22 May 2001
PROPERTY OF A LADY
LEE, Harper (b. 1926). To Kill a Mockingbird. Philadelphia and New York: J.B. Lippincott, 1960.
8o. Original cloth-backed boards (covers spotted, a bit shaken and with some wear at ends of spine).
FIRST EDITION OF THE AUTHOR'S FIRST AND ONLY BOOK, PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY HARPER LEE TO HER LITERARY AGENTS, Maurice Crain and Annie Laurie Williams, on the front free endpaper: "Maurice and A.L.: This is the charming result of your encouragement, faith, and love -- Nelle."
AN IMPORTANT ASSOCIATION COPY. Annie Laurie Williams's archive at Butler Library, Columbia University reveals the close relationship that developed between Harper Lee and her two agents. As Lee's literary, motion picture and dramatic agents, both Williams and her husband Maurice Crain were intimately involved in the publication of the book and production of the film.
To Kill a Mockingbird was published on 11 July 1960 and a publication party was held that evening by Mr. and Mrs. Henry A. Dehn in New York City. Lee Williams Dehn, Annie Laurie Williams's sister, was an employee of Annie Laurie Williams, Inc. and the Maurice Crain Agency (the respective names of their enterprises). One of the most memorable events of the publication party was the presentation to Lee of a large cake decorated as an exact replica of the novel's dust jacket. By the time To Kill a Mockingbord was published, it was already both a Reader's Digest Book Club Selection and the Literary Guild choice for that August.
Soon after the book appeared in stores, Lee's agents were busy trying to sell the film rights; they were also forming a close friendship with their client. Williams encouraged Lee to brainstorm about a screenplay and to try and think of the story dramatically. Williams and Crain ultimately sold Horton Foote's screenplay to Universal, and the film was released in 1962 produced by Alan J. Pakula, directed by Robert Mulligan and starring Gregory Peck. Williams wrote: "Nelle I wore my Christmas blouse and pin the day we closed the TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD deal." Their relationship lasted many years, with the three spending occasional weekends together at Williams' country farm in Connecticut. This and the following two lots constitute the most significant presentation copies of Harper Lee's masterpiece to be offered at auction.
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