Libraries & Collections > MRBR > Exhibitions > Online Exhibitions > A Pen and a Press of Her Own

Elizabeth P. Richardson Bloomsbury Iconography Collection
Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College

Elizabeth PowerElizabeth Power Richardson (1922-1998) was a supervising editor at McGraw-Hill's College Division, specializing in the physical sciences. Mrs. Richardson's interest in Virginia Woolf began in 1934 when she first heard Flush read aloud; her interest was later nurtured by Mary Ellen Chase in Smith College English classes.

Throughout her life, Mrs. Richardson collected books and articles by and about Virginia Woolf and her circle of friends, who were known as the Bloomsbury group. She read and annotated her entire collection while living in countries such as Surinam with her husband W. Garland Richardson, an American Foreign Service officer.

Elizabeth Power, 1943. This photograph was taken
in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, when she was a senior at Smith College.

Unfortunately, her first library of early editions of Virginia Woolf was dropped into Yokohama Harbor by mistake en route from Monrovia, Liberia, to Tokyo. But Mrs. Richardson continued to collect, and over the years her “working collection” grew to include nearly two thousand volumes along with numerous scrapbooks of ephemera.

One of her most exciting acquisitions was the photograph album compiled in 1895 by Virginia Woolf’s father. Richardson purchased Leslie Stephen’s photograph album from Sotheby’s in 1984.

A Bloomsbury IconographyIndexing photographic reproductions of the Bloomsbury group represented in her collection became a passion, which eventually resulted in Mrs. Richardson’s meticulously researched publication A Bloomsbury Iconography (Winchester: St. Paul’s Bibliographies, 1989), shown here. Angelica Garnett designed the dust jacket.

Although Mrs. Richardson studied the Bloomsbury group her entire life, she did not visit England until shortly before her death. Mrs. Richardson’s children presented their mother’s Bloomsbury Iconography Collection to Smith College in 1998. Each volume is fully described in the libraries’ online catalog. Highlights from the collection are on display, including enhanced reproductions from Leslie Stephen’s photograph album.

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