--Robert Gottlieb, An Avid Reader: A Life
“My crucial literary experience of these pre-college years was my first reading of Emma, when I was sixteen. When Emma behaves rudely to poor, harmless, talkative Miss Bates in the famous scene of the picnic on Box Hill, I was suffused with mortification: I had been forced to look at my own acts of carelessness and unkindness. Jane Austen had pinned me to the wall. It was the first time I really made the connection between what I was reading and my inner self. There was no religious instruction in my life, no guiding principles other than to work hard, and my mind was not a philosophical one. It was in the novel, beginning with Emma, that I would discover some kind of moral compass.”
--Robert Gottlieb, An Avid Reader: A Life
The set of Jane Austen is available for purchase via the Nick Harvill Libraries store.
“I think there is something morally vulgar in trying to get too familiar with men’s souls.”
--Margot Asquith, The Autobiography of Margot Asquith
Image Credit: The Duchess of Devonshire's Ball
“As far as being deeply religious … no. I believe in God, but I don’t think He cares a hell a lot about whether a person is a Catholic, Protestant, Jew, or Moslem, as long as that person has a record rolled up that includes more good marks than bad ones. I think Roz Russell is the example of a practicing believer; her Catholicism is very strong, but she doesn’t impose it on others. Not like Loretta Young and Irene Dunne; those ladies seem to be rehearsing to play the next Virgin Mary. I think faith is wonderful, but when you try to impose it on others, it’s irritating and boring…. Have faith, but don’t become a hooker, is about all I can say.”
--Joan Crawford, Conversations with Joan Crawford
Note: "Moslem" has since become an archaic spelling.
“There are rare people who make you believe in God. I think continually of them so that I can go on.”
--Tennessee Williams, Five O'Clock Angel, Letters of Tennessee Williams to Maria St. Just
For Gore Vidal's recollections on this photograph, see The Luminous Years, Portraits at Mid-Century by Karl Bissinger (the copy listed on our website is from Vidal's personal collection with his bookstamp) or "Salad Days" from the October 2007 issue of Smithsonian Magazine.
“I recall a Sunday-school teacher gathering a group of us boys around for what we assumed would be another grim lesson about the Apostles and him saying rather jovially, ‘Let’s do something different for a change. You guys know what a circle jerk is?’”
--Bill Blass, Bare Blass
Image Credit: The Fashion Makers
“Creating god in our own image. It flatters our vanity, and of course we prefer vanity to understanding.”
--Aldous Huxley, After Many a Summer Dies the Swan
Image Credit: The Best of Beaton
“Is there not some weird Middle Eastern sect in which the Devil is considered a saint, for having got Adam and Eve moving on from their Garden of Eden?”
Nicholas Mosley, Hopeful Monsters
The sect to whom Mosley refers is most likely the Yezidi of Northern Iraq.
“Nothing shows the vanity of human beings so much as the belief that the universe was created solely for them, and that what does not please them is therefore wrong.”
A. Morse Hastings, Blondes Prefer Gentlemen
The current "Sisters" issue of Vanity Fair revisits the feud of Oscar-winning siblings Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine. Nick Harvill Libraries covered the feuding sisters in two blog posts: "A Tale of Two Sisters: Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine" and "A Bed of Roses (One Day Only)." It is a topic that Olivia, age ninety-nine, has avoided for decades. As such, what (if any) relationship the sisters maintained in their geriatric years has remained a private matter. All that was really known was that on the rare occasions when the sisters might meet, such as the Academy Awards, they went out of their way to avoid each other.
It turns out that in private, they kept in touch. De Havilland went on record with William Stadiem for VF's "Sisters" issue. He writes that Olivia told him the sisters at last reunited "with help from time's winged chariot and their shared religious roots." Specifically, Olivia encouraged Joan to return to the Episcopal faith with which they were raised. Olivia reports that Joan took her up on it, joining Saint Thomas Church in New York.
Image Credit: No Bed of Roses
“Depend on it when a French soul is damned it puts on a great coat, and compliments the devil on his fine climate.”
--Sir Charles Napier, via Lady Lawrence’s Indian Embers