2020 marks 100th anniversary of career-changing event in the life of James Branch Cabell
Celebrate 2020 as the year of James Branch Cabell, beginning with the 100th anniversary of the seizure of the printing plates for Jurgen on Jan. 4, 2020. Jurgen was Cabell’s best known and most controversial book. A comic fantasy set in the mythical province of Poictesme (Pwa-tem), Jurgen was considered indecent by some. On Jan. 4, 1920, the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice seized the printing plates for the book and began what would be a two-year long court battle that brought Cabell national fame.
During 2020, VCU Libraries will be working with two dedicated Cabell book collectors, Bill Lloyd and John Thorne, to bring forward a new digital resource to share the story of James Branch Cabell in an engaging, fresh way with scholars, students and fans.
Lloyd and Thorne both discovered Cabell’s writing in their youth. Years later in the early 2000s, Lloyd began an online discussion group called “The Rabble Discuss Cabell” where he met Thorne virtually. The two hit it off, and decided to create an updated illustrated bibliography of Cabell’s works. That project, The Silver Stallion website (jamesbranchcabell.org) expanded to include writings about Cabell, a photo gallery and a section on Cabell art.
Dean of Libraries John Ulmschneider and Ray Bonis of Special Collections and Archives at Cabell Library came to know Lloyd and Thorne and their Silver Stallion website.
In summer 2019, Ulmschneider convened a task force to study the possibility that VCU Libraries might take over responsibility for the website, bringing new resources and expertise to the task. The task force has submitted a report.
VCU Libraries is now making plans to migrate the Silver Stallion website to a new online platform (WordPress) with a focus on accessible and responsive design. The new WordPress site will be more secure than the site’s current state and up to library standards for preservation of materials. In the coming years the Library also plans to digitize two Cabell-related publications, The Cabellian and Kalki, previously unavailable online.
The retooled and expanded site will be designed to welcome those new to Cabell, as well as knowledgeable scholars and book collectors. Lloyd and Thorne will continue to lend their expertise and assistance to the project. The new website is scheduled to launch in the fall 2020.