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Virtually Dickinson

We are very pleased to announce the launch of the Emily Dickinson Archive, http://edickinson.org, an open-access site that brings together nearly all of Emily Dickinson’s extant poetry manuscripts. A collaborative effort across many institutions, the resource provides readers with images of manuscripts held in multiple libraries and archives, and also offers an array of transcriptions […]

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In the summer of 1869, Transcendentalist philosopher, essayist, and famed Concordian Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was presented with a challenging task.  Harvard College assigned him to obtain donations from fellow members of the Class of 1821.  The College wished to raise a sum of $500,000, a substantial sum even today. Emerson did not rush to […]

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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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The John Updike Archive, a vast collection of manuscripts, correspondence, books, photographs, artwork and other papers, has been acquired by Houghton Library. The Archive forms the definitive collection of Updike material, said Leslie Morris, Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts at Houghton Library, and will make the library the center for studies on the author’s […]

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Winifred Coombe Tennant (1874-1956) was a Welsh writer, politician, suffragette, and patron of the arts.  While her work to promote Welsh art, history, and culture are well known–and is extensively documented in her papers at the National Library of Wales–a group of papers bequeathed by Mrs. Coombe Tennant to the Houghton Library sheds new light […]

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Maurice Blanchot (1907-2003), novelist, literary theorist, philosopher, and journalist -  though a reclusive figure in the literary world – had a profound impact on twentieth-century thinkers such as George Bataille, Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Jean-Luc Nancy, among others.  A recent acquisition by the Library, a joint purchase by Modern Books and […]

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Prince Hall (1738-1807), known as the father of Black Freemasonry in the United States, worked as a minister, abolitionist, civil rights activist, and proponent of education for black children.  Details on Hall’s birth and early life are vague; the first record of Hall reveals he was a servant to William Hall of Boston.  Legally a […]

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Wild flowers

In 1846, while living at Brook Farm (the Transcendentalist utopian experiment in communal living) in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, artist Marianne Dwight (later Orvis) compiled this album of watercolor flower portraits.  Dwight (1816-1901) made a living creating lampshades and paintings, and her detailed punchwork designs can be seen on the cover of the album (click the […]

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We are pleased to announce a new online exhibition, “Public Poet, Private Man: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow at 200,” based on the 2007 exhibition curated by Christoph Irmscher. This exhibition seeks to represent Longfellow as he really was: not as the bogeyman of modernists wanting to exorcize the ghosts of their Victorian past, but as a […]

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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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Dragonsinger

Among our recent new acquisitions is a manuscript collection of Anne McCaffrey’s 1977 novel Dragonsinger, the second book in her Harper Hall trilogy and a part of the Dragonriders of Pern series. McCaffrey, a Radcliffe alum originally from Cambridge, has authored over 90 works.  This collection follows the creation of the novel, originally titled “The […]

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Ḥesāʼyāʼt

Yosip Audo (1790-1878), ‘Patriarch of Babylon’ 1847-78, was primate of the Eastern-rite Catholic church known as the Chaldean Church, in what is now Iraq. Audo is remembered in church history for his repeated attempts – always frustrated by Rome – to assert his jurisdiction over the ‘Syro-Malabar’ church in India. As a literary figure, Audo […]

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“The Wind begun to rock the Grass,” by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) is one of the most textually interesting in her corpus.She revised it over a period of nearly twenty years, and five versions survive: four in autograph, and one transcript of a lost autograph original.That “lost” original has now been recovered, and has found a […]

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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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Mailer at Harvard

Norman Mailer (1923-2007; Harvard class of 1943) leapt onto the literary stage in 1948 with the publication of his first novel, The Naked and the Dead, a partly autobiographical work based on his experiences during World War II. While he entered Harvard intending to major in engineering, he soon turned whole-heartedly to literature, joining the […]

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Head Case

On June 14, 1865, the following telegram was sent from Inspector General James Allen Hardie (1823-1876) to Dr. John Gray: The telegram reads: “The secretary of war requests that you come immediately to Washington for the purpose of making a medical examination of Payne the man who attempted to assassinate Sec. Seward please answer how […]

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In 1950, in Key West, playwright Tennessee Williams finished a second draft of “The Rose Tattoo,” a play he had begun the year before in Rome. Williams called this draft the “kitchen sink” draft, reasoning that “I have thrown into it every dramatic element I could think of. Perhaps all of them will work. Perhaps […]

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