"There's no greater pleasure than to talk over the big things with a believer": First Edition of Thornton Wilder's Heaven's My Destination; Inscribed by Him to Actress Dame Edith Evans
Heaven’s My Destination.
Item Number: 77850
New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1935.
First American edition of this comedic novel about a modern-day Don Quixote. Octavo, original cloth. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the title page, “For Edith Evans, with the admiration and regard of Thornton Wilder New Year’s Eve 1934.” The recipient Edith Evans was an English actress, who between 1964 and 1968, was nominated for three Academy Awards. Evans’ stage career spanned sixty years during which she played more than 100 roles, in classics by Shakespeare, Congreve, Goldsmith, Sheridan and Wilde, and plays by contemporary writers including Bernard Shaw, Enid Bagnold, Christopher Fry and Noël Coward. She created roles in two of Shaw’s plays: Orinthia in The Apple Cart (1929), and Epifania in The Millionairess (1940) and was in the British premières of two others: Heartbreak House (1921) and Back to Methuselah (1923). Evans became widely known for portraying haughty aristocratic women, as in two of her most famous roles: Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, and Miss Western in the 1963 film of Tom Jones. By contrast, she played a downtrodden maid in The Late Christopher Bean (1933), a deranged, impoverished old woman in The Whisperers (1967) and – one of her most celebrated roles – the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, which she played in four productions between 1926 and 1961. Ownership signature of Evans on the front endpaper, near fine in a near fine dust jacket. Jacket art by Haberstock. An exceptional association copy.
"In 1930, after the publication of his third novel, The Woman of Andros, Wilder had established himself as a prominent American author. However, Michael Gold, critic with The New Republic, published a scathing review [which] culminated in a literary call to arms: 'Let Mr. Wilder write a book about modern America. We predict it will reveal all his fundamental silliness and superficiality.' Whether Heaven's My Destination is a direct response to this challenge is unknown. However, with the intention of demonstrating the struggle of the American mind, 'forever alternating between ethical puritan aspiration and the busy realist vainglory,' Wilder offered his first complete survey of modern American society" (Matthew Angelo, Thornton Wilder Society). Critic Edmund Wilson called the novel, Wilder's "finest to date." Perhaps most notably, Heaven's My Destination shows Wilder exploring the minimalist, action-based style he would later put to great effect in "Our Town."