NO.70 SUMMER 2006

The Library Associates

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Joan Didion receives Bancroft Library award

On April 27, The Bancroft Library presented Joan Didion (‘56) with the 2006 Hubert Howe Bancroft award. Over 200 guests attended “100 Years of the Bancroft Library,” which was held at the UC Berkeley Art Museum. The evening’s celebrations included a gallery viewing of the Bancroft's centennial exhibition, a cocktail reception, and a delicious meal by Narsai David. The proceeds from a silent auction will benefit a documentary project being produced by Carla De Luca in collaboration with the Regional Oral History Project, “From Prohibition to Bottled Poetry.”

The author of celebrated novels, memoirs, and essays, Didion’s collected nonfiction, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, is forthcoming this fall. She won the 2005 National Book Award for The Year of Magical Thinking.

In accepting the Hubert Howe Bancroft award, Didion said:

“When it was suggested that I receive this award it was pointed out that it would be unusual, because I was a writer, not a historian.

This did not put me off.

I like to think that all of us who write are writing history—the writer’s very first impulse is to give an account of something that happened—to make a record—to bear witness, however imperfectly, to a truth that needs to be teased out.

So—for that reason and for some others—I am delighted to accept this award on behalf of all writers.

Joan Didion and Peter Hanff

Peter Hanff, deputy director of the Bancroft Library, with Joan Didion, winner of the 2006 Hubert Howe Bancroft award, at the Bancroft’s April 27 gala.

The others reason this makes me happy have to do with the nature of the Bancroft itself. Even as an undergraduate here . . . it represented something to me. It represented a belief in the value of the past. It represented a belief in the value of the rare, the unique, the few. It represented the continuity of those values in a culture and a state more famously focused on the future than on the past—and on the many more than on the few.

For all these reasons I am profoundly grateful—and moved—to be here today—and want to thank not only Charles Faulhaber and Peter Hanff but all of you for making the Bancroft possible.”

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