Far from being a prudish institution, the New York Public Library houses one of the world’s great collections of erotica, ranging from magazines like Transvestia to the manuscript for Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. But some of this material is harder to access than others—not exactly kept under lock and key, but definitely tucked away in obscure corners of the library. As The New York Times reports:
Deep in the Berg rare book collection, for example, is a work that has never been publicly displayed: William Faulkner’s pencil drawings of him and Meta Carpenter Wilde, his mistress, having sex.
Ms. Wilde gave the drawings to the library on condition that they remain inaccessible until the death of Faulkner’s daughter, Jill Faulkner Summers, who died in 2008.
“No researchers have been in to see them, but they certainly could do so,” said Isaac Gewirtz, the Berg’s curator of literary manuscripts.
Wilde and Faulkner had been lovers for 18 years, when they both worked in Hollywood (Wilde was a legendary script supervisor). Wilde wrote about the relationship in her 1976 bestseller A Loving Gentleman: The Love Story of William Faulkner and Meta Carpenter Wilde. Now that the Times has let the cat out of the bag, biographers of both Faulkner and Wilde have a rich new source to mine.