16 December 2004
HUGHES, Langston (1902-1967). Shakespeare in Harlem. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1947.
8o. Illustrated by E. McKnight Kauffer. Original two-toned cloth (a bit frayed and soiled). Provenance: Josephine Baker (1906-1975), African American entertainer, Parisian star of the Folies-Bergeres (presentation inscription from the author).
FIRST EDITION. A REMARKABLE PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY HUGHES TO JOSEPHINE BAKER on the front flyleaf: "To Josephine Baker -- with a hearty welcome to our Harlem -- Sincerely, Langston Hughes New York, Christmas, 1951." AN EXTRAORDINARY FINE ASSOCIATION COPY, joining one of the greatest lights of the Harlem Renaissance with one of the most celebrated African American performers of the 1920s who, according to Donald Bogle, "epitomized a new freedom and festivity" for "a weary, disillusioned, post-World War I era." Through the 20s and early 30s (indeed throughout her life) Baker was a devoted Parisian expatriate, returning to New York first briefly in 1936 for a somewhat unsuccessful round of performances. She went to the United States again in 1948 but was no more of a success then than she had been in 1936. This time, though, she decided to take a stronger stand on racism: she began to insist on a nondiscrimination clause in her contracts, and on integrated audiences at her performances. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) declared May 20, 1951, Josephine Baker Day in honor of her efforts to fight racism. Langston Hughes's inscription reflects the spirit of this American visit, welcoming her philosophically to the advancements made possible through the Harlem Renaissance.
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The catalogue description should read First edition, third printing. The first printing was published in 1942.
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