Author Archive

Oscar Wilde’s Chatterton Q&A

May 19, 2015

You may be interested in reading an interview on the UCLA Newsroom website with our own Professor Joseph Bristow about his recent book, Oscar Wilde’s Chatterton! Oscar Wilde’s Chatterton notebook is housed here at the Clark, as the website notes, though of course, you will have to wait until we reopen in Summer 2016 to see it in person again.

We hope you will be able to join Dr. Bristow and other scholars at next week’s conference on “Oscar Wilde and the Culture of Childhood,” which will be held on campus in Royce Hall!

Oscar Wilde

2015 UCLA Library Prize for Undergraduate Research

May 18, 2015

The Clark would like to congratulate Michael Stinson, who won this year’s award for undergraduate research projects executed at the Clark Library.  Michael was a part of Professor Carla Pestana’s Ahmanson Undergraduate Seminar taught at the Clark and won the prize for his paper “A Good Death,” for which he used the Clark’s pirate-related holdings.  A longer article about Michael and the other students who won research awards in order areas is online at the UCLA Newsroom.

Congratulations to Michael and this year’s other winners!


Reorganizing the Press Collection

May 14, 2015

By Nina Schneider, Rare Books Librarian

If you haven’t heard (yet!), the Clark is closed for about fourteen months while the building is retro-fitted for earthquakes. Anyone who has experienced the world of construction knows that there is a lot of preparation required before any building activity can start. We’re taking advantage of this period—during meetings, paperwork, and site prep – to do something we’ve wanted to do for many years: reorganize the Clark Library’s fine press collection.


The books that are in the North and South book rooms are those printed in limited editions by private presses primarily during the 20th century, although there are a few 19th (and now 21st century) titles that share the shelves.  Since the 1980’s these books were organized by the name of the press, and then alphabetically by main entry, title, and year.  Occasionally, the Clark would receive large numbers of items that made interfiling impractical and so some of these collections were scattered wherever we could find room. Following the alphabet took the staff from the main floor of the North book room to the main floor of the South Book room to the mezzanine of the North book room to the mezzanine of the South book room. But wait…if you wanted any book printed (or collected) by Ward Ritchie, you needed to go to the mezzanine of the South book room, and then go back to the mezzanine of the North book room. The staff realized that there had to be a better way, especially after a number of paging requests took an hour (or more) to fill because of the challenge of finding the item.

Academic, public, and private libraries use different classification systems to organize their stacks. Some, such as the Dewey Decimal System and the Library of Congress classification system, organize books by subject.  Small libraries organize their books by size, color, or date of acquisition. Although the Clark’s rare and reference books are organized by the Library of Congress classification system, re-classifying the press collection would be Herculean as each of the 10,000 books would need to be recataloged in order to do this.  After much discussion and some trial and error, we have come up with a sustainable solution: reorganizing the current collection so that the books are shelved alphabetically by press name but then numbered according to location. For example, all books measuring 11-28 cm that were printed, designed, or written by Eric Gill are now “Press coll. Gill #”. If they measure less than 11 cm, then they are classified as “tiny”; over 28 cm are classified as “folio” or “double folio” for those over 45 cm.


We are also reorganizing how the book rooms are laid out, so that “Press coll. A…” starts on the mezzanine of the North book room, down to the main floor then over to the main floor of the South book room and ending on the mezzanine on the south side. We are allowing extra space at the end of each shelf in order to accommodate future acquisitions.

This is also an excellent opportunity to reconcile the shelf reading project undergone by some of our work/study students and our volunteer, Karen K.  It has helped to locate books marked “NOS” (not on shelf) – we’ve already figured out that many of those have been moved to either the miniature book section or to the folio sections, without the updated location added to the card or catalog record.

In the end, this project will benefit both the Clark staff and our patrons. It’s a bit of a luxury to have this time to work on it.


For more information about the Clark’s seismic retrofit:

For more information on library classification systems:

More from the Clark Library guest book

April 24, 2015

(See our first post on Mr. Clark’s library guest book)

Ramon Novarro was not the only Hollywood star to visit the Clark Library and sign the guest book — Mr. Clark’s guest book provides some interesting corroborating evidence about his friendship with actress Marie Dressler.  There are two very friendly letters from Dressler to Mr. Clark in our institutional archive – one a condolence letter on the death of Clark’s wife Alice in 1918 and the other to thank Clark for sending flowers on her birthday in 1933.  Now we know that Dressler also visited the Clark Library in 1927 and brought along her friend, the screenwriter Frances Marion.

frances marion and marie dressler


The screenwriter of many of Mary Pickford’s biggest hits (and her best friend), Marion was also responsible for helping to rebuild Dressler’s Hollywood career in the late 1920s.  She was a powerful and intelligent force in Hollywood throughout the silent period and beyond and would likely have found much to admire and appreciate about Mr. Clark’s library building and its contents.

These ladies’ names jumped out at me right away because of my academic background in film history (especially because I know and once worked for Marion’s biographer Cari Beauchamp), and I am sure that those with other areas of expertise are likely to react the same way to other names in the guest book.


(click image to see full size)


If you have any insights or information about the other folks that visited the Clark in late 1927, please leave a comment below or let us know on Facebook or Twitter!  We recognize a couple of names (Mrs. Mars F. Baumgardt, near the bottom, was the wife of Mr. Clark’s astronomer), but if there is anyone here that you know (or feel like researching), we would love your help.

(and by the way, just in case you are interested, Without Lying Down, the feature-length documentary on Frances Marion based on Cari Beauchamp’s biography of the same name will be will be airing tomorrow April 25th on Turner Classic Movies, alongside several films written by Frances)



Mr. Clark and his guests

April 10, 2015

While moving material to get ready for our seismic retrofit project, I came across the Clark Library guest book, begun by William Andrews Clark, Jr. in 1924 and used until 1957, when the pages were completely filled.  Because this item was stored in a different location than the rest of the Clarkive (as we affectionately call our institutional archive), I had actually never seen it before.

Bound in repurposed antiquarian binding, the guest book’s pages (at least those from the years Mr. Clark was alive; I didn’t examine the post-1934 pages closely) contain a who’s who of Clark family and friends, library and book collecting luminaries, Los Angeles and Montana society folks and a smattering of Hollywood celebrities.

IMG_0361    The first page of the guest book contains some of Mr. Clark’s closest colleagues and friends:

  • Robert E. Cowan, Clark Librarian and bibliographer
  • Cora Edgerton Sanders, Clark Librarian and longtime family employee
  • Harrison Post, Assistant Librarian and Mr. Clark’s romantic partner
  • John L. Templeman of Butte, UVa classmate, lawyer and close friend
  • D.F. Bogardus, bookbinder from the Huntington Library
  • Judge William I. Lippincott of Butte, family friend
  • Robert O. Schad, Head Librarian at the Huntington Library
  • Alice Millard, bookseller and owner of La Miniatura
  • John Henry Nash, printer
  • Robert D. Farquhar, architect of the Clark Library
  • Caroline Estes Smith, secretary of the Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Parish Williams, baritone and insurance agent
  • Virginia M. Tanner, widow of Walter Miller Clark, Mr. Clark’s cousin who died on the Titanic
  • James R. Polsdorfer, UC Berkeley alum – his connection to Clark is unclear
  • Georges Jomier, French teacher and language coach
  • Allyn Cox, muralist and painter of Clark Library murals
  • William A. Clark, III, Mr. Clark’s son

Other visitors documented in the book were a little bit more of a surprise:

ramon navarro

Silent film heartthrob Ramon Novarro lived just steps away from the Clark library & estate, and was part of a tour party on April 1, 1930 that also included his close friend Florence “Pancho” Barnes (pioneering female aviator), Louis Samuel (Novarro’s assistant who built this landmark house and also embezzled most of Novarro’s money), Grace Marion Brown (Samuel’s girlfriend and an illustrator who designed some of Mr. Clark’s Christmas cards), Robert I. & Josephine Rogers (former bank executive who owned a Robert Farquhar home in Beverly Hills), and Charles and Kathleen Hamill (lawyer and member of Chicago Symphony Orchestra board of directors).

Because most of Mr. Clark’s personal correspondence and papers no longer survive, any sources for information about his extended social circle are extremely valuable to us.  There are hundreds of visitors recorded between 1924 and Mr. Clark’s death in 1934, and for all of the names that I recognize, there are many more that I don’t.  I will continue to share more pages from the guestbook over the coming months and will be looking for some help to uncover information about who these visitors to the library really were – the pages above can’t be the only ones that contain fascinating people.  Stay tuned for more updates and more images soon!

“Oscar Wilde and the Visual Arts” at the Clark, 3/31/2015

March 4, 2015

William Andrews Clark Lecture on Oscar Wilde

“Oscar Wilde and the Visual Arts”

Given by Nicholas Frankel, Virginia Commonwealth University

Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 4:00 p.m.

Oscar Wilde had much to say about the visual and decorative arts. His relationships with leading figures in the art world—notably James Whistler, Aubrey Beardsley, Edward Burne-Jones, and Charles Ricketts, as well as the critics John Ruskin, Walter Pater, and John Symonds—were integral to his ideas, and he was himself the subject for several important visual artworks, including the Clark Library’s own portrait by R. G. Harper Pennington. For students of literature, Wilde’s direct engagements with art and artists are important chiefly for their effects upon his practice as an imaginative writer. The lecture traces the influence of fine art on Wilde’s poetry, fiction, and criticism, while demonstrating the centrality of the decorative and book arts to his published work. Touched upon are Wilde’s early quarrels with Whistler over the respective merits of painting and literature. But increasingly Wilde came to see language itself as something iconic and inherently visual, and it is in his books of the early 1890s—Dorian Gray, The Sphinx, and the famous English edition of Salome, illustrated by Beardsley—that we see the full flowering of Oscar Wilde’s interest in the visual arts.

Oscar Wilde, by R.G. Harper Pennington

Nicholas Frankel is Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and the author or editor of a number of books relating to Oscar Wilde, including Oscar Wilde’s Decorated Books (University of Michigan Press, 2000); Masking The Text: Essays on Literature and Mediation in the 1890s (Rivendale Press, 2009); The Sphinx, by Oscar Wilde, with Decorations by Charles Ricketts (Rice University Press, 2010); and The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Annotated Uncensored Edition (Harvard University Press, 2011). The last was named an Honor Book in both fiction and criticism categories at the 2012 Stonewall Book Awards and has been translated into Portuguese, Greek, and Italian. His annotated edition of Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest will appear from Harvard in 2015, and he is currently preparing further annotated editions and a new biography of Wilde for Harvard. He is the recipient of fellowships from the National Humanities Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Bibliographical Society of America, and the Yale Center for British Art.

This biennial lecture on Oscar Wilde is made possible by a generous endowment founded by Mr. William Zachs.

Registration Deadline: March 26, 2015

Admission is complimentary, but advance registration is requested:

Please be aware that space at the Clark is limited and that registration closes when capacity is reached. Confirmation will be sent via email.

Clark closed from April 1, 2015-Spring 2016

February 26, 2015
The William Andrews Clark Memorial Library will close to the public in April 2015 and re-open to the public in spring 2016. During the closure the Clark Library will undergo a seismic retrofit; construction will include a new entrance pavilion and increased book storage on the basement level. We regret the inconvenience to our library users.
All lectures, symposia, and conferences currently held at the Clark will be offered on UCLA’s main campus from April 1, 2015 through early spring 2016. All Chamber Music at the Clark concerts for the 2014–15 season will take place in the Clark’s drawing room. The 2015–16 chamber music concerts will take place on UCLA’s main campus. Updates on construction and programming will appear periodically on the Clark Library and Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies websites.

Help them help us!

February 18, 2015

The Clark is working with students from UCLA’s information studies graduate program to optimize our website and online exhibits.  As a part of their work, they have written the below survey and we hope that you have time to take it and to help them with their strategic planning for the Clark!

In the context of our Information Architecture class this quarter, our team is in the process of developing a strategy for the implementation of online exhibits for the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, and we are seeking user and non-user feedback – in other words, feedback from you, dear reader – in order to most effectively broaden and reach the targeted audiences of the exhibits. We have created an online survey, which we would be most grateful if you would complete. Please click HERE to access the survey in your browser.

Thank you in advance for your assistance – we truly appreciate it!

Cecilia Platz, together with Erin Hurley, Diedre Whitmore, Maggie Clarke and Dvorah Lewis

photograph by Duff Tatian

photograph by Duff Tatian

More House – A love story for everyone

February 13, 2015

By Erin Hurley, Archival Processing Intern


A suitcase of letters from the More House Archive

A suitcase of letters from the More House Archive

The Clark library recently acquired the More House Archive, a large collection of Victorian manuscripts, scrapbooks, and drawings of a family with distant connections to Oscar Wilde – the Hope-Nicholson family of More House located at 34 Tite Street, Chelsea.  Tite Street was a hub of artistic and literary activity in the 1890s, and its residents included not only Laura Hope (the central figure in the More House archive), but Oscar Wilde himself, as well as a number of well-known painters of the day, like James McNeill Whistler, and Pre-Raphaelites such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Coley Burne-Jones.


Some of the many bundles of letters between Adrian Hope and Laura Troubridge Hope


The More House archive is large – over 70 boxes, many of them containing handwritten letters to or from Laura Hope.  As I have been processing the collection, a number of fascinating love stories have emerged – the most central of which is between Laura Hope (nee Troubridge) and her husband of 16 years, Adrian Hope.   More House was the name of their first home together on Tite Street.  There are hundreds of letters between the two of them (sometimes several letters per day!), including their so-called “letters of engagement,” written between 1884 and 1888 and also published in the book Letters of Engagement 1884-1888: The Love Letters of Adrian Hope and Laura Troubridge.  The letters are sweet – full of terms of endearment, and often including tokens of affection like pressed flowers, newspaper clippings, or drawings.  The couple was married on August 2, 1888 (“such a lovely bright day of sunshine,” writes Laura) and spent three weeks honeymooning aboard a houseboat on the River Thames called the Crocodile.  They reportedly enjoyed a very happy marriage until Adrian’s death from appendicitis in 1904, and had two children – Jacqueline and Esme (who, sadly, died as a child).

Adrian and Laura

Adrian and Laura

Laura and Adrian eventually became the guardians of Oscar Wilde’s two children with Constance Lloyd after his imprisonment for “gross indecency” in 1895.  They were also distantly related to another scandalous figure of the day – Una Vincenzo Troubridge (nee Taylor) who became infamous for her relationship with Radclyffe Hall, author of The Well of Loneliness.  The More House archive contains a number of letters from Una to Laura, as well as letters from Una to Laura’s daughter Jacqueline, who was just two years younger.  Una had previously been married to Laura’s brother Ernest (an admiral in the Royal Navy during World War I) but left him to pursue a relationship with Hall.  The two women lived together happily for nearly 30 years, and cut a rather glamorous figure, as evidenced by this photo of them in matching outfits at the Ladies Kennel Club Dog Show in 1920.

Radcliffe Hall and Una Troubridge

Radcliffe Hall and Una Troubridge

A Christmas Clog

December 23, 2014

By Emily Meehan, Reader Services Student Assistant

Every year, when the day after Thanksgiving rolls around, I jump at the opportunity to put on a Christmas sweater, blast Christmas radio in my car, and truly embrace the holiday spirit. To tell you the truth, I find that the joy and anticipation of Christmas Day helps to alleviate stress going into the last few weeks of the school quarter – it may look bleak now, but just around the corner is joyful and triumphant! So, I thought I would incorporate my holiday mentality into my work at the Clark Library and discover what it has to offer on the true meaning of Christmas.

I found that our Fine Press Collection includes a few treasures from our featured unique California printers about the celebration of Christmas in California. In 1960, Lawton Kennedy, who had a strong printing relationship with the California Historical Society, printed a small book entitled “Christmas in California,” which includes two parts: “Christmas at Sutter’s Fort in 1847” and “Christmas Before the Americans Came” (“Americans” meaning white, non-Spanish settlers). The story on Sutter’s Fort details a grand Christmas feast that mirror’s Sutter’s recent success and then his foretelling at dinner of his own downfall if large reserves of gold were to be found on his property. “Christmas Before the Americans Came” tells of how members of a Spanish mission, Spanish settlers, and Native Americans all prepared and celebrated the holiday in different ways, all totaling to about a week of festivities and sharing between communities.

Cover of Christmas in California, published by the California Historical Society and printed by Lawton Kennedy

Cover of Christmas in California, published by the California Historical Society and printed by Lawton Kennedy

Lawton Kennedy printed another early California Christmas story with the California Historical Society called “Christmas at Rancho Los Alamitos,” by Katharine Bixby Hotchkis. Hotchkis was the daughter of the last private owners of the ranch and describes the yearly Christmas parties that grew to be grand in scale with the attendance of both the owner’s and all of the ranch employees’ extended families. Through these personal memories, the importance of Rancho Los Alamitos is brought forth by making allusions to its past and founding as a large commercial ranch. Another edition of the book printed over a decade later by another famous California printer (Anderson, Richie, & Simon) makes mention of the donation of the ranch to the city of Long Beach for it to avoid demolition by land developers and be preserved as a historical site.


Cover of Christmas at Rancho Los Alamitos by Katharine Bixby Hotchkis, printed by Lawton Kennedy


As these books are about California history and printed by a historical society, one would think the contents would be more historical and factual in their telling. Instead, they read more as personal stories that seek to describe and remember in vivid detail what Christmas was like in these different settings. I think this signifies the fact that there is no one Christmas “history.” The amazing thing about Christmas is that even when one does study the cultural foundations of the holiday, there are so many different traditions and ways to celebrate – not just in different larger cultures and communities, but in different families, even individuals. There were definitely some similarities found between the stories, like the preparation of a large feast, anxious waiting on the arrival of guests, and after-dinner entertainment in the form of stories, dances, magic acts, etc. However, the only thing that was truly constant throughout all of the stories was the different communities coming together and sharing their traditions and resources to celebrate the holidays, regardless of background. I think that’s the true meaning of Christmas, don’t you?

Illustration by Gene Holtan in Anderson, Richie, and Simon printing of Christmas Eve at Rancho Los Alamitos

Illustration by Gene Holtan in Anderson, Richie, and Simon printing of Christmas Eve at Rancho Los Alamitos

The last book I found in our Press Collection on Christmas in California was Remembered Christmas: Los Angeles in the 1930s, written and printed by Vance Gerry of the Weather Bird Press located in Pasadena. Again, the title makes you think that this is going to incorporate some historical facts, but it is instead a short retelling of Christmas memories of Gerry as a child growing up in Los Angeles. I was particularly drawn to this book because its simple, delicate, hand-crafted form embodies the holiday nostalgia of making Christmas crafts as a young child.

Cover of Vance Gerry’s Remembered Christmas

Cover of Vance Gerry’s Remembered Christmas

Yet, it was the descriptive words of Gerry that brought me closer to his (and therefore, my own) Christmas memory. He talks of walking down a main street in LA with the shops fully-decorated with toys and lights in the window as such a sensory experience as he says, “the essence of the dreamlike sequence has never been erased from my mind.” We quickly jump from the bustling street to his warm home on Christmas Eve, which he remembers as “the close approximation of a Norman Rockwell painting.” But it was the last lines of the book in which I felt completely justified in my search for the meaning of Christmas at the Clark:

“As the Christmas fire that we really didn’t need died down an aunt played a carol on the piano and in that contented room everyone seemed wrapped in affectionate warmth and happiness, the texture of which I never felt again.”

Some people may read these lines as depressing, but in my optimistic holiday spirit, I see them differently. One never feels the same way at Christmastime ever again because each time is so unique and different, even if your family practices the same traditions every single year. And it’s special because that unique, warm feeling you get from your loved ones or just by drinking a huge mug of peppermint hot cocoa only happens for such a short time once a year. That’s why I cherish the holiday season. I know some say that it has turned into a commercial holiday that has destroyed its true meaning, but based on these personal stories I found at the Clark, I still think it has some value.

Wishing you the warmest of holiday feelings from the Clark!


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