August 15th, 2012
A collection of books on British History and Literature came to the library recently and we have been cataloging them. There are some great titles and some truly historic works in this collection donated by Earle W. Newton. More of the Newton Collection can be seen at the SCAD Museum in the form of British Portraiture and Maps.
Somehow mixed in among the British titles are a number of works by Mark Twain. It was unexpected to find them with the British literature, but I suppose it should not have been too big of a surprise. Twain’s works were as popular in England as they were in the United States, and many of the titles were published simultaneously in London and in the US.
The books in the collection are largely first editions in various states. Trying to interpret state provides a fascinating look into the publishing world of the time. The difference in value between first edition, first state, and first edition, second or third state can be thousands of dollars, so it helps to know what state you have. But some of the differences are very subtle and some are disputed as to whether a small mark in the frontispiece indicates first or second state.
Examining the books for the small details of state allows one to read tiny excerpts. Most of us read at least one book by Twain in school such as the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. We may nostalgically remember that they were comical and sometimes sweet while at the same time providing biting social commentary. Even if the situations seemed dated, the humor was always relevant, the style so easy to read, and the stories seemed timeless. Come in to take a look at some of these Twain classics. Of course, we have most of Twain’s work available as e-books through the Library’s catalog also.