Did you know?  Check our Rare Books Page

Eloise: Spunk & Spirit for the Holidays and Beyond

Have you met Eloise? If not, allow me to introduce you. Eloise is a precocious little lady. She lives with her nanny and her pets - a dog and a turtle - at The Plaza Hotel in New York. Eloise is spunky and mischievous, and she spends her days adventuring in and around the hotel when she’s not traveling. Eloise is the epitome of a know-it-all, because, at six years old, she of course, knows it all. Her escapades are detailed in her own words over the course of four classic children's books. 


Four Life Lessons from Winston Churchill

By David Eddy. Nov 29, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, History

This week we honor the life and genius of Winston Churchill. We do so knowing our honorifics pale beside those of former President Gerald R. Ford, given in London during 1983 to the English-Speaking Union. That address, captured for posterity in a first edition signed by President Ford, represents a historical intersection of two pivotal political figures: Churchill – who preserved the British nation; Ford – who stabilized and reinvigorated the Presidency after the Nixon resignation.

After striding as a Colossus through the British political landscape, Churchill is somewhat reduced in stature for many millennials. In 2010, a Royal Mint survey revealed 44 percent of British subjects aged 16-24 failed to recognize his picture. So it seems appropriate to seize the moment and remind people what a singular and larger-than-life existence Churchill led. For example:


Ten Things You Might Not Know About Mark Twain

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 28, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature, Mark Twain

Beloved for his humor and storytelling prowess, Mark Twain is one of America’s most famous literary figures. Ernest Hemingway summed it up best when he declared, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since." 

Listed below are ten facts about Mark Twain, including some of the lesser known facets of his fascinating life and legacy.


The Pilgrim Press: From Illegal Printing to Thanksgiving

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 27, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History, Learn About Books

When I say “pilgrims,” what comes to mind? With Thanksgiving upon us, maybe you’d mention the holiday itself, or turkey and stuffing. Perhaps you would conjure up images of the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock. Maybe some of you would associate the term with a religious sect.

While our understanding of the Pilgrims has been greatly shaped by the legend of Thanksgiving Day and our present customs surrounding the holiday, little attention is given to the real lives of the Pilgrims. They were a people displaced from their homeland for religious views, and as a result of their counter-cultural lifestyle, they faced a harsh reality. But they were steadfast in their beliefs, so much so that they even operated an illegal printing press in order to disseminate their ideas.


Libraries and Special Collections: Treasures at Your Local Library

By Katie Behrens. Nov 25, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Libraries & Special Collections

Recently, the Cleveland Public Library unearthed a first edition copy of Charles Dickens’ holiday novella, A Christmas Carol that they didn’t even know they had.  The librarian was putting together a display of Christmas books, and when she pulled A Christmas Carol off the shelf, she realized it was, in fact, the original printing. 


Collecting Modern First Editions: An Interview with Siep Kuijpers

By Andrea Koczela. Nov 24, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Modern First Editions

Since childhood, Siep Kuijpers has been passionate about book collecting. He lives in the Netherlands and has been a teacher and book collector for over forty years. Acquiring limited edition books by his favorite authors is one of his most cherished pursuits. The horror, fantasy, and science fiction genres are his first literary loves, but he is also interested in unique graphic novels. Siep has graciously shared his collecting experiences with us in the following interview.


How Elizabeth Gaskell Saved Charlotte Brontë's Reputation

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

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

"I desired more... Who blames me? Many call me discontented. I couldn't help it, the restlessness is in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes.”
- Charlotte Brontë,  Jane Eyre

Bearing more than a few parallels to her heroine, Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë was born poor, obscure, and plain. Despite leading a life filled with hardship and tragedy, Brontë became a successful novelist in her thirties. Yet while she received popular acclaim, Brontë also faced scathing reviews and harsh personal criticism. 

Brontë's 1847 novel, Jane Eyre, earned the ire of critics for its frank depiction of passion in a woman - a governess, no less. Brontë was maligned as "unwomanly" and "unchristian." Poet Matthew Arnold wrote, "Miss Brontë has written a hideous, undelightful, convulsed, constricted novel... one of the most utterly disagreeable books I've ever read." The Quarterly Review asserted that Jane Eyre revealed "tone of mind and thought which has overthrown authority and violated every code human and divine." The novel had its share of defenders as well, not the least of which was fellow novelist Elizabeth Gaskell. 


Mark Twain, Prankster Journalist

By Kristin Masters. Nov 21, 2014. 9:56 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature, Mark Twain


"Get the facts first. Then you can distort them as much as you like." 
-Dan DeQuille, reporter,  Territorial Enterprise, ca 1862


Before he would pen Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer or even adopt the pseudonym "Mark Twain," Samuel Clemens tried his hand at mining. He had little luck, however, and soon turned to journalism to make a living. Clemens got hired as a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise, the largest newspaper in Virginia City, Nevada. Though Clemens did some honest reporting, he also earned a reputation for publishing pranks and hoaxes--often under his new pen name. 


The Kennedy Assassination: Conspiracy Theories & the Warren Commission

By Anne Cullison. Nov 20, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History

On November 22nd, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza in Houston, Texas. This tragedy is forever seared into the country's consciousness. But what really happened?

In anticipation of the 1964 election, President Kennedy began visiting swing states to woo supporters for his reelection campaign. On November 21, he and Mrs. Kennedy commenced a two day, five city tour of Texas. Texas was an important state for Kennedy, and as such he planned a trip to Dallas, even though US Ambassador Adlai Stevenson had been attacked there by political extremists only a month before.


Isaac Bashevis Singer, Tireless Author and Indefatigable Self-Promoter

By Kristin Masters. Nov 19, 2014. 9:00 AM.

One of the best known authors of the twentieth century, Isaac Bashevis Singer won literary accolades all over the world, including that most illustrious of awards, the Nobel Prize in Literature. The 1978 Nobel laureate wrote primarily in Yiddish, yet the majority of his published works are in English--a fact that makes Singer all the more fascinating to both scholars and collectors. 


Songs for the Philologists: The Ultimate Tolkien Collectible

By Andrea Koczela. Nov 18, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Book Collecting, J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien is known as the “father of high fantasy” yet the resonance of his work cannot be limited to one genre. Tolkien’s novels, particularly The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955), were much more than tales of elves and dragons. Tolkien believed that all myths contain “fundamental truths” that speak deeply to the human condition. His novels are imbued with such primordial themes and they have forever changed the face of literature.

Tolkien’s followers are notoriously zealous, and the same is true for those who collect his work. Tolkien’s writing is sought by book collectors both for the passion it inspires and for its increasing relevance. Of all his publications, one is exceptionally rare - indeed, only an estimated fourteen copies remain in existence. Eight reside in libraries across the world, and the other six are owned privately. With its exceptional scarcity, the pamphlet Songs for the Philologists is the pinnacle of a Tolkien collection.  


How Apartheid Shaped Nobel Laureate, Nadine Gordimer

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 17, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Nobel Prize Winners

Nadine Gordimer, the great Nobel Laureate who passed away in July 2014, is a fascinating study. A close analysis of her writing - but even more specifically, the way in which her writing coalesced with the politics of South Africa - provides an interesting commentary on how authors both influence and are influenced by their culture.

It is no secret that Gordimer spent much of her life fighting for the anti-apartheid cause. In fact, in a statement after her death, Gordimer's family noted that one of her proudest moments - along with winning the Nobel Prize - was playing a key role in the release of 22 African National Congress members accused of treason. 


10 Interesting Facts about Margaret Atwood

By Katie Behrens. Nov 16, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, Literature

Margaret Atwood is one fascinating lady. Her writing career stretches over half a century and ranges from poetry, short stories, fiction, and non-fiction. Her Canadian nationality is at the forefront of her identity. And she really, really loves birds. Atwood has a slew of awards and honors to her name, including the Man Booker Prize, and there’s no question why. The characters and settings that she creates are complex, interesting, and reflective of reality with a twist of imagination. Whether you’re new to Atwood or you have multiple copies of The Handmaid’s Tale at home, here are some tidbits about the indefatigable Atwood.


Eight Authors Who Were Famous Before Thirty

By Kristin Masters. Nov 15, 2014. 9:00 AM.

What were you doing when you were nineteen years old? Most of us were probably waffling among college majors or learning the ropes at the family business. But before his twentieth birthday, Christopher Paolini was already a New York Times bestselling author. 


Lunar Landings: Adventures of Alan Bean and Pete Conrad on Apollo 12

By Katie Behrens. Nov 14, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Science

While it was the Apollo 11 mission with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin that first landed on the moon, Apollo 12 marked several important advances in space travel and technology. Apollo 12 was a three-man mission. Its goals were to land on the moon, collect scientific samples and readings, and retrieve parts of the disabled Surveyor III spacecraft.

Its launch on November 14, 1969 could easily have ended in disaster. In the midst of a rainstorm, lightning discharge caused some protective circuits to take the fuel cells offline. Almost every warning light signaled danger.


Robert Louis Stevenson, A Life in Quotes

By Claudia Adrien. Nov 13, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

"Everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was."-- Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson was supposed to follow in his father's engineering footsteps. Instead, he became a literary giant whose travels and adventures inspired his classic works Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Stevenson died in Samoa in 1894, far from his native Edinburgh. His dynamic life provided him with a wisdom that came across in his musings on the human experience. In appreciation for this legendary author, we have compiled some of his best quotations on life, travel, and self-discovery.


The Extraordinary Adventures of Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking

By Kristin Wood. Nov 12, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Awarded Books

When it comes to quirky, strong female role models for children, Pippi Longstocking certainly makes the list. Swedish author, Astrid Lindgren, created this beloved character in 1944 when her nine year old daughter asked for a story while staying home from school with pneumonia. Despite its humble beginning, Lindgren's Pippi stories went on to tremendous success. They have been translated into 64 languages and adapted into many movies and television series.


Five Books to Include in Your Umberto Eco Collection

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 11, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco is a renowned author, philosopher, and academic who has made contributions across genres, from fiction and non-fiction to children’s literature, literary criticism, academic essays, and journalistic prose. Whatever style Eco pursues, his works are robust: filled with dense and layered information and compelling plot points.

Eco’s genius has been inspired in part by his own collection of books. He uses his personal library, filled with over 50,000 titles and housed in two locations, as a personal reference center when composing works of his own. While many are familiar with Eco's classic novel, The Name of the Rose, some of his other writing is less well known. These titles also deserve recognition, and a glimpse at them may be enough to expand your own reading list. Below are some of our favorites - less commonly recognized, but striking and important reads nonetheless.


Ten Things You Should Know About Kurt Vonnegut

By Matt Reimann. Nov 10, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Science Fiction

Kurt Vonnegut belongs to a generation of American writers whose work was strongly influenced by their service in World War II. Vonnegut was a soldier as well as a prisoner of war, and he suffered firsthand the horrors of combat. Inspired by his wartime anguish, Vonnegut's work is characterized by a humane sensitivity; indeed, his writing has established him as one of the finest paladins of compassion in twentieth-century literature. Here are ten facts you should know about this legendary author:


Oliver Goldsmith: Not Quite a Goody Two-Shoes

By Kristin Wood. Nov 9, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

Despite his tendency to attract biting "compliments," such as Horace Walpole's description of "an inspired idiot," Oliver Goldsmith left his mark on the literary world as a poet, novelist, and playwright. He is not credited with starting a movement among his peers, but no one could label him as a follower. He is most famous for his novel The Vicar of Wakefieldone of the most widely read novels of the Victorian era. The book is widely referenced in British literature - from Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities to Jane Austen's Emma and George Eliot's Middlemarch - and continues to hold literary significance today. 


Ten Facts You Should Know about Margaret Mitchell

By Kristin Masters. Nov 8, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Pulitzer Prize

On November 8. 1900, Margaret Mitchell was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Although Mitchell published only one novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gone with the Wind, she became one of the best known authors of the South. Gone with the Wind quickly became a bestseller and has remained both beloved and controversial ever since. The film adaptation, starring Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable, remains a classic. Check out these ten tidbits you might not know about Mitchell and her magnum opus.


Sinclair Lewis' Nobel Prize: a Critique of the American Establishment?

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 5, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

In 1930, Sinclair Lewis became the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. His won the prize “for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters.” Some speculate, however, that Lewis won as much for the quality of his writing as for his harsh criticism of the American establishment. 


Book Collecting Basics: Pirated Editions

By Kristin Masters. Nov 4, 2014. 8:21 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting

In July 2007, JK Rowling fans around the world anxiously awaited the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in Rowling's beloved Harry Potter series. The official release of the English-language version was scheduled to take place on July 21, 2007. But readers in China got their hands on the novel a full ten days earlier, when the book unexpectedly popped up in book stores. Thousands bought the early editions...unaware that the copies in their hands had virtually nothing in common with the authorized edition actually written by JK Rowling.


Stephen King's Carrie in Literature and Film

By Lauren Corba. Nov 3, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Horror, Movie Tie-Ins

Carrie (1974) is Stephen King’s first novel, published when he was just 26 years old. The story was published to immediate commercial and critical success.  A movie adaptation was released two years later, solidifying King's reputation as well as that of director Brian de Palma. In a few short years, King had placed his imprint on the horror genre, forever changing the way audiences viewed horror films and literature.  


Lady Chatterley's Lover on Trial: Literary Classic or Pornography?

By Katie Behrens. Nov 2, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

The history books all agree that the 1960s were a period of enormous social upheaval in Great Britain. The psychedelic rock, mini-skirts, and hedonism of the post-war generation were inescapable. While there is no one event that can be identified as the tipping point for cultural change, some historians give credit to the public obscenity trial of D.H. Lawrence’s novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Previously banned by the British government, Lady Chatterley’s Lover divided people in opinion – was it a literary classic or was it thinly-veiled pornography? The trial, which was meant as a test case, did not go quite as the prosecution intended.


The Short, Full Life of Stephen Crane

By Anne Cullison. Nov 1, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature

Author Stephen Crane, was born November 1, 1871  in Newark, New Jersey. Despite a severely religious upbringing--or perhaps because of it--Crane lived an unconventional life. He was first involved in scandal during his twenties, when he was called as a witness for the trial of Dora Clark: a prostitute and friend. Later, he began a long-term relationship with Cora Taylor, the owner of a brothel. The two lived in London where they became friends with writers including Joseph Conrad and H. G. Wells. Just a few years after writing his novel, The Red Badge of Courage, Crane died at the age of twenty-eight. 


  • There are no suggestions because the search field is empty.

About this blog

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.

Get blog notifications per email:

Download the James Bond Dossier

Recent Posts

Book Glossary
Get your free Guide to Book Care

Blog Archive

> see older posts
A Guide to Historic Libraries Part I