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Welcome to Prospero's Blog! My wife Mollie and I work together in our Rough Magic studio on the coast of Maine. I've always loved old books, memorabilia, curiosities and Americana (especially 19th century dramatic literature) and am happy to share my discoveries in my Etsy Shops. Please come by and browse ~ there's just no telling what you'll find!

October 28, 2009

Autobiographical Sketch of Mrs. John Drew

"Autobiographical Sketch of Mrs. John Drew" is a Memoir by the Matriarch of a two famous acting families, the Drews and the Barrymores.
~ Published in New York by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1899, the book is 200 pages long and includes an introduction by the author's son, John Drew, biographical notes by Douglas Taylor, and 43 illustrations.
~ The pages are clear and firmly bound, but the cover is worn and smudged. The tissue covering the frontispiece portrait is folded and torn.
~ Inscription in ink on the flyleaf:
"Edward Freiberger December 18, 1899 Chicago"

To view the book in my Etsy shop, please click this link: 
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=33453209

Memoir of George Holland the Veteran Comedian


This RARE book provides wonderful primary source material for historians, researchers, and all those who love the 19th century and American theatre!

British born, George Holland (1791-1870) came to America in 1827. He was called a "comedian of peculiar and irrepressible drollery."

The title page reads:
"Holland Memorial. Sketch of the Life of George Holland, the Veteran Comedian. With Dramatic Reminiscences. Anecdotes, &c. Edition limited to 250 copies, 50 which are on quarto paper. New York: T. H. Morrell, 78 Nassau Street. 1871."

The book is 124 pages long, measures 11-1/8" x 7-1/2" x 5/8" and is in fair condition, considering its 138 years. The cover is worn, and the lower portion of the spine is torn. Pages 1 and 2 are loose up to 5" from the bottom, and page 7 is completely detached. There are light scribblings in page margins.  The frontispiece is a portrait of Holland.

To view this book in my Etsy shop, click this link:
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=33449592

October 27, 2009

The Ten Commandments in the Animal World - Vintage Book

Copyrighted in 1907 and published in 1923, this charming little 78-page hardcover book is in excellent condition.

It was written by the popular naturalist and storyteller Ernest Thompson Seton (1860-1946), who believed "that the Ten Commandments are not arbitrary laws given to man but are fundamental laws of all highly developed animals."

Seton tells delightful stories about different animals (from wolves to hens to moose) to prove his theory in terms of the last six Commandments, which are concerned with man's duty to man.

The chapters are:
"Against Disobedience"
"Against Murder"
"Against Impurity"
"Against Stealing"
"Against False Witness"
"Against Coveting"

The book measures 7-1/2" x 4-3/4".

Click here to view it in my Etsy shop.

October 25, 2009

Daniel Frohman Presents ... a Theatrical Memoir


For historians, researchers, collectors and theatre buffs!

Here is the autobiography of legendary American theatre producer Daniel Frohman (1851-1940), published by Lee Furman, New York, in 1937.

Not only is this 397-page memoir packed with primary source information, it is a fascinating "read," written with skill and gentle good humor.  The author gives us "peeps" (as he calls them) at such theatrical notables and celebrities as Mae West, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Lillie Langry, Sarah Bernhardt, Duse, Modjeska, Enrico Caruso, Noel Coward, Charlie Chaplin, Billie Burke, and dozens more.

He also provides insights into stewardship of the Lyceum and Madison Square Theatres.

The book itself is in fair condition. The cover is worn and faded, especially at the spine, which is broken but still firmly attached. There are a few light pencil notes in the margin, and the inside front cover has had an old bookplate removed.

Aside from Frohman's lively and informative commentary, the real treasure in this book is the last section -- "Daniel Frohman's Album." Here, in excellent condition, are 64 black and white photographs of the people we've all heard of and wondered about.

~~~ Was Lillie Langtry ("The Jersey Lily") really a great beauty? Study the photo of her with the great Sarah Bernhardt and then decide.  (That's Lillie on the left.)

 
Other celebrities in Frohman's Album include:
~ Noel Coward
~ Enrico Caruso
~ Lillian Russell
~ Salvini
~ Henry Irving
~ Thomas Nast
~ Charles Chaplin
~ Mae West
~ Maude Adams
~ Eleonora Duse
~ Edwin Booth
~ Otis Skinner
~ Walter Hampden
~ Ethel Barrymore
~ Maurice Barrymore and John Drew, scions of the famous star-studded family
~ Charles Frohman, the author's brother
~ George M. Cohan, the "Yankee Doodle Dandy"

All in all, this is a thoroughly delightful book, offering many revealing "peeps" at the late 19th and early 20th century theatre scene in America.

To view Daniel Frohman Presents in my Etsy shop, please click here.

October 19, 2009

The Magic Curtain by Lawrence Langner - Story of the Theatre Guild


The Magic Curtain is a wonderful book for everyone interested in the theatre!

Written with wit and clarity, and packed with entertaining anecdotes about famous 20th century celebs, it tells the story of the Theatre Guild, one of the best known and most successful producing theatres in America. And no one knew that story better than Langner, who was, after all, the Guild's founder.

Subtitled "The Story of a Life in Two Fields, Theatre and Invention by the Founder of the Theatre Guild," Langner's book was published in New York by E. P. Dutton & Co. in 1951.  This is the Second Printing of the First Edition.

Its 498 pages include 87 black and white photos -- some of them candid snapshots, others promotional production photos -- including major actors and actresses who performed for the Guild, as well as several of Eugene O'Neill and George Bernard Shaw.

There are a number appendices, one of which lists 173 Theatre Guild plays, and a comprehensive index.

The book measures 9-3/8" x 6-3/8" x 1-1/2" and is in very good vintage condition.

Please click here to view The Magic Curtain in my Etsy shop.

October 10, 2009

King Mahendra's Bhagavad Ajjuka - 7th Century Farce from South India


This is the first edition of the first English translation (with the text) of this Sanskrit play by King Mahendra, one of the most famous kings of the Pallava dynasty of 7th century South India.

In this farce, a holy man tries to explain the human soul to a disciple but accidentally transfers his own soul into the body of a recently dead courtesan.

Published in Madras by The Christian Literature Society in 1978, this hardcover book is 126 pages long and in excellent vintage condition. The binding is firm and the pages are clear and unmarked. The only signs of wear are to the dust jacket (several small tears, the largest a 1" one at the lower front corner) and the edges and corners of the cover.

Complete notes and commentary are included. The book measures approximately 8-5/8" x 5-3/4" x 1/2".

October 9, 2009

London Theatre 14 Programs 1950 1951





Here's a set of 14 programs for plays performed on London Stages in 1950 and 1951!

~ Aldwych Theatre Figure of Fun with John Mills, 1951
~ Ambassador Theatre The Passing Day with Joseph Tomelty, 1951
~ Apollo Theatre Seagulls over Sorrento with Ronald Shiner, 1951
~ Duke of York's Theatre Point of Departure with Mai Zetterling, 1950
~ Globe Theatre Ring Round the Moon with Paul Skofield, 1950
~ Lyric Theatre The Lyric Revue, 1950 (2 copies count as 1)
~ Lyric Theatre The Little Hut with Robert Morley, 1950
~ New Theatre Hamlet with Alec Guinness, 1951
~ Old Vic Theatre King Henry V with Alex Clunes, 1951
~ St. James's Theatre Les Fausses Confidences and Babtiste, 1951
~ St. James's Theatre Partage du Midi with Jean-Louis Barrault, 1951*
~ St. Martin's Theatre Penny Plain a Revue, 1951
~ Savoy Theatre D'Oyly Carte's Season The Mikado, 1951
~ Wyndham's Theatre The Love of Four Colonels with Peter Ustinov, 1951

These programs are in good vintage / antique condition. The pages are firmly stapled and unmarked. *The name of a previous owner is written in ink on the cover of this program. There are some creases and normal signs of age, but there are no rips or tears.

A Record of the Boston Stage by William W. Clapp Jr. 1853 Vintage Book




A rare original edition!  Click here to view.

For Historians, Collectors, Theatre Buffs and Lovers of Boston Memorabilia!

Here is an antiquarian book by William W. Clapp Jr., published in 1853 (Boston by James Munroe and Co.), a treasure trove of information.

This is a basic history for the study of Boston theatre by the "Editor of the Boston Evening Gazette," where these chapters were first published.

There's no denying that this book shows its 156 years. The well-worm cover is frayed along the edges and the spine is faded. The binding showing on the inside of the front and back covers is cracked but remains firmly glued. The left upper corners of pp. 51-68 have been turned, and the back flyleaf is torn. The edges have turned brown with ages, but the pages are unmarked and securely bound.

A previous owner's name - "A. A. Folsom" (?) and the date "Nov. 8, 1879" are written in ink on the flyleaf.

The book is 479 pages long and measures approximately 7-1/4" x 4-1/4" x 1-3/8".
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