About The Gazette Search Back Issues Contact Us    
The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 5, 2006 | Vol. 36 No. 1
Baltimore Celebrates H.L. Mencken

Mencken hired a newspaper clipping service to collect stories written about him; he enjoyed even the vicious attacks, calling them "salient specimens of the anti-Mencken invective." A published collection, 'Menckeniana: A Schimpflexikon,' includes this inscription: "Paul Patterson. At last the truth! H.L. Mencken 1928."

By Pamela Higgins
Sheridan Libraries

A new exhibition at Johns Hopkins' George Peabody Library offers an intriguing 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.

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 one!"

An opening reception will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 10, 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 3 p.m. talk titled "A Light Side of Mencken: The Man Behind the Mask." A book signing will precede the 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, but reservations are required; to reserve a place, contact Stacie Spence at or 410-516-7943.

A Baltimore native, Henry Louis Mencken was a Sun reporter and columnist for more than 40 years and one of America's leading literary and social critics in the first half of the 20th century. The cynical freethinker is often remembered as the "Sage of Baltimore."

Featured in Yet Another One! are a number of books inscribed to Paul Patterson, editor of The Sun. 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 and original letters and photographs inscribed by Mencken. A gift to the Johns Hopkins 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.

Cynthia Requardt, the William Kurrelmeyer Curator of Special Collections at Johns Hopkins, is curator of the exhibition.

"Mencken conducted some of the research for The American Language, one of his most acclaimed works, at the George Peabody Library," Requardt said. "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. The event, to be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9, 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.

Winston Tabb, Sheridan Dean of University Libraries at Johns Hopkins, said, "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. 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 at 9:30 a.m. at Temple Oheb Shalom titled "The Mencken Paradox: Was H.L. Mencken an Anti-Semite?" A continental breakfast will be served.

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 exhibition.

The exhibition runs through Jan. 7, 2007, and may be viewed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.


The Gazette | The Johns Hopkins University | Suite 540 | 901 S. Bond St. | Baltimore, MD 21231 | 443-287-9900 |