To Kill a Mockingbird, Inscribed, with Signed Letters
Philadelphia & New York, Lippincott, (1960). A classic of 20th century literature, a bestseller upon publication, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, basis for one of the greatest films of the century, and all from a first novel with a first printing estimated at only 5000 copies. This copy is inscribed by the author, "To Sheldon with my love, Harper Lee." Based on the included correspondence from Lee to Sheldon Reid, the inscription was likely made in 1992. In a November 3, 1992 typed letter signed, Lee tells Reid his mailing has only just reached her. She discusses his health and her own, and bemoans Monroeville's being "100 miles in any direction from a dress shop and a bookstore. So much for fashion and culture. H.L. Mencken would feel right at home here--it is still the Sahara of the Bozart." More strikingly, Lee tells Reid, "...I'm appalled by the activities of the Blue Ribbon Committee for the Restoration of the Old Courthouse in Monroeville, and deplore the use of Mockingbird and my name." Quoting, apparently, the Committee, "One thing we want to avoid is any exploitation of the book...," and then remarking "is exactly the opposite of what they've done." Immediately, in the next paragraph, Lee continues, "But Selma has reached the low of lows: the most shameful event in the history of Alabama took place at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Selling pieces of the True Cross would be in better taste." The letter's timing would have coincided with the organizing for Selma's first annual "Bridge Crossing Jubilee" in March, 1993. This first letter is a full page (6" x 8-1/2") and is signed, "With love, Nelle." Nelle Harper Lee was Lee's full name. Folded for mailing; fine. Envelope included. The next handwritten note (unsigned), dated November 10th, likely accompanied the inscribed book: "Your friends might think you're crazy, but don't worry -- it'll never decrease in value!" Apparently, Reid had purchased this first edition to send to Lee to sign, as the front flyleaf has a penciled bookseller notation that states, "two hundred dollars FIRM (an autographed copy sold about two years ago for $600)." Pink notepaper, one mild corner crease, else fine. The third piece of correspondence is a notecard, again signed "Nelle," and with an autograph letter, dated December 16, 1992, filling the left inside of the card. Most of this is a belated (she had mislaid his address) and heartfelt thank you for flowers sent (possibly in response to receiving the inscribed book), in part: "...gallant you are -- a gentleman in this day and age is so rare that it's a cause of wonderment. Thank you again, and love!" Fine, with envelope. Sheldon Reid lived in Birmingham AL, approximately 150 miles from Lee's Monroeville; we have been unable to ascertain the relationship between the two friends. The first edition Reid purchased for Lee to sign had a previous owner name, apparently that of Lillian Sharpley, sister of Frances Sharpley who was married to Charles Grayson Summersell, as there is also a "Summersell" stamp on the title page. The book, with stamp, owner name, and bookseller notation, has mild bowing to the boards and foxing to the spine cloth: a very good copy in a restored (backing added, one lower chip restored, edge color added), price-clipped dust jacket, where the green has faded to nearly blue and the brown has faded to nearly green, rather akin to the usual image, at dusk. A rare signed first edition of Mockingbird in dust jacket, with correspondence that both documents the cordial relationship between Lee and Reid and also shows Lee to be actively engaged in contemporary events and with a sharp, critical mind and even, one might say, a dark sense of humor, as evidenced by her comment referring to the True Cross. [#033025] SOLD

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