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Auction Announcement: William Spratling and William Faulkner, Sherwood Anderson and Other Famous Creoles: A Gallery of Contemporary New Orleans

In American History, Arts & Letters, Books, History, Humanities, Literature, News and Current Events, News Release, Southern History, Southern Literary Review, The South, Writing on April 5, 2013 at 8:45 am

Famous Creoles

William Spratling and William Faulkner, Sherwood Anderson and Other Famous Creoles: A Gallery of Contemporary New Orleans, published by Pelican Bookshop Press, New Orleans, 1926, first edition, first issue, number 217 of 250, bound in green boards, with label on front cover, interior of back cover with a label printed “Rebound in L’ATELIER Le Loup” and dated in ink “1986”.

Provenance: From the collection of Stephanie Durant, by descent from the collection of Ray Samuel.

A special copy of a rare and fragile book described by The Booklover’s Guide to New Orleans as “one of the great literary curiosities in the city’s history.” The book comprises Spratling’s drawings of himself, Faulkner, and 41 of their acquaintances–artists, musicians, academics, preservationists, and socialites, “artful and crafty ones of French Quarter” with some of their uptown friends and patrons. One was novelist Sherwood Anderson, and Faulkner’s introduction parodies Anderson’s style.

 

The note above is taken from the catalog description of an extraordinary book that will be sold at auction on April 19.  The book has been given by Stephanie Durant of New Orleans to be sold for the benefit of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the sale will be conducted by the New Orleans Auction Galleries, which will donate its commission to the museum as well.

This copy is uniquely valuable because it is signed by 41 of the 43 persons included,

in a few cases with personal notes to its original owner. (See below for a complete list.) That number of autographs is certainly a record: The only other copy I know with more than a dozen or so is one with 31, and it was stolen from a Charlottesville, Virginia, bookshop some time ago.

The catalog description is accurate as far as it goes, but there is a great deal more to be said about this odd little book, written by two young men who went on to become arguably the greatest American novelist and the greatest Mexican silver designer of the twentieth century.  Those depicted include both figures well-known at the time, like writer Grace King and artist Ellsworth Woodward, and some who would become well-known later, like artist Caroline Durieux and writer Hamilton Basso. The title, an obscure joke, refers to a book of caricatures entitled The Prince of Wales and Other Famous Americans, by Vanity Fair cartoonist Miguel Covarrubias (to whom Famous Creoles is dedicated). The “Pelican Bookshop Press” was a fiction: Spratling and Faulkner paid a local printer to produce 250 copies. Spratling (though, note, not Faulkner) signed and hand-tinted some images in 50, mostly for the friends who were included. There was a second printing of 150 copies, somewhat less valuable on the rare book market. The book was not at all sturdy, and it is not unusual to find copies that have been repaired or, like this one, rebound. Many copies have presumably fallen apart and been discarded. Musician Harold Levy’s hand-tinted copy was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The original owner of this particular copy, Stella Lengsfield Lazard, signed her name in ink on inside front. In 1926 Mrs. Lazard was 43. Her husband, Henry Calme Lazard, was a stockbroker related by blood and marriage to several distinguished mercantile and financial families in New Orleans and elsewhere. The couple had one grown son, and lived with her parents uptown on St. Charles Avenue.  (Her father was a successful cotton factor.)

Mrs. Lazard had literary, historical, and musical interests.  In 1925 she wrote a series of feature articles for the Times-Picayune on the mayors of New Orleans, and a few years later she served as narrator for a weekly musical program on WDSU radio, “Sweet Mystery of the Air,” featuring a trio of local musicians: harpist, violinist, and tenor.  To judge by the inscriptions in her copy of Famous Creoles, she was friends with a number of those included.  For instance, one reads, “To Stella, the star, from the stellar Helen Pitkin Schertz”; Flo Field wrote “Love to my old staunch [?] friend”; and William “Cicero” Odiorne, who was in Paris, wrote “When are you coming over?”

Others who did more than simply sign their names include writers Sherwood Anderson and Roark Bradford; artists Conrad Albrizio, Marc Antony, and Virginia Parker Nagel; Tulane cheerleader Marian Draper; and Lillian Friend Marcus, managing editor of the Double Dealer magazine. The presidents of Tulane and of Le Petit Théatre, A. B. Dinwiddie and Mrs. J. O. Nixon, simply added their institutional affiliations.  Natalie Scott just signed the page with her picture on it, but a note in Mrs. Lazard’s hand identifies a building shown in the picture as the Court of Two Sisters (which Miss Scott owned).  One amusing addition: On an almost blank page Arthur Feitel, a 34-year-old bachelor architect, wrote “Me, too” and signed his name.  Feitel, whose picture was not included, was a Tulane graduate who had studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts; he would later serve as president of both the Art Association of New Orleans and the board of the Delgado Museum.

Only two “Famous Creoles” did not sign Mrs. Lazard’s book. One is easily explained. By the time the book appeared Ronald Hargrave was pretty much incommunicado; he was painting in Majorca, and he never returned to New Orleans. But the other missing signature is that of William Faulkner. It seems to me that Mrs. Lazard went to a great deal of trouble to track down people to sign her book (William Odiorne signed it, and he was in Paris), so it is almost inconceivable that she didn’t ask Faulkner. He must have refused to sign, possibly just out of general cussedness — he was known for being moody and sometimes difficult, and he didn’t sign the 50 copies that Spratling hand-tinted either. In addition, however, Faulkner didn’t care for “artsy” uptown people he thought were dilettantes (unlike Spratling, who enjoyed their company), and he may have viewed Mrs. Lazard as one of them. Whatever the explanation, in some ways Faulkner’s absence may actually be more interesting than a perfunctory autograph would have been.

Mrs. Lazard’s copy was eventually acquired by Stephanie Durant’s father, J. Raymond Samuel, a well-known historian, collector and (in his retirement years) dealer in books and art. On his death the book passed to Mrs. Durant, who has now generously given it to benefit the Ogden Museum.

 

–John Shelton Reed, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,

Author of Dixie Bohemia: A French Quarter Circle in the 1920s

 

Inquiries about the auction should be directed to :

 

Jelena James

New Orleans Auction Galleries                                                        <jelena@neworleansauction.com>

801 Magazine Street                                                                          800-501-0277
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130                                                        504-566-1849

 

“Famous Creoles”

(with ages in 1926)

Signed Lazard copy

Conrad Albrizio, 27

New York-born, serious artist, Spratling’s neighbor, Arts and Crafts Club

stalwart

Sherwood Anderson, 50

“Lion of the Latin Quarter,” eminence gris, generous to respectful younger

writers

Marc Antony and Lucille Godchaux Antony, both 28

Love-match between heiress and lower-middle-class boy, local artists

Hamilton “Ham” Basso, 22

Star-struck recent Tulane grad, aspiring writer, good dancer

Charles “Uncle Charlie” Bein, 35

Director of Arts and Crafts Club’s art school; lived with mother, sister,

and aunt

Frans Blom, 33

Danish archeologist of Maya, Tulane professor, colorful resident of

Quarter

Roark Bradford, 30

Newspaperman, jokester, hit pay dirt with Negro dialect stories

Nathaniel Cortlandt Curtis, 45

Tulane architecture professor, preservationist, recorded old buildings

Albert Bledsoe Dinwiddie, 55

President of Tulane, Presbyterian

Marian Draper, 20

Ziegfeld Follies alum, Tulane cheerleader, prize-winning architecture

student

Caroline “Carrie” Wogan Durieux, 30

Genuine Creole, talented artist living in Cuba and Mexico, painted by Rivera

Flo Field, 50

French Quarter guide, ex-journalist, sometime playwright, single mother

Louis Andrews Fischer, 25

Gender-bending Mardi Gras designer, named for her father

Meigs O. Frost, 44

Reporter’s reporter; lived in Quarter; covered crime, revolutions, and arts

Samuel Louis “Sam” Gilmore, 27

Greenery-yallery poet and playwright, from prominent family

Moise Goldstein, 44

Versatile and successful architect, preservationist, active in Arts and

Crafts Club

Weeks Hall, 32

Master of and slave to Shadows-on-the-Teche plantation, painter, deeply

strange

R. Emmet Kennedy, 49

Working-class Irish boy, collected and performed Negro songs and stories

Grace King, 74

Grande dame of local color literature and no-fault history, salonnière

Alberta Kinsey, 51

Quaker spinster, Quarter pioneer, indefatigable painter of courtyards

Richard R. Kirk, 49

Tulane English professor and poet, loyal Michigan Wolverine alumnus

Oliver La Farge, 25

New England Brahmin, Tulane anthropologist and fiction-writer, liked

a party

Harold Levy, 32

Musician who ran family’s box factory, knew everybody, turned up

everywhere

Lillian Friend Marcus, 35

Young widow from wealthy family, angel and manager of Double Dealer

John “Jack” McClure, 33

Poet, newspaper columnist and reviewer, Double Dealer editor, bookshop

owner

Virginia Parker Nagle, 29

Promising artist, governor’s niece, Arts and Crafts Club teacher

Louise Jonas “Mother” Nixon, 70

A founder of Le Petit Theatre and its president-for-life, well-

connected widow

William C. “Cicero” Odiorne, 45

Louche photographer, Famous Creoles’ Paris contact

Frederick “Freddie” Oechsner, 24

Recent Tulane graduate, ambitious cub reporter, amateur actor

Genevieve “Jenny” Pitot, 25

Old-family Creole, classical pianist living in New York, party girl

Lyle Saxon, 35

Journalist, raconteur, bon vivant, host, preservationist, bachelor

Helen Pitkin Schertz, 56

Clubwoman, civic activist, French Quarter guide, writer, harpist

Natalie Scott, 36

Journalist, equestrian, real-estate investor, Junior Leaguer, social

organizer

William “Bill” Spratling, 25

Famous Creoles illustrator, Tulane teacher, lynchpin of Quarter

social life

Keith Temple, 27

Australian editorial cartoonist, artist, sometimes pretended to be

a bishop

Fanny Craig Ventadour, 29

Painter, Arts and Crafts Club regular, lately married and living in

France

Elizebeth Werlein, 39

Suffragette with colorful past, crusading preservationist,

businessman’s widow

Joseph Woodson “Pops” Whitesell, 50

Photographic jack-of-all-trades, French Quarter eccentric,

inventor

Daniel “Dan” Whitney, 32

Arts and Crafts Club teacher, married (two) students, beauty

pageant judge

Ellsworth Woodward, 65

Artistic elder statesman, old-fashioned founder of Newcomb art

department

Did not sign Lazard copy

William “Bill” Faulkner, 29

Needs no introduction, but wrote the one to Famous Creoles

Ronald Hargrave, 44

Painter from Illinois formerly active in Quarter art scene,

relocated to Majorca

 

From Dixie Bohemia: A French Quarter Circle in the 1920s,

© 2012, LSU Press.

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Joyce Corrington Publishes the Work of Late Husband John William Corrington

In Arts & Letters, Books, Fiction, Humanities, John William Corrington, Joyce Corrington, Literature, Poetry, Southern History, Television Writing, The South, Writing on March 13, 2013 at 8:45 am

Joyce Corrington, pictured above, has made her late husband John William “Bill” Corrington’s book The Upper Hand available on Amazon as a Kindle e-book. Click here to view or purchase this book.

Even more important, she has collected John William Corrington’s poems into a book. Click here to view or purchase this book. This is the first publication of Corrington’s collected poems, and Joyce is delighted to make them available to the public and future scholars.

Joyce Corrington is a writer who, with her late husband John William “Bill” Corrington, wrote several films, including The Omega Man (1970), Box Car Bertha (1971), and The Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973). Also with Bill Corrington, she co-authored four novels: So Small a Carnival (1986), A Project Named Desire (1987), A Civil Death (1987), and The White Zone (1990). She was head writer for such television series as Search for Tomorrow, Texas, General Hospital and Superior Court, and she has been a co-executive producer for MTV’s The Real World. She holds a Ph.D. from Tulane University. Her latest book, Fear of Dying, is available in both Kindle e-book and paperback format. Formerly a Malibu resident, she now resides in New Orleans.

To read more about John William Corrington, click here to read this profile.

Joyce Corrington Publishes You Trust Your Mother

In Arts & Letters, Creative Writing, Fiction, Humanities, News and Current Events, News Release, Novels, Writing on July 23, 2012 at 8:45 am

Allen Mendenhall

Joyce Corrington, a friend and supporter of this site (see here, here, and here), has just released the final installment of the New Orleans mystery series begun by her and her late husband John William Corrington.  Learn more about this book, You Trust Your Mother, at Joyce’s website.

Joyce Corrington Publishes New E-Books

In Arts & Letters, Creative Writing, Fiction, Humanities, John William Corrington, Law, Literature, News and Current Events, News Release, Novels, Writing on January 4, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Allen Mendenhall

Joyce Corrington, a long-term friend and supporter of this site whose interview with me appeared back in September, recently republished, in e-book format, the four New Orleans mysteries she wrote in a series with her late husband John William Corrington.  The books are available at the following links:

So Small a Carnival

A Project Named Desire

A Civil Death

The White Zone

Joyce’s latest novel, Fear of Dying, the fifth in the series, came out in 2011.

BOOK REVIEW: Killing Time by John Holloway and Ronald M. Gauthier

In Advocacy, Art, Arts & Letters, Book Reviews, Creative Writing, Criminal Law, Fiction, Justice, Law, Literary Theory & Criticism, Literature, Prison, Southern History, Writing on November 8, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Allen Mendenhall

The following review originally appeared here at The Southern Literary Review just over a year ago.  Click here to view the original version in PDF.

John Hollway and Ronald M. Gauthier have written a thriller.  Unlike other thrillers, Killing Time: An 18-Year Odyssey from Death Row to Freedom (Skyhorse Publishing, 2010) is not fiction.  It is, in the authors’ words, “a true story” told in “narrative style.”  There’s an old saying: reality is stranger than fiction.  Here’s a book that proves reality is not only stranger than fiction but also, in some cases, more terrifying.  

The plot is as chilling as it is plain.  Or perhaps it is chilling because it seems plain.  An unknown man murders an Italian-American hotelier named Ray Liuzza.  Police, witnesses, and prosecutors mistake the killer for an innocent man: John Thompson, a twenty-two-year-old African American.  The crime occurs outside Ray’s apartment.  The year is 1984.  The city is New Orleans.  What follows is the bulk of the book: a police investigation, arrest, trial, sentencing, conviction, appeal, and so forth. 

Using court transcripts, depositions, media reports, interviews, letters, and other records, Hollway and Gauthier piece together a stunning story of power, law, race, and justice.  The result is a book that increasingly calls into question the instrumentalities of our criminal justice system, redeemed, at last, by two Philadelphia lawyers, Michael Banks and Gordon Cooney, who undertake Thompson’s case pro bono and who spend millions of dollars in foregone legal fees. 

Without the intervention of these two men, Thompson, who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death, might not be alive today.  Released from prison after his exoneration, Thompson resides in Louisiana, where he is involved with Resurrection After Exoneration (REA), an organization he founded.          Read the rest of this entry »

Allen Mendenhall Interviews Joyce Corrington

In Art, Arts & Letters, Creativity, Fiction, Film, History, Humanities, Information Design, John William Corrington, Law, Literature, News and Current Events, Novels, Philosophy, Screenwriting, Television, Television Writing, Writing on September 22, 2011 at 8:31 am

Joyce Corrington is a writer who, with her late husband John William “Bill” Corrington, wrote several films, including The Omega Man (1970), Box Car Bertha (1971), and The Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973).  Also with Bill Corrington, she co-authored four novels: So Small a Carnival (1986), A Project Named Desire (1987), A Civil Death (1987), and The White Zone (1990).  She was head writer for such television series as Search for Tomorrow, Texas, General Hospital and Superior Court, and she has been a co-executive producer for MTV’s The Real World.  She holds a Ph.D. from Tulane University.  Her latest book, Fear of Dying, is available in both Kindle e-book and paperback format.  Formerly a Malibu resident, she now resides in New Orleans. 

Photo by Robert Corrington

Joyce, thank you so much for doing this interview.  I’m surprised we haven’t done one before.  You’ve been an enormous help to me over the years.  You even allowed me to stay at your home in New Orleans so that I could do research on your late husband, Bill.  During that time I learned that you hold a Ph.D. from Tulane University, and taught Chemistry at Xavier University for ten years.  Tell me, how did a person with that background become a writer?

I’m sure it would never have happened if I hadn’t met and married Bill when we were both at Rice University.  He was working on a doctorate so he could earn a living teaching, but he wanted to write.  Bill succeeded in publishing a number of well-received novels, which I typed and edited for him.  But we did not become co-writers until Roger Corman read one of Bill’s novels and invited him to write a movie script.  This was not something Bill especially wanted to do.  But it paid better than college teaching, so we evolved a film writing partnership, whereby I would create a detailed story structure and Bill would write a script following my outline.  After six films, we became involved in writing television series and continued our writing partnership there and in the four New Orleans mystery books we published.  Bill passed away as the fourth was being written, so I completed it.

Why did you choose to continue the series?

After Bill died I found it difficult to get the same kind of writing jobs we had been used to doing.  I think this was because all of my credits were as half of a writing team and producers felt uncertain whether I could do the job by myself.  Thus I had about two years where I had little to do and, while I read a lot during that time, I also began writing a sequel to our New Orleans mystery series.  I think I wanted to prove that I could do it by myself.  Just after finishing the manuscript for Fear of Dying, I was hired to help produce The Real World, a job which I held for eleven seasons.  I did not get around to publishing Fear of Dying until I retired from that job. Read the rest of this entry »

Outline and Summary of Walter Johnson’s Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1999)

In American History, Arts & Letters, Book Reviews, History, Nineteenth-Century America, Politics, Rhetoric, Slavery on April 9, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Allen Mendenhall

Introduction

The focus of this book is on nineteenth-century New Orleans and the slave market that emerged then and there.  More than other workings of slavery, slave markets reduced humans to commodities with prices.  In particular, this book is interested in the story of slave showrooms, which held up to 100 slaves and where appraisals, accountings, back-room dealings, and other activities took place.  The book attributes the slave trade to mercantilism whereby colonial imports serviced and stocked metropolitan centers and generated profits secured for both state-sponsored companies and the monopoly-granting state itself.  Companies with well-connected leaders and government ties could gain state privileges and favors and receive special monopoly licenses to dominate trade, first in goods such as tobacco, indigo, rice, cotton, coffee, and so on, and later in human beings.  The ban of the international slave trade in 1808 did not lead to the reduction or softening of slavery, but rather to new shapes and manifestations of slavery, especially as slave populations moved increasingly from the upper to the lower South.  The ban led, more importantly for the purposes of this book, to the domestic slave trade.  The domestic slave trade intensified during the rise of the cotton kingdom.  The price of slaves changed with the price of cotton until the 1850s.  Read the rest of this entry »

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