Lincoln at the Lilly

The Oldroyd mss., the letters and papers of Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd (1841-1930), a museum director and a well-known collector of Lincolniana, includes a pencil sketch rendered by Union Army Major General Lew Wallace (1827-1905) of Lincoln assassination co-conspirator Lewis Powell (1844-1865), a.k.a. “Lewis Paine” (often misspelled as “Payne”). The 24-year-old Florida-born Powell attacked and grievously wounded United States Secretary of State William H. Seward in the bedroom of the Cabinet member’s Washington, D.C. home on April 14, 1865. General Wallace, best known as the author of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1880), was a member of the nine person military tribunal that found Powell (tried as “Payne”) and three others guilty in the conspiracy that killed Lincoln and injured Seward and others. The general’s “drawn from life” sketch of Powell (here “Payne”) is undated, but the assassin and his co-conspirators were tried, found guilty, and later hanged on July 7, 1865 at the Arsenal Penitentiary in Washington, D.C.


Sketch of Lewis Payne
Pencil sketch of Payne by Army Major General Lew Wallace.

Lewis Payne carte de visite
Carte-de-visite photograph taken ca. 1865.

The Lilly Library is a major repository for manuscripts, books, and other items related to Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), the nation’s 16th president. The respective links below provide descriptions of these Lincoln-related manuscript collections and a short title list of miscellaneous uncataloged materials including a bronzed Lincoln life mask:

www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/lilly/mss/subject/lincoln.html

www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/shorttitle/lincoln.html

A fuller description of many of these holdings may be found in the Lilly’s in-house Manuscripts Index Catalog while monographs may be located in IUCAT and the Public Card Catalog in the library’s Reading Room.

In addition to the Lincoln-related collections, the Lilly also holds the papers of General Lew Wallace including the original manuscript for Ben-Hur and other novels (see collection descriptions at www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/lilly/mss/index.php?p=wallace and www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/lilly/mss/index.php?p=wallace2).

David K. Frasier, Reference Librarian, Lilly Library

Sci-fi and Mystery writer/editor extraordinaire

William Anthony Parker White [Anthony Boucher]

William Anthony Parker White, better known under his pseudonym Anthony Boucher, has since his death in 1968 achieved iconic status as a writer, editor, book reviewer, and critic of mystery, science fiction, and fantasy literature during the mid–1930s to late–1960s. The Mystery Writers of America three times bestowed upon Boucher its highest honor, the Edgar, in the field of criticism while the eponymous Bouchercon, an annual convention held since 1970 of writers, publishers, and fans of mystery and detective fiction, continues to ensure his immortality in the field. The White mss. in the Lilly Library contains an estimated 30,000 items ranging from Boucher’s editorial and personal correspondence with now legendary writers (Ray Bradbury, Raymond Chandler, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson) to his own script work for radio (Sherlock Holmes, Ellery Queen), television (Kraft Suspense Theater), and print anthologies like Best Detective Stories of the Year and A Treasury of Great Science Fiction. In addition to manuscripts for many of his novels (Nine Times Nine, 1940), the collection also contains Boucher’s translations for works by Pierre Boileau, Jorge Luis Borges, and Belgian mystery writer Georges Simenon. Of special interest are the transcripts of interviews with noted science fiction writers (Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, James Blish, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein, Rod Serling) conducted for a Playboy magazine panel discussion moderated by Boucher entitled, “1984 and Beyond.” The final text for the discussion was published in two parts in Playboy (July & August 1963).

A brief description for the White mss. is available at http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/lilly/mss/html/white.html. A more detailed inventory for the collection including a partial list of correspondents, a list of writings (articles, short stories, scripts, screenplays, translations) is available in the Reading Room of the Lilly Library.

The Lilly Library also holds the Mystery Writers of America mss. Access to this largely uncataloged collection requires advance notice. Please contact the Curator of Manuscripts for additional information (liblilly [at] indiana.edu).

—David K. Frasier, Reference Librarian, Lilly Library

View more images

Lovecraft at the Lilly Library

Starrett letter_small, Dec. 6, 1927

In an April 15, 1927 letter to Vincent Starrett, fellow horror fiction writer Frank Belknap Long, Jr. recommended the work of an author largely unknown outside the insular world of pulp magazines like Weird Tales. “Howard Lovecraft says (writes) that he has sent you several tales,” wrote Long. “His best stories are really immense! Not in Poe, Bierce, or M.R. James have I found such an abundance of sheer spiritual horror. He writes of great bat-winged things from outer space that brood over this and other worlds–he doesn’t secure his astounding effects by applying the conventional pinch of salt to open wounds. His methods are restrained and genuine. He works up his unhallowed atmosphere slowly until his prose fairly glitters with the light that never was – witch-fires glow on every page…”

Although H.P. Lovecraft (1890–1937) had only one book (The Shadow Over Innsmouth, 1936) published in his lifetime, the Providence, Rhode Island born author of weird fiction doggedly submitted his work to various publishers and suffered numerous rejections. In a series of five letters written in 1927–1928 to Starrett, an occasional writer of weird tales destined to be best remembered as a noted Sherlock Holmes scholar, Lovecraft candidly discussed his “sadly uneven” fiction and noted his chief literary influences (see image 1 – Dec. 6, 1927). A prodigious correspondent with other writers in the genre and its fans, Lovecraft was saved from literary obscurity by August Derleth (1909–1971), a precocious teenager when he first began corresponding with the author in the mid-1920s. Soon after Lovecraft’s untimely death in 1937, Derleth with friend Donald Wandrei (1908–1987) founded Arkham House in Sauk City, Wisconsin to collect and publish his writings. The publisher’s initial offering, The Outsider and Others (1939), was limited to 1200 copies and sold poorly. Today, the book is highly prized by collectors as are all Arkham House editions of Lovecraft’s work. The Lilly Library holds many Arkham House first editions including those pictured: Beyond the Wall of Sleep (1943), The Dunwich Horror and Others (1963), and Dagon and Other Macabre Tales (1965).

In addition to numerous monographs by and about Lovecraft accessible through IUCAT, the Lilly Library is home to manuscript collections of interest to the study of the writer Stephen King has identified as “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.” The Starrett mss. contains the above cited correspondence while the Derleth mss. II features the Wisconsin writer’s thoughts on Arkham House. The Mosig mss., the letters and papers of academic Dirk Walter Mosig, chronicle his editorship of the Lovecraftian review, The Miskatonic, and features detailed correspondence with two of Lovecraft’s biographers, L. Sprague de Camp (Lovecraft: A Biography, 1975) and the aforementioned Frank Belknap Long, Jr. (Howard Phillips Lovecraft: Dreamer on the Nightside, 1975).

–David K. Frasier, Reference Librarian

View more images

Targets: Karloff and Bogdanovich

Boris Karloff mask

Boris Karloff (born William Henry Pratt on November 23, 1887 in Camberwell, London) was a 44-year-old journeyman actor when director James Whale, unable to convince Bela Lugosi to accept the role, cast the mild-mannered Englishman as “the Monster” in the 1931 Universal horror film, Frankenstein. The actor’s sensitive portrayal of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s creature made him an immediate star, but forever typecast him in increasingly low-budget horror and science fiction films from the 1930s to the late 1960s. In 1966, the veteran actor who had made some of the most notable genre films in the history of motion pictures (Bride of Frankenstein, 1935; The Body Snatcher, 1945) had been reduced to appearing in cheapie productions like The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, although that same year he had done the winning narration for the now-classic animated television production of Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

In 1968, 29-year-old film critic turned director Peter Bogdanovich gave Karloff his last memorable screen role as aging horror movie star, “Byron Orlok,” in Targets. Bogdanovich’s directorial debut (which he also produced, co-wrote, and edited) was inspired by ex-Marine Charles Whitman’s deadly 96 minute rampage on the campus of University of Texas-Austin on August 1, 1966. Hours after murdering his mother and wife in separate incidents, Whitman amassed a small arsenal of high-powered rifles, and positioning himself atop the university’s Tower, killed 13, and wounded 31 before being shot to death by a campus security guard. In a more sedate scene from Targets featured on YouTube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfXOx04d6m4) , Bogdanovich (seated on couch) convinces Karloff to retell W. Somerset Maugham’s short piece, “Appointment in Samarra” (1933). Karloff died on February 2, 1969, but not before footage taken of him in late 1968 was added to four low-budget films shot in Mexico: Cult of the Dead, Alien Terror, House of Evil, and The Fear Chamber.

The Bogdanovich mss, purchased from the filmmaker in 1995 and periodically supplemented, is housed in the Auxiliary Library Facility (ALF). Materials must be requested in advance for use in the Lilly Library by using the Bogdanovich mss. collection description and inventory in conjunction with IUCAT. Among the collection’s more than 100,000 items are production materials, research, related business correspondence, and scripts for his films including Targets (1968), The Last Picture Show (1971), Directed by John Ford (1971), Paper Moon (1973), Daisy Miller (1974), Saint Jack (1979), Mask (1985), et al. Also included are reel-to-reel audiotapes of interviews conducted by Bogdanovich with directors George Cukor, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Sidney Lumet, Otto Preminger, Raoul Walsh, and Orson Welles. The accompanying photos feature a unique item from the collection: a 3-pound hand painted fiberglass casting of Karloff’s bust by veteran Hollywood make-up man and F/X sculptor Norman Bryn commercially available through Classic Creature Craft, LLC.

— David K. Frasier, Reference Librarian

A Writer Struggles: Necessity as the Mother of Invention

Cards on the table by Emmett Gowen

Not every American regional writer is destined to become a Mark Twain, a William Faulkner, or even a modest success. Such is the case of Emmett Gowen (1902-1973), an obscure Tennessee-born writer who published two forgettable novels in the early 1930s with Indianapolis publisher Bobbs-Merrill. Court-martialed from the Marine Corps, Gowen served three years in the Naval Prison at Parris Island, South Carolina before being dishonorably discharged in 1923. He taught himself the craft of writing as a reporter on several Memphis newspapers while churning out stories for pulp magazines.

In 1932, Bobbs-Merrill published Gowen’s first novel, Mountain Born, a chronicle of the lives and loves of Tennessee hill folk, to mild critical acclaim, but lackluster sales. Undeterred, Gowen pressed on with the writing of a second novel contracted by the publisher, but ran into a problem faced by many would-be professional scribes — lack of money to complete their work. On October 29, 1932, Bobbs-Merrill received “Cards on the Table,” Emmett Gowen’s clever and artistic plea for a life-saving advance against royalties that would enable him to finish a racy novel on the trials and tribulations of Southern tenant farmers. The ploy worked. The amused publisher advanced Gowen $200.00, but their relationship ended after Dark Moon of March (1933) generated fewer sales than his first book. Gowen persevered, becoming a regular contributor of articles featuring rugged men in the “great outdoors” to magazines like Field and Stream, Argosy, True, and Outdoor Life. In the late 1950s, he assumed the presidency of Emmett Gowen, Ltd., an outfitting and guide service for hunters and fisherman vacationing in Mexico and Central America. His most successful book, The Joy of Fishing, was published by Rand McNally in 1961.

Gowen is among the several hundred authors (Irvin S. Cobb, Ring Lardner, James Whitcomb Riley) represented in the Bobbs-Merrill mss. (1885-1957) housed at the Lilly Library. The papers of the Indianapolis publisher are arranged by author and include autobiographical questionnaires, correspondence, reader’s opinions, promotional material, and royalty records. The 131,056 items in the collection have been partially described in “Studies in the Bobbs-Merrill Papers,” edited by Edwin H. Cady, in The Indiana University Bookman, no. 8 (March, 1967), pp. 1-166. A dissertation in 1975 by Jack O’Bar entitled A History of the Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1850-1940: With a Postlude Through the Early 1960’s (LZ2 .O124) was derived largely from the Bobbs-Merrill mss.

— David Frasier, Reference Librarian

View larger images of Gowen’s letter