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New Acquisition! A Line by Suyeon Kim

We recently purchased an artist's book entitled A Line by Suyeon Kim. A Line tells the story of a blind fisherman and his dog through linocut and woodcut illustrations, using very few words.  The images form a continuous strip of narrative, over sixteen feet long, which is accordion folded into the binding.  Special Collections has copy number 83, signed by the artist.





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Kipling and his Collector

A few months ago we received a generous gift of 191 books, mainly first, sometimes first American, editions of Rudyard Kipling, works about him, and a few books with beautiful fore-edge paintings.

Mrs. Helen Jenkins, the donor of the collection, has recently passed away, a few days shy of her 100th birthday. Born in Topeka, in 1913 in the family of the first licensed pharmacist in Kansas, Helen Katherine Gibler Montgomery Jenkins lived a long and a very happy life. She graduated from the University of Missouri in 1935 with a B.A. in journalism and became a professional reporter. With her husband being in the military, she had to move from place to place quite often. At forty-two, she took a job at a public library and having quickly discovered that she loved it much more than journalism, she enrolled in a master’s program in library science and received her librarian’s degree in 1961 from Rutgers University. She went on to become director of the New Jersey Fanwood Library, held offices in the New Jersey Library Association, and edited the monthly newsletter for the Association and the Library School’s alumni magazine. But her true passion was Kipling. This is how she discovered him.

My husband’s great aunt was Flora V. Livingston. She was the librarian in charge of the rare book room at Harvard’s Widener Library for something like 35 years, from about 1910 to the 40s. Her specialty was Kipling and she spent years compiling a bibliography of his work. …To do this, Aunt Flora traveled to England and India and picked up many, many first editions. The best volumes went, of course, to Harvard; the second best she kept for herself. When she died in the late 1940s, she left her books to Paul and me. The boxes sat in our basement for several weeks and finally, one evening, after a cocktail or two, we decided to get down to opening the boxes. Anyway, after I did learn a little about what we had, I began to buy and to add to the really good stuff …”

Kipling the journalist

Rudyard Kipling took a firm hold on her imagination. In her lecture on Kipling she talks about him with a note of personal compassion, especially when she speaks of his lonely childhood:

Kipling’s grandparents, on both sides, were Methodist ministers. His mother, Alice, was one of the five clever and beautiful Macdonald sisters. Kipling’s father, John Lockwood Kipling, was an artist and a teacher, something of an eccentric. He met Alice Macdonald at a picnic. When, at the age of 28, he received a good appointment to head the School of Art in Bombay, he married Alice on March 18, 1865, and they moved to India. Rudyard, sentimentally named for the lake where his parents met, was born on December 30 of the same year.

This was Victorian England and Colonial India. Children of the upper classes were customarily turned over to servants. They saw their parents mainly when Daddy was dressed in his regimental finery and Mother was in an evening gown. Indian servants were trained to accede to any demand from their young charges, with the result, at least in the case of Ruddy (his in-family nickname) of a definitely spoiled child. It is reported that he was talkative and untidy, incessantly asking questions and expressing his opinions without hesitation.

Her next passage, about his early years, reminds one of some heart-wrenching pages from Dickens.

Kipling at around the time of his sixth birthday

When he was six years old, Ruddy’s parents packed him and his three-year-old sister, Beatrice, off to England to escape the cholera and the heat of India and to be educated. For reasons never known, the children were left to board in the house of a woman whose name the parents got from an ad in the newspaper, rather than with their English relatives. (Maybe they didn’t want difficult Ruddy.) The parents slipped away secretly – the children had not been warned that they were being left – and it was five years before they saw their parents again. Kipling was mistreated, unfairly punished, told he was bad – and for some minor prevarication, sent off to school for several days wearing on his back a sign that said “LIAR”.

“After five years in what he later referred to as the “House of Desolation”, Kipling was sent to an army cram school in Devon for the sons of not-so-well off officers. He was smallish, non-athletic, with dark beetling eyebrows. His thick pebble glasses kept him from any career in the army. But he was tough, funny and clever. He read voraciously and made his mark as school wit and versifier and star writer for the school paper. These school experiences are immortalized in Stalky & Company. Of the characters, “Beetle,” is the young Ruddy.

In 1882, not yet 17, Ruddy went back to India, to Lahore, to become 50% of the staff of the Civil & Military Stalky & Company Gazette, a frontier daily newspaper. He worked 10 to 15 hours a day under the heat and hellish conditions that he describes at the start of The Man Who Would Be King. He was plagued with sleeplessness all his life and to escape this, he wrote much of what would become his first book to be published for general readership, Departmental Ditties

First "Departmental Ditties"

Departmental Ditties was an immediate success and was reprinted several times. Mrs. Jenkins had copies of the first and six following editions, English and American. Kipling moved to Allahabad and became a full time reporter in a newspaper. Later he sold all his stories and poems to a company that sold them in cheap paperbacks at railway stations in India. Mrs. Jenkins proudly notes that she has all of them in her collection.

Kipling then returns to London. In less than two years he becomes a celebrity. It didn’t spare him from personal misfortunes, which eventually led him to something like a nervous breakdown. In 1890 Kipling quits London and goes on a sea voyage. He befriended young Americans, Wolcott Balestier and his sister Caroline, who in less than a year becomes his wife.

Newlywed Kiplings settle in America, in Vermont where his wife’s parents lived. There he wrote the First and the Second of his Jungle Books.

Helen Jenkins: “Kipling was not completely happy in the United States. He made tactless comments to the press and consequently, got a bad press. To complicate things, his brother-in-law, Beatty Balestier, got into a smoldering argument with him over the use of some land and in a fit of rage, threatened to kill Kipling. A foolish lawsuit against Beatty, which Kipling won, gave the American papers a field day. In 1896, disgusted with this, the Kiplings packed up and went back to England. They came back to the States three years later and Rudyard became seriously ill with pneumonia. He finally recovered, but during his illness, his daughter, Josephine, 7 years old, died of the same illness. Kipling lived for 37 more years, but he never set foot in the United States again.”

Already by his thirties quite famous and well-to-do, he received the Nobel Prize in literature in 1907, thus becoming the first Englishman to get it. However, his life could not escape thorns and scorn. He lost his son in the first World War and could never quite recover from this tragedy. His relations with his wife deteriorated. Some well-known citations from his writings reflect his disenchantment: “The female of the species is more deadly than the male (The Female of the Species); “A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke” (The Betrothed); “Down to Gehenna or up to the throne, he travels the fastest who travels alone” (The Winners).

The Kiplings, 1925

Posterity has not been entirely kind to Carrie Kipling, who was described by some as self-pitying, bossy and possessive. One modern writer even called her “one of the most loathed women of her generation”; * but Henry James, who knew her personally, wrote about “passionate Carrie, remarkable in her force, acuteness, capacity and courage.” Their marriage lasted for more than forty years, she bore him his three much loved children; her practicality shielded him from the humdrum of daily life and allowed him to write. Most likely, without her there would have been no Kipling we know.

Jungle Book fore-edge painting

With time, his popularity began to fade, some shallow critics regarded him an “imperialist poet” and his perfectly pitched and splendidly carved rhymed poems were deemed old-fashioned and much too patriotic. Helen Jenkins, his passionate collector and a fellow journalist, writes in conclusion: “He died in London on January 18, 1936, and is buried in Westminster Abbey. He has been quoted as saying how fortunate he was that life had dealt him the cards it did – that all he had to do was play them as they lay – the two childhoods, East and West, that gave him two worlds; the journalism that taught him his trade and give him the whole dazzling tapestry of India to work on.”

Kipling's autographs


This splendid gift of Mrs. Jenkins soon will be catalogued and added to the holdings of our Special Collections, thus making our Kipling collection second only to Harvard.

Special gratitude is extended to Mary Jordan, who sent us the picture of Helen Jenkins, her lecture about Kipling, and the obituary

*Adam Nicolson. The Hated Wife: Carrie Kipling, 1862-1939. ISBN 0571208355


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Papers of Pulitzer Prize-winning Playwright Lanford Wilson in Special Collections

Lanford Wilson display

Lanford Wilson displayWe’re happy to announce that an exhibition of selected materials from the Lanford Wilson Collection, curated by our colleagues at the University Archives, is on view in the Ellis Library Colonnade.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson made a legacy gift of his papers to the University of Missouri in 2011.  Wilson grew up in Springfield and Ozark, Missouri, and spent most of his life in New York.  He began his career at Caffe Cino, a pioneering Off-Off Broadway theater run by Joe Cino that produced plays by many young, aspiring playwrights.

Wilson wrote plays for La MaMa Experimental Theater Club and the Circle Repertory Company, a project organized by Wilson and three of his associates from the Caffe Cino and La MaMa.  Plays that premiered at the Circle Repertory Company included Talley’s Folly, Serenading Louie, The Mound Builders, Fifth of July, and The Hot l Baltimore.  Wilson’s plays were critically acclaimed and won several awards and nominations.  In 1980, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Talley’s Folly. Wilson was elected to the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2001 and to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004.

Lanford Wilson displayThe Lanford Wilson Collection includes 53 linear feet of correspondence, manuscripts, notebooks, posters, photographs, and over 100 books.  Researchers can access the finding aid online, and the collection is available for use in the Special Collections reading room.

The Lanford Wilson exhibition is presented in conjunction with a conference, “Angels in Performance: Documenting LGBTQ Lives in Theatre & Performance,” hosted by the MU Department of Theatre, April 24-28.  The conference will feature guest artist and award-winning playwright and screenwriter, Tony Kushner. The exhibition will be on view through the month of April.

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Posted in Exhibits, Our New Acquisition, Special Collections

What’s in the box?


Last week I posted a picture on our Facebook page of a 320-pound special delivery we received.  Are you dying to know what’s in the box?

It’s a wonderful collection of rare Kipling first editions and other Kiplingiana, donated to the Libraries by the estate of a generous donor, Helen Jenkins.  Staff members took a first look at the collection yesterday and found some great materials, including first editions, pamphlets, ephemera, and limited editions.

We will be working on cataloging this collection and making it available to researchers in the Special Collections reading room.  Email with any questions.

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Our New Acquisition: Textus sequentarium with comments by Hermann Torrentinus, 1496.


Title page

Textus seque[n]tiaru[m] cu[m] optimo comme[n]to, was one of a few incunabula we acquired last year. Published in Cologne by Heinrich Quentell in 1496, the book is a collection of Sequences with extensive comments and explanations for students by a well known Nederlandish scholar and grammarian Hermann Torrentinus (ca.1450-1520)  

Liturgical Sequences were an integral part of the Roman Mass. The Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) defines the Sequence (Sequentia, or Prose [Prosa]),-as “the liturgical hymn of the Mass which occurs before the Gospel, while the hymn (poetry), belongs to the Breviary.” In other words, while hymns were part of the Mass from the earliest times, sequences originated in the ninth century as “texts written to accompany what had hitherto been a wordless musical extension of the final -a of the Alleluia at the end of the antiphon sung between the Epistle and Gospel.” * Some scholars think that sequences came from the Byzantine rite; others insist that it was an independent invention of the Roman Church. **


Sequence from Graduale e Missale, St. Mark convent, Florence, XV cent.


The word “Sequentia” was first introduced in the 9th century by Notker Balbulus (ca. 840-912), monk of St. Gall (Switzerland nowadays), who put some liturgical texts into rhythmical melodic phrases. The structure of these sequences was completely new — it was none of the traditional structure of Latin sacred verse, but was “unfolding in a vigorous series of free rhetorical periods, cast in the sonorous cadences of classical Latin diction, and, in the Notker case, –in a more exuberant diction rich with assonance.” ***

One of the best known sequences today is the Christmas carol Adeste Fideles, known in English as “O Come, All Ye Faithful”, also the Marian sequence Stabat Mater by Jacopone da Todi.

Writing commentaries on sequences was, it would appear, a quite common literary pursuit in the twelfth or thirteenth century. It was part of the extensive commentary literature, especially widespread in the German-speaking countries. Besides Hermann Torrentinus we know the names of Jacob Wimpheling (1450-1528), Caesarius von Heisterbach (ca. 1180 – ca. 1240), and Johannes Adelphus (1445-1522). Such commentaries likely played an important didactic role in schools or universities, depending on the depths of the analysis, which ranged from a basic explanation of the meaning of a phrase to a philosophical treatise.

Our book contains detailed comments by Torrentinus, including analysis of Latin phrases and their component parts in the 51 sequences written by Notker Balbulus. These are on the feasts of the Nativity of Christ (De Nativitate D[omi]ni), St. Stephen, St. John, The Innocents (slain by Herod), the Holy Trinity, St. Nicholas, St. Elizabeth, St. Katherine, the Virgin Mary, the Ascension, the Conception of the Virgin Mary, and many others.

A short introduction states the purpose and subject of the book: “laus divina” –Divine glory, than follows an explanation of the book’s structure. Torrentinus then dwells on the meaning of the first sentence of the sequence for the Nativity of Christ (Christmas), and the grammatical structure of it. His explanations of some of the words are quite curious, for example, the word “diabolus”:

Grates nunc omnes reddamus domino deo

Qui sua nativitate nos liberavit de dyabolica potestate.

(Item dyabolica est nome[n] adiectivium derivatum a nomine dyabolus. A dya q[uod] est duo…)

The word “dyabolica” is the adjective, derived from the noun “dyabolus”.

“Dya” means “duo”– double, and “bolos” – sting, as if {it were} a double sting which strikes our bodies and souls– says the author.

This explanation shows that the man, known as a great grammarian of his time, apparently didn’t have much Greek, giving a peculiar interpretation of the original Greek word: “Diabolus (from Greek: Δια + βάλλειν), where Δια — penetration through the line from one end to the other, often the effect of weapons, division, like in “diaphragm”,”diameter” ,diacritic”, and βάλλειν -“throw”, like in ballistics, so the whole word means a “divider”, “slanderer”,” backbiter”.

Most probably this book was intended for beginners studying Liturgy who knew Latin enough to understand instructions and explanations of the book. It has multiple marginal notes, comments by several contemporary owners, corrections, and in some cases an empty space, left for the illuminated or rubricated initial letter, is filled in pen or pencil.

Curiously enough, it doesn’t have a colophon. The only date mentioned in the text could be found on the verso of page signed [3iij], Folium iiij, where the author, while speaking of the Nativity of Christ, explains the principles of dating: “Annos dat ab Adam donec Xr[istu]s homo fact[us]. Sed a nativitate[m] Xri[st]i usque ad nu[n]c scribitur anno domini. Mcccclxxxxvi”, (“Dates used to be given from Adam to Christ’s incarnation. But from the nativity of Christ onwards they are written as Anno Domini .1496”} which gives us 1496 as a possible date of publication.

Who was the man to whom these comments are attributed?

Torrentinus belongs to that huge crowd of late mediaeval scholars whose names are known nowadays only to a small number of enthusiastic book lovers or medievalists.

A scholar. Einhardt painting from the Medieval manuscript

Hermann von der Beeke, known mostly under his Latinized name Torrentinus, or Torrentius (meaning “brook” or “torrent, as translated from the original word beeke ) was born around 1450 in Zwolle, Netherlands, about 80 miles north- east of Amsterdam. He received initial education in his native town in the School of the Brethren of the Common Life (Fratres Vitae Commune), a Roman Catholic religious community founded in the 14th century by Gerard Groote, and devoted to education and teaching. The brethren didn’t take up irrevocable vows, in difference from a regular monastic community, but led a simple and chaste life, practicing ascetic discipline and devoting all their time to attending Divine services, reading, and labors. They lived in the common houses and had meals together.

The year 1490 finds Torrentinus in Groningen, teaching rhetoric in the Brethren of the Common Life School. After the death of his father he had to return to Zwolle to help and support his mother, where he took a position of school teacher. Torrentinus is known as an editor of Virgil’s Eclogues and Georgics (1502), and as the author of a Elucidarius Poeticus (dictionary of proper names of people, places, plants, etc., encountered in history and poetry) (1498).

He revised and edited the first part of Alexander de Villa Dei’s standard Latin grammar, the Doctrinale (1504), and wrote several small books for use in his school. Around 1508 his eyesight was failing and Torrentinus had to leave his position as Head of Zwolle Brethren School. He died in Zwolle in 1520.

It looks like an uneventful life. Appearances often deceive, however. In Groningen Torrentinus came under the influence of such a forceful figure as Wessel Gansfort whose anti-papal sentiments and rather unorthodox interpretations of the Bible****** were known. Some sources mutedly suggest that Torrentinus also might have entertained some peculiar ideas; however we know so little about him that it’s hard to prove.

Textus sequentarium binding

Our copy is bound in half red leather with decorated endpapers and boards, its spine is decorated with floral motif between raised bands in gilt and embossed with “c.1494”. Marginal annotations in Latin are in contemporary ink. Initial spaces are not rubricated; on rear lining paper there is a bookplate of Glenmore Whitney Davis, journalist for the New York Globe (New York daily newspaper published till 1923).


References and notes:

*Messenger, Ruth, The Medieval Latin Hymn, Washington DC, 1953

Kaske, R.E., Medieval Christian Literary Imagery: a guide to interpretation, Toronto.

**In the Byzantine Church/Orthodox Church it is called Alleluaria and was established on the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. See: Дмитревский И. И. Историческое, догматическое и таинственное изъяснение Божественной Литургии, p. 234 : Между пением Аллилуя возглашаются чтецом стихи, называемые Аллилуариями

***Richard Crocker, The Early Medieval Sequence, U of California Press, 1977.

**** Erika Kihlman, Expositiones sequentarum. Medieval Sequence Commentaries and Prologues. Editions with Introductions. Stockholm University,2012?

***** Though Gansfort firmly stands on a Catholic ground and he never had brushes with the Inquisition, his writings were on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Catholic Encyclopedia)


John Edwin Sandys (1844-1922) A History of Classical Scholarship: From the Revival of Learning to the End of the Eighteenth Century in Italy, France, England and the Netherlands.

Contemporaries of Erasmus: a biographical register of the Renaissance and Reformation. Ed. Peter G. Bietenholz. Toronto, U of Toronto press, 1987


Posted in New Books, Our New Acquisition, Rare Book Collection
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