Mildred Darby–Anglo-Irish novelist

Mildred Darby started out life as Mildred Henrietta Gordon Dill and grew up in England. She married Jonathan Darby in 1889 and moved to Leap Castle, located in Coolderry, County Offaly, in Ireland. As Mildred settled into life in an Irish castle, she became more interested in the plight of the Irish people under the rule of the English. She believed that the English had treated the Irish very poorly and felt it was necessary to tell the world about how the Irish were really treated. At the time, much of the information coming out of Ireland was spun in a way to make the English look good while the Irish looked like lawless natives who needed to be put in their place. Luckily, Mildred was also secretly a writer. She used the pseudonym of Andrew Merry to publish a number of articles and books. McFarlin Library Special Collections has a copy of one of her books, titled The Hunger, Being realities of the famine years in Ireland, 1845 to 1848 (DA950.7.M4 1910).

At the time, no one realized that Andrew Merry was actually a woman writer. Her writing style has been described as very masculine and very gothic. Under this name, she also wrote about the occult. In the late 19th and early 20th century, there was a growing interest in spiritualism and occultism. Mildred felt that Leap Castle was the perfect place to hold séances since it had a long history of being haunted.

Leap Castle, County Offaly

Some would say that Mildred helped Leap Castle become known as the most haunted castle in Ireland due to articles she wrote about ghostly activities she experienced in the castle. She also documented her experiences with an entity she called ‘The Elemental’ and published them in journals such as Occult Reivew. Unfortunately, her husband discovered that she was published her writings and forced her to stop. She followed his wishes about not publishing but did not stop writing.

In 1922, Leap Castle was burned during the Irish Civil War. The family was forced to return to England for a short period of time and then back to Ireland to live with family in County Longford. This move back to Ireland was to get compensation for the burning of the castle through the 1923 Compensation to Property Act. Mildred claimed she lost at least two drawers of writings that she had hoped to publish in the future, placing a price of £4,327 on her loss. After many appeals by the government and by Jonathan Darby, the Darby family finally received £6,950 for the burning of Leap Castle. The family never returned to the estate and Mildred never published again under the name of Andrew Merry. She passed away on January 5, 1932.

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Special Collections policy change for visiting classes

Special Collections is making changes to our policy on groups visiting our department, effective immediately.

Generally, there are two situations where groups visit us, and we’d like to clarify our rules to ensure that visitors have a pleasant experience, and to adhere to best practices in the continued preservation of our rare books and manuscripts.

For groups of people visiting the department as part of a tour or demonstration of what The University of Tulsa Special Collections has in our holdings, no more than 35 people will be admitted to the Satin Reading Room.

For groups of people visiting the department to handle our collections as part of primary research or course instruction, the following rules apply:

  • No more than 18 people will be admitted to the Satin Reading Room.
  • Only 3 people may sit at a single table at a time.
  • Only one box from a collection will be placed upon a table at a time.
  • There are additional rules for the Satin Reading Room listed on our Guidelines sheet, available in the lobby.

Please let us know if you would like to bring a class or group to our department. Special Collections is open to the public Monday-Friday, 8am – 4:30pm.

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John Steinbeck

Happy (belated) birthday to John Steinbeck the renowned American novelist – born February 27, 1902 in Salinas, California. Most of Steinbeck’s writings are drawn from his life in the Salina Valley of California and include the social and economic issues of that time period. His parents’ occupations included a county treasurer and a former school teacher. In 1920 Steinbeck attended Stanford University. He dropped out of college in 1925 and decided to work as a manual laborer and freelance writer. His book, The Grapes of Wrath (1939), caught the attention of the public for its realistic portrayal of the Great Depression. After his rise to fame, Steinbeck served as a World War II correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. He died on December 20, 1968 at his home in NYC.

February 5th was the eightieth anniversary of the publication of Of Mice and Men (1937). The title is said to be inspired by the poem “To a Mouse” written by Robert Burns in 1785. This novella depicts the story of two friends searching for ranch work during the Great Depression in the United States. The story depicts the struggle to fulfill the American dream. Special Collections and University Archives has fifteen different editions of Of Mice and Men, including the galley proofs for Of Mice and Men, acquired in 1960 alongside four other modern authors: William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Katherine Mansfield, and Thomas Wolfe. One of our Of Mice and Men editions was published by The Limited Editions Club in New York in 1970. It has an introduction by John T. Winterich and includes twenty-four water colors by Fletcher Martin.

The novella is considered to be based on Steinbeck’s own experience as a traveling worker. It made the Banned and/or Challenged Books from the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century. It was considered to have vulgar and offensive language. It is still required, however, to be read in many middle and high schools to this day.

I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads . . . every damn one of ’em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ’em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land.” Crooks to Lennie, Section 4, Of Mice and Men

Illustrations by Fletcher Martin


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Elizabeth Jennings – 20th Century British Poet

Elizabeth Jennings was a British poet from the twentieth century. She spent most of her life in Oxford England and was educated at St. Anne’s College. For a few years she worked in advertising, libraries, and publishing, then devoted all of her energies to becoming a writer. In her lifetime she published over twenty books of poetry and worked as an editor and critic. Jennings’ Catholic faith was a major influence in her life and much of her poetry centers around this faith and devotion. Her first small booklet of poetry was published in 1953 simply titled Poems. Many of her poems exhibit deep contemplation on her own spirituality and physiological state.

Her poetry was praised for its technical craft and plainspoken objective style and she wrote for both children and adults. In 1955 she won a Somerset Maugham Award and the prize money allowed her to visit Italy. This expedition greatly influenced her life and poetry. In the nineteen-sixties Jennings suffered from mental illness and this difficult time produced one her most famous poem collections The Mind has Mountains, published in 1966. Despite, or perhaps because of, her traditional differences from the other contemporary poets, her works remained popular in spite of changing literary tastes and interests. Jennings died in 2001.

Here are two examples of her published poems.

In a Garden

When the gardener has gone this garden

Looks wistful and seems waiting an event.

It is so spruce, a metaphor of Eden

And even more so since the gardener went,


Quietly godlike, but of course, he had

Not made me promise anything and I

Had no one tempting me to make the bad

Choice. Yet I still felt lost and wonder why.


Even the beech tree from next door which shares

Its shadow with me, seemed a kind of threat.

Everything was too neat, and someone cares


In the wrong way. I need not have stood long

Mocked by the smell of a mown lawn, and yet

I did. Sickness for Eden was so strong.



The radiance of the star that leans on me

Was shining years ago. The light that now

Glitters up there my eyes may never see,

And so the time lag teases me with how


Love that loves now may not reach me until

Its first desire is spent. The star’s impulse

Must wait for eyes to claim it beautiful

And love arrived may find us somewhere else.


The University of Tulsa Special Collections and Archives has a small collection of her notebooks and papers. This collections ranges from 1973 to 1992 and contains working drafts of 2,225 poems. These lined school notebooks are almost entirely full of her poetry with notes and corrections. She usually only wrote one poem per sheet of paper in a seemingly quick and assured manner.  Upon acquisition of this collection it was understood that all of the manuscripts were unpublished works. The themes and topics of these poems range from faith, artists, love, composers, emotions, writers, etc.

A draft poem found in the TU collection, box 4, folder 1 

Love Tricks

He was love – sick, would not speak

To anyone who spoke to him.

This went on week after week.

He was in a dream

Of darkness. Love was only pain.

Those around were worn out now.

This boy must face the world again,

How could he know how,

In less than three or six months, he

Would be fast in love once more?

He will learn soon not to say

“I love” until he’s sure.



“Elizabeth Jennings.” Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 15 Feb. 2002. Accessed 24 Feb. 2017.

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McFarlin Fellows Dinner and Dr. Randall Fuller

Last night, February 16th, members of the Special Collections department had the privilege of attending the first McFarlin Fellows dinner of 2017. The Fellows are an integral group of donors without whose help McFarlin Special Collections and Archives would not be able to purchase new collections that encourage intellectual development for not just TU and Tulsa but also for researchers from around the country and the world.

As always, the night began with a cocktail hour filled with conversation and catching up. Following the cocktail hour in the faculty study lounge, we moved downstairs for dinner. As dinner came to a close, Adrian Alexander, the Dean of McFarlin Library, informed the Fellows of the large number of researchers who have utilized Special Collections recently and the subjects they are studying. He then introduced the speaker for the evening: Randall Fuller, the Chapman Professor of English and Chairperson of the English Department at TU. Dr. Fuller presented his recently published book The Book That Changed America: How Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation. Since its publication at the end of January 2017, it has gained acclaim and has had such praise as “evocatively told” (The Atlantic) and descriptions of Dr. Fuller as a “lively, engaging writer, with an eye for detail” (The New York Times).

Dr. Fuller described to the gathered crowd how Darwin’s On the Origin of Species first came to America. Darwin himself sent 3 copies of the book to America in late 1859 to 3 separate acquaintances. One of these copies was sent to Asa Gray, a highly respected botanist at Harvard. His copy remains at Harvard University and Dr. Fuller was able to examine it while doing his research for the book.

The book opens with a small dinner party where Charles Loring Brace (cousin of Asa Gray who had borrowed Gray’s copy of Darwin’s book), Amos Bronson Alcott (father of Louisa May Alcott) and Henry David Thoreau at Franklin B. Sanborn’s home on New Year’s Day 1860. These men began discussing the recent execution of John Brown which led them to discuss abolition. Charles Loring Brace began telling the others gathered of Darwin’s theory that all species of animals and plants had developed from a common ancestor. Although Darwin left humans out of his theory, it was easy for the men to assume it would apply to humankind as well and they used it to support their ideas of abolition. This was part of a much larger nationwide debate that would eventually lead to the Civil War. Dr. Fuller’s book follows essentially 3 threads of the effects of Darwin’s book in America: religion, politics, and ideology. If Dr. Fuller’s book is half as interesting and dramatic as his lecture, then it is an engrossing read.

For more information on Dr. Fuller and his other works see his page on the TU website at: To find out more about the McFarlin Fellows visit the library’s page on them: 





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Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer was an early to mid-twentieth century British author credited with the creation of the regency romance genre. She also wrote several works in the mystery and historical fiction genres. Heyer’s novels were popular to her contemporaries, though far underappreciated by her critics. Many of her books and short stories are still in print today. Her novels have often been described as humorous, witty, and detailed with a high degree of historical accuracy. Heyer devoted much of her time to researching the periods in which her characters lived and created many notebooks with historical facts and quotations.  Her novels provide a very accurate view of upper class life in the Georgian and Regency eras. The characters’ dialogue and their use of idioms and slang add to the sense of reality and accuracy.

Heyer was a very private person and never in her life time provided interviews about her life or writing process. It was not until ten years after her death that her family and estate provided access to her personal papers, photographs, and interviews of her surviving family and friends. A biography was written by Jane Aiken Hodge in 1984 titled The Private World of Georgette Heyer. This book provides information on Heyer’s writing and research process and nominal insights into her private life. It is known that Heyer became friends with several of her publishers and many of her letters discuss not only business matters but also friendly bits of news and humor. The University of Tulsa Special Collections and Archives has a small collection of these letters to her literary agent L. P. Moore and his assistant Norah Perriam, at Christy & Moore, Ltd. Heyer’s personality and sense of humor are evident in these letters and it is quite easy to see she was a witty human being but also a writer who stayed on topic while still providing an amusing flow of natural conversation.

Of her novels my personal favorites are:

The Masqueraders – 1928. This is a Twelfth-night like adventure story where two siblings must cross-dress to avoid recognition as former Jacobites, set in England in the year 1745.   Duels, highwaymen, and intrigue abound.

Powder and Patch – 1930. This charming story, set in mid eighteenth century centers on the romance of two young friends. Philip, who has loved Cleone his whole life, has been rejected by her due to his lack of polish and refinement. He travels to Paris to gain courtly manners and dress style. Upon his return to England Cleone discovers she does not enjoy the frivolous foppish Philip and truly loves Philip for himself. This story is filled with humorous and witty repartee that ensures the reader many moments of laughter.



Hodge, Jane A. The Private World of Georgette Heyer. London: Bodley Head, 1984. Print.

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Marie Edna Whitehill Kendall College Photographs

Marie Edna Whitehill was originally from Chelsea, Oklahoma and attended Kendall College. She graduated in 1911, only four years after the school had been moved from its original location in Muskogee to Tulsa, where it remains to this day. During Marie’s time at the University there were only three buildings on campus: the original Kendall Hall (torn down in 1972) and two others. McFarlin library, the heart of campus, was not constructed until 1930. The University continued to grow and officially became The University of Tulsa in 1920. This collection of photographs (acquired in 2007) shows scenes of everyday life on campus. As a current student at The University of Tulsa, the photographs are intriguing because they highlight the differences between the university today and over a hundred years ago. Marie has a photograph showing a member of the Kendall College baseball team, an athletic team that no longer exists at the University. An image of Kendall Hall shows the drastic difference between the original building and the current Kendall Hall that sits on campus. She also has an image of the inside of a dorm room featuring banners and photographs on the wall next to the bed. It is interesting to note that even back then students liked to add their own personal touches to make the dorms feel more like home.

Dorm Room

There are several group photographs of Marie and her friends. Napoleon Bonaparte Johnson is in a few of these. After graduating from Kendall College he would go on to become a justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court and to be the first Oklahoma Supreme Court justice to be impeached.

Group of friends. Napoleon Bonaparte Johnson is the first person of the right.

There are many other intriguing things to note in the entirety of the photographic collection. The full collection can be viewed at the Special Collections and University Archives website.

Baseball Player Marie Edna Whitehill

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Andre Deutsch Collection

The Andre Deutsch collection [1988:013] is the largest in Special Collections and University Archives. It contains editorial, production, and publicity files for approximately 2000 books published by the Andre Deutsch London firm. Most of the folders hold first drafts and the exchange of ideas between author and editor. This collection includes correspondence with authors, such as Jean Rhys, Stevie Smith, Timothy Mo, V.S. Naipaul and many others. It also consists of the work of Deutsch editor Diana Athill – who is considered to have influenced women’s writing in Britain.

A second shipment of Deutsch material arrived at Special Collections in 1989. It included the Children’s Literature material and likely the Rhys/Atwood correspondence. This collection is organized into three series. In the first and third series, the folders are organized by author first, then title. In the second series, the materials remain in the organization system used by the firm. Some of the Jean Rhys material was rehoused with the Jean Rhys archive, Coll. No. 1976.011.

Deutsch is definitely our largest but least written about collection due to its vast and versatile material. It is difficult to narrow in on one topic when there are 737 boxes from which to choose. I have chosen to write an excerpt on Toni Frissell.


Toni Frissell was an American photographer. She first became involved in the industry after her brother, Varick, introduced her to photography. Varick’s death and her lack of interest in acting led to a brief occupation working for Vogue as a caption writer. She was fired from this position for her poor writing skills, but soon published her first photograph in Town and Country. Her images earned her a contract back at Vogue under the direction of Cecil Beaton. In her later work, she would take high fashion photographs for Harper’s Bazaar, celebrity portraits for Life magazine, and active women photographs for Sports Illustrated.

Pictured below: Frissell at 10 Downing Street London to photograph Churchill.


Frissell is also well-known for her photographs of World War II. She partnered with groups such as the American Red Cross, Eighth Army Air Force, and Women’s Army Corps. She took all kinds of war photographs, some of which were used as war media. Frissell had strong similarities with other female photographers at the time, such Louise Dahl Wolfe and Lee Miller, who also worked for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

The Toni Frissell Collection was first published in 1994 by the Andre Deutsch firm. This collection now resides at the Library of Congress and includes over 300,000 photographs dating from 1935 to 1970.

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The Weird and Wonky: the stuff you didn’t know we had in the Special Collections and Archives

For the start of the 2017 semester the Graduate Assistants (Jennifer Murphy, Amanda Vestal, and Hannah Johnson), at the McFarlin Library Special Collections and Archives, have created an exhibit which features some of the stranger items in our collections. Over the years, many people have donated various books, documents, and works of art. Among these more conventional donations we have also received some rather remarkable and odd items. Many of these items were haphazardly thrown in with large donations without much explanation for their presence.

In the Anna Kavan Papers we discovered used hypodermic needles. After some basic research about this author we learned that Kavan was a heroin addict most of her adult life. When processing this collection, the librarians found the needles acting as staples holding papers together.


In the Vann family archive we found a trove of weird items, some were very personal objects. The Vann family were an important and prominent Cherokee family, originally from Georgia, who later settled in Indian Territory Oklahoma in the mid-1800s. In this collection we discovered shoelaces, a meat cleaver, handmade lace collars, baby shoes, and a pair of dentures made with human teeth.


For this exhibit we also included several items from the seemingly random John W. Shleppey collection. From this collection we have displayed a man’s wedding ring, a bag of rocks, miniature playing cards, and a mysterious object made from two walnut shells and two small wooden stakes. We have postulated that this mysterious item could be a child’s toy, a fishing bobber, or even a drop spindle. If anyone has any information or ideas about this item we would be most appreciative to hear from you.


The items mentioned in this post are only a taste of what we have displayed in our exhibit hall and these items are only a fraction of the interesting items we have in our many collections. This exhibit is free and open to the public Monday – Friday 8am-5pm and will be on display until March 26th

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Holiday Hours

Happy Holidays!

The Special Collections department will be closing at 5:00 PM on Thursday, December 22rd for the holiday break. We will reopen again at 8:00 AM on Tuesday, January 3th. Have a safe and happy holiday season!

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