My new Books the Founders Read post on Blackstone

“In America the law is king.”
–Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

My new Books the Founders Read post on the Bauman Rare Books blog is about William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, the most important and widely-read law book in 18th-century America.


John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Dickinson, John Jay, John Marshall, and other Founders read the work and cited it frequently in their writings.


You can read my Blackstone post here. If you’re interested in reading my other blog posts for Bauman Rare Books, there are links in the sidebar to the right.

“In no country perhaps in the world is the law so general a study… I have been told by an eminent bookseller that in no branch of his business, after tracts of popular devotion, were so many books as those on the law exported to the plantations. The colonists have now fallen into the way of printing them for their own use. I hear that they have sold nearly as many of Blackstone’s Commentaries in America as in England… This study renders men acute, inquisitive, dexterous, prompt in attack, ready in defense, full of resources. In other countries, the people, more simple, and of a less mercurial cast, judge of an ill principle in government only by an actual grievance; here they anticipate the evil, and judge of the pressure of the grievance by the badness of the principle. They augur misgovernment at a distance; and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.”
–Edmund Burke’s 1775 speech on conciliation with the American colonies

Books the Founders Read, my new series for the Bauman Rare Books blog

I’ve started a new series, Books the Founders Read, on the Bauman Rare Books blog. I’ll be highlighting books that the Founding Fathers read, owned, wrote about, and were influenced by. My first post is about Algernon Sidney’s 1698 Discourses Concerning Government, a work that was particularly significant to Thomas Jefferson, who cited it as an important influence on the Declaration of Independence and praised it in his letters.


Sidney was executed for treason in 1683, accused of involvement in the Rye House Plot against Charles II. Two witnesses were needed to convict someone of treason, but there was only a single witness, so the prosecution used Sidney’s unpublished manuscript of Discourses as the second witness, and the judge famously ruled “scribere est agere”—to write is to act.

You can read the entire post here.

My new posts on the Bauman Rare Books blog

I haven’t been blogging here because I’ve been busy writing holiday season posts for the Bauman Rare Books blog:

Giving and Collecting Rare Books on Economics, featuring books by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, John Maynard Keynes, and Milton Friedman, as well as books on finance and the stock market.

Wealth of Nations

Giving and Collecting Rare Books by 20th-Century Leaders, featuring books and autographs by civil and human rights leaders (Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Eleanor Roosevelt), World War II leaders (Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower), and modern leaders (John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Barack Obama).

King Stride

Giving and Collecting Rare Children’s Books–19th Century, featuring books by Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, Carlo Collodi, and Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Huck new

Giving and Collecting Rare Children’s Books–20th Century,
featuring books by L. Frank Baum, Beatrix Potter, Kenneth Grahame, A.A. Milne, E.B. White, C.S. Lewis, Crockett Johnson, Dr. Seuss, Kay Thompson, Michael Bond, Roald Dahl, and Maurice Sendak.

charlotte's web

William Blake was a visionary– literally

My latest post for the Bauman Rare Books blog is on William Blake’s “Visionary Heads” drawing of Wat Tyler, leader of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt.


Throughout his life Blake claimed to see visions that inspired his art, as in the case of his “Visionary Heads” series. Blake biographer Alexander Gilchrist described them as portraits “of historical, nay, fabulous and even typical personages, summoned from the vast deep of time, and ‘seen in vision by Mr. Blake.’”

You can read my blog post here:

“You can see what I do if you choose. Work up imagination to the state of vision, and the thing is done.” — William Blake

My Banned Books Week post for the Bauman Rare Books blog

We Read Banned Books is my latest post for the Bauman Rare Books blog, featuring the stories of six important books: Joyce’s Ulysses, Galileo’s Dialogo, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Nabokov’s Lolita.

Read it here:







Free access to Oxford online resources the week of April 13th

To celebrate National Library Week, Oxford University Press is providing free access to their online resources from April 13th through 19th:

Username: libraryweek
Password: libraryweek

Go here to see the full list (with links) of online resources you can access. A few highlights:

  • Oxford English Dictionary
  • Oxford Bibliographies Online
  • Oxford Reference
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online
  • American National Biography Online
  • Grove Art Online
  • Grove Music Online
  • Berg Fashion Library
  • Oxford African American Studies Online
  • Electronic Enlightenment


I’ll be teaching a research workshop for Clarion West in May

I’ll be teaching a one-day Clarion West workshop with Louise Marley on Sunday, May 4th from 10am to 4pm in Seattle’s University District:

Fiction R&D: From Research to Ideas to Stories
Research is a creative process that can help writers with inspiration, storytelling, and worldbuilding. Lisa Gold will share practical advice on doing research and finding useful and unusual sources, and she’ll provide an annotated list of resources. Louise Marley will explore generating, refining, and developing ideas into stories. They’ll use a combination of lecture, discussion, brainstorming, and writing exercises.

Check out these other Clarion West one-day workshops:

  • Rachel Swirsky, Telling Old Stories in New Ways, April 6
  • Nicola Griffith, The Magic of Immersive Fiction, April 13

For more information or to register: