• Fine Printed Books and Manuscr auction at Christies

    Sale 2227

    Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts Including Americana

    4 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 39

    DREISER, Theodore (1871-1945). Sister Carrie. New York: Doubleday, Page and Co., 1900.

    Price Realised  


    DREISER, Theodore (1871-1945). Sister Carrie. New York: Doubleday, Page and Co., 1900.

    8o. Original red cloth, lettered and ruled in black on front cover and spine (front hinge starting); red cloth slipcase. Provenance: Kate S. Fisher (early ownership signature dated "1901" on front pastedown).

    FIRST EDITION OF THE AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK, published on 8 November 1900. After Harper and and Brothers declined to print the novel, Dreiser approached Doubleday, Page, and Co., because it had published the writings of Frank Norris, a promising naturalistic writer whose novel McTeague had recently caused a stir. Norris was an advisor for Doubleday, and enthusiastically supported the publication of Sister Carrie, later calling it "the best novel I had read in M.S. since I had been reading for the firm." Based on Norris's favorable praise, junior partner, Walter Hines Page, promised Dreiser that Doubleday would publish the book. However, after reading Dreiser's manuscript, Frank Doubleday objected to the immoral behavior of the novel's characters and urged his firm to reconsider its publication. After finding that Doubleday and Page was under legally obligation to put the novel to print, he allowed its publication but refused to promote it. As a result, the novel sold only 456 copies, and Dreiser received a mere $68.40 in royalties. It was only after Dreiser had established his literary reputation with later novels and after a 1912 reprint by Harper and Brothers had been published that the story of Sister Carrie was acknowledged for its stark and realistic depiction of a young woman's struggles. McDonald 1; Johnson's Highspots of American Literature, p.151. A FINE COPY.

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