Built by Association: Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’s Speeches

Inscription of Justice O. W. Holmes Jr. to Lloyd Bowen

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’s inscribed copy (to Lloyd W. Bowen) of his book Speeches (1900).

The son of a flamboyant author and physician, Justice Holmes was born in Boston and graduated from Harvard College in 1861. After three years of fighting in the Union Army during the Civil War, he graduated from Harvard Law School in 1866. While in private practice, he edited the 12th edition of Kent’s Commentaries on American Law (1873), and produced his classic text, The Common Law (1881). He joined the Harvard law faculty in 1882 and a year later was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1902.

This 1900 edition of Holmes’s Speeches is exceedingly hard to find. He inscribed this copy—years after its publication—for Lloyd W. Bowen, who was the Solicitor General of the United States. Bowen died of a brain hemorrhage less than five months after receiving this gift. The frontispiece reads, “These chance utterances of faith and doubt are printed for a few friends who will care to keep them.”

          – Bryan A. Garner

“Built by Association: Books Once Owned by Notable Judges and Lawyers, from Bryan A. Garner’s Collection”, an exhibit curated by Bryan A. Garner with Mike Widener, is on display until December 16, 2013 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

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