Special Collections Department
Louis Henry and Marguerite Cohn
Manuscript Collection Number: 100
Accessioned: Purchase, 1985
Extent: ca. 10.5 linear ft. (ca. 820 items)
Content: Correspondence, photographs, bookplates, art work, articles and ephemera.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: 1987-1989 by Timothy Murray and Anita A. Wellner.
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
Captain Cohn (known as Captain because of his service in the French Foreign Legion during World War I) began corresponding with Ernest Hemingway in the Spring of 1930. In his first letter to Hemingway, Cohn describes himself as a collector and introduces the idea of doing a bibliography of Hemingway's work. A definitive bibliography had been commissioned by Random House, with the stipulation that Hemingway write an introduction and sign copies of the work. The preface to Cohn's A Bibliography of the Works of Ernest Hemingway notes Hemingway's feelings about the idea: "Mr. Hemingway was opposed to the idea from its inception, but on realizing my determination to do the book, whether or no, he was most gracious in verifying data for me and in correcting certain errors of mine. His point of view is best expressed in the comment appearing on the frontispiece `Dear Captain Cohn, You may have this [a page of manuscript] for your book if you want it but truly, very truly, I think it all balls to publish bibliographies of living writers. E.H.' and the following from his letter to me accompanying it, `Please do not take the typewritten notation on the mss. personally. It was my opinion when you first wrote to me that you were doing a bibliography, it was my opinion when you asked if I would see you about it in N.Y., and it remains my considered opinion today. So I would like it recorded since otherwise I might seem to favour such a compilation. A bibliography may be of interest to you because you love books but I do not love them at all'" (pp. 10-11).
During 1930, in addition to compiling the Hemingway bibliography, Cohn married Marguerite Arnold and opened the House of Books bookshop. Marguerite Cohn became a partner in House of Books and her husband gave her his extensive Hemingway collection. She was to continue adding material to the collection after Cohn's death in 1953.
Through the combined efforts of Louis and Marguerite Cohn, the House of Books grew into one of the most important American bookstores specializing in modern first editions. Cohn also published a series of books entitled "The Crown Octavos" under the imprint of the House of Books. Number two of the series was Hemingway's God Rest You Merry Gentlemen published in a limited edition of 300 copies in mid-April of 1933, the first appearance of this short story. It was published, with some revisions, later in the same year in Winner Take Nothing. Cohn noted about its sale: "With all the banks in the United States closed, I sent out a press release to a few newspapers and announcements to a few book-stores and received over a thousand orders for an edition of 300 copies" (Avocations, 1 (January 1938), p. 353).
Cohn was also responsible for the facsimile publication of Hemingway's "Bastard Note" issued as a commemorative greeting in December of 1931. This facsimile of the proof sheet of the legal disclaimer to be included in the second printing of A Farewell to Arms (1929) was signed by Hemingway, with a humorous comment about using "bastard" rather than "illegitimate child" in the disclaimer.
Cohn attempted to publish one other Hemingway item. Twelve copies of Four Poems were to have been privately printed in August of 1930 to prevent them from being pirated. The poems ("The Age Demanded," The Earnest Liberal's Lament," "The Lay Poets With Footnotes," and "The Soul of Spain with McAlmon and Bird the Publishers") had originally appeared in the journal, Der Querschnitt. Four Poems was never published because it would have been denied copyright due to certain censored words that Hemingway had used in the poems. Only the manuscript and galley proofs survive and are part of the Cohn Collection. (See: Audre Hanneman, Ernest Hemingway: A Comprehensive Bibliography for notes about Cohn's publications of Hemingway material).
Cohn's interest in and collecting of Ernest Hemingway's writing continued until his death in 1953. As a bibliographer's collection, the material reflects Cohn's gathering of information about Hemingway and his writing. The manuscript collection includes Cohn's correspondence with Hemingway, as well as some of Hemingway's correspondence with Horace Liveright and Dr. Don Carlos Guffey. Substantial correspondence between Cohn and various publishers about Hemingway's publications is included, especially material relating to Cohn's A Bibliography of the Works of Ernest Hemingway. Also included in the collection are galley and page proofs of Hemingway stories and books (including galley proofs of The Old Man and the Sea). Numerous periodicals containing Hemingway's work or articles about Hemingway are present, as well as clippings and ephemera. In addition to the manuscript collection, Cohn's extensive Hemingway book collection is cataloged in the Special Collections printed materials collection.
Sources:Cohn, Louis Henry. A Bibliography of the Works of Ernest Hemingway (New York: Random House, 1931).
Hemingway, Ernest. "Bastard Note." ([New York: House of Books, 1931]).
Hemingway, Ernest. Four Poems. (New York: House of Books,). Never Published.
Hemingway, Ernest. God Rest You Merry Gentlemen. (New York: House of Books, 1933).
I. Correspondence, Photographs and Art Work 1. Ernest Hemingway to Louis Henry Cohn 2. Louis Henry Cohn to Ernest Hemingway 3. Louis Henry Cohn with publishers and booksellers 4. Ernest Hemingway with Boni & Liveright and others 5. Louis Henry Cohn with Dr. Don Carlos Guffey 6. Ernest Hemingway with Dr. Don Carlos Guffey 7. Ernest Hemingway with Arnold Gingrich 8. Correspondence to Louis Henry and/or Marguerite Cohn 9. Miscellaneous correspondence 10. Transcripts and photocopies of Ernest Hemingway letters 11. Louis Henry Cohn's bookplate 12. Photographs and art work concerning Ernest Hemingway II. Material relating to Cohn's A Bibliography of the Work of Ernest Hemingway (New York: Random House, 1931) III. Manuscripts and galleys of work by and about Ernest Hemingway IV. Periodicals containing Ernest Hemingway's work V. Periodicals containing articles on Hemingway or references to him VI. Periodicals containing articles concerning bibliographies of Hemingway's work VII. Clippings and tear sheets VIII. Miscellany Addenda: Cohn-Hemingway Register Addendum List of Photographs and Items in Folder 12
Series I. - III.: Correspondence, Photographs and Art Work; Material relating to Cohn's A Bibliography of the Work of Ernest Hemingway (New York: Random House, 1931); Manuscripts and galleys of work by and about Ernest Hemingway
Series IV - VII: Periodicals containing Ernest Hemingway's work; Periodicals containing articles on Hemingway or references to him; Periodicals containing articles concerning bibliographies of Hemingway's work; Clippings and tear sheets
Series VIII and Addenda: Miscellany; Cohn-Hemmingway Register Addendum, List of Photographs and Items in Folder 12
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