This post is submitted by Joanne Seymour, a volunteer at the Museum since February, 2012, who is currently the “tweeter” of Bradford’s and Dr. Hayes’s voices from their books. Working in the Museum’s Research Library, she has contributed to the Arctic Visions exhibit by reading and transcribing items in the Bradford scrapbooks. This is the first in a series of similar posts.
The Museum is fortunate to own three scrapbooks of William Bradford’s memorabilia. Their contents include many letters and notes to–or about–Bradford, various newspaper clippings about him, his achievements and interests, and autographs. Beyond the wonder of just the existence of these items, the writings provide a wealth of insights into Bradford’s relationships with the authors, the workings of the late 19th century, and the culture of the Victorian era in both the US and England.
Many of these items were written during the 1870s, the decade immediately after Bradford’s 1869 voyage to the Arctic. It was during this period that Bradford was exhibiting and selling his paintings of Arctic sights from that voyage, presenting related “recitals”, and preparing his great book on the expedition, The Arctic Regions.
Bradford hired Richard Burleigh Kimball (1816–1892) to lend his assistance in writing and editing the narrative of The Arctic Regions, published in 1873. Kimball was an American lawyer and author of some note of several books, including two on Cuba, and was living in England when Bradford hired him.
From the Hotel Splendide in Paris, Richard B. Kimball wrote the following short letter to Bradford on September 13, 1872, which referenced his own work on editing the book. The letter reads as follows:
“ Dear Bradford, I write a word to say —ask the proof reader to take certain liberties with the proof till he reaches my corrections–That is, let him alter faulty constructions, & interwoven sentences, & strike out purely irrelevant matter following my general lead. I am sorry I could not have had the few pages remaining– Our regards to your wife We reached here 11 1/2 last night Your friend Richard B. Kimball”