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James Branch Cabell's Personal Library by Maurice Duke
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James Branch Cabell's Personal Library by Maurice Duke

When James Branch Cabell died on May 5, 1958, in his native city, Richmond, Virginia, he left a personal library containing nearly thirty-five hundred volumes. This accumulation, the product of fifty-eight years of collecting, contains hundreds of autographed and inscribed first editions, heretofore unknown Cabell manuscript material, and letters and memorabilia from friends in the literary world, among whom were numerous major writers of the last eighty years.

Unlike many writers, Cabell was conscious of books as objects, and he cared for them carefully. He kept his working library, books used as sources and references as well as books read for pleasure, separate from his own works and from complimentary copies sent him by friends. And he spent hours rechecking his holdings, reinscribing and reannotating countless items. Fortunately, his widow, Mrs. Margaret Freeman Cabell, has kept his library as he left it; hence the imprint of his organizing hand is still visible. I will describe the collection by using Cabell's categories: the working library; his collection of his own works; and finally presentation copies sent him, including the numerous letters inserted in them.


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The Working Library

Since Cabell had two libraries and the first was destroyed by fire, the working library, numbering about fourteen hundred volumes, does not chronicle his reading during his entire lifetime. Cabell began collecting books as early as 1890, as an autograph in Kipling's Plain Tales indicates: "James Cabell (1890) / 217 S. Third / Richmond, Virginia." Cabell was eleven years old when he autographed this volume; eleven years later, on March 29th, 1901, his parents' home burned, destroying almost all of his early library. We know very little of the lost volumes except that some were by Poe,[1] and some were books that Cabell acquired between 1894 and 1898 while a student at the College of William and Mary. The first library also contained books he may have bought between 1899 and 1901, when he was a reporter on the New York Herald. In addition to the Poe we can be certain only that the early collection contained some books in the Mermaid Series, indicated by the following inscription in a copy of James Shirley by Edmund Gosse: "I sent this, remembering that your early / Mermaids were — wasn't it? — burned. The / holiday compliments — / L. G. 15-XII-24 / Paris —."[2] The working library is further inaccurate regarding what Cabell read because he often discarded books he could borrow from libraries.[3] Thus we see that Cabell's working library gives at best an incomplete picture of his reading. However, it more than compensates for this deficiency by the light it sheds on his published works.

For much of his life Cabell was a genealogist. He began this exacting form of scholarship by compiling personal family genealogies, among which are Branchiana, Branch of Abingdon, and The Majors and Their Marriages. Thus he gained a reverence for precision, thorough note taking, and crediting of sources. As a result he inscribed many of his source books, hence leaving concrete evidence of the ways in which he transmuted sources into finished works of art.

Cabell autographed or inscribed 409 of the 3,363 volumes in his library, many more than once. The inscriptions fall roughly into three categories. First are volumes in which Cabell simply placed his name, or the short phrase "Property of / James Branch Cabell"; second are the volumes, (often periodicals), containing factual information concerning his publishing history. The following are examples:

  • The Bomb VMI. Published Annually by the Cadets of The Virginia Military Institute, 1901. Autograph: The first story and the first verses / to be published, regrettably, under / the name of / James Branch Cabell.

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  • The International: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine of Travel and Literature, April, 1901. Autograph: First published work.

    Rascoe, Burton and Groff Conklin, eds.

  • The Smart Set Anthology. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1934. Autograph: James Branch Cabell / the first appearance of / Jurgen, in The Smart / Set for July 1918.
Finally there are the inscriptions in the actual source books, volumes Cabell used in writing his own works. We find, for example, in W. W. Beach's The Indian Miscellany Albany, 1877, an inscription indicating the source for The First Gentleman of America: "It was this volume which, circa 1912, / gave me the notion of writing, some / day or another, the book which in 1939 / began to take form as The First Gentleman of America. / James Branch Cabell." Again, in Julia Wyatt Bullard's Jamestown Tributes and Toasts Lynchburg, Virginia, 1907, we find an inscription central to two Cabell books: "Property of / James Branch Cabell / — but for which he could not well have written either The Rivet in Grandfather's Neck or Let Me Lie." One particularly revealing inscription relates to Cabell's Jurgen. Controversy about the name of the main character, Jurgen, must end with a reading of an inscription in Hans Christian Andersen's Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales. Mrs. H. B. Paull, trans., London and New York, 1890: "An extensive source book, out of / which, among many other matters, / came the name Jurgen from a / short story I have never read. / James Branch Cabell." Also, in William J. Thoms's Early English Prose Romances, London and New York, no date, we find an inscription central to two more Cabell novels: "It was in this book that circa 1915 I / found the gist of Hamlet Had an Uncle. / Some of the Faustus story was utilized / in writing Jurgen. / James Branch Cabell." And finally in W. R. S. Ralston's Russian Fairy Tales: A Choice Collection, New York: Hurst and Co., n.d. we find the inscription "James Branch Cabell / his source book."

The relevance of such inscriptions to Cabell the man and the writer is varied. That he simply placed his name in a given book tells us little. At most we can say he thought enough of the volume to sign it; and this is, of course, significant since hundreds of the volumes were not marked in any way. The information, however, takes on greater significance when we come to inscriptions which give us factual information concerning his career, for here is the raw material with which his biographer, yet unnamed, will be vitally concerned. Inscriptions in the source books are of obvious importance: they relate to Cabell's theories of composition, both in content and execution; and they often show, from germination to fruition, his progression of ideas.

One section of the collection deserves separate mention. On the east wall of the library is a case containing 298 volumes. Here Cabell kept books on voodoo, folklore, sexual aberrations, and occult subjects. Also shelved here are dictionaries of mythology and anthropological studies, Sir


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James G. Frazer's works for example. The future Cabell scholar interested in sources and analogues will find this part of the library central to his study. Following are illustrations of these volumes. Bp indicates the presence of Cabell's bookplate:
  • Adams, W. H. Davenport. Witch, Warlock, and Magician: Historical Sketches of Magic and Witchcraft in England and Scotland. New York: J. W. Bouton, 1889. Bp.
  • Bede, Cuthbert, collector. The White Wife with Other Stories, Supernatural, Romantic, and Legendary. London: Sampson Low, Son, and Marston, 1865. Bp.
  • Besterman, Theodore. Crystal-Gazing: A Study in the History, Distribution, Theory and Practice of Scrying. London: William Rider & Son, Ltd., 1924.
  • Bibliotheca Diabolica; Being a Choice Selection of the Most Valuable Books Relating to the Devil; His Origin, Greatness, and Influence, Comprising the Most Important Works on the Devil, Satan, Demons, Hell, Hell-Torments, Magic, Witchcraft, Sorcery, Divination, Superstitions, Angels, Ghosts and with Some Curious Volumes on Dreams and Astrology. In Two Parts, Pro and Con — Serious and Humorous. New York: Scribner, Welford Armstrong, 1874. This is a pamphlet.
  • The Blue Laws of Connecticut; With an Account of the Persecution of Witches and Quakers in New England; and Some Extracts from the Blue Laws of Virginia. New York: The Truth Seeker Co., 1898.
  • The Book of Fate and Fortune: An Encylopedia of the Occult Sciences. New York: Robert M. McBride & Co., MCMXXXII.
  • Bratley, George H. The Power of Gems and Charms. London: Gay & Bird, 1907.
  • Clodd, Edward. Magic in Names and in Other Things. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1921. Laid in: undated card from Alfred Goldsmith.
  • Conway, Moncure Daniel. Demonology and Devil-Lore. 2 vols. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1879. Bps. Laid in in vol. 1: 2 newspaper clippings regarding Alfred F. Goldsmith. Laid in in vol. 1: Christmas card from Goldsmith, 1843.
  • Cooper, Paul Fenimore, trans. Tricks of Women and Other Albanian Tales. New York: William Morrow & Co., MCMXXVIII. TLS: From Thayer Hobson, New York, 14 June 1928, 1p.
  • Cormack, Mrs. J. G. Chinese Birthday, Wedding, Funeral and Other Customs. Peking and Tientsin: La Libraire Francaise, 1923. Bp. Laid in: Postcard from Alfred F. Goldsmith, 10 Sept. 1927.
  • Crawley, Ernest. The Mystic Rose; A Study of Primitive Marriage and of Primitive Thought in its Bearing on Marriage. 2 vols. New York: Boni & Liveright, 1927.
  • Davidson, P. The Mistletoe and its Philosophy, Showing its History, the Origin of its Mystical and Religious Rites; Why this Weird Plant was Preferably Chosen to Others; Its Legendary Connection with the Great World Reformers-RAMA-Along with a Description of Several Rare Plants and Herbs that Possess Mystical Properties. Loudsville, Ga.: Peter Davidson, Glasgow: Bernard Goodwin, 1892.

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  • Du Chaillu, Paul B. The Viking Age; The Early History, Manners, and Customs of the Ancestors of the English-Speaking Nations. 2 vols. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1889.
  • Edwards, Charles. The History and Poetry of Finger-Rings. New York: A. C. Armstrong & Son, 1880.
  • Farmer, Hugh. An Essay on the Demoniacs of the New Testament. London: G. Robinson, MDCCLXXV.
  • Graves, Robert. The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth. New York: Creative Age Press, 1948.
  • Grey, Sir George. Polynesian Mythology and Ancient Traditional History of the New Zealanders as Furnished by their Priests and Chiefs. London: George Routledge & Sons, Ltd., New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1922. Bp.
  • Harris, J. Rendel. Origin and Meaning of Apple Cults. Reprinted from "The Bulletin of the John Rylands Library" Vol. 5, Nos. 1 & 2, August 1918-March 1919. Manchester: The University Press, Longmans, Green & Co., 1919.
  • Haynes, Carlyle B. Satan: His Origin, Work and Destiny. Nashville, Fort Worth and Atlanta: Southern Publishing Association, 1920.
  • Hone, William. Ancient Mysteries Described; Especially the English Miracle Plays Founded on the Apocryphal New Testament Story, Extant Among the Unpublished Manuscripts in the British Museum, etc. London: William Reeves, n.d. Bp.
  • Hutton, Alfred. The Sword and the Centuries; or, Old Sword Days and Old Sword Ways. Being a Description of the Various Swords Used in Civilized Europe During the Last Five Centuries, and of Single Combats Which have been Fought with Them. London: Grant Richards, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1901. Bp.
  • Lawrence, Edward. Spiritualism Among Civilized and Savage Races; A Study in Anthropology. London: A & C Black, Ltd., 1921. Bp.
  • Nature Worship; An Account of Phallic Faiths and Practices Ancient and Modern, Including the Adoration of the Male and Female Powers in Various Nations and the Sacti Puja of Indian Gnosticism. Privately Printed, 1929.
  • O'Donnell, Elliott. Animal Ghosts; or, Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter. London: William Rider & Son, Ltd., 1913. Bp.
  • Rhazis, Le Docteur. L'Amor Perverse; Fetichistes, Sadiques, Masochites, Necrophiles, Stercoraires, Exhibitionnistes, Bestialite. Paris: De Porter, n.d. Collection de Sciences Médicales Élémentaires, No. 14.
  • Waite, Arthur Edward. The Occult Sciences; A Compendium of Transcendental Doctrine and Experiment Embracing an Account of Magical Practices, etc. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., n.d. (first edition was 1891). Bp.

Cabell's Own Works

With money received from the sale of an early story, Cabell purchased a large mahogany cabinet and stored there the numerous impressions, states


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and editions of his own works. Of the 236 volumes in this cabinet, eighty-eight have letters from his publishers, critics, and friends inserted in them. There are also numerous documents pertaining to Cabell's career in these books. Cabell inscribed almost every volume here, and some have directions to his future editors. Often the inscriptions are of a bibliographical nature, as, for example, in a copy of Branchiana: "Property of / James Branch Cabell / Only some 10 copies were / issued in this red binding."; and again, in a copy of Chivalry: "Property of / James Branch Cabell / this is the first state," and in Beyond Life: "First state, / normal binding. / James Branch Cabell."[4] There are numerous similar inscriptions.

Although there are no full length manuscripts in the mahogany cabinet there is much manuscript material. In addition to notes jotted on scraps of paper and various kinds of minutiae, there are scores of typed manuscript sheets with holograph overlays inserted in the books. Sometimes the material relates to a section of a book which Cabell rewrote or to a preface or introduction. Especially is this the case regarding the Storisende Edition of his works. Occasionally the manuscript pertains to a purple passage, or other special effect Cabell was seeking. The manuscript for the "Author's Note" in the Storisende Edition of Jurgen, for example, indicates that Cabell changed his attitude toward this novel before it was republished in the collected edition of 1927-30. The manuscript is a typed fair-copy with a holograph overlay of corrections in black ink. Notice the changes that he made in his final revision:

  • Original: As I recall it, the writer whom in some place or another I have seen identified as "the author of 'Jurgen'" aimed with this volume to introduce into the Biography the element of gallantry, as well as yet further to foreshadow the poet's fundamental attitude toward existence.
  • Revised: Upon reflection I have decided not to write any new preface for "Jurgen." Otherwise, I would here explain that the writer whom, in some place or another, I have seen identified as "the author of 'Jurgen'" aimed with this volume to introduce into the Biography the element of gallantry, as well as yet further to foreshadow every poet's fundamental attitude toward existence.
  • Original: Nor, for that matter, — I repeat, — do I feel any strong desire to say anything more as to this "Jurgen." . . .
  • Revised: Moreover — I repeat, I am indissuadably set against writing any sort of preface for this "Jurgen." . . .
  • Original: . . . "Don Quixote" and "Pride and Prejudice" and "Tom Jones", depends not upon what the author has put into its pages but upon what the reader gets out of them. And upon this understanding, I am willing enough to concede that the sixth chapter of the Biography may be the best.

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  • Revised: . . . "Don Quixote" and "Pride and Prejudice" and "Tom Jones", depends not upon what the author has put into its pages, but upon what one or another reader, for one or another reason, gets out of them. And I do not press the point that "Jurgen" seems to me not truly an individual book but just the sixth chapter of the Biography.
These examples, and there are numerous others in this manuscript, are evidence that Cabell's attitude toward the Storisende Jurgen changed from the time that he wrote the "Author's Note" in fair-copy form until he finally revised it. In the fair-copy he indicates that Jurgen "may be the best" novel in the edition, while in the overlay he indicates it is "not truly an individual book but just the sixth chapter of the Biography." In the total Cabell canon such a point may be relatively minor; however, a study of sufficient similar examples will yield fruit for the scholar concerned with Cabell's revisions. The mahogany cabinet contains other similar manuscript material; the above is only an illustration.

Apart from Cabell's methods of revision, the manuscript material gives us knowledge of his methods of composition. This is not the place to attempt a study of Cabell's prose style. It is enough to say that like Hawthorne, Henry James, Whitman, and a host of others, he worked very consciously for studied effects, and the steps by which he achieved them can often be seen in the manuscript material.

In one volume we find manuscript sheets that prove Cabell scanned his prose as poetry in order to construct purple passages. It is necessary to quote at length from pages twenty-five and twenty-six of Special Delivery, New York: Robert M. McBride and Co., 1933 in order to illustrate this point:

It does not seem logical that I have looked at every painting and sketch and water color in the Musée Moreau (including the three hundred little ones in the revolving stand), but have not yet seen Niagara Falls. To touch the skin of a peach sets my teeth on edge: so does the sight of a cut and wilted flower. I am stingy in small money matters. I dislike nobody, now that Woodrow Wilson is dead. In writing prose I observe that I do not naturally employ the Ionic a minore or the third paeon. I support twenty-eight goldfish, each of whom has his or her own name. I have never been cordially moved by philanthropy or altruism. When a dentist is working on my teeth I find it an immense comfort to wave both feet in the air. Such are the thoughts which occur to me when I think frankly about myself.

Into the drift of new days I forbear to pry after dreams as large and ardent as those which swayed my far-away youth-time. Then I had grief, love, and laughter: now I am fairly contented. Life, which was tragic or blissful, becomes a more moderate commerce. All that is done seems well done with; all that I keep well contents me; all that awaits I must meet, God willing, without any whining. So much alone one may gain from the half of a century's schooling — platitudes flavored with gratitude. That is life's stinted tuition's end, in so far as I fathom it. Such are the thoughts which occur to me when I (who attempt this rarely) think frankly about myself.

The latter paragraph, we see, takes on a poetic regularity absent in the former. The manuscript inserted in Special Delivery casts light on this, for


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here we find three versions of the paragraph. Cabell scanned the first two lines of the first version, arriving at a basically dactyllic hexameter line. The second version is slightly rewritten and it too is basically dactyllic hexameter. The final version, which appears the same as in the published form, has two overlays of revision, but it too retains the dactyllic hexameter line. Here we have concrete evidence that Cabell was an extremely meticulous prose stylist, and the importance of such evidence is of moment to the Cabell scholar. There are 225 sheets of manuscript inserted in the books — many indicating textual changes intended for future editions — as well as numerous pages of notes. Collectively they comment significantly on Cabell's attitudes toward his craft and on his methods of composition, and his plans for subsequent editions.

Presentation Copies

Of particular importance to scholars is Cabell's collection of some 750 presentation copies containing 577 heretofore unreported letters. They are from such people as Sinclair Lewis, H. L. Mencken, Ellen Glasgow, Stephen Vincent Benét, Hugh Walpole and George Jean Nathan, to mention but a few.

Cabell treated his books as miniature filing cabinets, placing letters as well as other memorabilia in them. He began this practice early in life and continued it until his death. When he was young he carefully tipped in the letters, photographs, caricatures and so on. Often he would meticulously fasten the letter to the front pastedown endpaper and the envelope to the back, as he did for correspondence from F. Scott Fitzgerald. In later years, however, he simply laid the letters in. The following samples indicate the kinds of things one finds in Cabell's books. Letters are addressed to Cabell unless otherwise indicated; ALS indicates signed autograph letter, TLS signed typed letter:

  • Cabell, James Branch. Some of Us: An Essay in Epitaphs. New York: Robert M. McBride and Co., MCMXXX.
  • Autograph: James Branch Cabell, / his book
  • ALS: From Frances Newman, Atlanta, Georgia, 1927, 3pps. ALS: From Theodore Dreiser, n.p., 30 March 1934, 1p. TLS: From Seward Collins, New York, 28 April 1930, 1p. TLS: From Sinclair Lewis, Washington, D. C. 13 Jan. 1920 1p. TLS: From Sherwood Anderson, Marion, Virginia, 6 March 1934. 1p. TLS: From Joseph Hergesheimer, Rockbridge, Alum Springs, Virginia, 27 Aug. 1921, 1p. TLS: From H. L. Mencken, Baltimore, Maryland, 8 Aug. 1930, 1p. Laid in: Assignment of copyright for A Note as to Sinclair Lewis, to Cabell from The American Mercury, 29 Sept. 1930. Laid in: Agreement between McBride and Co. and Cabell to publish Some of Us, 12 June 1930. Laid in: 4 typed, corrected in autograph, slips of corrections and emendations for Some of Us.

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  • Clark, Emily. Innocence Abroad. New York and London: Alfred A. Knopf, 1931. Autograph: For James Branch Cabell / in gratitude and admiration / from Emily Clark. / February 1931, the tenth birthday of / The Reviewer, whose story he helped to / make worth telling. ALS: From Amélie Troubetzkoy, Albemarle, County, Virginia, 15 July 1921, 4pps. ALS: From Frances Newman, Atlanta, Georgia, 12 Dec. 1920, 4pps. ALS: From Julia M. Peterkin, 1112 West Ave., Richmond, Virginia, Saturday, 1p. TLS: From Ellen Glasgow, Castine, Maine, 22 Aug. 1933, 3pps. TLS: From Du Bose Heyward, Henderson, North Carolina, 27 April 1932, 1p. Laid in: Telegram from Carl Van Vechten, New York, 14 April 1932, 1 line. Laid in: Newspaper clipping regarding Cabell and Julia M. Peterkin. Laid in: Newspaper clipping regarding Preface to the Past. Laid in: Newspaper clipping regarding Innocence Abroad. Laid in: 2 pieces of minutiae.
  • Howells, William Dean. The Sleeping Car. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co., 1884. Autograph: Thomas Branch from his son C. W. Branch, April 3rd / 85 ALS: From Howells, New York? 5 Nov. 1909, 2pps.
  • Nathan, George Jean and others, eds. The American Spectator Year Book. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Co., MCMXXXIV. Autograph: Property of / James Branch Cabell ALS: From Eugene O'Neill, Sea Island, Georgia, 29 Oct. 1934, 1p. ALS: From Theodore Dreiser, New York, 7 April 1937, 1p. ALS: From Ernest Boyd, New York, Saturday, 2pps. TLS: From Nathan, New York, 8 Aug. 1932, 1p. Laid in: Certificate of ownership of 8 shares of stock in The American Spectator; dated 7 Oct. 1933. Laid in: Statement for royalties for Nathan from Frederick A. Stokes Co., Publishers from 1 Jan. 1936 to 1 Jan. 1937. Pasted in: Newspaper clipping regarding Nathan and others.
  • Viereck, George Sylvester. Roosevelt: A Study in Ambivalence. New York: Jackson Press, Inc., 1920. ALS: From Viereck, New York, 17 Feb. 1920, 1p. TLS: From Theodore Roosevelt, The White House, Washington, D. C., 2 Nov. 1905, 1p. Pasted in slip on which is printed: With compliments of George Sylvester Viereck.

Often these complimentary copies bear lengthy inscriptions, as do many of the editions from Sinclair Lewis, H. L. Mencken, Hugh Walpole, Ellen Glasgow, Joseph Hergesheimer, Thomas Beer, and others. These inscriptions are of two types: first are the brief sentiments or appreciative comments followed by the signature of the sender. Volumes bearing such material are, of course, valuable to the collector of first editions, but to the scholar they have little or nothing to say. Much more important to the latter are books containing comments which reveal an author's attitude toward his works. A number of volumes in the library fall into this category. The following are examples:

  • Glasgow, Ellen. Life and Gabriella: The Story of a Woman's Courage. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday Page and Co., 1916. Bp. Autograph: James Branch Cabell Autograph: James Branch Cabell, / with cordial greeting, / Ellen Glasgow / "God offers to every / mind its choice / between truth and / repose."


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    ALS: From Glasgow, 1 W. Main St., Richmond, Virginia, n.d., 2pps. Laid in: Newspaper clipping regarding Glasgow.
  • Hergesheimer, Joseph. Quiet Cities. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, MCMXXVIII. Autograph: James Branch Cabell Autograph: Joseph Hergesheimer / Dear James / Here are the cities / I live in and to which we / two have the secret key / for / James Branch Cabell / June twenty-fifth / 1928.
  • Mencken, H. L. A Book of Calumny (First Printed as "Damn"). New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1918. Bp. Autograph: James Branch Cabell Autograph: Dear Cabell: / Hidden in this / book / deep down, are / one or two genuinely / lofty thoughts. / H. L. Mencken / 1921.
  • Sterling, George. Beyond the Breakers and Other Poems. San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1914. Bp. Autograph: For / James Branch Cabell / this valuable work on / Natural History. / George Sterling. / San Francisco, / Feb. 9th 1920. ALS: From Sterling, San Francisco, California, 4 June 1921, 2pps.
  • Sterling, George. The Caged Eagle and Other Poems. San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1916. Bp. Autograph: Dear Mr. Cabell: / Please / don't read the "war-poems!" / Your admirer, / George Sterling, / San Francisco, Feb. 9th, 1920. ALS: From Sterling, San Francisco, California, 14 August 1921, 3pps.
  • Van Vechten, Carl. The Merry-Go-Round. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, MCM-XVIII. Bp. Autograph: James Branch Cabell Autograph: For James Branch Cabell / These tarnished wooden horses. / Carl Van Vechten / Nov. 27, 1923. / New York
  • Walpole, Hugh. The Duchess of Wrexe, Her Decline and Death: A Romantic Commentary. New York: George H. Doran Co., 1914. Bp. Autograph: THIS / IS / FALSE . . . / Almost all through — / To James Branch Cabell / from Hugh Walpole / April 6, '20.
  • Walpole, Hugh. Fortitude; Being a True and Faithful Account of the Education of an Adventurer. New York: George H. Doran Co., 1913. Bp. Autograph: This is crude but genuine _____ / To James Branch Cabell / from his friend / Hugh Walpole / April 6, '20.
  • Walpole, Hugh. The Secret City: A Novel in Three Parts. New York: George H. Doran Co., 1919. Bp. Autograph: The only part of this book / is in Background / To James Branch Cabell / from / his friend / Hugh Walpole — / April 6, '20.

Cabell's library, then, is of central importance to scholars of modern literature. His directions to future editors, inscriptions in source books, and the numerous manuscript sheets and letters as well as the books in his working library are essential to editing and understanding the man and his work. Also the presentation copies, containing hundreds of letters and inscriptions, comment in penetrating detail on a myriad of modern authors. His library preserves a large segment of material relevant to the complete study of modern literature.



This information was supplied by Mrs. Margaret Freeman Cabell, the author's widow.


This inscription is on a tipped-in personal card of Lewis Galantière.


Mrs. Cabell has told me that this was sometimes Cabell's way of making room for new books.


Inserted in this volume is also a four page letter from Guy Holt, Cabell's editor at McBride's, which has marginal notes in Cabell's hand regarding the tenth chapter of the novel.