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Hal Bush <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 14 Dec 2004 09:43:00 -0600
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Folks-- a little holiday cheer for everyone -- should keep us all looking
through old drawers, trunks, etc., for some time to come.

And a question:  Prof. Bruccoli says at the end of the story that no other
page proofs exist for classic 19th-century novels.  Are there any page
proofs for any of Twain's novels?? (for some reason I thought there were,
although Bruccoli may not be interested in page proofs to Joan of Arc or
Roughing It.)

Harold K. Bush
Saint Louis University

The Associated Press
Monday, December 13, 2004; 5:22 AM

NATICK, Mass. - The town's historical society hopes to make more than
$250,000 this week by auctioning the oldest known copy of Nathaniel
Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" - not bad for a manuscript that spent more
than a century in a drawer before someone recognized its significance.

A relative of Hawthorne donated the corrected page proofs in 1886 to the
organization that became the Natick Historical Society. The pages are
covered with more than 700 proofreading corrections and comments, many
believed to be in Hawthorne's own hand.

The gift spent the next 118 years in a drawer, until trustee Roger Casavant
came across the manuscript earlier this year while cataloguing the
society's collections and identified it as the oldest existing copy of "The
Scarlet Letter."

"This is unique. No other proof pages of any of Hawthorne's novels or
stories survive," said Chris Coover, senior specialist in rare books and
manuscripts at Christie's in New York, which will auction it Thursday along
with 17 other rare documents belonging to the historical society.

"People are quite astonished this exists at all. It was unknown to
scholars," Coover told The MetroWest Daily News of Framingham. Hawthorne's
original manuscript is thought to have been destroyed after the book's
publication in 1850.

The society's board voted unanimously to auction the Hawthorne proof
"strictly because it's outside our field of collection" as an institution
devoted to Natick's history, said Anne K. Schaller, who directs the
society's museum.

Hawthorne scholar Matthew J. Bruccoli, curator of American literature and
rare books at the University of South Carolina, says that to his knowledge
it is the "only set of proof pages of any of the classic 19th century

"Apart from what they tell us about Hawthorne, it's a key document about
publishing at that time," he said. "I know of nothing else like it."

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