The 2000 block of Delancey Place (the most filmed residential street of Philadelphia) in Rittenhouse Square is one of the prettiest in the city. With its Civil War-era mansions and beautiful window boxes overflowing with flowers, you almost expect the residents to saunter out in Victorian garb.
Every June 16 the street is packed with fans of James Joyce’s Ulysses for an all-day out loud reading of the once scandalous masterpiece in celebration of Bloomsday. Chairs are lined up, singers from the Academy of Vocal Arts prepare their voices to sing “Shall I Wear a White Rose” or “Seaside Girls” or another tune from the book. Readers, famous and not, line up, grasping beloved, bookmarked copies. The literary lovers arrive. Excitement is palpable. Some stay for an hour, others for the duration. In the museum, tucked into one of its many bookshelves, is a copy of Joyce’s manuscript, probably the Rosenbach’s most famous holding.
But there are many other treats as well. A manuscript of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milkwood, a first edition of Jane Eyre, and an extensive collection of the Scottish Poet Robert Burns’ notes and poem drafts. It’s a goldmine for researchers. I personally get a thrill seeing Nathaniel Hawthorne’s copy of Moby Dick (a gift from their brief but intense friendship). Marianne Moore, the modernist poet, bequeathed her belongings: visit the recreation of her Greenwich village living room (see pic). There’s more: antiques, portraits, a beautiful garden and fun events and courses.