Friday, March 29, 2013

Harriet Burleigh Janes

An open book of handwritten text."I had Dr. Mason call to see me first--before dark--He left some medicine which relieved me in a short-time, but I do not think I was really well or happy during my sojourn there. It was so vastly different from the pleasant home I had left. While at Mo__ I endeavored to entertain myself by crocheting and sketching a little. As I had brought my maltese kitten--'Tony' with me, she helped to while a few lonesome hours away."

This quotation appears in diary we just acquired by Harriet Burleigh Janes. Janes was a Laconia, New Hampshire, native who wrote fiction under the name Effie Ray. Born May 27, 1845, Harriet Burleigh was writing and illustrating hand-sewn miniature books by the age of seven. At 18, her work was in print; A Letter From Effie Ray was published in the Trumpet and Freeman: A Universalist Magazine in 1863. Over the next several years, her short stories appeared in The Yankee Blade and The American Union. She was working on a novel, Leander, or The Haunted Manor, at the time of her death at age 30.

The diary will join her papers housed in Rauner Library. The collection includes her miniature books, drawings and other manuscripts. Perhaps the most curious part of the collection is the "spirit writings," many purportedly by Harriet Janes, that her grieving family received after her early death.

To learn more about this little known writer, ask for MS-844.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Calligraphic Emblems

An emblem featuring a floral wreath and doves.
We have a strong collection of emblem books that try to create a visual vocabulary of classical themes and emotions and we also have another collection that documents 19th-century calligraphy. So, you can imagine how pleased we were to find this little gem of a book, Arabesques mythologiques (Paris: Charles Barrois, 1810) which combines the two ideas in one.

An emblem including clouds.
Illustrated with 54 hand-colored emblems representing the characters of Greek and Roman myth, the book was a kind of primer for children to learn the classical gods and the myths surrounding them. The visual clues create more lasting memories than text alone and each emblem tries to capture the essence of the actors. But, unlike other emblem books, there is text intertwined into each image. Turn them sideways, and you find the names beautifully scripted into the images--each is an elegant design loaded with cultural meaning.

An emblem including snakes and botanical elements.

The snake emblem turned sideways.
Ask for Rare BL725 G4 1810.