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Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
The Dartmouth College Library has acquired a considerable collection of books and artwork by Maurice Sendak, author of over twenty children's books and illustrator of over eighty more. Sendak's most famous book, Where the Wild Things Are, received the Caldecott Medal in 1964. Mort Wise, an avid book collector and a longtime friend of the College, assembled The Morton E. Wise Collection of Maurice Sendak over a period of nine years. The library has acquired the collection through a combination of gift and purchase.
Provost Barry Scherr helped with the acquisition. "The collection is magnificent," he says. "It's one of the few private compilations of Sendak materials in the world that is this extensive, and it builds on Dartmouth's strengths in the area of children's literature. We're grateful to Mort for his generosity."
The collection consists of approximately 100 books, many of which are inscribed by Sendak and include original drawings. A first edition of A Hole is to Dig includes a detailed sketch of a piano player with a handwritten note from Sendak to his friend, pianist Peter Duchin, "A piano is to play on—preeminent one!" Original artwork in the collection includes Sendak's haunting image of a child under a blanket that was later used in the book Outside Over There. There are also first editions of In the Night Kitchen, Little Bear, Lullabies and Night Songs, and The Nutshell Library (which includes Chicken Soup with Rice.)
"This is a wonderful addition to the College," says Jay Satterfield, head of Rauner Special Collections Library. "Sendak helped reshape modern children's literature, and to have original artwork from him is a real treasure." Satterfield says that the pieces add to Rauner's sizeable collection of children's books by Theodor S. Geisel '25 (Dr. Seuss), editions in the Edward P. Sine '51 Collection of British Illustrated Books, and pieces in the Class of 1926 Memorial Collection. "Our rich illustrated book collections allow students to examine changing patterns in children's literature. You can tell a lot about how a society views childhood, for example, simply by seeing how it teaches its young the alphabet."
The gift is in recognition of the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Roth Center for Jewish Life at Dartmouth College, the home of both Dartmouth Hillel and the Upper Valley Jewish Community. Wise has been involved with the Center since its inception. "The Dartmouth community has become very important to me," says Wise, who has lived in the area for the past 16 years. "I value the relationships I have formed, and I greatly appreciate how much the College has contributed to my quality of life. I'm delighted to do this at a time that honors the Roth Center."
Materials from the collection will be immediately accessible to researchers while it is being catalogued. There will be a celebratory exhibit based on the collection at Baker-Berry Library beginning in April, 2008.
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