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Lesser Known Works By Well Known Authors in the Villanova Digital Library

The Villanova Digital Library provides access to numerous serialized and standalone short stories through its Dime Novels And Popular Literature collection. Most authors whose works appear in these publications are now considered obscure, while many of them remain unidentified. However, the digitized collections also include stories by nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers whose works are still widely read today. Here are some lesser known stories by well-known authors that are preserved in the Villanova Digital Library:


“What It Cost” by Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) is primarily remembered as a novelist. Her most widely read novel, Little Women (1868-1869), was adapted into an award-winning film as recently as 2019. A lesser known work by Alcott is “What It Cost,” which appeared as a cover story in the sixth issue of the children’s periodical, The Young Crusader. Like many stories published in The Young Crusader, “What It Cost” promotes the anti-alcohol stance of the temperance movement.

The young crusader, v. I, no. 6, February 11, 1887, p. 21.

The young crusader, v. I, no. 6, February 11, 1887, p. 21.


“Heart” by James Fenimore Cooper

Like Alcott, James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) is mainly remembered for his novels, in particular The Last of the Mohicans (1826). His story, “Heart,” appears as a cover story in two segments in the March 13 and March 20, 1841, issues of The Boston Notion. A full transcript of the story is also available through Project Gutenberg.

Boston notion, v. II, no. 24, Saturday morning, March 13, 1841, p. [1].

Boston notion, v. II, no. 24, Saturday morning, March 13, 1841, p. [1].

“The Jolly Roger” and other stories by Robert W. Chambers

Robert W. Chamber (1965-1895) wrote the short-story collection The King in Yellow (1895), which is one of the most influential works in the history of weird fiction. The first four stories in the collection directly impacted the “Cthulhu mythos,” a literary universe shared by H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) (whose astronomical journal is housed at Falvey Library) and other writers of the early twentieth century. The King in Yellow continues to excite the popular imagination, having been the basis for much of the acclaimed first season of the television series True Detective. However, most of Chambers’ writing was not in the horror genre. The Villanova Digital Library offers access to parts of three stories by Chambers: “One in a Million,” “The Shining Band,” and “The Jolly Roger” (the last of which is available, in its entirety, as digitized microfilm through the Internet Archive).



“Houdini, the Enigma” and other stories by Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1870) is the creator of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, who appears in several stories, starting with “A Study in Scarlett” (1887). The Villanova Digital Library offers access to three works by Doyle that do not feature his famous detective: “Houdini, the Enigma,” which focuses on Harry Houdini (1874-1926), a famous magician and friend of Doyle’s; “An Alpine Pass on Ski”; and “De Profundis.”

Bonus: The Digital Library also includes one story, “The Affair of the Glenranald Bank,” by Doyle’s brother-in-law, E. W. Hornung (1866-1921). Hornung was influenced by Doyle’s work on Sherlock Holmes and created the character A. J. Raffles, a gentleman thief who is, in essence, the reverse Sherlock Holmes. The character first appeared in the short story “The Ides of March” in 1898 and the first collection of A. J. Raffles stories was subsequently published in 1899.


“Hunter Quatermain’s Story” and other stories by H. Rider Haggard

H. Rider Haggard (1856-1925) was a writer of adventure fiction, mainly remembered for creating the character Allan Quatermain. The most widely known tale featuring the character is the novel King Solomon’s Mines (1885), a reprint of which is available in the Villanova Digital Library. However, the site also includes other stories by Haggard (some of which feature Allan Quatermain), such as “Hunter Quatermain’s Story.” Allan Quatermain has continued to appear in literature since Haggard’s death, having played a central role in the comic-book series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (1999-2019) by Alan Moore (b. 1953) and Kevin O’Neill (1953-2022).


“The Blockhouse Mystery” and other stories by Upton Sinclair

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) was a writer, political activist, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He wrote The Jungle (1906), a novel about working conditions in the meat industry, which raised awareness of unsanitary practices and influenced the passing of the Federal Meat Inspection Act. The Villanova Digital Library preserves four stories written by Sinclair under the pseudonym Douglas Wells for The Starry Flag: “The Blockhouse Mystery, or, Hal Maynard’s Cuban Romance”; “Hal on the Outpost, or, With the Army Above Doomed Santiago”; “The Hero of Manila; or, Hal Maynard Under a New Commander”; “Hal Maynard at West Point, or, The New Member of the Seven Devils”.


All the abovementioned stories are available in the Villanova Digital Library’s Dime Novels And Popular Literature collection, while more are being added on a regular basis. The digitization project not only preserves the works of obscure writers, but also brings to light the lesser known works of well-known writers.


Note: The stories by Doyle, Haggard, and Sinclair were identified by Director of Library Technology Demian Katz.


eBook available: How to Hypnotize

Another item from our Digital Library has been converted to a free Project Gutenberg eBook by the Distributed Proofreaders project. How to Hypnotize: The Science of Controlling the Minds of Others is the twenty-eighth volume of the Multum in Parvo Library, a collection of tiny 16-page chapbooks covering a variety of topics.

While this book’s title might bring to mind either villainous manipulation or humorous showmanship, it is actually focused on therapeutic mesmerism, containing suggestions on using hypnosis to treat illness. Much (possibly all) of its content appears to have been lifted without attribution from James Coates’ longer work, How to Mesmerize.

Given the book’s small size, brief length, and frequent commercial interruptions, it doesn’t provide very much information on its stated topic, but it remains an interesting example of late 19th-century novelty publishing (and trans-Atlantic piracy of text).

The entire book can be read online or downloaded in commonly-used eBook formats through Project Gutenberg.


The Printed Image: “Phiz” and the Illustrated Works of Charles Dickens

This February installment of ‘The Printed Image’ serves as a belated commemoration of the birthday of Charles Dickens (February 7), by highlighting the work of one of his most frequent illustrators, Hablot Knight Browne (1815-1882). Also known by the pen name “Phiz” to complement Dickens’s own moniker “Boz”, Browne illustrated seven of Dickens’s fifteen novels, among them Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop, Dombey and Son, David Copperfield, Little Dorrit, and A Tale of Two Cities.

Browne’s illustrations for Dickens are represented in Falvey’s Special Collections in two works: a complete set of the original serialization of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickelby from 1838-1839, and in The Writings of Charles Dickens, a 32 volume set printed by the Riverside Press in Cambridge, Massachusetts, published by Houghton Mifflin & Company in 1894.

(Click on the illustrations in this blog post for a larger view.)

“I am married”
from David Copperfield

When I first encountered Browne’s illustrations in Dombey and Son, I was struck by how contemporary they appeared to be; their humor, their expression, their energy. It was a style I could see traces of in modern day comics, cartoons, and illustrations, yet I was surprised to discover they were made and published for the original serializations. The stories of Charles Dickens as “classics” can sometimes have an imposing reverence, so to see how they were published to a Victorian-era public helped to make them more accessible.


“The Shadow in the Little Parlour”
from Dombey and Son

“Coming Home from Church”
from Dombey and Son

Browne belonged to a ‘caricaturist’ school of illustration that was popular at this time, a style that included other Dickens illustrators such as George Cruikshank and John Leech, but was opposed aesthetically by the more formal Royal Academician style. As Browne’s son Edgar wrote,

“To this faculty of reproducing at will unconscious impressions he owed most of his excellences, together with most of his faults. Careful adherence to fact, and conscientious reproduction of the model and still life, would have resulted in drawing that might have had a great artistic value, but would not have represented Dickens in the slightest degree.” [1]


“Theatrical emotion of Mr. Vincent Crummles”
from Nicholas Nickleby

“The last brawl between Sir Mulberry and his pupil”
from Nicholas Nickleby


While Browne was initially apprenticed as a line-engraver to William Finden, he left this apprenticeship to start his own studio with Robert Young, preferring etchings and watercolors for his artistic output. [2] While engraving uses fine tools to create a design on metal or wood, etching is a method where a drawing or design is incised onto a metal plate with acid, allowing for an illustrator’s drawing style to be more readily replicated for the printed page, as a stylus is used to define the areas that will be etched. We can see evidence of this in Browne’s mark-making in the illustrations and in his extensive use of hatching and cross-hatching.

One intriguing aspect that can be found in some of Browne’s illustrations is the use of a “dark plate” method, where a gray tone is used within the background, created using a ruling machine on the plate. [3] This was undertaken partly as a way to control how the illustrations were reprinted; due to the popularity of Browne’s illustrations, publishers would reproduce them through lithographic stones, a practice which displeased Browne. The dark plate method made it nearly impossible for this kind of transfer to occur, thus bringing Browne some measure of artistic control. [4]

“The Wanderer”
from David Copperfield


“Visitors at the Works”
from Little Dorrit
(‘dark plate’ illustration)

“The River”
from David Copperfield
(‘dark plate’ illustration)

Nicholas Nickelby and The Writings of Charles Dickens may be viewed in the Rare Book Room by appointment. Falvey’s Digital Library includes a Charles Dickens collection, which includes a volume of collected works, illustrated prints, and letters written by Dickens. To see more work by Hablot Knight Browne, you can visit the British Museum and the Royal Academy. To learn more about the etching process, visit this tutorial at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Finally, if you happen to be visiting Philadelphia, stop by the Free Library’s Rare Books department to visit Grip the Raven, who has a most curious connection to both Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe.

Mike Sgier is a Distinctive Collections Coordinator at Falvey Library.

[1] Simon, Howard. 500 Years of Art in Illustration. New York : Hacker Art Books, 1978. Page 114.

[2] “Hablot Knight (Phiz) Browne | Artist | Royal Academy of Arts.”,

‌[3] “Hablot Knight Browne (1815-1882).” Illustrating Dickens’ World – WPI Digital Exhibits, 27 June 2023,

[4] “Hablot Knight Browne.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Nov. 2019,


eBook available: How to Become an Inventor

Another of Frank Tousey‘s Ten Cent Hand Books has been released as a Project Gutenberg eBook thanks to scans from our Digital Library and the volunteer efforts of the Distributed Proofreaders project.

How to Become an Inventor, published in 1898, doesn’t really include much practical advice on inventing things, but it does include introductory (if sometimes cryptic, and never illustrated) instructions on carpentry, electricity, hydraulics, magnetism, photography, mechanics, pneumatics, optics and microscopy. All of this advice is likely drawn from other sources without attribution, as was the fashion of the cheap publishers of the time.

While not likely to be of much practical use to a modern reader, the book is nonetheless interesting in what it reveals of its time, including the details of some outdated scientific theories, and the alarming fact that it was once considered an everyday fact of life to have “eels” living in your vinegar.

If you want to check it out for yourself, you can find the whole book online (and available for download in popular formats) through Project Gutenberg.


New exhibit on Villanova’s V-12 Navy College Training Program now on view in Vasey Hall

A new exhibit is now on view at the Prince Family Veterans Resource Center in Vasey Hall. The exhibit, titled The V-12 Navy College Training Program: Villanova During World War II, showcases materials related to the V-12 training program hosted by Villanova College from 1943 to 1946.

During the second World War, Villanova’s student population significantly decreased, as numerous young men joined the armed forces. At this time, the US Navy selected Villanova, along with other institutions of higher learning, to house the V-12 Navy College Training Program. This program aimed to quickly increase the number of commissioned officers through an accelerated course of study that combined academic coursework and military training. During the years when the program was offered at Villanova, most of the college’s students were enrolled in it.

Case 1 from the new exhibit on the V-12 program at Villanova. Photo by Shawn Proctor, MFA, Communication and Marketing Program Manager.

Case 1 from the new exhibit on the V-12 program at Villanova. Photo by Shawn Proctor, MFA, Communication and Marketing Program Manager.

The exhibit features reproductions of photographs, drawn from our digitized collections, that depict V-12 students training and studying. The exhibit also includes three letters written by Villanova V-12 graduate James D. Reap, Jr. to his parents during and after his participation in the training program. In his letters, Reap recounts his experience as a V-12 student and how it positively affected his career trajectory. In a letter dated February 5, 1944, Reap writes that other enlisted men “kind of respect us boys from the V-12 Unit.” The digitized letters and their full transcripts are also available through the Villanova Digital Library, along with other digitized materials from the James D. Reap, Jr. Collection. Paired with the letters is a US Navy hat worn by Reap while he participated in the Pacific Theater of World War II. (He served as a radar and communications technician aboard the USS Proteus, which was anchored near the USS Missouri when the Japanese surrender was formally signed in 1945.) Lastly, the exhibit features the 1944 and 1945 Belle Air Villanova yearbooks, which provide further information about the curriculum and leadership of the V-12 program.

Case 2 from the new exhibit on the V-12 program at Villanova. Photo by Shawn Proctor, MFA, Communication and Marketing Program Manager.

Case 2 from the new exhibit on the V-12 program at Villanova. Photo by Shawn Proctor, MFA, Communication and Marketing Program Manager.

These materials come together to highlight the experiences of V-12 students and how their time at Villanova prepared them for leadership roles in the Navy, during one of the most critical moments in world history. You may view the exhibit, The V-12 Navy College Training Program: Villanova During World War II, during the spring and summer 2024 semesters at the Prince Family Veterans Resource Center in Vasey Hall!

If you are interested in additional projects that celebrate and preserve the legacies of Villanova veterans, make sure to also visit Honoring the Fallen: An Interactive Memorial Map, a Geographic Information System (GIS) map that shows where Villanova veterans died in service, as well as The Voices of Villanova’s Veterans oral history site, which includes interviews with Villanova veterans.


Richard T. Schulze Congressional Papers Open For Research

Distinctive Collections is pleased to announce the Richard T. Schulze congressional papers are available and open for research.


Richard Taylor “Dick” Schulze, a Republican politician, served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Pennsylvania’s 5th congressional district, incorporating the counties of Delaware, Montgomery, and Chester, from 1975 to 1993. Spanning from 1974 to 1992, the collection consists of materials related to his congressional career including correspondence, public relations speeches and press releases, administrative files, legislative files, constituent files, campaign materials, and photographs.


Schulze was born in Philadelphia and graduated from Haverford High School in 1948. He attended the University of Houston, Villanova University, and Temple University. He served in the U.S. Army for two years during the Korean War. Before his time in the United States Congress, Schulze was a small businessman for twenty-five years, operating an electrical appliance business in Paoli, Pennsylvania. He was active in civic and community affairs, as well as in Republican politics in Pennsylvania, and served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1969 to 1974.


During his career in the U.S. House of Representatives, Schulze rose to serve as a top-ranking member of the House Committee on Ways and Means and as the senior Republican member on the Subcommittee on Oversight. He also served on the Trade, Social Security, and Select Revenue Subcommittees, the Armed Services Committee and Banking. The bulk of Schulze’s sponsored and cosponsored legislation was related to Taxation as well as Foreign Trade and International Finance. Much of the papers focus on topics such as trade, social security, health, oversight, and tax policy.


The papers were originally deposited with the Chester County Historical Society and transferred to Villanova University. Villanova also holds the recently acquired senatorial papers of Patrick J. Toomey. Additionally, Distinctive Collections maintains the personal papers of Lawrence M. O’Rourke, a newspaper columnist and reporter who covered the White House, Congress and national politics for forty years.


To make an appointment to view the collection please email The finding aid is available to review online here to guide your research request.


Rebecca Oviedo is Distinctive Collections Archivist at Falvey Library.



New Acquisition Sheds Light on the Rediscovery of Mendel’s Theory of Hybridity

A recent donation to Villanova’s Distinctive Collections leaves us with more questions than answers about the “rediscovery” of Gregor Mendel OSA‘s theory of hybridity, today called ‘the laws of Mendelian inheritance’ after the Augustinian friar.

Dutch botanist and pioneer of the field of genetics, Hugo de Vries, came across Mendel’s original work on genes published 34 years earlier and hurried to publish his own research findings in the paper, “Sur la loi de disjonction des hybrids,” which first appeared in 1900 in the hefty tome Comptes Rendus Hebdomadaires des Séances de L’Academie des Sciences, now held by Distinctive Collections.

De Vries’ paper, together with two others from the same year by Carl Correns and Erich Tschermak, laid the foundations of the new scientific discipline of genetics.


Puzzling Comparisons: The German Paper

De Vries’ French publication appeared just four days later in German as “Das Spaltungsgesetz der Hybride”. The two papers contain identical descriptions, translated from French into German, however the German paper includes three explicit references to Mendel’s work, whereas in the French publication Mendel is noticeably absent.

Intentional Plagiarism or Scientific Similitude?

De Vries is credited with “rediscovering” Gregor Mendel’s principles of biological inheritance in 1900. However, in the original French essay Mendel is not explicitly credited or even mentioned. This was amended by de Vries in his subsequent German paper, published less than a week apart. De Vries claimed that he was unaware of Mendel’s work on hybridization when conducting his own experiments, and that the two scientists, working 50 years apart, had happened to draw the same conclusions.

Did de Vries intentionally exclude Mendel from the original French, only to include him in the German version after realizing that others were aware of Mendel’s discoveries and his obvious influence on de Vries work?

Despite his efforts to separate his own conclusions from those of Mendel years prior, de Vries did indeed help scholars rediscover and credit the important work of Gregor Mendel.

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The Printed Image: Cecil Ffrench Salkeld and ‘Red Barbara’

The Printed Image returns in 2024 by taking a closer look at one of the illustrated books that entered the public domain earlier this month; Liam O’Flaherty’s Red Barbara and Other Stories, illustrated by Cecil Ffrench Salkeld, published in 1928. This book is not only included in Falvey Library’s Special Collections, but the entirety can be read in the Digital Library.

Illustration for Red Barbara

The book contains four of O’Flaherty’s short stories, each one accompanied by a Salkeld illustration. Salkeld uses a sharp, clean line in the illustrations, with a unique stylization based upon the shape and form of the figures and the environment; there is no rendering or shading to add further definition to the subjects, just the essentials. While there may not be a unifying visual element among the four illustrations, there is a quality of menace that recurs through the images, from the crowd of onlookers in Red Barbara to the stormy ocean waves of The Oar.

I could not confirm how the original illustrations were made, but the quality of the line suggests pen-and-ink drawing. However, Salkeld also worked in printmaking, so it’s possible the original art could have been made through etching, a line engraving, or a lithographic process. The gray wash of the illustrations even resembles an etching plate or lithographic stone. The printed illustrations in the book itself rest on the surface of the textured paper without any evidence of pressing or indentation, so it’s likely that the book was produced by an offset printing method, by the printing house of William Edwin Rudge in Mount Vernon, New York.

Illustration for Prey

Illustration for The Oar

Though Cecil Ffrench Salkeld may seem to be an obscure figure nowadays, he was an active participant in the artistic and literary life of Dublin in the 20th century. Born in 1904 to Irish parents in India, his mother Blanaid, herself a poet, actress, and translator, returned to Ireland with Cecil in 1910 upon her husband’s death. Cecil entered the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art at the age of 15 and continued his studies in Germany at the Kassell Kunstschule, before having his first solo show in 1924 at the Dublin Painter’s Gallery. [1]

From 1937 to 1946 Cecil and Blanaid operated the Gayfield Press, which highlighted and supported writers within the Dublin literary scene. He was a co-founder of the Irish National Ballet School, with ballet and dancers serving as subjects for many of his paintings. A mural he painted for Davy Byrne’s pub can still be seen today, a locale made famous by its inclusion in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Finally, his daughter Beatrice was married to the writer Brendan Behan, and Cecil served as the basis for the character of Michael Byrne in Flann O’Brien’s At Swim Two Birds. [2]   

Illustration for The Mountain Tavern

Red Barbara can be viewed in the Rare Book Room by appointment or in the Digital Library. To learn more about Blanaid Salkeld and her role with the Gayfield Press, please visit The Irish Times. To learn more about the history and development of offset printing, please visit Prepressure.

[1] “Cecil Ffrench Salkeld ARHA 1904 – 1969, Irish Artist.”,

[2] “Cecil Ffrench Salkeld.” Wikipedia, 21 Nov. 2023,

Mike Sgier is a Distinctive Collections Coordinator at Falvey Library.


Recently digitized materials shed light on lost silent film

Tod Browning‘s (1880-1962) 1927 silent horror film London After Midnight has been considered lost to history since 1965, when a fire at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s Vault 7 destroyed the final known copy of the movie, along with numerous other titles stored on highly flammable nitrate film reels. London After Midnight starred Leonidas Frank “Lon” Chaney (1883-1930) as Edward C. Burke, a Scotland Yard inspector who is eventually revealed to be the villainous Man in the Beaver Hat. While various stills and ephemera survive, London After Midnight remains the most sought-after lost film of the silent era. The film’s lost status has not detracted from its significant cultural impact, as is evinced in films like The Babadook (2014), whose eponymous monster is based on the villain in Browning’s film.

Poster for "London after Midnight"

Poster for “London after Midnight”. Via Wikimedia Commons. Image in the Public Domain.

Materials recently added to the Villanova Digital Library offer insight into the presentation and reception of this film in our area. A review was published on Tuesday, February 7, 1928, in the Public Ledger, Philadelphia’s premier daily newspaper in the early twentieth century. The newspaper issue, along with other titles published in 1928, entered the public domain at the beginning of 2024. A microfilm copy has been preserved on the Villanova Digital Library. The article reads thus:


STANLEY—The realm of the unnatural, with its objects unreal—spooks, ghosts, goblins, bats and vampires—rules supreme here in dusty, cobwebbed domains and eerie, mysterious moonlight. Everything is spooky, witches are around every corner, from the comedy in which the dusky Farina battles with the departed spirits to the murder mystery of the main feature.

Those old reliables, Lon Chaney and Tod Browning, the director, are at it again with one of their spookiest and spine-twitching melodramas, “London After Midnight.” It shows the solution of a murder, with Lon Chaney in the part of Burke, a Scotland Yard detective. But it is no ordinary solution, for few of the material forces are called in to solve the clews. Instead, there is the moon-eyed man, an old, tottering reminder of Phantom of the Opera, gruesome and weird, with a chattering smile upon its distorted features—and yes, it may be Lon Chaney, that black bat there in the corner with the luminous eyes—but we’re not telling. Chaney taps a new character as a detective, with very little make-up—but a perfect portrayal. So excellent, is his work, that one almost regrets that he was not cast in a strongly molded, logical detective yarn of the caliber of the famous Sherlock Holmes. In the supporting cast are Conrad Nagel, Marceline Day and Henry B. Walthall to add surprise.

An offering which will doubtless draw many theatre fans is presented by Donal [sic] Brian, a famous musical comedy star in his first appearance in a picture theatre. His ingratiating personality, and smooth, easy manner register nicely in the all-too-brief period assigned to him and he leaves some twinkling tunes, culled in most part from former successes, and just a few stories. Mention should be made of the dance offering done in splendid spook style to introduce the picture. It is “Dance Macabre,” by Saint-Saens.

It seems that London After Midnight played during the week of February 6, 1928, at Philadelphia’s Stanley Theatre. This theater, which existed from 1921 to 1970 on 1902-10 Market Street, showed silent films accompanied by a 55-piece orchestra. It was a popular venue that attracted celebrities of the day, such as Frank Sinatra and Abbott & Costello. (Al Capone was even arrested there the year after the premiere of London After Midnight.) It was one of two major venues in Philadelphia to show horror films, including Browning’s most famous work: Dracula (1931) starring Bela Lugosi (1882-1956), which is available in DVD format at Falvey Library. According to the 1928 Public Ledger article, as well as this article published on the same day in The Philadelphia Inquirer, the screening of London After Midnight at the Stanley Theatre was introduced by Broadway star Donald Brian (1877-1948), who performed excerpts from his previous roles.

The following month, the film would be shown at another local theater. An advertisement in The Suburban and Wayne Times, published on March 23, 1928, informs us that London After Midnight played at Bryn Mawr’s Seville Theatre from March 26 to March 28. Decades later, the Seville Theatre would become the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, which still operates in the same historic building that has stood since 1926. As numerous advertisements in The Suburban and Wayne Times attest, the Seville Theatre regularly showed films starring Lon Chaney during the 1920s, including The Phantom of the Opera (1925), which is compared to London After Midnight in the aforementioned Public Ledger article.

Browning eventually remade London After Midnight as a “talkie” starring Lugosi, titled Mark of the Vampire (1935). In 2003, Turner Classic Movies released a reconstruction of the 1927 film using extant stills as part of the Lon Chaney Collection, available through inter-library loan. Nonetheless, decades after the MGM Vault 7 fire, Browning’s original film remains lost. It was screened in at least two theaters in our area, and one of these showings included a live performance by a major Broadway star of the day. London After Midnight was commercially successful and remains culturally significant, but that did not stop it from disappearing. The afterlife of this film demonstrates how easily cultural production can become lost to history. It speaks to a larger need for preservation, especially preservation of media whose storage and access are dependent on ever-evolving technologies like film.


eBook available: The Spider’s Web

Another book from our Digital Library has been transformed into a Project Gutenberg eBook by the Distributed Proofreaders project. The latest release is The Spider’s Web, an early entry in Street & Smith‘s long-running Eagle Library of inexpensive popular novels, written by prolific author St. George Rathborne and published in 1898.

Like another recent release from this series, Sweet Violet, this story takes place during the Chicago World’s Fair. It follows Aleck Craig, a Canadian who visits Fair, partially in hope of being reunited with a mysterious Chicagoan woman he previously met under dramatic circumstances. He not only finds her but also discovers that she is entangled in a revenge plot focused on her father, a well-known grain speculator named Samson Cereal. Along the way, he is reunited with an old friend, eccentric former actor Claude Wycherley, and the two set out to help the Cereals through a variety of troubles.

The Eagle Library (which was eventually renamed to the Eagle Series, and then the New Eagle Series) specialized in publishing stories of romance featuring female protagonists. The vast majority of the thousand-plus entries in the series fit this pattern. However, this book falls a bit outside of the typical series formula. While its story certainly has romantic elements, it is more focused on action and intrigue. While female characters are important to the plot, it is much more focused on its male protagonists. Since this was published in only the second year of the series’ more-than-thirty-year run, this demonstrates some early experimentation on the part of the publisher.

If you would like to check the story out for yourself, you can read or download the entire book through Project Gutenberg.


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Last Modified: January 15, 2024

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