On April 30th, 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt opened New York’s World’s Fair with an address in which he praised the commercial festival as a “symbol of peace.” An idea dreamed up at the height of the depression, the theme of the Fair was “The World of Tomorrow.” Its opening slogan was an inspiring “Dawn of New Day.” [Read more…] about Arthur Szyk: The Artist As Soldier
In Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World (Simon & Schuster, 2020), a crisply-written, well-researched book, Lesley Blume, a journalist and biographer, tells the fascinating story of the background to John Hersey’s path-breaking article “Hiroshima” and of its extraordinary impact upon the world.
In 1945, although only 30 years of age, Hersey was a very prominent war correspondent for Time magazine — a key part of publisher Henry Luce’s magazine empire — and living in the fast lane. That year, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel, A Bell for Adano, which had already been adapted into a movie and a Broadway play. Born the son of missionaries in China, Hersey had been educated at upper class, elite institutions, including the Hotchkiss School, Yale, and Cambridge. During the war, Hersey’s wife, Frances Ann, a former lover of young Lieutenant John F. Kennedy, arranged for the three of them to get together over dinner. Kennedy impressed Hersey with the story of how he saved his surviving crew members after a Japanese destroyer rammed his boat, PT-109. This led to a dramatic article by Hersey on the subject — one rejected by the Luce publications but published by the New Yorker. The article launched Kennedy on his political career and, as it turned out, provided Hersey with the bridge to a new employer – the one that sent him on his historic mission to Japan. [Read more…] about John Hersey and the Hiroshima Cover-up
In August 1664 four English frigates sailed into the harbor of New Amsterdam, demanding the surrender of New Netherland. The colony was provisionally ceded by Peter Stuyvesant. He subsequently sent a delegation to sign the Articles of Capitulation. New Amsterdam was reincorporated under English law as the city of New York. Soon after the Second Anglo-Dutch (Sea) War broke out in which Charles II unsuccessfully tried to end Dutch domination of world trade. [Read more…] about Exchanging New Amsterdam for Paramaribo
It’s never been easy to make your way as an independent, career-minded woman in New York City. Mary L. Booth did it in the 19th century, forging a career and establishing a reputation as a writer, translator, and the founding editor of Harper’s Bazzar.
Learn more about this Long Island native as we talk to Tricia Foley, author of Mary L. Booth: The Story of an Extraordinary 19th-Century Woman, on the lastest episode of the Long Island History Project. [Read more…] about Mary Booth: Writer, Translator, and Founding Editor of Harper’s Bazzar
North Country Books, a Utica publisher and major wholesaler and distributor of books throughout Upstate New York and Northern New England, is expected to close by the end of the year according to company owner Rob Igoe Jr.
The firm is a victim of COVID-19 Pandemic Igoe told the New York Almanack, but noted that times have been tough since their biggest clients, Borders and Walden Books, closed in 2011. [Read more…] about North Country Books Closing After 55 Years
In 1868, Anthony Comstock authored a comprehensive New York State statute prohibiting the distribution of “immoral” books and images. Five years later he founded the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice.
Acting as its secretary until his death in September 1915, he sought to become the arbiter of corruption and was handed legal authority to burn indecent books, destroy printers’ stocks, and enter galleries demanding that vile paintings be removed under threat of prosecution. For his enemies Comstock symbolized licensed bigotry; for his supporters he stood firm in defense of decency.
In 1895, the New York Times introduced the term “comstockery” to describe his zealous moral campaign. [Read more…] about Donleavy, Comstockery and Irish Smut
In 1693, Leicestershire-born immigrant William Bradford was appointed public printer for New York. Living in Pearl Street, Manhattan, he published from his offices in Hanover Square the first book with a New York imprint, entitled New-England’s Spirit of Persecution Transmitted to Pennsylvania by Quaker author George Keith.
Between 1725 and 1744, Bradford produced the New-York Gazette, the city’s first newspaper. Lower Manhattan continued to be the center of New York’s printing industry for many years, but by the 1860s the street took on a northern European accent and became known for a different type of leaf – tobacco. [Read more…] about Gompers and Hammerstein: The Cigar Makers Who Transformed Theatre
Said to be born somewhere in “America” on September 11, 1905, Kathryn Hamill is an intriguing figure whose presence has been strangely ignored.
Typically mentioned in the context of her fling with novelist Patricia Highsmith, little else is known about her. Even photographic images appear to be missing. A one-time Ziegfeld dancer, she married a British publisher, studied medicine in Cambridge, lived in one of London’s iconic modernist houses, and committed suicide. A biographer’s challenge. Surely. [Read more…] about A Modernist Merry-Go-Round
Born in March 1804 in Bavaria, Franz Seraph Hanfstaengl studied at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. He settled in Dresden and began copying paintings in the splendid collection of the city’s Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister.
Between 1835 and 1852 he produced about 200 lithographic reproductions of masterworks, laying the foundations for the publishing House of Hanfstaengl. [Read more…] about House of Hanfstaengl: Munich and Manhattan
In 2019, Arthur A. Levine in New York and Em. Querido in Amsterdam announced that they were joining forces as an independent publishing house under the name Levine Querido. For me, after decades of living and working in London, that information sparked a flash-back.
Creativity and Nostalgia
A metropolis without immigrants would be unthinkable. The emergence of the modern movement in art and literature coincided with multiple waves of migration and is associated with flux and exile. James Joyce or Ezra Pound felt that being expatriat enhanced their independence. To George Steiner, modernism meant extra-territoriality. [Read more…] about Jaap Harskamp: Publish and Be Free