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Indiana University Bloomington

November 18, 2010

Researching Ann Quin at the Lilly Library

Filed under: Manuscripts — Guest Blogger @ 4:11 pm

Berg dust jacket

At Easter-time 2010 I made a research trip to the Lilly Library at Bloomington, all the way from the University of East Anglia in the U.K., to read papers contained in the Calder and Boyars manuscript collection concerning my PhD subject, the British writer Ann Quin (1936–1973).

With trembling fingers, I sat in the reading room at the Lilly and opened the first box. Quin’s surviving papers are rare, and working with the papers held at the Lilly Library was my first experience of reading and handling her papers at first hand. What I found were a collection of letters and papers that not only charted the story of Quin’s professional career, but also revealed much about her personally. These letters, between Quin and her publishers, John Calder and Marion Boyars, reveal her to have been very anxious about money, demanding, difficult, sporadic, impulsive, and seeking stability. In the letters, her tone is at times, not so much inappropriate, as overly personal, the letters mix detailed discussion of matters to do with the printing of this or that novel, or of issues surrounding what royalties are owed etc, with newsy descriptions of and responses to place, as well as revelations about personal feelings. The tone and composition of these letters expose much about her as a person, and the corresponding responses by her publishers give Quin’s comments a context that has provided me food for thought: she does not always emerge in a pleasant or professional light, and this has aided my thinking about her relationship with her work as well as the people around her. The letters are also revealing in their charting of her ongoing and increasing lack of commercial success, from the frustrations brought by the endless soliciting of the short stories by Boyars, to repeated rejections by foreign publishers.

Many of the letters confirmed what I had already suspected, but some brought unexpected and surprising things to light. Of course, the collection not only contains letters by or directly responding to Quin, but also ones about her. From these, I gleaned vital information about periods of her life when she was suffering from increasingly severe bouts of mental illness and both her fiction and letter writing ground to a halt. It was fascinating to know, for example, that her novels were requested and put forward as evidence to a Doctor treating Quin after one serious breakdown in 1970.

Working with the letters has provided my project with the depth of knowledge and understanding crucial for developing a more sensitive eye when drafting my interpretations of Quin’s fiction. I find echoes of the letters in her fiction, and this conversation between her life and work is something that my experience of visiting the archive has allowed to become an integral part of my project. I am grateful to the Lilly Library not only for providing me the opportunity of reading such papers, but also for their generous financial support of the Ernest Everett Helm Visiting Fellowship which made the trip possible.

—Nonia Williams Dodd, University of East Anglia

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November 5, 2010

Exhibition Celebrates Scott Russell Sanders

Filed under: Exhibitions — Guest Blogger @ 2:18 pm

Scott Russell Sanders image owned by Indiana University

“Words to Speak Our Love of Earth: Celebrating Scott Russell Sanders,” the exhibition currently on display in the Slocum Room of the Lilly Library, represents the full breadth of the work of writer Scott Russell Sanders, who retired from the English Department of Indiana University Bloomington last year, after having taught on this campus for 38 years. The exhibition opened the day before Sanders’s 65th birthday.

Sanders’s output at various times during his illustrious career has included science fiction, fiction, biographical fiction, children’s fiction, criticism, poetry, the personal essay, and autobiography. Drawing on the extensive holdings of the Lilly Library, the exhibit features autographed copies of Sanders’s more than twenty books; manuscripts ranging from an 11–year–old’s middle school compositions to the journals Sanders kept while writing Hunting for Hope; and samples from Sanders’s extensive correspondence.

“Words to Speak Our Love of Earth” foregrounds the themes that recur through Sanders’s work: religion and the importance of the sacred in daily life; the connections between literature and science; the knowledge of place; and, above all, the need for a deeper understanding of our relationship with the Earth on which we live. Some of the more unusual items displayed include an essay on Hamlet from Sanders’s college days in Cambridge, England, which shows the roots of Sanders’s later activism (”Hamlet embodies the dramatic purpose of showing the effects on a sensitive and intelligent man of an escapable demand to perform an act to which he is morally, rationally, educationally, humanistically, and temperamentally disinclined”); a teaching guide he wrote for the science fiction movie The Invasion of the Body Snatchers; a postcard on marriage from twice–married fellow writer John Updike (”Marriage does a writer a great deal of good”); and, finally, a handmade chapbook of Sanders’s poetry written during a retreat at Knoll Farm in the Mad River Valley of Vermont: “… having seen the pond/ shimmer with sky, having grown still,/ when the time comes this morning for us to break silence, we might find words to speak our love of earth.”

The exhibition was curated by Christoph Irmscher, Professor of English at Indiana University.

November 4, 2010

Traveling with the Lilly Library

Filed under: Exhibitions — Cherry Williams @ 10:04 am

Due to the depth and breadth of the Lilly Library’s holdings, we are frequently invited to collaborate and participate in exhibitions created by other libraries and cultural heritage repositories. Wherever your travels may take you, there may be an exhibition nearby featuring familiar and unfamiliar items from the Lilly Library’s collections. Currently, Lilly Library materials are on exhibit in Pennsylvania and Colorado; more will soon be on display in Washington State and Wisconsin.

The National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania,, exhibition Bond Watches, James Bond Watches is available for viewing from June 2010 – April 2011. Highlights include original manuscripts and printed first editions from the Lilly Library’s extensive Ian Fleming related collections. As noted on the exhibition Website, “James Bond watches are invariably at the center of Ian Fleming’s original literary thrillers, … consistently pitting the hero against the most unrelenting adversary of all: the clock, with the fate of the world hanging on mere seconds left before mission success.” For more information visit:

On exhibit at the University of Colorado at Boulder is “The Art of Willis Pyle,” whose early illustrations — including his characters that lived on the big screen — are featured in a new display at the CU Heritage Center. “CU was the launching pad for Pyle, 96, who has drawn popular Disney characters such as Pinocchio, Bambi and dwarfs from the fairy tale ‘Snow White.’ Before the creation of Pinocchio, Mr. Magoo and Raggedy Ann, illustrator Willis Pyle was art editor of a monthly humor magazine called the ‘Colorado Dodo’ at the University of Colorado.”

The exhibition showcases original sketches and drawings by Mr. Pyle of these Disney characters from the Lilly Library’s Willis Pyle Manuscript Collection. For more information visit:

A major exhibition and overview of the work of Timothy C. Ely of Washington state will be opening at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane on December 4, 2010 – April 16, 2011. “Mr. Ely’s exquisitely bound books integrate Western and Eastern religious and mystical traditions, astronomy, particle physics, cartography, alchemy and sacred geometry.” Considered “one of our regions most important but little-known (in any depth) artists, Mr. Ely is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow (for study and teaching in Europe and Japan), and was awarded a prestigious Pollock–Krasner Foundation Award.” The Lilly Library is very pleased to hold many of Mr. Ely’s works. Additional information can be found here:

Closing out the year at the Chazen Museum, in Madison Wisconsin is their exhibition Hidden Treasures: Illuminated Manuscripts from Midwestern Collections. As the title suggests, there are many items of great rarity and beauty held in Midwestern collections and this exhibition will provide visitors with an opportunity to view a selection of the rarest. More information will be coming soon at:

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