Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein



“It’s alive! It’s alive”
You probably associate that line with the movie, “Frankenstein.” And, you’d be right. You’d be wrong, however if you think the monster is Frankenstein. That was actually the name of the doctor who created him, and both were born from the imagination of Mary Shelley, who began her book Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus during the summer of 1816 when she was not yet nineteen. Mary (the lover, and later wife of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley), Shelley, Lord Byron and John Polidori were spending time in Geneva, and the gloomy, rainy weather often kept them indoors. Among the often occult topics of conversation was galvanism, the contraction of a muscle that is stimulated by an electric current. One rainy afternoon, Byron suggested that they have a contest to see who could write the best gothic horror story. Mary’s was the only one which was completed. Her story is of a doctor, Victor Frankenstein, who experiments with a technique for giving life to non-living matter which ultimately leads to his creation of The Monster. Full of gothic elements, and considered to be one of the earliest examples of science fiction, it is more than that. It explores themes of goodness and beauty as well. Shelley’s tale was published in London in 1818, but that first edition was published anonymously. Her name did not appear as the author until the second edition was published in France in 1823.
Although when first published Frankenstein did not receive favorable critical reviews, it did gain almost immediate popular success, and the story has been retold in theatrical productions, movies (and movie spoofs) through the years. Although Mary Shelley continued to write, she will always be remembered for Frankenstein.
We have in the Rare Book Room an early copy of the celebrated novel.

Forthcoming book ad for Vanity Fair

Forthcoming book ad for Vanity Fair

Back cover of original paper wrappers

Back cover of original paper wrappers

Publisher's list of some of their other works

Publisher’s list of some of their other works

Title Page

Title Page

Original preface

Original preface

1831 Bentley edition preface

1831 Bentley edition preface

Opening pages of the story

Opening pages of the story

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus / by Mrs. Shelley. Boston: Sever, Francis, & Co., 1869. Third American edition. Includes both the original preface, and the preface the author wrote for the 1831 Bentley’s Standard Novel edition (London). Rebound in brown buckram, but retains the original green paper wrappers. Includes original publisher’s ad for “the elegant Cambridge edition” of Vanity Fair.

Guest Blogger: Emily Lauher, 2017 volunteer and future archivist, Changing Landscapes and Changing Attributes

Hi everyone my name is Emily Lauher. I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. I am a 2017 volunteer at Davidson College organizing the personal papers of Anne Stewart Higham, an adventurous world traveler.

Davidson College received this collection from one of Anne Higham’s granddaughters, Dr. Carol Higham. Dr. Higham is a professor of Native American History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has also worked as an adjunct professor at Davidson College. She first approached Jan Blodgett, College Archivist, regarding the personal papers belonging to Anne Higham.

Anne Stewart Higham

Anne Higham traveled extensively between 1940 and 1969 to Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

1945 Christmas Greeting when Anne Higham traveled throughout the Middle East.

During that time, she surrendered her American citizenship and became a British citizen (later requesting a return to American citizenship). Somehow, during those transactions, her birth year was also altered, making her five years younger on a return trip.

Working as an Army lecturer for the British Army, she first toured Royal Air Force stations in the Middle East and in 1946, began a tour of India and Africa. The correspondence in the collection discusses her lecture topics such as the history of Britain, conditions in Africa, and the Middle East. She also gave lectures on British women and the British war effort during World War II.

Anne Higham, United Nations lecturer

Dr. Carol Higham will be sharing an accretion to this collection, and I am hoping for copies of Anne Higham’s lectures and research notes to add to the photographs, negatives, correspondence and other materials in the collection. I am also hoping to learn more about Anne Higham’s life in these international locations and her relationship with her brother and son who served in the military during World Wars I and II.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

The Scarlet Letter, title page of first edition, first issue.

The Scarlet Letter, title page of first edition, first issue.

The Scarlet Letter was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of America’s most well-known writers, and was first published in March 1850 by Ticknor Reed and Fields in Boston. In November of 1849, James T. Fields, the junior partner in the firm (Boston’s most eminent) went to Salem to see Hawthorne, came back with an unfinished manuscript and began advertising this new work of Hawthorne’s. The tale of Hester Prynne (the adulteress branded with the scarlet letter A by her Puritan judges,) the Reverend Dimmesdale (father of her child) and Pearl (the child of the ill-fated union) is one with which most of us are familiar, since it’s often “required reading” in high school English classes. If you haven’t read it since high school, however, get it out again. You may find that your reaction to this masterpiece is quite different now.

The Scarlet Letter, title page verso.

The Scarlet Letter, title page verso.

Thanks to Dr. Wilber Fugate, Davidson class of 1934, we have a first edition, first issue of The Scarlet Letter in the Rare Book Room, one of only 2500 copies printed. According to one antique bookseller, Phillip J. Pirages, “this is a volume of firsts: the first edition, first issue of Hawthornes’ first novel, his first publication for Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, and generally recognized as the first major American novel.” There are several points which determine the first issue, including the absence of the preface which Hawthorne added later, and several misprints which were corrected in later issues.

Printing error: reduplicate for repudiate

Printing error:
reduplicate for repudiate

Printing error: mortal for moral

Printing error:
mortal for moral

Printing error: characterss

Printing error:

Printing error: tobelieve

Printing error:

Printing error: The number 21 printed at the foot of page 321.

Printing error:
The number 21 printed at the foot of page 321.






Our copy has been rebound in quarter red morocco with red linen boards, and uses raised bands, black morocco spine labels, and gilt spine lettering. The inscription on the title page reads “C. G. Atherton to Hon. J. Hurst Jr.” Charles Gordon Atherton was a lawyer and politician who served as a U.S. Senator from New Hampshire from 1843-1849, and from 1852 until his death in 1853. He served as Chairman of the Committee on Printing (Twenty-ninth Congress), the Committee on Roads and Canals (Twenty-ninth Congress), and the Committee on Finance (Thirtieth Congress.)

The Scarlet Letter binding

The Scarlet Letter binding

Books from the Nonesuch Press

A Nonesuch Press Dust Jacket

A Nonesuch Press Dust Jacket

I wrote an earlier blog on The Golden Cockerel Press , one of the famous private presses represented in our Rare Book Room.  Another private press which was also noted for its beautiful volumes was the Nonesuch Press.

The press was founded in London in 1922 by Francis Meynell, his wife Vera, and their friend David Garnett, co-owner of a bookshop in Soho.  Nonesuch Press published its first book in May 1923, and from then until the mid-1960s it produced more than 140 books.  Unlike most private presses, Nonesuch used a small hand press to design their books, but then had them printed by commercial printers.  This method allowed the books to be designed with the quality of a fine press, but since they were commercially printed, to be available to a wider audience at lower prices.  Nonesuch editions are prized by collectors, and we have several in our collection thanks to Dr. Harold Marvin, Davidson class of 1914.

Two of the titles in our collection are

Princess of Babylon

Princess of Babylon

The Princess of Babylon by M. de Voltaire, and Graziella by Alphonse de Lamartine.  The Princess of Babylon was printed in a limited edition of 1500 copies (ours is #106) on Batchelor’s Kelmscott hand-made paper, and bound in vellum backed marbled boards.  It is beautifully illustrated with plates and decorative vignettes by Thomas Lowinsky.


Graziella was also printed in a limited edition consisting of 1600, of which 600 were for sale in the United States.  This semi-autobiographical novel tells the story of a young Frenchman’s romance with a Neapolitan fisherman’s daughter.  It was bound in decorated cloth boards and includes 30 illustrations, some in color, by Jacquier.




Thanks, Dr. Marvin, for your wonderful gifts to our library!

Guest Blogger: Amanda Scott, May 2017 graduate and future librarian, On the Path from Chambers to Main Street

1903 Souvenir Album cover

1903 Souvenir Album, Campus View Looking West from Chambers

Every day I walk the path from Chambers to Main Street, past Oak and Elm, Phi and Eu. The path is incredibly familiar, and thus it was a surprise to realize that the photograph of a tree lined path from a 1903 view book is the same walk, only missing the benches, well, and the bricks paving the path. Phi sits at the end of the path, almost blocked by trees. As other photos in the view book show, the only change in Phi and Eu is the landscaping around them. Though the view book exclusively documents the heart of Davidson’s campus, Phi and Eu are the only buildings in this view book to remain completely unchanged. The original Chambers still stood in 1903, and would for eighteen more years, and Rumple and Martin were replaced by new buildings serving the same purpose. Some of the reference points used in the view book no longer even exist. Shearer was torn down in 1960, to be replaced by Cunningham, and the ivy-covered Morrison Hall came down in 1945.

1903 Souvenir Album, Hall of the Philanthropic Society

1903 Souvenir Album, Hall of the Eumenean Society

1903 Souvenir Album, Shearer-Biblical Hall – Erected on the Site of the “Old Chapel”

1903 Souvenir Album, The New Dormitory Building

The view book boasts of recent improvements to the college. Among other changes, within the last four years, Shearer, the original Martin, and a so far unnamed new dormitory were built. The dormitory, later dubbed Rumple, was well equipped, with running hot and cold water and radiator heating. It was also wired for electric lights, as the college planned to soon build a power plant. Despite the new building, the college was having a housing crisis, and the calls for enough funds to build another dorm were beginning to grow desperate. Rumple sat where Little is currently located, and I found it interesting to compare the two buildings. Rumple was large at the time, housing sixty students, while Little holds seventy-five. Both buildings follow the same aesthetic of other dorms along dorm row, but while Rumple started the look, Little merely matched the buildings already built. Chambers also needed to be renovated—after nearly fifty years of use, the building could use some work.

1903 Souvenir Album, The Chambers Building – Erected in 1857

My attention kept getting drawn back to the images of the original Chambers. The tallest building on campus poked over the treetops, appearing in several shots. Before looking at this view book, I had never seen a picture of Old Chambers, despite hearing many campus stories about it. In one of the pictures, you can see the large columns that still haunt the lawn in front of the present Chambers. The building is different in some ways from present Chambers, smaller and not quite as cohesive, but the buildings still look similar. Then and now, Chambers remains the center of campus, even as the building itself is destroyed and rebuilt.

Marbled Paper

American Military Biography

When you hear the word “marble” what comes to mind?  Small round glass balls you played with as a child?   The streaks of fat alternating with lean in a rib-eye steak?  Your beautiful variegated stone kitchen counters?  All are accurate.  But what if I told you that the Rare Book Room has several examples of “marbled” paper?  Do you picture paper that has hardened to rock?  Actually, “marbled paper” is given that description because of the appearance of the paper —with streaks and patterns like marble.

It is made by transferring water colors floating on the surface of a gum solution to a piece of paper.  The colors are drawn on the solution with sticks or combs to create patterns such as swirl, splash, and feather.  Colors vary, from dark to light; from the use of many colors to few.

Moby Dick

The technique was found as early as 118 in Japan, but the Persians are credited with first using it for books.  It was first used for the endpapers of a book, but it is also used for covers and bindings, and was used heavily in Europe and the U.S. in the 18th and 19th centuries.  It has more limited use currently, but has been revived for special books of limited editions.

Johnson & Queeney

The Rare Book Room has several examples of this beautiful technique, many currently on display.  So, if you’re in the area, come by the RBR to see some of our beautiful “marbled paper” books.

Le Duc de Nemours

Works of Robert Burns

Mill on the Floss

History of England

Man’s Oldest Sport

Andy Lausier, Davidson’s 12th head coach for wrestling and very recent arrival to the Davidson Athletic Department, demonstrated why wrestling is considered man’s oldest sport. There are Etruscan tombs and Greek vases documenting early matches, and the sport is described in the Bible as well. Many U.S. Presidents have also been wrestlers: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, and even Calvin Coolidge.

At Davidson, the sport of wrestling began in 1920 and the photograph below is the earliest we have located in the College Archives.

1923 Quips and Cranks


As with any athletic endeavor, there is equipment required and this 1932 Cash ledger shows exactly how much was paid for wrestling equipment.

1932 Cash Ledger, last line shows wrestling

Coach Lausier also commented that wrestling is a sport known for its diversity. This has certainly been true at Davidson. In 1927, Davidson’s first Jewish student, Isadore Doduck, was a member of the freshman wrestling and tennis teams. Jimmy Jung “from Kannapolis by way of Canton, China” captained the Davidson wrestling team in 1949.
(Previous “Around the D” entries).

During its nearly one hundred year existence at Davidson, there have also been familial connections among the athletes. The captain of the Wrestling team in 1923 (shown above) was A.D. Cromartie and forty-three years later, a member of the 1966 Wrestling team (shown below), was Dean Cromartie.

1966 Wrestling Team

As we approach the centennial of wrestling at Davidson, look for announcements and events on campus and more unique finds from the College Archives!

Matsukaze: A Japanese No Play

Cover of the RBR's copy of Matsukaze: A Japanese No Play

Cover of the RBR’s copy of
Matsukaze: A Japanese No Play

So, just what is a Japanese No (or Noh) play?  According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Noh comes from a Japanese word meaning “talent” or “skill.”  It refers to a traditional Japanese theatrical form, one of the oldest exant theatrical forms in the world.  It involves music, dance and drama, and has been around since the 14th century.  Plots are drawn from legend, history, literature and contemporary events, with themes often involving dreams, the supernatural world, and ghosts.  All the performers in a No play are men, in rich and heavy costume.  The main character, the shite, often takes several roles, each represented by a mask so that the audience knows which character is on stage at the time.  There is actually little action, with the performers acting more as story-tellers than actors.

One of the most famous of the No plays is Matsukaze, translated as “Breeze through the Pines,” or “Wind in the Pines.”  It is a “wig play” or “woman play” in which the characters are women, although played by men.  In Matsukaze, the two main characters are the spirits of Matsukaze (the wind) and her sister Murasame (the Autumn rain).  They lived in Settsu Province, and when the news of the death of their lover came, they both died of grief.  However, their sprits lingered on.  As the play opens, a traveling priest asks about a local memorial, finding out that it was built as a tribute to the two dead sisters.  The priest meets them in a dream, they explain their past and are overcome with madness.  Their souls are released and they pass from the mortal world, leaving only the sounds of the wind and the rain behind.

Matsukaze title page

Matsukaze title page

Dr. Harold Marvin (Davidson, Class of 1934) donated a copy of Matsukaze to the library’s Rare Book Room from his private collection.   Our copy, Matsukaze a Japanese No Play by Kwanami, was translated by Dan Frank Waugh, was privately printed in New York City in 1933, and is number 15 of only 75 copies.  It was bound by hand at the Stratford Press in imitation vellum and textured gray and black paper boards.  It was printed on hand-made Japanese silk paper.

Hand-made silk paper with deckled edges

Hand-made silk paper with deckled edges

The delicate paper is uncut (folded at the top) and has deckled edges. The decoration on the title page is from an ancient Japanese sword guard and symbolizes the play Matsukaze.

Thanks to Dr. Marvin for deciding to give us this beautiful book.

Coping with College

A June 2017 New York Times article, “Colleges Get Proactive in Addressing Depression on Campus,” mentions several programs at Davidson College and quotes the recently retired Dean Shandley as well. The article explains that colleges and universities are hosting numerous mental and emotional health programs to see what works the best and for the “broadest swath of students.”

I decided to take a look at Davidson College roughly fifty years ago to see what was offered. In the 1962-63 Davidson College Reference Catalogue (part of our digital collections), there are numerous references to “counseling” and this service was found in several departments and offered in various locations on campus.

Inquiries regarding “Student Interests and Counseling” were to be addressed to the Dean of Students and this was indicated on the first page of the catalogue. In addition to the Dean of Students, there was also an employee with the title, Director of Student Counseling.

Alumni Weekend, June, 1963, Dr. William Hight,
Director of Student Counseling

The David Ovens College Union is described as a “laboratory of student management and self-expression as well as a place for informal counseling and guidance.”

Aerial photo of Johnston Gym and Richardson Stadium and Field; the roof of the Ovens College Union is visible.

As one might expect, one of the responsibilities listed for the College Chaplain was “personal counseling;” although, expectations that the Chaplain would provide counsel regarding summer employment, another stated assignment, would probably not be anticipated. The Supervisor of Dormitories was also encouraged to offer advice and counsel students regarding problems in campus housing.

Mrs. Moore, Supervisor of Dormitories, surrounded by students.

Although the term would probably not be applied the same way on today’s campus, in the 1960s, counseling began with Freshman Orientation and continued throughout a student’s career, according to “The Degree Programs” section of the 1962-1963 catalogue.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact

“A Fondness for Town Ball”: Early Years of Baseball at Davidson

As the Men’s Baseball team goes on a Cinderella run in the NCAA Division I World Series, let’s look back at the foundations of baseball at Davidson College.

Baseball is first mentioned as a pastime on campus in 1870, played as recreational “Saturday ball”-style games by members of the literary societies. Much of the information the archives has on 1870s baseball come from the reflections of E.M. Summerell (Class of 1876), who was interviewed for a May 15, 1924 Davidsonian story, “Earliest Days of Davidson’s Baseball History Are Pictured By Former Player”:

“Dr. Summerell said that he had a fondness for town ball and that when a baseball club was organized here the spring after he came, he joined and made the team. He played every position on the field, including pitcher, catcher, and infielder.”

Members of the Class of 1892 baseball team, holding a sign indicating that their class had won the championship showdown between all class teams.

Cornelia Shaw’s Davidson College describes the spirit of Davidson baseball in these early years:

“The first mention of baseball was in September, 1870, when two clubs (The Mecklenburgs and the Red Jackets) were in existence… Members were excused from literary society meetings on Saturday mornings to take part. The games were an overflow of joyous interest in sport; there were no coaches and no admission fees.”

Baseball became an intramural sport, and each class fielded a team to play against the others. Quips and Cranks, the yearbook, often recorded athletic records set each year, including a “baseball throw.” However, the March 1898 issue of the Davidson College Magazine noted that “baseball doesn’t receive as much attention among us as it should,” implying that football was the more popular sport on campus at that time.

The 1905 intercollegiate team, with their mascot – that year, “Bowman’s baby.” We do not know who Bowman is, but likely a townsperson in Davidson.

Class baseball played an important role in one of the most infamous riots on campus – the Freshman Riot of 1903, when inter-class competition and hazing led to a conflict between the Class of 1906 (then freshmen) and the Class of 1905 (then sophomores) that legendarily involved their baseball score score (freshmen 12, sophomores 9) being scrawled on the columns of Old Chambers, sophomores being barricaded from their rooms, both classes taking refuge in boarding houses in town and then possibly settling their differences in a fistfight on the College President’s lawn.

The baseball squad in 1906. Since this image includes 47 players, it is likely of all the class teams and the intercollegiate team players together.

Baseball became a varsity sport in 1902, when Davidson began intercollegiate play. The first season went swimmingly, with Davidson recording victories over Duke University (then Trinity College), The Citadel, and University of South Carolina. The intercollegiate team’s first season record was 7-2, and the team would go on to post a 84-55-2 record over the first ten years of play. The freshmen class retained a junior varsity team, known as the “Scrubs” and later as the “Kittens” or “Wildkittens”, which allowed freshmen to get more playing time.

A summary of the first year of varsity intercollegiate baseball play appeared in the 1903 Quips and Cranks: “What team in the beginning of its career ever made such a record on the diamond as our team did last year?”

A baseball cartoon from the 1902 Quips and Cranks, the first year of intercollegiate baseball play.

A cartoon from the 1904 Quips and Cranks, celebrating Davidson baseball’s win over UNC. Cartoons of this type, often featuring racist stereotypes, were commonly featured in yearbooks in the early 20th century.

The baseball program has significantly expanded since the early years of “town ball,” class team rivalries, baby mascots, and early intercollegiate play. Cheer on our modern-day Davidson ball players in their best-of-three super regional match-up against Texas A&M – game one will be on June 9, game two on June 10, followed by a third game on June 11 if necessary. Go ‘Cats!