Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Letters Found In Books

Wouldn't it be nice to find an autograph letter in a book? In "A Talk Over Autographs," ATLANTIC MONTHLY, April, 1895, George Birkbeck Hill wrote," Of my own collection, I have no anecdotes to relate. No such luck ever befell me as befell Mr. Fields, who, in a book picked up at a stall, found inserted an autograph letter of Johnson's (p.450)."

I, too, have been blessed with finding a letter inside of a book. It was a piece on A.S.W. Rosenbach hidden inside of the book, TO DOCTOR R. I am still trying to discover when and where Joseph Carson presented this address on Rosenbach.

Ironically, a G.B. Hill letter that I picked up in an ebay auction concerns the very same Samuel Johnson letter that James T. Fields found in a book. Frank Lynch, webmaster of the Samuel Johnson Sound Bite Page,clued me in to the G.B.Hill letter, which was included with a dilapidated set of Hill's edition of BOSWELL'S LIFE OF JOHNSON. Since I already had a few of the books Hill wrote, I wanted the letter.

Researching this G.B. Hill letter, which was not included in his daughter's book, THE LETTERS OF GEORGE BIRKBECK HILL, London, 1906, is an on-going project. I was able to identify the Johnson Letter; but I was unable, at first, to discover how the American book collector, who still remains unidentified,was aware that Fields was the one who found the letter. Researching Hill's letter deserves a separate blog posting of its own.

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