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A Librarian Like No Other: Belle da Costa Greene and Self-Invention

A Librarian Like No Other: Belle da Costa Greene and Self-Invention

Belle da Costa Greene was Pierpont Morgan’s personal librarian from 1908-1913 and from 1924-1948 the first Director of the Morgan Library. The daughter of two mixed race parents, she passed for White. Much of what is known about Greene derives from her more than 600 letters to Bernard Berenson: they furnish a vivid account of the librarian’s pursuit of singular opportunities. While Greene’s letters to the connoisseur have proven invaluable to writers seeking to reconstruct the larger narrative of her life, the artistry of the letters and the way in which her writing creates a singular self, have gone unnoticed. Parker’s talk will examine Greene’s vivid account of her working life—how she managed her education, her vibrant responses to books, and some of her most signal accomplishments.

 Deborah Parker is Professor of Italian. She is the author of Commentary and Ideology: Dante in the Renaissance (1992), Bronzino: Renaissance Painter as Poet (2000) and Michelangelo and the Art of Letter Writing (2011). Parker is the General Editor of The World of Dante, which was created at IATH under the direction of John Unsworth, Worthy Martin, and Daniel Pitti. Her most recent study, Becoming Belle da Costa Greene: A Visionary Librarian Through Her Letters, will be coming out this fall with Cambridge UP’s Elements Series on Women, Publishing and Book Culture. Her co-authored article, “Belle Greene and Literature,” will appear in the catalogue for Morgan Library and Museum’s forthcoming centenary exhibition, Belle da Costa Greene: A Librarian’s Legacy in October 2024.


Wednesday, April 17, 2024
2:00pm - 3:00pm
Shannon Seminar Room 330
Shannon Library
Deborah Parker

Registration is required. There are 3 seats available.

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Event Organizer

Holly Robertson