Skip to main content

A Continental Diary

 Unprocessed
Identifier: ML-2019-002

Content Description

Travel diary from Mary Elizabeth Williams, including commentary on Mass, Marian artwork, and Marian churches encountered in her travels. From the seller: "Maroon cloth bound notebook with paper covered boards, a little rubbed and scuffed to extremities and a trifle sprung from its binding in parts as a result of being crammed with postcards, photographs and engravings. A trifle shaken and loose but complete. A candid and thoughtful travel diary kept by 22 year old Mary Elizabeth Williams, a fluent German speaker, keen student of the arts, part time governess and enthusiastic singer. She spends a considerable amount of time in Berlin (with a similarly ecstatic period spent in Florence), seemingly untouched by politics, recounting delirious visits to Wagner operas, plays staged by Max Reinhardt, a legion of transcribed poems by Heine, Joyce, De La Mere and others, also present is a signed and inscribed drawing by noted Czech artist and lithographer Emil Orlik dated November 9 1931 (titled “Paraphrase uber zwei rote striche”0, only a short time before his death. The journal contains several original photographs, including a number of Miss Williams, whose descriptive faculties are not in doubt, as this passage regarding Lubeck illustrates: “Sun on fields and then on unpainted green copper spires and gabled roofs. A wonderful town, of narrow streets and rich Gothic houses and of splendid churches. A town of rich merchants, of prosperity and peace. In the Marienkirche are beautiful woodcarvings, statues, pictures of saints and their donors and two beautiful windows. The streets are full of music and merrymaking and all is happy.” As a young woman travelling alone, she has a somewhat dry delivery when dealing with those she encounters along the way “Now I am with a pretty lady, Frau Fluth. She has one tall, quiet daughter, and the usual husband.” A colourful depiction, seen through the eyes of a similarly vibrant woman, of a culturally rich and exciting Europe only a handful of summer holidays away from being destroyed forever."

Acquisition Type

Purchase

Provenance

Purchased from Jonathan Kearns Rare Books in April 2019.

Restrictions Apply

No

Dates

  • 1930 - 1932