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A Fourth Supplementary Note to Melville’sReading (1988) STEVEN OLSEN-SMITH Boise State University T his fourth supplementary note to Merton M. Sealts, Jr.’s Melville’s Reading announces the recovery of Melville’s marked and annotated copy of Thomas Warton’sHistory of English Poetry,from the Eleventh to the Seventeenth Century. Shedding fresh light on the dispersal of Melville’s library, the book‘s remarkable provenance has given rise to a new research project aimed at locating and identifying additional volumes once owned by Melville. In previous Supplements to Melville’s Reading,’ Sealts followed the abbreviation and entry formats of his original publication and indicated the proper placement and wording of each new find. Accordingly, the following abbreviation citation should be added to the section in Melville’sReading entitled “Abbreviationsand Symbols”: BPL The Brooklyn Public Library Central Library Grand Army Plaza Brooklyn, NY 11238 In addition, Melville’s copy of Thomas Warton’s History of English Poetry should be listed as follows at its appropriate position in the section “CheckList of Books Owned and Borrowed”: 547a. Warton, Thomas. The History of English Poetry, from the Eleventh to the Seventeenth Century A full Reprint-Text and Notes-of Edition, London, 1778 & 1781. London: Ward, Lock, and Tyler,Warwick House, n.d. Annotated. (BPL) The Provenance and Recovery of Warton3 History he recovery of Melville’s copy of Thomas Warton’s History of English Poetry authenticates early reports that have until now formed the basis Tonly for sporadic conjecture and vague rumor among Melvillescholars. The reports, arising primarily through rigorous investigations made by the late Charles Olson in the 1930s,concern the fate of Melville’spersonal collection ’Merton M. Sealts, Jr., “A Supplementary Note to Melville’s Reading (1988),” Melville Society Extracts 80 (February 1990),5-10; “A Second Supplementary Note to Melvillek Reading (1988),” MelvilleSociety Extracts 100(March 1995),2-3;“A Third Supplementary Note to Melville’sReading (1988),”Melville SocietyExtracts 112 (March 1998), 12-14. A J O U R N A L O F M E L V I L L ES T U D I E S 1 0 5 S T E V E N O L S E N - S M I T H of books, which consisted of some 1,000volumes at the time of his death in September 1891.2 The evidence produced by Olson’s researches survives by virtue of his close association with Merton M. Sealts,Jr., who committed the early reports to print and spent considerable time and effort pursuing Olson’s leads. Not surprisingly, my following discussion of the provenance draws almost exclusively from Sealts’s“Introduction” to Melville’sReading and from his “Correspondencewith Charles Olson” in Pursuing Melville, 1940-1980.3 After Melville’s death, a substantial portion of his library was retained within the Melville family and eventually deposited at research institutions. But the majority, of volumes were sold off to second-hand bookdealers in February, 1892, when Melville’s widow, Elizabeth Shaw Melville, was preparing to vacate their residence of 28 years at 104 East 26th Street in Manhattan. Four decades passed before Olson began to locate and query the booksellers (in some cases their descendents and employees) who had dealt with Mrs. Melville. Two of these were John Anderson, Jr., who in 1892 operated a second -hand bookshop at 99 Nassau Street, New York, and Henry Farnell, the son of Alfred E Farnell, whose shop was then located at 42 Court Street, Brooklyn. Olson first learned from Anderson (whose Nassau Street store Melville himself had frequented) that he had been the first dealer to consider Melville’s library and that he purchased an unspecified number of books from Mrs. Melvillebut declined to take the entire quantity4 Anderson also directed Olson to Henry Farnell, whose role in the liquidation of Melville’s library is succinctly revealed in Farnell’s diary entry for February 25, 1892: Mr uohnl Anderson telegraphed me to come to see a library-Went with him to Mrs. Melville 104 E 26th st & bought the lot for $120. (Sealts,Pursuing Melville, 133) Oscar Wegelin (Anderson’s apprentice) later informed Olson that the “cartload ” Henry Farnell had purchased contained some “500”books (1381.5 From...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1750-1849
Print ISSN
1525-6995
Pages
pp. 105-111
Launched on MUSE
2013-05-29
Open Access
No
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