The Mystery of “The Mystery of Marie Roget”

When we say that Edgar Allan Poe invented the detective story, we may as well say that Poe invented the detective. In 1841, when “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” was first published in Graham Magazine, Boston was still five years away from founding the first professional police detective unit in the United States. Indeed, in creating …

Making a Verbal Monster:  Cyclops in Virgil’s Aeneid 3 and Joyce’s Ulysses

For this year’s Bloomsday and the rest of this summer, the Rosenbach’s partner desk display in the historic library is filled with objects that show classic literary influences on James Joyce’s Ulysses.  Starting with his introduction (at age 10) to Homer’s Odyssey through Charles Lamb’s school edition, we see that the characters and language of …

How true do we want true crime to be?

I was in graduate school when Oprah Winfrey confronted author James Frey about fabricating portions of his memoir, A Million Little Pieces. Oprah, who had previously defended Frey’s memoir as a meaningful book with or without a strict adherence to the facts, apologized to her viewers: “I left the impression that the truth does not …

To Catch a Thief in the Days before Detectives

In 1750, Philadelphia was plagued by a series of domestic robberies over several weeks. The items targeted were primarily the luxury goods that were becoming increasingly available to residents who had financial means: jewelry, fine cloth, good silver. Although the colony of Pennsylvania was still largely an agricultural economy, the City of Brotherly Love was …

“Cant” Stop Wondering about Criminal Slang?

One of the first things you may see when you enter Clever Criminals and Daring Detectives is a wall of extremely odd words in bold typography: Peg tantrums. Tip the velvet. Potatoe trap. What could these strange expressions mean? These colorful idioms come from A Dictionary of the Slang and Cant Languages by George Andrews …

The Trials of William Blake in Three Books

Some good news for William Blake fans: the William Blake Archive is online, and our Recent Acquisitions from the Bequest of Maurice Sendak exhibition has been extended through May 28, so you have another month to feast your eyes on some of Blake’s most beautiful engravings. The three works by Blake on display in our …

Children’s Books by Authors You Weren’t Expecting

April 2 is International Children’s Book Day–a day you might well celebrate with a visit to our exhibition of books bequested to the Rosenbach by Maurice Sendak, which include some remarkable rare editions of books by Beatrix Potter, Margaret Wise Brown, and the brothers Grimm as well as the marvelous movable circus book by Lothar Meggendorfer. …

Dr. Rosenbach and the songs of Robert Burns

This guest post is an excerpt of  “Dr. Rosenbach, Robert Burns, and The Interleaved Scots Musical Museum:  Song Collection and Bibliophilia” by Steve Newman, Associate Professor of literature at Temple University. It’s always exciting for us to read about the discoveries made by researchers! To make an appointment in our reading room, click here. Robert Burns devoted …

#ColorOurCollections 2017

We are delighted to participate in #ColorOurCollections week, February 6-10, 2017! We love any occasion for art and literature lovers to look as closely at our collection as we do. Download and enjoy–and if you post any snapshots of your colorations online, don’t forget to include #ColorOurCollections and tag us–@RosenbachMuseum on Facebook and Twitter, @TheRosenbach …