Ogden Nash at Wheaton College

The Wheaton College Student Union usually invited quite “serious” public figures to lecture on campus, so it was surely a delight when they snagged Ogden Nash, the American poet of light humorous verse. NashHis poetry was famously featured in The New Yorker, The Saturday Evening Post and elsewhere. He spoke in Pierce Chapel at 8:30pm on April 30, 1958. Admission to the event was $1.

His books include Everyone But Thee and Me, Parents Keep Out, You Can’t Get There from Here and Custard the Dragon. Among Nash’s New York literary circle were E.B. White, Dorothy Parker and S.J. Perelman.

Campus reaction to Nash’s performance is not recorded, nor is the notoriously liberal poet’s response to his conservative Christian audience. Not noted for theological reflection, Ogden Nash did observe:

God in his wisdom made the fly,

And then forgot to tell us why.

Nash was an active member of St. Andrews-by-the-Sea in New Hampshire, where his bespectacled face was immortalized on a stained-glass window. He died in 1971. At his funeral this poem was read:

I didn’t go to church today,

I trust the Lord to understand.

The surf was swirling blue and white,

The children swirling on the sand.

He knows, He knows how brief my stay,

How brief this spell of summer weather,

He knows when I am said and done,

We’ll have plenty of time together.

Shakespeare on Display

ShakespeareAngle800As part of the E. Beatrice Batson Shakespeare Collection in the College Archives and Special Collections, Buswell Library is pleased to have a copy of Henry the Fourth, both the first and second parts. These plays are taken from the fourth folio edition of Mr. William Shakespear’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies (1685) and were donated to the College in honor of Dr. Batson’s retirement from the English Department about 25 years ago. This month, thanks to the generous donation of a custom-made case, our folio has found a new home on permanent display in the lobby of Buswell Library.

In preparation for this display, I had the opportunity to research this special book, and the findings were rather surprising.


At first, all we knew about this volume was contained in an inscription written in an unknown hand on one of its back fly leaves: ShakespeareNote800


“Extracted from the / Fourth Folio of 1685 / Bound in Cambridge calf / antique style by / Bernard Middleton. / hole in the leaf Hh”

I was able to locate the publication information for the “Fourth Folio of 1685” through the English Short Title Catalogue, a database of antiquarian English books hosted by the British Library. A combined author and date search returned three entries:



Without a title page, it was impossible to tell which of the three imprints our plays contained. Therefore, as “H. Herringman” was the only constant between the three, he was the obvious starting point for further research.

The British Book Trade Index and CERL Thesaurus list “H. Herringman” as Henry Herringman, who worked from 1653-1693 as a bookseller and publisher in London. He specialized in producing fine literature and dramatic texts, which is unsurprising considering his relationship with the poet John Dryden and his many copyrights for Shakespearean works.[1]

To publish Shakespeare’s fourth folio, Herringman employed three printing houses to each produce a section of it. The plays in our copy are taken from the second section, which is particularly interesting due to its errors in layout. More specifically, there were many mistakes made in labelling the signatures. These combinations of letters and numbers in the bottom right corners of certain pages determined the format of the book, and so it was important that they be precise. Our copy of The First Part of Henry IV features an example of such an error on folio 41:  the signature “Ee3” had been mistakenly left off the page, but here someone (likely from the printing house) has corrected it by hand with ink.


Scholar Giles E. Dawson examined nearly 40 copies of this folio, and in the majority of them “Ee3” was added in this way. He notes that the handwriting is the same in all the copies he examined, and that it is most distinctive in this particular signature.[2]

Having read Dawson’s assessment, I wanted to compare our signature to that in others copies and see if it matched. The ESTC linked to three examples of this text, one with each of the different imprints, in the Early English Books Online database and it seems Dawson was correct: in all of them, there is a forward slant in the uppcase “E” and the crossbar of the lowercase “e” is tilted upwards.


Ours, however, appears different:


The uppercase “E” has no slant to it (although it certainly has some ungraceful serifs), and the crossbar on the lowercase “e” is flat. Was it written by someone else? Or could the corrector have been experimenting, perhaps using a different pen?


In another place in the book, we find more markings and they, too, highlight some strange particularities.

Folio 47 features parts of two scenes from The First Part of Henry IV which someone has marked up to note typographical and editorial issues. For example, the “S” in “Scena Tertia” is incorrectly printed in roman, while the rest of the heading is italicized:



On the other side of the page, a misspelling is noted, where the “e” in “sedden” is crossed out and the correct letter, “u”, is written in the margin:



And below that, a pound sign in the margin corresponds to a marking within the text:


This was a convention with which I was unfamiliar. One of the pound sign’s many purposes over time has been to signal the need for a space, which seems to be the significance here. In an attempt to date these notations, I tried to research the history of the pound sign as an indicator of a missing space. While the history of marginal and typographic symbols has been the topic of several books and blogs in recent years, writers have focused on the pound sign’s capacity as an abbreviation for, well, “pound” rather than as an indicator of a lacking space. As a result, I’m uncertain as to when this became common in proofreading, which makes it difficult to determine when these notations were added.

That said, there are two remarks that can be made with certainty. The first is that all of the Shakespeare folios were printed at a time when the English language was yet unstandardized and undergoing continual changes in spelling and punctuation. Each was edited differently, although compositor’s mistakes were to blame as well as emerging conventions.[3] The marks in our volume illustrate one person’s engagement with his or her text in a period where readers, writers, and compositors were experiencing a dynamic evolution of language.

A second certain remark is that none of the other aforementioned copies of the fourth edition have these mistakes on this page. The books at the Bodleian Library, Folger Shakespeare Library, and Cambridge University Library all have the italic “S” instead of the roman, the correct “u” in sudden, and while the quality of the EEBO scans makes it tricky to determine for sure, it seems as though all also have a space between “Henry” and the colon.

What does this indicate? To be honest, I’m not sure. Could these markings signal a printer’s copy used to make changes before sending the book to press? It’s possible, although one would assume that the errors in layout would have been flagged then, too.[4] The general design of the page is consistent with that of the fourth edition and only the fourth edition of the Shakespeare folios, leaving me frankly quite puzzled as to where this copy fits into the larger narrative of the publication. Between the differences in the signatures and now this page, our book contains some mysteries which, until further research is completed, must remain unsolved.


The material composition of this book, on the other hand, is a mystery solved. As stated in the inscription, our copy was specially bound by Bernard Middleton, a renowned British binder who flourished in the twentieth century and literally wrote the book on English bookbinding. The work he did for our copy resulted in an elegant speckled calf leather binding with blind tooling and gilt letters, and he signed his work in the lower left corner of the back cover paste-down using his signature stamp.


Determining the papermaker, on the other hand, was a bit trickier. Such details aren’t listed in imprints and there was nothing in the inscription. Yet when held up to the light, it became clear that, consistent with folios from the era, our book was printed on antique laid paper with vertical chain lines. Upon closer inspection, I saw a watermark:


It was hard to make out the letters and shapes, but I saw something resembling a plus sign, a possible fleur-de-lis, and the letters V, A, and L towards the beginning of the word and A, R, and D towards the end. It looked like “OVALGARD”, but this search returned no results. While browsing the Thomas L. Gravell Watermark Database, however, I discovered the name of a seventeenth-century papermaker from Normandy, Denis Vaullegeard, who sometimes used the spelling “DVAVLEGEARD” in his watermarks. As it happens, Dawson had already credited Vaullegeard’s work on the fourth folio paper in an article published more than 50 years ago. According to him, multiple Vaullegeard watermarks are found on the pages of the folio, all containing elements featured in the image above: the name, the shield, and the loopy ribbon bordering it.[5]


A final clue also appeared on the paper, and while it wasn’t quite as hidden as the watermark, it still originally passed unnoticed. In the top left corner on the back side of the front free endpaper are some tiny words in ink:


Thanks to a quick Google search, what looks like “LOTHERAN. JACKVILLE ST. LONDON” was revealed to be “SOTHERAN SACKVILLE ST. LONDON”. Sotheran’s of Sackville Street is, according to its website, the oldest antiquarian bookshop in the world, founded in York more than 250 years ago.

Since our provenance information for this item is limited, I emailed Sotheran’s for more information and quickly received a reply from the Managing Director. He informed me that they have sold many plays taken from (typically incomplete) copies of all four folios, and while he wasn’t able to locate the information for our particular plays, he was able to tell me that they must have been sold after 1936, the date in which Sotheran’s moved to Sackville Street. Their archives were destroyed in World War II—bombing and looting during this period have created numerous provenance problems—so it may be that our plays were sold in between those events and the record is gone, or they might have been sold later and Sotheran’s records database is incomplete.  Regardless, we now have some insight into the three centuries between our book’s publication and its arrival in the College Archives & Special Collections.


Although many details from our book’s past are still unknown, we were able to find out much about this special copy. Perhaps as more editions are digitized and more scholarship is completed, we will discover exactly why our copy stands unique among its peers, and maybe even find out more about its provenance. In the meantime, if you would like to see Henry the Fourth for yourself, please come visit the display in Buswell Library.


[1] See Sonia Massai, “‘Taking Just Care of the Impression’: Editorial Intervention in Shakespeare’s Fourth Folio, 1685,” in Shakespeare Survey Volume 55: King Lear and its Afterlife, ed. Peter Holland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 257-270; and Giles E. Dawson, “Some Bibliographical Irregularities in the Shakespeare Fourth Folio,” in Studies in Bibliography, 4 (1951/1952), 93-103 for more information on Herringman and the production of this folio.

[2] See Dawson, “Some Bibliographical Irregularities,” 94.

[3] See Massai’s article, as well as Matthew Black and M. A. Shaaber’s book, Shakespeare’s seventeenth-century editors, 1632-1685 (New York, Kraus Reprint Corp., 1966), for details on the editorial process.

[4] Dawson notes that these layout errors were indeed noted late into the printing, and corrections were made for a small remaining batch of books which technically comprised a fifth edition; see “Some Bibliographical Irregularities,” whole article for more information.

[5] “Bibliographical Irregularities,” 246.

Wes Craven at Wheaton College

Elm Street — where nightmares undoubtedly occur — is located six blocks south of Wheaton College, but Wes Craven never lived in the last house on the left or anywhere else on that shaded lane. In fact, residing near the campus as a student, he rented rooms in Craven3three different homes at various times on Scott, President and Franklin streets. The wildly successful film director, who died of brain cancer at 76 on August 30, 2015, studied English at Wheaton College from 1957-63.  Raised in a strict Christian home in Cleveland, Ohio, his family was somewhat concerned that Wheaton College was “too liberal.” Inquisitive with a touch of the maverick, Craven was anxious to explore the power and passion of language, especially during the topsy-turvy 1960s. The March, 1962 Kodon, the Wheaton College literary magazine, sponsored a Creative Arts Festival with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gwendolyn Brooks as one of the judges. Craven won first prize in the short story category. Serving as editor for the Fall, 1962 Kodon, he prophetically writes:

This edition of KODON will be controversial. It was not planned to be so, and were things ideal, it would not raise a whisper of protest. But the ideal is never here. So be it. Besides, a controversy is healthy, I  feel, and constructive if carried on honestly and fairly. Let us hope that this will be the case in the consideration of this magazine’s contents….In addition, there is the conviction in this office that, in the arts, the Fundamental Christian world, and more specifically Wheaton, is sadly short of its potential and far behind its contemporaries. Therefore the copy of this magazine will remain (as long as the present staff remains), free and limited only by the criteria and the boundaries of artistry.

Braced for the fallout, Craven published two edgy-for-the-era stories, “A New Home,” by Marti Bihlmeier, about an unwed mother, and “The Other Side of the Wall” by Carolyn Burry, about an interracial couple. As predicted, the stories stirred discomfort in the campus community and were not well-received by the administration. Soon Dr. V. Raymond Edman, President of Wheaton College, informed Craven that he had failed in his duties as editor. Consequently, publication of Kodon was suspended for a year. Interestingly, this issue also features work by Jack Leax and Jeanne (Murray) Walker, who would enjoy successful careers as published poets and professors of literature.

As a senior Craven was stricken with Guillan-Barre syndrome, paralyzed for several months from the chest down, delaying his graduation by nearly a year. During this difficult time he was visited by friends and several strangers. “I remember feeling terribly down,” Craven told a reporter in a June 8, 1997 Chicago Tribune interview. “People I didn’t know came to visit, to pray for my recovery. Craven2To me, their thoughts and prayers represented the best side of Christianity. I’ll never forget that side of Wheaton College. Never.” A retired professor remembers Wes Craven as “a fine, serious-minded student” who excelled in Shakespeare and drama. In addition to deep, wide reading, Craven played guitar in a folk band.

Leaving Wheaton, he completed his graduate degree  in philosophy and writing at Johns Hopkins. He briefly taught school in New York before committing his prodigious talents to Hollywood. Specializing in horror franchises, his directorial debut was The Last House on the Left (1972). Craven went on to write or direct A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), Scream (1996) and the non-scary drama Music of the  Heart (1999), starring Meryl Streep, who garnered an Academy Award nomination for her performance. He also published a novel, The Fountain Society (1999) and co-scripted a graphic-novel series called Coming of Rage (2014).



Rebuilding on a Solid Foundation

Article excerpted from Wheaton Magazine, Wheaton (IL) College, Spring 2008.

Numbers aside, one of Wheaton’s most well loved math professors looks at the solutions the new campaign will provide.

Although Wheaton’s state-of-the-art science center will be pleasant, it is not the comfort of new offices and the expectation of attractive student space that capture my imagination— rather, it is the possibility of renewing Wheaton’s mathematical and scientific enterprise for the next generations of Wheaton students.

pict0Our existing science and mathematics facilities in Breyer and Armerding Halls have their roots in the technologies and perspectives of the 1950s and ’60s. Over the last half century the content and methods of these disciplines have grown enormously—new sub-disciplines in math and science have emerged, different interdisciplinary relationships have evolved, and new departmental interdependencies have been established. Computational chemistry, mathematical models for dynamical physical systems, environmental science, computer-based simulation and visualization, and many, many other new mathematical and scientific domains now play crucial roles in helping us to better understand important processes within God’s creation.

In my dream for a new science building, I see students vigorously engaged in mathematics and science without the discouraging limitations imposed by two old buildings. The math and computer science department will finally have student project and research rooms, an improved seminar room, enlarged and well-lit student study rooms…and all of these in immediate proximity to our departmental faculty offices.These offices will even be large enough to help three or four students all at once—without having to search for a frequently nonexistent empty classroom. We will be freed to do science and mathematics; our classrooms will have the flexibility to be reconfigured for group work, media-based presentation, traditional lecture instruction, or seminar-style meetings. Departments will be arrayed in proximity to a central core to enable easy connection and collaboration.

As of now, the obsolescence of our old facilities along with the constraints that they impose upon learning, research, and teaching threaten to utterly compromise mathematics and science at Wheaton. I find it personally unsettling to know that we are already losing strong students who would become salt and light as cutting-edge scientists, health professionals, mathematicians, or computer scientists. Wheaton’s contribution to these disciplines stands to be diminished.

The prospect of a markedly improved teaching and learning environment with resources better configured for student engagement, practice, interaction, and collaboration really stirs my enthusiasm for The Promise of Wheaton. The new science building will create and dramatically enhance numerous possibilities for contemporary research, for more effective student mentoring and collaboration, for sophisticated interactive instruction, and for developing a renewed stream of Christian mathematicians and scientists who will not be left behind by these advancing disciplines.

Dr. Terry Perciante, Chair of Mathematics and Computer Science

A Question Answered

Aside from the institution of slavery, Jonathan Blanchard, founder of Wheaton College, loathed the Masonic Lodge. Speaking at various churches and civic events, Blanchard seldom lost an opportunity to discredit the Lodge and its secret rites. On one occasion, however, he might have uttered a few words too many. The following editorial was published in the Wheaton, Illinoisian on August 12, 1887:

MasonReplying to a question asked by J. Blanchard in what he was pleased to call a sermon, Sunday evening, August 7, at the Baptist church, “What Lodge in the country gave a dollar to pay for scraping lint or preparing anything for the comfort of the soldiers?” I would answer that Wheaton Lodge No. 269, F. & A.M., then in its infancy, gave one hundred and fifty dollars ($150.00) for that purpose. The Lodge at Naperville, Il, a like amount, and the Lodges all over the country gave for the same purpose. Query: What did the head of the house of Blanchard give to aid in carrying on the war? On the contrary, I am credibly informed that this same Blanchard discouraged the enlisting of students, saying of them, “Let the scum of society go first.” W.H. Johnson, Wheaton, Ill, Aug. 10, 1887

Thanks to Robert Shuster of the Billy Graham Center Archives for providing this article.

Her fault

AgnesWhen God promises to heal the land, as he does in II Chronicles 7:14, he is predicting the return of the Jew to Israel the homeland, though contingent upon national repentance. When missionaries leave their home country for a foreign field, they often harbor hopes of “healing” the land, or preaching the gospel and serving needy peoples. But when Agnes Sanford, charismatic author and lecturer, moved from the East Coast to California in her later years, she had something far more literal in mind as she applied her extraordinary gifts. She writes in Creation Waits (1976):

When I moved to California in order to be nearer to my children and also to be handy to the San Andreas Fault in order to pray for it, I looked for a house….When I pray for the San Andreas Fault, that is settle its differences, or make its adjustments to the earth that is even now being gradually pushed up from the ocean, I see with the eyes of faith God’s healing and constructive power, God’s life-force of light, shining into the mountains beneath which the fault lurks, and causing these areas of new land to develop so gently, so gradually, that there shall be no destructive earthquakes. Many people, encouraged by the newspapers, seem to gloat in the prospect of a destructive earthquake, and to delight in foretelling it. However, God is more powerful than all newspapers and gloomy prophets who foresee calamity.

The paper of Agnes Sanford (SC-174) are archived in the College Archives & Special Collections.

A Spark Dropped from the Sun

Springtime dandelions sprouting across suburban Chicago yards or vast corporate lawns stand little chance for survival. Usually herbicides have been diligently sprayed to eradicate this annoyance long before the first yellow dandelion heads burst sunward on the green grass. This was certainly not the case one hundred years ago at Wheaton College. In fact, the little flower (technically a weed) was celebrated. An article from the March, 1911 Record describes a unique tradition.

…A custom peculiar to Wheaton College is that of planting dandelions. Every spring when the dandelions begin to show, the students watch eagerly for the small yellow flowers, and then still more anxiously for them to go to seed. This is the time for the popular dandelion contest. The students go out by classes and gather the spherical white blossoms, and, bringing them to campus, flow the seeds over the grass so that in future years the dormitory and Wayside Inn be blessed with dandelion greens from our own campus. A banner is awarded to the most successful class.

These days the Wheaton College campus is carefully landscaped and meticulously manicured, allowing not a single dandelion. However, Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, a visionary friend of Wheaton College, writes from quite another perspective, “It gives one a sudden start in going down a barren, stony street, to see upon a narrow strip of grass, just within the iron fence, the radiant dandelion, shining in the grass, like a spark dropped from the sun.”

Wheaton at the Edgewater

For fifty years the Edgewater Beach Hotel stood as a beacon for luxury, recreation and hospitality in a city renowned for its magnificent lodging. Famous as Chicago’s “Metropolitan Hotel with the Country Club Atmosphere,” the Edgewater boasted 1000 rooms, several cocktail lounges and five large dining rooms, in addition to nightly ballroom dancing. The grounds included an outdoor swimming pool, cabanas and tennis and shuffleboard courts.

EdgewaterSituated on the North Shore a few hundred feet from Lake Michigan, the massive pink stucco complex served a variety of visitors, vacationers and celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, Lena Horne, Judy Garland, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Tallulah Bankhead. Band leaders Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey broadcast from the hotel’s radio station. In addition to an array of dignitaries, the Edgewater even hosted the Wheaton College Washington Banquet on February 21, 1958. The cost was $11 per couple. The ceremony was emceed by Dr. Gerald Hawthorne, and the speaker for the evening was Dr. Edward Elsen, pastor to President Dwight D. Eisenhower at National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC.

Nearly 300 students and faculty attended, with Dr. and Mrs. Bernard Nelson portraying George and Martha Washington. The menu included fruit cocktail, baked sugar-cured ham with raisin sauce, salad, julienne string beans panache and frozen torte with chocolate sauce. Undoubtedly this was a thrilling, noisy night in the big city for the small Christian college from the western suburbs.

Sadly, because of urban renewal and a steady decline in business, the Edgewater Beach Hotel closed its doors in 1967. The buildings were razed in 1970 except for one, now refurbished as residential apartments with landmark status. The structures were so solidly constructed that it took nearly a year to demolish. That happy 1958 Washington Banquet, along with the grand old hotel, belong to fond memory.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Helen Howarth Lemmel, born in England but raised in the United States, taught music at Moody Bible Institute and the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. Gifted with words as well as music, she wrote columns for a newspaper and directed choral groups for the Billy Sunday evangelistic campaigns. In 1918 at age 55 she acquired a gospel booklet called “Focussed” written by Lilias Trotter, missionary to Algeria. “Turn your soul’s vision to Jesus,” wrote Trotter, “and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him…”

Trotter’s exhortation forcibly struck the weary Lemmel. She writes, “Suddenly, as if commanded to stop and listen, I stood still, and, singing in my soul and spirit was the chorus, with not one conscious moment of putting word to word to make rhyme, or note to note to make melody…These verses were written…the same week, after the usual manner of composition, but none the less dictated by the Holy Spirit.” The hymn, initially called “The Heavenly Vision,” appeared in Glad Songs. It was sung at the 1922 Keswick Convention in England and eventually became known by its refrain, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” This familiar hymn is now sung in churches throughout the world. Helen Lemmel died in Seattle, Washington, in 1961.

The Keswick Collection (SC-30), comprising books and pamphlets, the Lilias Trotter Collection (SC-225), comprising illustrated journals, and the Hymnal Collection (SC-15) are housed in the Wheaton College Special Collections.


What’s cookin’ at Wheaton College

Need a recipe for spinach balls? Pear salad? Ham souffle? Rhubarb crumble? Just thumb through Wheaton College Women’s Cooking, compiled sometime in the late 1970s by the Women’s Club. ClubThe Wheaton College Women’s Club is open to the wives of any administrators, faculty or staff. Officially organized in 1929 under Mrs. J. Oliver Buswell, wife of the third president of Wheaton College, the club was known as the Faculty Wives of Wheaton College. Today the organization seeks to serve the college community through various programs, continuing the heritage of deep concern for friendship, sharing and service shown by Mary Blanchard, wife of founder Jonathan Blanchard.

Papers relating to the Wheaton College Women’s Club (RG 9.14) are housed in the Wheaton College Archives.