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Peter Burnett, a Racist Abolitionist

By Andrea Koczela. May 31, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, History

Peter Hardman Burnett was a man of contradiction. A bank president and an adventurer, an abolitionist and a racist, Burnett was also the first governor of California and the first man to resign that office. Despite his mixed legacy, Burnett’s life was nothing if not interesting.


Dante Alighieri: Trip through the Afterlife for One, Please!

By Anne Cullison. May 30, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry

Thanks to high-school classrooms around the world, many of us are familiar with Dante Alighieri and the first of portion of his epic poem The Inferno, which chronicles man’s descent into Hell. However, this poem is part of a much larger work known as the Divine Comedy, which tells then of man’s travel through purgatory and finally into the gates of paradise. This work is widely considered the most important piece of Italian literature ever written.


Walt Whitman: A Life of Poverty, a Legacy of Success!

By Anne Cullison. May 29, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, American Literature

May 31, 1819 marks the birth of one of the nation’s most influential poets! Walt Whitman was born in West Hills, New York, the second of nine children to parents Walter and Louisa Whitman. He grew up in a family that would struggle financially throughout much of his childhood. When Whitman was three years old, his family left their ever-shrinking farm for what they hoped would be the riches of New York City.


Mark Twain and the Most Famous Children's Book in Europe

Randolph Caldecott and John Newbery both made significant contributions to children's literature, but another figure gave us the volume that is arguably the best known children's book of the nineteenth century. Dr. Heinrich Hoffman wrote Der Struwwelpeter in 1841, and the book rapidly became a hit. Fifty years later, it would draw the attention of Mark Twain, whose own translation of the book would not be published until 35 years after Twain's death.


Top Ten: Ian Fleming and James Bond

By Kristin Masters. May 27, 2014. 10:24 AM.

Topics: James Bond

Born on May 28, 1908, Ian Fleming moved on from a career as an intelligence officer to create one of the world's most recognized and beloved spies: James Bond. Fleming's James Bond books have been perennial favorites among rare book collectors, which is why Fleming and Bond often pop up right here on our blog! Check out our top ten James Bond blog articles of all time! 


Dashiell Hammett, Father of the Hard-Boiled Detective Novel

By Claudia Adrien. May 25, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature

Dashiell Hammett lived many lives. Before he became a well-regarded writer, Hammett was a newsboy, a stevedore, a laborer, advertising copy writer, and a sergeant in the ambulance corps during World War I. However, it was his experiences as a detective that gave him the impetus to write mystery novels.


Sally Ride, Astronaut and Author

By Lauren Corba. May 24, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Science

Astronaut and physicist Sally Ride was born May 26, 1951. She a true pioneer for women in the fields of math and science, in both her personal accomplishments and her dedication to inspire others to study the sciences and achieve greatness.


Rare Book Collector Spotlight: Tips for Collecting Rare Books and First Editions

By Andrea Koczela. May 22, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Umberto Eco, Book Collecting

In the second of a two-part interview, Moshe Prigan—an accomplished book collector, freelance writer, and retired teacher of art and history—shares his experience about building his rare book collection and provides guidance for novice book collectors. 


Mitch Albom, an Accidental Success Story

By Andrea Koczela. May 21, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Movie Tie-Ins, Drama

This week we celebrate Mitch Albom, bestselling author, playwright, musician, and philanthropist. Best known for his memoir, Tuesdays with Morrie, Albom’s books have sold over 35 million copies and have been translated into 45 languages.


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Proclivity for the Paranormal

By Kristin Masters. May 20, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History

In 1853, industrialist and social reformer Robert Owen witnessed a seance by American medium Maria Hayden. The experience convinced him of the existence of an afterworld and the ability of the dead to communicate with living. Hayden had converted Owen to Spiritualism. Owen was not the only leading figure to embrace Spiritualism; years earlier, Alfred Russel Wallas, who co-discovered the theory of evolution, wrote a book called Miracles and Modern Spiritualism (1896), and British Prime Minister Arthur Balfour became a member of the British Society for Psychical Research, founded in 1893. 


Ghosting and Sunning and Foxing, Oh My!

By Kristin Masters. May 18, 2014. 8:40 PM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Care

If you're new to the world of book collecting, you've undoubtedly encountered plenty of jargon already. Rare and antiquarian book dealers often painstakingly describe a book's condition because it's such an important aspect of the book's value. Reputable dealers are as accurate as possible in their descriptions, and it's not unusual to run into the terms "ghosting," "sunning," and "foxing," all of which refer to different causes of discoloration to paper. 


Rare Book Collector Spotlight: Modern First Editions of Moshe Prigan

By Andrea Koczela. May 17, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Umberto Eco, Book Collecting

Moshe Prigan is an accomplished book collector, freelance writer, and retired teacher of art and history. He lives in Haifa, Israel but searches globally to make new acquisitions for his collection. While mainly interested in English and Italian volumes of Umberto Eco, he also collects other authors including Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood. Moshe has generously shared his collecting insights with us in the following interview.


Bertrand Russell, Mathematician, Philosopher, and Nobel Laureate

By Lauren Corba. May 16, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Nobel Prize Winners

The multifaceted philosopher, mathematician, political activist, and writer Bertrand Russell was born in Trelleck, Wales on May 18, 1872 to Lord and Lady Amberly. He had two older siblings, Frank and Rachel. Although Russell was set up for a perfect childhood, by the age of six he had experienced more death than imaginable. His parents died before he was three years old, and his sister and paternal grandfather soon followed. Russell and his brother, Frank were sent to live with Countess Russell, their paternal grandmother. While Frank was sent to a private school, Russell was homeschooled by private tutors, making his childhood fairly lonely and isolated. His seclusion was not all for naught, as he discovered a passion for math during this time, loving it for its certainty. During this time he was also introduced to Percy Bysshe Shelley and Euclid, which changed his way of thinking forever.


Book Collecting 101: Facsimiles

By Kristin Masters. May 15, 2014. 8:46 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting

If you're new to the world of book collecting, you may have encountered multiple uses of the word "facsimile." It's an important term for collectors to understand in various contexts, as a "facsimile" anything--book, dust jacket, signature, etc.--can substantially impact the true value of a rare book.


Iconic Women Leaders

By Anne Cullison. May 14, 2014. 5:59 PM.

Topics: American History, Biographies

When you think of famous women, lots of people might come to mind, from author’s to movie stars to politicians, however, not very many people have been able to successfully do more than one of those things. The list below encompasses some of the most important women leaders and contributors to of our time who have also produced some acclaimed, noteworthy, and highly collectible books.



Eight Things You Didn't Know about L Frank Baum and 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz'

By Kristin Masters. May 13, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

Prolific author Lyman Frank Baum wrote a total of 55 novels, in addition to four books that were lost before publication. Baum is best known for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which was an immediate success and inspired the iconic movie The Wizard of Oz. The film has eclipsed the books in popular culture, overshadowing even the life of its creator. But Baum was a truly fascinating character!


Daphne du Maurier, Suspense Writer Extraordinaire

By Andrea Koczela. May 11, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

During her lifetime, critics dismissed Daphne du Maurier as a lightweight romance novelist—a categorization that infuriated the bestselling author. The Christian Science Monitor said that her masterpiece, Rebecca, “would be here today, gone tomorrow.” Time has been kind to du Maurier, however; Rebecca enjoys continued popularity—voted the fifteenth “best loved novel” in a 2003 BBC survey—and du Maurier is now acknowledged as a master suspense writer.


Haruki Murakami, Experimental Author and Reluctant Celebrity

By Kristin Masters. May 10, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

"When you read a good story, you keep reading. When I write a good story, I just keep writing." 

Haruki Murakami rose to become one of Japan's most accomplished and beloved authors, yet he eschews the limelight. Thanks to Murakami's varied, engaging style, his books have sold millions of copies and been translated into at least fifty languages. 


Who Was the Mother of Mother's Day?

By Kristin Masters. May 9, 2014. 4:15 PM.

Topics: American History

This year marks the official centenary of Mother's Day: on May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing Mother's Day as a national holiday and making its official celebration on the second Sunday in May. But the holiday had been celebrated in various forms for many years. Thus the holiday's origin is a bit complicated. Numerous people--mostly women--could claim credit for Mother's Day. 


Major John Popkin Traherne, King of the Flies!

By Anne Cullison. May 8, 2014. 9:30 AM.

Topics: Fishing

Many of us have never been fly fishing, have never enjoyed the silence of a morning spent quietly on the banks of a river – just you, your pole, and nature. Those who have know that there is something that is beautiful beyond words in the quiet cast of the lure and the technique involved in casting the perfect line.Part of the beauty of fly fishing comes from the incredibly detailed and intricately tied flies. One of the most impressive and aesthetically gifted salmon fly tyers of all time was a man name Major John Popkin Traherne.


Francesco de Vieri, Aristotle, and the History of Meteors

By Kristin Masters. May 6, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History, Science

The word "meteor" didn't specifically refer to a fireball or shooting star until 1590, when it appears in that context in Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors. The term was originally popularized by Aristotle, who wrote a treatise on meteoro-logica, that is "discussion of high things." Aristotle wrote a treatise about the interplay between the four elements (earth, wind, water, and fire). He postulated that weather occurred because the sun's action caused vapors to rise up from the earth and sea. Aristotle addressed a wide variety of phenomena, from earthquakes to water evaporation. 


Not a Currie, but a Cosway

By Kristin Masters. May 5, 2014. 7:20 PM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Learn About Books

Nineteenth-century painter Richard Cosway (1742-1821)  was a renowned painter of miniature portraits. His career began early, when he was only 20 years old. Cosway would eventually paint members of the British royal family, along with many members of nobility. Cosway is the namesake of the eponymous book bindings, even though he had nothing to do with their creation. 


Five Controversial Pulitzer Prize Winners (and Losers)

By Andrea Koczela. May 4, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Pulitzer Prize, Awarded Books, American Literature

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is one of the most highly sought literary awards in the United States. Since its inception in 1917, 86 writers have won the prize—among them, some of the nation’s greatest talents. Yet not all has gone smoothly. Here are five instances where the awarding (or withholding) of the Pulitzer has erupted in controversy.


Watson and Crick: Controversy, Immodesty, DNA, and Books.

By Andrea Koczela. May 2, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Nobel Prize Winners, Science

The Double Helix, James D. Watson’s account how he and Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA, is both highly acclaimed and controversial. Listed as number seven on the Modern Library’s list of the “100 Best Nonfiction Books of the 20th Century”, and one of the Library of Congress’ 88 “Books that Shaped America,” the work nearly remained unpublished due to the strong objections of Watson’s former colleagues.


Lost Manuscripts of Legendary Authors

By Lauren Corba. May 1, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Horror, Legendary Authors, Poetry

Edna St. Vincent Millay was hailed for her ability to compose moving poetry on subjects varying from politics and nature, to the rebellion of youth. She began her writing career at a young age and quickly rose to fame in 1912, when her poem “Renascence” was first published. Her beautifully written poetry and plays captivated audiences and indisputably displayed her talent, which would honor her in being the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize.

In the spring of 1936, Millay began working on a new piece, a play in blank verse called Conversations at Midnight. Meanwhile, she travelled to Sanibel Island, Florida, where she was able to relish in the warmth and change of scenery. However, while she was on the beach looking for seashells, the Palms Hotel caught fire and burned to the ground. Her manuscript was destroyed along with the hotel. Devastated, Millay returned home to Steepletop, where she would begin to rewrite the play from memory. The complete second draft, including revisions and new additions, was published in 1937.


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How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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