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The Smithsonian: Octopus on the Mall

Hellman, Geoffrey T.

Published by J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, 1967
Hardcover
From Ground Zero Books, Ltd. (Silver Spring, MD, U.S.A.)

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224 p. 22 cm. Index. Material in this book originally appears i The New Yorker in slightly different form. Smithson, illegitimate son of the Duke of Northumberland, never visited the United States or showed any particular interest in this country. It is curious, therefore, that he left over half a million dollars to the U. S. Government for the establishment of an institution for the "increase and diffusion of knowledge among men." Smithson died in 1829; the Institution was not established until 1846, "after, " as Geoffrey Hellman puts it, "a few prenatal roadblocks had been demolished." Some congressmen were opposed on chauvinistic grounds to accepting a bequest from an Englishman. President Andrew Jackson showed no enthusiasm. By the time the Institution was set up, nearly all the half million dollars had been lost by the United States Government in state bonds which defaulted. Today the Smithsonian has an annual income of approximately forty-five million dollars. It includes collections of science and invention, of art and books, of historical relics, of almost every conceivable thing that can be collected. From Wikipedia: "Geoffrey T. Hellman (February 13, 1907 September 26, 1977) was the son of writer and rare-books dealer, George S. Hellman. Born in New York City, he was also the great-grandson of banking titan Joseph Seligman, and thus. by ancestry, part of the city's German-Jewish elite who referred to themselves as Our Crowd. He attended Yale and contributed to the Yale News, Yale Record and the Yale Literary Magazine. Upon graduating in 1928, he wrote for the New York Herald Tribune's Sunday book supplement thanks to a recommendation by Thorton Wilder. By 1929, he secured a position at The New Yorker magazine as a reporter for the "Talk of the Town" section. Though he contributed to numerous publications in his career, he would be affiliated and most firmly identified with The New Yorker. While with The New Yorker, Hellman wrote extensively about New York institutions such as the New York Zoological Society and the Bronx Zoo, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera House, the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Public Library, the Pierpont Morgan Library, the United Nations, and the New York Stock Exchange, to promote public awareness of these institutions and of interesting events they sponsored. He also wrote about prominent people such as author Louis Auchincloss; New York Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, who sent him story ideas; and architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Because of his background and family connections, he was also The New Yorker's link to Manhattan society, reporting on parties, local clubs and societies such as the Grolier Club, the Explorer's Club, the National Audubon Society, and the American Geographical Society, and exclusive restaurants, from which he collected an impressive number of menus. His books include compilations of his pieces that appeared in The New Yorker ('How to Disappear for an Hour' and 'Mrs. De Peyster's Parties') and a book about the Smithsonian Institution ('Octopus on the Mall') and a history of the American Museum of Natural History ('Bankers, Bones and Beetles'). As recently as June 2013 his research for an 1940 profile on Robert Ripley was cited for its exhaustive scope in a review of the latest Ripley biography. From 1936-1938, he was also the associate editor of Life Magazine. During World War II, Hellman was in Washington D.C. where he wrote for the Office of Inter-American Affairs, the War Department and helped to write a top-secret history of the OSS.Hellman's distinguished wife, with whom he had an affair as her first marriage was falling apart, was Daphne Hellman, a banking heiress who became a highly admired jazz harpist. They married in Reno, Nevada in 1941 just hours after her divorce from magazine editor Harry A. Bull. Their daughter, herself a musician, is sitar player Daisy Paradis. The couple also had an adopted son, Digger St. John. At some poin. Bookseller Inventory # 67941

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Smithsonian: Octopus on the Mall

Publisher: J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia

Publication Date: 1967

Binding: Hardcover

Illustrator: Funk, Tom [Jacket Drawing]

Edition: 1st Edition

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