News and Events at Boatwright Library
Boatwright’s 1855 Leaves of Grass
Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was first printed in 1855. According to Ed Folsom of the University of Iowa, only 158 of the 795 original imprints are known to exist. The 1855 copy of Leaves of Grass in the Galvin Rare Book Room is one of them. As well as being a major work by a great talent, the first edition itself has been studied and argued over for years, mainly about printing errors. Mr. Folsom polled the owners of the books and made some interesting discoveries.
During the printing, Whitman changed a line of “Song of Myself” from “The night is for you and me and all” to “The day and the night are for you and me and all.” About 30% of the 158 copies contain the earlier “night” version. There is also the famous missing period in the last line of the poem. Scholars have made much of what Whitman meant by leaving off the period, but most believe that it is simply a type issue, that it just wore off. Our copy is missing the period. Just ahead of this line in the last triplicate is a line that reads, “Failing to fetch me me at first keep encouraged.” Boatwright’s copy has both these anomalies. And finally, there is the engraving of the daguerreotype of Whitman posed in working clothes in the frontispiece. All the existing copies of the first run of the book have a slight enhancement to the front of his pants popularly known as “the bulge.” Our copy has it, dating the book to the first binding in June 1855. In later editions, some have the extra shading and some don’t.
This is just a taste of the history of this remarkable book. Watch for more of the story when Rare Books and Special Collections launches the blog Something Uncommon later this year.
--Betty Dickie, Special Collections and Preservation Associate
2014 Annual Peple Lecture
The Friends of Boatwright Memorial Library are pleased to announce that Mary Miley Theobald is the 2014 Peple Lecturer. The lecture will take place on Sunday, March 30, 2014 in the Jepson Alumni Center Pavilion Room at 3:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and the campus community is cordially invited to join us. The talk will be on the theme “Death by Petticoat: The Whole Truth about American History Myths You’ve Heard at Museums." Ms. Theobald is known for her research and writing, and brings a lively and informative style of speaking to her public lectures. A reception follows Ms. Theobald’s discussion and there will be a book signing with the opportunity to purchase her books.
The Ed C. and Mary S. Peple Lecture honors the contributions that Ed and Mary Peple made to the University of Richmond community, especially as founders and charter members of the Friends of Boatwright Memorial Library. Dr. Ed Peple was a longtime UR faculty member. The Peple Lecture is supported through an endowed fund.
The Friends of BML will also celebrate their Annual Meeting the last weekend in April. The meeting will be held in conjunction with an open house for the Library’s new book arts studio.
-Sheena McKenzie, President, Friends of Boatwright Memorial Library