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News from the UIUC Rare Book and Manuscript Library

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In This Issue:

  • "Life on the Moon" exhibition now open through December 13

  • Rare Book & Manuscript Library Acquires Gwendolyn Brooks Archive

  • "See You on the Moon" events all semester long

  • Rare Book & Manuscript Library Acquires Marcel Proust Letters

  • Essay contests
    for Fall Semester

  • "Real Thing" Reading Group to Discuss William Maxwell's Folded Leaf

  • Christian Dupont No. 44 Society talk, October 9

  • We Remember Walter Matherly

Current Exhibition:

Life on the Moon:
Literary and Scientific Speculations

30 August —
13 December 2013

Curated by
Marten Stromberg and
Patrick Fadely

moon and earth

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is collaborating with several local sponsors to offer an exhibition and moon-themed series of events this fall.

The exhibition, Life on the Moon: Literary and Scientific Reflections, highlights the history of scientific and literary speculation about life on the moon. It includes books from the rare book collection at Illinois tracing the history of lunar speculation all the way back to Roman times. Also on display are three artifacts from the Apollo 16 mission, including a moon rock on loan from the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), and two artifacts from Kennesaw State University.

Curators Patrick Fadely and Marten Stromberg have also produced a catalog for the exhibition and will give a tour of the exhibition on November 13 at 3:00 p.m. at The No. 44 Society meeting. All are welcome!

"See You on the Moon:"
The Event Series!

The event series, "See You on the Moon," accompanies the "Life on the Moon" exhibition in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library. These events are sponsored by the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH), the Center for Advanced Study, the Station Theatre, the Parkland Planetarium, the Asian-American Cultural Center, the Astronomy Department, the U of I Concert Jazz Band, the Pygmalion Music Festival, Orchard Downs, the Japan House, the Art Theatre, the Art + Design Department, the Independent Media Center, and the Iron Post in Urbana.

A Dark Night at the Theatre, at the Station Theatre, Urbana
October 15, 7 pm

Exhibition Tour, at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library
November 13, 3-5 pm

Myths by Moonlight, at the Staerkel Planetarium, Parkland College, Champaign
November 15, 7 pm, $4

Moon Viewing, at the University of Illinois Observatory,
November 19, (time to be announced)

Moon Music by the U of I Concert Jazz Band, at the Iron Post, Urbana
November 20, 7 pm

For more information on these events go to:

Proust letter 1890s

Curator Notes:

RBML Acquires Sixteen Marcel Proust Letters

Just in time for the 100th anniversary of Swann’s Way, the Rare Book & Manuscript Library has acquired sixteen letters of Marcel Proust (1871-1922) from a generous private collector in Philadelphia. The letters, dating from the 1890s to 1921, are addressed to his mother, close friends, editors and critics, and some unidentified correspondents. They show Proust as a spendthrift son blaming a lack of asthma attacks for his lavish dinners, asking friends for advice about dentists and gift purchases, or struggling to overcome grief after the death of his mother. They also reveal the budding writer grappling with the realities of the publishing world, and the mature author responding to his critics and engaging in literary debates. Readers of Swann’s Way will recognize in his query about restaurants that “remained opened after midnight and where one could visit with a woman at the time when gas street-lights begin to go out” the opening of the famous “cattleya” episode when Swann, having missed Odette at the Verdurins’, goes on a frantic search for her along Parisian boulevards.

We are very pleased with this new addition to our already extensive Proust collection—the world's largest single collection of Proust's correspondence, and we couldn’t dream of a more fitting way to celebrate Swann’s hundredth birthday!

   —Caroline Szylowicz

William Maxwell Folded Leaf cover

"Real Thing" Reading Group Kicks-off 2013-14 Program

Group Members to Discuss William Maxwell's Folded Leaf Thursday, October 3rd in RBML

The Real Thing Reading Group meets during the academic year to discuss books for which the Rare Book & Manuscript Library holds the manuscript (usually the author’s own!). To date, we have read works by Carl Sandburg, H.G. Wells, and Washington Irving, among others. This year’s first meeting will be held at 4 p.m. on Thursday, 3 October, in RBML. Tad Boehmer will lead the discussion on The Folded Leaf, a 1945 novel by Illinois author William Keepers Maxwell. Centered around the close friendship between two very different boys growing up in 1920s Chicago, the story is partially set on a university campus, clearly based on the University of Illinois. All are welcome! Please contact Tad Boehmer at boehmer 2 (at) illinois (dot) edu for more information.


Gwendolyn Brooks September 1954

Major New Acquisition!

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library Acquires Gwendolyn Brooks Archive

We are thrilled to announce that the extensive literary archives of Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000), Illinois Poet Laureate and the first African American writer to win the Pulitzer Prize, are now part of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

We acquired the material from Brooks’ daughter and it spans more than six decades, including some of Brooks’s earliest surviving poetry and prose written when she was a teenager, as well as early scrapbooks and clippings of pieces she published as a young woman in The Chicago Defender. Her papers range from details of menus and shopping to observations of daily life and current events and turns of phrase that were often later incorporated into her poetry. Brooks was good about keeping drafts and notes for her outgoing letters alongside the letters she received and her regular correspondents include a significant roster of mid–century American writers and poets.

To have the papers of Gwendolyn Brooks, a compelling voice in American poetry, will help us better understand her poetry, its influences, and the times in which she lived. We will encourage the use of these archives, just as we encourage the use of all the primary sources we care for—both on the university level and in primary and secondary schools in our region, so that students can see the author’s hand and to get insight into her creativity through her papers.

Fall Semester 2013
Essay Contests:

The Harris Fletcher Award and
The T.W. Baldwin Prize

To foster the use of primary sources and rare materials, the Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign sponsors two prize competitions each Fall Semester for the best research paper based on original sources from RBML. The prizes, co-sponsored by the The No. 44 Society, include separate judging and prizes for undergraduate (Fletcher Award) and graduate (Baldwin Prize) student papers. Professors in any department may nominate a student’s work. All submissions must be made by faculty (not by the students themselves).

The award for each category is $500. Entries should be emailed to Dennis Sears (dsears (at) illinois (dot) edu), the Rare Book & Manuscript Library's Public Programs Manager, 346 Library, 1408 W. Gregory Dr., Urbana, IL 61801, MC-522. Deadline for entry: 10 January 2014. Winners will be announced at the 12 February 2014 No. 44 Society meeting.

October's No. 44 Society Talk
9 October at 3:00 p.m. in RBML

Christian Dupont:
"To Hell and Back: Illustrating Dante's Inferno"

Be sure to mark your calendar for October 9 at 3 p.m. to join us for Christian Dupont's talk about Dante and illustration!

Rare book librarian Christian Dupont has extensively studied cultural receptions of Dante and the collecting of his works. His numerous essays on these subjects have appeared in Dante Studies, Harvard Library Bulletin, and Studies in Bibliography among other publications.

The event is free and open to the public.

The Complete 2013—2014
Schedule of Meetings of
No. 44 Society,
a Convivial Confab for Book Collectors

October 9, 2013, 3:00 PM in RBML

Christian DuPont, Aeon software developer and former director of the Small Library at the University of Virginia on Dante.

November 13, 2013, 3:00 PM in RBML

Marten Stromberg, RBML Curator of Rare Books to lead tour of "Life on the Moon" exhibition.

December 11, 2013, 3:00 PM in RBML

Come join us for a Holiday Cheer Party and Book Brag. We will also celebrate John Milton's birthday.

February 12, 2014 AT 3:00 PM in RBML

Henry Hébert, the Rare Book Conservator at the University of Illinois Library will talk about conservation and care of rare materials. Winners of the 2013 Fall Semester Fletcher and Baldwin Essay contests will also be announced.

March 12, 2014, 3:00 PM in RBML

J. Kevin Graffagnino, Director of the Clements Library at the University of Michigan will give a talk entitled; "Bibliophilia to Bibliomania."

April 9, 2014, 3:00 PM Field Trip!

Please join us for a field trip to the Fresh Press! Pull a piece of paper and find out more about what's happening in the book arts in our area.

May 14, 2014, 3:00 PM in RBML

Paul Gehl, Custodian of the John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing at the Newberry Library in Chicago will talk about the University of Illinois Cavagna Collection.

Mark your calendars!



Here, we sadly mark the passing of library friend Walter Matherly, who died September 29 at home. Members of the No. 44 Society and The Real Thing reading group will remember Walter as an erudite and well-read participant in RBML events. At a discussion of Carl Sandburg's poetry last spring, we were all impressed when he recited "The Skyscraper" by heart and mentioned that he had won a poetry recitation contest with that poem when he was a boy. He will be missed.

Rare Book & Manuscript Library
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

346 Main Library, 1408 W. Gregory Drive., Urbana, IL 61801 MC-586
217-333-3777    Ask A Curator

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