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To be “London Bound” was common among turn-of-the-century authors on the other side of the Atlantic. Whether they were American, Canadian, or even Cuban, many made the voyage to Britain, either for short visits or to settle there permanently as expatriates—in some cases, binding themselves to their new homes through marriage to English spouses. Many, too, sent their plays to West End theatre producers, their articles to British periodicals, and their manuscripts to London publishing firms, which issued them as bound books.

More important than those literal connections, however, were the transatlantic ties of spiritual affinity and allegiance. American authors with causes to champion—racial justice, gender equality, sexual freedom, the abolition of class distinctions, or new ideals of literary form and expression—sought and found support among sympathizers in Britain. Their links were particularly strong with the anti-imperialists, feminists, socialists, and Arts-and-Crafts practitioners who congregated around the designer and poet William Morris, as well as with the Aesthetes and Decadents associated with Oscar Wilde. Countless Americans were, in turn, inspired to write, and to write in particular ways, by direct or indirect contact with radical artistic developments in nineteenth-century Britain, especially Pre-Raphaelitism and Aestheticism.

This exhibition, highlighting books, manuscripts, periodicals, drawings, photographs, letters, and printed ephemera, was on display in the Special Collections gallery from August 24-December 17, 2010.

Tags: Authors, American; Expatriate authors; Pre-Raphaelitism in literature; Aestheticism (Literature)

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