Author Archives: GLAMNA

Cameo Appearance

In 1860 George Eliot and George Henry Lewes visited Rome, Italy, where Eliot obtained an engraved shell cameo which she and Lewes had jeweller Cesare Tombini set in a gold mount of Etruscan design.  In his diary for April 18th, 1860 Lewes describes purchasing the brooch: “Bought a Bacchante for a brooch, and two little heads (an Ariadne and Thebe) as shirt studs.  [ . . . ] The Bacchante we took to a goldsmith and there chose an Etruscan mounting.”

The brooch was passed down to Lewes’s son, Charles Lee Lewes, who gave the brooch to Georgiana Burne-Jones.

The brooch, which is now at the Beinecke Library, is accompanied by a sheet of mourning notepaper inscribed “Brought me by Mr. C. Lewes/in memory of my beloved/friend ‘George Eliot’ on Sun:/Sep: 17th 1882. He remem-/bers her wearing it years ago/G. Burne-Jones.”  More details are available in the catalogue record:



Anonymous is in the theatres but it’s also on our bookshelves.  One recent example from the Beinecke Library is an anonymously written tragic tale, featuring characters Miriam Mayfair, Stephen Groveland, their son Arthur, and other citizens from the fictional town Bisonville, who are embroiled in political intrigue, clandestine love-affairs, and false accusations of insanity.  According to the accession slip the novel is also untitled, undated, and from an unknown source.

Tolkien’s Gown, by Rick Gekoski

In Tolkien’s Gown, Rick Gekoski provides exciting peeks into his extensive career as a rare book collector and dealer. Tolkien’s Gown is divided into twenty sections, each of which describes Gekoski’s dealings with a particular work of literature. We have, as the title indicates, a description of Gekoski’s experience discovering and selling J. R. R. Tolkien’s school gown, as well as the novelist (and recent Booker Prize winner) Julian Barnes’ disgusted response to the practice of dealing writers’ garments. Gekoski also details his experience in selling wonderful association copies of books including Lolita, The Colossus, and Brideshead Revisited.

In addition to these forays into the world of rare books, Gekoski provides glimpses of his experiences with literary manuscripts. In particular, Gekoski discusses the development and eventual sale of the On the Road scroll manuscript, D. H. Lawrence’s decision to trade the manuscript of Sons and Lovers in 1924 for a farm in New Mexico, and Gekoski’s purchase of Ian Hamilton’s paper exchanges with Salinger—including a legal deposition detailing Salinger’s writing process.

The Lord of the Flies section is particularly compelling, as Gekoski discusses his relationship with William Golding and the Lord of the Flies manuscript. Gekoski made Golding’s acquaintance by working on a bibliography of the author’s work; Golding, however, resented the intrusion and retaliated by parodying Gekoski in The Paper Men (1984).

Despite this affront, Gekoski and Golding developed a fairly close relationship while Gekoski was writing the bibliography. Golding was anxious to secure his financial security, and he viewed his manuscripts (particularly Lord of the Flies) as a nest egg. Thus, Golding invited Gekoski to view the manuscript. Gekoski writes:

I was invited to accompany him down to his bank branch in Truro, to inspect—with an eye to valuation—the holograph manuscript of Lord of the Flies. As we entered the bank, a slight hush enveloped the tellers, as Golding was clearly their greatest local celebrity. In fact, on his first visit to the bank after being awarded his knighthood in 1988, a tongue-tied young woman teller had blushed bright red, and stuttered, ‘Good morning, Sir Golding,’ which made him feel, he confessed, like a character out of Mallory.

The manuscript, which was kept in a safe deposit box, was a remarkably homely object. He had used school exercise books to write in, often huddled over coffee in a corner of the staff room during breaks. What was most striking was the fluency of the writing—there were very few amendments or corrections, and he was later to recall that he had the story so clear in his mind that he felt he was copying, rather than composing it.

In this passage, Gekoski captures the excitement and revelations provided by beholding a great literary work in manuscript. Although Golding never did sell the manuscript to Gekoski (whose valuations he found far too low for the item) the Bodleian is currently preparing to put it, along with other Golding manuscripts, on display for a celebration of the author’s centennial. This exhibition will be curated by Golding’s daughter, Judy Carver, and will be on view from November 5th until December 23rd. More information is available on the Bodleian’s website.

Gekoski’s story of his experience with the Lord of the Flies manuscript is only one of many captivating episodes in Tolkien’s Gown, published by Constable in London in 2004. Any biblio- or codicophile will find the book an enticing read.

Alison Clemens
MSIS Candidate
University of Texas at Austin

What They Were Reading

In a circa 1920 letter to his friend Donald Ogden Stewart, F. Scott Fitzgerald discusses reading Max Beerbohm’s Seven Men and The Happy Hypocrite and recommends to Stewart Theodore Dreiser’s The Titan (“his best and most fascinating book”).

Fitzgerald, who was then living in New York with Zelda, discusses finishing his novel The Beautiful and Damned, originally titled The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy, and his concern that the novel is too “bitter and uncompromising” to be published in the Metropolitan Magazine.

Fitzgerald LetterFitzgerald Letter 2

Donald Ogden Stewart and Ella Winter Papers.  Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.



Recovering U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage

Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15) with literary archives gathered as part of the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project.

The Recovery Project is a nationwide initiative with the goal of locating and making accessible Hispanic literature in the United States – broadly defined to include a number of writings – created from the colonial period to 1960.  The project defines literary archives inclusively in order to take into account a rich representation of documentary heritage; ranging from authors’ papers to historical texts and life writing (such as diaries and letters).  Under the direction of Dr. Nicolás Kanellos, founder and director of Arte Público Press, the Recovery Project has produced several bibliographies (covering the dates 1600 to 2000) and publications.  Combined these resources shed light onto the rich writings produced by Hispanic Americans as well as the complexities of the Recovery Project.

With thanks to Carolina A. Villarroel (Brown Foundation Director of Research) who gave an excellent talk on the project at the Society of American Archivists meeting this year.

You can also hear Hispanic American authors discuss their books at the Library of Congress through the National Hispanic Heritage Month portal.

Hand painted Christmas card: Portrait of Rose and Miguel Covarrubias

Hand painted Christmas card: Portrait of Rose and Miguel Covarrubias, Carl Van Vechten Papers.  Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.