Archive for March, 2010

Frank Harris, journalist and rogue

March 31, 2010

So begins the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for editor, writer, figure of scandal and friend of Oscar Wilde, Frank Harris.  A new finding aid describing the Clark’s Harris-related material is now available via the Online Archive of California.

Born in Ireland, Harris emigrated to the United States by himself when still a teenager.  After years of adventure and some study in both the States and on the European continent, Harris arrived in London in 1883, where he was appointed as editor of the Evening News. In 1886, he moved to the Fortnightly Review, and in 1894, to the Saturday Review.  During these years in particular, Harris became friends (as well as enemies) with many in the literary and social world of fin de siècle London, including Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and others.

A difficult personality, Harris struggled with financial stability often after this period of success, and moved a great deal, living in the south of France and in London in the years before World War I. In 1915, he returned to New York, where he wrote a number of anti-British articles as well as his volumes of Contemporary Portraits. He was the editor of Pearson’s Magazine from 1915-1922 and got into many clashes with American censors and others who found him and his work offensive. During this period, he also began dictating his sprawling and sexually explicit memoirs, My Life and Loves, which was published in various forms (expurgated and not) after 1922.

In 1923, he settled permanently in Nice with his longtime mistress and companion, Nellie O’Hara, who he married in 1927. He died in Nice in 1931.

Item of the Week: Prayer of the Old Plodder

March 25, 2010

This curious pamphlet came across our desks today. Purchased in 1948, The Prayer of Old Plodder, a Presbyterian teacher during the late election at Lancaster, in the county of Lancashire is purportedly published in Geneva and printed, for the instruction of the elect, in 1733.

We thought it appropriate, with primary season upon us, to ponder the words of the Old Plodder when they make their plans to get to their polling stations:

“ … and I desire Lord, that thou wouldst be pleased to put I into their Hearts; that they may chearully [sic] and willingly help and assist one another in this necessary Affair; and that those that have no Horses, may borrow of them that have Horses, and that those that have may lend Willingly and not Grudging unto them that has none.”


Item of the Week: Clark Gardens

March 15, 2010

While looking through oversize drawings last week, Clark staff discovered this lovely drawing of the original garden plan for the Clark Library and estate, probably dating from the library’s construction in the 1920s.  Rendered beautifully in colored pencil, the plan details some aspects of the Clark grounds that are familiar, and others that were never executed.  In the image above, only half of what now belong to the Clark is included: the top half of the page that is left mostly blank had probably not been purchased by Mr. Clark yet.

The handwriting of the artist or architect who executed these plans (possibly someone in architect Robert D. Farquhar’s offices, as these are not detailed plans for plantings, but an overall design plan) adds another aspect of interest to this drawing.  Though a little hard to see in the photograph above, the writing differs quite a bit from the standard architect’s plan we are familiar with today.

Library cats!

March 12, 2010

Of late, the Clark Library cats have been receiving attention from more than just the staff members and visitors who see them everyday.

The February 2010 issue of Cat Fancy magazine ran an article entitled “Library Cats and their Favorite Books,” featuring none other than our very own Hannah.

The Neighborhood News Online recently posted another article, this one mentioning all of our literarily named cats.

The one and only Hannah