Dame Edith Sitwell

Today celebrates the birthday of British poet and critic Edith Sitwell. Sitwell is celebrated as one of the most important voices of twentieth-century English poetry, next to T.S. Eliot. Born in England in 1887 to indifferent parents, Sitwell spent a large part of her life with her Governess, Helen Rootham. Sitwell never married, though had various romantic attachments to notoriously unavailable men.

Sitwell’s early poetry was often viewed as “experimental” and critics had mixed reviews to her effort of change in style. Her first poem, The Drowned Suns, was published in 1913. Between the years 1916 and 1921 she edited Wheels, an annual poetic anthology in which she compiled with her two brothers. The three of them were generally known in the literary world as “The Sitwells”.

Through the 1920s and 1930s, Sitwell continued to write poetry, such as the famed Façade (1922), a series of abstract poems set to music by William Walton. The Times commented that Sitwell’s best work was written in the 1920s, including Troy Park (1925), The Sleeping Beauty (1924), and Bucolic Comedies (1923).

The outbreak of the second World War generated some of Sitwell’s most memorable works, including The Shadow of Cain and  Still Falls the Rain, a poem about the London blitz and put to music by Benjamin Britten.

Sitwell may be most well known for her eccentric personality, though she always insisted that she was not eccentric, “It’s just that I am more alive than most people”. Her outspoken manner and controversial opinions led to some harsh criticism, including the satirical wrath of Noel Coward who wrote a skit about Sitwell and her brothers entitled The Swiss Family Whittlebot. After may years of ill health, Sitwell died in 1964.

Special Collections holds a collection of correspondence by Edith, her brothers Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell, and authors of biographies of Edith. We also hold many of her collections of poems and novels. One such letter is from Edith to her brother Sacheverell, in which she calls him “My darling Sachie”.

 

 

If you would like view our collection of Edith Sitwell, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open by appointment only Monday through Friday 8am-4:30pm. We are open to questions at speccoll@utulsa.edu

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Greek Mythology Sketches

One of the current projects of Special Collections is taking inventory of the papers of Redmond S. Cole. Redmond Cole (1881-1959) was a Pawnee County attorney, Mayor of Pawnee, District Attorney, and Judge for the 21st district from 1916 to 1923. He was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and was the head of the genealogy department for the Tulsa chapter. His papers include business and legal letters, personal letters, family photographs, genealogy of his family tree, newspaper clippings, and political pamphlets. A recent discovery in this archive is lecture notes and sketches by his wife, Mary Thompson Cole (nee Cross). She was a talented artist as well as a genealogist for both the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution. Here are some of her sketches from a Greek mythology and history lecture dated 1906-1907. 

This collection is still being processed, but is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open by appointment only Monday through Friday 8am-4:30pm. We are open to questions at speccoll@utulsa.edu

 

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“Worlds filled with poetry and prose and fact and fantasy”

Celebrated for her poetry and children’s literature books, Eleanor Farjeon was born into a literary family. With a British novelist Father, it is no surprise that Eleanor and two of her three brothers went on to literary fame themselves. Eleanor grew up in the late 19th century and spent most of her time in what she called her Little Bookroom. She beautifully goes on to state, “that dusty bookroom, whose windows were never opened, through whose panes the summer sun struck a dingy shaft where gold specks danced and shimmered, opened magic casements for me through which I looked out on other worlds and times than those I lived in: worlds filled with poetry and prose and fact and fantasy”.

With a childhood full of family holidays and London’s literary and theatrical circles, Eleanor got most of her inspiration from her early years. During World War I, her family moved to Sussex, whose beautiful landscapes and village traditions inspired her later work. Her first few works were intended to be for adults, rather than children. One of her most famous works, Martin Pippin in the Apple-Orchard (1921), was actually sent in installments to WWI soldier Victor Haslam while he was serving in France. This later became known as a children’s book and began Eleanor’s fame as a writer for children.

Eleanor went on to publish multiple stories and poetry collections. Her 1955 publication, The Little Bookroom, won the Carnegie Medal and the Hans Christian Andersen medal. She received the American Regina medal in 1959, and the Children’s Book Circle in England established the Eleanor Farjeon award in her honor. Many of her works include illustrations by famed artist Edward Ardizzone and have beautiful covers.

McFarlin Special Collections holds many of Eleanor Farjeon’s works, with many of them inscribed by the writer herself.

We even hold letters of Eleanor to the famed Rebecca West.

If you would like to explore our collection of Eleanor Farjeon’s beautiful pieces, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open by appointment only Monday through Thursday 8am-4:30pm, and Friday 8-11:30am. We are open to questions at speccoll@utulsa.edu

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l’Amazone

Natalie Clifford Barney is an American writer and queer icon of the 20th century, known for her literary salon in Paris which she hosted for over 60 years. Inspired by the works of Sappho, Barney is known for her themes in lesbianism, feminism, and pacifism. She opposed monogamy and had relationships with many notable artists of the time including Liane de Pougy, Élisabeth de Gramont, Renee Vivian, Dolly Wilde, and Romaine Brooks.

Barney was born in Dayton, Ohio to an extremely wealthy family in 1876. Rebellious in nature, Barney was often mentioned in newspapers for her unconventional habits, such as riding horses astride rather than sidesaddle. Such actions coined her the nickname l’Amazone (The Amazon) by the poet Remy de Gourmont. Barney published her first book of poems, Quelques Portraits-Sonnets de Femmes, in 1920. According to biographer Suzanne Rodriguez, Barney became the first woman poet to openly write about the love of women since Sappho. Reviews were positive, though most glossed over the lesbian themes of the poems and assumed she was speaking of men. The first newspaper to celebrate her sexuality was quickly bought out by her wealthy and influential father, who destroyed the publisher’s remaining stock and printing plates. To escape her father’s control, she published her next book, Cinq Petits Dialogues Grecs, in 1901 under the pseudonym Tryphé. After her father’s death in 1902, she once again published under her own name. Barney published several more poetry collections, epigram collections, and memoirs, but she was more interested in leading a poetic life rather than writing it.

Her literary salon was opened in 1909 at her home 20, Rue Jacob in Paris. She hosted social gatherings every Friday to discuss literature, art, music and any other topic of interest. She hosted both men and women, but focused on women writers and their works, thus creating the informal “Women’s Academy” as a response to the men-only French Academy of the time. The salon was known for its international character, and artists from all over would gather for entertainment such as poetry readings and theatricals. The salon was also considered a safe haven during World War I for those opposed to the war.

Of all of her relationships, Barney’s longest was with American painter Romaine Brooks. The two met in 1915, and for the next fifty years had a loving relationship. Due to Brooks independent nature, they built a summer home with two separate wings joined by a dining room, which they called Villa Trait d’Union. The two women spent much of their time apart, but cultivated their relationship through letters and artistic works.

Here at Special Collections, we hold many of the letters between Natalie Clifford Barney and Romaine Brooks, dating from 1920-1969. Brooks starts each of her letters with “Darling”, whereas Barney begins her with “Angel”.

 

If you would like to view our collection of correspondence between Natalie Clifford Barney and Romaine Brooks, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open by appointment only Monday through Thursday 8am-4:30pm, and Friday 8-11:30am. We are open to questions at speccoll@utulsa.edu

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Commemoration of Tulsa Race Massacre

Today we recognize the 101 year commemoration of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. During the atrocities, 35 blocks of the prospering Black neighborhood of Greenwood were burned and destroyed by white mobs. Hundreds of people were murdered and thousands were left homeless. The event remains one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history. For many decades, this massacre was kept quiet. McFarlin Library Special Collections houses materials related to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. This online exhibit is designed to show the photographs and newspaper materials that have been collected by and donated to the department over the decades. The gallery can be found here, https://exhibits.utulsa.edu/galleries/ 

Be aware that some images depict dead bodies and extreme graphic mutilation. They are included because the events of the 1921 Massacre were real and deserve our respectful attention.

“Little Africa on Fire, Tulsa Race Riot, June 1, 1921” Coll. No. 1989-004-5-02

 

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Special Collections Director I. Marc Carlson, 1962-2022

Special Collections and University Archives is sad to announce that our department director, I. Marc Carlson, died on May 21st, 2022, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Marc worked at McFarlin Library for more than thirty-five years, spending fifteen of those in the archives. He loved his work dearly and was devoted to research in the areas of local and state history, with a special emphasis on historical shoemaking, the preservation of indigenous history, and the Tulsa Race Massacre.

He will be missed by his many friends and colleagues.

His obituary with more information about memorial services may be found here.

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The Tribes of North America

Today we are focusing on the illustrated history of some of the Tribes of North America. Let’s celebrate the thriving culture that has prevailed to the current day. Be sure to support Native-owned businesses, read books by Indigenous writers, and focus on the Tribes in your area. Educate yourselves and others on Indigenous history and the importance of the land and water that we occupy.

Jim Snell, Cherokee. Dated November 25,1895

Fannie Whirlwind, Cheyenne.

Unidentified children, Hopi.

Unidentified Tribe. Dated August 1970.

Otter Belt, Tosh-A-Wah, and Horseback. Comanche Chiefs.

Luther Samaunt, Kiowa. Dated 1934.

San Ildefonso Pueblo.

Unidentified child.

Bessie Big Owl, Sioux. Dated June 17, 1913.

Unidentified Tribes.

Chinquilla, Southern Cheyenne.

Unidentified dancers, Cherokee.

Skool-Kahs Totem, Haida.

Samuel Checotah, Creek Chief.

If you would like to view more photographs or explore any other part of the Indians of North America historical manuscripts and documents, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open by appointment only Monday through Friday 8am-4:30pm. Open to questions at speccoll@@utulsa.edu

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Sophocles

Greek tragedian Sophocles (roughly 496 BCE-406 BCE) is one of classical Athens’s great playwrights whose work has survived the test of time. As the younger contemporary of Aeschylus and the older contemporary of Euripides, Sophocles wrote over 120 plays. However, only 7 have survived in a complete form.

Sophocles grew up in the village of Colonus outside of Attica to a wealthy family and received a very high education. His literary career began in 468 BCE at a Dionysian dramatic festival in which he defeated the renowned Aeschylus. Sophocles competed in festivals about 30 times, meaning he wrote around 123 dramas. He never received lower than second place.

Many major and minor dramatic innovations are credited to Sophocles. This includes the addition of a third actor to dramatic performances, deepened character development and character arcs, and the introduction of scenery paintings (credited by Aristotle, though other scholars disagree). His surviving plays include Ajax, Antigone, Trachinian Women, Oedipus the King, Electra, Philoctetes, and Oedipus at Colonus.

At Special Collections, we hold two special editions of Sophocles’ dramas dating 1544 and 1568 CE. Both have text in Greek and titles and commentary in Latin.

PA4413.A2 1568 Wilson

The 1544 edition has the inscription  “formerly belonged to the Rev. Thomas Kidd … and contains a few memoranda in the handwriting of the late Richard Porson, Regius Professor of Greek in the University of Cambridge”.

 

PA4413 A2 1544

We also have a miniature book of Sophocles plays, measuring 9.5cm by 13.5cm.

PA4413.S6 1891 Connolly Mini

To end, I will leave you with the riddle the Sphinx posed to Oedipus to cross into Thebes and end the plague she set upon the land, thus become king.

“What walks on four feet in the morning, two in the afternoon and three at night?”

If you would like to explore the works of Sophocles we hold at Special Collections, we are open Monday through Friday from 8-4:30pm through appointment only. We are open to questions at speccoll@utulsa.edu

 

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Former Provost, Joyce scholar, and archival enthusiast Thomas F. Staley has died

Dr. Thomas F. Staley, former Provost, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Chair of Modern Literature at The University of Tulsa, died March 29th, 2022. He was 86 years old.

Born on August 13, 1935 in Pittsburgh, Staley grew up in Tulsa. He earned a master’s in literature from TU and eventually returned to campus to teach literature for 25 years. During that time, he proved to be a champion for Modernist literature and a powerhouse when it came to collecting archival materials and developing McFarlin Library’s Special Collections into the rich trove it is today.

During his time at The University of Tulsa, Staley was known for his charismatic enthusiasm and was instrumental to the acquisition of papers and collections belonging to literary giants. In addition to our James Joyce materials, we are grateful and esteemed to hold the papers of Joyce biographer Richard Ellmann, Jean Rhys, Muriel Spark, Rebecca West, Anna Kavan, Stevie Smith, D.H. Lawrence, Ezra Pound, Dorothy Richardson, and Cyril Connolly. Other collections brought to Special Collections during Dr. Staley’s tenure include materials belonging to Walt Whitman, Siegfried Sassoon, Christopher Isherwood, Robert Graves, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, John Dos Passos, Alice B. Toklas, W.H. Auden, Malcolm Lowry, and Katherine Mansfield.

Along with his teaching duties, many books on Joyce, and campaigning for TU to grow its literary archival collections, Dr. Staley is known for founding the James Joyce Quarterly in 1963. Started in his garage with the help of a few students, the journal has continued publication for nearly 60 years, having gained a well-earned international reputation for insightful articles on Joyce and modern literature.

For those of us who work in Special Collections, we see every day the contributions and passion of Dr. Staley and the many others who have helped grow our holdings over the years. We are privileged to work with items like Rebecca West’s notes on the Nuremburg Trials, to hold James Joyce’s necktie in our hands, and to introduce University of Tulsa students to the world-class archives just upstairs in McFarlin Library.

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Oscar Wilde

St. Patrick’s Day may have passed, but here at Special Collections we are always finding a good reason to celebrate Irish roots. Today we are focusing on Irish poet, playwright, and writer Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde. Oscar Wilde was part of the late 19th century aesthetic movement in England, which focused on advocating art for art’s sake. He is remembered most for his comedic plays and single novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Wilde was born in Dublin on October 16, 1854 to a father who was a surgeon and a mother who was a poet and Irish revolutionary. He studied at Trinity College in Dublin as well as Oxford, where he became involved in the aesthetics movement. After graduation, Wilde moved to London where he published his first collection of poetry in 1881, titled Poems. On May 29, 1884, Wilde married Constance Lloyd, a well-read and outspoken daughter of a prominent barrister. They had two sons, Cyril in 1885 and Vyvyan in 1886. The next six years are said to be his most creative, with Wilde becoming editor of a fashionable magazine, Woman’s World, and the publication of his two collections of children’s stories, The Happy Prince and Other Tales in 1888, and The House of Pomegranates in 1892.

By 1889, Wilde had left the editorship of Woman’s World to write his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, which was met with critical protest. Though the novel is filled with witty dialogue and beautiful descriptive passages, people were appalled by its implied homoerotic themes. Wilde published three more plays between 1893 and 1895, all highly acclaimed and firmly established Wilde as a playwright.

In 1891, Wilde met Oxford undergraduate Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas and they soon became lovers. The two were inseparable until 1895, when Wilde was accused of homosexuality by Douglas’s father, the Marquis of Queensberry, and was arrested. He was found guilty of “gross indecency” and was sentenced to two years of hard labor. While in prison, Wilde composed a letter to Douglas entitled De Profundis an eloquent reflection upon his love turned to bitterness and deep attachment he felt for Douglas. He reflects upon his time in prison and the ridicule he was subjected to with emphasis on the importance of individualism, imagination, self-expression, and self-development. Upon his release, he gave the letter to his close friend and lover Robert Ross to be sent to Douglas and to eventually be published.

After being released, Wilde went on to publish The Ballad of Reading Gaol in 1898, a response to the agony he experienced while imprisoned. At the time of his conviction, his wife Constance had taken the two children to Switzerland where they changed their name to “Holland”. Wilde spent the last few years of his life wandering Europe and staying with friends. He died in Paris at the age of 46 on November 30, 1900 from meningitis, due to a reoccurring infection he received while in prison.

Here in Special Collections, we hold a vast amount if information on Oscar Wilde from our collection of Richard Ellmann papers. Ellmann did extensive research on the life and writings of Wilde, which amasses to about 37 boxes of archival information! Included in this collection is even an original letter from Oscar Wilde dated from 1889.

We also house many editions of Wilde’s works, including many early editions from the late 19th century.

To end, I leave you with a passage from Wilde’s De Profundis:

“Society, as we have constituted it, will have no place for me, has none to offer; but Nature, whose sweet rains fall on unjust and just alike, will have clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undisturbed.  She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.”

If you would like to explore the vast collection and works of Oscar Wilde, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open 8-4:30pm Monday through Friday, available through appointment only. We are open to questions at speccoll@utulsa.edu

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