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Robert A. Wilson to Speak


     The University of Delaware Library Associates and the University of Delaware Library will co-sponsor a presentation entitled “In the City of Aldus” by the noted bibliophile and collector, Robert A. Wilson, on Wednesday, March 8, 2006, at 4:30 p.m. in the Reserve Room of the Morris Library.  The program is in conjunction with the exhibition “Ezra Pound in His Time and Beyond: The Influence of Ezra Pound on Twentieth Century Poetry” on view in the Special Collections Exhibition Gallery and will be followed by a reception.  A printed invitation is available upon request by contacting or 302-831-2231.  The event is open to the public.

    Robert A. Wilson, whose Ezra Pound collection now at the University of Delaware Library will be featured in the exhibition, was born in Baltimore in 1922.  After graduating from Johns Hopkins University in 1943 he entered the U.S. Army and served in Germany.  Following his discharge from the Army, he joined the United States Diplomatic Corps and held positions in various countries, including as Third Secretary of the Embassy in Warsaw, Poland and Pretoria, South Africa.  He left the Diplomatic Corps and moved to New York City and eventually became a noted antiquarian bookseller with his ownership of the Phoenix Book Shop in Greenwich Village. 

    Under Robert Wilson’s management, the Phoenix was transformed from a small bookshop on an obscure street in Greenwich Village into a legendary literary haven which became one of the most important bookstores of the era.  During his ownership, Robert Wilson bought and sold the books and manuscripts of a wide range of American, British, and other authors.  The Phoenix also became a destination of choice for collectors, scholars, and authors, and Robert Wilson met and befriended many of the most prominent contemporary authors and artists of the period.  He operated the Phoenix Book Shop until 1988 when he sold the business and moved to St. Michaels, Maryland, where he currently resides.

    In addition to his successful career as an antiquarian bookseller, Robert Wilson is also an author of note.  He is the bibliographer of Gertrude Stein, Gregory Corso, and Denise Levertov, and the author of a number of monographs, including Modern Book Collecting (1980) and the autobiographical Seeing Shelley Plain (2001).

    Wilson and the Phoenix Book Shop are also celebrated in the collection The Phoenix Book Shop: a Nest of Memories (1997), which includes short essays and tributes from such authors as Amiri Baraka, John Ashbery, Marshall Clements, Diane di Prima, Allen Ginsberg, James Purdy, Ed Sanders, Michael McClure, and others.

    The exhibition, “Ezra Pound in His Time and Beyond: The Influence of Ezra Pound on Twentieth Century Poetry” at the University of Delaware Library highlights one of Robert A. Wilson’s most comprehensive collections and pays tribute to him as a bookseller, bibliographer, and collector extraordinaire.

    Wilson’s book Seeing Shelley Plain will be available for purchase at the program.

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