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March 29, 2004

Nabokov collection donated to U-M

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—For more than half a century, Fan Parker has been passionate about Vladimir Nabokov, author of the novel "Lolita" and many other works. According to Parker, Nabokov's achievements as a novelist, scientist, and poet have often been overshadowed by the attention resulting from the controversial 1962 film version of "Lolita," starring James Mason and Sue Lyon.

Parker, of Ann Arbor, has chosen to share her passion with the University of Michigan by donating her collection of works by and about Vladimir Nabokov to the University Library and by establishing the Dr. Fan Parker Family Endowment Fund for support of the collection and the acquisition of other Nabokov materials.

Selected materials from the Dr. Fan Parker Vladimir Nabokov Collection are on display through May 29 as part of the "Spotlight on New Arrivals" exhibit in the Special Collections Library on the seventh floor of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library.

Among the many highlights of the collection are first editions of "Lolita;" editions of "Lolita" in many languages, including Russian, Japanese, French, Hebrew, Danish, Greek and Spanish; more than 500 issues of periodicals with articles by or about Nabokov; and works by Nabokov related to his scientific research as a lepidopterist.

Reflecting another of the author's scholarly pursuits, the collection features materials on Lewis Carroll, including "Anyev Strane Chudes"—a Russian-language edition of "Alice in Wonderland" translated by Nabokov—as well as a book written by Parker on Lewis Carroll works in Russian.

In addition, Parker gave the University Library rare works by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, including a first Russian edition of "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" as well as a number of first edition signed works by John Updike.

William A. Gosling, University Librarian, expressed his appreciation for the gift of the Dr. Fan Parker Vladimir Nabokov Collection and the Dr. Fan Parker Family Endowment Fund.

"Thanks to Dr. Parker's generosity," he said, "generations of Michigan students, faculty, and visiting scholars will now have access to an extraordinary collection providing an intimate view of a significant 20th century author born in St. Petersburg, Russia. The breadth and depth of the Collection are unmatched. We are especially honored by Dr. Parker's foresight in establishing an endowment fund to support this Collection and allow for future acquisitions."

Born in Riga, Latvia, Parker came to the United States a s a 16-year old. She attended New York University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education and a Master of Arts in Germanic literatures. She earned a doctorate in Slavic Studies from Columbia University in 1945 and then founded and developed the Russian Department at Brooklyn College, part of the City University of New York. After a distinguished career in higher education, during which she especially enjoyed what she described as "the wonderful closeness of the students," she retired and then moved to Ann Arbor in 2002 in order to be near other family members.

In some ways, Parker's relationship with the University of Michigan dates back to 1959, when a representative of then-President Harlan Hatcher contacted her in New York because of her reputation as an eminent authority on the Soviet Union. Parker subsequently lent her expertise to Michigan and helped with arrangements for President Hatcher's trip to the U.S.S.R. later that year. In addition to her in-kind gifts and the endowment she established for the University Library, Parker has given the University a number of letters regarding the trip. The letters are part of the Bentley Historical Library's collections.

Contact: Harriet Teller
Phone: (734) 615-4801
E-mail: harriett@umich.edu