April 27, 2011
Highlights from the Hart Crane Collection in the Special Collections Research Cener
This April, in celebration of National Poetry Month, and in observation of his death on April 27, 1932, we highlight recent acquisitions and a new guide to our Hart Crane Collection. Download file
An Ohio native, and sometime Cleveland resident, Crane is best known for his poem, The Bridge. In the early 1980's a group of generous donors established the Hart Crane Collection in the Special Collections Research Center with materials which range from scholarly biographical research to artwork created by his contemporaries. The collection continues to grow as suitable additions become available.
The collection consists of manuscript letters of Hart Crane, his published works, reviews and critiques of his poetry, biographies of his life including the literary manuscript of Voyager: A Life of Hart Crane, by John Unterecker, microfilm of the Hart Crane Papers held by Columbia University, notebooks and watercolors of Crane's friend, Cleveland artist, William Sommer as well as documentation of more current celebration of his poetry.
In her Western Reserve Studies Symposium paper, Hart Crane and His Western Reserve Roots, Crane scholar Vivian Pemberton writes: “As young Hart grew older and as he left his Warren childhood behind, his most important ties to Warren were to remain his aunt, Zell Hart Deming, and his cousin, Helen Douglas Hart (later Mrs. Griswold Hurlbert) who lived right around the corner from him on Elm Street.”
Here we present images from the most recent addition to the Hart Crane Collection: two volumes of his poems acquired from Peter Keisogloff Rare Books in February, 2008. The first is a presentation copy of a first edition of White Buildings(1926), the second a review copy of The Bridge(1930). Each is a valued addition to our store of knowledge regarding the poet's family, for they are associated with his cousin Helen and aunt Zell.
In fine physical condition, our new copy of White Buildings is one of 500 copies, with original quarter blue cloth, boards covered with black-and-beige textured paper but lacking its dust jacket.
Unique to this book is this inscription from Crane to his cousin, Helen Hart Hurlbert and her husband Griswold (Gooz). Crane penned the following: “For Helen and Gooz’ whose home is a poem without words, from cousin Hart“.
Pasted to the front end paper was an envelope containing this needlepoint Christmas post card from Crane inscribed “Dear Helen and Griswald. Shall be out here in the country writing for a year. Otto H. Kahn has given me the funds for a year’s creative work and I’m quite happy about it. Sorry I didn’t see you when you were in New York. With all greetings. Hart.”
Crane wrote these lines at the close of 1925 and the beginning of his stay in the remote town of Patterson, New York. It was his hope that the gift from Kahn would enable him to work, undisturbed, at completing the poems that would comprise White Buildings and make headway on his epic poem The Bridge. By May 1, 1926, however, the nomadic Crane had left Patterson behind and was on his way to Isle of Pines, Cuba where he would at least accomplish his first objective; White Buildings was published that fall.
Also tucked in this volume was the photograph of Crane seen above. Is is one of a series of photos of Crane taken at his cousin Helen's home in Warren in 1931, shortly after his father’s death.
It would take Crane another four years and several changes of address before his book-length poem,The Bridge, would be published in 1930. Our new copy of that work belonged to his aunt and godmother Zell P. Hart. It is a near fine, first edition review copy with the her bookplate and tooled leather cover.
Crane’s aunt Zell, (later Zell Hart Deming), was owner and publisher of the Warren, Ohio Tribune. She was the first woman admitted into the Associated Press and a respected voice in the newspaper industry in the first half of the 20th century. Whether she obtained her review copy based on her status as a publisher or if it was a gift from her nephew and godson, Zell Hart was conscientious in retaining the following review slip on the front pastedown: “Reviews of this book are not to be released before April 15, 1930. The appearance of reviews before the original publication of a book is a source of annoyance to the book buyer who wishes to purchase the book and cannot; to the bookseller who is embarrassed when he cannot supply his customers’ demand; And to the publisher who is naturally blamed when reviews appear prematurely. Therefore we urge you please to observe review release date”
Inquiries regarding The Hart Crane Collection may be directed to The Special Collections Research Center in the Kelvin Smith Library