Posts Tagged ‘David Bromer’

The Making of Aun Aprendo

June 29, 2011 1 comment

Aun Aprendo: A Comprehensive Bibliography of the Writings of Aldous Leonard Huxley by David Bromer is the most current and comprehensive descriptive bibliography of Aldous Huxley’s works every produced. Shannon Struble, the once Oak Knoll intern who helped Bromer prepare and publish the book, shares her story of researching many of Huxley’s publications. Read on to find out about her experiences.

David Bromer is an extremely dedicated collector of Huxley’s works, and by that I mean that he has been collecting books, pamphlets, newspaper and magazine articles, and even film scripts and LPs by Aldous Huxley for almost fifty years. Over the course of his years acquiring Huxley’s works, David realized that the bibliographical references on Huxley were woefully out of date. The only descriptive bibliography of Huxley’s works was compiled in 1939 (Huxley died in 1963), and the last bibliography, published in 1961, was little more than a checklist. Numerous supplements followed, but no one attempted to bring all this information together and combine it with original research until David began this endeavor over twenty-five years ago.

Finally, all of David’s work came to fruition in April of this year, with the publication of Aun Aprendo: A Comprehensive Bibliography of the Writings of Aldous Leonard Huxley. It is the culmination of many years spent visiting libraries when on vacation or attending book fairs around the world, maintaining a database, first on paper and then on the computer, and utilizing the services of employees of Bromer Booksellers who came and went over that quarter decade. This last part is where I came in.

I began working for David and Anne Bromer as the catalogue designer and webmistress at Bromer Booksellers in September of 2007. I was starting graduate school in Boston at Simmons College in their dual-degree History and Archives Management program, and I needed a part-time job to keep me from going insane from school overload. I had worked as an intern for two summers at Oak Knoll Books as a cataloger in the antiquarian books department, and when he learned that I was moving to Boston, the wonderful Bob Fleck sent my résumé to a few of his colleagues in the area. It so happened that Bromer Booksellers was hiring, and after one meeting, they hired me. I could not have asked for a more perfect job, and working on the bibliography only added to my wonderful experience.

I had been working for the Bromers for a few months when David and Anne first approached me about helping David finish his bibliography of Aldous Huxley. My joking response was, “As long as you include me in the acknowledgments.” Little did I know how much I would become involved and how much more my involvement would come to mean to me than a note on the acknowledgments page.

I started out simply trying to locate copies of books that David had been unable to examine so that we could include a description of the books in the bibliography. This expanded to writing the descriptions of books I found and then grew again to finding contributions that were previously unknown. Obviously, this required quite a bit of research online, offline, and everywhere in between, and I’m sure the Inter-Library Loan librarians grew to hate me and my requests to see obscure books about everything from musical theory to LSD.

The project proceeded in fits and starts once I began working on it. Sometimes I would have huge lists of books to locate, multiple inquiries out to booksellers, and the maximum amount of ILL requests in at the library, all at the same time. I learned a lot about librarianship, bibliography, and Aldous Huxley in that first little while. And I certainly learned the value of keeping accurate records, so that I didn’t have to retrace my own steps or ask the same question of the same bookseller I had spoken to a month ago. Then there was my other work, making catalogues, keeping our website up-to-date, and the day-to-day tasks that keep a small shop running. If I was involved with a new catalogue, Huxley was put on the back burner. And, of course, sometimes frustration made me set him aside for a little while as well.

Finally, in October of 2010, we “finished” the text of the bibliography. The reason for this qualification is best explained by David in his Author’s Note:

“This descriptive bibliography is the culmination of a half-century of collecting the writings of Aldous Leonard Huxley. The breadth of his pen convinces me that on the day this work sees print, it will be incomplete, and I will still continue to search for Huxley’s work. It is perhaps not possible to examine or know everything he wrote, but I will keep learning. Although more complete than any bibliography to date, the search continues.”

This is why the bibliography was titled “Aun Aprendo,” which means “I am still learning.” Huxley gave a commencement address with this title in 1951, and the phrase exemplifies his life. It also represents this bibliography and Huxley scholarship as a whole.

From October 2010 to April 2011, the Bromers, Phil Salmon, the manager of Bromer Booksellers, and I worked to publish Aun Aprendo. We knew early on that we wanted to publish it ourselves, but we might not have realized how much work would eventually go into completing this process. By the time we had gone through text edits, design edits, index edits, printing edits, and binding edits, we just wanted to be done. However, all that work, all the going back and forth with the people who helped bring David and Anne’s vision to reality, led to a finished product with which we could not be more pleased.

Phil Salmon, Shannon Struble, Anne and David Bromer

Now, four years after I began working on David’s then-twenty-two-year-old bibliography, with two master’s degrees under my belt and my name on the cover of the most current and comprehensive bibliography of Aldous Huxley’s works, I am just so happy and honored to have been chosen to work on something this important to David and Anne. This bibliography is David’s life’s work, and even after all the time and energy I spent on it in just four years, I have only seen a glimpse of how much David has put into this project. I am included on the acknowledgments page, but the trust and respect the Bromers have bestowed upon me by inviting me to work on this bibliography is all the acknowledgment I need.

-Shannon Struble

What awesome work, Shannon! Thank you for sharing. Click here for more information on Aun Aprendo: A Comprehensive Bibliography of the Writings of Aldous Leonard Huxley.