). Wilson was diagnosed with hydrocephalus in the 1980s, which led to a swift mental and physical decline, as well as financial difficulties for both Wilson and Garrett. This letter to Halio from Garrett, sent not long before Wilson’s death, thanks Halio for his efforts in organizing and contributing to a monetary fund to help support the couple during Wilson’s illness. Also shown is a copy of Halio’s application to friends and colleagues for donations.

Photograph of Angus Wilson and Tony Garrett, 1976
Gift of Jay Halio

Photograph of Angus Wilson and his partner Tony Garrett at the Angel Hotel in Suffolk.

Paul Bowles

American author, translator and composer Paul Bowles (1910–1999) had been introduced to classical music at an early age and composed his first “opera” at the age of nine. After Gertrude Stein advised Bowles to exclusively dedicate himself to music, he studied composition with American composter Aaron Copland (1900–1990), whom he also accompanied to the New York artist colony Yaddo, Paris, Berlin, and Tangier. Inspired by wife Jane Bowles’s literary success and her dedication to writing, Bowles began his own career as an author, eventually surpassing his already successful reputation as a composer. Bowles’s 1946 translation of Jean–Paul Sartre's Huis Clos, which he titled No Exit, remains the standard version for English language productions.

Phillip Ramey

Photographs of Paul Bowles and Morocco, 1997-1998
Gift of Owsley Brown III

American composer and writer Phillip Ramey (b. 1939), part–time resident of Morocco and Bowles’s longtime friend, served as musical advisor for the film.

Paul Bowles

Letter to Mrs. Ruth Baron Honsberger Poole, 3 April 1929
Gift of Kae Macdermid Andrew

Bowles wrote this letter while aboard the S. S. Ryndam to Mrs. Ruth Baron Honsberger Poole, a friend of Bowles’s grandparents, who provided Bowles with financial assistance for his first trip to Europe. At eighteen, Bowles travelled to Paris in hopes of becoming a poet after his publication in Eugene Jolas’s avant–garde journal transition. Bowles thanks Mrs. Poole for the opportunity to travel to Europe and records his observations of the weather and his fellow passengers.

Paul Bowles

“June Twelve Dirge.” Readies for Bob Brown’s Machine. Cagnes–sur–Mer: Roving Eye Press, 1931
Gift of Nancy Hoyt

Avant–garde author Robert Carlton Brown (1886–1959) published an essay in transition in 1930 advocating the invention of a reading machine that would make literature appealing to the new cinema–viewing public. Poets such as Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, and shown here, Paul Bowles, contributed pieces for Brown’s volume of experimental works for use on his machine, which never materialized.

Paul Bowles and Tennessee Williams

“Testa dell’Efebo“ and “San Sebastiano di Sodoma,” undated
Gift of Irene Herrmann

Until the publication of his The Sheltering Sky (1949), Bowles was probably better known for his music than for his writing, and even at the height of his fame as a writer he was still accepting commissions to compose for the theater. This composition book written in Bowles’s hand contains two works: “Testa dell’Efebo,” with lyrics by Williams with music by Bowles and “San Sebastiano di Sodoma.”

Owsley Brown III

Night Waltz promotional material, 1998 and undated
Gift of Owsley Brown III

American director Owsley Brown III (b. 1970) produced the award–winning film Night Waltz: the Music of Paul Bowles (1999), a documentary dedicated to the musical career of American composer and author Paul Bowles. The film presents the first documentary focused on Bowles’s music. The film was originally titled Odd Man Out, taken from Gore Vidal’s characterization of Bowles’s place in arts and letters; the change in title appears to have occurred in the late stages of production, as much promotional material was produced with the original title. Other promotional material includes a reproduction of Bowles’s postcard reply to Brown’s proposal to make the film.

Mohammed Mrabet

Two Friends and the Rain. Translated from the Moghrebi by Paul Bowles. Illustrated by Rick Therrio. Lettered by Rafael Nieves. Chicago: Screaming Brain Comix, [between 1993 and 1998]
Gift of Rick Therrio

Paul Bowles

al–Boostán: Kesas. Bilfidīr, al-Dār al-Baydā, al-Maghrib : Dār Tūbqāl lil-Nashr, 607/1992.
Gift of Francis Poole

Arabic translation of Bowles’s Short Stories: Selections. Signed by Bowles.

Paul Bowles

Two Poems. New York: Modern Editions Press, [1933]
Gift of Nancy Hoyt

This chapbook prints the poems “Watervariation” and “Message.” Two Poems is Bowles’s first published book.

Fleda Brown Jackson

The Devil’s Child manuscript pages, circa 1998–1999
Gift of Fleda Brown Jackson

American poet Fleda Brown Jackson (b. 1944) served as the poet laureate of Delaware from 2001–2007. Jackson holds professor emerita status at the University of Delaware where she taught for twenty-seven years and founded and served as the director of the Poets in the Schools Program for twelve years. The Devil’s Child (1999) is a long narrative poem that relates a women’s abusive childhood as part of a religious cult. Shown here is a page from a manuscript draft in which Jackson experiments with a variety of titles she considered for the work.

William DeWitt Snodgrass

Printed email to Jackson, 1998
Gift of Fleda Brown Jackson

Pulitzer Prize–winning American poet William DeWitt Snodgrass (1926–2009) wrote the introduction for The Devil’s Child. Here he offers his own insight into and criticism on Jackson’s poem.

Steven Leech

Wedgehorn Manifesto: A Cultural Treatise from the Underground. Newark, Delaware, 2008.
Gift of Steven Leech

Poet, publisher, and editor Steven Leech has been an active participant in the Delaware literary scene since the 1970s. Leech served as the editor of Dreamstreets magazine until the publication’s cessation in 2006. In Wedgehorn Manifesto, Leech champions the preservation of Delaware artistic and literary legacies within both local and larger, national contexts.

David Hudson

Poetry chapbooks, 1944, 1965, 1985
Gift of David Azartouz

Two–time Poet laureate of Delaware David Hudson (1917–2003) was an active participant in the art and poetry scene in Wilmington, Delaware. Hudson began writing poetry in the 1930s and found a forum for presenting it through the Wilmington Music and Poetry Society. A Wilmington native, Hudson championed local historic preservation and beautification projects. Hudson published a number of poetry books with works by himself and others under the imprint of the Wilmington poetry Society and Delaware Writers, Inc. Hudson also designed many of the chapbooks’ cover art.

Albert Halper

Letter to John E. Hart, May 11, 1973
Gift of John E. Hart

American writer Albert Halper (1904–1984) is best known for his fictional works based in his native Chicago. Upon his death, American Scholar editor Joseph Epstein claimed that “if there is such a thing as a Chicago point of view, Albert Halper had it in the best sense.” Halper’s first novel Union Square (1933) was a Literary Guild selection. This letter from Halper to Albion College professor John E. Hart, whose volume on Halper appeared in 1978, clarifies certain events in Halper’s life.

Kay Boyle

Letters to Dr. Helga Einsele, 1978, 1988
Gift of Nele Löw Beer, 2011

Award–winning American writer and political activist Kay Boyle (1902–1992) was a prominent member of the expatriate modernist circle of the 1920s and 1930s. Boyle’s later years are characterized by her extensive political activism. These two letters from Boyle to her close friend German criminologist and reformer Dr. Helga Einsele (1910–2005) document much of Boyle’s political activity. In this letter from 1978, Boyle reports her devastation at the assassination of her friend San Francisco mayor George Moscone by former San Francisco Supervisor Dan White (1946–1985), who also shot and killed fellow Supervisor and gay–rights activist Harvey Milk (1930–1978) shortly afterward. Boyle’s letters to Einsele demonstrate their close friendship that lasted nearly forty years, during which the two women shared their personal joys and losses, as well as encouragement and praise of one another’s professional work. In the second letter from 1988, Boyle asks Einsele to contribute to a special issue of Twentieth Century Literature devoted specifically to the author’s life and work.

Kay Boyle

Short Stories. Paris: Black Sun Press, 1929.
Gift of Colin Heathcote

Kay Boyle’s first book published under her own name, as printed by the Black Sun Press of Harry and Caresse Crosby in a limited edition of 165 copies. Boyle had met the Crosbys through Eugene Jolas, while living in Paris. This copy, inscribed by the author to Mel Edelstein, is from the M. Clark Chambers Collection, which Chambers assembled while researching and writing his bibliography of Boyle.

[Kay Boyle]; Gladys Milton (Palmer) Brooke, dayang muda of Sarawak

Relations & Complications: Being the Recollections of H.H. the Dayang Muda of Sarawak. London: John Lane, [1929].
Gift of Colin Heathcote

Relations & Complications was ghostwritten by Kay Boyle, an assignment which she accepted for want of any other employment. Her writing of the biography employed a significant amount of creative license: Boyle had to invent many episodes in order to make up for the gaps in the Dayang Muda’s memory. In this copy, Boyle has annotated the front endpapers with a detailed description of her role and methods in ghost writing this volume. Her note, dated March 23, 1990, is inscribed to her bibliographer, M. Clark Chambers.

W. H. Auden (Wystan Hugh)

Thank You, Fog: Last Poems. New York: Random House, 1974.
W. H. Auden letter to Reed Whittemore, 1972 May 15.
Gift of Doris Grumbach

The first edition of Auden’s final collection of poetry, published posthumously. Auden was in the process of assembling this collection at the time of his death. He had already finalized its title and dedication, but the selection of poems was still a work in progress. The publishers speculate that, had Auden lived longer, this volume would have grown to at least twice its current size. Laid in with this copy is a holograph letter from Auden.

Samuel Beckett

These association copies complement and build upon the University of Delaware Library’s extensive collection of Beckett items, which includes Sir Joseph Gold’s collection of over 3,000 books and other materials by and about Beckett, which he donated to the library in 1999.

Glückliche Tage: Und Andere Stücke. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1968.
Gift of Ruby Cohn.

Erika and Elmar Tophoven’s German translation of Beckett’s Happy days, and other plays. This copy is inscribed by the author to Ruby Cohn; Beckett has also inserted numerous manuscript corrections and marginal comments throughout the text.

Têtes–Mortes. Paris: Éditions de Minuit, [1967].
Gift of Ruby Cohn

This copy is inscribed by the author to Ruby Cohn. With it is a card bearing explanatory notes written in Beckett’s hand.

Elizabet Barrett Browning

Sonnets. Reading: [Not for publication], 1847 [i.e., London: Printed for Richard Clay and Sons, ca. 1886].
Gift of Bruce Garland

This edition claims to be the earliest printing of Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese that was circulated privately amongst friends prior to public release; however, it is actually a late nineteenth–century forgery invented by Thomas J. Wise, a respected bibliographer and collector who fabricated this and numerous other creative forgeries. His practice was to invent editions which claimed to be the first–ever printed editions of works by notable English authors. This claim made his forgeries all the more collectible, and it ensured that there were no genuine copies that his forgeries could be authenticated against. Their counterfeit nature went undetected until 1934 when the bibliographers John Carter and Graham Pollard proved that these forgeries had been printed using forms of paper and type that did not yet exist when the books were allegedly printed. This copy of the Sonnets was John Carter’s personal copy of the forgery. Bruce Garland’s collection of this and other Wise material complements and augments the University of Delaware Library’s existing collections on literary forgeries, the bulk of which was bequeathed by Dr. Frank W. Tober in 1995.

François Chrestien

Les Essais d’un Bobre Africain. Ile Maurice: Impr. de G. Deroullede & Co., 1831.
Gift of Robert D. Fleck

This volume is the second edition of this early work on Creole poetry; there are no known surviving copies of the first edition.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Christabel; Kubla Khan, a Vision; The Pains of Sleep. London: Printed for John Murray, by William Bulmer, and Co., 1816.
Gift of Donald Reiman

The first printed edition of these poems. “Christabel” was first begun in 1797 and was originally intended for publication in the author’s 1800 Lyrical Ballads. Coleridge instead struggled with the poem for years, expanding but never completing it. Even once published, it remained unfinished. Coleridge claimed that he composed “Kubla Khan” in its entirety during an opium dream. Awaking, he began to transcribe the poem but was distracted by a visitor who broke his concentration and allowed the memory of the dream to dissipate, leaving the poem forever unfinished as well.

James Joyce

Ulysses. Paris: Shakespeare & Company, 1930.
Gift of John Coffey

The 11th printing of Ulysses, and the last version issued by Ulysses’ original publisher, Shakespeare & Company, this was also the last printing to feature the blue and white paper covers which Joyce had personally designed for the book. Textually, each early edition of Ulysses is significant, as each printing corrected earlier typographical errors but also introduced additional mistakes. This copy belonged to the Irish poet and artist Brian Coffey (1905–1995), whose annotations are inscribed by hand throughout the text, as well as on two laid–in postcards. Coffey lived in Paris from 1930 to 1939 and, though not an intimate of Joyce’s circle, he was introduced to Joyce by Samuel Beckett late in the author’s life, in 1937.

John Updike

Speaker’s Millennium Lecture. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 2007
Gift of Thomas Duszak

The Speaker’s Millennium Lecture is an annual public event co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and the Speaker’s Office of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives. Past speakers have included Anna Quindlen, Studs Terkel, and Henry Louis Gates. American author and a native of Pennsylvania John Updike (1932–2009) presented the Millennium Lecture in 2007 on the legacy of President James Buchanan, the only Pennsylvanian to serve as President of the United States, and wrote a poem for the occasion which is also printed in this keepsake.

Korky Paul

The Pop–Up Book of Ghost Tales. San Diego, California: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991.
Gift of Nathaniel Puffer

W. B. (William Butler) Yeats

Poems. London: Unwin, 1895.
Gift of Mark Samuels Lasner

Yeats’ 1895 Poems presented revised and rewritten versions of many of the author’s early poems. According to his preface, the volume “contains all the writer cares to preserve out of previous volumes of verse.”

River City Re–Union postcard and photograph, 1987
Gift of Robert Wilson

Postcard written to Wilson with greetings from American poets Anne Waldman, Diane DiPrima, Ed Sanders, and Allen Ginsberg; American writers William S. Burroughs and Michael McClure; and Romanian-born American writer Andrei Codrescu during the River City Re-Union, the weeklong event held in honor of Burroughs in Lawrence, Kansas, in September 1987. The photograph shows American poet Robert Creeley, Waldman, Codrescu, Burroughs, Ginsberg, and first wife of Jack Kerouac, Edie Parker Kerouac.

Photograph of Alan Kaufman, 1993
Gift of Alan Kaufman

Photograph of Kaufman (right) reading a poem in an unknown location with author Alexander Laurence holding the microphone.

Marjorie Kanter

I Displace the Air as I Walk. Madrid: Ediciones La Espiral Escrita, 2004
Gift of Marjorie Kanter

Copy signed by the author.

Mark Harris

Letter to Martha Harris, May 31, 1951
Gift of Martha Harris

American author and educator Mark Harris’s (1922–2007) prolific literary career includes works of fiction and non–fiction, as well as journalistic pieces for such publications as The Negro Digest and Ebony. Harris may be best known for his fictional work, Bang the Drum Slowly (1956), the second volume in his trilogy devoted to the fictional baseball player, Henry Wiggen. Several of Harris’s novels have received critical acclaim, notably, Something about a Soldier (1957), Wake Up Stupid (1959), The Goy (1970), and Killing Everybody (1973). The University of Delaware’s collection of correspondence between Harris and his sister Martha (b. 1933) contains updates on family news, advice to Martha on publishing and writing, reflections on Mark’s career as writer and professor, and his shared diary entries through which the two siblings attempt to reconstruct childhood memories. In this 1951 letter, Harris poignantly–and humorously–writes to a seventeen–year–old Martha on systems of authority. Harris warns his younger sister against seeking out authorities for answers to her problems, for “the trouble with authorities is that they, too, are human.” Instead, he emphasizes the journey to gaining wisdom in life and the allowance to change one’s mind, assuring Martha that her confusion is merely a sign her mind is functioning.



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11/29/11

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