Stephen Crane

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of American writer Stephen Crane. While Crane’s reputation suffered for several decades after his death, his writing had a strong influence on later 20th century writers. Today he is recognized as a major figure in American literature, particularly as a representative of late 19th century Naturalism.

Crane began writing in his teens. He eventually dropped out of college to pursue writing professionally, producing short stories and reporting for newspapers and other periodicals. He soon began writing novels and poems as well as expanding his journalism career. His poetry was initially panned by critics, but The Red Badge of Courage, his second novel, was widely acclaimed and sold well. Crane spent several years traveling the world as a war correspondent and publishied several more books of stories and poems before succumbing to tuberculosis at age 28.

The L. Tom Perry Special Collections contains complete run of Crane’s trade publications from 1895-1903, from The Red Badge of Courage (first edition pictured above) and Maggie: A Girl of the Streets to the posthumously-published Last Words and The O’Ruddy. The Will Bradley cover design for Crane’s second book of poetry, War is Kind, is shown below.

Gothic novels and other tales of terror

Looking for some Halloween reading suggestions? We bring you a grim and grisly new addition to the Victorian Collection: the 1847 anonymous Gothic novel The Mysterious Avenger. Issued by a Yorkshire publisher, this cheaply produced “penny dreadful” features everything a reader might expect in a modern horror thriller. Spooky locales? Sinister characters? The supernatural? Revenge? Torture? Murder? Blood and gore? All to be found in The Mysterious Avenger.


Other penny dreadfuls and Gothic/horror novels can be found in the library collections by using the advanced search feature and searching the genre field for the terms “penny dreadful,” “gothic fiction,” “horror fiction,” or “street literature.”

Archive Classics Series: BRIGHAM YOUNG (1940) — Friday, October 22, 7pm – Library Auditorium

This is the first film to be presented in the ARCHIVE CLASSICS series.

This series features the presentation of cinematic gems held in the BYU MOTION PICTURE ARCHIVE.

These films are esteemed to be of particular importance to BYU Students, focusing on depictions, representations, and expressions of latter-day saints in the medium of the cinema.

The plan for the series is to hold one screening per academic semester and include a presentation that will place them in their time and context.

Producer Darryl F. Zanuck viewed the trek west by latter-day saints as a fantastic epic fit for the big screen. Glossing over sticky points, especially polygamy, the production is one of the most sympathetic to early Mormon history and is an absolute milestone for the Church’s public image in the 20th century.

There is incredible history with this film, and too much to put in a blog post. Numerous articles have been written about this film and its influence and impact.

Come see it with a crowd and hear from James D’Arc, former curator of the BYU Motion Picture Archive who knows the film and its importance backwards and forwards.

This is one you don’t want to miss!

Friday, October 22, 7pm – Library Auditorium

A Halloween exhibit

From October 13-31, Special Collections reprises the “Thrills and Chills in Cloth” exhibit for Halloween. It features some particularly spooky 19th and 20th century books from our Rare American Literature and Victorian and Edwardian collections.

The exhibit demonstrates how British and American book designers took advantage of new technologies to stamp full-color images into cloth bindings. The exhibit features some famous titles of mystery and suspense, like Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, as well as forgotten titles with eerie cover images.

History of the Doctrine and Covenants exhibit

It’s that time of year again!  Our annual “History of Doctrine and Covenants” exhibit is on display now in L. Tom Perry Special Collections. This exhibit takes the viewer through the history of the Doctrine and Covenants, from handwritten manuscripts to being published in book form in 1835. Later editions with significant additions or deletions are also displayed, including the 1844 edition (added the section on the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in 1844, along with seven other revelations), the 1876 edition (added Section 132 on plural marriage, along with 26 other revelations), and the 1921 edition (removed the Lectures on Faith, which had been there since 1835). Also shown is an 1835 letter from Oliver Cowdery to Newel K. Whitney regarding original copies of a revelation, and James E. Talmage’s journal where he documents revisions he was asked to make in 1921 as part of the Doctrine and Covenants Committee.

In addition, come see the Library’s copy of the Book of Commandments (1833), which is rarely on display, and some information about Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, one of the young girls who helped save pages of the Book of Commandments when the press in Independence, Missouri, was destroyed by a mob.

This exhibit will be on display in the Reading Room in Special Collections until the end of November 2021. Come see this popular exhibit and learn more about this significant book of modern day scripture!

Note: Because this exhibit is in our Reading Room, visitors must remove all coats and bags and store them in a locker available on-site.

Can’t make it in person? No problem! Knowing that many may not be able to see this exhibit in person for various reasons, we have created an online version of this exhibit: This includes additional content not found in the physical exhibit, including information about The Evening and Morning Star (1832) and additional manuscript revelations.

WALK IN THEIR SHOES: A Restoration Premiere — October 8th


In 1968, the BYU Motion Picture Studio (MPS) produced WALK IN THEIR SHOES, a short film about teenagers learning to understand a parent’s worry and why they set boundaries out of love for them.

The BYU MPS produced these films regularly for church and seminary use, even marketing them to other churches and civic groups when appropriate. The classic JOHNNY LINGO was also produced in the same year by many of the same filmmakers.

Recently, the BYU Motion Picture Archive located camera original materials that contained the filmed images in hi-definition beauty. Using modern technology, we were able to bring these images to light and will present them with even greater clarity than the first film prints struck in 1968.

The restoration was an ‘experiential learning’ project, allowing a student to perform the lion’s share of the restoration duties under the direction of the curator of the Motion Picture Archive. The University is actively supportive of these types of unique learning experiences.

Come join us for the first general screening of this new restoration. We will have a presentation on the film restoration process, followed by the film which runs about 25 minutes.

October 8th, 2021            7:00pm               Reynolds Auditorium (first floor of the BYU Library)

Celebrating Dante Alighieri

Today marks the 700th anniversary of the death of the Italian poet, Dante Alighieri. His Divine Comedy (completed in 1320) is considered both one of the greatest works in Italian literature and one of the greatest literary works of the European Middle Ages.

Dante’s poetry and prose works were copied widely in Medieval Italy—around 800 manuscripts of the Divine Comedy alone survive from the 14th and 15th centuries. After the invention of the printing press, Dante’s works were also a popular choice for early printers and publishers. The vivid details of the Divine Comedy particularly inspired numerous artists to illustrate the text, both with original paintings and drawings or carved woodcut blocks which were printed alongside the text.

Special Collections holds dozens of early printed versions of Dante’s works and several facsimiles of 14th and 15th century manuscripts. To celebrate Dante’s life and work, we’ve compiled this gallery of interesting editions from our shelves, including several illustrated editions.


Celebrate National Silent Movie Day with BYU’s Silent Movie Remixes!

When:   September 29, 2021 will mark the first annual National Silent Movie Day. The screening will begin at 7pm.

Where:  BYU Library Auditorium

Who:   We invite the student community as well as the broader community to come celebrate and explore silent films with us!

What Films:

SHOOTIN’ MAD (1918) – “Bronco Billy” Anderson short

EASY STREET (1917) – Charles Chaplin short

HELL’S HINGES (1916) – W. S. Hart Western feature

Movies have never been truly silent, as music was used to dramatic effect virtually from cinema’s inception. However, synchronized sound would not become technologically available until 1927, leaving approximately 30 years for artists to develop a language of storytelling techniques with only moving images.

Join us as we develop a greater appreciation of silent movies and their language.

Restricting the screenings to the silent era, yet opening the aural possibilities, student artists will select music without restriction of era or genre to underscore the on-screen narrative. The juxtaposition of old stories and nontraditional music will creatively result in new connections.

Our goal is to respectfully underscore the emotional impact of the narrative in new and experimental ways. We want to help this artform be accessible to new audiences, and to refresh the artform for current fans. At a minimum these will be enjoyable experiments and a unique experience!

Sir Walter Scott

This week marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scottish novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott, born in Edinburgh on August 15, 1771.

Scott was one of the most popular English language authors of 19th century, whose work was frequently reprinted in both Great Britain and the USA. His Romantic poetry and historical novels had a huge impact on literary culture and reading tastes, literary tourism, and popular interpretations of Scottish culture.

As a young child Scott was sent to live with his paternal grandparents in the rural Scottish Borders to recuperate after a bout of polio. There he was introduced to traditional tales, popular songs, and stories of the Jacobite rising of 1745. Though trained in the law, Scott remained interested in poetry and literature. His first attempts at publishing were translations of German Romantic poems in the 1790s. He began collecting traditional ballads, which he published as Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border in 1802.

Over the next decade, Scott would edit numerous historical documents and literary texts from Scotland, particularly from the seventeenth century. He also composed his own poetry and prose on historical themes. The Lay of the Last Minstrel, a chivalric ballad, was published to acclaim in 1805. Marmion, a tragic romance set in the early 16th century, appeared in 1808.

Scott’s third long poem, The Lady of the Lake, was set in the Scottish Highlands. The books was a literary smash, selling over 20,000 copies when first published in 1810. The success pushed Scott to pick up the story again in the form of a historical novel. As a first novel, Scott chose to publish Waverley anonymously in 1814, though his authorship was widely acknowledged. Waverley sold out quickly and set Scott on a very successful career as a novelist. By 1817, his works were so popular that his publishers were printing his new titles in editions of 10,000, an unprecedented number in a time when novels were regularly issued in editions of around 1,000.

Special Collections owns a complete set of Scott’s novels in first edition copies, including many as issued in their original publisher’s boards. It also owns copies of Scott’s works in Victorian-era reprints. The collection attests to Scott’s popularity and shows the changing nature of the literary market as the novel came to prominence in the 19th century.

New acquisitions in British Literature: 19th century literary periodicals

In 19th century England, periodicals were a popular and cost-effective way for readers to gain access to literary material, whether prose or fiction. Special Collections actively adds new periodicals and serials to the Victorian and other British literary collections. Here are two recent acquisitions featuring the work of major 19th century literary figures:

The Friend : a literary, moral, and political weekly paper, excluding personal and party politics and the events of the day. [Penrith, England]: Printed and published by J. Brown, and sold by Messrs. Longman and Co. … and Clement … London, 1809-1810.

Samuel Coleridge produced a periodical, The Friend, between 1809 and 1810. It contains Coleridge’s essays on a wide range of subjects, from the political to the philosophical, and poetical works by William Wordsworth. L. Tom Perry Special Collections recently acquired a copy of the original issues of The Friend to add to later reprints edited by Coleridge and others later in the 19th century. Note the stamps on the original issues, which were later gathered into a single volume.


The Library of Fiction, or, Family Story-teller: consisting of original tales, essays, and sketches of character. Ed. Charles Whitehead. London: Chapman and Hall, 1836

The library of fiction, or, Family story-teller was a serial publication issued in 16 parts from April 1836-July 1837. It contains short fiction and literary sketches, including two contributions by up-and-coming young writer Charles Dickens. Dickens’s story “The Tuggses at Ramsgate” was the opening story in the publication and is shown here with an illustration by Robert Seymour.

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