Leicester (pronounced “Lester”) Hemingway is known to history principally for three things: For being the younger brother of the famous novelist Ernest Hemingway, to whom he bore a striking physical resemblance; for publishing a well-received biography of his brother a mere eight months after Ernest died; and for “founding” his own island nation, the Republic of New Atlantis. Artifacts related to each of these contributions have found their way to the Harry Ransom Center. Read more
The Ransom Center’s reference desk receives about 150 new inquiries every month, but this particular question caught their attention for its unusual question and the age of its sender. Ransom Center Librarian Richard Workman worked with a Georgia high school student, providing him information for a class project about Ezra Pound. Many of Pound’s papers reside at the Ransom Center. Their email exchange in its entirety is printed below.
My name is Will. I am a Jr in high school in Jones County, Georgia. I have been assigned a group project (which I am the leader) in my Literature class. My group of 7 must put together a luncheon introducing one of Ezra Pound’s works. We are required to actually put together the program honoring Mr. Pound and his work of our choosing. We must decide where this luncheon would have been held – then actually cook the food – which MUST be a dish Ezra Pound enjoyed, serve the beverage – which MUST be a drink Ezra Pound enjoyed (non-alcoholic), provide background music which Ezra Pound would have chosen, create an “era-appropriate” atmosphere of the restaurant, and find out if Mr. Pound enjoyed an after-dinner cigar or anything of that sort. The Literature teachers will be the luncheon participants (they get to eat the food, drink the drink, listen to the music and also our oral report and program honoring this particular work.) The worst part is – we were assigned this Tuesday April 3 and must present it Friday April 13 (how appropriate).
My question is – we can find lots of information on Ezra Pound’s works and life, but not intimate information like what food and drink he preferred, what type restaurant he might frequent, etc. Do you have any suggestions where we may search. I have searched for hours on the internet just to come up with this e-mail address. I pray you will read this and respond in time for us to get the research and work done. Please take this seriously. I would be grateful for any help you may give us.
From: Richard Workman
Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2007 11:15 AM
Subject: Ezra Pound and food
Your project sounds fascinating. You have very creative teachers, and I’m sure you must be enjoying your class.
The Harry Ransom Center holds a collection of Ezra Pound’s papers, consisting mostly of manuscripts of some of his works and a large selection of his correspondence. I haven’t read every letter in the collection, but I believe they mostly deal with his theories of literature, politics, and economics.
I think your best bet is a biography of Pound. The one I suggest is by Humphrey Carpenter. It’s titled A Serious Character: The Life of Ezra Pound. It has an extremely detailed index which I think will be very helpful to you. If you look under the entry “Pound, Ezra Loomis” in the index, you will find a long entry broken up into several sections. Under the section titled “Character, Interests, Outlook, and Style” is an entry for “food, love of” followed by about 30 citations. This should give you plenty of information to construct your luncheon. As for music, Pound was famous for his love of modern classical music, and the biography is full of mentions of his musical activities.
I hope you can find a copy of the book in time to bring your luncheon off. If you have difficulty, let me know and I’ll see if we can be of further help.
Good luck with your project and keep enjoying literature.
P.S. One of my colleagues suggested that the ideal thing to serve would be pound cake!
To: Richard Workman
Sent: Thursday, Apr 19, 2007
Subject: Re: Ezra Pound and food
Dear Mr. Workman –
Our project went wonderfully well thanks to your help!! Our county library didn’t have the Ezra Pound book you suggested and neither did the Macon system, but we found it in the system a few counties over (about 1 1/2 hr away), so my mom drove over and picked it up for us. After studying that book, we decided to serve Chicken a la Lucy with new potatoes and green beans for the main course, also salad and, for dessert, peach ice cream on pound cake (we took your colleague’s advice!). We chose to decorate the classroom like St.Elizabeth’s mental hospital and held the “luncheon” in the hospital cafeteria. We received 10 out of 10 on our evaluation sheets from 3 of the teachers (we didn’t get to see the sheets from the other 2) so we feel pretty sure we did well – though we haven’t received our grade yet.
I just want to thank you on behalf of our whole group for your help. We were really up against it and you came through for us! Thank you so much for your help and for being so thorough and professional in your work. God bless you.
Jones County, Georgia
(PS – My mom graduated from Killeen High School which isn’t too far from Austin – but she went to UGA and FSU instead of staying in Texas)
From: Richard Workman
Sent: Thursday, Apr 19, 2007
Subject: Re: Ezra Pound and food
You made my day! I’m so glad to hear that your project was a success. It sounds like your group put its heart and soul into it. Bravo!
I am very happy that I could contribute in a small way to your triumph, and I hope this experience leaves you with a lifelong love of literature and, incidentally, a warm feeling for librarians. If there’s one thing we love to do, it’s help people.
Please pass along my congratulations to all the members of your group and to your very clever and creative teachers. And thanks very much for bringing me up to date.
Letter from Grace Hall Hemingway to Ernest Hemingway, July 24, 1920, “handed to him on 27 July 1920.”
Hemingway (1899-1961) was 21 years old when his mother wrote him this letter (one page of her hand-written copy is shown) telling him that he was overdrawn in the bank account of his mother’s love. He had returned the year before from the war in Europe after having been wounded and decorated for valor by Italy. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954. Read more
The Harry Ransom Center recently acquired new materials related to writer Bernard Malamud. These materials, purchased from his daughter, Janna Malamud Smith, complement the existing Malamud archive at the Ransom Center, which comprises more than 37 boxes of correspondence and papers. The Ransom Center acquired the original collection in the late 1990s. Read more
Norman Mailer visited the Ransom Center for the 2006 Flair Symposium, The Sense of Our Time: Norman Mailer and America in Conflict, which culminated with a public panel, “A Conversation with Norman Mailer.” The panel, moderated by Steven Isenberg, featured Norman Mailer, Gay Talese, and Lawrence Schiller. Below are some photos from the panel and other events at the Flair Symposium. Read more
The exhibition Felix Topolski: Portraits of Britain’s Twentieth-Century Literary Greats, runs through December 31, 2006.
The Ransom Center acquired Topolski’s full-length portrait of George Bernard Shaw in 1960 and shortly thereafter commissioned the artist to paint a portrait series of great living British writers and playwrights. The commission of “Twenty Greats” eventually included the portraits of W. H. Auden, John Betjeman, Cyril Connolly, Ivy Compton-Burnett, T. S. Eliot, William Empson, E. M. Forster, Graham Greene, Aldous Huxley, C. Day Lewis, Louis MacNiece, John Osborne, J. B. Priestley, Herbert Read, Bertrand Russell, C. P. Snow, Stephen Spender, Edith Sitwell, Evelyn Waugh, Rebecca West, John Whiting, Arnold Wesker, and Shelagh Delaney. This exhibition brings together, for the first time, all 20 stunning and controversial paintings from the original commission. Read more
One of the more thrilling aspects of being a writer is never knowing who might read your stuff. You can safely bet on your mom, a few colleagues, and the occasional library archivist, but beyond that, it’s a toss-up. Alan Furst hit the jackpot when a copy of his book The Polish Officer found its way onto the nightstand of Thomas Staley, director of the Harry Ransom Center, who discovered in Furst’s prose a singular ability to recreate the tense and shadowy atmosphere that gripped pre-World War II Europe. Furst reminded Staley of Graham Greene, whose papers the Ransom Center already housed, and Staley thought Furst’s meticulous research files and neatly typewritten manuscripts would fit nicely next to Greene’s on the shelves of the Ransom Center’s Reading Room. He approached Furst and, after a few years of negotiating, purchased Furst’s collection for an undisclosed amount.
Furst visited Austin in October to kick off the Texas Book Festival with a reading from his latest novel, the New York Times bestseller The Foreign Correspondent. With his collection now open to the public, we crept into the Ransom Center’s Reading Room to sift through a few boxes of his papers, curious to see how one goes about writing spy novels. At the tops of the following pages, you’ll find scans of some of the materials in Furst’s first novel, Night Soldiers, that represent the various stages in the writing process. We then sat down with Furst and asked him how he does it…
By: Tim Taliaferro. This article originally appeared in March/April 2007 issue of The Alcalde.