More Works of Film, Literature, Mystery and More from James Pepper Rare Books
By Michael Stillman
James Pepper Rare Books has issued their Catalogue 170, otherwise unnamed, likely because of the diverse offerings. As usual, there are many items related to the theater and film, literary first editions and mystery, but where do you categorize We Saw Lincoln Shot. One Hundred Eyewitness Accounts? We'll let you contemplate that mystery, and proceed to a few examples of what is offered, with the caveat not to assume that we are at all covering all of the subjects you may find within the pages of this catalogue.
Item 126 is a copy of the first edition (in the spring issue of Pharos, published in Murray, Utah) of Tennessee William's first published full-length play and book. It is Battle of Angels, not his most successful work, printed in 1945. In the following decade, it was republished under the title "Orpheas Descending." However, while this work was more obscure, Williams was bursting into the public eye at the time as "The Glass Menagerie" had just made its debut on Broadway. Offered for $750.
Item 5 is the biography of a poet who suffered terribly through most of his life and was rewarded by being, essentially, forgotten. What a happy story this is! The book is The Life of Sumner Lincoln Fairfield, Esq., written and published by his wife, Jane Fairfield, in 1847. Fairfield was an only child, dominated by his mother, who achieved little financial success and was unable to cope with his failure, exacerbated by the fact that he had five children to support. That eventually fell to Jane while he wallowed in misery and died at a relatively early age (40). You can read his depressing story and three of his lengthy poems, including "The Sisters of Santa Clara," and what his wife describes as the "pathetic and beautiful poem" he wrote for her shortly before he died. This copy is inscribed by Mrs. Fairfield. $125.
How many of you remember Jim Backus? He was a character actor of the mid-20th century, playing the stuffy Thurston Howell III on Gilligan's Island and James Dean's father in Rebel Without a Cause. He even had his own television program, the Jim Backus Show, for one year. However, he is probably best remembered for his invisible role, as the voice of Mr. Magoo (he looked a little like Magoo). Backus (with his wife) also wrote a few books, and recorded a couple songs. His record, Delicious, from the 1950s, where an inebriated Backus and equally drunk lady friend enjoy a glass of champagne is a classic. Item 10 is Backus Strikes Back, inscribed by authors Jim and Henny Backus, with a forward by George Burns. Published in 1984. $150.
Certainly you must remember the television show Manolo of the Seven Seas. It featured actor Jon Hall, who had appeared in several South Seas movies in the 1940s and starred in the early television show Ramar of the Jungle, as Dr. Tom "Ramar" Reynolds. If you're still drawing a blank on Manolo, it's understandable. It never made it to the small screen. And if Hall is kind of obscure, his wife of several decades, Frances Langford, was a well-known singer and actress of the era, as well as half of the famous feuding Bickersons. Item 88 is Hall's copy of the never-produced Manolo of the Seven Seas. $250.