This collection examines the many ways in which the natural world has been shaped, repurposed, and represented by artists and writers. These items highlight, in various ways, nature's dynamic role in the process and production of creative works. By necessity, the collection covers a wide range of materials, including a medieval Book of Hours, an eighteenth-century treatise on natural history in literature, illuminated works of Romantic and Gothic poetry, a book of ecological poetry by Erasmus Darwin, drafts of D. H. Lawrence's nature poetry, and manuscripts from T. H. White, Julia Alvarez, and other contemporary authors.
Item List Developed by Reid Echols
Book of Hours, use of Rome. By Catholic Church. French. 15th Century.
HRC 2 Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection
Medieval devotional text decorated with thirteen full-page miniatures, one half-page miniature, and 144 bas de page vignettes, the majority depicting animals. Original text, with illustrations added in the nineteenth century.
An essay on the application of natural history to poetry. By John Aikin. 1777.
Am Ai44 777e
This eighteenth century treatise by John Aikin seems to anticipate the Romantics' interest in nature as a poetic subject. Aikin suggests that the poet should employ the observational techniques of natural science: "As the artist who has not studied the body with anatomical precision, and examined the proportions of every limb, both with respect to its own several parts, and the whole system, cannot produce a just and harmonious representation of the human frame; so the descriptive poet, who does not habituate himself to view the several objects of nature minutely, and in comparison with each other, must ever fail in giving his pictures the congruity and animation of real life" (11).
The botanic garden; a poem, in two parts. By Erasmus Darwin. 1791.
-Q- QK 81 D229b 1791
This work by Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin, demonstrates a fascinating blend of popular science and poetic invention. Responding to the rising popularity of amateur botany prompted by the translation of Carl Linnaeus' works, Darwin's text blurs the line between art and science, with lengthy footnotes accompanying anthropomorphized descriptions of plant reproduction.
Shelley, Percy Bysshe. The sensitive plant and other poems, illuminated calligraphic manuscript copy by Alberto Sangorski. Undated.
Box 1.6 Percy Bysshe Shelley Collection
This illuminated copy of Percy Shelley's long poem "The sensitive plant" by book artist Alberto Sangorski (ca early twentieth century) offers two simultaneous lenses on the depiction of nature, in both Shelley's extended gardening metaphor and the natural motifs present in Sangorski's elaborate illustrations.
Designs for the pavilion at Brighton : Humbly inscribed to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. By H. Repton, Esq. with the assistance of his sons, John Adey Repton ... and G.S. Repton, architects. 1808.
-F- NA 8450 R468 1808 WAU
Illustrated design book produced by renowned British landscape architect Humphry Repton, with articulated pages to show "before" and "after" images of carefully produced garden vistas. Repton, the de facto successor to famed landscape gardener Capability Brown, excelled in creating "natural" vistas even on previously occupied lands.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; a prose translation. Golden Cockerel Press edition.
-Q- PR 2065 G3 1952
This richly illustrated limited edition of the Pearl Poet's famous 14th-century alliterative poem features six color engravings by British illustrator Dorothea Braby. The engravings highlight the poem's symbolic depiction of the conflict between nature--represented by the Green Knight--and the Christian civilization of King Arthur's court.
Circus Collection. Series I. American Circuses; Performers; Animal acts
Box 5 Performing Arts Circus Collection
The Performing Arts Circus Collection contains newspaper clippings, photographs, posters, programs, and musical scores related to individual circuses, acts, and performers dating from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries. The materials in this particular box cover a range of animal acts, which were often billed as major attractions.
Grahame, Alastair and Grahame, Kenneth. The Merry Thought. 1908.
Box 2.1-6 Kenneth Grahame Collection. See card catalog.
This whimsical home-made literary journal was produced and edited by Alastair Grahame, the eight-year-old son of famed Wind In the Willows author Kenneth Grahame, with the guidance of his governess Naomi Stott. Alastair solicited contributions from his father, Stott, and neighborhood friends, and contributed several stories and poems himself. The journal features appearances from several Wind in the Willows characters. Of particular interest is Alastair's poem "Suffragette Ode," accompanied with a poem by his father about a cat advocating for women's suffrage.
Cummings, E. E. Landscape Painting [New Hampshire Farm].
78.46.4 E. E. Cummings Art Collection
This lush watercolor painting, part of American poet E. E. Cummings' art collection, depicts a scene of clouds, distant hills and wildflowers, strikingly presented in red and orange hues. As with many other writers whose art collections are housed at the Ransom Center--including D. H. Lawrence and Evelyn Waugh--Cummings' visual artworks often reflect aspects of his literary style. In this case, the painting's landscape seems charged with the poet's trademark exuberance.
Lawrence, D. H. Manuscript draft for Birds, Beasts and Flowers.
Box 2.2 D. H. Lawrence Collection
D. H. Lawrence's first collection of poems, published in 1923, reflects on the natural world through the extreme "otherness" of animal and vegetable perspectives. Lawrence's characteristically evocative poems are given titles based on their subjects, which include pomegranates, snakes, almond trees and mosquitoes, to name a few.
White, T. H. Journals: 1939-1941; handwritten manuscript with photographs, watercolors, letters, feathers, and other items pasted in, 395 pages.
Box 27.1 T. H. (Terence Hanbury) White Collection
This extensive journal documents British author T. H. White's longstanding interest in falconry, hunting, natural history, and animal behavior. Pasted into its pages are a number of photographs, feathers, a claw from a grouse killed by one of White's hawks, and a lock of hair from White's beloved Irish setter, Brownie, inscribed with the date of her death. Many of these animals feature as characters in White's popular Arthurian sequence, The Once and Future King (1958).
Peter Matthiessen. Correspondence for The Snow Leopard (1978).
Box 49.8 Peter Matthiessen Papers 1958-1995
This series of correspondence with prolific nature writer and novelist Peter Matthiessen relates to his expedition in search of the rare and endangered Himalayan snow leopard in the mountains of Nepal with biologist George Schaller. The series includes letters from Schaller offering advice for preventing altitude sickness and negotiating with Nepalese and Chinese authorities, Matthiessen's Himalayan entry permit, Schaller's notes on local fauna, and letters from Matthiessen's young son. The Matthiessen Papers also include extensive drafts for his bestselling The Snow Leopard and many of his novels, which often deal with ecological themes and crises.
Smith, Thomas G. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989) (Teeny-Weenies; Grounded) Production boards, 1987.
Box 10.6-11.2 Thomas Smith Papers
The papers of visual effects producer Thomas Smith include storyboards and special effects designs for several well-known films of the 1980s and 1990s. Smith oversaw visual effects for George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic, working on such films as Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. (1982), Star Trek: The Search for Spock (1983), and Star Wars: Episode VI-Return of the Jedi (1983). In 1986, Smith began working for Disney, where he was involved with the film featured here, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. These production boards were integral in creating the film's striking visual effects, which depict a group of suburban children accidentally shrunk by their eccentric father's invention as they encounter a fascinating, and alarming, wilderness in their own backyard.
Alvarez, Julia. The Nature Conservancy: Invitation to contribute, correspondence and related materials. 1996.
Box 144.6 Julia Alvarez Papers
Alvarez, Julia. "Victor" in Off the beaten path: stories of place, edited by Joseph Barbato and Lisa Weinerman Horak of the Nature Conservancy. 1998.
PS 648 N32 O39 1998
This pair of items includes correspondence and research materials related to a short story written by Dominican-American author Julia Alvarez for an anthology benefitting the Nature Conservancy, and Alvarez's own annotated copy of this anthology. Alvarez, who was devoted to promoting environmental conservation and sustainability, also gave a keynote address at a Nature Conservancy event describing what she had learned through her and her husband Bill Eichner's efforts to maintain a sustainable coffee farm and literacy center in the Dominican Republic.