From Pen to Print: The Handwriting Behind the Book is an exhibition that features handwritten letters, notes, postcards, and other manuscripts that reveal personal, private, and otherwise veiled aspects of the production of books. Putting authors’ manuscript materials on display alongside their print books, the exhibition reveals the passions, obsessions, lofty dreams, and gritty realizations triggered by the writing and publishing process. These materials capture the relationships between 19th- and 20th-century American authors, editors, and readers, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Alice Cary, Rufus Griswold, Walt Whitman, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Anne Warren Weston, Sarah Grimke, Angelina Grimke, Charles Folsom, and Robert Frost. These writers’ correspondence and notes, paired with rare, early editions of the books discussed therein, bring many fascinating facets of composition and publishing to light, notably the working relationships between authors and their editors and the interactions between authors and their readers. The exhibit also offers such curiosities as digitally enlarged signatures and passages from autographs, cross-hatched letters, and a selection of author portraits.
This exhibition is the result of an innovative, ongoing partnership between UMass-Boston’s English M.A. Program and the Boston Public Library. UMass-Boston students take a semester-long course in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Room, engaging in hands-on research that generates a student-curated exhibit. This exhibition presents the results of a seminar that focused on the scholarly transcription and annotating of handwritten texts. Previous years’ topics have included books from colonial Boston, Shakespeare, public poetry, and the origins of the British novel.
The exhibition is free and open to the general public. It is located in the Rare Books Exhibition Room on the third floor of the Boston Public Library’s McKim Building, and is open M, T, W, F – 9am – 5pm; Th – 11am – 7pm. The exhibition runs through March 30, 2012.