Help them help us!

February 18, 2015 by

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

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

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!

Audiobooks and English Essayists

December 17, 2014 by

By Katherine Monroe, student library assistant

Have you ever read one of those books that just makes you want to stop everything else you are doing and delve into its pages?  I find this to be true even when I listen to audiobooks, an activity I have taken up in order to stay sane in the LA traffic on my way to work at the Clark Library.  As I listened to Mary Ann Shaffer’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society over a period of two weeks, I became enamored with all of the characters.  This fictional book is set up as an exchange of letters between a London writer, Juliet Ashton, and people on Guernsey; through these letters, it tells the story of how the islanders dealt with the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands that lasted from 1940 to 1945 and how their creation of a book club helped save them and also created long-lasting friendships in a time of such uncertainty.

One of my favorite characters, Dawsey Adams, initiates contact with Juliet because it is her copy of Charles Lambs’ The Essays of Elia of which he is now the proud owner.  Since I didn’t know who Charles Lamb was, and since I happen to work at a special collections library which specializes in works of 17th– and 18th-century British literature and history, I decided to search the catalog to see if I, too, could read Charles Lamb and find out what it was that had captured both Juliet and Dawsey.  Well, I am happy to say that I now understand the appeal of this English essayist and poet who was born in 1775 and died in 1834.  The Clark owns several works by the man, including a lovely little hand-colored children’s book, The King and Queen of Hearts, printed in 1805.

King and Queen

Another work that Lamb actually co-authored with his sister, Mary (who is herself an interesting, if not tragic, character) is Tales from Shakespear, Designed for the Use of Young Readers, published in 1807.  The two-volume work contains twenty of Shakespeare’s plays, converted into prose for the education of children, along with twenty engraved plates by William Blake.

Title and frontispiece

And then there is the humorously-titled Satan in Search of a Wife, published in 1831.


The Clark copy is a first edition with 6 lively woodcut engravings.  The first part presents Satan moping while his mother asks what ails him, until it is revealed that he has fallen in love with the tailor’s daughter while he was escorting her father to his fiery domain.  As Satan prepares to go off and bring her back, his mother asks: “But what will you do with your horns, my son? / And that tail – fair maids will mock it –”  To which Satan replies: “My tail I will dock – and as for the horn, / Like husbands above I think no scorn / To carry it in my pocket.”  The second part tells of how the maiden, already in love with Satan, resists at first (due to his too-human disguise) but then gives in; Satan carries her off where a grand feast attended by Medusa and overseen by “Bishop Judas” is held to mark the occasion.

Sad satan

While that poem was a lot of fun to read, especially in trying to figure out who was mentioned as being a resident of Hell, I still liked those Essays of Elia which had first inspired me to search the stacks at the Clark.

Elia binding 1

The beautiful red leather volume of Lamb’s witty recollections of his life, all published under the penname of Elia in the London Magazine and collected in 1823, bring to life early 19th-century London, along with scenes from his childhood.  In “Five and Thirty Years Ago,” he recounts how he hated to be forced to spend days outside of his horrible school, Christ’s Hospital, yet has almost fond memories of those moments:

How merrily we would sally forth into the fields; and strip under the first warmth of the sun; and wanton like young dace in the streams; getting us appetites for noon, which those of us that were pennyless (our scanty morning crust long since exhausted) had not the means of allaying – while the cattle, and the birds, and the fishes, were at feed about us, and we had nothing to satisfy our cravings – the very beauty of the day, and the exercise of the pastime, and the sense of liberty, setting a keener edge upon them! – How faint and languid, finally, we would return, towards nightfall, to our desired morsel, half-rejoicing, half-reluctant, that the hours of our uneasy liberty had expired!

In both his poetry and his prose, Charles Lamb shows himself to be an entertaining and engaging writer of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  It is easy to see why characters as wonderful as those in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, as well as real people such as myself, would enjoy reading the works of such a man.

The King and Queen of Hearts: with the rogueries of the knave who stole the queen’s pies: illustrated in fifteen elegant engravings (London: printed for Thomas Hodgkins, 1806) *PR4862.K41

Elia. Essays which have appeared under that signature in the London Magazine (London: printed for Taylor and Hessey, 1823) *PR4861.A1

 Tales from Shakespear. Designed for the use of young persons (London: printed for Thomas Hodgkins, 1807) *PR4862.T11

Satan in search of a wife: with the whole process of his courtship and marriage, and who danced at the wedding/by an eye witness (London: Edward Moxon, 1831) *PR4862.S21

The Clark & Wilde on SoCal Connected

December 11, 2014 by

The Clark Library’s Oscar Wilde collection was the focus of a segment that aired last night on KCET TV’s SoCal Connected.  UCLA Professor of English Joseph Bristow and the Clark’s Manuscript & Archives Librarian Becky Fenning Marschall were both featured, as were some Wilde collection highlights.  For our non-local friends (and our local friends who may have missed it), the Clark segment is posted online for your viewing pleasure!


Happy Turkey Day from the Clark

November 26, 2014 by

The Clark will be closed this Thursday and Friday, November 27th and 28th, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.  


Wild Turkey (male), from Audubon’s Birds of America (1840 ed.)

In honor of tomorrow’s turkey-centered festivities, I went looking for turkeys at the Clark.  They are not very abundant here, either in the stacks or outside, but to my surprise I found that we do have a set of the 1840 Royal Octavo edition of John James Audubon’s Birds of America, which contains two of Audubon’s drawings of the noble Meleagris gallopavo.  Though our set is currently shelved with our other rare books on natural history, it is technically part of our Montana collection, as it was purchased with the bulk of that collection in 1924 from collector Charles N. Kessler.  The lithographs are not quite as break-taking in this small size as they are in the first edition elephant folios of Birds of America, but they are still quite nice.


Wild turkey (female), from Audubon’s Birds of America (1840 ed.)


Unlike inside the library where we have a least a couple, Wild Turkeys do not number among our avian visitors outside — unsurprisingly we are a little too urban for their tastes.  Other species drawn by Audubon are commonly found at the Clark and across LA, though — Audubon’s Warblers, Hermit Thrushes, Northern Mockingbirds, Spotted Towhees and Mourning Doves, just to pick a few.  The library grounds also attract more unusual visitors, like the Yellow-Throated Warbler, which is a rare visitor to Southern California, but with which Audubon was quite familiar from his time living in the southeastern US.  This particular bird was spotted yesterday near the Clark’s gatehouse and got some local birders excited about adding it to their LA County life lists.

You may think all of this bird talk is, well, for the birds, but you may want to keep the Clark’s outdoor attractions in mind when you return after Thanksgiving, still full of turkey, stuffing and pie.  Even if you don’t care about our warblers, brisk walks around our gardens might seem awfully appealing as you get in shape for another big meal at the end of December!



Reminder: Clark Book Club, Thursday 11/20

November 17, 2014 by

Dear Friends of the Clark,

Please join us next Thursday, November 20th, for the second meeting of the Clark Library Book Club. We’ll be discussing Peter Ackroyd’s prize-winning novel Hawksmoor, which interweaves tales of murder and mayhem in eighteenth-century London with a twentieth-century counterpart involving Detective Nicholas Hawksmoor’s investigation of a bizarre series of deaths in churches designed by Sir Christopher Wren’s apprentice, Nicholas Dyer.

In addition to discussing the novel, we’ll have the opportunity to work with rare books from the Clark’s collection that relate to the story, setting, and characters. Read as much or as little of the book as you’re able. All are welcome.

When: Thursday, November 20th, 4 p.m.
Where: Clark Library, North Book Room
What: Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor

The final meeting in our fall fiction series will take place on December 18th. We’ll be discussing Hilary Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies, the sequel to the acclaimed Wolf Hall. To ask a question or suggest a book, contact Rebecca Munson (


Feeling the Effects of All Hallow’s Eve

October 31, 2014 by

By Katherine Monroe, student library assistant

title page

Halloween is almost upon us, and the Clark collection is ready to provide you with all of your necessary remedies against any curses you may receive come All Hallow’s Eve.  William Drage’s Daimonomageia. A Small Treatise of Sicknesses and Diseases from Witchcraft and Supernatural Causes. Never before, at least in this comprised Order, and general Manner, was the like published. Being useful to others besides Physicians, In that it Confutes Atheistical, Sadducitical, and Sceptical Principles and Imaginations was published in 1665 with the intent to provide anecdotal evidence of witchcraft and necromancy in the world, and how one may hope to survive it.

Are you unsure if you are cursed or merely suffering from the effects of too much candy?  Drage gives seven signs that point to sorcery:

  • “If the Sick voids things that naturally cannot be bred in the Body, nor put therein from without, distrust Witchcraft…”
  • “Strange and wonderful Convulsions, indomitable and inexpressible Torments, with other things preceding, or supervening, gives suspicion of Witchcraft…”
  • “If the Sick complaineth of such a Woman or Man suspected for a Witch, and faith, There he (or she) stands; or Now he (or she) comes, though no Body else see anything… Judge this certainly to be by the power of the Devil, and commonly to be administred by Witches through malice, by the performance of foolish Ceremonies…”
  • “A fourth sign of Witchcraft is, if the sick Prophesy, and foretel truly things that afterward come to pass, and speak beyond the course of Nature… [If] the Sick fly, or run up the Walls with their Feet uppermost, or leap from one place to another, strongly and fiercely, at a great distance: Be sure it is not naturally…”
  • “A fifth Sign of Witchcraft is, If the Sick is twisten, contorted, and his Chin drawn to his Forehead, and neck turned behind him, or face rather… and lye long as if dead…”
  • “A great Sign is, If any thing that comes from the Sick be burnt or harmed, and the suspected Woman suffers in such manner… [and] the Sick is eased much and clearly, suspect her for a Witch, and the Disease to be from her…”
  • And finally, Drage cautions his readers to remember that “All Diseases that are caused by Nature, may be caused by Witchcraft; But all that are caused by Witchcraft, cannot be caused by Nature.”

So before you take an antacid to relieve your possible chocolate-induced stomach pains, make sure you are not actually suffering the effects of a spell or curse.  Drage cautions you not to offend any man or woman suspected of being a necromancer or witch, and to hang rosemary, mistletoe, and ivy around your house, “because the Ancients judged those to defend Houses from evil Spirits.”  If, come November 3rd, you are still showing signs of sorcery, or even possession (about which Drage also writes), stop by the Clark and see what else he prescribes in his Daimonomageia.  And be careful who you encounter this Halloween season – perhaps not all the wee ghoulies and beasties coming to your door are there for the treats!

The historiated capital at the beginning of the text depicts Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden at the moment of the Fall, when Eve eats the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Perhaps Drage references his own knowledge he is sharing with his readers on the topic of witchcraft and remedy, or perhaps he is alluding to the moment when sin entered the world.

The historiated capital at the beginning of the text depicts Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden at the moment of the Fall, when Eve eats the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Perhaps Drage references his own knowledge he is sharing with his readers on the topic of witchcraft and remedy, or perhaps he is alluding to the moment when sin entered the world.


Reminder: Clark Book Club tomorrow!

October 22, 2014 by

Dear all,

A reminder to join us, if you can, for the inaugural meeting of the Clark Library Book Club tomorrow at 4pm in the North Book Room. We’ll be discussing An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears. Feel free to come no matter how much you’ve read–there won’t be any quizzes or assignments!

We’ll kick off our discussion by looking at original editions of texts written by the real-life versions of characters in the story like John Locke, Robert Boyle, and Richard Lower. Bring your questions and comments or send them in advance to Rebecca Munson ( Hope to see many of you soon!


Mark your calendar for our future fall meetings:

November 20th – Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor

December 18th – Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies

A Very Happy Birthday to You, Mr. Wilde

October 16, 2014 by

From Reading Room Assistant Katherine Monroe

Oscar Wilde

“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

-Lord Henry Wotton, from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray

October 16th marks the 160th birthday of Oscar Wilde, poet, author, lecturer, and well-known face of the Aesthetic Movement in both England and America.  The Clark Library’s own collection of books, manuscripts, letters, and other materials relating to this man is the most comprehensive in the world, making this library a must-see for anyone interested in Wildeiana.

Ravenna, *PR5820.R251 c.3

Ravenna, *PR5820.R251 c.3

Included in the collection is a first edition of his poem, “Ravenna,” which won the Newdigate Prize in 1878.  This book is even more precious for the hand-embroidered cover made by his wife, Constance, which depicts pomegranates (the fruit of love) and tiny gold sequins, interspersed with the title of the work, Oscar’s byline, and the initials AH and CW.  Also of note are two inscriptions inside, one by Oscar Wilde and the other by Constance, who gave the book to Arthur Humphreys, the AH of the initials on the cover.

Ravenna inside whole

A pen and ink drawing mounted on cardboard, captioned, “Aesthetics v. Athletics,” is particularly applicable to this sport-crazed season.  Aes v Ath wholeThe Aesthete, a caricaturized Oscar Wilde, remarks, “This is indeed a form of death, and entirely incompatible with any belief in the immortality of the soul,” while a crowd of bugling men race off in one direction behind him.

Salomé, *PR5820.S173E 1927G

Salomé, *PR5820.S173E 1927G

One of the Clark’s copies of Salomé, a play Wilde wrote in 1893, is an especially beautiful Art Deco edition, printed in 1927 by the Grabhorn Press, with wood block illustrations designed and cut by Valenti Angelo.  The frontispiece is especially vivid, with a nude Salomé, statuesque and elongated in true Art Deco form, gazing down upon the head of Iokanaan which has been offered up to her on the sword of the executioner.

Art Dec recto

Oscar Wilde’s lecture tour in America is well-represented at the Clark, as well, in the numerous pamphlets and programs advertising his route around the country.  One program for “Art Decoration,” a lecture he gave in Philadelphia on May 10th, 1882, is especially interesting for its printing technique.  A sheer sheet of paper, folded in half, has the program information on the front and a portrait of Wilde on the inside of the back fold.  When viewed together, the faint portrait supplies the background to the red lettering, providing a beautiful memento of the lecture that happily made its way to the Clark’s collection.

This is not even the tip of the proverbial iceberg for what the Clark has to offer anyone interested in the life of Oscar Wilde or his circle of friends and family.  Manuscripts, letters, trade cards, and even scripts from movie adaptations of his literary works fill the shelves of the collection.  For a man who spent his life seeking fame and attention, the collection stored at the Clark Library attests to his success.  Happy 160th birthday, Oscar Wilde!