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1124002

Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

The renowned children’s author handwrites and signs a personalized poem for Christmas 1941

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957.  American author.  First edition of Little Town on the Prairie with an exceptionally rare original, personalized handwritten poem, signed Sincerely your friend / Laura Ingalls Wilder, tipped in.

For Christmas in 1941, two boys’ grandfather gave each of them a copy of Wilder’s latest book, Little Town on the Prairie.  The grandparents lived in Arkansas, and the grandmother, we understand, wrote to Wilder at her home at Mansfield, Missouri, to ask for her autograph for the boys.  Wilder responded by writing and signing individualized poems for the boys, which she then mailed back.  The grandparents tipped the poems onto the front free endpapers of the books. 

These books come directly from the family and have never before been offered on the autograph market.  We are offering them separately.  In this one, Wilder has written, complete with a misspelled word:

Dear Douglas

May your life be long and happy,

May your acts be brave and fine,

May you win all worth the winning,

Is this ernest [sic] wish of mine.

Sincerely your friend

Laura Ingalls Wilder

This is a stated first edition of this book.  The notation “K-Q” on the back of the title page shows that Harper & Brothers printed the book in October 1941.  The book was, then, new just in time for Christmas.

This book, the seventh in Wilder’s Little House series, tells the story of the small prairie town where Wilder lived as a teenager.  The dust jacket synopsis says that this “little settlement that weathered the long hard winter of 1880-81 has become a growing town.  There is a wonderful Fourth of July celebration, and Laura goes to her first evening social. . . . Almanzo Wilder asks permission to walk home from church with Laura, and exchanges with her the fashionable new ‘name cards.’  At the end Laura, now fifteen, receives her certificate to teach school.”  

Wilder has penned this personalized poem for “Dear Douglas” and signed it in grayish-black fountain pen.  She has written it on a 3¾” x 6⅛” piece of paper.  A horizontal fold in the paper, from where Wilder mailed it to the boys’ grandmother, runs beneath the last line of the poem, crossing the tail of the “f” in “of” but not otherwise touching Wilder’s handwriting. 

The book itself is virtually pristine.  The tan cloth-covered hardback binding, which includes an illustration, is clean and boldly imprinted in dark red on both the cover and the spine.  The endpapers are decorated in red with images of flowers, strawberries, and leaves.  The book is illustrated by Helen Sewell, the earliest illustrator of Wilder’s books, and co-illustrator Mildred Boyle, with a color frontispiece and 14 black-and-white illustrations.  The original color dust cover, also illustrated with a drawing by Boyle, shows a tiny bit of soiling, edge chipping, and shelf wear but is in fine condition overall.  There is a note in black fountain pen on the half title page reading “To Douglas /  from Grampa / Christmas 1941.” 

Even unsigned first edition copies of this book are very scarce, and more so with a dust jacket.  This one, with this original poem that Wilder wrote especially for insertion into it, is exceptionally rare and belongs in the finest of collections.

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