The following post was written by Guy Lamolinara, communications officer in Literary Initiatives.
This week, we are excited to premiere the second program in our new series, Made at the Library.
What does that mean? Books featured in the series are ones that were extensively researched using the Library of Congress’s extraordinary resources. Thousands of books have been researched at the Library, some well-known and some not.
Paul Hendrickson, author of best-sellers such as “Hemingway’s Boat,” “Sons of Mississippi” and, most recently, “Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright,” speaks with Roswell Encina, the Library’s chief communications officer, about Wright and why fire plagued him both in reality as well as metaphorically.
Asks Encina, noting the worldwide fame of Wright, “Why did you decide to write about him?”
Hendrickson thinks back to the town he grew up in, Kankakee, 50 miles south of Chicago. “There were two Frank Lloyd Wright houses in this little town of 25,000 people, which was a farm town. They were not only in this little town; they were on my street. … And when I was 9 years old,” biking down the street, “there were these huge monstrosities. These houses looked as if they had come down from Mars! There was nothing else in this little farm town that looked even remotely like these two.”
When I emailed Hendrickson inviting him to be a part of Made at the Library, he kindly wrote back, speaking extensively about how he has used the Library of Congress and the people he has worked with who bring the collections to life. Some excerpts:
“In 2011, Knopf published ‘Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost,’ and again the LOC was invaluable, not least the motion picture division, which had old footage of Hemingway and his boat.” The Library also had “the oral recordings … which had old audio tapes of Hemingway dictating his letters.”
Of “Plagued by Fire,” Hendrickson said: “Again, some invaluable research. Manuscripts of Wright … with his handwritten emendations,” for example.
“I would also say that I have some very strong friends who are researcher-librarian-specialists at the LOC. To say only one: Gary Johnson.” Johnson, a librarian in the Serial and Government Publications Division, appears at the end of this video and talks about some of the Library treasures Hendrickson used for his books.
Perhaps the author sums it up best, on how his books have been “Made at the Library”: “The LOC reading rooms were a kind of second home to me. … I would say that there is probably no library on earth that has done more for me than the three buildings of the LOC. There was a time in my life when I roamed the underground connecting tunnels just for the roaming.”