LEE, Harper (1926-2016). To Kill a Mockingbird. Barnstable, MA: Crane’s Duplicating Service, for: Philadelphia and New York: J.B. Lippincott Company, .
8° (235 x 158 mm). Original spiral-bound printed wrappers marked in type “uncorrected proof,” printed and typed label pasted on upper cover. (Covers stained.) Provenance: Hodding Carter (1907-1972) Southern progressive journalist (according to the present owner); gifted to James Robertshaw (1916-1996) attorney; by descent to present owner.
ADVANCE “UNREVISED, UNCORRECTED PROOFS” OF THE FIRST EDITION OF THE AUTHOR’S FIRST BOOK. Preceding the half-title is a leaf stating that this copy was prepared by Crane’s Duplicating Service of Barnstable, Massachusetts. “These PROOFS were made directly from long galleys, and are a substitute for that unwieldy method of pulling proofs, which we hope you will find easier to read.”
The dust-jacket of the first edition bears Truman Capote’s famous appraisal of the novel: “Someone rare has written this very fine first novel: a writer with the liveliest sense of life and the warmest, most authentic humor. A touching book; and so funny, so likeable.” First published on July 11th, 1960, it has since been translated into 40 languages, and has sold more than 30 million copies; it has never been out of print since it was first published. Despite never earning the top spot, Lee’s work spent 98 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List. In its 41st week on the list, To Kill a Mockingbird was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Hodding Carter founded the Delta Star newspaper in Greenville, Mississippi, in 1936, which he merged with the Democrat Times in 1938 to form the Delta Democrat-Times. As an editorial writer, “he wrote a series of articles dealing with racial, economic, and religious problems in Mississippi. His editorials were published at a very rocky time in the South, and Hodding’s articles stood apart from other debate and speculation on the status of African-Americans in society at the time. Widely acclaimed and criticized, Hodding received national recognition as a writer when he won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing in May of 1946” (Jennifer Phillips, Mississippi Writers and Musicians). According to the 23 February 1946 Saturday Evening Post introduction to Carter, “the South is so often damned for social backwardness, for reaction entrenched in smugness and lethargy, that it is a pleasure to introduce a young Southerner who represents a totally different school of thought and action” (quoted in Mississippi Writers and Musicians). In her blurb for Ann Waldron’s biography of Carter, Harper Lee wrote: “Always a Southern gentleman, Hodding Carter used his ferocious energy and talent to do battle with the politics of cruelty that prevailed in his time. For his beliefs in the essential dignity and political rights of all American citizens, he risked his living and his life…[Waldron] shows us why Hodding Carter is one of the most honored names in American journalism.” Carter also served on the Pulitzer Prize board which gave Harper Lee the award in 1961. When Carter moved to Greenville in the 1930s, he began his long friendship with James Robertshaw, who eventually also became Carter’s lawyer. Carter gifted the proof to Robertshaw as a token of their deep friendship and mutual respect.
RARE: According to online auction records, no other example of this proof, nor galleys have ever appeared on the market. Despite Crane’s Duplicating Service being a major supplier of corrected proofs to the publishing industry since 1950 (they claim to have printed over 174,000 proofs for a multitude of works), we are unable to trace any other example of this in the marketplace.