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May 27, 2015 12:00 PM - June 7, 2015 04:00 PMCalender

Melville, Herman (1819-1891) Autograph Letter Signed, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 29 October 1858.

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Auction: Books & Manuscripts - 2819TLocation: BostonDate / Time: May 27, 2015 12:00PM


Melville, Herman (1819-1891) Autograph Letter Signed, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 29 October 1858.
Single sheet of folded wove writing paper, blind-stamped "Paris" in the upper left corner, inscribed on one page. To Anthony Bowman Esq. of Boston, stating that he does not have information about Dr. William Starbuck Mayo (1812-1895),the author of Kaloolah, having only met him once, and quoting his own terms for lecturing. Old folds, verso of the uninscribed half tacked down by dabs of glue on two inner gutter corners to a heavier sheet of blue paper, some ink showing through the verso, slight shadows of words on recto of uninscribed conjugate, 8 x 4 3/4 in. folded.
This brief letter shows a direct connection between Mayo and Melville that has hitherto eluded scholars. Writing in similar styles and publishing successively, the question of who influenced whom has been introduced more than once. Mayo was a literary success in his own lifetime, and Melville struggled, although the novel remembered today is Moby Dick, not Kaloolah.
Estimate $2,000-3,000

See New England Quarterly magazine, vol. 35, no. 4, December 1962, "William Starbuck May and Herman Melville" by Cecil D. Eby Jr., pages 515-520.

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Melville, William Starbuck Mayo, Anthony Bowman, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Cecil D. Eby Jr.