The New York Public Library Acquires a Collection of Rare Virginia Woolf Materials

A portrait of Woolf by Roger Fry c. 1917 – Leeds Art Gallery / Public Domain

“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.” Virginia Woolf, The Waves



The New York Public Library just announced the acquisition of an extensive Virginia Woolf Collection. This collection provides a rare glimpse into the life of the iconic writer and, merged with existing Library collections related to Woolf, formulates one of the world’s most complete and important collections of Virginia Woolf material.

The Library has acquired by purchase and gift this collection of rarely seen Virginia Woolf material: correspondence, rare printed books and unique material such as photographs, original artwork and ephemera, including Woolf’s passport.



Patience and Fortitude, the “Library Lion” statues, in the snowstorm of December 1948 / Public Domain Photograph from the now defunct United States Information Agency



The collection of 153 items was assembled over decades by William Beekman. It will join the Library’s existing Virginia Woolf holdings in the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, accessible from the Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. With this new acquisition, The New York Public Library holds what is arguably the most complete and important collection of Virginia Woolf material in the world.

The Library’s Berg Collection is currently home to Virginia Woolf’s diaries and notebooks; draft material for all of her works of fiction; nearly 3,000 pieces of incoming and outgoing correspondence, as well as photographs; books; legal documents; and her walking stick. The existing collection, which spans the years 1888 to 1941, numbers nearly 3,700 individual items and began with the acquisition of Woolf’s diaries in 1958, directly from her husband, Leonard Woolf.

“Virginia Woolf’s writings are essential to literary modernism, long one of the core collecting areas—and one of the most frequently accessed—of the Berg Collection at The New York Public Library,” said Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Research Libraries, William Kelly. “The acquisition of the William Beekman Collection of Virginia Woolf and Her Circle adds extraordinary depth to what is already one of the Berg’s strongest collections. With this acquisition, the Library reaffirms its commitment to Virginia Woolf, to literary modernism, to early feminist writing, and to documenting the creative process through incomparably rich collections.”

Highlights of the new acquisition:

  • Extensive correspondence, including a set of eight letters from Virginia Woolf’s husband, Leonard, and sister, Vanessa Bell, to Vita Sackville-West regarding Woolf’s disappearance and suicide.
  • Showing a different side of the author’s personality, a humorous “proclamation” written on the eve Vanessa Bell’s marriage, which Woolf wrote from the perspectives of three apes, Billy, Bartholomew, Mungo, and a Wombat.
  • Copies of the first editions of Woolf’s books, including Jacob’s Room (1922), Mrs. Dalloway (1925), and To the Lighthouse (1927). Each retain the original jacket illustrations designed by Vanessa Bell and several are inscribed to intimate associates
  • Unique items such as Woolf’s passport name card with picture, unpublished poetry by Vita Sackville-West, and books from Woolf’s own library.
  • Letters and gift books inscribed to Florence Hardy (widow of Thomas Hardy), David Garnett, Clive Bell, and other prominent members of the Bloomsbury group.

The Beekman collection complements the Library’s holdings, while providing greater breadth and important context for many of the items. This is seen with the addition of the letter from Leonard Woolf to Vita Sackville-West regarding Virginia’s presumed suicide and finding her walking stick floating in the river. The Berg Collection is home to the walking stick.

Virginia Woolf

Adeline Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) was an English novelist, essayist, biographer, and feminist. Woolf was central to the Bloomsbury Group*, a coterie of British artists, writers, and intellectuals active in the first half of the twentieth century. In 1917, Woolf founded with her husband, Leonard, the Hogarth Press and published what would become foundational works of Modernism, including T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land in 1923. She also wrote nine novels, two collections of short stories, a biography, and three book-length essays in addition to other works. She wrote approximately 400 essays and 4,000 letters, and kept a diary for most of her life before committing suicide in 1941.

 

*The Bloomsbury Group—or Bloomsbury Set—was a group of associated English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists in the first half of the 20th century,[1]including Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, E. M. Forster and Lytton Strachey. This loose collective of friends and relatives was closely associated with the University of Cambridge for the men and King’s College London for the women, and they lived, worked or studied together near Bloomsbury, London. According to Ian Ousby, “although its members denied being a group in any formal sense, they were united by an abiding belief in the importance of the arts.” Their works and outlook deeply influenced literature, aesthetics, criticism, and economics as well as modern attitudes towards feminism, pacifism, and sexuality. A well-known quote, attributed to Dorothy Parker, is “they lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles”. Wikipedia MORE

“I could not be more delighted to see my collection find a permanent home with the marvelous Woolf material already held by The New York Public Library in the Berg Collection,” said collector, William Beekman. “The Berg’s wealth of related holdings and its curatorial resources mean that these books and documents, which have given me so much pleasure, will be available to scholars and the general public to study and enjoy for years to come.”

The collection has been processed and is available for research purposes at the Berg Collection.

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This post is complied courtesy of The New York Public Library, Leeds Art Gallery, Wikipedia, and my bookshelf. 

Rose Main Reading Room

The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming, and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves nearly 17 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.


Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights and encourages activist poetry.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

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Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications: Jamie Dedes, Versifier of Truth, Womawords Literary Press, November 19, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

A Rare Glimpse Into the Life and Work of J.D. Salinger; celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth

J. D. Salinger at his writing. Courtesy of The New York Public Library

“I am a professional short-story writer and novelist. I write fiction and only fiction. For more than thirty years, I have lived and done my work in rural New Hampshire. I was married here and my two children were raised here. . . . I have been writing fiction rather passionately, singlemindedly, perhaps insatiably, since I was fifteen or so . . . I positively rejoice to imagine that, sooner or later, the finished product safely goes to the ideal private reader, alive or dead or yet unborn, male or female or possibly neither.”



Addendum for affidavit, August 31, 1972 / Courtesy of The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library presents a rare glimpse into the life and work of author J.D. Salinger with an exhibition of manuscripts, letters, photographs, books, and personal effects drawn exclusively from the novelist’s archive. This will be the first time these items – on loan from the J.D. Salinger Literary Trust – have ever been shared with the public.

The exhibition, entitled simply J.D. Salinger, is organized by Salinger’s son Matt Salinger and widow Colleen Salinger with Declan Kiely, Director of Special Collections and Exhibitions at the Library.

The free exhibition coincides with the centennial of J.D. Salinger’s birth, and will be on display through January 19, 2020 in the Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Gallery at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

J.D. Salinger with typewriter in Normandy, France. 1944 / Courtesy of the New York Public Library

The exhibition will feature more than 200 items spanning Salinger’s life, including: 

  • The original typescript of The Catcher in the Rye, revised by the author, as well as the revised galley proofs of the novel
  • The original typescripts of some of Salinger’s shorter fiction, including Franny and Zooey
  • An original pencil portrait by E. Michael Mitchell, who made the original cover design for The Catcher in the Rye
  • Family photographs from J.D. Salinger’s childhood, youth, and later life, including photographs from his World War II service and his time as entertainment director on the cruise ship MS Kungsholm in 1941
  • Correspondence between J.D. Salinger’s friends, fellow soldiers, and authors and editors, including William Shawn, William Maxwell, and Ernest Hemingway 
  • A bookcase from his bedroom filled with books from his personal library
  • Items from his childhood, including a bowl he meticulously made at summer camp when he was about ten years old, which he kept his whole life
  • Notebooks, passports, honorable discharge papers from the army in which he identified his civilian occupation as “Playwright, Author,” and personal artifacts such as his pipes, eyeglasses and wrist watch 
  • One of the author’s two typewriters, his film projector, and numerous other personal effects


Generations of readers, including myself, have been captivated by the life-changing work of J.D. Salinger,” said New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx. “As an institution that profoundly respects the cultural heritage of literature, works every day to spark a lifelong love of reading in our visitors, and encourages everyone to take a closer look at the world around them, The New York Public Library is excited and honored to present this unique look at the life of a writer who means so much to so many. We thank Matt Salinger for sharing a part of his father’s important story.”


Undated photograph of J.D. Salinger in Central Park. / Courtesy of the New York Public Library

“When my father’s long-time publisher, Little, Brown and Company, first approached me with plans for his Centennial year my immediate reaction was that he would not like the attention,” said Matt Salinger. “He was a famously private man who shared his work with millions, but his life and non-published thoughts with less than a handful of people, including me. But I’ve learned that while he may have only fathered two children there are a great, great many readers out there who have their own rather profound relationships with him, through his work, and who have long wanted an opportunity to get to know him better. The Library has given us this opportunity, and while it is but a glimpse into my father’s life, it is my hope that lifting the veil a bit with this exhibition will throw some light on the man I knew and loved that will be welcomed by many. In short, while I’ve long respected and honored (and zealously protected) his privacy, I also have come to see the value in sharing a direct and uninterpreted glimpse of his life with those readers who want it, and who want to mark his 100th year in some personal way. The show may also help introduce his fiction (beyond The Catcher in the Rye) to some new readers, as I agree with him: that the best way to get to know an author is to read his or her work!”

J.D. Salinger on the deck of the M.S. Kungsholm, 1941 / Courtesy of the New York Public Library

“This exhibition presents Salinger in his own words,” said Declan Kiely, New York Public Library Director of Special Collections and Exhibitions. “It provides fresh insight into his writing process, his views on the design and appearance of his books, his network of friendships with school and army buddies—some spanning over half a century—as well as with fellow authors and New Yorker magazine editors. Through his letters, photographs and personal possessions, this exhibition allows us to see Salinger from childhood to old age, revealing many facets of the writer: friend, father, grandparent, soldier, correspondent, spiritual seeker and, importantly, avid and eclectic reader—we shouldn’t forget that, in his youth, Salinger spent many hours reading at the New York Public Library and retained a lifelong affection for the Rose Main Reading Room. Many  of the objects on view in the exhibition are intensely poignant, most of them speak to a deep commitment to the life of the mind.”

Public Domain Photograph/Collage

This post is courtesy of the New York Public Library, Wikipedia, my bookshelf.

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he Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library, more widely known as the Main Branch or simply as “the New York Public Library” in May 2011. / Public Domain Photograph

The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With ninety-two locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming, and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves nearly seventeen million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.


Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

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Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Immersive Exploration Into Auteur’s Theatrical Career: In the Company of Hal Prince, Broadway Producer, Director, Collaborator

Broadway director Harold Prince receives the Golden Plate award from Nobel laureate (literature) Toni Morrison at the American Academy of Achievement’s 46th annual International Achievement Summit in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, June 23, 2007 / Courtesy of the Academy of Achievement and generously released into the public domain

“I was nine. I saw Orson Welles in ‘Julius Caesar.'” It was involving, emotional, imaginative. I’ve never forgotten it.” Hal Prince



For many many reasons, I’ve loved musical theatre almost from day one. Partly, of course, it’s just fun, but I’ve also always been intrigued by the collaborative nature of the medium. Naturally writers are included in that collaboration, perhaps a career aspiration for some readers here. After all, what is theatre about if not storytelling? As poets and writers, that’s what we’re about too. We love to read stories, write them, view them, listen to them. It’s a never-ending love affair and how wonderful it is that musical theater brings story together with song (poetry, if you will) and dance.

“Way way back: Music, poetry and dance came into the world together. Sometimes they get lonely for each other.” Joy Harjo during her Inaugural Reading as Poet Laureate of the United States

Few people have helped to define American musical theatre more than Hal Prince (1928-2019), who died this past July in Reykjavík. His plays include some of my all-time faves: West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Damn Yankees, Phantom of the Opera, and Zorba.

Hal Prince’s significant influence on Broadway stemmed from his reinvention of musical theatre from the script-and-score-based model to a more visual, almost cinematic art form in which the director is auteur. But it also stemmed from his appreciation for collaboration and his trusted collaborators, talented friends and colleagues who could help achieve his singular vision for a production.

Photo of Hal Prince by Van Williams. Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. copyright: NY Public Library

Now, in the interest of education, theatre history, homage, and the absolute shear pleasure of it, there’s a new free exhibition In The Company of Harold Prince: Broadway Producer, Director, Collaborator. Through the exhibition,The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts explores Prince’s creative trajectory and showcases the team of designers, stage managers, press agents, composers, and writers he assembled to create so many history-making shows. In The Company of Harold Prince is at the Library’s Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery and will be on display through March 31, 2020.

Curated by Doug Reside, the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Curator of the Library’s Billy Rose Theatre Division, the exhibition will display original costumes, set models, and archival video, and borrows from the aesthetic of immersive theatre, inviting visitors to pick up, examine and interact with reproductions of documents and objects from the Library’s unparalleled collections. Facsimiles of the paperwork for Pajama Game and Damn Yankees will be scattered over a recreation of Prince’s desk for visitors to look through. Digital recreations of stage manager Ruth Mitchell’s scripts will be linked to thousands of never-before-seen photographs from the Library’s collections. The exhibition will end with an open cabaret stage will allow visitors to perform songs from his shows or record their own stories about their experience with Prince’s theatrical work.

“I had the pleasure of getting to know Hal over the course of planning this exhibition,” said Reside. “Showing him initial designs and ideas about the direction of the exhibition was a thrill, as was hearing his stories about his career and the collaborators he so loved working with. We’d planned this exhibition believing that Hal would be here to enjoy it with us, and I’m so sad that that’s no longer the case. The whole Library mourns the loss of our friend, supporter, and legend, and we’re honored to celebrate his life and achievements through this exhibition.”

​A major highlight of ​​In The Company of Harold Prince is an area devoted to his collaborations with set designer​​ Boris Aronson. Aronson designed the sets behind some of Prince’s most iconic productions, and many of these models, often constructed by Aronson’s wife and design collaborator Lisa Jalowetz, have been recently restored and will be on view together for the first time public. Sets on display will include ​​Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, ​​Zorba​​, ​​Company, ​​Follies, ​​Pacific Overtures, ​and ​​A Little Night Music.

Other highlights from the exhibition include:

  • Recreation of Prince’s office with George Abbott in Rockefeller Center
  • Prince’s roulette wheel, which he kept in his office to illustrate that “theatre is a gamble”
  • Footage of Taganka Theatre’s production of Ten Days That Shook The World, which deeply influenced Prince’s aesthetic
  • Materials from the original production of Merrily We Roll Along, including cast newsletter, video of the original production, and the stage manager’s script
  • Patti LuPone’s Buenos Aires dress and wig worn during Don’t Cry For Me Argentina from the original Broadway production of Evita
  • Original costume designs by Patricia Zipprodt for Fiddler on the Roof, and Florence Klotz for Show Boat

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Library for the Performing Arts will also present a series of free public programs.

In the Company of Harold Prince Public Programs

GREAT PERFORMANCES

Harold Prince: The Director’s Life 

MON, OCT 21 | 6 pm

Advance registration required

Lonny Price and David Thompson discuss and screen their documentary film Harold Prince: The Director’s Life, which premiered on PBS GREAT PERFORMANCES in November 2018. In addition to archival clips, this fascinating performance-documentary includes interviews with many of Prince’s renowned collaborators, including Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Mandy Patinkin, John Kander, Susan Stroman, Angela Lansbury and others, all sharing their firsthand insights into his pioneering achievements in the theater.

Yes, Mr. Prince: An Evening with Harold Prince’s Assistants

THURS, OCT 24 | 6 PM

Advance registration required

From 1960 to 1976, Annette Myers scheduled the appointments, transcribed the memos, and took down the messages, as her boss brought Cabaret, Company, Follies, and other legendary Prince productions to Broadway. For this special program, Meyers and other people who worked as Prince’s assistant step out of the office and onto the stage to share their untold stories and insights on the making of theatre history.

Harold Prince’s Library Jukebox

TUES, NOV 19 | 7 PM

Advance registration required

Join Thomas Z. Shepard, legendary record producer of dozens of Broadway’s most beloved cast albums, for an interactive sound salon of Harold Prince Broadway hits.  Choose your favorite show tunes from a menu of Prince musical numbers, listen to cast recordings, and marvel at rarely seen artifacts from the Library’s unrivaled theater collections, including Jerry Bock’s home recordings, Jerome Robbins’ choreography notes, Stephen Sondheim’s discarded drafts, memos, models, manuscripts, and more.

A Marriage of Two Modernisms: Boris Aronson and Lisa Jalowetz 

MON, DEC 19 | 6 PM

Advance registration required

The spinning, Chagall fantasy of Anatevka…The tarnished, mirror-topped Kit Kat Klub…the Erector-set skeleton of city life…Director Harold Prince and artist Boris Aronson used scenic design as theatrical narrative. Behind Aronson’s sets was a unique partnership with his wife Lisa, whose Viennese modernism complemented his Russian Constructivism. Cultural Historian Marc Aronson presents on the many layers of his parents’ work.

Parade Reunion

MON, JAN 13 | 6 PM

Advance registration required

In 1997, Broadway’s most famous and successful director, Harold Prince tapped the unknown composer Jason Robert Brown to write the score for perhaps the most challenging work he’d ever conceived: Parade, a complex musical tragedy about violence, anti-Semitism, and love through adversity. Brown and playwright Alfred Uhry reunite on the Library’s stage to celebrate Prince and share memories of Parade.

Harold Prince Birthday Party, Sing Along Show and Tell 

THURS, JAN 30 | 6 PM

Company, Follies, A Little Night Music… Phantom, Evita, Cabaret, Fiddler… Merrily! Sweeney! West Side! Oh my… Lend your voice to our Harold Prince celebration. Play games, win prizes, and sing along to live performances of beloved songs from Prince musicals.

Additional programs will be added through the duration of the exhibition. Please check nypl.org/lpa for updates.

All programs listed below are free and take place at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center located at 40 Lincoln Center Plaza. Programs are first-come, first-served unless otherwise noted. When indicated, advance registration can be handled online or in person at the Library’s Welcome Desk. Visit nypl.org/lpa for details.

This post is courtesy of the New York Public Library, Wikipedia and my (admittedly questionable at this point) memory.


Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

About / Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook

Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton