The Book of the Homeless (post at the Huntington Library blog Verso by Sara S. Hodson)


Title page of The Book of the Homeless, edited by Edith Wharton and published in 1916. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

From the Huntington Library’s Verso Blog, an  interesting post by Sara S. Hodson on The Book of the Homeless. Here’s an excerpt:

The Huntington holds the corporate archive for the Merrymount Press, extending to 320 boxes, plus ledger volumes and type samples. Among the records is a file of correspondence between Wharton, Scribner, and Updike about the planning and printing of her proposed volume, The Book of the Homeless. The virtue of the cause at hand is apparent throughout the correspondence, as when Updike writes to Wharton on Sept. 10, 1915, “Both on your account, and on account of what the book stands for, I shall do my best with it.”

A frequent topic of concern is the quality of the book, especially the reproductions of original works by such artists as Auguste Rodin, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and John Singer Sargent. Reproducing the artwork proved a challenging task due to shortages caused by the war. Updike wrote to Wharton on Jan. 7, 1916, “This has been a long and difficult piece of work. We have had a good deal of trouble with our inks, because since the war the ingredients in the colours are not reliable, and this has played us some very unpleasant tricks.”