Friday, January 02, 2009

Gotham Book Mart's Collection Goes to Penn

Having whiled away many pleasurable hours in antiquarian bookstores, this story about New York's historic Gotham Book Mart caught my eye. The precious collection of books from this bookstore, founded in 1920, will now belong to the University of Pennsylvania thanks to an anonymous benefactor. It is amazing that the entire inventory valued at several million dollars was bought up for a mere $400,000 at auction.

Here's a little excerpt and a photograph from the news story that gives a sense of the bookstore's history:

The Gotham Book Mart was founded on West 45th Street in 1920 by Frances Steloff. It was the haunt of literary figures like Theodore Dreiser, John Dos Passos, H. L. Mencken, Arthur Miller, John Updike, J. D. Salinger and Eugene O’Neill. It exhibited the works of the artist Edward Gorey. Its customers included George and Ira Gershwin, Charlie Chaplin, Alexander Calder, Stephen Spender, Woody Allen, Saul Bellow, John Guare, Katharine Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. At various points, Allen Ginsberg, LeRoi Jones and Tennessee Williams (for a day) worked as clerks there.

The Gotham Book Mart was famous for its literary eminences. A December 1948 party for Osbert and Edith Sitwell (seated, center) drew a roomful of brightlights to the Gotham Book Mart: clockwise from W. H. Auden, on the ladder at top right, were Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, Delmore Schwartz, Randall Jarrell, Charles Henri Ford (cross-legged, on the floor), William Rose Benét, Stephen Spender, Marya Zaturenska, Horace Gregory, Tennessee Williams, Richard Eberhart,Gore Vidal and José Garcia Villa. (Photo: Gotham Book Mart)


talha ahmed chohan said...

awesome post man by any chance r u sabahat's brother cuz if u r u both have extremely geat caliber of writing

Fawad Zakariya said...

Talha, thanks for visiting. I indeed am her older brother.