Robert A. Wilson collection of Gertrude Stein materials
- Stein, Gertrude, 1874-1946 (Person)
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Contact Special Collections for more information.
Conditions Governing Use
13.48 Cubic Feet (20 containers total: 6 record center boxes, 6 full-sized legal document boxes, 2 half-sized legal document boxes, 1 telescope box, 2 large flat boxes, 3 small flat boxes)
Robert A. Wilson biographical note
He was born in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up on Cresmont Avenue. Wilson attended Baltimore City College and graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a BA in American Literature in 1943. After serving in World War II, he continued his childhood passion for book collecting by becoming the owner of the Phoenix Book Shop in 1959. He became known for publishing and printing the works of local authors and his own detailed bibliographies of noted authors such as Stein.
In their later years, Wilson developed friendships with Alice B. Toklas, Virgil Thomson, and others who knew Stein, as evidenced by their letters to Wilson.
Wilson passed away in 2016 in Sykesville, Maryland.
Source: Frederick N. Rasmussen. "Robert A. Wilson, bookstore owner, collector." The Baltimore Sun, December 12, 2016. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/obituaries/bs-md-ob-robert-wilson-20161213-story.html
Gertrude Stein biographical note
She attended Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts from 1893 to 1897, studying psychology's normal motor automatism (an early predecessor of the concept of "stream of consciousness"), particularly the behavior of humans when participating in intelligent activities such as speaking and writing, topics which would influence her later writings. At Radcliffe she developed a life-long friendship with pen pal Mabel Foote Weeks. From 1897 to 1901, she attended Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, but grew bored of her medical studies and frustrated with the male-dominated field.
By 1902, Stein and her brother Leo Stein moved to London and then Paris in 1903, where Stein eventually met Alice B. Toklas. The Stein siblings became passionate collectors and hosts of turn-of-the-century art and literary salons, respectively. They were a critical, familial unit until Stein and brother Leo eventually disagreed with each other on what was considered art and parted ways in 1913.
From 1909 onward, Stein wrote dozens of works, including novels, poetry, plays, operas, essays, biographies and commentaries on life in Europe and America. She did this with the help of Toklas as her secretary and transcriber, while Stein dictated much of her words to her.
Some of her best known works include Tender Buttons (1914), while her most influential works are considered The Making of Americans (1925), How to Write (1931), and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933).
Source: Academy of American Poets. "Gertrude Stein." Poets.org. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/gertrude-stein
Scope and Contents
Significantly, after Stein, items relating to her partner Alice B. Toklas make up the bulk of the collection. Notable creators in this collection also include photographer Carl Van Vechten and composer Virgil Thomson, both of whom worked with or used Stein and Toklas as subjects in their works.
Additionally, the collection includes some of Wilson's day-to-day records of his Phoenix Book Shop business that have connections to his collecting of Gertrude Stein materials. The collection also includes some of Wilson's own personal papers, such as letters from organizations or other Stein enthusiasts to him, his notes on the famous author, and his reference photographs of Stein and Toklas' memorials and gravestones.
This collection spans in time from 1874 to 2009.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- American drama
- American literature
- American poetry
- Bowles, Paul, 1910-1999
- Brown, Bob, 1886-1959
- Fans (Persons)
- Modernism (Literature)
- Morrison, Murray
- Publishers and publishing
- Stein, Gertrude, 1874-1946
- Steward, Samuel M.
- Tanner, Allen C., 1898-1987
- Toklas, Alice B.
- Wilson, Robert, 1922-
- Women authors, American
- World War (1939-1945)
- drafts (documents)
- drawings (visual works)
- ephemera (general object genre)
- letters (correspondence)
- long-playing records
- proofs (printed matter)
Part of the Special Collections Repository
The Sheridan Libraries
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA