Emory Report
December 7, 2009
Volume 62, Number 13



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December 7, 2009
Closing Soon: Exhibit’s revealing inscriptions

By Maureen McGavin

A glimpse into the relationship between husband-and-wife poets – and that of the husband and his mistress. A famous admonition from one author to another to “save the to-morrows for work.” Spontaneous verses scribbled by a well-known poet to his patron.

Those are some of the treasures in the exhibition “Between You and Me: Inscriptions and Associations,” on display until Dec. 14 in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library.

In the world of rare books, an association copy is a book inscribed by the author or another significant person to a person of note or someone connected to the author. David Faulds, rare book librarian at MARBL and the exhibition’s curator, says most of the books themselves aren’t notable, but the inscriptions elevate their worth.

“The book itself can be a fairly inexpensive paperback, but with the inscription it gains a huge amount of value in a number of ways,” says Faulds. “A lot of the research in putting the exhibit together came in trying to work out what was going on, why this book was important, and what they were doing at the time.”

The exhibition contains several noteworthy displays:

· A glass case containing books with inscriptions between husband and wife poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. The inscriptions tended to be formal (“For Sylvia from Ted”), which sheds some light on their relationship. Plath also underlined and marked several of the books, such as a volume on nightmares she gave Hughes for their first Christmas as a married couple.

· A display case containing books exchanged between Hughes and his longtime lover, Assia Wevill, with more affectionate – and cryptic – inscriptions than those between Hughes and Plath.

· Books belonging to Joel Chandler Harris (author of the “Uncle Remus” series of children’s books), with inscriptions from Mark Twain (“Let us save the to-morrows for work. Truly yours, Mark Twain”) and Rudyard Kipling (author of “The Jungle Book,” who was influenced by Harris’ writings).

· W.B. Yeats’ books from the 1890s and early 1900s belonging to Lady Augusta Gregory, the author’s patron. Some of the books are very rare, with just 13 or fewer copies printed. Yeats not only inscribed his published books to her but wrote original poems in them.