Recent Acquisition: Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince and Other Tales

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Oscar Wilde’s book for children, The Happy Prince and Other Tales, published in 1888, has attracted many artists and printers over the years. The stories have also been adapted for stage performances including, as I discovered recently, a ballet which will be performed in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2018.

Wilde’s stories, in the tradition of literary fairy tales such as those of Hans Christian Andersen, depict poverty, suffering, cruelty and arrogance, with sacrifice or martyrdom occurring more than once. In the title story, the statue of a prince who had been sheltered in luxury while he lived, could now view from his pedestal the poverty and suffering in his city, and so he convinced a swallow to carry each of the statue’s jewels to someone in need. The Happy Prince and Other Tales consists of the following five stories: ‘The Happy Prince’, ‘The Selfish Giant’, ‘The Nightingale and the Rose’, ‘The Devoted Friend’, and ‘The Remarkable Rocket’.

Wilde published a second collection of fairy tales, The House of Pomegranates in 1891. These stories are generally more complex and dark, but over the following century many books have included a selection drawn from both books. Out of the four stories in this book, ‘The Star Child’ and ‘The Young King’ are more likely to be included in selections intended for children. ‘The Fisherman and his Soul’ and ‘The Birthday of the Infanta’ are rarely considered suitable for child readers.

A glance at the editions in our collection, with their range of illustrations and book production styles, demonstrate ambivalence in terms of identifying the appropriate audience for Wilde’s stories. Illustrators Walter Crane and P. J. Lynch both illustrated the book for a child audience, while many editions produced in the intervening century are more appropriately seen as gift books for adults.

The Happy Prince and Other Tales was first published in 1888 by Alfred Nutt and is illustrated throughout. The frontispiece is by Walter Crane, as are a plate illustrating ‘The Selfish Giant’ (shown below) and one illustrating ‘The Remarkable Rocket’. Crane (1845-1915) is frequently cited along with Randoph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway as one of the premier illustrators of children’s books in Victorian Britain.

Small illustrations by illustrator and engraver Jacomb Hood decorate the head of each story. The stories are also richly decorated with vignettes or small decorations.

Another early edition was illustrated by Charles Robinson (1870-1937), one of three brothers who were all prolific book illustrators. This 1913 edition includes eleven color plate illustrations in addition to the frontispiece. As these plates are tipped-in, or attached to pages of the book, it is rare to find an original copy with all plates intact.

With over fifty pages decorated by Robinson, this is what booksellers would call a ‘lavishly-illustrated book’, and these illustrations are reproduced in many later editions and adaptations.

Frontispiece from the 1913 edition: “The King of the Mountains of the Moon”

The Overbrook Press produced a limited edition of The Happy Prince and Other Tales by Oscar Wilde with wood engravings by Rudolph Ruzicka. This 1936 edition is part of the Hesburgh’s collection of 135 books from the Overbrook Press of Stamford, Connecticut.

Another fine printing, clearly not intended for the hands of children, is the silk-bound edition published by Kurt Volk, New York, in 1955. This book includes the title story, a short essay on ‘Oscar Fingall O’Flahertie Wilde’, and a slightly abbreviated version of W. B. Yeats’ introduction to a 1923 edition of The Happy Prince and Other Fairy Tales. [i]

One of the most recent editions is illustrated by leading Irish illustrator P. J. Lynch, also known for the award-winning book The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey and his recent book The Boy who Fell off the Mayflower. This edition of Wilde’s Stories for Children, published in 1990, includes ‘The Young King’ in addition to all five stories from The Happy Prince. Lynch has not placed ‘The Happy Prince’ in first place—rather, the book begins with ‘The Selfish Giant’.

Authors of introductions range from W. B. Yeats, who knew Oscar Wilde, to Stephen Fry, the actor who played Oscar Wilde in the film Wilde.

The bibliography below lists the editions held in the Hesburgh Library’s Special Collections.

 

Bibliography

The Happy Prince and Other Tales. Illustrated by Walter Crane and Jacomb Hood. London: David Nutt, 1888. (1,000 copies printed)
Special Collections: in process.

The Happy Prince and Other Tales. Illustrated by Charles Robinson. London, 1913.
Special Collections: in process.

The Happy Prince and Other Tales. New York: R. K. Haas, c. 1925.
Special Collections Rare Books XSmall PR 5818 .H27 1925z

The Happy Prince and Other Tales. Wood engravings by Rudolph Ruzicka. Stamford, Conn.: The Overbrook Press, 1936. (Limited edition of 250 copies).
Special Collections Rare Medium Z 232 .O87 W53 1936

The Happy Prince, and The Selfish Giant; Fairy Tales. With a foreword by Hal W. Trovillion. Herrin, Ill.: Trovillion Private Press, 1945.
Special Collections Rare Medium PR 5818 .H211 1945

The Happy Prince. Designed by Meyer Wagman and edited by Charles Brodie. New York: K. H. Volk, c. 1955. (Issued in a box. “…bound in moire silk and stamped with genuine gold.”)
Special Collections Rare Medium PR 5818 .H211 1955

The young king and other fairy tales. Introduced by John Updike. Illustrated by Sandro Nardini and Enrico Bagnoli. NY: Macmillan, 1962.
Special Collections Rare XLarge PR 5811 1962

The Happy Prince. T. D. R. Powell, 1970. (Limited edition of 275 copies, signed by the publishers and the paper-makers, Sheepstor Handmade Papers.)
Special Collections Rare Medium PR 5818 .H211 1970

Fairy Tales and stories. Octopus, 1980.
Special Collections (MR) Medium PR 5816 1980

Stories for Children. Illustrated by P. J. Lynch. New York: Macmillan, 1991.
Special Collections (MR) Large PR 5811 1991

Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde. Illustrated by P. Craig Russell. NY: Nantier, Beall, Minoustchine, c. 1992. (Five volume set.)
Special Collections (MR) PN 6727 .R85 F35 1992

 

[i] The full text of this introduction is online in The W. B. Yeats Collection (a Chadwyck-Healey subscription database) which includes the following source information: Introduction to Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Fairy Tales (1923). According to catalog records such as in the Hathi Trust, this appears to be volume 3 of a multi-volume collection of the works of Oscar Wilde.

 


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Recent Acquisition: Icon of Dutch Design – SHV Think Book

by Marsha Stevenson, Visual Arts Librarian

Paul van Vlissingen, owner of the Dutch company SHV (Steenkolen Handels Vereeniging), commissioned the noted book maker Irma Boom to create a volume to commemorate the anniversary of his family’s firm. Boom had full access to the archives of the company and the family to aid her in conceiving what became a 2,136 page tome.

Given full artistic control and no budget, she spent five years fashioning the volume. It is a most unusual creation, incorporating a wide range of surprising and innovative design elements. As an example, the edge of the text block displays a field of tulips when its pages are flipped from left to right, but flipping them the opposite way reveals a poem.

The book’s contents are arranged in reverse chronological order, and are unnumbered to encourage accidental discovery. Pages are perforated and use different inks and typefaces. Irma Boom has received many awards, including a Gutenberg Prize, for her book designs. The SHV Think Book is her most celebrated work, and was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art as an international icon of Dutch design.

Irma Boom. SHV Think Book (1996-1896). Utrecht: SHV Holdings, 1996.

 


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Life in Camp: Drawings from British prisoners interned at Ruhleben Camp during the First World War

by Sara Quashnie, M.L.I.S. Candidate, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

At the outbreak of the First World War, there were approximately 10,000 British nationals within the borders of the German Reich. Some were on holiday while others had resided in the country their entire lives or were passing through as sailors aboard merchant vessels. Regardless of background, their British citizenship marked them for suspicion in the eyes of the German government as well as retaliation for the plight of German nationals in Great Britain. Therefore, it was determined that male British nationals of military age were to be arrested and interned for the duration of the war (though with the possibility for freedom through prisoner exchanges). While various camps were hastily constructed to house these detainees, Ruhleben was the only camp that was entirely populated by civilian prisoners.

Constructed on the grounds of a horse racing track on the outskirts of Berlin, Ruhleben would house over 4,000 prisoners at its height. Inmates were barracked in repurposed stables in extremely poor condition due to the inadequate facilities. Over time and with the intervention of the American ambassador, Ruhleben would grow to include not only upgraded barracks and latrines, but also a library, school, stores, and post office. Lack of privacy was a perpetual concern for the men while at the same time they were virtually cut off from the rest of civilization apart from Red Cross parcels and short letters from home. As a result the camp formed its own community complete with newspaper, theater productions, sports teams, and various clubs to keep boredom at bay.

Printed version above (MSE/MD 3829-3B) and scrapbook version below (MSE/MD 3829-1B) of a dual advertisement.

One such endeavor was In Ruhleben Camp and its successor The Ruhleben Camp Magazine. Special Collections recently acquired a full set of these issues in two bound volumes accompanied by a bound, two-volume scrapbook containing original drawings from the magazine. Published fortnightly, the magazine included stories and cartoons parodying camp life as well as reports of camp activities such as reviews of musicals, sports recaps, and advertisements for lectures. A marked tone of humor is prevalent throughout, in keeping with the unofficial camp slogan “Are we downhearted? No!” An in-depth chronicle of camp life, the magazine represents some of the best documentation of the Ruhleben experience.

 

The highlight of this collection is the two-volume scrapbook. Bound in pasteboard and measuring 16.5″ x 12.75,” the scrapbook contains 53 original drawings in pen-and-ink, watercolor, and graphite. Although the purpose of the scrapbook is not certain, material on the front cover indicates that the scrapbook was a mock-up for a London publisher, George Newnes Ltd., to use for the publication of a book to be called, “The Lighter Side of Lager Life.” Who compiled the scrapbook is also unknown, but it may have been one of the magazine’s editors, Louis Egerton Filmore or C. G. Pemberton.

The scrapbook volumes include original illustration, many of which did not appear in the printed magazines. The drawings depict camp life in a vivid display of the camp’s signature humor. Original artwork is paired with clippings that parody classic British texts such as “Alice Through the Lager Glass” and Shakespeare rewritings. These parodies were some of the most popular types of entries in the printed magazine. Other literary pieces included poetry known as “Ruhlimericks” which poked fun at camp conditions and life or humorous advertisements for various services.

 


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July-August Spotlight Exhibit and a Color Our Collection page

War as Child’s Play: German Children’s
Literature from the World Wars

Patriotism and militaristic pride abound in colorful picture books from the World Wars. Good German boys aid troops and boy-soldiers defeat the enemy in the name of their Fatherland.

The spotlight exhibit for July and August features Hurra! Ein Kriegs-Bilderbuch by Herbert Rikli and Manövertag: Ein Soldatenbilderbuch by Erich Rohden and illustrated by Fritz Koch-Gotha.

This exhibit is co-curated by Sara Quashnie, a MLIS Candidate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and Julie Tanaka, Curator of Rare Books.

Today’s coloring sheet comes from the materials featured in the spotlight exhibit.

Summer 2017 Exhibits

Detail of the Great Lakes region of the map on display (MAN 1719-01-F3).

The June spotlight exhibit, on display through the end of the month, is J. P. Homann’s “Buffalo Map,” ca. 1720.

On display is a map of North America by the important German cartographer J. P. Homann, emphasizing French claims in the Mississippi River Valley in the early eighteenth century. The map is one of several hundred items making up the Edward and Sheila Scanlan Collection of Maps of the Great Lakes Region, donated by the Scanlans to the Hesburgh Libraries in 2003-04. The exhibit is curated by George Rugg (Curator, Special Collections).

The July spotlight exhibit will feature German children’s literature from the two World Wars, and will be co-curated by Sara Quashnie (MLIS Candidate, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, ND ’15) and Julie Tanaka (Curator, Special Collections).


The Summer spotlight exhibit, on display now through September, is “Which in future time shall stir the waves of memory” — Friendship Albums of Antebellum America. On display are seven manuscripts from Special Collections’ manuscripts of North America holdings.

Among the characteristic manuscript forms of antebellum America are albums filled with poetry, prose, drawings, and other content created for the book’s owner by family and acquaintances. Such friendship albums, as they are called, have a long history, but they were especially prevalent in the Romantic era, with its new ideology of sentimental friendship. In the United States friendship albums begin to appear in number in the 1820s, and while contributors were often male, the albums themselves were usually maintained by young women.

The exhibit is curated by George Rugg (Curator, Special Collections).


The current main exhibit, “Preserving the Steadfastness of Your Faith”: Catholics in the Early American Republic, continues through the summer and will close August 11, 2017.

Memorial Day

To honor all who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Memorial Day, originally celebrated as Decoration Day, began after the Civil War. John A. Logan, a general in the Union Army and Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization of Civil War veterans, issued General Orders No. 11. Logan designated that the graves of those who died fighting to defend their country be decorated on May 30, 1868. Almost 100 years to the day later, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law, Public Law 90-363, the Uniform Holiday Bill, establishing the official observance of Memorial Day as the last Monday in May.

Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918), an American journalist and poet from New Brunswick, New Jersey, served in the 69th Infantry Regiment of the New York Army National Guard during the First World War. He fell victim to a sniper’s bullet during the Second Battle of the Marne on July 30, 1918. His poem, “Memorial Day,” appeared in his second volume of poetry, Trees and Other Poems, published in 1914 by George H. Doran and Company.

Recent Acquisition: First Edition Frankenstein (1818)

A fine, first edition of one of the most influential works of European literature and the most taught novel in universities—Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein—enhances our European literature collection. The stunning volumes now complement our holdings of the first illustrated edition (third overall edition) published in 1831 by Colburn and Bentley and the first American movie tie-in edition printed by Grosset and Dunlap in 1931.

Shelley’s novel was first printed anonymously in three volumes in 1818 for the London publishing firm Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mayor, and Jones in an edition of 500 copies. RBSC’c set is tastefully bound in contemporary style in 20th-century tan, smooth morocco. Spines are gilt-ruled in compartments with black morocco title labels and the sides are bordered with a double gilt rule.

The acquisition of the first edition of Frankenstein was made possible by the Hesburgh Libraries, a Nanovic Institute for European Studies Library Grant, the Department of Political Science (Notre Dame), and Professor Eileen Hunt Botting in memory of her brother, Kevin E. Hunt.


Mark Your Calendars – Upcoming Events

Mary Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein will be the centerpiece of a spotlight exhibit, It’s Alive! Frankenstein in the Arts and Sciences, in Special Collections in Fall 2018. The exhibit will be part of a series of campus-wide events celebrating the bicentennial of Frankenstein.

Special Collections will also host a multidisciplinary panel discussion on Friday, October 19, 2018 with faculty from both Indiana University School of Medicine at South Bend and the University of Notre Dame exploring Frankenstein’s relevance to 21st-century medicine and medical ethics.

Upcoming Events: August and early September

Please join us for the following event being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, August 25 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Sandro Botticelli on Facing in Dante’s Paradiso” – Heather Webb (Cambridge). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

In other news, the July spotlight exhibit featuring a recently acquired Piranesi volume will soon be changed out for the August spotlight exhibit highlighting the Elisabeth Markstein Archive.

The spring and summer exhibit Vestigia Vaticana will remain on display through August 15. After that, the fall exhibit will be installed: Ingenious Exercises: Print and Physical Culture in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800.

Watch for news about a new Fall semester spotlight exhibit soon!

Color Our Collections: Vatican and Piranesi exhibits

Today’s coloring sheets comes from items on display in two of our ongoing exhibits: Vestigia Vaticana and the July spotlight exhibit on a recent acquisition, three works of Piranesi. The Vatican exhibit is open through mid-August, while the Piranesi exhibit closes at the end of this week.

Enjoy, and if you have the time please come in and see the full exhibits!

ColorOurCollections-Vaticana

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ColorOurCollections-Piranesi

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Color Our Collections

Coloring books are everywhere these days it seems. Books stores. Craft stores. Museums and libraries. Libraries?

Yes, even libraries have been getting in on the current craze. Who are we to miss an opportunity to highlight some of the beautiful illustrations to be found in our collection?

Today’s coloring sheet comes from Jost Amman’s Kunnst- und Lehrbüchlein für die anfahenden Jungen (Book of Art and Instruction for Young People), published by Sigmund Feyerabend in German and Latin in 1578. If you’d like to see more of the illustrations from this book, it is featured in the “Society” showcase of the online exhibit After Gutenberg: Print, Books, and Knowledge in Germany through the Long Sixteenth Century. Or come visit us and ask to see the book in person — the call number is on the coloring page.

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