Mortimer Rare Book Room History

Marjorie Bache Menden, class of 1930

When Mrs. Edward Menden attended her 30th reunion at Smith College in 1960, she met with Dorothy King, curator of rare books, and with the College Librarian Margaret Johnson. After Mrs. Menden’s death in 1962, Mrs. Johnson wrote to Marjorie’s sister about that visit: “She seemed so much better in general health, and was so interested and enthusiastic about her recent collecting interests.” In 1963 the Rare Book Room received Menden’s bequest: 850 volumes in the fields of 18th-century English literature; children’s books; authors including Lewis Carroll, D.H. Lawrence, Hemingway, Galsworthy, Faulkner, and Thomas Wolfe; and hundreds of early advertising trade cards, valentines, and greeting cards. The bequest also included an endowed book fund, the income from which is still used to purchase rare books. Some of Marjorie Menden’s interests are represented in her personal bookplate (printed in two sizes to fit books both large and small) which features the Cheshire Cat surrounded by the repeated motto “Curiouser and curiouser,” as well as Alice and the White Rabbit reading Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary.

The Hemingway volume shown here was inscribed for Marjorie Menden by the author, through the kindness of Lee Samuels, author of A Hemingway Check List (1951). The Game of Logic, Lewis Carroll’s way to explain logic using symbols, is typical of the high quality of Menden’s collection. A New York bookseller’s catalogue described it as “First edition. Of the greatest rarity. … This copy is in immaculate condition.” The book is complemented by an envelope containing a card and round colored counters. Many of the children’s books in Menden’s collection were small “toy books” with illustrated paper wrappers. These are quite fragile, and it is a testament to Mrs. Menden’s discriminating taste that many of her children’s books are in fine condition.

Ernest Hemingway. Winner Take Nothing. New York and London: Scribner’s, 1933.

Lewis Carroll. The Game of Logic. London: MacMillan & Co., 1886

The Good Girl. Northampton: A.R. Merrifield, circa 1841.

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