New Exhibit: “When They Were Young: Juvenilia in the Modern Literature Collection”

Exhibition of Writers’ Juvenilia Now on Display in Special Collections

 

Title page of James Merrill’s school composition book. From the James Merrill Papers

A new exhibition in the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections takes a look at notable authors’ earliest writings. “When They Were Young: Juvenilia in the Modern Literature Collection” features items from several of the University Libraries’ collections of modern writers’ papers. The exhibition includes stories, poems, and drawings created when the writers were between the ages of 6 and 21.

The term “juvenilia” describes the works of writers and artists that were produced during their youth. These works are often unpublished and only become public after the writer has already achieved renown. Although writers’ earliest works of childhood and youth were once viewed as inferior and unimportant, scholars are increasingly looking to juvenilia as a subject worthy of study. Examining the items helps to give a sense of the development of a writer’s style and language, traces of which often appear in their mature works.

The exhibition will be on display in the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections on Level 1 of Olin Library through fall 2019. Viewing hours are Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

A story by William Gaddis, written in grade school.

An early poem by Mona Van Duyn

A poem from Isabella Gardner’s childhood notebook

 

 

 

 

 

About the author