Bidding for Fame
Lee Hadden writes " There's an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal concerning
the selling of the Watergate archives to a university library. He says The Woodstein Watergate archive will keep some astonishing company at the Ransom
Center: a Gutenberg Bible, the first book printed in English (a history of Troy dated
1473), one of 11 copies of "Songs of Innocence" hand-colored by William Blake. In a
collection that includes 30 million literary manuscripts and a million rare books,
the list of treasures, and dross, is boundless.
But any museum or library would covet a Gutenberg; it was the genius of the
well-heeled Ransom to focus on collecting 20th-century writers' papers, which made
Austin the first stop for anyone selling a more contemporary collection. Manuscripts
of Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot and D.H. Lawrence (plus his moccasins)
can be found there. And of course the center's curators have to guess at future big
names and buy accordingly. It's like a futures market in reputations.
Read more about it at: www.wsj.com (Subscription required).