Thursday, October 10, 2019

Property of Anna Laughlin

One of the more unusual collectibles related to the 1903 Wizard of Oz I have access to (technically it belongs to my husband) is a first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, containing first state text and second state color plates, published by the George M. Hill Co. Alas, it is a wreck. It's mostly unbound, it's missing the spine, it's missing three color plates - did I mention it's a wreck?

What makes it of interest in relation to the show is that this copy of the book previously belonged to Anna Laughlin who created the role of Dorothy Gale. The book is signed by Anna Laughlin twice on the front free end paper. The first signature reads: N. Y. City -  S. H. P. May 11, 1902 - Property of Anna S. Laughlin. I don't know who or what "S. H. P." is. Eric, my husband, chooses to think it is the person that gave her the book.

Anna Laughlin's two signatures in her personal copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The first announcement that Anna Laughlin had been cast as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz appeared in the May 3, 1902, issue of the New York Dramatic Mirror.
New York Dramatic Mirror - May 3, 1902 Announcing casting of Anna Laughlin.

The clipping above states that Anna Laughlin will close her engagement with The New Yorkers on May 10th.

The day after the newspaper announcement Anna Laughlin received her copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, possibly as a gift from the mysterious "S. H. P." in the inscription. That same day the following appeared in the New York Sunday Telegraph:

New York Sunday Telegraph, May 11, 1902
I'd like to think Anna Laughlin read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz while on the train to Chicago. She was born October 11, 1883, in Sacramento, California. So she was only eighteen when she got this book and became the first Dorothy. The book is signed a second time with Anna's married name. She married a diamond importer named Dwight Monroe just as she was finishing up her run in The Wizard of Oz. They had one child, Lucy Monroe, who was born on October 23, 1906. Lucy went on to become a popular radio singer. Anna Laughlin died on March 6, 1937.

This book contains one other curiosity. At both front and back of the book it has "Poppy Field" endpapers, which were designed by W. W. Denslow for the 1903 Bowen-Merrill second edition.

1903 pictorial endpapers added to Anna Laughlin's George M. Hill first edition.

These handsome end-sheets, created for the second edition of the book, were clearly added to this otherwise first edition, first-state George M. Hill printing. The second edition was published July 15, 1903. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz had been out of print since before the show opened in Chicago.

Illustrator W. W. Denslow was living in New York City during the original Broadway run, and I'd like to think he showed up at the theatre one night with some proof sheets or extra copies of the end-sheets and showed them to Anna Laughlin, Montgomery and Stone, and especially the Poppy Girls. In any case, Anna Laughlin was so taken with them she obtained two copies of the loose end-sheets and had them mounted into her copy of the first edition.

The book came from an eBay seller with no knowledge of how and when it left Anna Laughlin's possession. But I assure you it has a good home.

Copyright © 2019 David Maxine. All rights reserved.

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