Monday, September 28, 2020

Introducing Alice in the Land of Sunshine, or By Way of Introduction to a Wonderland That Might Have Been

If everything had gone according to plan, 50 or so bibliophiles would have converged on St. Petersburg, Florida, on April 22, 2020.

Planning for the three-day FBS Florida Tour had begun many months before. The planning went through several phases, roughly: Should we?, Can we?, and Let’s Go! Members of the planning team were already familiar with many bibliophilic treasures in the Tampa-St. Pete-Sarasota area, Florida’s “Cultural Coast.” But while planning, we discovered even more. At each stage, the tour became richer.

As in the planning of any event, doors opened, and doors closed. But the stars seemed to align when Professor Jack Davis, winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for History for his book The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea, graciously agreed to give our banquet address, that was the capper.

We were convinced we had something special, but for whatever reasons, our tour was undersubscribed, and we were forced to cancel it. Little did we know.

Though disappointed, we would soon feel that we had all dodged a bullet because the COVID virus would have forced a cancellation as it did for the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair for the first time in its almost 40-year history.

So we decided to put together a virtual FABS Florida Tour. We asked our presenters to respond to interview questions or provide written presentations and compiled material about our tour destinations.

The virtual tour will appear in four parts, one for each day of the tour and a few extras. The four parts will appear over this and the next three months:

September – Part I 

October – Part II 

November – Part III 

December – Part IV

In this month’s installment, we’ll cover Tour Day 1, the Sarasota day of the tour. We’ll be joined by an important personage who is equally historical and fictional.

We’ll begin bright and early at the Indigo Hotel in St. Petersburg where we will board the bus and travel 40 minutes or so to Sarasota. On the way, we’ll cross the Sunshine Skyway bridge, one of the largest suspension bridges in the world. Stops in Sarasota will include:

• The John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art, the Ringling History of the Circus Museum and its library of 60,000 volumes, and the Ringling Library and its rare book collection

• Lunch in Downtown Sarasota and a visit to A. Parker’s Books

• Presentation and Book Display at Selby Library by FBS member Maureen E. Mulvihill, a scholar with the Princeton Research Forum specializing in early modern women writers

• The Elling Eide Center, the largest collection of Asian studies materials in the Southeast

• Cocktail hour and hors d’oeuvres overlooking Sarasota Bay at Marina Jack Restaurant

• Dinner at Marina Jack Restaurant with guest speaker Terry Seymour, independent scholar specializing in the life and work of James Boswell.

That’s probably enough for one day.

Special thanks to our planning committee: Jerry Morris, Carl Nudi, Ben Wiley, David Hall, Sue Tihansky, and Gary Simons. Thanks also to our presenters who generously made real contributions to this virtual tour.

Enjoy the September newsletter and then enjoy your virtual day in Florida!

Read Part 1 of the virtual tour, "Alice in the Land of Sunshine," here.

Read Part 2 of the virtual tour, "Alice in the Land of Sunshine," here (beginning on p. 15)

Read Part 3 of the virtual tour, "Alice in the Land of Sunshine," here 

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