Cooperstown: 1 page, quarto, n.d (after 1848). James Fenimore Cooper’s own personally handwritten working draft for his contract with publisher George P. Putnam to publish an original work of fiction which eventually was published as The Ways of the Hour, Cooper’s last novel. This is a full page in Cooper’s hand and it refers to Putnam by name as publisher and bears the full name of J. Fenimore Cooper twice and the last name Cooper four times. A long and interesting contract that surprisingly reads much like a modern publishing agreement with Cooper intimately involved in the publishing process. Cooper agrees to produce “a new work of fiction” and that he will provide Putnam with the finished printing “stereotype plates” for a novel “customary size, in two volumes duodecimo....” The contract goes on in great detail about royalties, Putnam’s rights as publisher, fees, and penalties, and that at the end of two years that Putnam’s license to publish the novel will end, and that the printing plates will be returned to Cooper. When the New York publishing firm of Wiley & Putnam dissolved in 1847, George P. Putnam (1814-1872) established his own house and built up a literary backlist that forms the foundation of mid-nineteenth-century American letters. Putnam brought out a uniform edition of Washington Irving and soon thereafter began to publish Cooper’s internationally famous novels in a standard edition, beginning with The Spy and The Pilot in April and October 1849 (BAL 3932-33); twelve novels (including The Last of the Mohicans) were ultimately re-issued between 1849 and 1851. Noted Cooper scholar, Warren S. Walker, notes that this ambitious final novel that Cooper “evidences his concern about ‘the ways of the hour’: lack of principle as shown in flagrant abuse of justice by elected judges, incompetent jurors, culpable...lawyers, and an irresponsible press; an unreasoning worship of mass opinion; and failure to pursue the truth beneath the trappings of appearance. The vehicle for exploring the sociological theme is a mid-1840s murder trial assuming the pattern of a murder mystery, a ‘whodunit,’ complete with aliases, cloak-and-dagger schemes, a ‘revived’ corpse, a missing treasure, a series of ‘jailbreaks,’ bribery, and a madwoman.” Cooper was the first American novelist to receive international acclaim and America’s first best-selling author. American publishing agreements from the first half of the 19th century and especially from a major figure like Cooper (and drafted by himself) are of the greatest rarity. (Inventory #: 13808J)
Literature, Performing Arts, Autographs, Manuscripts, Rare Cinema Material, Literary First Editions
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