MY BOOKS

 

This list includes poetry volumes, books on cartography, and reference works/guides to Princeton manuscript collections. While most are available from Amazon, I would prefer that they be ordered directly from the publishers where possible. 

Twenty Questions (2019)

ISBN 978-1-63534-969-6

"How refreshing, in the age of open form and the conversationally informal poem, to find a contemporary poet who brings new life to the short, tightly woven rhymed lyric! That’s the gift John Delaney gives in Twenty Questions. Not all of his poems are strict in their schemes, but many are, and they’re wonderfully succinct, verbally playful, and often very funny, as in the villanelle “Fashion Designer” (“Blessed is the man who counts his blisses.”) One quality I love in poems is wit and word play. Delaney provides ample samples. In the poem “Purple Finch,” he manages to rhyme “acorn” with “egg born.” “Eulogy for My Body” wins me over immediately with its opening line: “One thing I know: you’ll be the death of me.”  This collection’s title, Twenty Questions, comes from a familiar childhood word game. And just as its title suggests, playfulness, pursued with a questioning curiosity, most often leads not to answers, but to more serious questions."

 

–Ed Harkness, author of The Law of the Unforeseen (2018), his most recent collection of poems

Waypoints (2017)
ISBN 978-0-912887-51-7

"In the brief space of this brilliant collection of poems John Delaney takes us on a thoughtful voyage to the waypoints of his world--from Port Townsend to Cape Horn, from Brooklyn to Kilimanjaro. His distinguished career as curator of historic maps at Princeton clearly set a standard as high as the North Star, as these memorable pages prove to the reader's delight. Bravissimo!"

 

-Charles Scribner III, publisher, editor and author of Home By Another Route (2016)

Nova Caesarea:
A Cartographic Record of the Garden State, 1666-1888 (2014)
ISBN 978-0-87811-058-2, 978-0-87811-057-5

Issued for the 350th anniversary (1664-2014) of the naming of New Jersey, this large-format volume (367 pp.) reproduces historic maps that both memorialize the past and orient the future. Supporting the maps are illustrations from atlases and, where possible, recent photographs of the same structures and areas for the purpose of historical contrast. An important source has been utilized: Thomas F. Gordon s Gazetteer of the State of New Jersey, the state s first gazetteer, published in 1834. Gordon s notes on every village, hamlet, and creek provide interesting textual references to the visual features of the maps. Includes an 1828 map of New Jersey in a pocket inside the back cover. There is also a special edition available of 350 volumes bound in cloth, numbered and signed by author and designer, including a separate folder of large facsimiles of the first wall maps of New Jersey s 21 counties, with both book and folder housed in a custom slipcase.

Winner of New Jersey's Academic Alliance Authors Award (2015) and the Arline Custer Award of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (2015).

First X, Then Y, Now Z:
An Introduction to Landmark Thematic Maps (2012)

This volume (230 pp., with foldout frontispiece) introduces viewers to the early history of thematic mapping — the topical layering (Z) of geographic space (X-Y). Discussed are early, if not the earliest, thematic maps in various disciplines, such as meteorology, geology, hydrography, natural history, medicine, and sociology/economics. Several groundbreaking exemplars from the fields of ethnography, linguistics, and communication and transportation are included. A few, more conceptual, maps about literary subjects, love/marriage, and utopia extend this thematic cartographic exploration.

Strait Through: Magellan to Cook & the Pacific (An Illustrated History) (2010)

This volume (205 pp., with foldout timeline) covers a dynamic period of global exploration that took place between the 1520s and 1770s. Chronological maps of the Magellan Strait, Pacific Ocean, and Spice Islands form the backdrop to sections devoted to 13 of the most renowned explorers and explorer pairs, including Portuguese sea captain Ferdinand Magellan, who led the Spanish expedition that was the first to navigate around the world; Spanish navigator Alvaro de Mendaña de Neira, the first to reach the Solomon Islands in the Pacific; English sea captain Sir Francis Drake, the second to circle the globe; England’s William Dampier, who was the first to circumnavigate the world three times; and British mapmaker Captain James Cook. An illustrated presentation of the latter's three monumental voyages comprise a quarter of the work.

To the Mountains of the Moon: Mapping African Exploration, 1541-1880 (2007)

Drawing from the cartographic and rare book resources of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections of Princeton University Library, this volume (83 pp., with foldout timeline of major European explorers) documents the evolution of the maps of Africa, 1541-1880. Sections include the continent; Northern Africa; Sources of the Nile and Sir Richard Francis Burton; Central, East, and West Africa and Henry Morton Stanley; Southern Africa and David Livingstone; and Afterwards/Afterwords about the subsequent European "scramble for Africa." Illustrated with many maps in color.

Of Maps and Men: In Pursuit of a Northwest Passage (2004)

The Canadian Arctic (including Hudson Bay) occupies an area of approximately one million square miles of glaciated plain, tundra, islands, sounds, straits, inlets, and passages, which are frozen and choked with ice floes and pack ice for much of the year. For 400 years explorers sought a navigable passage through its archipelago or across its land. Their story—what historians have cumulatively described as a “quest for a northwest passage”—makes one of the best studies of human exploration of this planet, full of the characteristics that mark all great stories: rich characters, drama and suspense, a harsh but compelling setting, tragedies and triumphs, and a mysterious yet satisfying conclusion and resolution. Much of these explorers’ efforts were surveying and charting activities directed at creating a complete, accurate map of the area. At its heart, then, it is a story “of maps and men.” After Columbus, European governments—but particularly the British who had lagged the Spanish and the Portuguese in maritime exploration—were strongly motivated to find a shorter route to the Orient. In a world where trade meant everything, failure to “discover” and exploit New Worlds guaranteed being left behind. Yet, long after the nonpracticality of navigating frozen northern waters was irrefutably established, the searching continued—for sovereign pride and for scientific and geographic purposes. Toward the end of the last century, a third “phase” or era began in Northwest Passage history, that of the adventure seekers. Like climbing Mt. Everest and solo-circumnavigating the globe, transiting the Northwest Passage had become, and remains today, a formidable goal for those wishing to personally challenge the natural elements—by kayak, by catamaran, as a single woman, in a single season—the variations on the theme seem endless. These “firsts,” however, cannot obscure or diminish the first firsts, achieved without Gore-Tex or GPS, without, alas, even a good map. That is the subject of this book.

Winner of the Arline Custer Award of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (2005).

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What Clouds There Were Were White: Journals of a Brooklyn Girl, 1929-1930 (2003)

ISBN 9781401083359, 9781401083342, 9781462815234

Available in hardcover (583 pp.), softcover, or ebook, this is a compilation of my mother's diaries when, as a schoolgirl, she lived in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn.

 

If America had a heart, one might call it Brooklyn. This story is a small piece of that heart, told with verve by a young girl who dreams of becoming a writer. In these pages, she records her travel from fourteen through "sweet sixteen" (1929-1930), mixing the routines of her neighborhood life in Flatbush with poems, radio song lyrics, her love of books, regular trips to the theater to watch the latest "pictures," illustrations of her Jazz Age clothes, and her romantic notions about boys. Here, at the beginning of the Depression, she reluctantly shortens her education to learn marketable skills at a business school—typing, shorthand, letter-writing—and finds her first job in Manhattan at a fan manufacturing firm for $15/week. Though the novel she is co-writing with her girl friend is ultimately burned in the winter woods, this, the truer, fuller story, survives. It is, at heart, a coming-of-ages narrative. Posthumously published, this book finally fulfills her girlhood dream.

The House of Scribner: 1846-1904, 1905-1930, 1931-1984 (1995, 1997, 1998)

ISBN 9780810357068, 9780787619312, 9780787619329

These are three heavily illustrated volumes in the Documentary Series of the Dictionary of Literary Biography chronicling the history of the New York City publisher Charles Scribner's Sons. Over 70 Scribner authors are presented in detail (letters, photographs, manuscripts, bibliography), including some of the giants of American literature: Frances Hodgson Burnett, George Washington Cable, Mary Mapes Dodge, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Henry James, James Jones, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Allen Tate, Edith Wharton, and Thomas Wolfe.  An Illustrated chronology of the House and a guide to the company's archives, housed at Princeton University Library, are also provided. 

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From Circle to Sphere: Historic Maps Since Columbus (1992)

ISBN 0-87811-035-6

 

This is a catalog (112 pp.) of an exhibition celebrating the quincentenary (1492-1992) of Columbus's first voyage to America. Sections include Columbus items, and chronological views of world maps and maps of the New World (Western Hemisphere), North America and Parts (Virginia, New England, the Middle Atlantic, the Mississippi River and Basin, East of the Mississippi, West of the Mississippi, the Atlantic Ocean), and Special Topics (the Prime Meridian, California as an Island, the Northwest Passage, Globes). With numerous illustrations in black-and-white. 

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A Guide to Modern Manuscripts in the Princeton University Library (1989)

ISBN 0-8161-0469-7

Two volumes (over 1,800 pages) which I edited that describe nearly 1,000 collections housed in the Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections in the Princeton University Library, covering the Manuscripts Division, the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, the William Seymour Theatre Collection, the division of Western Americana and Historic Maps, and the Robert H. Taylor Collection. Volume I presents the collection descriptions and related indexes, which provide subject, title, and form access to them. Volume II enumerates (in number count and date ranges) Princeton's holdings for almost 15,000 "authors," alphabetically arranged. Authors were identified from authoritative biographical sources of artists, novelists, statesmen, military figures, scientists, etc.