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| the history of wake forest
versity Press for the single purpose of publishing books of Irish
poetry. For some years I had taught a course in the poetry of Wil-
liam Butler Yeats and, under the guidance of Rare Books Librarian
Richard Murdoch, an impressive collection of Irish literature had
been assembled, and Johnston, who was not only an informed and
perceptive literary critic but possessed of a talent for book design
and production, saw an opportunity for Wake Forest to establish a
reputation in an area of growing importance internationally which
was not being developed by any other American university. The
first three books in an Irish Poetry Series were announced: Selected
Poetry of Austin Clarke, John Montague’s A Slow Dance, and Cia-
ran Carson’s The New Estate. They were to be published in coop-
eration with the Oxford University Press and with Ireland’s
Dolmen Press and Blackstaff Press.
On May 4, with “uilleann pipes” and Gaelic toasts, the Press
was publicly inaugurated. Geoaroid O Clerigh, the consul general
of Ireland, hailed the importance of this cooperative venture be-
tween Wake Forest and Ireland and, with warmth and good hu-
mor, saluted “the building of a new Ireland today.” This day, he
said, “will be remembered forever.” Liam Miller, the founder of
Ireland’s Dolmen Press, read passages from Irish poetry; and Pres-
ident Scales offered a toast “to the Irish spirit.” The festivities,
which took place at Graylyn and at Reynolda House, began late in
the afternoon and continued past midnight.
In the spring, thanks to a characteristically generous gift from
Nancy Susan Reynolds, the Z. Smith Reynolds Library acquired a
collection of thirteen thousand volumes, mostly of literature, from
Lynwood Giacomini, a professional bookman and bibliophile from
Chevy Chase, Maryland, who had been a sales representative for
Harper & Row Publishers for almost forty years, had visited Wake
Forest, had met and come to admire librarians like Carlton West,
and had decided that he would like to sell his library to Wake Forest.
The Giacomini library, in Merrill Berthrong’s words, was “the
largest and most valuable collection ever acquired by the Library,
either by donation or purchase.” It mainly included works by Brit-
ish and American writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centu-
ries, often, if not usually, in first editions: from England (among
others), James M. Barrie, Joseph Conrad, E.M. Forster, Thomas
Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, George Meredith,
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