Ahoy, Savoy!


The Savoy, April 1896 | AP4 S37 c. 2 no. 2

The eight issues that comprise the full print run of The Savoy magazine are part of the RBC’s William Butler Yeats Collection. Yeats contributed poems, stories, and essays to the short-lived periodical, prompted by his friendship with the magazine’s editor, Arthur Symons. Through his association with The Savoy and with Symons, Yeats developed an interest in the Symbolist poetry of Paul Verlaine, Stéphane Mallarmé, and others—a connection sometimes overlooked in evaluating Yeats’s long career as a poet.


Proof of cover design for April 1896 issue of The Savoy | AP4 S37p

The Savoy made its debut in 1896, a transitional moment in British letters when the aesthetically driven Decadent movement rebranded itself as the avant-garde Symbolist movement. Symons, a jobbing writer remembered now mostly for his literary criticism, provides an explicit link between decadence and Symbolism: in 1893, before his work on The Savoy, Symons authored a manifesto “The Decadent Movement in Literature,” defining the key features and leading writers of “art for art’s sake”; in 1899, two years after the close of The Savoy, Symons expanded the essay to a book-length work, retitling it The Symbolist Movement in Literature.

AP4-S37_c2_no7 copy

The Savoy | AP4 S37 c. 2 no. 7


Proof of cover design | AP4 S37p

Symons’s partner in shaping the aesthetic and artistic parameters of The Savoy was illustrator Aubrey Beardsley. Beardsley had previously worked as art editor and designer for Elkin Mathews and John Lane’s The Yellow Book—to which Symons also contributed—but he was asked to resign after Oscar Wilde’s conviction for gross indecency colored Beardsley’s past association with Wilde as scandalous. Mathews and Lane’s squeamishness was not shared by the publisher of The Savoy, Leonard Smithers. Smithers, whose publishing ventures included erotic texts as well as literature, encouraged Beardsley and Symons’s artistic productions.


Proof for Beardsley’s design for advertising matter | AP4 S37p

In addition to the full print run of The Savoy, the RBC holds printing proofs of Beardsley’s designs for The Savoy, annotated with Smithers’s notes on production. These proofs have appeared previously on the RBC blog, following a lecture by collector Mark Samuels Lasner that discussed their status as true proofs—not later reproductions of Beardsley’s artwork.

While Beardsley’s designs for The Yellow Book had featured bold contrasts of white and black, for The Savoy Beardsley developed a style incorporating the use of texture and fine detail. Beardsley’s cover art, in particular, reflects the richer designs of his illustrations for The Rape of the Lock and Lysistrata. Beardsley’s drawings, prized now for their artistic excellence, are often reproduced divorced from their original contexts; the RBC’s proofs of Beardsley’s designs for The Savoy remind us that Beardsley was a working artist, and above all an illustrator of texts.


Proof of “Pages from the Life of Lucy Newcombe” | AP4 S37 c. 4 no. 8 1-3

In addition to the proofs of Beardsley’s drawings, the RBC also holds three drafts written by Arthur Symons related to the short story “The Childhood of Lucy Newcombe,” which appeared in the final number of The Savoy. Symons wrote three stories about Lucy Newcombe, a fictionalized character drawn from the life of Edith Catherine Robichaud: born Edith Catherine Broadbent; called Ryllis Llewellyn Hacon during her first marriage.


Typescript draft of the end of the “Life of Lucy Newcombe” | AP4 S37 c. 4 no. 8 proof 1-3

Robichaud, an artist’s model and escort under the names “Amaryllis” and “Muriel,” was Symons’s mistress. Her past, steeped in mystery and intrigue, becomes in Symons’s stories a psychological character study. Symons planned to turn the series into a novel, a project he clung to even after the close of the magazine. Symons wrote to novelist Thomas Hardy for advice on the novel, citing Jude the Obscure as one of his influences, but Hardy discouraged Symons from seeking a publisher. Hardy warned Symons that his risqué choice of a sex worker for a protagonist would ruin his reputation.


Typescript draft of the end of “The Life of Lucy Newcombe” | AP4 S37 c. 4 no. 8 proof 1-3



Despite her scandalous past, the real Lucy Newcombe went on to become an incredibly successful society matron: she married William Llewellyn Hacon, became a great patron of the arts, and joined the women’s suffrage movement. Even after ending her career as an artist’s model, Robichaud sat for several prominent painters, including Charles Condor, whose 1896 painting of Robichaud “The Shore at Dornach, Highlands” hangs in the Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museum.

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Fort San Juan Lecture Available on the Web

Detail of map of La Florida showing Xuala or Joara near present-day Morganton, North Carolina, based on the work of Spanish royal cartographer Gerónimo Chiaves from Abraham Ortelius, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Antwerp, 1592) | G1006 T5 1592

Detail of “La Florida” map showing Xuala or Joara near present-day Morganton, North Carolina, based on the work of Spanish royal cartographer Gerónimo Chiaves. From Abraham Ortelius, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Antwerp, 1592) | G1006 T5 1592

On October 21st, Professor David Moore of Warren Wilson College delivered a fascinating lecture on the excavation of the first European inland settlement in what is now the United States: Fort San Juan, established by the Spanish in 1567 in present-day North Carolina. For those who were unable to attend and learn about the fort’s history and that of the neighboring Native American town, Joara, we’re pleased to announce that a video is now available on the Library News and Events Blog.

The exhibition Chronicles of Empire: Spain in the Americas, which includes the map above in its display of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century publications, continues on view through January 10, 2016.

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Carolina Kabuki Blue Halloween

Kuge-Bōrei, The Ghost of Abe-no-Nakamaro (a court noble) devised by Sawamura Sōjūrō, the Fourth (1784-1812) , plat no. 34 in Masaru Kobayashi, Kabuki kumadori gaikan (Kyoto: Guroriya Sosaete, 1931).

Kuge-Bōrei, The Ghost of Abe-no-Nakamaro (a court noble) devised by Sawamura Sōjūrō, the Fourth (1784-1812) , plate no. 34 in Masaru Kobayashi, Kabuki kumadori gaikan (Kyoto: Guroriya Sosaete, 1931).

The RBC has just prioritized the cataloging of the books in Paul Green’s library that relate to Japanese drama. The late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and former UNC professor spent three weeks in Japan in 1951. There, Kabuki theater made a deep impression on him. An article on his visit in the November 7, 1951, issue of the Nippon Times quotes Green on Kabuki: “Japan’s got the best acting and the best produced plays I have ever seen.”

Green, a lover of books, brought back a number of rare and valuable volumes on Japanese theater. These were eventually gifted to the UNC Library.  The plate reproduced above comes from a beautifully made prewar volume on Kabuki makeup.

The color blue, associated in our part of the world with Carolina, was associated with spirits and demons in Kabuki theater. The frightening spectral face above sets a high standard for terrifying countenances, making it our staff pick for a Halloween post.

Green was reported to have wished to adapt elements of Kabuki staging to his outdoor dramas. However, to our knowledge, he evinced no desire to adapt Kabuki makeup for the modern American theater, although his book collecting shows his keen interest in its expressive power.

The Japanese volumes from Green’s library promise to be a rich resource for students of Asian theater at UNC.

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Spain and the Americas and Banned Book Week


Expurgated copy of Lucio Marineo, Opus de Rebus Hispaniae Memorabilibus … (Alcalá de Henares, 1533) | Folio DP64 .M33 1533

Continue reading

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Letterpress Appreciation Day

Baldo Bartolini, De dotibus et dotatis mulieribus ([Venice] : Expensis [et] ingenio Paganini de Paganinis .... 9 March 1496) | Folio-2 Incunabula 354.5

Baldo Bartolini, De dotibus et dotatis mulieribus ([Venice] : Paganini de Paganinis …. 9 March 1496) | Folio-2 Incunabula 354.5

The beautiful sight of letterpress, inked and in blind, on fifteenth-century paper. It’s Letterpress Appreciation Day. Take a printer—or a rare book librarian—out to dinner!


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Jeepers, Creepers, a Peepshow!

One of the Rare Book Collection’s most unusual acquisitions this year has also proved to be one of the more challenging items to view: a perspective peepshow of an eighteenth-century print shop.


The peepshow cards arranged without a display. Without a structure to separate the cards, the scene is flattened.

Peepshows are two-dimensional, printed or manuscript illustrated cards incorporating cut-outs that, when arranged together, form a three-dimensional scene. Peepshows have a long history as a form of popular entertainment. Examples of peepshows can be found in cultures across the world, but the genre gained widespread popularity in Europe during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Peepshows appeared in the streets, peddled by itinerant street showmen, and in the parlor, alongside paper dolls, board games, and other amusements for the evening hours.


A single card from the peepshow. Each card contains many small details that contribute to the vibrancy of the complete scene.

Peepshows varied a great deal in their complexity. Very simple peepshows might consist only of a series of cards, while more elaborate displays incorporated lighting or special bi-convex lenses to enhance the illusion of three-dimensionality. Some peepshows used a thin, accordion-fold tissue along each side of the card series to connect the scene together—see, for example, this 1846 peepshow held at the Getty Research Institute. Other peepshows were designed to be set up in a custom box made of wood or metal. The box held the cards apart from one another and let in an appropriate level of light, allowing the viewer a peep inside the scene.


Custom display built by Conservator Andrea Knowlton for viewing the peepshow cards.

Our perspective peepshow was probably intended to be viewed in such a box. The cards can, of course, be examined one at a time, but to see the full scene as intended, a custom display had to be built.


Cards arranged in the custom display. Each card is supported upright and has enough room to maintain the integrity of the three-dimensional scene.

Conservator Andrea Knowlton rose to the challenge, creating this custom display. Though straightforward in its design, the execution of the stand took careful planning. Andrea first had to calculate how far apart each card should stand—too close and the details of some cards would be obscured, too far apart and the illusion of three-dimensionality would be ruined. Andrea also needed to ensure that the stand did not block out too much light. Finally, the stand needed to properly support each card upright and allow easy access to the cards so that they would not be damaged during set up or removal.


Arranged properly, the cards in the peepshow give the illusion of a three-dimensional scene.

Our peepshow shows the interior of a print shop with surprising detail. At the front of the shop, a worker dampens paper to prepare it for the press. There are two presses depicted, each in a different stage of the printing process. The first press is being inked using ink balls while a second pressman readies the sheet of paper to be printed. At the second press, a pressman is pulling the bar to make an impression. Behind the press, the copy text is written out in a fair hand and given to the compositors, who can be seen at the back of the shop. Each compositor uses a composing stick to arrange moveable type—stored in the large, tilted cases—into words and sentences.


Each peepshow card is rich with historical detail, such as the work practices and tools of the printing trade. In this card, the copyist is producing the copy text to give to the compositors; and a worker is hanging a printed sheet up to dry.

If you are interested in learning more about the operation of a common press, there are some wonderful demonstration videos online, like this series from the Museum Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp, Belgium. Or, come visit us in Wilson Library to take a peep at the peepshow yourself.


In addition to building a custom display for the peepshow, Andrea stabilized the delicate cut-outs on several cards, to ensure that they would not be damaged during use.

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Books in the Summer Sands

Carl Maria Seyppel, Christoph Columbus Logbuch (Düsseldorf, 189-?)

Carl Maria Seyppel, Christoph Columbus Logbuch (Düsseldorf, 189-?)

Perhaps some of our followers are headed for one last weekend at the Outer Banks, hoping to read a few good paperbacks under their beach umbrellas. But you never know what may wash ashore if you’re dressed in your sailor stripes. Curator Claudia Funke and departing staff member Matt Karkutt reveal here the faces behind the winter 2014 sweater posts and a fanciful artist’s book of the 1890s, created to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s first voyage to America. Its cover adorned with sand, seaweed, and shells, the volume is intended to look like it was recovered after having been lost at sea and is subtitled as a “secret writing” by Columbus for his son Diego.

The Rare Book Collection has plunged deep into the Age of Discovery as it prepares for the September 14 opening of the exhibition Chronicles of Empire: Spain in the Americas. Part of the commemoration “One Hundred Years of Latin American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,” the show will display the very real sixteenth- and seventeenth-century volumes in the RBC that tell the story of Spain’s exploration, conquest, and settlement of the Western Hemisphere. Expect more information in future Library and Chapel Hill Rare Book Blog posts.

We end here now by thanking our good colleague Matt Karkutt for his assistance in this post and for his numerous positive contributions to Wilson Library and the Rare Book Collection. We wish him all the best on his next voyage of discovery.

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Emma at 200


AP3 L34 v. 44 | The Ladies Magazine (London: Printed for G. Robinson, 1813)

From June 18th to 21st, nearly 100 graduate students, professors, secondary educators, and Jane Austen fans of all ages converged on Chapel Hill to partake in a weekend celebrating the 200th anniversary of Emma. Headed by UNC Professors Inger Brodey and James Thompson of the Department of English and Comparative Literature, the Jane Austen Summer Program (JASP) has now completed its third year and is quickly becoming a June tradition for Janeites from near and far.

photo 1 copy

JASP attendees viewing books on exhibition in the Grand Reading Room, Wilson Library

While many of the festivities occur off campus at the Friday Center for Continuing Education, the 2015 program kicked off by introducing attendees to some of the fascinating resources on campus with an exhibit selected from the Rare Book Collection of the Wilson Special Collections Library. “Emma, at Home and at Play,” curated by UNC graduate students Rachael Isom and Ted Scheinman and displayed in Wilson’s Grand Reading Room, included a variety of items designed to offer textual, cultural, and historical entry points for guests, as they approached the events and discussions of the weekend.

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PR4034 E5 |Jane Austen. Emma: A Novel (London: John Murray, 1816) | The first edition of Emma, as it appeared in the JASP exhibition.

Comprised of seventeen items from the Rare Book Collection, this exhibit took shape around three approaches to Austen’s novel: the first-edition text of Emma and its illustrated afterlives, books allusively woven into Emma’s daily life, and contemporaneous cultural artifacts that offer a more detailed entry into that lifestyle.

photo 1 copy

PR4034 .E5 1909 | Jane Austen. Emma (London: Dent; New York: Dutton, 1909) | This 1909 edition of Emma includes illustrations by C.E. Brock.

The first segment of the exhibit contained the 1816 Emma (which actually appeared in December 1815), the first of Austen’s novels to be published by John Murray, as well as two twentieth-century New York editions illustrated by C. E. Brock (1909) and Fritz Kredel (1964). Rounding out this section was a mid-twentieth-century critical work by R. W. Chapman, an object of especial interest because of its former ownership and annotations by C. S. Lewis.

The second section invited JASP attendees to consider the books that might have constituted Emma’s library at Highbury by showing examples of texts alluded to in the novel. Prolific eighteenth-century writers Oliver Goldsmith, Ann Radcliffe, and Thomas Gray were joined by lesser known authors of educational texts and Gothic novels to show the various reading interests of Emma, Harriet Smith, and other characters.

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AY13 .L23 | The Ladies’ Annual Journal, or, Complete Pocket-Book (London: Scatherd and Letterman, 1819)

The final section grouped together books contemporary to Austen. From fashion plates in The Lady’s Magazine to sheet music by J. B. Cramer, cookbooks and pocketbooks to a unique family scrapbook, these items presented visitors with a sense of the larger social setting of Austen’s Emma. Perhaps guests could imagine Jane Fairfax playing one of Cramer’s sonatas or Mr. Woodhouse flipping through Mrs. Glasse’s Art of Cookery looking for the perfect gruel recipe. Thus, as JASP attendees returned to the text, they could take with them pieces of the culture in which it was written and set by Austen.


AP3 L34 v. 44 | The Ladies Magazine (London: Printed for G. Robinson, 1813)

In its first year as a Jane Austen Summer Program event, the exhibit was well-received by attendees. Naturally, Austen fans were particularly excited to see a first-edition of Emma, but one guest also remarked that the display as a whole was “well-organized and informative.” Many also commented on the “beautiful” Grand Reading Room venue and look forward to more opportunities to visit Wilson Library.

One such opportunity awaits at next year’s Jane Austen Summer Program, which will feature a special exhibit inspired by Austen’s 1814 novel Mansfield Park. The event, slated for the weekend of June 16–19, 2016, will be open to the UNC-Chapel Hill community as well as to the program’s attendees. For more information, please visit www.janeaustensummer.org.

Rachael Isom is a Ph.D. student in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at UNC. Her research focuses particularly on the intersections of religion and literature in women’s poetry of the Romantic and early Victorian periods. She also serves as Assistant Editor of the Keats-Shelley Journal and works as a Project Assistant for the William Blake Archive.

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Waving the Flag—in 1910


On the 4th of July, many will be waving the U.S. flag.

In 1910, when sixteen-year-old poet Christina Moody was publishing, it would have been the 46-star one, like that above. We post the flag of Christina’s era on this national holiday, along with pages from the African-American girl’s rare book of poetry, Tiny Spark. Her only known publication, the small volume of varied verse has attracted scholarly and critical attention in recent decades. The two facing poems below have a special resonance today because of recent tragic events that have brought flags to the fore. The poems encourage us to think deeply about symbols and identity, and what it means to be a citizen of the United States of America, as we commemorate the day when our nation was founded.

Christina Moody, Tiny Spark (Washington, D.C., 1910) / PS3525.O47 T5 1910

Christina Moody, Tiny Spark (Washington, D.C., 1910) / PS3525.O47 T5 1910

Portrait and p14

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Happy International Day of Yoga

Baḥr al-ḥayāt (Hamd-i mawfūr wa thanā-yi nā-maḥsur haḍrat-i  ṣamadī-ra.) India: 11 Rabi I, 1130 (12 February 1718). PK3791 .A46 1718

Baḥr al-ḥayāt (Hamd-i mawfūr wa thanā-yi nā-maḥsur haḍrat-i
ṣamadī-ra.) India: 11 Rabi I, 1130 (12 February 1718). PK3791 .A46 1718

Today, in honor of the First International Day of Yoga, we look at the dynamic history of the practice of yoga and how it has transformed through time and cultures. A book with some of the earliest illustrated yoga poses—the Baḥr al-ḥayāt—resides in the Rare Book Collection and offers an example of how treatises on yoga spread to the Islamic world through translations written between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries.

Untitled (Persian, sunasana), from the Baḥr al-ḥayāt

Untitled, from the Baḥr al-ḥayāt (1718).

The history of the Baḥr al-ḥayāt shows how yogic teachings moved from east to west as the practice, traditionally passed down orally, was written down and translated. The RBC’s copy of the Baḥr al-ḥayāt comes from a 1563 Persian translation of an Arabic version of the Amritakunda (“The Pool of Nectar”), which was a treatise on hatha yoga written in either Sanskrit or Hindi in the twelfth century. The Baḥr al-ḥayāt in UNC’s Rare Book Collection was written and illuminated in 1718, its illustrations likely copied from earlier Persian translations like this early seventeenth-century version from the Chester Beatty Library.

Through its many loose translations into Persian, Arabic, Ottoman Turkish, and Urdu, the text of the Baḥr al-ḥayāt morphed in different ways, as one might suspect. Early Arabic translators of the Amritakunda drew parallels between Indic and Arabic spiritual practices in order to make yoga more accessible to Muslims. In fact, in Persian and Arabic translations, the asanas (yoga postures) were referred to as mantra chants or ascetic practices instead of physical poses. Translators also added quotations from the Koran and hadiths to the text. To Muslims studying the translations, the teachings of the Baḥr al-ḥayāt probably would have seemed to mesh well with their own faith.

Uttanakurmasana (Persian, vajra)

Uttanakurmasana, from the Baḥr al-ḥayāt (1718).

Like the text, the illustrations of the RBC’s Baḥr al-ḥayāt were also likely copied from older versions and reflect changes over time. The varying appearance of successive copies was likely due to differences in regional artistic style. The illustration above, from the RBC’s Baḥr al-ḥayāt, is much simpler than the one here, from the earlier Baḥr al-ḥayāt in the Chester Beatty Library.

the Baḥr al-ḥayāt (1718).

A yogi with his pet in the Baḥr al-ḥayāt (1718). Not much has changed!

We wish you an enjoyable June 21st, whether celebrating the fathers in your family, the summer solstice, or now, thanks to a United Nations General Assembly resolution, yoga!

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