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Towards an Electronic Higginson?

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Joined: 25 May 2002
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Location: Bristol, England

PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2003 10:57 am    Post subject: Towards an Electronic Higginson? Reply with quote

In June this year Kansas State University (KSU) at Manhattan, Kansas State, USA added the Fred H. and Jeannette Higginson Robert Graves Collection to the University's online catalogue, effectively creating an electronic version of many aspects of the first edition of the standard bibliography of Robert Graves's works.

A dedicated web page about the collection is at http://www.lib.ksu.edu/depts/spec/rarebooks/collections/graves.html and the catalogue itself is available on the web at http://www.lib.ksu.edu/catalog/ or by following the links from the page above.

All items in the Higginson Robert Graves Collection have been catalogued and can be identified by making a "Guided Keyword" search of the Online Catalogue for the phrase "Higginson Robert Graves Collection". Incidentally, a further search for "Robert Graves" will include other Graves items in the University's collection that are not necessarily in the Higginson Robert Graves Collection. Experience suggests that it is often necessary to access the catalogue several times before success prevails, but it is worth persevering: one major collector of Graves titles reported that he spent six hours online after accessing the catalogue!

The collection has been catalogued according to LC MARC rather than the EAD standard for archival finding lists, but at least the basic bibliographic citation and subjects headings, etc. are present for each item. There are many rare items in the collection and looking through it for titles of uncollected or unknown poems, stories or articles, for example, there's certainly further work to be done sometime to add this information to the records, preferably using EAD. But the new catalogue and its universal availability through the Web is a major advance that should prove to be an invaluable asset to Robert Graves scholars.

The following extra information is from KSU's web page about the collection and is reproduced here, as permitted and with acknowledgement to KSU, as it will be of more general interest to readers of these discussion boards:

'[KSU] Libraries acquired the Higginson Robert Graves Collection in 1983. Fred Higginson was the foremost bibliographic authority of Graves' works and built the collection over a number of years.

Fred appreciated not only the breadth and depth of Graves' prolific output--over 150 titles--but also the large number of variant editions and multiple printings of Graves' individual works.

In the collection are Graves' novels, poetry, biography, autobiography, studies in mythology, history, short stories, criticism, translations, nursery rhymes, and plays. It is arguably the most complete collection of Graves' published works in the United States.

Fred once said, "I got interested in Graves enough to decide to spend some time on him when he published The White Goddess in 1948." Fred visited Graves at his home in Majorca in 1973 and later recalled:

"He lives in a small, old house with an olive grove behind it rising into a sheer stony mountain slope; in the other direction is the Mediterranean, in which he used to swim every day when weather permitted. ... He is well-known in Deyá, wearing one of his collection of broad-brimmed local hats, sandals, shorts and a lion's mane of hair. He blends in well with the environment of rocks and gnarled olive trees."

Robert Graves at [Kansas State University]

Graves spent two days at K-State on November 21 and 22, 1966. He was recovering from gallbladder surgery at the time. Fred Higginson recalled:

"It was felt by the principal provider of his $1,000 fee, that the [English] department should bear down to get KSU's 'money's-worth' out of him. He gave a public lecture in Umberger Hall, a vigorous and off-the-cuff session followed by a question period, insisted on giving a seminar to graduate students on his forthcoming translation of the Rubaiyat, [and] tired us all with making himself available to students and faculty. ... He stayed with us while he was here, and what I remember most vividly in a personal way are how large a man he is, having to be careful going through ordinary doorways and the fact that he eats olive oil and salt on bread instead of butter, but in America prefers corn oil, since it is fresher than the olive oil we usually have."

Fred H. Higginson

Fred Hall Higginson was born November 8, 1921, in Wichita, Kansas, the son of Charles Glover and Lufanna Hall Higginson.

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in math[ematics] and chemistry in 1942 and a Master of Arts degree in English in 1947, both from the University of Wichita. His Ph.D. in English was conferred by the University of Minnesota in 1953.

Fred served as an Army medic with the 82nd Airborne during World War II. He served in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Normandy, and the Netherlands, and was wounded in action in the Netherlands. He received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals.

Fred taught at the University of Wichita and the University of Minnesota before joining the Kansas State University faculty in 1950 as an instructor. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1951, associate professor in 1957, and professor in 1964. He was a Ford Faculty Fellow at Yale University in 1955-56 and a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota 1956-57. Fred was named head of the English Department at [KSU] in 1970; he retired in 1979.

Fred was an authority on Victorian literature, philology, and bibliography. He wrote two books (Anna Livia Plurabelle: The Making of a Chapter in 1960 and Bibliography of the Works of Robert Graves in 1966), was general editor of an extensive bibliographies project sponsored by the Nether Press, and he was poetry editor of Kansas Magazine - now the Kansas Quarterly - for several years. He was also a James Joyce scholar, serving as an advisory editor of the James Joyce Quarterly for many years.

He was married to Jeannette Pharo on September 7, 1946, in Wichita, and they had two children. Fred passed away on May 8, 1991."

[Last Modified by KSU: 24 Jun 2003.]

A selection of items from the Higginson Robert Graves Collection was on display in the 5th Floor Gallery of Hale Library at KSU from May - August 2003.

To contact KSU, e-mail: rarebooks@ksu.edu. (Rare Books Librarian, Richard L. D. & Marjorie J. Morse Dept. of Special Collections, KSU Libraries.)

Patrick Villa
Robert Graves Society
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