University of Virginia Library


The remainder of the west side of the foyer is occupied by a sectional bookcase seven shelves high, reaching almost to the ceiling. It contains part of my collection of artistically avant-garde and politically radical American publishers between 1890 and 1930, though its contents will soon change, for I am now (late 2008) in the process of giving that collection to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale. Because the whole collection amounts to over ten thousand volumes, I have never been able to house all of it in my apartment—especially since I wanted to devote most of the space to my other large collection (books illustrating the history of bibliography, book collecting, and textual criticism), which is the one I need to have at hand to refer to. In the five years since I began my donations to Yale, most of the books have come from the Indiana house, where the bulk of the publisher-imprint collection has been stored in the basement and the upstairs room that had been my aunt Audra's. The small part that I shelved in New York consists of the publishers of the 1890s and a group of New York (especially Greenwich Village) publishers of the 1910s and 1920s whose output was small. This latter group is what is presently housed in the tall foyer bookcase.

There are the publications of Frank Shay, for example, who brought out several pamphlets of plays that had been performed by the Provincetown Players and the Washington Square Players, including early work by Eugene O'Neill, Susan Glaspell, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. A less well-known series, on the same shelf, is the "Flying Stag Plays for the Little Theater," published by Egmont Arens in attractive pamphlet editions with cover illustrations by notable artists. Harry Kemp's The Prodigal Son (1918), for instance, bears a front-cover drawing by William Gropper, one of the Masses-Liberator artists. (A piece of his later hung by my desk at


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the Guggenheim Foundation, for he had held a Fellowship in 1937.) The books published by Nicholas L. Brown and by Lieber & Lewis featured English translations of European (especially Russian and French) writers. The Sunwise Turn was a bookshop that published a few titles, most famously Pins for Wings (1920), the second of Witter Bynner's spoofs of imagism and other poetic movements.

Among Laurence Gomme's publications, distinctive for their use of Frederic Goudy's Kennerley type, are two 1917 books, Eight Harvard Poets, which includes E. E. Cummings and John Dos Passos, and The Newark Anniversary Poems, which includes Ezra Pound. (Mitchell Kennerley, for whom the type was designed, is another of the publishers I collect and was the founder in 1907 of the Little Bookshop Around the Corner, on 29th Street just east of Fifth Avenue, which Gomme managed for a while and then owned.) Gomme was later the first president of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (founded in 1949) and was a member of the Grolier Club for over a quarter-century. I went to visit him at his Scarsdale home in October 1964 and took with me one of his books— Clement Wood's Glad of Earth (1917)—for him to sign; he obliged by writing "To / Thomas Tanselle / who flatters the publisher / by liking this volume." He also gave me several of the later, scarcer items that he published or designed. At that time I did not yet know Mary Hyde well and was not aware of another of Gomme's roles: he was the cataloguer in 1945 of the R. B. Adam collection ofJohnsoniana, which (through his efforts as agent) was purchased by the Hydes three years later.

One subset of these small New York publishers comprises those primarily known for their publication of "little" magazines. I have a shelf of Emma Goldman's anarchist periodical Mother Earth, plus some of the separate pamphlets and hard-cover books she brought out with the Mother Earth Publishing Association imprint, such as Petr Kropotkin's Modern Science and Anarchism (1908) and Mikhail Bakunin's God and the State (1916). Guido Bruno is represented by several serials, including Bruno's Weekly (1915–16) and the Chap Books (famous for the illustrations of Clara Tice and for the November 1915 pamphlet, Djuna Barnes's The Book of Repulsive Women). There are also runs of Margaret Anderson's The Little Review(1914—29), Bobby Edwards's The Quill (1922—24), and Samuel Roth's Two Worlds and Two Worlds Monthly (1925—27). My long runs of the most illustrious of the radical magazines, The Masses (1911–17) and The Liberator(1918–24), are housed elsewhere because of their size and are represented in this bookcase only by some of the very scarce "Liberator Pamphlets," such as John Reed's The Sisson Documents (1918) and Max Eastman's Address to the Jury in the Second Masses Trial (1918). Some equally scarce pamphlets in "Pearson's 25,¢ Library," from the Frank Harris period of


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Pearson's Magazine, are here (such as Harris's Stories of Jesus the Christ of 1919, with a contribution by Bernard Shaw), along with books from the Pagan Publishing Company, publisher of The Pagan (1916–17).

I have not named here every one of the small publishers in the bookcase, but perhaps enough to suggest why I regard these seven shelves as a distillation of the collection as a whole, since the interests manifested by these publishers are largely those of the other publishers I collect. I see these books many times every day, as I pass through the foyer, and I am thus constantly reminded of what I have put together—and, indeed, of the process of assembling it, for I can remember where I found many of the books. I can see myself buying Mary Carolyn Davies's The Slave with Two Faces (Arens, 1918) at Max Hunley's shop in Beverly Hills; Albert Adès and Albert Josipovici's Goha the Fool (Lieber & Lewis, 1923) at Maggie DuPriest's shop in Coral Gables; Ernest Dowson's Dilemmas (Gomme, 1914) at the Reifsneiders' Park Book Shop in Washington; a presentation copy of John Jay Chapman's Cupid & Psyche (Gomme, 1916) at Dauber & Pine on lower Fifth Avenue; and Selected Works of Voltairine de Cleyre (Mother Earth, 1914) at the Safari Bookshop in San Diego. When the books in this bookcase go to Yale, they will be replaced by parts of my books-about-books collection now stored on closet shelves and floors. Scenes of buying books will continue to enter my mind when I am in the foyer, but they will be different scenes.