Category Archives: Authors

Happy Public Domain Day 2019!

Today is Public Domain Day 2019, which means (finally!) the end of copyright for works first published in the U.S. in 1923. You are now free to use, reprint, quote, remix, or create your own derivative works from 1923 works without permission from or payment to the copyright holders, who would be the descendants or estates of the long-dead creators.

Specific works from a wide range of authors entered the public domain today, including Robert Frost, Winston Churchill, Agatha Christie, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Kahlil Gibran, Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence, Edith Wharton, P.G. Wodehouse, Ernest Hemingway, Sigmund Freud, Willa Cather, Joseph Conrad, H.G. Wells, Virginia Woolf, George Bernard Shaw, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Rudyard Kipling, e.e. cummings, E.M. Forster, Zane Grey, Arthur Conan Doyle, and many others.

The full texts of the 1923 books that have already been scanned by the Internet Archive, Hathi Trust, and Google Books will be made publicly available on their websites, and I’m sure many more 1923 works will soon be scanned by these and other institutions. And every January 1st the public domain will gain another year’s treasures, which will be especially important to authors, scholars, artists, and researchers.

For decades, only works published in the U.S. through 1922 have been in the public domain, as Congress repeatedly and retroactively extended the length of copyright terms. Most works published between 1923 and 1977 currently have copyright protection for 95 years, so 1923 works enter the public domain on the first day of 2019, 1924 works on the first day of 2020, and so on. (So F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, first published in 1925, won’t enter the public domain for another two years.)  However, books published today don’t enter the public domain until 70 years after the death of the author. It’s all ridiculously complicated, so see this chart of Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States from Cornell University for details and exceptions.

Here are some recommended links for more information and lists of some of the 1923 works that entered the public domain today:

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Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country

Today is publication day for Lovecraft Country, the new novel by my husband, Matt Ruff.

You can learn more about the book and read reviews and an excerpt here.

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If you’d like to attend one of Matt’s book events in Seattle, Portland, or Vancouver, you’ll find the details here. The launch event is tonight, February 16th, at 7pm at Elliott Bay Books, where Matt will be in conversation with Paul Constant from the Seattle Review of Books.

“But you love these stories!” Atticus said. “You love them as much as I do!”

“I do love them, George agreed. “But stories are like people, Atticus. Loving them doesn’t make them perfect. You try to cherish their virtues and overlook their flaws. The flaws are still there, though.”

“But you don’t get mad. Not like Pop does.”

“No, that’s true, I don’t get mad. Not at stories. They do disappoint me sometimes.” He looked at the shelves. “Sometimes, they stab me in the heart.”

Lying to children about the past

I reviewed A Birthday Cake for George Washington, the controversial children’s picture book about slavery, for the Seattle Review of Books— read it here: http://seattlereviewofbooks.com/reviews/the-idea-of-freedom-might-be-too-great-a-temptation-for-them-to-resist/

In my review I tell the real story of Hercules, George Washington’s slave-cook, a story far different from the happy fictional one in the book, which was promoted as “based on real events.” SPOILER ALERT: On Washington’s 65th birthday, Hercules didn’t bake a cake– he escaped.

The book was withdrawn by the publisher over the MLK holiday weekend, but the issues it raises are larger than this particular book. We should tell the complicated truths about America’s founders and founding and stop lying to our children about the past.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: http://www.baumanrarebooks.com/blog/spotlight-blakes-visionary-heads-drawing-wat-tyler-2/

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