Harvard College Library

Thackeray's Gift to Annie Fields Comes to Houghton

September 6, 2002 -- A small card, written and signed by Annie Adams Fields and inserted into the case of a rose colored cameo, marks the piece as a gift from William Makepeace Thackeray in the year 1856. The cameo, decorated with angel and child figures, was recently given to Houghton Library by Paul Garber, AB '56, JD '61.

Paul Garber AB '56, JD '61, and brother Philip AB '56, JD '61, present Elizabeth Falsey, Reader Services Librarian in Houghton Library, and Leslie Morris, Curator of Manuscripts in the Harvard College Library with a cameo that was a gift from novelist William Makepeace Thackeray to Annie Adams Fields, a member of
Boston's literary society.

Fields, wife of James T. Fields owner of the Boston publishing firm Ticknor and Fields, was a renowned hostess whose salon was frequented by the preeminent literary and political figures of her day. Houghton's collection includes a substantial number of her letters, papers concerning the settlement of her estate, and records of her husband's firm. The library also has extensive holding of the British novelist Thackeray including drawings, manuscripts, books, letters, and original sketches in an ivory leaf sketchbook.

"The Cameo is a physical manifestation of the friendship between Thackeray and Mrs. Fields. It has a close connection with the manuscript and book collections at Houghton and is the kind of object that can make an exhibition come alive," said Leslie Morris, Curator of Manuscripts in the Harvard College Library.

Cameo and card signed by Fields

Garber, Consul Honorario de Chile in Boston, acquired the cameo in 1982 at a an antique store; it was a brief footnote in an article by Houghton librarian Elizabeth Falsey, From Boston to Cambridge, published in the Fall/Winter 2001 Harvard Library Bulletin, that compelled him to give the cameo to Houghton. The footnote stated that the College Library was regularly given a copy of every book published by Ticknor and Fields. Garber did some research, and when he discovered the depth of the Fields and Thackery holdings at Houghton, decided the cameo could serve scholarship as a complement to the library's collections.





This story appears courtesy of the Harvard College Library Communications Office
Copyright © 2004 President and Fellows of Harvard College