Johns Hopkins exhibition highlights September events
honoring the "Sage of Baltimore"
An exhibition opens next month offering an intriguing new view of writer and journalist H.L. Mencken through the personal, often humorous inscriptions in books, pamphlets and other gifts he gave to friends and family.
The exhibition — "Yet Another One! H.L. Mencken"
— takes its title from the fact that Mencken sent so
many of his books to some friends that he sometimes
inscribed them, "Noch eins," or in English, "Yet another
The exhibition opens Friday, Sept. 1, at The Johns Hopkins University's George Peabody Library, 17 E. Mount Vernon Place in Baltimore.
An opening reception will be held on Sunday, Sept. 10, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. as part of a full weekend of events coinciding with the annual Mencken Day celebration at Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library, which houses Mencken's personal library. Marion Rodgers, author of the comprehensive biography Mencken: The American Iconoclast, will highlight the George Peabody Library reception with "A Light Side of Mencken: The Man Behind the Mask." A book signing will precede the 3 p.m. lecture.
Copies of The Buncombe Collection, newly packaged editions of nine Mencken classics published by Johns Hopkins University Press, will be on sale. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. RSVP to Stacie Spence at firstname.lastname@example.org or (410) 516-7943.
Henry Louis Mencken was a Baltimore Sun reporter and columnist who also was one of America's leading literary and social critics in the first half of the 20th century. Born in the city, the cynical freethinker is often remembered as the "Sage of Baltimore." Featured in the "Yet Another One!" exhibit are a number of books inscribed to his colleague Paul Patterson, editor and later president of the Sun, with which Mencken was associated as a columnist and editor for more than 40 years.
In one inscription, Mencken apologized to Patterson for not sending him the first copy of a collection, published by Alfred A. Knopf, of his Evening Sun dispatches from the 1932 Republican and Democratic conventions. "If this book were a movie it would be called a quickie. I actually put it together in a day," Mencken wrote. "This is no. 2 copy. Knopf grabbed no 1."
The exhibition is drawn from the Robert A. Wilson
Collection of H. L. Mencken, a rich assemblage that
includes Mencken publications, original letters and
photographs inscribed by Mencken. A gift to the
Sheridan Libraries in 2005 from alumnus and trustee
Richard S. Frary (class of 1969) and his wife Irene, the
collection is named in honor of fellow Mencken collector
and Johns Hopkins alumnus Robert Wilson (class of 1943).
"Mencken conducted some of the research for The American Language, one of his most acclaimed works, at the George Peabody Library," said Cynthia Requardt, William Kurrelmeyer Curator of Special Collections at Johns Hopkins and curator of the exhibition. "It is especially fitting that we can pay tribute to one of America's most well-known critics by presenting so many unique items from this important collection in the library where he frequently worked."
The Pratt Library's Mencken Day will be the day before the "Yet Another One!" reception, on Saturday, Sept. 9, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mencken Day, which is free and open to the public, is presented in partnership with the Mencken Society. Author, journalist and literary critic Christopher Hitchens will present the 2006 Mencken Memorial Lecture at 2:30 p.m. in the Pratt Central Library's Wheeler Auditorium. For information, call (410) 396-5430 or visit www.epfl.net.
"We are delighted to join our colleagues at the Enoch Pratt Library in celebrating the legacy of one of Baltimore's greatest journalists, authors and most influential iconoclasts," said Winston Tabb, Sheridan Dean of University Libraries at Johns Hopkins. "Richard and Irene Frary's extraordinarily generous gift of the Wilson collection adds significantly to the research material on Mencken available to scholars in Baltimore and is a wonderful complement to the Pratt's collection, making Baltimore the first stop for Mencken scholars."
Also on Sunday, Sept. 10, Mencken scholar David Thaler will present a talk entitled "The Mencken Paradox: Was H.L. Mencken an Anti-Semite?" at 9:30 a.m. at Temple Oheb Shalom at 7310 Park Heights Ave. A continental breakfast will be served and the lecture is free and open to the public. For information, call Sally Fink at (410) 358-0105.
The "Yet Another One!" opening reception is sponsored by the Friends of the Johns Hopkins Libraries, Friends of the Johns Hopkins University Press, the Mencken Society, Enoch Pratt Free Library and the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association. The Baltimore Sun is a media partner for the Mencken exhibition.
The exhibition runs through Jan. 7, 2007, and may be viewed weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Images of some of the inscriptions are available. Contact Pamela Higgins.
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