• "Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between": First Edition of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings; Signed by Maya Angelou; From the library of James Baldwin

    Angelou, Maya (James Baldwin).

    I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

    New York: Random House, 1969.

    First edition of Angelou’s critically acclaimed first book. Octavo, original first issue book, with the top edge stained red. From the library of writer and close friend of Angelou’s James Baldwin’s library with his signature to the front free endpaper. Signed by the author, “Joy! Maya Angelou” on the half-title page. After Angelou’s close friend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated in 1968 depression had set in. Her dear friend James Baldwin, or Jimmy and her “brother friend” as she affectionately called him, took her to a dinner party to brighten her spirits, if only for the night. The party was at the home of the Pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer and his wife Judy in late 1968. Everyone in the room began sharing stories about their childhoods, but when it was Angelou’s turn to speak, Mrs. Feiffer was blown away by her storytelling. The next day Feiffer called Random House editor Robert Loomis to tell him he should have Angelou write a book. Following Mrs. Feiffer’s orders, Loomis asked Angelou to write a book about her life, but she said no. Angelou considered herself a poet and playwright, not an author. He asked again; she declined again. Around the fourth time he changed his tune. She had just written a TV series and was out in California when he called. “It’s just as well you don’t attempt to write autobiography, because to write autobiography as literature is almost impossible,” she remembers him saying. “Maybe I’ll try it,” she replied. Loomis’s new tactic had been inspired by a conversation with Baldwin. Baldwin told Loomis that in order to get Angelou to do anything, you have to tell her she can’t do it. The reverse psychology worked. She isolated herself in London and began writing I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), the first of her seven book autobiography series. It was instantly a bestseller and is her most critically acclaimed work. Had it not been for Baldwin and Angelou’s pugnacious tenacity, the world may have never known she was a masterful memoirist. Near fine in a near fine dust jacket with light rubbing. Jacket design by Janet Halverson. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. An extraordinary association copy linking two of the greatest African American writers of the twentieth century.

    Price: $12,000.00

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  • First Edition of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun; From the Library of Novelist James Baldwin

    Hansberry, Lorraine (James Baldwin).

    A Raisin In the Sun.

    New York: Random House, 1959.

    First edition of this groundbreaking play, the first play written by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway. Octavo, original half cloth. From the library of James Baldwin with his signature to the front free endpaper. Hansberry moved to Harlem in 1951 where she joined the staff of the African American journal Freedom Newspaper and worked on stories not only related to the Civil Rights Movement, but global struggles against colonialism and imperialism. It was during the period in which she conceived of A Raisin in the Sun that she also became involved in the emerging gay rights movement, of which James Baldwin had become the leading literary voice. In 1963, Baldwin was invited to the Manhattan apartment of Robert F. Kennedy to discuss the current state of race relations in the United States. In addition to several other prominent figures in the Civil Rights Movement including Kenneth Clark and Clarence Benjamin Jones, Baldwin invited Hansberry who had become an important voice in the movement. Near fine in a very good dust jacket. Jacket design by Stan Phillips and Mel Williamson. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box.

    Price: $8,200.00

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  • James Baldwin's copy of Martin Luther King, Jr's Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story

    King Jr., Martin Luther.

    Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story.

    New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1958.

    Early printing of Dr. Martin Luther King’s first book, author James Baldwin’s copy with his signature to the front free endpaper. James Baldwin was an American writer whose work dealt with race relations and sexuality. A native of Harlem, he left the United States for France in 1948 to pursue a writing career. While in Europe he published Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953), his first novel, which catapulted him to literary fame. In 1957 he returned to the U.S. to lend his voice to the cause of civil rights. Baldwin dissected the American racial conundrum in fictional works and powerful essays, as well as in speaking engagements. He met Dr. King in 1957 when he was writing about the Civil Rights Movement for Harper’s magazine and attended the 1963 March on Washington. Octavo, original half cloth, illustrated. Very good in a very good dust jacket. From the library of James Baldwin. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. An exceptional association, linking two of the greatest African Americans of the twentieth century.

    Price: $8,200.00

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