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This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection. We return to the occult in this week’s feature from the Santo Domingo Collection. Today’s author is Austin Osman Spare, an English artist, writer, and occultist active in the first half of the twentieth century. While Spare’s finely-wrought [...]

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The heavily annotated books seen here belonged not to a famous mathematician or physicist but to the English literary critic and poet William Empson (1906-1984), best known for his first book, Seven Types of Ambiguity: A Study of its Effects on English Verse (1930), which established Empson, seemingly overnight, as one of the most important [...]

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This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Santo Domingo collection. This recently-cataloged volume from the Santo Domingo Collection appears to be an unexceptional 1932 printing of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland: the book’s illustrated covers have faded, and its acidic paper stock has gone from white to tan. [...]

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This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Santo Domingo collection. The Santo Domingo collection is broad in scope, but its many volumes also accommodate exhaustive collecting of a number of particular authors. Among these is David Gascoyne (1916-2001), the British poet and translator known for his association with [...]

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Charles Armitage Brown (1787-1842) is perhaps best known for his friendship with the poet John Keats.  A skilled amateur artist, Brown is responsible for one of the most recognizable images of his friend. Houghton recently acquired a bound album of Brown’s drawings, produced between 1809 and 1811.  The ink drawings include sixty-four heads, studies Brown [...]

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A poet in love

In 1818, poet John Keats (1795-1821) met Fanny Brawne (1800-1865), his neighbor in Hampstead.  Keats was immediately intrigued by Brawne’s intelligence and beauty.  The two fell in love, despite the obstacles of Keats’s health and poor finances.  They exchanged frequent letters, and Brawne inspired some of Keats’s most well-known poetry. Houghton is currently exhibiting items [...]

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Coleridge takes a memo

While best known as a Romantic poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) held government posts in the British government of Malta from April 1804 to September 1805.  The location was chosen in part to aid the poet’s poor health. From April 1804 to September 1805, Coleridge served in Malta as Secretary to the Governor, Sir Alexander [...]

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Records of reading

We recently acquired two very different manuscript library catalogs: one, a list of books purchased for the Reading Society, Benevolent Society, and Sunday School of Bury, Lancashire from 1806-1826, and the second, the catalogue of the Dundas family’s private library at Melville Castle near Edinburgh, compiled in 1862.  Library catalogs often can be much more [...]

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Pocket pick

This ballad, titled “The Chapter on Pockets,” focuses on an essential item that many of us probably take for granted – the portable, convenient, and discreet pocket. Crudely printed, rife with spelling errors, and displaying a woodcut of a young woman walking in the countryside, the ballad references such disparate figures as Eve and Lawrence [...]

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Faust pas

In an 1820 letter to his son, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe stated that English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was hard at work translating Goethe’s closet drama Faust. Coleridge and his friends, however, openly expressed dislike for the German poet, and in 1834, Coleridge wrote, “I need not tell you that I never put pen to [...]

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Idyllic proofs

Alfred Tennyson first published his poem “Sea Dreams. An Idyll” in Macmillan’s Magazine in its January 1860 issue (for which he was paid between £250 and £300, an enormous sum for a single poem). We recently acquired the page proofs for this printing of the poem, with numerous manuscript annotations by Tennyson. (click on the [...]

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In 1910, Horace de Vere Cole and five friends, including Virginia Stephen (who would marry Leonard Woolf in 1912) and her brother Adrian Stephen (a classmate of Cole’s), coordinated and successfully carried out an elaborate hoax against the Royal Navy. Cole began by sending a telegram to the HMS Dreadnought, moored in Dorset, telling the [...]

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