Restless Raleigh

“‘Fortune’s Tennis Ball’: Sir Walter Raleigh as Writer and Subject” will be the topic of a discussion by three speakers at Wilson Library today, Tuesday April 1st, at 3:00 p.m.  The panel will include Christopher M. Armitage, UNC Professor of English and Comparative Literature—who served as the editor to the recently published book Literary and Visual Ralegh (that’s not a typo), published last year by Manchester University Press—and two contributors to the book: Thomas Herron, Associate Professor in the Department of English at East Carolina University, and Julian Lethbridge, Lecturer, English Language and Literature, at the University of Tübingen in Germany.  The North Carolina Collection is sponsoring the talk and will be displaying Raleigh’s History of the World (published at London, and printed for Walter Bvrre, in 1614) and his The history of the world: in five books (one set of this edition belonged to Edward Gibbon, who wrote The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.  In diary entries from 1762 and 1763 Gibbon documented his reading of books by and about Raleigh.)  Other items from the NCC’s Sir Walter Raleigh Collection will also be on display.

Statue of Sir Walter Raleigh in downtown Raleigh, N. C.

Statue of Sir Walter Raleigh in downtown Raleigh, N. C. photographed by Hugh Morton in April 1979.

With that shameless plug out of the way . . . here at A View to Hugh, I couldn’t pass up the chance to show Hugh Morton’s photographs of Sir Walter Raleigh.  Well, not the gent born more than 200 years before the conception of photography, but more recent incarnations caught by Morton’s camera.

First up—the statue of Sir Walter in downtown Raleigh, photographed in 1979.  Talk about a tennis ball . . . this statue has been relocated several times since its dedication on December 3rd, 1976.  You can learn some of its history by reading this statue’s entry in “Commemorative Landscape,” a website published by UNC Library’s Documenting the American South.  Seems like the London’s statue of Raleigh has had to endure relocation, too.  Maybe better heads will prevail and these statues will continue to stand statuesquely in their final resting places.

Andy Griffith as Sir Walter Raleigh with other cast members of "The Lost Colony" outdoor drama, circa late 1940s-early 1950sNext . . . Sir Walter, Mount Airy style.  Andy Griffith played the role of Raleigh in The Lost Colony, which we blogged about back in 2012.

There’s also a photograph of the British queen receiving Raleigh.

Luther Hodges presents statue of Sir Walter Raleigh to Qeen Elizabeth IIThere are a couple handfuls of other related “Raleigh” images by Morton in the online collection.  Take a gander!

 

Stories of a Not-So-Buried Life

Thomas Wolfe Memorial, Sept. 1958

Though this admission may cause some to question my Tar Heel credentials, I will confess that I am currently reading Thomas Wolfe‘s Look Homeward, Angel for the very first time. It’s a moving and incredibly rich book, though, okay, occasionally long-winded. As I read, I am struck again and again by the vibrant imagery of Wolfe’s language — his descriptions of nature and food, in particular, truly engage the senses.

Thus it would come as no surprise that someone as visually-minded as Hugh Morton would feel some affinity to Wolfe — not to mention that both were “big men on campus” at UNC-Chapel Hill in times of war (Wolfe during WWI and Morton during WWII). In 1941 (only a few years after Wolfe’s untimely death) Morton had his own first-person encounter with Angel‘s milieu. As he recounts on page 7 of Sixty Years with a Camera:

While I was a student at Chapel Hill, the CAROLINA MAGAZINE sent me to Asheville to interview Julia Wolfe, the mother of novelist Thomas Wolfe, at the Old Kentucky Home. You remember that Tom wasn’t very kind to his mother in his book….and for a while I wasn’t sure that I was going to be kind to her. But after I’d been there for a day, she warmed up, became very friendly, and took me out to the cemetery to see his grave.

Ed Rankin describes this same event on page 249 of Making a Difference in NC, quoting Morton as saying that “[Mrs. Wolfe] was obviously proud of her son, proud of the success his works enjoyed…but she had mixed feelings about what he had written about her. Perhaps she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.”

I have to say that these Morton images certainly conform to my mental picture of Angel‘s Eliza Gant, the white-faced, pursed-lipped penny-pincher who endlessly tormented her youngest son Eugene.

The North Carolina Collection here in Wilson Library holds several Wolfe-related collections, including a photograph collection. Library staff are currently working on an overhaul of the online access to these collections, so keep your eye out for some nice new finding aids!

And speaking of Wolfe-related imagery, UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South is currently exhibiting artist Douglas Gorsline’s rarely-shown original drawings for the first illustrated edition of Angel, loaned from the North Carolina Collection. The drawings are on display through September 30, with a public reception next Thursday (8/27) featuring live music and dramatic readings from the novel.