FIRST BOOKS

by AMERICAN WRITERS
1786-1984

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LIBRARY

1997

Introduction

An author's first book, as often as not, marks something of a watershed in his life. If, as is usual, he (or she) goes on to publish again, the maiden effort may end up something of an embarrassment in later years. But that maiden effort may be an only effort, too, as is the case with Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind or John Parke's Lyrics of Horace. All too frequently the "first book" takes the ephemeral form of a slim pamphlet. Or it embodies work far removed from that for which its author later will be best known. But to the collector of first editions, it is, whatever its form, the first of the first. And yet, of course, the collector must seek Ann Beattie's first two books, a novel and a volume of short stories published on the same day.

Perhaps because of that very heterodoxy, the "first book" exerts a special attraction for the collector, the catalogs of Seven Gables and Quill & Brush the holy writ he needs in the chase, the siren song of Fanshawe and Tamerlane the lure that takes him upon the rocks, for he will come to discover that although Hawthorne's and Poe's works are more famous, they are neither more common nor more often read than Jesse Stuart's Harvest of Youth. Though certainly far, far more expensive.

This exhibit focusses on American writers who have launched careers during almost the entire extent of our country's history. An effort has been made to include writers who, if not household names, have at some point in their careers commanded considerable critical attention and/or popular acclaim. By the same token, writers beginning outside the normal "main stream" are included, whether their initial handicap consisted of race, sexual preference, or simple isolation from the urban literary society. Each, in his or her way, has a legitimate claim on our attention.

This exhibit would not be possible were it not for the series of gifts which brought to Georgetown in recent years books from the collections of Washington bookseller-brothers David and Paul Pearlman and New York collector Gerard Previn Meyer. These generous gifts provide the books which make up the heart of the exhibit. They are supplemented by additional gifts from other sources as well as from three en bloc purchases made in the mid-80s (the collection of American literature formed by Irving Levy, the library of James P. J. Murphy, and the rare book collection of the University of Detroit Library). In fact, of the 63 first editions included in the exhibit only four, those by Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, John Pendleton Kennedy, and Ellen Glasgow, were among Georgetown's collections prior to 1970.

George M. Barringer
Georgetown University Library

The Exhibition

Parke, John

The Lyric Works of Horace, translated into English Verse: to which is added, a number of Original Poems. By a Native of America. Philadelphia: Printed by Eleazer Oswald, 1786. Bound in contemporary calf, rebacked.

Published pseudonymously. Parke's major original effort (present here with its own title page) is Virginia: a Pastoral Drama, on the Birth-Day of an Illustrious Personage and the Return of Peace, February 11, 1784. The "personage," of course, is George Washington, to whom the volume is dedicated. With the text in the scarce enlarged state. Gift of Joseph G. E. Hopkins.

Irving, Washington

A Voyage to the Eastern Part of Terra Firma, or the Spanish Main, in South America, During the Years 1801, 1802, 1803, and 1804. . . . By F. DePons. . . . Translated by an American Gentleman. New-York: Printed by and for I. Riley and Co., 1806. 3 volumes. Rebound in half brown morocco and cloth boards.

The "American gentleman" was Washington Irving, whose efforts at translation were assisted by Peter Irving and George Caines. Purchase (1939).

Cooper, James Fenimore

Precaution, a Novel. New-York: Published by A. T. Goodrich & Co., 1820. 2 volumes. In the original paper boards.

Published anonymously. Provenance undetermined, but in the collection prior to 1970.

Kennedy, John Pendleton

A Review of Mr. Cambreleng's Report from the Committee of Commerce, in the House of Representatives, at the First Session of the Twenty First Congress. By Mephistopheles. Baltimore: Printed by Wm. Ogden Niles, 1830. Unbound, stitched as issued.

The future novelist's pseudonymously published tract against free trade. Provenance undetermined, but in the collection prior to 1970.

Whittier, John Greenleaf

Legends of New-England. Hartford: Published by Hanmer and Phelps, 1831. Original cloth-backed boards, paper label on spine.

Lacking pagination on the verso of the third leaf of the preliminaries, a state not noticed by BAL. Purchase (Levy).

Holmes, Oliver Wendell

Poems. Boston: Otis, Broaders, and Company, 1836. Original embossed cloth.

Purchase (Levy).

Lowell, James Russell

Class Poem. [Cambridge Press: Metcalf, Torry, and Ballou] 1838. Original wrappers (upper panel supplied in photocopy).

Published anonymously. Purchase (Levy).

Dana, Richard Henry, Jr.

Two Years Before the Mast. A Personal Narrative of Life at Sea. New-York: Harper & Brothers, 1840. Original gilt-stamped cloth.

Published anonymously. With copyright notice and running head on page 9 in the later forms. Purchase (Detroit).

Melville, Herman

Narrative of a Four Months' Residence Among the Natives of a Valley of the Marquesas Islands; or, A Peep at Polynesian Life. London: John Murray, 1846. Original gilt-stamped cloth.

The so-called "second issue," in binding variant C as listed by BAL. Purchase (Levy).

Thoreau, Henry David

A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. Boston and Cambridge: James Munroe and Company [et al.] 1849. Original gilt-stamped cloth.

Presentation copy, inscribed by Thoreau on the front free endleaf: "Rev. O. A. Brownson with the Regards of the author," not dated. Top edges of text block remain unopened after page 272. Purchase (Detroit).

Howe, Julia Ward

Passion-Flowers. Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1854. Original gilt-stamped cloth.

Published anonymously. Gift of Maurice Adelman, Jr.

Billings, Josh [Henry Wheeler Shaw]

Josh Billings, His Sayings. With Comic Illustrations. New York: Carleton, 1866. Original gilt-stamped cloth.

The binding in the state with upright capitals in the spine imprint, but, unusually, with the binder's ticket of George W. Alexander of New York at end. Gift of Eugene and Sandy Pearlman Meyer.

Lanier, Sidney

Tiger-Lilies. A Novel. New York: Published by Hurd and Houghton, 1867. Original gilt-stamped cloth.

Two copies, one with an integral title leaf and one with a cancel, representing two of the three known colors of the binding. All copies have the misprint "Lillies" for "Lilies" on the spine. Gift of Edith S. Mayfield.

James, Henry

A Passionate Pilgrim, and Other Tales. Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1875. Original gilt-stamped cloth.

In the earliest state of the binding, with the Osgood imprint at the foot of the spine. Gift of Eugene Meyer and Deborah Meyer DeWan.

Harris, Joel Chandler

Uncle Remus His Songs and His Sayings: The Folk-Lore of the Old Plantation. . . . With Illustrations by Frederick S. Church and James H. Moser. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1881. Original decorated cloth.

Third state, with reviews of this title on page [233]. Gift of Mrs. William Zimmerman.

Glasgow, Ellen

The Descendant. A Novel. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1897. Original decorated cloth.

Published anonymously. In the first state of the binding (later bindings put the author's name on the spine). Provenance undetermined, but in the collection prior to 1970.

Masters, Edgar Lee

A Book of Verses. Chicago: Way & Williams, 1898. Original boards with paper labels.

Purchase.

Cather, Willa Sibert

April Twilights. Poems. Boston: Richard G. Badger The Gorham Press, 1903. Original boards and paper labels.

Gift of Maurice Adelman, Jr.

Porter, William Sidney

Cabbages and Kings by O. Henry. New York: McClure, Phillips & Co., 1904. Original decorated cloth.

First state of the binding, with the publisher's imprint on the spine. Gift of Eugene Meyer and Deborah Meyer DeWan.

Jeffers, Robinson

Flagons and Apples. By John Robinson Jeffers. Los Angeles: Grafton Publishing Company, 1912. Original half cloth and boards.

Gift of Edith S. Mayfield.

Marquis, Don

Danny's Own Story. . . . Illustrated by E. W. Kemble. Garden City: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1912. Original cloth with printed paper onlay.

Gift of Gerard Previn Meyer.

Eastman, Max

Enjoyment of Poetry. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1913. Original cloth.

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Randolph Biddle.

Moore, Marianne

Poems. London: The Egoist Press, 1921. Original printed wrappers.

Inscribed on the first (blank) leaf: "With the wish that good may come to Mr. James P. J. Murphy, -- and much happiness. Marianne Moore / February 4 1951," and with some minor pen corrections by her in the text. Purchase (Murphy).

cummings, e. e.

The Enormous Room. New York: Boni and Liveright [1922] Original cloth.

Earliest state of the text, with the word "shit" not obliterated in the bottom line of page 219. Gift of Eugene Meyer and Deborah Meyer DeWan.

Bogan, Louise

Body of This Death. Poems. New York: Robert M. McBride & Company, 1923. Original half cloth and boards, in dust jacket.

Inscribed on the front free endleaf: "For Gerard Previn Meyer / Louise Bogan -- January 25, 1945." Gift of Eugene Meyer and Deborah Meyer DeWan.

Stevens, Wallace

Harmonium. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1923. Original half cloth and printed boards, in dust jacket.

In the earliest of three binding variants. Inscribed on the half-title: "For James P. J. Murphy Wallace Stevens March 3, 1954 (This is a 1st Edition)." Purchase (Murphy).

Adams, Léonie

Those Not Elect. New York: Robert M. McBride & Company, 1925. Original boards.

Signed by Adams on the front free endpaper and dated October 3, 1966. Gift of Eugene Meyer and Deborah Meyer DeWan.

Cullen, Countee

Color. New York & London: Harper & Brothers, 1925. Original half cloth and boards.

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Randolph Biddle.

Crane, Hart

White Buildings: Poems. . . . With a Foreword by Allen Tate. [New York] Boni & Liveright, 1926. Original half cloth and boards, in dust jacket.

Second state of the title, with Tate's first name spelled correctly. Together with a corrected typescript of "Voyages IV" (printed on pages 53-54). Gifts of Bernard M. Wagner.

Hughes, Langston

The Weary Blues. . . . With an Introduction by Carl Van Vechten. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926. Original half cloth and boards, in first state dust jacket.

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Randolph Biddle.

Caldwell, Erskine

The Bastard. . . . Illustrations by Ty Mahon. New York: Heron Press [1929] Copy #648 of 1,100. Original cloth.

Inscribed on the dedication leaf: "For Mary -- although I didn't write it -- because it is mine Helen Caldwell." But further inscribed on the front free endpaper: "for John S. Mayfield in spite of Virgil Steed, John S. Sumner, Ralph Ingalls, and many others. yours in crime Erskine Caldwell / Portland, Maine 2/21/30." Together with a publisher's dummy for the book, in a smaller format, only the first few pages printed. Gifts of Edith S. Mayfield.

Thurber, James

Is Sex Necessary? or Why You Feel the Way You Do. By . . . and E. B. White. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1929. Original half cloth and boards.

Gift of Gerard Previn Meyer.

Stuart, Jesse

Harvest of Youth. Howe, OK: The Scroll Press [1930] Original half cloth and boards.

Presentation copy. Inscribed on the front free endpaper: "To Murray L. Marshall a brother Craftsman and friendly editor / Jesse Stuart." Together with a typescript of "My Mountain Home" (printed on page 50) and a typed letter to Marshall requesting permission to use three poems published in Marshall's magazine, Sonnet Sequences, in Harvest of Youth. Gifts of Hazel Marshall Seebode.

Ward, Lynd

Gods' Man. A Novel in Woodcuts. New York: Jonathan Cape and Harrison Smith [1930] Copy #99 of 409, signed. Original cloth, in slipcase.

The "special edition," printed from the author/artist's original wood engraved blocks. The ordinary trade edition published in 1929 (a copy of which is also at Georgetown) was produced from electrotypes. Purchase.

Agee, James

Permit Me Voyage. . . . With a Foreword by Archibald MacLeish. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1934. Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Randolph Biddle.

Hurston, Zora Neale

Jonah's Gourd Vine. . . . With an Introduction by Fanny Hurst. Philadelphia, London: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1934. Original cloth.

Presentation copy. Inscribed on the front free endpaper: "To My Godmother [Mrs. Osgood Mason] -- Who is one of the low-flying angels, and her harp sings silver in the wind breezes. She puts music into mud-sills, and wings onto clods. She is a battle-axe in the time of trouble and a shelter in the time of storm. With Devotion, Zora / Longwood, Fla. May 18, 1934, when Godmother is 80 years old." Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Randolph Biddle.

Roth, Henry

Call It Sleep. New York: Robert O. Ballou [1934] Original cloth.

Gift of Gerard Previn Meyer.

Saroyan, William

The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze and Other Stories. New York: Random House, 1934. Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Signed by the author on a blank leaf at the front. Gift of Eugene Meyer and Deborah Meyer DeWan.

Everson, William

These Are the Ravens by Bill Everson. San Leandro: Greater West Publishing Co., 1935. Original self-wrappers.

Inscribed on the upper cover: "for the University of Detroit Library December 1961 / Brother Antoninus (William Everson)." Purchase (Detroit).

Mitchell, Margaret

Gone with the Wind. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1936. Original cloth, in dust jacket.

In the first state dust jacket. Inscribed on the front free endpaper: "To Major L. A. Codd from Margaret Mitchell." Bequest of Gertrude Jane Codd.

Patchen, Kenneth

Before the Brave. New York: Random House [1936] Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Gift of Eugene Meyer and Deborah Meyer DeWan.

Schwartz, Delmore

In Dreams Begin Responsibilities. Norfolk: New Directions [1938] One of 1,000 copies. Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Gift of Eugene Meyer and Deborah Meyer DeWan.

Chandler, Raymond

The Big Sleep. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1939. Original wrappers.

Advance reading copy, the cover blurb comparing Chandler to Dashiell Hammett and James M. Cain. Gift of Eugene and Sandy Pearlman Meyer.

Cheever, John

The Way Some People Live. A Book of Stories. New York: Random House [1943] Original cloth.

Gift of Gerard Previn Meyer.

Lowell, Robert

Land of Unlikeness. Poems. . . . Introduction by Allen Tate. Cummington, MA: The Cummington Press, 1944. One of 250 copies. Original boards.

Purchase (Detroit).

Merton, Thomas

Thirty Poems. Norfolk, CT: New Directions [1944] Original wrappers.

Bequest of Gertrude Jane Cobb.

Levertov, Denise

The Double Image by Denise Levertoff. London: The Cresset Press, 1946. Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Inscribed on the front free endpaper: "'I love to see, in golden matchlight, / intimate contours of a face / like discovered innocence / in dusty annals of disgrace.' Denise Levertov Inscribed for James P. J. Murphy." Purchase (Murphy).

Nemerov, Howard

The Image and the Law. [New York] Henry Holt and Company [1947] Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Review copy, publisher's slip laid in. Gift of Gerard Previn Meyer.

Capote, Truman

Other Voices, Other Rooms. New York: Random House [1948] Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Gift of Eugene Meyer and Deborah Meyer DeWan.

Inge, William

Come Back, Little Sheba. New York: Random House [1950] Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Gift of Gerard Previn Meyer.

Kerouac, Jack

The Town & the City. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company [1950] Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Gift of Shirley Pearlman Leva.

Jones, James

From Here to Eternity. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1951. Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Gift of Shirley Pearlman Leva.

Styron, William

Lie Down in Darkness. A Novel. Indianapolis, New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company [1951] Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Inscribed on the front free endpaper: "For James P. J. Murphy with best wishes Wm Styron New York February 1952." Purchase (Murphy).

O'Connor, Flannery

Wise Blood. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company [1952] Original cloth.

Gift of Eugene Meyer and Deborah Meyer DeWan.

Grubb, Davis

The Night of the Hunter. [New York] Harper & Brothers [1953] Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Inscribed on the front free endpaper: "'After supper that Chrismas eve the children gathered round Rachel at the kitchen table and she told them the Christmas legend and they listened gravely because it was their own story . . . .' Davis Grubb -- Christmas, 1955. -- For James Murphy --" Purchase (Murphy).

Hecht, Anthony

A Summoning of Stones. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1954. Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Review copy, publisher's slip laid in. Inscribed on the front free endpaper: "With cordial good wishes Anthony Hecht." Gift of Gerard Previn Meyer.

Snodgrass, W. D.

Heart's Needle. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1959. One of 1,500 copies. Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Inscribed on the front free endpaper: "In its unraveling loom / we find a flower to take, / with some late buds that might still bloom, / back to your room. / for James P. J. Murphy with best wishes, W. D. Snodgrass." Purchase (Murphy).

Grumbach, Doris

The Spoil of the Flowers. Garden City: Doubleday & Company, 1962. Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Bequest of Riley Hughes.

Rechy, John

City of Night. New York: Grove Press [1963] Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Bequest of Roland N. Harman.



Ai [Florence Anthony Ogawa]

Cruelty. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1973. Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Gift of Philip I. Herzbrun.

Beattie, Ann

Chilly Scenes of Winter. Garden City: Doubleday & Company, 1976. Original half cloth and boards, in dust jacket.

Distortions. Garden City: Doubleday & Company, 1976. Original half cloth and boards, in dust jacket.

A novel and a volume of short stories, respectively, the author's first two books published on the same day. Bequest of Roland N. Harman.

Clancy, Tom

The Hunt for Red October. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press [1984] Original cloth, in dust jacket.

Inscribed on the half-title: "To Fr Ron Murphy SJ Regards to a Master Teacher Tom Clancy 3/22/85." Gift of Fr. Murphy.




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