Exhibition | Rescuing Horace Walpole

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on September 5, 2019

This fall at the Lewis Walpole Library:

Rescuing Horace Walpole: The Achievement of W.S. Lewis
Lewis Walpole Library, Farmington, CT, 20 September 2019 — 24 January 2020

Curated by Stephen Clarke

Wilmarth S. ‘Lefty’ Lewis (Yale Class of 1918) devoted the better part of his life to building the world’s greatest collection relating to Horace Walpole (1717–1797), the British writer, collector, and historian. He also championed Walpole’s importance as a figure in English eighteenth-century life, doing so most effectively as general editor and guiding spirit of the Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence (Yale University Press, 1937–83), whose 48 volumes are widely acknowledged to this day as a model of scholarship in historical editing.

This fall’s exhibition, Rescuing Horace Walpole: The Achievement of W.S. Lewis, pays tribute to Lewis’s life and legacy as a scholar-collector, on the 40th anniversary of his bequest of the Lewis Walpole Library to his alma mater, Yale University. Drawing heavily on the recently cataloged Lewis archives, the exhibition shows how the total dedication of the collector resulted in a collection of extraordinary range and depth, and expressed itself in some surprising ways. It also evolved into a monumental achievement of scholarship in the Yale-Walpole edition and, in the process, transformed perceptions of Walpole and his age.

A related symposium, Scholarly Editing of Literary Texts from the Long Eighteenth Century, on September 21st, in New Haven, will explore the past, present, and future of scholarly editions of the collected works and correspondences of early modern British writers, ranging from the Yale Horace Walpole (1717–1797) and Samuel Johnson (1709–1784) editions, via the Burney and Boswell papers to new editions now being planned for Alexander Pope (1688–1744) and Aphra Behn (1640?–1689).

Curator Stephen Clarke will give a talk on the exhibition at the Lewis Walpole Library on October 28 beginning at 7pm.

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