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It’s a plot twist not even writers of the soap opera she appeared in could have imagined.

Carolee Cambell, an Emmy-award winning actress who played Nurse Carolee Simpson for nine years in The Doctors, a soap described as “more risqué” in story line choices than General Hospital, quit one day to start Ninja Press  and make books.

Not just any books, but distinguished one-of-a-kind works featuring handset type, hand drawings, and handmade paper bound in vellum, metal, or even porcelain. Specializing in poetry, her books are held by most major collections of artists’ books, including the British Library, Brown University, the Getty Research Institute, Stanford University, and Lafayette.

“The California-based Ninja Press has turned out some of the finest work to be found in the contemporary artists’ book scene,” says Diane Shaw, special collections librarian and College archivist.

Cambell will deliver this year’s Paul and June Schlueter Lecture in the Art and History of the Book at Lafayette at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11, in the Gendebien Room of Skillman Library. Her lecture is titled, “Poetry and The Artists’ Book.” A reception follows in the Simon Room where the exhibition Ninja Press: Twenty-Five Years and Counting runs through Jan. 7.

Campbell, who is self-taught in the fine art of bookmaking, says it can take months to complete one edition and she typically prints 200 copies or less.

The former river rafting guide and practitioner of Japanese fencing doesn’t regret leaving the stage for the theater of the book.

“I do love going away at the end of the day and leaving my work on the bench, and it’s still there the next morning,” she says. “It’s not ephemeral. It’s right there.”

The Schlueter Lecture Series was established in 2007 by Drs. Paul and June Schlueter in support of Skillman Library’s Special Collections. The donors intended that the lecture series cover a range of topics associated with the history, culture, production, conservation, and collection of books of all time periods and in all formats. Their general gift also supports acquisitions for Special Collections.

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