Bibles to Impress

   Posted by: sdickins   in book history, Students, Uncategorized

Among the Watkinson’s extensive collection of rare books and ancient texts are gaudy Bibles and religious books. These eye-catching books are adorned with heavy, metal clasps, gold leaf, and other ornate designs. Of these ostentatious books, two stood out as especially flashy. The first book I found while I was shifting. It was an incredibly heavy book with two thick clasps adorned with crosses. The cover and textblock are both overlaid with gold leafing, adding to the dramatic effect. The second book is just as extravagant. The cover is decorated with gold designs and an intricate clasp. In the four corners are small, gold domes that add depth and a three-dimensional element to the cover. The text block is also decorated with gold leaf that has an ornate floral design. The irony of these books is that they are both about religion. There are many teachings in the Bible that discourage flaunting wealth and being overly extravagant. For example, a proverb in the King James version of the Bible states, “the love of money is the root of all evil…” 1 Timothy 6:10. This is a cautionary verse about the dangers of greed and money. It seems contradictory to create religious books with very flashy covers. Or maybe it was okay to make them flashy because they were about God’s teachings? Either way, they are interesting to look at and worth checking out at the library.

Posted by Lizzie Smith, ’20, Watkinson Student Assistant

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Back when I was in elementary or early middle school, there was a period of a few months when everyone was reading Jack London novels like White Fang or The Call of the Wild. Something about those tales of struggle in the wilderness appealed to our suburban sensibilities. So, when I found this specially bound edition of The Call of the Wild in the Watkinson’s Private Press collection this summer, I was naturally excited. In 1960, the book (originally published in 1903) was reprinted for the members of the Limited Editions Club, who clearly had a flair for the aesthetic. The Yukon adventure novel has been bound in wool and died in a green and black plaid pattern–an appropriately outdoorsy choice. In addition, beautiful illustrations have been added that really capture the mood of the story. I like this edition because it shows how form and content can be made to harmonize. It also reminds me that even books that are not considered high literature can still be special.

Posted by Caroline Reger, University of Connecticut, 2018, Watkinson Student Assistant




British Politicians Satirized in Prints

   Posted by: sdickins   in Politics, Uncategorized

The Watkinson has a great variety of historical books, records, photos, prints and more. While working in the Watkinson, I have been introduced to the many ways history is recorded. Most recently I organized a collection of British caricatures. The collection contains around 190 prints with ranging topics, but a majority are political and social satire. The popularity of these prints and the impact they had on British society made me want to research more about the evolution of printmaking and why these prints were so important.

The reign of King George III from 1760 to 1820 marked a time of ideological revolution and the rise in satirical prints. The mass production of prints allowed for information to be accessed by the ordinary person, who was most likely illiterate. British satirical caricatures were used to criticize certain political decisions or platforms of political parties in particular the Whig and Tory parties. Prints created in the 18th century use the technique of physiognomy, which is the judging of a person’s character from the depiction of their physical features. These prints have grotesque and distorted images of various politicians, but mainly Charles James Fox (Whig Party), William Pitt the Younger (Tory Party), King George III and Napoleon.


A famous printmaker, Isaac Cruikshank, depicts Charles James Fox as a French Revolution sympathizer in his print “A Right Honorable Alias Sans Culotte” which is one of the prints in the collection at the Watkinson. This print contains Fox split into two different outfits. As the spectator of the print, on the right side, Fox is dressed neatly in English clothing singing “God Save Great George our king.” On the left side, Fox is dressed as a French revolutionary in ragged, torn clothes with a bludgeon singing, “Ca ira, ca ira, ca ira,” an emblematic song of the French Revolution. Images such as these were used to ridicule politicians. Some victims of the political satires, like Fox, would buy entire editions or even bribe publishers to stop printing these satirical images in order to maintain a positive public image.

As printing and satire evolved, there was a shift in technique. Around 1820 the grotesque satirical style was phased out and a newer more genteel trend became popular. John Doyle, a famous printmaker who published his work under the initials HB, was known for his mild satire with more naturalistic depictions of political figures. The collection in the Watkinson contains thirty of John Doyle’s prints. Grotesque satirical prints were replaced with comic prints that were made more for family consumption. With the popularization of newspapers and magazines the number of singly published sheets rapidly declined.

In the Watkinson, the prints are mostly from the 1800s. Some of the early prints show the characteristic grotesque form of satire, but most of the prints are more realistic in their depiction of politicians. While processing these prints, I learned a lot about the political scene in Britain at the time. As time passed the literacy rates in Britain rose, which is evident from the later prints in the collection at the Watkinson. Earlier prints do not have much text other than the titles, but speech bubbles and small captions can be seen in the later prints. This shows just how influential the mass production of prints was and how the prints reflect British society in the time period during which they were published.

Just like the Currier and Ives prints that I worked on in January, these prints are both historical in content and historical in creation. Prints are a great way of interpreting history since there is much more behind them than what is seen on the page. The British print collection at the Watkinson is definitely a reason to stop by!

Posted by Student Assistant Meg Huston (2020)


Bury, Stephen J., and Andrew W. Mellon. “British Visual Satire, 18th–20th Centuries.” Oxford Art Online, http://www.oxfordartonline.com/page/british-visual-satire-18th-20th-centuries. Accessed 25 Apr. 2018.

Donald, Diana. The Age of Caricature: Satirical Prints in the Reign of George III. Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press, 1996.

George, Mary Dorothy. Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires. The Trustees of the British Museum, 1978.

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The students in INTS401: Senior Seminar in International Studies spent a lively Friday afternoon in the Watkinson Library examining European travel literature on Africa, Asia, and South America from the 18th and 19th centuries.  We had just finished reading Mary Louise Pratt’s Imperial Eyes, and it was a wonderful opportunity to work directly with some of the books she analyzes, such as Mungo Park’s Travels in the Interior of Africa (Pratt uses an 1860 edition, but the Watkinson has the original 1799 edition!), John Stedman’s Narrative of a Five Years’ Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam (1796), and Maria Graham’s Journal of a Residence in Chile (1824).  — Zayde Antrim




















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Student Organizes Currier & Ives Prints

   Posted by: sdickins   in Americana, Students

As a student worker in the Watkinson, I see a lot of different kinds of rare books, magazines, newspapers, etc. For the past couple of weeks, I have been working on organizing our collection of Currier and Ives prints. Currier and Ives was a lithographic printing company that produced over 7,000 images from around 1834 to 1907. In the Watkinson we have around 176 of the prints.

While organizing our collection, I saw the vast range in subject matter. Many of the prints in the Watkinson have to do with U.S. history, in particular the Civil War, but they also show images of domestic life, rural scenes and religious scenes. As I was looking at all the prints, I noticed that many of them have different artistic styles. Some are realistic and some are more distorted, especially the prints showing African American caricatures. This style of art is meant to exaggerate some characteristics of the subject in order to elicit humor. In this case, the images seem to be racist depictions of African Americans that were intended to make fun of a minority.

In addition to the style, the earlier prints are in black and white and the integration of color comes gradually. This is most likely due to the progression of the lithographic printing process. Most of the prints were originally black and white and then hand colored by an assembly line of women. Each woman would have a separate hue of water color that they added to the prints. As lithography advanced, printing in color became possible and popular, resulting in more images in color.

This project was one of the more interesting ones that I have done while working for the Watkinson. The prints depict historical moments themselves, but are also historical in their creation. I would definitely recommend taking a look at the collection if you have a chance. The prints themselves are interesting, but the history behind them is what is really fascinating.

Posted by Meg Huston (2020)


Turtle Power!

   Posted by: rring   in Comic books, Volunteers

[Posted by Andy Geary, volunteer, who is Director of Special Programs at the Windsor Public Library]

For those unaware, the Watkinson Library recently received an amazing collection of comic books, graphic novels, and magazines. Over the past few weeks, I have been lucky enough to catalog and paw through literally thousands of new and old-school comics ranging from Green Lantern Corps to Archie, Punisher: War Zone to My Little Pony, Harley Quinn to The Walking Dead, and much more.

As a child of the late 80s/early 90s, I was thrilled to discover the very first 1984 issue of Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles within the Watkinson’s new collection. It’s a second printing valued at around $800-$1,000 and the inside of the book sports an autograph by co-creator Kevin Eastman and a totally bodacious original sketch of one of your favorite heroes in a half shell. Turtle power!

Just wait until we’re finished cataloging the entire collection. If you’re into comics, it’ll blow your mind.


Hartford Art School visit

   Posted by: rring   in Classes, Students

[Posted by Paulette Rosen, Instructor in Book Arts, Hartford Art School, University of Hartford]

On September 19 I brought my class of 8 Book Arts I students from Hartford Art School to visit the Watkinson Library. I had asked Associate Curator Sally Dickinson to put together a presentation of some history of the book as well as a good selection of contemporary accordion and codices. Her choices for the history of the book really impressed the students. A cuneiform tablet, with magnifying glass for closer examination was passed around and elicited comments “This is so cool” and “Wow!” The more worn, and even rotting, a book appeared the more they were curious about it. After washing our hands, we were also allowed to handle the contemporary books. As my students will be creating their own unique hand bound books with images and text, this was a special opportunity to see how other artists combine structure and content in a variety of ways. An hour and a half was the perfect amount of time to visit. Many thanks to Sally for this unique opportunity.

[Posted by Kelly Vaughan, for prof. Chris Hager’s course, ENGL 329: Civil War Literature]

“The Yearning of his Heart for His Loved Ones:” Perspectives of Freedom and Marriage from Former Slaves Peter and Vina Still

Kelly2The Kidnapped and the Ransomed: Being the Personal Recollections of Peter Still and his wife “Vina,” after Forty Years of Slavery describes the life of Peter and Vina Still. Peter was a former enslaved man who lived in Kentucky and Alabama and attempted to collect money to purchase his wife from her master after successfully purchasing, and thus freeing, himself.[1] Peter Still was kidnapped as a young boy when he was living in New Jersey and enslaved in the South for forty years, where he met his wife, Vina, and had children with her. Still was a slave for 40 years when he was able to escape to Philadelphia through use of the Underground Railroad. When he arrived in Philadelphia, he not only coincidentally reunited with his biological brother, William, but formed an alliance with a white abolitionist named Seth Cocklin. After Still raised $5,000 in hopes of purchasing his wife and children back, Cocklin aided Peter in his rescue attempt. During their travels from Philadelphia to Alabama, Cocklin, who was impersonating a slave holder, was caught alone from Still and arrested, and soon after killed.[2] This is one example of the measures abolitionists would take in order to aid runaway slaves.

While the transcription of this particular narrative exists online, the original copy exists in Trinity College’s Watkinson Library. This book was published in 1856 by William T. Hamilton in Syracuse, five years before the Civil War started. The book, which is bound in an evergreen colored cover, is 409 pages long, with advertisements for other published slave narratives at the end, including the notable Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years A Slave. The book itself is not large, no more than approximately 6”w x 8”h.

This particular narrative is unique among the majority of slave narratives because it was not actually written by Still himself. Still told his story to Kate E.R. Pickard, who then transcribed Still’s story into this biography.[3] The entire collection of narratives introduces other characters in their life (particularly the numerous slave masters both Peter and Vina had), the early days when Peter was sold repeatedly to different plantations, Vina’s life on the plantation, the momentous moment when Peter purchased himself and traveled to Philadelphia where freedom was waiting for him, and in the final Chapter 37, the reunion between Peter and Vina. The introduction to the text, written by a Unitarian minister by the name of Samuel May, provides a short biography of Kate Pickard and her personal relationship with Peter Still. Pickard was a schoolteacher living in the same vicinity where Peter and Vina were enslaved; Peter would occasionally assist in the same offices Pickard was working in. There, she developed a fondness for his cheerful spirit and polite tone. She was moved by his grit and aimed to use this narrative as a platform to share the humanity and humble love many slaves like Peter had. Additionally, May writes in his introduction that this narrative intends to illustrate:

all the qualities of our common, and of our uncommon humanity–persistence in the pursuit of a desired object; ingenuity in the device of plans for its attainment; self-possession and self-command that can long keep a cherished purpose unrevealed; a deep, instinctive faith in God; a patience under hardship and hope deferred, which never dies; and, withal, a joyousness which, like a life-preserver, bears one above the dark waves of unparalleled trouble.[4]

Kelly1May addresses the contested moral underpinnings of slavery and reinforces the importance of faith and a strong relationship with God among slaves.

“The Marriage” highlights fifteen-year-old Vina’s loneliness as a slave on Mr. McKiernan’s plantation. For her, marriage to Peter would provide a companion, despite her young age. Kinship and procreation was one of the most popular motivations for slaves to marry, as well as the opportunity to strengthen one’s Christian faith. After they married, Peter ran away to the North, freeing himself and then dedicating his time as a free man to designing a plot that would save Vin and their family. Through this narrative, readers learn about the difficulty and repetitive nature of slaves being separated; however, Vina’s marriage provided her with fulfillment rather than anguish, despite their physical separation at the time. Pickard also emphasizes that Peter felt he had never received anything for himself before, despite his work ethic and impressive behavior. Historian Tera Hunter writes that slaves “lived under the auspices of masters who controlled the terms of their most intimate relationships,” including marriage.[5] This highlights the political and personal autonomy of slaves prior to the Civil War.

Since Peter was noted as being favored by Vina’s master, it is unsurprising that they were granted permission to marry. Theoretically, their master could threaten to separate them if they behaved poorly. However, a marriage would be beneficial to a slaveholder if the couple procreated and raised children who could become slaves in just a few short years. In the beginning of “The Marriage” chapter, Pickard describes waiting for the right moment in which Vina and Peter could pursue marriage. Their families were close, which Pickard notes was a rarity for slaves, even those who were just a couple of miles away. Vina found companionship in Peter, and the two, according to Pickard, “waited for a favorable opportunity to be united in marriage.”[6] Peter felt he deserved to be married and have a partner like Vina, for he had been a dedicated servant and was consistently “bright [and] good-humored” when visiting Mr. and Mrs. McKiernan’s plantation, where Vina was in servitude.[7]

Pickard’s narrative is both syntactically attractive and deeply galvanizing to readers. She describes Peter and Vina in very different ways, highlighting Peter’s personal strength and cheerfulness (“a fine, cheerful fellow”), while painting Vina as the scared, lonely young slave (“a timid, shrinking maiden”).[8] Pickard also emphasizes their age difference (Vina was 10 years younger than Peter when they married), so as to show that Peter will be the savior of Vina’s fate. Today, scholars understand expectations and possibilities for slaves depending on their gender. Historian Eric Foner argues that predominantly single, male slaves were the most likely to successfully escape:

Most fugitives…were young men who escaped alone. Those with immediate families often sought to retrieve their wives and children after reaching the North. Some, like Douglass, planned for months; others, like Pennington, decided to run away because of an immediate grievance—in his case, his owner’s threat to whip his mother for insubordination.[9]

With this in mind, it is less surprising that Peter was able to escape, save Vina, and was later shaped as the hero of his own narrative. Runaway slaves were, in some ways, responsible for their own emancipation. Marriage provided a form of limited freedom for enslaved blacks, as it allowed them to gain access to love and family. While they were not physically free for as long as they were enslaved on a plantation, their bargaining with slave masters for marriage helped them to achieve a form of freedom.

The Kidnapped and the Ransomed reveals the experience of a runaway slave and the measures runaways would go to in order to reunite themselves with their family. The unique perspective of this narrative (biographical, rather than autobiographical) provides another lens for analysis. How would the narrative have changed had it been written from the perspective of Vina, rather than Peter, who was noted as more bleak of the two? Would the perseverance and faith engrained in Peter materialize in this narrative? Runaway slave narratives like Still’s served as a vehicle for protest and galvanized other abolitionists at this time. An understanding of the human experience is crucial to understanding the political landscape of the Civil War and a sense of historical empathy.

[1] Pickard, Kate E. R, and William Henry Furness. The Kidnapped and the Ransomed: Being the Personal Recollections of Peter Still and His Wife “Vina,” After Forty Years of Slavery. W.T. Hamilton, 1856.

[2] “Peter Still’s Story.” PBS, Web.  http://www.pbs.org/black-culture/shows/list/underground-railroad/stories-freedom/peter-stills-story/

[3] Pickard, Kate E.R. “The Kidnapped and The Ransomed.” The Gilder Lehrman Collection, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, New York. Web. https://www.gilderlehrman.org/collections/c8c88624-a3d5-4a3d-b650-556295771204

[4] Pickard: xxi-xxii

[5]  Hunter, Tera. “Putting an Antebellum Myth About Slave Families to Rest.” The New York Times. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.

[6] Pickard: 109

[7] Pickard: 108

[8] Pickard: 108

[9] Foner, Eric. Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad. W. W. Norton & Company, 2015, New York. p. 5

[Posted by Wendi Delaney, for prof. Chris Hager’s course, ENGL 329: Civil War Literature]

Ring0001Confederate Receipt Book. A compilation of over one hundred receipts adapted to the times. Richmond, Virginia: West & Johnston, 1863.

In 1863 on a cool day in early fall a young Confederate woman is preparing to receive visitors for the afternoon. Because of the Union blockade she is not able to present herself in the latest fashions, nor is she able to offer them the usual refreshments of coffee or tea, but she is learning to make do with what she is able to find.  She has not bought a new dress for over two years and today is wearing an older day dress that she has attempted to make look new by repurposing some bits of lace from an old worn out dress that is no longer serviceable. She is wondering what she can serve for refreshments because the coffee which she normally serves is either no longer available, or when it is the price is so high she cannot afford to buy it.  As she looks through her newly acquired Confederate Receipt Book for ideas of what to serve her guests she comes across a recipe for coffee made with acorns.  Because it is autumn she has good supply of fresh acorns underneath the oak tree behind her house.  With high hopes that this substitute for coffee will be better than the last, she goes outside to collect the acorns.

In Trinity College’s Watkinson Library there is a small, 154-year-old, 28-page cookbook with dry, brittle, yellowed pages and a front cover no longer attached.  It was published in 1863 by West and Johnson in Richmond, Virginia and is titled, Confederate Receipt Book. A compilation of over one hundred receipts, adapted to the times.[1] Cookbooks are not a unique item to kitchens in America, nor is it unique for them to be adapted to meet the needs of regional people with ingredients only found in specific areas. What makes this item unique is that it was published for the people of the new Confederate nation and was tailored to their unique situation of not having items available to them because of the Union blockades.  It is believed to be the only cookbook published in the South during the Civil War.[2]  Cookbooks form a literary genre that fulfills the need of educating people on how to make culinary dishes. Some also contain other information and helpful hints to make a household economical and efficient.  When they are tailored to a specific geographic region, event, or time period, they tell of the ingenuity and creativity of people adapting to changes or challenges found in their daily lives.  They also show a willingness of people to share their knowledge and experience to help others.  The contents of this small book reveal some of the challenges Confederate women faced during the Civil War and how Confederate women of all classes—wealthy, yeoman, and poor—were expected to deal with them.

Ring0002After the Civil War broke out, the Union blockade took hold of southern ports, effectively preventing the South from shipping out or receiving any supplies or commodities. Because of this the cost for food, household items, and clothing began to rise. To adjust to the changing conditions women started to make sacrifices by going without some of the luxuries they were used to. During the summer of 1861 one woman from Virginia felt “intensely patriotic and self-sacrificing” when she resolved to give up ice cream and cakes.[3]  Because women were not allowed to physically fight in the war, making these sacrifices helped them feel like they were doing their patriotic duty for the cause; they believed the food and materials they were not using for themselves were being used for their men in the Confederate army.  This belief is reflected in a book published in 1864 by Alex St. Clair Abrams called The Trials of a Soldier’s Wife, in which the heroine explains, “Woman can only show her devotion by suffering, and though I cannot struggle with you on the battle-field, in suffering as I have done, I feel it has been our holy cause.”[4]  As the war continued, the effects of the blockade became more intense forcing women to sacrifice more than just ice cream and cake. The average cost of feeding a family for a month rose from $6.55 in 1860 to $68.25 in 1863.[5] Items that were either in short supply or very high-priced included coffee, tea, sugar, meats, flour, medicines, household items such as soap and candles, and clothing and cloth material. Many women recorded the shortages, costs of goods, and how they dealt with the challenges in their diaries.

Among the many items written about in Civil War diaries, coffee gets a lot of attention. During the war the price of coffee rose from 30 cents per pound up to $50 per pound.[6]   In some parts of the South the price soared as high as $70 per pound.[7]  Because of the scarcity and soaring cost of coffee, many tried to find alternative ingredients that would be an acceptable alternative, but it was not an easy task.  Parthenia Antoinette Hague lamented the poor substitutes and popularity of the drink when she wrote, “One of our most difficult tasks is to find a good substitute for coffee. This palatable drink, if not a real necessary of life is almost indispensable to the enjoyment of a good meal, and some Southerners took it three times a day.”[8]   Items used to replace the coffee bean included rye, wheat, sweet potatoes, chestnuts, chicory, and other grains and seeds that could be roasted and ground.[9]  In The Confederate Cookbook under the section for “MISCELLANEOUS RECEIPTS” there is a receipt that calls for acorns to be prepared in place of the treasured coffee bean.  Most of these substitutions were so intolerable some chose to go without as in the case of one prominent housewife of Virginia who stated “We must do without it except when needed for the sick.  If we can’t make some of the various proposed substitutes appetizing, why we can use water. That, at least, is abundant, and can be given without money and without price.”[10]

Wheat flour was another food item that was in short supply.  Many of the larger plantations were focused on planting more cash crops such as cotton or rice, while some of smaller farms and plantations would cultivate some cotton or rice but would plant more food crops such as wheat.[11]  Wheat that was grown in the southern states before the war would have been sold north for processing and in return the flour would be sold to the southern states.  Once the blockade was in place that process stopped.  As with coffee, southern women had to find an alternative for wheat flour, and one alternative was rice flour.  In the Appendix of the Confederate Receipt Book, there are 2 ½ pages dedicated to “Recipes for Making Bread, &c., From Rice Flour.” This section of recipes was sent in to the Editors of the Columbus Sun, in Russel County, Alabama, by Elizabeth B. Lewis, who felt the need to share her knowledge with other women who were asking how to make bread with rice flour.[12]  This section includes recipes for bread, Johnny cakes, sponge cake, rice pudding and rice griddle cakes.

As many women do today women of the Civil War tried to stay up on the latest fashions.  Southern women found it difficult to do this because the Union blockade prevented shipments of new clothes and materials used to make new clothes.  Some women became embarrassed when they wore out their silk dresses and had to wear dresses made from calico, which was a material worn by slaves and servants.  Just as Scarlett O’Hara, in the movie “Gone with the Wind,” made a new dress from green curtains, many women made new clothing from materials found around their house, like bed-ticking or the lining of a pre-war garment. They would also re-adorn dresses using old lace or materials from other worn-out dresses[13]  Women reading the Confederate Receipt Book found a section called “HINTS FOR THE LADIES” dedicated to helpful tips on how to “freshen up a dress of which they have got tired, or which may be beginning to lose its beauty.”[14]

The longer the war continued the more dire Confederate women’s situations became. In 1864 one Confederate official informed President Davis that people were starving to death.[15]  Southern women were no longer feeling it was their proud patriotic duty to make the sacrifices they were so willing to make at the onset of the war.  They became desperate and in March of 1863, the year this book was published, “Bread Riots” occurred in Richmond and many others towns across the South.  In Richmond women marched on Capitol Square armed with knives, pistols, and hatchets demanding that shop owners lower their prices.  When no acceptable solution was reached they raided local shops, taking items such as food, shoes, clothes, brooms and hats.[16] The timing of publication for this book may have been a coincidence, but it may have been published as a response to the riots as a way to help the women of the South find alternatives and ease some of the hardships they were enduring.


[1] Receipts is another word for recipes.

[2]Dorothy Denneen Volo and James M. Volo.  Daily Life in Civil War America (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1998), 232.

[3] Faust, Drew Gilpin. Southern Stories. Slaveholder in Peace and War. (Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press, 1992), 125.

[4] Faust, 119.

[5] Volo pg 57.

[6] Brock, Sallie A. Richmond during the War: Four Years of Personal Observation, by a Richmond Lady. (New York: G.W. Carleton & Co., 1867), 79, https://archive.org/stream/richmondduringwa01broc#page/n0/mode/1up.

[7] Hague, Parthenia Antoinette. A Blockaded Family. Life in Southern Alabama during the Civil War. (1888. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 1991), 101. In her book Hague gives an idea of how much work an average man would have to do in order to afford just a pound of coffee when she writes, “A good workman received 30 dollars per day so it would take two days of hard labor to buy one pound of coffee.”

[8] Hauge, 101.

[9] Brock, 79.

[10] Brock, 79.

[11] Hague, xviii.

[12] Confederate Receipt Book, 25.

[13] Thompson, 38.

[14] Confederate Receipt Book, 27.

[15] Faust, 125.

[16] Volo, 58.


Marianne Moore’s Poems (1921)

   Posted by: rring   in book history, Classes, Students

Moore1[Posted by Joel Kalodner for ENG 812 Modern Poetry, Professor Rosen]

“That Darwinian Gosling”

If the wishes of American poet Marianne Moore had been honored, this slim collection of her poetry — her first publication outside the pages of literary magazines and landmark Modernist journals such as Dial and the Egoist — would have remained unmade and unread.

Famously resistant to publication after several early disappointments, and with a well-deserved reputation for perfectionism, Moore had by 1921 weathered several years’ worth of importuning in favor of a collection from friends and admirers including Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, H.D, Yvor Winters and Robert McAlmon. Eliot offered his personal assistance from post-war London, writing to Moore that “[Your poetry] interests me. I wish that you would make a book of it, and I should like to try to get it published here. I wish you would let me try.” Pound, likewise, was enthusiastic and just before Christmas, 1918 wrote to tempt her with a prime spot in his Modernist pantheon: “[C]an I get one into print for you? … I have got Joyce, and Lewis, and Eliot, and a few other comforting people into print, by page and by volume.” More scathing was her friend Yvor Winters’ critique, who, while once again advocating for publication, chided Moore for her reticence: “People who leave poems littered around in the magazines are so very much like people who leave papers around in the parks. But that, I suppose, is their own affair.”

Moore2By late 1920, some of her advocates had had enough and together the poet H.D., the historical novelist Bryher (pen name of Winifred Ellerman), and Ellerman’s soon-to-be husband Robert McAlmon agreed to take matters into their own hands. Selecting twenty-four of Moore’s poems from various magazines, the group contacted Harriet Shaw Weaver, then publisher of the Egoist Press in London, with a plan to publish the collection; Weaver was herself intimately familiar with the poet’s position on the topic, having suffering a fresh, albeit polite, rejection after she’d proposed a similar book to Moore as recently as that May. Despite the unusual circumstance, Weaver agreed to go behind the poet’s back and produced the volume without ever securing her approval.

We can imagine Moore’s shock when, one morning in early July of 1921, a similar volume to the Watkinson’s showed up in her mailbox shipped straight from the Egoist Press, London, her name gracing its cover and the very poems she’d so vigorously guarded now printed within. Although she refused to indulge in anger or assign blame, explaining at the time that she knew her friends had acted “out of love,” Moore nonetheless had sharply wry words for Bryher in a letter written that afternoon: “I received a copy of my poems this morning with your letter and a letter from Miss Weaver … In Variations of Plants and Animals under Domestication, Darwin speaks of a variety of pigeon that is born naked and without any down whatever. I feel like that Darwinian gosling.”

A Passion for Revision

Moore4Of particular note in the Watkinson’s copy of Poems (1921) is the presence of hand-written corrections to the text by Marianne Moore herself. This extraordinary habit was apparently characteristic of the poet, who made it her practice to revise, in pen, those things within her previously published volumes which had come to displease her. In the Watkinson’s copy, inscribed by Moore herself to noted bibliophile and Trinity stalwart Harry Bacon Collamore in 1957, we witness the poet carefully editing ‘mistakes’ fixed into print some thirty-six years previous, with a firm hand and a practiced attention to detail: not ‘Talisman’ but rather ‘A Talisman’ she insists, appending the new letter both to the table of contents and the head of the poem, even as she attentively re-works the notices of prior publication to correct what she must have felt were unforgivable failures made during the placement of commas in the original.

Grace Schulman, editor of the Penguin Classics collection of Moore’s poetry, recalls the poet sending Schulman a copy of her book Nevertheless “with textual insertions and deletions she had made in ink,” a practice Schulman associates with what she calls Moore’s “passion for revision.” The Watkinson’s copy too bears these marks left behind by Moore’s ceaseless, systematic review of her prior work, and stands as evidence of her dedication to change, her steady refusal to accept notions of fixed textual permanence which often attach to the event of publication.Moore3


Finally, a note for the typographically inclined — throughout this edition we encounter an unusual type of ligature, which is a term typesetters use for any connection inked between two otherwise distinct letters, such as the joined ‘æ’ still employed at times in modern English. In the Watkinson’s Egoist Press edition of Poems, however, there are ligatures on virtually every page, most often linking adjacent s-t and c-t pairs in a purely decorative fashion; this was a ‘house style’ characteristic of their London typesetter, and which was thought to lend text a certain ‘archaic’ quality, reminiscent for readers of the much more widespread use of such decorative techniques by publishers of the past.

Moore5The professional term for such a ligature, that is, a ligature which is purely discretionary and used solely for ornament, is a ‘gadzook’ — a term coined, like the curse word which shares its origin, as a variant of the blasphemous “God’s hooks,” referring to the nails used to attach Christ to the cross (that long-time British favorite, ‘bloody,’ is similarly evolved from the blasphemous “God’s blood!”). While the specific origin of this usage in typography is obscure, the visual reference, along with its nod to archaism, remains perfectly clear.


Schulze, Robin G., ed. Becoming Marianne Moore: The Early Poems, 1907-1924. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. Print.

Schulman, Grace, ed. The Poems of Marianne Moore. New York: Penguin Books, 2005. Print.

Shin, Nick. “Diggin’ It: The Buried Treasures of Typography.” Graphic Exchange mag. N.d. Web. 21 April 2016.