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Indiana University Bloomington

April 17, 2009

Wood engraver and poet Gaylord Schanilec to talk today

Filed under: Events,Illustration — Lilly Library @ 8:40 am

Gaylord Schanilec engraving

Please join the Friends of the Lilly Library this afternoon for a talk by Gaylord Schanilec, “Wood: From Tree to Press.” The talk will begin at 4:00 p.m. with a reception to follow.

Gaylord Schanilec is a poet, wood engraver and printer living in rural Wisconsin. He is the proprieter of Midnight Paper Sales, www.midnightpapersales.com. His most recent project, Sylvae, as well as examples of earlier work will be on display for the talk.

April 6, 2009

A Writer Struggles: Necessity as the Mother of Invention

Filed under: Illustration,Manuscripts — David Frasier @ 2:00 pm

Cards on the table by Emmett Gowen

Not every American regional writer is destined to become a Mark Twain, a William Faulkner, or even a modest success. Such is the case of Emmett Gowen (1902-1973), an obscure Tennessee-born writer who published two forgettable novels in the early 1930s with Indianapolis publisher Bobbs-Merrill. Court-martialed from the Marine Corps, Gowen served three years in the Naval Prison at Parris Island, South Carolina before being dishonorably discharged in 1923. He taught himself the craft of writing as a reporter on several Memphis newspapers while churning out stories for pulp magazines.

In 1932, Bobbs-Merrill published Gowen’s first novel, Mountain Born, a chronicle of the lives and loves of Tennessee hill folk, to mild critical acclaim, but lackluster sales. Undeterred, Gowen pressed on with the writing of a second novel contracted by the publisher, but ran into a problem faced by many would-be professional scribes — lack of money to complete their work. On October 29, 1932, Bobbs-Merrill received “Cards on the Table,” Emmett Gowen’s clever and artistic plea for a life-saving advance against royalties that would enable him to finish a racy novel on the trials and tribulations of Southern tenant farmers. The ploy worked. The amused publisher advanced Gowen $200.00, but their relationship ended after Dark Moon of March (1933) generated fewer sales than his first book. Gowen persevered, becoming a regular contributor of articles featuring rugged men in the “great outdoors” to magazines like Field and Stream, Argosy, True, and Outdoor Life. In the late 1950s, he assumed the presidency of Emmett Gowen, Ltd., an outfitting and guide service for hunters and fisherman vacationing in Mexico and Central America. His most successful book, The Joy of Fishing, was published by Rand McNally in 1961.

Gowen is among the several hundred authors (Irvin S. Cobb, Ring Lardner, James Whitcomb Riley) represented in the Bobbs-Merrill mss. (1885-1957) housed at the Lilly Library. The papers of the Indianapolis publisher are arranged by author and include autobiographical questionnaires, correspondence, reader’s opinions, promotional material, and royalty records. The 131,056 items in the collection have been partially described in “Studies in the Bobbs-Merrill Papers,” edited by Edwin H. Cady, in The Indiana University Bookman, no. 8 (March, 1967), pp. 1-166. A dissertation in 1975 by Jack O’Bar entitled A History of the Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1850-1940: With a Postlude Through the Early 1960′s (LZ2 .O124) was derived largely from the Bobbs-Merrill mss.

– David Frasier, Reference Librarian

View larger images of Gowen’s letter

April 3, 2009

Dvorak in America

Filed under: Manuscripts,Music,New acquisitions — Cherry Williams @ 9:28 am

Jeanette Thurber portrait

The Lilly Library is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of the Dvořàk/Thurber mss., ca. 1885-1937, which consists of documents, correspondence and ephemera relating to Antonìn Dvořàk, Jeanette M. Thurber, and the history of the National Conservatory of Music in America (NCMA). These materials were a gift from Prof. Robert Aborn, whose dissertation “The Influence on American Musical Culture of Dvořàk’s Sojourn in America,” may be read in its entirety at: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/handle/2022/3462.

Jeanette M. Thurber founded the National Conservatory of Music in 1885, which was based on the Paris Conservatoire model. In addition to replicating the European Conservatories to which American students had been turning in order to obtain a first class musical education, she also hoped to train as yet untrained students, the handicapped, and blacks as well as to encourage an indigenous music culture in the United States. Initially tuition free, the Conservatory was originally located at 126-128 East 17th Street; however that building was demolished in 1911. Unsuccessful attempts to revive the school and relocate it in Washington DC persisted through the 1920′s. The staff included Victor Herbert, Rafael Joseffy and Henry Finch as well as the noted composer, Antonìn Dvořàk, who was the director from 1892-1895. It was at the Conservatory that Dvořàk met his pupil, Harry Burleigh, one of the earliest African-American composers. Burleigh introduced traditional American Spirituals to Dvořàk at the latter’s request.

Antonìn Leopold Dvořàk (September 8, 1841 – May 1, 1904) was a Czech composer of Romantic music. During his time in America, among other compositions, Dvořàk wrote Symphony No.9 “From the New World,” String Quartet in F (the “American”), and the String Quintet in E flat, as well as a Sonatina for violin and piano.

– Cherry Williams, Curator of Manuscripts

Image: Jeanette M. Thurber (photo)

View a copy of letter (copy made by Mrs. Thurber) from Dvořàk to Littleton discussing his initial contract with the NCMA.

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