Catalogue of the Ashley Library
(Wise, Thomas J.) Introductions by Richard Curle, Augustine Birrell, Edmund Gosse, John Drinkwater, E.V. Lucas, A. Edward Newton, R.W. Chapman, David Nichol Smith, Alfred W. Pollard, J.C. Squire to the catalogue of the Ashley Library (1922-1930) collected by Thomas James Wise. New York: William H. Smith, Jr., 1934. Limited Edition. 12mo., iii, 72 pp., 18 cm. One of 500 copies reprinting the introductions to each of the first ten volumes of the catalogue. Blue printed paper over boards with original glassine dustwrapper. Initialed at the end of the preface by publisher Mitchell Kennerley, and with a penciled annotation by Belle da Costa Greene, at top of the front pastedown, indicating this volume was presented to her by "M.K." Later, with a holographic notation by Fredrick B. Adams, Jr. commenting on Greene's inscription and with his bookplate to the front pastedown.Matthew J. Bruccoli in, The Fortunes of Mitchell Kennerley, Bookman, firmly connects this publication to Kennerley.
Although the imprint read William H. Smith, Jr., at 9 E. 57th Street, Kennerley was the publisher. The address was that of an office Kennerley shared for a while with Walter Grant, who had been in charge of art exhibits at the Anderson. It is not known why Kennerley concealed himself behind the name of Smith, his former employee at Anderson. The unsigned foreword, written by Kennerley, indirectly explained why the introductions had been reprinted: "They contain matter of interest about the Ashley Library and its owner, and about the practice of bibliography which will interest a larger audience than the few fortunate possessors of the completeŚand cumbersomeŚCatalogue." (p. 226)
Belle da Costa Greene, was librarian to J.P. Morgan and later became the first director of the Pierpont Morgan Library. As her position dictated, she had many dealings with others in the world of books and art. Among these were Mitchell Kennerley, publisher, rare bookman, and president of Anderson Galleries from 1915-1929. There is strong evidence indicating that he and Belle Greene, both noted for their romantic escapades, were lovers ca. 1914-19151. After the ardor cooled, they remained lifelong friends. It should be noted that, perhaps coincidentally, Kennerley sold to the Morgan Library a substantial Walt Whitman collection in 1914. Greene served as the Morgan's personal librarian from 1905 to 1924, and as director of The Morgan Library from 1924 to 1948. In 1948, Fredrick B. Adams, Jr. succeeded Greene as director of the library and held that position until 1969. Presumably, Adams added the current volume to his library sometime after the death of Greene in 1950.
1Ardizzone, Heidi. An Illuminated Life: Bella da Costa Greene's Journey From Prejudice To Privilege. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007. (see p. 334-336)
Provenance: Fredrick B. Adams, Jr. (Adams' bookplate, Sale L01910: The Library of Frederick B. Adams, Jr., Sotheby's London, 6 NOV 2001, lot 124.)
Wise, Thomas James, 1859-1937.
Private Libraries - England.
Adams, Frederick B. (Frederick Baldwin), 1910-2001.
Kennerley, Mitchell, 1878-1950.
Greene, Belle da Costa, 1883-1950.
Curle, Richard, 1883-1968.
Birrell, Augustine, 1850-1933.
Gosse, Edmund, 1849-1928.
Drinkwater, John, 1882-1937.
Lucas, E. V. (Edward Verrall), 1868-1938.
Newton, A. Edward (Alfred Edward), 1864-1940.
Chapman, R. W. (Robert William), 1881-1960.
Smith, David Nichol, 1875-1962.
Pollard, Alfred W. (Alfred William), 1859-1944.
Squire, J. C. (John Collings), Sir, 1884-1958.