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A Doctor’s Donations Make Medical History February 1, 2010

TRAVERS, Benjamin. A synopsis of the diseases of the eye, and their treatment. 3rd ed. (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown, 1824).(Dr. Richard Travers is a direct descendant of the author.) An instructional manual for a 1901 version of Viagra and a pamphlet denouncing it as a fraud, a banned play about female sexuality and the published love letters of the playwright, and a volume on venereal disease by a surgeon who may have…

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A "Read" Letter Day For Dickens January 29, 2010

Mr. Charles Dickens’s Last Reading.(George C. Leighton for The Illustrated London News, Vol.56, 1870.) Of the greatest writer of the Elizabethan age, William Shakespeare, so little is known that many doubt him to be the true author of his incomparable plays. At the other end of the biographical spectrum is the greatest writer of the Victorian age, Charles Dickens. As British writer Simon Callow put it: “Of Shakespeare, we know next to nothing; of Dickens…

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Angels And Demons Reunited At Morgan Library January 27, 2010

Hours of Catherine of Cleves, in Latin Illuminated by the Master of Catherine of ClevesThe Netherlands, Utrecht, ca. 1440(Images courtesy of Faksimile Verlag Luzern.) The first page of Catherine’s prayer book foreshadows her troubled marriage. Her coat of arms as the Duchess of Guelder is centered beneath the Virgin Mary. Traditionally, her husband’s crest would be illustrated atop her coat of arms. But Catherine defiantly places an Ox– the symbol of The House of Cleves–above…

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Famous Authors Drawn, Not Quartered January 25, 2010

Martin Droeshout’s 1623 Engraving Of William Shakespeare. The purpose of any portrait is to capture the essence of the subject. To somehow convey in a single image not just the outward appearance of the sitter, but his soul. But if the subject is a great writer, does that task become impossible? Poet Ben Jonson thought so, and maybe the curators at Princeton University’s Firestone Library do, too. Those curators have just opened a new exhibit…

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Cowgirl Round-Up At Cowboy Library January 22, 2010

Bulldogging Cowgirl Fox Hastings. In an 1851 Indiana newspaper editorial, John B.L. Soule famously advised: “Go West, young man, and grow up with the country.” Apparently, young women were either better off back East, or didn’t need to grow up. In any case, a lot of young women did go West, and many of them found the freedom of the frontier allowed them to escape their traditional Victorian roles as wives and mothers. Oklahoma’s The…

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