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Mary and Percy Shelley Letter Mentions Frankenstein Rejections – 2 of 3 from Peter Balestrieri

Handwritten text saying, "Poor Mary’s book has come back with a refusal which has put me in rather ill spirits.”

Second in our series of three blog posts from Peter Balestrieri examining our holdings relating to Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus.

On August 16, 1817, Mary began writing a letter to Marianne Hunt, Leigh Hunt’s wife. The Hunt’s and the Shelley’s were close friends, their correspondence is extensive, and many of those letters are held here in the Brewer-Leigh Hunt Collection. This particular letter, written by both Mary and Percy Shelley, sheds light on their daily lives as her novel Frankenstein faced rejections before its eventual publication and fame.

In late summer, Mary Shelley was nineteen, pregnant, and trying to get Frankenstein, published. The manuscript had been rejected by her husband’s publisher, Charles Ollier, and by Lord Byron’s publisher, John Murray. Mary had spent the summer entertaining the Shelley’s many visitors, giving charity to the poor, and editing her and Shelley’s travel journals from their 1814 trip to Europe. She was also caring for her son, William, little “Willmouse.”

Mary’s letter to Marianne is filled with family news regarding their pregnancies, need for a nurse, and the sad news of the legal decision to send Shelley’s children by his first wife to be raised by a clergyman. Mary also writes that she is sending the Hunt’s some money; they were always in need of money. Mary signs off with good wishes and encouragement, believing that things will improve for Marianne.

One can imagine Percy Shelley entering the room at some point and asking, “To whom are you writing, my queen?” When informed of the letters’ recipient, he may have said, “Let me add a few lines when you have finished.” He does, and in these few lines we see a reference to Frankenstein and the trouble they are having with its publication. Percy Shelley writes, “Poor Mary’s book has come back with a refusal which has put me in rather ill spirits.” He is referring to Ollier’s rejection of the book and he goes on to ask if the Hunt’s know of any publishers that might be interested in it. By the end of the month, the novel is accepted by Lackington’s and Frankenstein is born.

The letter can be viewed online at the University Library’s Digital Library, http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/leighhunt/id/89/rec/5 and in person (MsL S54hu) at Special Collections and University Archives in the Main Library.

For more on Frankenstein visit the National Institutes of Health traveling exhibition, “Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature” that is on display at the second floor south entrance of University Capitol Centre through Nov. 2.  http://now.uiowa.edu/2012/10/genetics-frankenstein-future

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Advertising for “The Collegians,” by Carl Laemmle, Jr.

Fabric Banner for "The Collegians"

by Denise Anderson. 

Fall classes are now in session and the football Homecoming Centennial is upon us, so what better time to examine a felt pennant which advertises “The Collegians,” by Carl Laemmle, Jr. “The Collegians” was a series of 44 two-reel films, in which the same players reprised their characters through four years of a college life full of romance and football from 1926-1929. 

This pennant is from the Ted Rehder Papers.  Ted was a University of Iowa student in 1926 when “The Collegians” series was released and likely screened in Iowa City.  He went on to work serving U of I collegians for 47 years in dormitories and in dining service until his retirement in 1976.  We are grateful to Ted for preserving this piece of ephemera.

“The Collegians” was part of Carl Laemmle Junior’s first series, his silent comedy “Junior Jewels,”  produced between 1926 and 1929 for Universal, the film studio founded by his father in 1912.  In April 1929, Carl junior was placed in charge of all film production at Universal.  Among other genres, he produced horror movies such as “Frankenstein” (1931), “Dracula” (1931), “The Mummy” (1932), “The Invisible Man” (1933) and “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935).  Production of these films broke Universal after seven years under his direction, due to the Great Depression and the amount of money he insisted on spending in order to deliver the entertainment audiences desired. 

 Check out this and other pieces of ephemeral history from campus life in Special Collections and the University Archives.

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Monumental Ideas in Miniature Books II

“Monumental Ideas in Miniature Book Making” is a traveling exhibition of more than 100 artists’ miniature books from eight countries curated by Hui-Chu Ying, Professor of The Myers School of Art, at the University of Akron. These small treasures by nationally and internationally recognized book artists explore epic tales, poetry, and storytelling using diverse book and printmaking techniques.  Emily Martin and Jill Kambs from the University of Iowa Center for the Book have works featured in this exhibition.  This visually stunning and dramatically eclectic collection demonstrates in stunning miniature the breadth and variety of contemporary artist’s books. 

The books will be exhibited outside Special Collections and University Archives on the third floor of the Main Library for just four more weeks until October 22nd, 2012.

For exquisite photographic views of each of the works, visit the MIMB2 Flickr page:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/mimborg/

 

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Frankenstein’s Cousin, The Vampyre – 1 of 3 from Peter Balestrieri

First of a series of three blog posts by Peter Balestrieri highlighting our collections relating to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

John Polidori by F.G. Gainsford

John Polidori by F.G. Gainsford

 “It was a dark and stormy night” in June, 1816 that brought together some of Romantic literature’s shining lights to read ghost stories in the Villa Diodati near Geneva, Switzerland.  Diodati had once hosted Milton and was now occupied by Lord Byron and his personal physician, John William Polidori. In attendance with them, were Percy Bysshe Shelley, his wife Mary, and her half-sister, Claire Clairmont. They shared a roaring fire and read to each other from a collection of chilling German folk tales. Byron suggested they each compose a ghost story and in the days and weeks that followed, they all began writing. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein came from this night of inspiration, as did small pieces by Byron and Percy Shelley. Claire Clairmont may have written a story but there is no record of it other than a mention in one of Mary’s letters. The only other story of real note to be produced came from John Polidori. His Vampyre was the first vampire story in English and preceded Bram Stoker’s Dracula by three quarters of a century. It laid the foundation for nearly every work of vampire fiction since, including those by Anne Rice (The Vampire Chronicles) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight). But who was Polidori and how did he come to be in Switzerland that cold, dark summer of 1816?

John William Polidori was born on December 7, 1795 in London, the son of an Italian scholar and an English governess. His sister Francesca married Gabriele Rossetti and Polidori became uncle to their illustrious children, Dante Gabriele Rossetti and Christina Rossetti. Educated at the University of Edinburgh, Polidori graduated a doctor of medicine in 1815, only nineteen years old. He wrote his thesis on sleepwalking and had aspirations to literature and fame. In 1816, he heard that Byron was planning a trip to the Continent and arranged to accompany him as his personal physician. The relationship between Byron and Polidori was uneasy at times and there are accounts of Polidori being mocked by Byron and later, his guests. They gave him the nickname, “Poor Polidori,” and let him know that he was not held in high esteem. On his part, Polidori was sometimes contentious or arrogant, trying hard to stand on equal footing with his talented and famous companions. After the night of ghost stories, he began work on one of his own but bogged down. He took up the suggestion of a plot by Byron and produced The Vampyre, an innovation in vampire fiction that substituted a handsome, aristocratic vampire for the ugly, misshapen monster that populated earlier fiction and folktales, the Nosferatu. Polidori’s vampire, modeled on Byron, is a handsome, dapper aristocrat who is powerfully attractive to women, his primary victims. He moves easily in the highest society and gives no indication of his true identity. Critics believe that Polidori and Byron’s relationship had deteriorated badly and there is much in The Vampyre that can be read as the doctor’s resentment toward his employer. Shortly after the novella was finished, Byron dismissed Polidori from his service.

Polidori travelled through Italy, returned to England, and resumed medical practice. Under mysterious circumstances and without his permission, The Vampyre was published in April of 1819 by the New Monthly Magazine and attributed to Byron. Byron and Polidori both sought to clear up the question of authorship but the work continued for a time to be attributed to Byron, a fact appreciated by the publisher who was profiting by the false connection. Polidori went on to write a long poem, The Fall of the Angels, but never became the author he hoped to be. In 1821, after years of increasing depression and gambling debts, he took his own life with prussic acid. He was twenty-five years old.

Special Collections has a first edition of The Vampyre, published in London, 1819, by Sherwood, Neely, and Jones. It is one of several works likely inspired by that evening at Villa Diodati available for viewing in the Reading Room.

 

Reading List:

The Vampyre, John Polidori, 1819.  x-Collection 828 .P766v

A Fragment of a Ghost Story,” Percy Bysshe Shelley, from LinkRelics of Shelley. Ed. by Richard Garnett, 1862.  Leigh Hunt Collection 828 .S545Xg

“Journal at Geneva: Ghost Stories,” Percy Bysshe Shelley, from Essays, Letters from Abroad, Translations and Fragments,  Ed. by Mrs. Shelley, 1840. Leigh Hunt Collection 828 .S545X3

Fragment of a Novel,” in LinkMazeppa : A Poem, Lord Byron, 1819. x-Collection PR4372 .M3 1819.

 

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Paperbacks in the Stacks

Students from Professor Loren Glass’ English/UI Center for the Book course Literature and the Book: The Paperback Revolution are using materials from Special Collections this semester to uncover the impact of paperback books on twentieth century American literature and culture.  As they do, we are uncovering some hidden treasures of the paperback revolution in the stacks.

Despite the ubiquity of the paperback book throughout much of the twentieth century, paperbacks are typically an understudied book format, mostly getting attention for sensational cover art. However, many intriguing aspects of the paperback revolution beyond cover art  are illustrated throughout our collections.

Here are some highlights:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith. New York: Council on Books in Wartime, 1943.

(Armed Services edition ; D-117) x-Collection PS3537.M325 T7 1943b

Armed Services Editions, printed from 1943-1946 for American soldiers during World War II, are notable for their unusual horizontal format. They were printed two at a time on magazine presses and then cut in half horizontally, resulting in an oblong book. The text is also printed in two columns per page.This copy of Smith’s novel was published as a hardcover first edition by Harper & Brothers in 1943, the same year the Armed Services Edition was published. Our copy is worn, and the glue holding the cover on has detached so you can see the large staple that is the only things holding the pages together. Did this book travel to Europe or the Pacific tucked in a soldier’s cargo pocket? 

 

Chinese Cooking Made Easy, Isabelle C. Chang. New York: Paperback Library, Inc. 1961. Szathmary TX725.C514 1961

There are many paperback cookbooks in the Szathmary Culinary Collection, including this Chinese cookbook, the first paperback edition of What’s Cooking at Chang’s? (renamed in paperback). The low cost and accessibility of paperback cookbooks made a broader range of recipes and techniques available to a large audience – in this case, “tantalizing, exotic dishes you can prepare with ingredients easily available at your grocer or supermarket.”  Paperbacks from the 1950s-70s in the Szathmary collection range from microwave cooking to wine to recipes from all over the world.

 

 

 

Signal Thirty-Two, MacKinlay Kantor. New York: Bantam Books, 1952. Iowa Authors Collection

One of the benefits of our Iowa Authors Collection for book historians is the opportunity to look at multiple editions of a single title, including paperbacks. Webster City native MacKinlay Kantor was a prolific journalist and novelist. This “Bantam Giant” paperback edition of his novel Signal Thirty-Two fits the stereotype of a mid-twentieth century paperback with its dramatic cover art, but other characteristics of the book indicate a desire to represent a “quality” not always associated with paperbacks, especially in the 1950s when they were still a relatively new format. The slogans “Bantam Giants – not one word cut” and “Every Book Complete” emphasize that the paperback, while physically smaller, is not an abridged version of the hardcover original. Signal Thirty-Two’s title page stretches across a spread, showing attention to innovative graphic design, and the text ends with a solicitation from the Bantam paperbacks editor for reader input and recommendations.

 

Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut. New York: Dell, 1959. x-Collection PS3572.O66 S47 1959

Our ever-growing science fiction collections include many paperbacks, as much of that genre was first or only published in the ephemeral and cheap paperback format. One particular gem is the first edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s second novel, Sirens of Titan. Though Vonnegut is now recognized as an important an influential American author, in 1959 this first edition was pocket-sized, printed on cheap paper, and sold for 35 cents.

This book, as well as some other exciting paperbacks from our collection, will be on display in our pop-up case. Come check them out!

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Unboxing the Hevelin Science Fiction Collection on Tumblr

The time has come! The James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Collection of Pulps, Fanzines, and Science Fiction Books is being unboxed and processed. 
 
Special Collections & University Archives is pleased to welcome long-time student worker and avid researcher Peter Balestrieri who is joining our staff as a Processing Librarian and taking on the task of making the collection ready for researchers. 
 
Rusty Hevelin was a science fiction fan, pulp collector, huckster (a dealer at conventions), and voracious reader.  In addition, he was one of the founders of Iowa’s two ongoing science fiction conventions, Icon in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area, and DemiCon in Des Moines.   
 
Friends and fans now have the opportunity to follow Peter as he explores and unboxes the collection, on our new Tumblr page where he will post photos and updates, box by box, as the mysteries within are revealed.
 
Please follow along and enjoy the snapshots into the history of science fiction and fantasy literature and fandom in the United States  http://hevelincollection.tumblr.com
 
For more on Rusty Hevelin and his collections please see our April 11th blog post.
 
 
 
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Who Am I?

Do you know this man? Or perhaps you know this lovely girl with her bicycle?

This mysterious item has a series of six photographs printed on fabric and bound together on a wooden holder. Based on clothing and hairstyle the photos seem to be from different time periods. Are they all different people?  Did one of those children grow into that lovely young lady?  Are they all family?  Why was this made?  When?

This came to us from a woman named Rose Hogan as part of an archive from families named Hogan and Roskopf but nothing is known about this item or the people featured. 

The family included teachers and attourneys and has connections to Iowa City, Galva Clearfield, Diagonal, Denison, Teril, Dunlap and Estherville in Iowa, as well as Chambers County in Texas, and Foxhome, Minnesota.

If these faces look familiar, please help us identify them and solve the mystery.

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Voices From the Stacks #2: Spine Lining

The second edition of our new series, “Voices from the Stacks” comes from English Department graduate student, Miriam Janechek, who is working as a guest curator for an exhibition that will debut this fall:

Filler pages from other books used to bind the spine of an 1856 edition of The Life of Benjamin Franklin demonstrate one of the many benefits of archival research – hands-on work leads to unique discoveries! A keyword search in Google books quickly identified one page, A Manual of the Orinthology of the United States and of Canada, by Thomas Nuttall, published in Cambridge, MA, in 1832, which is seen peeking out of the cracked binding of the University of Iowa Special Collections’ edition of Jefferson’s book. Demonstrating also the limitations of Internet research, Google did not help locate the other filler page, which seems to be from a periodical.

Why was the 24 year-old book on birds used as filler?  Did the printer have unsold copies?  Did he simply dislike birds?  Were there newer, more accurate ornithology books? It’s a mystery…

 

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150 Years Later a Civil War Story Unfolds

In celebration of the U.S. Civil War Sesquicentennial, The University of Iowa Libraries is bringing to life the compelling story of Civil War soldier Joseph F. Culver and his wife, Mary, featuring letters held in Special Collections in the J.F Culver Papers. Letter by letter their story will unfold over the next three years published on a new blog exactly 150 years to the exact date each letter was written.  The blog was launched today with the first letter written 8/14/1862. 

Joseph Franklin Culver (1834-1899) was engaged in banking, insurance, and the practice of law in Pontiac, Illinois, before the war.  An honorable and religious man he was inspired to leave his pregnant wife of less than a year behind to “walk in the path of duty” as a volunteer to serve with the Illinois 129th Infantry Regiment, Company A (August 1862-June 1865), first as a lieutenant and later as captain. Culver so desired to keep in contact with his new wife that he wrote detailed letters multiple times each week sharing his day, news items, and the stories of the men in his company, also men from Pontiac and Livingston County, IL, for the duration of the three years of his service.  

Extensive annotations added by scholar Edwin C. Bearss in the 1970s as J.F. Culver’s letters were turned into a book, Your Affectionate Husband, J.F. Culver, are included to make it possible to follow the dates, names, relationships, and references in the letters. Newly discovered letters and letters from his wife, Mary, will be included in the blog project to make the most complete version of their story to date.

Mary Culver Portrait

A review of the book from 1979 highly recommended Culver’s letters.  “This is a valuable series of letters by an observant and highly literate soldier. In addition, the collection has been edited in impeccably scholarly fashion. The book is thus a revealing as well as useful chronicle of Sherman’s campaigns…The chief value of Culver’s letters is the wide variety of subject matter. Comrades, marches, campaigns, rumors, prices, religion, and general commentaries abound. So do observations on all facets of army life–discipline, conscription, elections, camp life, baggage, shelters, pay, and rations. Added to this are personal opinions on a number of Union leaders.” James I. Robertson, Jr. The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 45, no.4 (Nov. 1979), pp. 612-613. 

Though primarily a story of an Illinois man, Iowa readers should note that Joseph and Mary Culver are great-grandparents to John Culver, former Iowa representative to the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senator from Iowa, and great-great-grandparents to Chet Culver, former governor of Iowa.

View the Joseph F. Culver Civil War Blog.

The book is available from Amazon.com.

 

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New Acquisitions: KRUI, Oakdale Scrapbook and Artists’ Books

Here are some featured items that have recently arrived in both Special Collections and in the University Archives. Researchers interested in the history of local radio, advertising, tuberculosis, and artist’s books should particularly take note of our recent arrivals.

The University Archives now includes additional documents from KRUI.  KRUI 89.7, the University of Iowa student radio station, began as a dormitory-only service in the early 1950’s, expanding to FM in 1984. Recently the UI Archives received an additional 14 linear feet of material from the station: Brochures, staff schedules, correspondence, photographs and other documents, to add to the archives existing collection described at http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/archives/guides/RG02.02.08.htm. Dave Long, a member of the KRUI board of directors, helped arrange for transfer of the materials.

Logo design sketches

Logo design sketches, KRUI, University of Iowa Archives

Oakdale Sanatorium was established in Johnson County in 1907 to house and care for patients diagnosed with tuberculosis. Over time, the facility accommodated patients with other needs as well. From 1945 to 1947, Ruth Harris, a dietician from Ames, IA, was employed as Director of Dietetics there. Earlier this year, Ruth Solmonson of St. Paul, MN, a relative of Ms. Harris’, donated a scrapbook to the UI Archives which contains scores of photographs, newspaper clippings, and other items depicting life at the facility. In 2011 Oakdale Hall, the original and largest structure on the campus, was razed to make way for new development, making Ms. Harris’ photographs even more valuable to researchers.

Oakdale Sanatorium Scrapbook, University Archives

Oakdale Sanatorium Scrapbook, University of Iowa Archives

The newest arrivals in the department of Special Collections include a shipment of eleven impressive artists’ books from Vamp & Tramp Booksellers, LLC.  Three of the books are highlighted below.

Body of Inquiry is from Casey Gardner and Set in Motion Press.   With inspiration drawn from anatomical models and instructional documents this amusing work draws you in to discover a “corporeal codex” with intricately folded organs.

Statement from Set in Motion Press:  “This book is a triptych opening to a sewn codex within the subject’s torso. It is a structure of display and intimacy. The scale is large and unfolding and the details are numerous and intricate, accurate and outlandish. The instruments on the outer panels are from the 19th- and 20th-century scientific catalogs. The rest of the images are drawings the artist made and transferred into photopolymer plate for letterpress. The scientific panels explore the miracle of our physicality and are sequenced beginning with atoms, moving to cells, and to genetic structure. The interior codex tells the story of the artist’s anatomical model and investigates the permeable borderline between material and immaterial in our bodies and life.”

 

Corpus codex

Detail from Body of Inquiry, U. of Iowa Special Collections

Al Mutanabbi Street, March 5,  from Al Hazelwood is one item that is part of a project to “re-assemble” some of the “inventory” of the reading material that was lost in the car bombing of al-Mutanabbi Street on 5th March 2007. Originally the intention was for 130 book artists to join in honouring al-Mutanabbi Street so that one artist’s work would stand in for each of the 30 killed and 100 wounded through creating work that holds both “memory and future,” exactly what was lost that day.  However in the end the response was so great that 262 artists participated in the project, soon to be completed.

Stement from artist Al Hazelwood: “This book is based on the car bombing of a street of booksellers in Baghdad. Beau Beausoleil, a bookseller in San Francisco, initiated this project to memorialize this attack on the culture of the book and prevent it from slipping into forgetting among the many atrocities of the Iraq War. He’s asked 130 book artists to contribute — the number of books matching the number of victims that day. This is my contribution. Three from the edition go to the project one of which will be offered to the Iraq National Library in Baghdad.  My book, starts with an image of the booksellers street. The next page begins a foldout which begins with the explosion in a death head cloud. Books flying are labeled with different bookseller areas of the world”.

Al Mutanabbi Street, March 5

Al Mutanabbi Street, March 5, U. of Iowa Special Collections

Shelter by Phil Zimmerman of Spaceheater Editions is an intricately constructed floating hinge format book-within-a-book.

Statement from artist Phil Zimmermann: “Shelter came out of an exploration of losing faith and questioning on of its opposites: the process of finding religion. This text came out of watching my dying father, who was never religious when I was growing up, become increasingly interested in faith and salvation as he became sicker from heart disease and cancer. I saw the desert with its unfriendly flora and harsh environment as a metaphor for the difficult world towards the end of many people’s lives. The desert is also used in many religious tracts as a place for contemplation and mortification. In this work roadside shelters and gospel ministries were used as signifiers of ways and places where people look (vainly?) to relive prospects of their approaching death.”

 

Shelter

Shelter, U of Iowa Special Collections