Wordsworth Bibliography in Print

Mauchline fern ware binding on The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth (Edinburgh: William P. Nimmo ..., [between 1863 and 1873?] ) / Wordsworth PR5850 .E63 1863d c. 21

Mauchline fern ware binding on The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth (Edinburgh: William P. Nimmo …, [between 1863 and 1873?] ) / Wordsworth PR5850 .E63 1863d c. 21

At the end of 2010, Professor Emeritus Mark L. Reed, III, made a bountiful gift to the UNC Rare Book Collection, his extensive William Wordsworth collection. An exceptional scholar and collector, Professor Reed amassed a remarkable group of Wordsworth printings, dating from the end of the eighteenth century through the early twentieth century and including volumes with notable provenance, as well as examples from large  stereotype editions in variant bindings. For a full discussion of the gift, see “Worthy of Wordsworth” in Windows, vol. 20, no. 1 (Spring 2011), pages 10-11.

This in-depth collecting became the basis for a project to record the editions and special physical attributes of Wordsworth publications. And so, Professor Reed also  examined numerous other copies at institutions in the U.S. and abroad. His concentrated research and collecting has culminated in the recent two-volume work, A Bibliography of William Wordsworth 1787-1930, published by Cambridge University Press in Spring 2013.


The Technical Services staff of Wilson Special Collections Library are making good use of Professor Reed’s masterful bibliography as they catalog the over one thousand titles of his magnificent gift. Records are appearing daily in the University Library’s online catalog, enabling access to the volumes in Wilson Library’s second floor North Carolina Collection / Rare Book Collection Reading Room. The RBC is grateful to Eileen Dewitya, Sandi Honnold, and Page Life, emerita cataloger, for their single-minded perseverance in providing the proper cataloging.

We expect the RBC Wordsworth Collection to be a rich resource for present and future generations of Romantic literature scholars, as well as for all those interested in the history of the book in the nineteenth century. And so our loudest lauds and appreciation go to Professor Reed for his scholarly dedication, collecting talent and tenacity, and overwhelming generosity to UNC-Chapel Hill. Thank you Professor Reed!

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Sensational Songs

Here in the Rare Book Collection, our materials often tell stories, both through their contents and what we can infer about their former owners. The other day I explored our catalog to see whether we have any broadside ballads—a printing genre related to the oral tradition of storytelling through song.

According to The Ballads Project at the Bodleian Library, “Broadside ballads were popular songs, sold for a penny or half-penny in the streets of towns and villages around Britain between the sixteenth and early twentieth centuries.” The Bodleian also describes them as “one of the cheapest forms of print available” at that time.

Ballad singers would peddle broadsides in busy streets and markets, advertising their wares by singing their contents. Ballads spread news, gossip, and legends and often told tales of romantic tragedy and terror.


Miscellaneous poems. / PR1181 .M5

In the RBC there is a slim volume of twelve eighteenth- and nineteenth-century broadside ballads bound together. The majority are murder ballads, an especially popular form that divulged the details of crimes both real and imagined. The murder ballads here include “The Wittham-Miller, or the Berkshire Tragedy,” “The Unhappy Lady of Hackney,” and “The London Damsel.” It is appropriate that this collection should find its way to UNC, as North Carolina ballad singers to this day sing murder ballads like “Omie Wise,” “Bolamkin,” and “Rose Connolly.”

What is most delightful about this little volume is that it also includes a manuscript ballad. Pasted at the front is a hand-written version of “The Merry Haymakers” (number 153 in the Roud Broadside Index), which tells a simple story of lads and lasses making hay. Upon the arrival of a piper, they throw down their rakes and begin making merry!

It is fascinating to read this pastoral ballad alongside grisly tales such as “The Wittham-Miller” above. In the late eighteenth century, collectors as well as Romantic poets like Robert Burns were beginning to pay attention to the oral tradition of ballad singing, which was related to the broadside tradition. Indeed, “The Merry Haymakers” exists in both. But ballads that survived in the oral tradition tended to be more lyrical and less news-driven. Perhaps this is an example of some of that early fieldwork and the cultural shift toward Romanticism.

Below is an image of “The Merry Haymakers” followed by a transcription.


Miscellaneous poems. / PR1181 .M5


Miscellaneous poems. / PR1181 .M5

In ye Month of July ye prime time of ye yeare
down in yondor Meadow thare runs A Riuer Cleare
& many a little fish dos in that riuer play
many a lad and many a Lass was abroad making hay

Then came in the seythe men to mow this meadow down
with budget & with bottle of Ale ye is so Brown
all Labouring men of Courage bould came there [say] to fiye
Lets whet & blow & stoutly for ye grass Cuts uery dry

Thare is Tib & Tommy with pitchfork & with Rake
with Molly Nel & Susan Came thare their hay to Make
Sweet Yug Yug Yug Yug Sweet the nightingale dosth Sing
from Morning till ye Euening as thay weare a hay making

but when brite phebus the Sun was going down
a mery disposed piper Aproaching from the Town
Puld out his pipe & Taber Resoluing for to play
which made em all lay down thare Rakes
& to Leave off Making hay

Then Jouning in a dance wee Trip it one a green
Though tired wth out Labour no wearyness is Seen
Each triping like to faires our dance we do pursue
with Leading up & fasting of till ye Morning its in vein

Then Each Lad he Takes his Lass the Morning being come
& layes down on thare hay focks till ye rising of the Sun
& Sporting all ye while ye harmless birds do Sing
& arise Each Lad & take ye Lass & away to hay making

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The Magic Mushrooms of Chapel Hill

Descourtilz, Des champignons comestibles, suspects et vénéneux (Paris, 1827) / Folio-2 QK617 .D47 atlas

Descourtilz, Des champignons comestibles, suspects et vénéneux (Paris, 1827) / Folio-2 QK617 .D47 atlas

This past summer, Chapel Hill has experienced extremely heavy rainfall. Every day, it seems, the clouds shower down, making it even greener than usual. But other vivid colors are also present, the moisture having nourished an amazing array of fungi.

Chapel Hill and the Piedmont are indeed an excellent area for mushroom foraging. To aid one in this potentially dangerous activity, the Rare Book Collection has an outstanding collection of rare mycological books, many donated by late UNC Professor William C. Coker, and still others by R. Philip Hanes in honor of John N. Couch.

Among the most visually spectacular of the RBC’s mushroom books is Michel Etienne Descourtilz’s Des champignons comestibles, suspects et vénéneux— On Mushrooms, Edible, Suspicious, and Poisonous—(Paris, 1827). It is actually one of the over 10,000 books of the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societiesthe oldest UNC student organization (founded in 1795)which helped to establish the University Library.

The hand-colored lithograph shown above is from the Descourtilz atlas volume and one of four plates devoted to suspicious mushrooms. However, the edible and poisonous are no less fantastic and scarey looking! And so we invoke these words of caution as we wish you happy hunting: “There are bold mushroom hunters. And there are old mushroom hunters. But there are no old, bold mushroom hunters.”

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Frank Borden Hanes, Sr., (January 21, 1920−July 17, 2013)

Frank B. Hanes, Sr., 2008

Frank B. Hanes, Sr., 2008 (photo by Bill Richards)

The University Library and the Rare Book Collection mourn the passing of a great benefactor and a wonderful, warm friend, Frank Hanes.

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Minneapolis Center Stage

A number of us have just returned from Minneapolis. There we attended the Preconference of the Rare Books & Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association.

The preconference theme was performance in special collections, broadly interpreted—from the refectory use of the earliest printed books to medical texts and the operating theater, to hip-hop archives, to “bibliography in action.”

It was an appropriately lively gathering, and we pay tribute to it here by an eclectic selection of Minneapolis-centric works from the Rare Book Collection: the city as setting for poetic expression, criminal doings, and collective action—all being varieties of performance. We begin with a nice segway from our last blog post, “Sisters Outsider.”


Beats Folio PS615 .W67 no. 28, cover art by Alex Katz

Beats Folio PS615 .W67 no. 28, p. 20

Beats Folio PS615 .W67 no. 28, p. 20

Diane di Prima, “Waikiki Room, Minneapolis” in  World, no. 28 (May 1973), mimeographed publication of the famous Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church In-the-Bowery, New York. The Waikiki Room was a drinking/dining establishment located in a succession of Minneapolis hotels. Apparently, it made poet di Prima feel more at home in the Midwest; doesn’t everyone feel more at home in a Tiki room lounge?  St. Mark’s Church was, of course, the ultimate New York poetry performance venue of its era.

Mystery-Detective H921

Mystery-Detective H921

Ellen Hart, Death on a Silver Platter: (A Culinary Mystery) (New York : Fawcett Books, 2003), one in the series of mysteries featuring restaurant reviewer-sleuth Sophie Greenway, set in Minneapolis. The food in the fair city is a real draw: lots of farm to table, no scary servings as pictured on this paperback’s cover. In particular, French Meadow Café represented an outstanding dining act for some of us. And we didn’t feel threatened for one moment. Perhaps these Minneapolis mysteries are in the tradition of Scandinavian crime novels: safe societies longing for the drama of surprising violence.

William F. Dunne and Morris Childs, Permanent Counter-Revolution. The Role of the Trotzkyites in the Minneapolis Strikes (New York: Workers Library, [1934]), no. [8] in a vol. with binder’s title: Communist and Socialist Pamphlets. We all felt the power and plight of workers on Tuesday evening, taking in the exhibitions and film at the Mill City Museum, located in what was once the nation’s largest flour mill. This pamphlet on Depression-era strikes in Minneapolis pits the Communist Party of America against Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor Party and Trotzkyite leaders. Its card-carrying Communist authors are William F. Dunne, who grew up in Minnesota, and Morris Childs, who later would be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for Intelligence—in 1987—for his decades of work as an anti-Soviet secret agent. Although Childs was not working for the F.B.I. in 1934, the title of this writing—Permanent Counter-Revolution—ends our Minneapolis production with unexpected retrospective irony. As we’ve come to learn, however, rare books always bring us the unexpected.

HX40 .C6 no. 8

HX40 .C6 no. 8


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Sisters Outsider: Diane di Prima and Audre Lorde


Audre Lorde, The First Cities (New York, 1968)  /            PS3562 .O75 F5 1968

UNC’s Rare Book Collection has extensive holdings of twentieth-century print materials, many of which provide insights into literary friendships, partnerships, and circles. History has placed the poets Diane di Prima and Audre Lorde in separate camps—di Prima with the Beat Generation and Lorde with the Black feminist movement. However, the RBC’s rich Beat holdings tell a very different story.

Di Prima and Lorde were both born in 1934 and attended Hunter College High School in Manhattan. As teenagers they were close friends. According to Alexis De Veaux, together they “wrote poetry and skipped classes. . . . They held séances, burned candles, and ‘called up the poets.’” The two young women later went their separate ways. Lorde stayed on in New York City and earned her bachelor’s degree at Hunter College. Di Prima went to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, dropping out in 1953 to return and join the bohemian scene in Greenwich Village. In the ten-year period after 1958, di Prima published five volumes of poetry and founded Poets’ Press with her husband Alan Marlowe. Lorde published sparingly but gained a reputation as an important up-and-coming young poet. In an interview with Adrienne Rich, Lorde recalled di Prima urging her to publish her poetry and saying, “You know, it’s time you had a book. . . . You have to print these. Put ’em out.”


Audre Lorde, The First Cities (New York, 1968) / PS3562 .O75 F5 1968

Lorde followed her advice and prepared to publish her premier volume, The First Cities, with di Prima’s Poets’ Press. In 1967, while the book was in production, di Prima was pregnant with her second child. On Christmas Eve she went into labor in her Greenwich Village apartment and called on Lorde, who arrived just in time to deliver the baby. In her introduction to The First Cities, di Prima memorializes this event and their sustained friendship:

I have known Audre Lorde since we were fifteen,
when we read our poems to each other in our Home
Room at Hunter High school. And only two months
ago she delivered my child.

A woman’s world, peopled with men & children
and the dead, exotic as scallops.


“Diane di Prima and Audre Lorde read at Intersection” (San Francisco) / PS3507.I15 Z58 1970z / Lawrence Foushee London Fund

The two women continued to support each other’s work over the next decade, as evidenced by a broadside advertising a poetry reading they performed together in the 1970s. In 1974 di Prima founded another press called Eidolon Editions. Lorde sent her seven poems, which Eidolon Editions published as Between Our Selves in 1977. The cover shows a West African Adinkra symbol of Siamese crocodiles.


Audre Lorde, Between Our Selves (Point Reyes, 1976) / PS3562.O525 B4

Both di Prima and Lorde wrote from marginalized points of view and were on the outside of mainstream literary culture. These material examples of their alliance attest to their efforts to promote themselves and each other in a literary landscape dominated by male voices. Such intersections cannot be understood by reading individual poems isolated in anthologies or in collected works. The original, often ephemeral, editions to be found at the RBC demonstrate in a tangible way how poets work to create communities of poets.

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Happy Bloomsday; Happy Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day. It is also Bloomsday, that being a commemoration of the events of the great James Joyce novel Ulysses, which took place on June 16, 1904, in Dublin. The Rare Book Collection is enthusiastically celebrating both by posting here a serendipitous recent acquisition.  The RBC is pleased to hold now the first publication of Joyce’s novel Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, in all its serial installments in the Modernist periodical the Egoist. In Portrait, Joyce introduces the character Stephen Dedalus, who reappears in his later masterpiece Ulysses. Ulysses protagonist Leopold Bloom might fairly be seen as a father figure to Stephen. 

William A. Whitaker Fund

William A. Whitaker Fund

William A. Whitaker Fund

William A. Whitaker Fund


A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man debuted in the February 2nd 1914 issue of the Egoist, in the company of an editorial on “Men, Machines and Progress,” an article on Irish playwright J. M. Synge, and poems by H. D.  It finished in the September 1st 1915 issue, which also included a piece on Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, the French sculptor who had been friends with Ezra Pound and had just died tragically in World War I.

The Egoist set acquired by the RBC has 48 issues: volume 1 number 1 to volume 3 number 12, in the publisher’s original blue half-leather binding. It is in remarkably clean and stable condition for a publication usually found in a fragile state.

This marvelous survival joins many splendid Joyce volumes donated to UNC-Chapel Hill by Mary M. Patton and James R. Patton (A.B. 1948). These include the famous first edition of Ulysses (1922)—number 20 of the first 100 copies printed on Dutch handmade paper—as well as the first book edition of Portrait of an Artist as Young Man (1916), inscribed by Joyce.

More than just a mere rarity, the Egoist periodical gives us the broad, Modernist context for Joyce’s novel, intellectually amplifying the author’s opening quotation from the Roman writer Ovid on turning the mind to arts unknown.

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Calling All Playboys: June 16

In the RBC’s outstanding W. B. Yeats Collection—given by the Hanes Foundation as UNC-Chapel Hill’s five millionth volume—there are extensive materials relating to the Irish playwright J. M. Synge. Among these are first, early, and theater editions of the plays he wrote for Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, including the controversial Playboy of the Western World.

That drama is about one Christy Mahon, a young man who flees home after killing his father with a loy (or shovel). He finds refuge in a Mayo village, where the locals laud him as a romantic hero for the story of his patricide—until his father shows up.

J. R. Synge from The Abbey Row (Dublin, 1907). Hanes Foundation. /  PR5532.P53 A3 1907

Yeats PR5532.P53 A3 1907 / J. M. Synge, “I Don’t Care a Rap,” from The Abbey Row (Dublin, 1907). Hanes Foundation.

The Yeats Collection is rich in ephemeral items related to The Playboy of the Western World and the riots it inspired. The Abbey Row is one example of a satirical account that features caricatures of Synge, Yeats, and others.

This coming Sunday, June 16th, at 2 p.m, Wilson Library’s own Emily Kader will be speaking about a comedic adaptation of Synge’s acclaimed work, Tennessee Playboy, at the Triad Stage in Greensboro, North Carolina. For more information on the performances, which begin tonight, June 14th, and Ms. Kader’s talk, see the Triad’s website.

Do introduce yourself to Emily if you’ve read this blog post and are at the event!

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Spanish Civil War Novels

Professor Lo Re with one of the novels

Professor Lo Ré with one of the novels

The Rare Book Collection was delighted to receive a visit this spring from Professor Anthony George Lo Ré, UNC alumnus and retired faculty member of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. Professor Lo Ré received his doctorate from Chapel Hill in 1965 with a thesis entitled The Novel of the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1960. To complete his dissertation, he corresponded with forty novelists and collected first and significant editions of their books. In 2004, he honored the University Library by donating his collection of over one hundred Spanish Civil War novels to the RBC.

The Spanish Civil War (1936 to 1939) began when armed Nationalists rose up against the Popular Front, a coalition of Liberals, Socialists, and Communists that was elected to govern the Second Republic of Spain. Hitler supported the Nationalists, led by General Francisco Franco, and the Republicans turned to the Soviet Union for aid. Foreigners sympathetic to the Republicans fought in the International Brigades, a phenomenon famously fictionalized by Ernest Hemingway in his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940).

PQ6605 .A857 V4 1956

PQ6605 .A857 V4 1956

While many in the U.S. know Hemingway’s book, few know the dozens of Spanish-language novels that appeared during the war years. Publication also flourished a decade later, as Professor Lo Ré established in his thesis. One of the most popular of the second wave of novels was El Vengador [The Avenger] (1956), by José Luis Castillo Puche, a friend of Hemingway. Castillo Puche, according to the account he gave to Professor Lo Ré, had a complex personal history that intersected with different aspects of the conflict. He served in the Red Army, while his family was persecuted and almost exterminated; he experienced a religious crisis at the end of the war and entered a Roman Catholic seminary; and he subsequently abandoned his religious vocation to study journalism. Castillo Puche wrote El Vengador out of a need for inner peace, as he noted in his letter of July 27, 1960, which is printed in the appendix of Professor Lo Ré’s thesis. Castillo Puche’s Hicieron Partes (1958) had won Spain’s National Prize of Literature. However, the author judged El Vengador to be his novel that had had the most success—a novel about the futility and sterility of vengeance. The original edition’s existentialist cover art certainly resonates with that message.

When Professor Lo Ré acquired El Vengador over half a century ago, it was a recent publication. Today, it and the other novels he donated to RBC have the patina of the past. Thanks to Professor Lo Ré’s generosity, researchers now have the opportunity to consult these evocative volumes at Wilson and examine one of the twentieth century’s most polarizing world events in a unique way.

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Savory Sailors or Neptune’s Barber: Sweeney Todd and the Royal Navy

James Malcolm Rymer, String of Pearls (London, 1850) / PR5285 R99 S8 1850

James Malcolm Rymer, String of Pearls (London, 1850) / PR5285 R99 S8 1850 / William A. Whitaker Fund

In 1846, the prolific but now-obscure Victorian writer James Malcolm Rymer introduced the notorious Sweeney Todd in the String of Pearls, or, The Barber of Fleet Street: A Domestic Romance. The story of a London barber who kills and robs his clients, and whose accomplice turns their remains into meat pies, became an immediate bestseller. Originally published serially, it appeared in 1850 as an expanded one-volume edition, which is a book of excessive rarity today.

Rebecca Nesvet, UNC Ph.D. candidate in English and Comparative Literature, had been able to find only one  institution holding that illustrated classic, the British Library in London. She became aware, however, of another copy for sale by an antiquarian book dealer and alerted the RBC. Thanks to Ms. Nesvet’s tip and the William A. Whitaker Fund, which provides generous amounts for the purchase of English literature at Chapel Hill, that fine copy of the String of Pearls now sits on a shelf at the Rare Book Collection, next to other rare Rymer novels: Grace Rivers; or, The Merchant’s Daughter (1844) and Paul Clifford; or Hurrah for the Road (1853).

As Rebecca Nesvet notes: “Like Sweeney Todd’s Fleet Street establishment, Rymer’s String of Pearls contains intriguing mysteries. Such as, how did Rymer come up with his outrageous premise?”


Rebecca with String of Pearls open to the portrait of Sweeney Todd

On Wednesday, March 6, 2013, Ms. Nesvet answered that question for a full house in the Friends of the Library room in Wilson. She made the new and novel argument that Rymer drew inspiration from a Royal Navy initiation or hazing ritual, the Line-Crossing Ceremony. “Performed at the Equator, Tropics, and Arctic Circle from at least the early nineteenth century through the late twentieth, the Line-Crossing Ceremony features a veteran sailor masquerading as Royal Barber to King Neptune, God of the Sea,” Ms. Nesvet informed the intimate gathering. “Neptune’s Barber shaves first-time crossers of the line, often barbarously.”

Ms. Nesvet, who is writing her dissertation “The Disappearing Explorer, 1818-1900,” directed by Prof. Jeanne Moskal, further elaborated on the ritual in history. “In 1832, as the HMS Beagle approached the Equator, Charles Darwin prepared himself to endure ‘razors sharpened with a file & a lather made of paint & tar, to be used by the gentlest valet de chambre’ during ‘the disagreeable operation of being shaved.’ A certificate awarded to twentieth-century line-crossers depicts Neptune’s Barber as an amphibious monster in a hat attended by a razor-bearing penguin. Close-reading the String of Pearls with attention to this context reveals that by reinventing the Royal Navy’s demon barber as a monstrous human, Rymer created an enduring legend.”

The Sweeney Todd legend was revived in 1979 for Broadway by Stephen Sondheim in his Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: A Musical Thriller. Ms. Nesvet quotes the following verse from it:

Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd
His face was pale and his eye was odd
He shaved the faces of gentlemen
Who never thereafter were heard of again.

The RBC is grateful to Ms. Nesvet for reviving the legend for the UNC community in 2013, by her apt acquisition suggestion and an afternoon of sharing her research.


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