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A Collection of Papers and Correspondence Relating to the Publication History of The Edinburgh Caper, Published by Gollancz in 1963

V.p.: N.p., V.d.

A small quantity of typed and holograph contracts, correspondence and associated materials, between and concerning St. Clair McKelway, his publisher, and other interested parties. Various sizes and dates, the whole housed in a manila folder. Some browning and light edgewear consistent with age, but a well preserved collection.


St. Clair McKelway [1905-1980] began his working life as a journalist on the Washington Herald, before joining The New Yorker in 1933 at the invitation of its editor Harold Ross. He remained at the magazine for the next forty-seven years, became its Managing Editor of its journalistic content -- and receives a credit in Wes Anderson's new film and love letter to the magazine, The French Dispatch (2021). In an interview with The New Yorker itself, Anderson says:

'At the end of the movie, before the credits, there is a list of writers we dedicate the movie to. Some of the people on the list, like St. Clair McKelway and Wolcott Gibbs, or E.B. White or Katharine White, are there not because their stories are in the movie but because of their roles in making The New Yorker what it is. For defining the voice and tone of the magazine.'

The Edinburgh Caper: A One-Man International Plot, is an expansion of a humorous New Yorker piece McKelway wrote in 1962, and tells the story of how the author, on a holiday visit to the land of his ancestors, manages to get involved in an Edinburgh-based Soviet plot to kidnap the Royal Family. P.G. Wodehouse contributed a quote/blurb to the Gollancz edition: 'This is the story of what Mr. McKelway did during his vacation in Scotland... The wacky episode is related in Mr. McKelway's impeccable prose -- nobody tells a story better than he does -- and the whole thing is like, and as charming as, 'Alice in Wonderland'.

The Edinburgh Caper appeared in book form in the US in 1962; the Gollancz edition was published the following year.

The Gollancz file on the book's publication contains:

-- 2 TL with many handwritten amendments from McKelway, together with a completed publisher's questionaire, all providing biographical information for publishing purposes, and suggesting literary figures who might be persuaded to contribute an approving quote for the book (copies were duly sent to Anthony Powell, the historian David Keir and Philip Stalker of The Scotsman);

-- ALS from McKelway to Victor Gollancz on New Yorker stationery, 17 May 1963, enclosing a typed summary of the book's reception in the US, and a list of quotes from the book's US reviews (including Wodehouse's, quoted above and used on the dustwrapper of the Gollancz edition;

-- Typed Memorandum of Agreement between McKelway and Gollancz, 4 July 1963, initialled in four places and signed by McKelway;

-- TLS from solicitor Michael Rubinstein to Mary Brash of Gollancz, 10 June 1963, suggesting some name checks and/or changes, but otherwise clearing the book for publication;

-- ALS from McKelway on New Yorker stationery, undated, approving changes suggested by the above correspondence;

-- Small exchange of correspondence, and a relevant press clipping, relating to a possible libel of a Dr. Bignold of Edinburgh, whose name is used in the book, and who doesn't come out of it well;

-- Three sample dustwrappers for the book.

A comprehensive collection of material, and in excellent condition.

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