A brand new book, hot off the presses, was presented at the Mercantile Library last night. Dale Patrick Brown, formerly a very hot ticket in the advertising field, decided several years ago to change her life, got her MFA, and has now presented us with this wonderful and fun book.
The book’s subtitle is Early Lectures at Cincinnati’s Mercantile Library. Dale found great pleasure – and a lot of work – in rummaging through the old documents at the Mercantile (it was founded in 1835), then the Public Library, with its microfilm, as well as many other places.
I’ve read a lot of the first chapter – fascinated. But first, I read the Appendix, which lists the date and venue, lecturer, title and topic – all that could be found, that is. There are holes in the calendar – and Dale found a lot of surprises.
No one knew, for instance, that great thinker Oliver Wendell Holmes had ever lectured here. And almost every other well known writer, thinker, orator, performer from the 19th century of whom you have ever heard.
I was amazed to discover how many of the speakers were listed as Unitarian, Universalist, Spiritualist, and Atheist. Most of them were not presenting on those topics, and there were plenty of Episcopal, Methodist and Presbyterian speakers listed (and everyone’s religion was not listed) – but it certainly gave me a new impression of what I had thought must have been a staid and sober organization. Maybe, maybe not. Someone had to be thinking outside the box to invite such folk.
I’m definitely ready to find out more – so I think I’ll get back to the book now.