Thursday, July 27, 2006

Best Book Memoirs

A poster on the Ex-Libris listserv last night asked for suggestions of the "best memoirs by rare book collectors or dealers" - the responses (from some of the best in the rare book community) have been so excellent that I thought I'd compile the list and share them [updates have been added, and the suggestions are now in order alphabetically by author]. Biographies are included, links are to the LT page if available:

- Altick, Richard D.: The Scholar Adventurers (most often recommended, and highly).
- Basbanes, Nicholas: A Gentle Madness, Patience & Fortitude, A Splendor of Letters, Among the Gently Mad, Every Book Its Reader.
- Baxter, John: A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict.
- Collins, Paul: Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books.
- Dickinson, Donald C.: John Carter: The Taste and Technique of a Bookman.
- Everitt, Charles P.: The Adventures of a Treasure Hunter.
- Gekoski, Rick: Tolkien's Gown and Other Stories of Famous Authors and Rare Books, published in the US as Nabokov's Butterfly and Other Stories of Famous Authors and Rare Books.
- Kraus, H.P.: A Rare Book Saga.
- Lake, Carlton: Confessions of a Literary Archaeologist.
- Lansky, Aaron: Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books.
- Lewis, Wilmarth: Collector's Progress (an excellent website on Lewis and the Walpole Library is here).
- Magee, David: Infinite Riches: The Adventures of a Rare Book Dealer.
- Markham, Sheila: Book of Booksellers: Conversations with the Antiquarian Book Trade 1991-2003 (some info here).
- Meyer, David: Memoirs of a Book Snake and Inclined Toward Magic: Encounters with Books, Collectors and Conjurors.
- Milne, Christopher Robin: The Path Through the Trees.
- Muir, Percy: Minding my Own Business: An Autobiography.
- Newton, A. Edward: Amenities of Book-Collecting and Kindred Affections, A Magnificent Farce and Other Diversions of a Book-Collector, The Greatest Book in the World and Other Papers.
- Powell, Lawrence Clark: Bookman's Progress: Selected Writings, A Passion for Books, among others.
- Randall, David Anton: Dukedom Large Enough: Reminiscences of a Rare Book Dealer 1929-1956.
- Roberts, William: The Book-Hunter in London: Historical and Other Studies of Collectors and Collecting.
- Rosenwald, Lessing: Recollections of a Collector.
- Rostenberg, Leona and Madeleine B. Stern: Old Books in the Old World: Reminiscences of Book Buying Abroad; New Worlds in Old Books; Old Books, Rare Friends: Two Literary Sleuths and Their Shared Passion.
- Rota, Anthony: Books in the Blood.
- Sims, George: The Rare Book Game, More on the Rare Book Game, Last of the Rare Book Game, A Life in Catalogue and Other Essays.
- Sowerby, E. Milicent; Rare People and Rare Books.
- Steloff, Frances and W.G. Rogers, Wise Men Fish Here.
- Storm, Colton and Howard Peckham: Invitation to Book Collecting.
- Tanselle, G. Thomas: The Pleasures of Being a Scholar-Collector.
- Weissman, Stephen: "What use is Bibliography? The Life and Opinions of an Antiquarian Bookseller" (PBSA, v. 89.2; 06/1995).
- West, Herbert F.: The Impecunious Amateur Looks Back: The Autobiography of a Bookman, The Mind on the Wing: A Book for Readers and Collectors, Sunny Intervals and others.
- Winterich, John: Primer of Book Collecting (several editions, some co-authored by Dave Randall).
- Wolf, Edwin: Rosenbach.
- Wrigley, Arthur: "From a Correspondent" in The Book Collector 52, no. 4
(2003): 490-7 and Nicholas Barker, "Arthur Edward Wrigley (1865-1952)" in the same issue, pages 529-36.

Slightly off-topic but still interesting:
- Benjamin, Walter: "Unpacking my Library," in Illuminations.
- Harvey, Miles: The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime.
- Highet, Gilbert: People, Places, and Books.
- Martin, William: Harvard Yard.
- Towner, Wesley: The Elegant Auctioneer.

Additionally, collector Jerry Morris provides this extensive list of books pertaining to collecting and collectors in England; another good source for this will be the forthcoming Out of Print and Into Profit: A History of the Rare and Secondhand Book Trade in Britain in the 20th Century (to be published this fall by the British Library and Oak Knoll Press).

Wow, I have a lot of reading to do!


Ed said...

Great list. Thanks for compiling it. I'm surprised no one on the ExLibris list mentioned Holbrook Jackson's Anatomy of Bibliomania. I always thought that was one of the classics. And a couple others that make my list are Rosenbach's Books and Bidders (not the Wolf bio, Rosenbach penned this one himself) and Shakespeare and Company by Sylvia Beach.

Of note, just because I like them are Fishers of Books by Barton Currie and a slim chapbook of poems, Lyrics from a Library by Clinton Scollard (1917) featuring verses entitled, "The Book-Lover," "On a Copy of Keats' Endymion," "The Bookstall," "A Bookman's Pleasures." Hard to find, but worth the purchase if you do.

By the way, Jeremy, I really like your blog.


Kurt Zimmerman said...

Don't overlook one of the great classics--Henry Stevens. Recollections of James Lenox and the Formation of His Library (1886, 1951 edition edited with notes by Victor Hugo Paltsits). The book has few rivals in the genre.

karen! said...

Thanks for posting this list...
I'm just getting around to going through all those ExLibris messages ;)