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Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Josepha Hale

“To pore upon a book, to seek the light of truth”*…

 

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Gertrude Stein. James Joyce. Ernest Hemingway. Aimé Césaire. Simone de Beauvoir. Jacques Lacan. Walter Benjamin.

What do these writers have in common? They were all members of the Shakespeare and Company lending library.

In 1919, an American woman named Sylvia Beach opened Shakespeare and Company, an English-language bookshop and lending library in Paris. Almost immediately, it became the home away from home for a community of expatriate writers and artists now known as the Lost Generation. In 1922, she published James Joyce’s Ulysses under the Shakespeare and Company imprint, a feat that made her—and her bookshop and lending library—famous around the world. In the 1930s, she increasingly catered to French intellectuals, supplying English-language publications from the recently rediscovered Moby Dick to the latest issues of The New Yorker. In 1941, she preemptively closed Shakespeare and Company after refusing to sell her last copy of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake to a Nazi officer.

The Shakespeare and Company Project uses sources from the Beach Papers at Princeton University to reveal what the lending library members read and where they lived…

Hemingeway

The Project is a work-in-progress, but you can begin to explore now.  Search and browse the lending library members and books.  Read about joining the lending library. Download a preliminary export of Project data. (And in the coming months, check back for new features and essays.)

Recreating the world of the Lost Generation in interwar Paris: The Shakespeare and Company Project.

* Shakepeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost

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As we know them by what they read, we might recall that it was on this date in 1830 that Sarah Josepha Hale published Poems for Our Children, which included “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (originally titled “Mary’s Lamb”); later in the decade Lowell Mason set the nursery rhyme to music.  While Hale is probably best remembered for this, she was also a successful novelist and magazine editor, a fierce and effective abolitionist and champion of women’s rights, the founder of several charities, and the leader of the successful campaigns to create Thanksgiving Day as a holiday and to complete the Bunker Hill Monument.

Hale retired in 1877 at the age of 89– the same year that Thomas Edison spoke the opening lines of “Mary’s Lamb” as the first speech ever recorded on his newly invented phonograph.

220px-Sarah_Hale_portrait source

 

Special Holiday Extra: a day of “sincere and humble thanks”…

from xkcd (where, while Randall deals with illness in his family, Jeffrey Rowland [and others] have stepped in)

From Scenarios and Strategy:

On October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation naming Thursday, November 26, 1789 as an official holiday of “sincere and humble thanks,” and the United States celebrated its first Thanksgiving under its new Constitution.

click image to see enlargement at source; click here to see original manuscript at the National Archives

The holiday became traditional, at least in New England, but was celebrated each year at different times in the late Fall.  Then in September of 1863, a magazine editor named Sarah Josepha Hale wrote President Abraham Lincoln, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” Lincoln responded:

Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day

October 3, 1863

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.  To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart…

click image to see enlargement at the National Archive; click here for transcription

(According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln’s secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. Indeed, on October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles noted in his diary that he had complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.)

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