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First editions of Twain, Hemingway works come to Pitt

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Our City/Our Campus
  • Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Actor, bibliophile and philanthropist Richard E. Rauh (A&S ’62, ’64G) has donated his extraordinary collection of rare books and manuscripts valued at more than $1.4 million to the University of Pittsburgh Library System (ULS).

The Rare Book Library of Richard E. Rauh will be housed in the Archives & Special Collections department of Hillman Library alongside nearly 100,000 other rare books, broadsides, pamphlets, sheet music and serials.

“The Rauh Collection revels in firsts, originals and rarities including first editions and presentation copies of the most celebrated American and British novelists and playwrights of the 19th and 20th centuries,” said Kornelia Tancheva, Hillman University Librarian and director of ULS. “Inscriptions, autographs, manuscript letters, original dust jackets, limited printings, interesting bindings and exceptional provenance are just some of the fascinating characteristics that distinguish this collection [and] that will complement our other archival materials.”

Rauh’s interest in prominent cultural American icons such as Mark Twain offers insight into 19th- and 20th-century publishing activities including editions, marketing, artwork and illustrations, and editorial and sales decisions.

The first edition of “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches” represents the work when it was first made available for sale and is considered a first state because it is among the earliest copies — one of only 1,000 first printing copies — produced without changes or corrections to the text or dust jacket.

Such publication details help scholars to better understand and piece together the author’s original aspirations for the work and the technology and processes employed to produce the book as well as the impact on readership, literacy and dissemination.

The Rauh Collection also includes the first editions/first printings of Twain’s “Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “Life on the Mississippi” and “Huckleberry Finn.”

Significant works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, including “This Side of Paradise,” “The Beautiful and Damned,” “All the Sad Young Men,” “Taps at Reveille” and “The Great Gatsby,” also grace this collection. These first editions encompass a presentation copy inscribed by Fitzgerald as well as scarce first- or early issue dust jackets.

Other noteworthy authors in the Rauh Collection include first editions with original dust jackets of Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises,” John O’Hara’s “Appointment in Samarra” and Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.” Rauh’s first and early editions represent the works’ purest forms — not yet influenced by critical acclaim or repackaging that occurs when a novel becomes a best seller.

Intrigued by signed and inscribed books, Rauh collected works with handwritten notes by authors such as Oscar Wilde, who inscribed his first book, titled “Ravenna,” and wrote across the front wrapper, “E.B. Benson with best wishes from the author.” The Rauh Collection also includes a four-page autograph letter signed by Oscar Wilde to his publisher Leonard Smithers regarding “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” along with a photograph, transcription and the original autograph envelope. The letter thanks Leonard Smithers for a parcel of books and offers the possibility of providing him with materials to publish.

The author’s inscriptions and signatures offer readers some insight into dialogues and discourse between the author and the recipient as well as the stories that surround these relationships, said Jeanann Haas, special collections coordinator at Pitt.

The collection also contains other first or early limited editions of signed works from Oscar Wilde, including “Poems,” “The Happy Prince and Other Tales” and “The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People.”

“The Rauh Collection gives clues into the stories behind the publications of these works as well as the collector’s innermost passions and interests,” said Haas. “ULS strives to collect materials with enduring historical value, such as those in the Rauh Collection, to support the University of Pittsburgh’s teaching and research mission and preserve the cultural heritage of the region, country and world. We are extremely grateful to Richard E. Rauh for his generosity and sharing his treasure trove with Pitt and beyond.”

From the theater

Rauh pursued his love for the theater and performing arts at the University of Pittsburgh, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1962 and a master’s degree in 1964. His ongoing love for the artform is evident in his assortment of playwrights’ works.

Thornton Wilder’s first edition presentation copy of “Our Town” was signed by the entire cast and includes inscriptions by Wilder and Frank Craven, who originated the role of the stage manager. The text also contains actor’s notes written by Tom Fadden, the thespian who originated the role of Howie Newsome. Fadden was the original compiler of these documents, which also include an original playbill from Broadway’s Morosco Theatre and an autographed military postcard he received from Wilder.

Rauh collected works from other successful playwrights of this time, including Tennessee Williams and George Bernard Shaw. The Rauh Collection includes first editions — all containing original dust jackets — of “The Glass Menagerie,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” as well as a rare, unpublished proof copy of Shaw’s “Pygmalion: A Play in Five Acts: By a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature,” signed and inscribed by the author.

Finally, the Rauh Collection holds an extremely rare 1683 edition of William Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.”

Music, poetry and photography

There’s even more. Rauh also incorporated music, poetry and photography into his collection.

Cole Porter’s first edition and limited copy of “Red Hot and Blue” contains the lyrics, melody and piano accompaniment for the songs from this musical comedy and was signed by the American composer. Rauh also acquired the first edition in English of Gaston Leroux’s novel “The Phantom of the Opera.” This work is one of only three known copies in the original dust jacket.

Similarly, T.S. Eliot’s first issue of his celebrated poetic work “The Waste Land” enriches the collection, as does the work of Helen Levitt, whose 20th-century avant-garde approach to photography was profound. Her works ranged from snapshots of children’s sidewalk drawings to documenting urban street theater. Exploring various photographic processes, she seized the opportunity to create significant and thought-provoking publications. Containing all first editions and signed by Levitt, the collection includes “In the Street: Chalk Drawings and Messages, New York City 1938-1948,” “Color Photographs, Crosstown” and “A Way of Seeing.”