Room 26 Cabinet of Curiosities

Unsophisticated Mary

Posted in Beinecke Library, Yale Collection of American Literature by beineckepoetry on September 28, 2012

Beatrice Wood, “A Nickellette, or Unsophisticated Mary” manuscript and painting, (YCAL MSS 219)

Otherwise known as the “Mama of Dada,” Beatrice Wood was an American artist influential in the first half of the 20th century. Interestingly, Wood was the inspiration for the character of Rose in James Cameron’s Titanic. Though she was primarily a potter and teacher, Wood also dabbled in the literary arts. Beinecke library has recently acquired one of her manuscripts, A Nickellette, or Unsophisticated Mary, adding to its already-extensive Beatrice Wood Papers (YCAL MSS 294).

The manuscript relates a story of Mary, a romantic woman who encounters a series of surreal adventures in contemporary New York City, which includes references to the Woolworth building and cobblestone streets, in a quest to find her lover. Written with pencil in a notebook, the heavily illustrated manuscript has increasingly decorative text that graphically represents action in the story, in addition to ink and pencil drawings and watercolors that depict situations and characters. In an inscription by Wood in 1978 on the front flyleaf, “I wrote this when I was twenty – I am now ashamed at its adolescent crudity.” The watercolor depicts the visage of the main character of the manuscript and had previously served as the cover for the notebook, August 1918.

–Ariel Doctoroff, Yale 2013

And what if ‘no birds sing’?

Posted in Beinecke Library, Yale Collection of American Literature by beineckepoetry on September 24, 2012

September 27 marks the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, published by Houghton Mifflin in 1962, a provocative work that explores the consequences of the overuse of pesticides on the natural environment. The book’s publication incited the ire of the chemical industry and triggered a federal investigation into the misuse of pesticides, which resulted in Congressional hearings in 1963 and the tightening of chemical pesticide regulations.

Silent Spring was originally serialized in the The New Yorker in June of that same year.

Rachel Carson received the Audubon Medal, from the National Audubon Society, for Silent Spring, among other recognitions. She died of cancer on April 14, 1964. A national wildlife refuge on the coast of Maine is named for Carson (

A guide to the items in the Rachel Carson papers, YCAL MSS 46, which include the 1958 letter from Olga Huckins, who writes that aerial DDT spraying “killed about a dozen of my darling half-tame birds” and is said to have been the impetus for Silent Spring, can be found here:

Items from the collection that have been digitized are available here:

Images: Cover of first edition of Silent Spring; covers of New Yorker magazines, June 1962; letter from Olga Huckins to Rachel Carson, Jan. 27, 1958. From the Yale Collection of American Literature, Rachel Carson Papers, YCAL MSS 46,  Box 43, Folder 814.


This Week at the Beinecke

Posted in Beinecke Library by beineckepoetry on September 17, 2012

Arnold Rampersad
“Reflections on Nationalism & Literature”
Tuesday, September 18 | 4:00 PM
Arnold Rampersad is one of the nation’s premier biographers and has authored books on W.E.B. DuBois, Jackie Robinson, Arthur Ashe, Ralph Ellison, and the definitive biography of Langston Hughes. He is a fellow of the MacArthur, Guggenheim, and Rockefeller Foundations, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.Co-sponsored by the Department of African American Studies 
Robert Day
“Where I Am Now”
Wednesday, September 19 | 4:30 PM
Robert Day will read from his new book, Where I Am Now. The Kansas native is an award-winning author and highly regarded professor, and a vivid storyteller. Day’s short fiction has been awarded two Seaton Prizes, a Pen Faulkner/NEA prize, and Best American Short Story and Pushcart citations.Co-sponsored by the Howard R. Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders 
David Lida
“Mexico Noir”
Thursday, September 20 | 4:00 PM
Journalist David Lida has made Mexico City his home since 1990, and will read from his forthcoming novel. In 2006, Lida began conducting investigations for defense lawyers whose Mexican clients are facing the death penalty in the U.S. Lida retraces their lives, looking for mitigating circumstances in the hopes of convincing the prosecution to take death off the table. This work has taken him to the most downtrodden places in Mexico—from starving agricultural villages to cities plagued by the drug war.


Marilynne Robinson Papers

Posted in Beinecke Library, Yale Collection of American Literature by beineckepoetry on September 14, 2012

The Yale Collection of American Literature at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library has acquired the papers of Pulitzer-prize winning author and essayist Marilynne Robinson. A description of the collection can be found online: Marilynne Robinson Papers, YCAL MSS 609.

The collection consists of writings, correspondence, other papers, and audiovisual materials. Writings include published works including Housekeeping, Connie Bronson, Mother Country, The Death of Adam, Gilead, and Home, as well as unpublished fiction and student writings. Correspondence includes family, personal, and professional correspondence, and fan mail. Other papers consist of printed material, clippings, photographs, and miscellaneous papers.

Robinson has been acclaimed for the poetic way in which she explores the “Big Themes” of religion, the soul, and the significance of mankind through both fiction and non-fiction. Her first novel, Housekeeping (1980),was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and won the Hemingway Foundation/Pen Award for Best First Novel. Gilead, the fictional autobiography of small-town Congregationalist pastor John Ames, won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize. Robinson’s 3rd-person retelling of the events in Gilead, Home, won the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction (UK). Robinson has also published four books of non-fiction, Mother Country: Britain, the Welfare State, and Nuclear Pollution (1989); The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought (1998); Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness From the Inner Self (2010); and, most recently, When I Was a Child I Read Books: Essays.

Ms. Robinson graduated magna cum laude from Pembrooke College, the former women’s college at Brown University, in 1966, and received her PhD in English from Washington State University in 1977. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences elected her a fellow in 2010. She has been writer-in-residence or visiting professor at a number of universities, including the University of Kent, Amherst, the University of Massachusetts MFA Program for Poets, and Yale University. She currently teaches at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and delivers occasional sermons at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Iowa City.

–Charlotte Parker, Y’2013

Funny rhymes!

Posted in Beinecke Library, Shirley Collection by beineckepoetry on September 10, 2012

Ye Comical Rhymes of Ancient Times, Dug Up Into Jokes For Small Folks (New York: Hurd & Houghton, circa 1864)

Laughing! Out! Loud!!!

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Next Stop . . . Planet Hershel

Posted in Beinecke Library, Modern General Collection by beineckepoetry on September 4, 2012

A late 18th century guide to astronomy listing the most recent observations.
Included in the list of known planets is a then-recent discovery, a planet named “Hershel” –
what is today known as Uranus. Discovered in 1781 by the German polymath, Sir Frederick William Herschel,
the planet was first known as “The Georgian Star”, for Britain’s King George III.
Due to the King’s lack of popularity in France, that country used the name “Hershel”.

Prévost, de S. A. L’astronomie Mise a La Portée De Tout Le Monde: Contenant Un Traité De La Sphère, Un Traité D’astronomie & Un Traité D’uranographie. A Saint Maixent: Chez François Lainé, Imprimeur, 1792.