Centuries of "The Good Fight": Women Authors in the Rare Books Collection
This exhibit showcases notable examples of works by women authors from the University of Arkansas Libraries' rare books collections. As the work of Special Collections moves forward, adding resources that reflect the diversity of our campus and the research needs met by the unique and rare materials we make available, we can examine how the collection has developed over the University's 150 years and how it continues to evolve.
The rare booksincluded here are examples of women authors making their voices known andproviding lasting cultural contributions as part of the long path towardliterary and social representation. Special Collections seeks to make rare andunique resources available that enable innovative and impactful research andlearning by scholars and students. A growing area of focus for enhancing therare books collection is adding significant works from women authors. Therecently acquired three-millionth volume, Iola Leroy byFrances Ellen Watkins Harper, is one notable example. Borrowing a title fromShirley Chisholm's telling of her journey as a leader, this exhibit showcasesother important editions from women creators spanning nearly 400 years acrossgenres. These include precious, if mostly unknown items long part of the Libraries' collectionsalong with more recent additions sought through partnership with and in supportof campus stakeholders.
The UniversityLibraries' rare books holdings began with some of the earliest donations overthe 150-year history of Arkansas's flagship land grant institution. Traditionalareas of strength in the rare books have been Arkansas history and culture,agriculture, and the literature and culture of Europe. Over the decades otherareas of collecting have emerged as scholarship and social needs have changed,including African American history, architecture and design, and politicalideology. The rare books collections continues to evolve and respond toscholarly interests and larger social needs. All of the rare itemsand unique examples of Arkansiana are available to the public.Contact Special Collections to learn how to access and use the Libraries' rareprint materials.
Items on exhibit, oldest to newest by publication date:
Behn, Aphra, E. Flesher, Richard Tonson, Jacob Tonson, and Molière. Sir Patient Fancy: A Comedy. As It Is Acted at the Duke's Theatre. Dramatic Works of Mrs. Behn. 1, no. 9. London: Printed by E. Flesher for Richard Tonson, within Grays-Inn-gate in Grays-Inn-lane, and Jacob Tonson, at the Judge's Head in Chancery-Lane, 1678. Playwright, poet, translator and sometime spy Behn was one of the first European women to earn a living as a professional writer. Vocal on social issues such as arranged marriages and open about being a woman, Sir Patient Fancy was both very successful and stands as a response to being singled-out for criticism by some because of her gender.
Evelyn, Mary, and John Evelyn. Mundus Muliebris: or, The Ladies Dressing-Room Unlock'd, and Her Toilette Spread In Burlesque. Together with the Fop-Dictionary, Compiled for the Use of the Fair Sex. London: Printed for R. Bentley, 1690. This extremely rare first edition was recently added in support of the Medieval Studies and Renaissance Studies and Gender Studies programs. Mary Evelyn's The Ladies Dressing Room is a pathbreaking work of satire. Published posthumously by the author’s father, it includes an introduction by John Evelyn, as well as a poem about the romance between a man and woman of declining circumstances, and "the Fop dictionary" that both lists cosmetic items used by women and the perception of them and other things used by men. Two examples of Italian poetry from the 16th and 17th century were brought in along with Evelyn’s work.
Lennox, Charlotte, and Andrew Millar. The Female Quixote; or, The Adventures of Arabella: In Two Volumes. Vol. I[-II]. Vol. I[-II]. London : A. Millar,1752. Lennox’s parody of the illustrious work of Cervantes depicts the true power of women, was praised by contemporaries such as Samuel Johnson, and influenced later women writers, including Jane Austen. Published in 1752, this first edition copy in Special Collections represents the decades of important collection development on behalf of the English department, as well as other program on campus, by the University Libraries.
Foster, Hannah Webster, and John P. Peaslee. The Boarding School, or, Lessons of a Preceptress to Her Pupils: Consisting of Information, Instruction, and Advice, Calculated to Improve the Manners, and Form the Character of Young Ladies: to Which Is Added, a Collection of Letters, Written by the Pupils, to Their Instructress, Their Friends, and Each Other. 1829. This fictional work from the early republic period of the United States, originally published in1798, was the second work by the Massachusetts writer. A frequent contributor of political writing to newspapers, Foster's novel provides lessons for young women entering society, and was likely based on her own experiences as a privileged woman who entered a high society marriage, became a mother of six, and continued a clandestine career as a writer.
Warren, Mercy Otis, and Thomas Jefferson. History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution: Interspersed with Biographical, Political, and Moral Observations: in Three Volumes. Boston: Printed by Manning and Loring for E. Larkin, No. 47, Cornhill, 1805. A pamphleteer, poet, and propogandist during the drive toward independence in Colonial America, Mercy Otis Warren's history of the revolution, one of the earliest and the first authored by a woman, benefitted from her close relationships and correspondence with many of the central figures including Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Patrick Henry, and John Adams. Married to Massachusetts politician James Warren, through her writing Mary Otis Warren was instrumental in driving the framers of the Constitution toward adoption of the Bill of Rights, although anonymously.
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. Eighty Years and More (1815-1897): Reminiscences of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. New York: European Pub. Co., 1898. This is copy of the Stanton’s autobiography about her long years fighting for the right to vote was once owned by her dear friend and colleague, leading suffragist Susan. B. Anthony. Along with her address and signature, Anthony directs those who use the book: "This book is to loan and let everyone be sure and return it promptly." This unique copy was acquired by University of Arkansas alumna, librarian and archivist Mary Dengler Hudgins before being donated to Special Collections.
Thanet, Octave. A Slave to Duty & Other Women. Chicago: H.S. Stone& Company, 1898. Octave Thanet was the pen name of Alice French, a prolific and widely-read author of regional color stories and novels in the late 19th and early 20th century. Born in Andover, Massachusetts before she moved with her family to Iowa, French maintained a seasonal second home in Clover Bend, a small community in Lawrence County, Arkansas, with her lesbian life partner. As Thanet, French wrote numerous works in Arkansas, incorporating local stories and cultural oddities she encountered, maintained a photographic studio, and hosted dignitaries and artists.
Owen, Narcissa. Memoirs of Narcissa Owen, 1831-1907. 1907. From the University Libraries Arkansas Collection. Born in the Cherokee Nation in 1831, Narcissa Owens' 1907 memoir provides the reflections of an aging Cherokee and Christian woman looking back to the stories of her ancestors and the cultural transformations apparent in her long life as an educator, artist, and writer. The wife of a Senator and mother to another, Senator Robert Latham Owen, Jr., she began life an early child of the land once claimed as the Arkansas Territory and became a matron and elder of the new state of Oklahoma.
Woolf, Virginia, Vanessa Bell, Leonard Woolf, and Virginia Woolf. Monday or Tuesday. Richmond, Surrey: Pub. by L. & V. Woolf at the Hogarth Press, 1921. This first printing of Monday or Tuesday (1921) by Virginia Woolf, with woodcuts by her sister Vanessa Bell, was actually hand-assembled and stitched by Virginia Woolf and her Hogarth Press compatriots, as were all of the earliest first editions from the influential press. This copy was donated along with several other Hogarth Press works as part of the library of famed Arkansas poet John Gould Fletcher Collection. It includes Fletcher's bookplate on the inside cover. This early volume from the Hogarth Press was printed by Prompt Press, and Virginia was very disappointed with the product, although it has remained a successful publication.
Woolf, Virginia, and Leonard Woolf. A Haunted House: And Other Short Stories. London: The Hogarth Press, 1943. Over the past several years Special Collections has promoted and had cause to frequently exhibit and teach with our Virginia Woolf/Hogarth Press holdings. Woolf's sister, Vanessa Bell was also a member of the influential Bloomsbury Group of authors and artists, and she illustrated and designed jackets and bindings for many Hogarth Press books over three decades, including some written, printed, or both by her illustrious sister. A faculty member on campus researches Bell, so we have added examples of Bell's illustrations over the past two years, including this first edition of A Haunted House.
Bates, Daisy, and Dwain E. Manske. The Long Shadow of Little Rock: A Memoir. New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1962. Uncorrected proof of Daisy Bates' memoir, The Long Shadow of Little Rock issued by Longmans, Green/David McKay/Ives Washington/Tupper and Love, 119 West 40thStreet, New York 18, N.Y., Chickering 4-5900. Tentative date of publication, October 29, 1962, tentative price, $4.75. Donated by Prof. Dwain E. Manske, April 1971. In addition to the archives of Arkansas icon and civil rights leader Daisy Bates and numerous important volumes from her personal library, Special Collections holds multiple copies of every edition of her memoir, including this pre-publication proof copy.
Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. New York: Random House, 1969. This first edition of the watershed memoir by celebrated poet, Maya Angelou, is part of the Arkansas Collection. The book details the trauma Angelou suffered as a child when living in Stamps, Arkansas, and gives voice to the learning and power of Black women and intellectuals through an innovativere working of the memoir. Caged Bird remained a bestseller for years after its initial publication.
Chisholm, Shirley. The Good Fight. New York: Hodge Taylor Associates,1973. Signed copy inscribed to the Fayetteville Women's Library. Special Collections preserves and continues to make accessible the book and magazine collections oft he pioneering free, feminist Fayetteville Women's Library. Political leader and pathbreaking presidential candidate Shirley Chisolm gave this copy of her book to the library, and it was used by women in Fayetteville as a circulating copy.
Wright, C. D. One with Others: [a Little Book of Her Days].Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 2010. Cover image by Wright’s longtime collaborator and fellow Arkansan, Deborah Luster. Following her passing in 2016, Special Collections acquired Wright's personal library of more than100 published examples of her own work, including this copy of One with Others, which addresses civil rights and Wright’s own family history in her native state. Born in Mountain Home, Arkansas, in 1949, Wright achieved national and international acclaim during her career. After completing a MFA in creative writing at the University of Arkansas, Wright received many awards and honors including a MacArthur grant and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. She served on the faculty at Brown University from 1983 until her death.
Find more information at https://uark.libguides.com/WomenStudies.
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