Remember Watergate, the threat of impeachment and the fall of President Nixon? Of course you do. Well, that’s where we are. In brief, Nixon said when he resigned that the tapes and papers were his, Congress disagreed – and confiscated them. After much wrangling, the courts decided Nixon should receive compensation and John Payne of Austin, Texas, was appointed to put a value on the entire archive (45 million documents plus those infamous tapes). It’s an extraordinary story that John tells. The first part is in this issue. In our Spring issue will come Watergate and in the Summer, the text files about Vietnam, student protests, drugs and how the Department of Justice tried to get John to reduce his valuation.
We also have the last part of Anke Timmermann’s history of Alchemy in Britain and the second part of the account of the collections held by the Linnean Society in London. Victoria Dailey has a riveting article on how Oscar Wilde was mocked during his 1882 tour of the United States and Oliver Stephen-Jones, author of the bibliography of Laurie Lee, describes for us the trials involved in compiling a bibliography. For a contrast, Carl Williams takes us into the world of marijuana ephemera and Nick Nace delves into the early Italian editions of Fanny Hill. We continue our series on the National Trust libraries with a visit to Dorneywood, where Elisabeth Grass shows us around. We commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the death of that remarkable collector (and dyslexic) Major J.R. Abbey and finish with yet another first for us - a film review. Wit, pleasure and knowledge, it’s all there, only in the pages of The Book Collector.