Monday, January 8, 2018

The Pamphlet Edition of Dunsany's CARCASSONNE Dated at Last!

There was a undated pamphlet edition of Lord Dunsany's short story Carcassonne released by the John W. Luce Company sometime in the past. (The story was reprinted from the 1916 Luce edition of A Dreamer's Tales.) I've known about it since the late 1970s or very early 1980s, when I saw a copy in Manuel Tarshish's Dunsany Collection, which was in the Rare Books department at Cornell University. It's definitely a curiosity, for it states right on the title page that it is a limited edition, "reprinted for Miss Virginia Berry."  And that's all.  No hint as to who Miss Berry was, and no details of the limitation, though the booklet is fairly rare.

It was never listed in Books in Print, and for years the only detail I could find about it was that it appeared in the 1947-1950 John W. Luce & Company trade list, probably the final Luce list before it slunk out of business. Thus owing to its listing in this 1950 listing, I presumed Carcassonne probably dated from c. 1950, though the last real Luce books dated from the early to middle 1940s.  

Finally, I can say that the booklet came out much earlier. It was produced for a lavish book fair in Washington, D.C. which took place on Wednesday, April 14th, 1920, at the  home of Mrs. Frances Berger Moran at 2315 Massachusetts Avenue (for photos of the house, see here). The book fair was sponsored by the National League of American Pen Women, founded in 1897 and still active today.

Apparently Miss Virginia Berry ran some sort of custom restaurant in Georgetown she had named "Carcassonne" after Dunsany's story, which Dunsany himself had visited the year before when he was on his first American tour in late 1919. Details are given in a fairly long article from the Society pages of The Sunday Star (Washington, D.C.), April 4, 1920, which I give below.  Meanwhile, I'm pleased, after nearly forty years of wondering, to date the pamphlet to April 1920.

"Is every one in Washington either a writer, artist or musician?" This is the question that the Penwomen are asking. Since they announced their plans for the authors' carnival ball and book fair, to be given on April 14 at the home of Mrs. Francis Berger Moran, 2315 Massachusetts avenue, so many responses have been made from the talent of Washington that the affair could well be entitled "Washingtoniana."

The league being a national organization, with auxiliaries in many states and representatives in every state in the country, with headquarters in Washington, is drawing much outside talent to the city for that occasion. So instead of it being wholly a local affair it will really be a contest between who is to receive the greatest honors, those coming to Washington to appear or our own home aspirants.

From the time the guests enter the door of Mrs. Moran's beautiful residence they will be in an atmosphere literary. The large reception room, with its many priceless pieces of art brought from abroad, will be turned Into a Japanese garden, to be entitled "The Spell of Japan," from the book by that name of our own Isabel Anderson—Mrs. Lars Anderson, wife of the former ambassador to Japan. It was while residing in Japan that Mrs. Anderson, who is a member of the League of American Penwomen and one of its strongest supporters in its effort to establish a literary center in Washington, wrote this exquisite story of the flowery kingdom. The ladies' dressing room is to be turned into a bower of beauty by a leading specialist in that line, and is to have the appropriate title of "Vanity Fair." The men's smoking room on this floor is to be Persian in atmosphere and decoration, an Omar Khayyam room, with "a loaf of bread, a Jug of wine and thou," the jug of wine, alas, being merely a cup of coffee, owing to a vast change having taken place since Omar sang In the wilderness, but "thou" will be there, pretty young ladies in Persian costume, who will serve the coffee, which will, by the way, be very delicious, being made in the true oriental style.

On this floor also will be the luncheon room, the Carcasonne, under the management of Miss Virginia Berry. The name Carcassonne is taken from one of the stories in "A Dreamer's Tales," by Lord Dunsany, and is a story of the beautiful, mythical city of happiness, which all seek and so few find. Lord Dunsany came to Washington last fall, and, although here only one day, he took the time to visit the Carcassonne in Georgetown. He congratulated Miss Berry upon her materialization in so beautiful a manner his mental conception, and left his signature on the wall, just over the fireplace, as a memento of his visit. At the book fair the basement kitchen will be turned into an old French room of tile medieval period, with an old bar, with pretty barmaids and French waitresses in costume of that early French period, thus carrying out the atmosphere of the fanciful and imaginative story of the Carcasonne. John W. Luce & Co. of Boston, publishers of "A Dreamer's Tales," are having a special edition made of the single story of the Carcassonne to be sold at the book fair.

Then up the winding stairway the guests reach the ballroom floor. Here author, musician and artist will vie with each other in giving entertainment. In the music room a continuous program of music will be given from the time the affair opens at 11
o'clock until it closes at 6, interspersed with author's readings and tableaux. The large dining room will be turned over to the sale of autographed books, illustrations, original manuscripts, songs and photographs. The list of books is headed by one of Mr. Wilson's books, and among the autographed photographs to he sold is one each of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson; also one of Mr. Marshall, Mr. and Mrs. Taft, and an interesting one of Premier Lloyd George of England.

Special exhibits in this room are to be under Mrs. Keyes, wife of Senator Henry W. Keyes of New Hampshire who will have an exhibit and sale of the works of official Washington: Miss Bertha Frances Wolfe, who will present the works of the Daughters of the Revolution; Mrs. Theodore Tiller who is collecting the works of the members of the Press Club. Mrs. Florence Jackson Stoddard, who will exhibit hooks of the romance languages; Mrs. George Combs, who will present her own collection of Madonnas, which is considered by authorities to be one of the largest in the United States. There will be many others, among them one given by Mrs. Rachael Tongate Beck, widow of Gen. William H. Beck. Mrs. Beck is a past president of the league and its oldest writer, who is still producing. Mrs. Beck has written for fifty years, and is now engaged in writing her memoirs of this eventful period in world's history. Art. literature and music among the American Indians will also be represented. Mrs. Gertrude Bonnin (Zitkala-Sa), a Sioux Indian from Yankton, S.D., will present her own book. Old Indian Legends." Mrs. Bonnin has made a place for herself in America with this book and her others, "The Memories of Indian Childhood" and "School Days of an Indian Girl." Mrs. Bonnin will autograph all copies of her books sold.

Through all the spirit of festival and carnival will reign. Every room of the forty rooms of this great mansion will be overflowing with unique entertainment. One room will be turned into a gypsy camp, from Carmen, under the direction of Mrs. S. B. Milton, who will take the part of Carman. She will appeal in the same costume of Carmen in which she appeared when she sang the title role in that opera. She will have assisting her many of this season's young debutantes, who will dress as gypsies and read the fortunes by palms and cards For the more serious minded, the biblical room, under Mrs. Nanette H. Paul, who will show the famous Madame Mountford collection of costumes and articles from the Holy Land. Then for the lover of the futurist art and brilliant coloring of the modern-day poster painter there will be the poster room. Here will be shown the wonderful collection of posters made by the camouflage section of the 40th Engineers. The men composing this section were the leading young illustrators and artists of the country. There is also to be a mystery room entitled "The Anna Katherine Green Mystery Room.' Mrs. Patterson, wife of Col. Charles H. Patterson, is in charge of this room. All plans are being kept secret.

At 6 o'clock the book fair ends. At 9 the ball starts. From the land of literature, art and music, as represented at the fair, beloved characters of the readers’ world will step forth, as the hall is to be a costume affair, all costumes to be chosen from the land of make-believe. A prize will he awarded for the best impersonation after all have passed before three judges in the grand march.

While the dancing is in progress on the ballroom floor there will be card-playing on the upper floor. Refreshments will be served and if summer breezes blow the roof garden will be open to the guests.

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